Piston Slap: Shocking revelations for a 6-volt Studebaker?

1949 studbaker piston slap lead

John writes:

I have a 6-volt positive ground system in my car—can I jumpstart it with one of those capacitor bank jumpstarters? I’ve used it very successfully on a 12-volt system. The jumpstarter gets its juice from any amount of voltage left in the “dead” battery. Plug it into the battery, wait a few minutes for it to charge, and then start the vehicle—This is neither a charger nor battery jumper.

And while I’ve got you, do you have any idea where I can get an old-style but updated radio to fit my ’49 Studebaker Champion?

Sajeev answers: 

That’s an interesting question! Before we proceed, here’s a video of how these supercapacitor jumpstarting tools work to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

I couldn’t find a good answer, so I checked the owner’s manual for one such jumpstarter. Not surprisingly, they specifically mention it must not be used on 6-volt or 24-volt batteries.

Maybe this is only to minimize legal/warranty concerns on their end, but you’re taking on a lot of risk by not heeding their warnings. As you might already know, the supercapacitors in these gadgets are dangerous when used outside of their parameters, so I’d avoid this at all costs. Instead, get a fresh battery and keep it topped up with a quality 6-volt trickle charger as mentioned here.

Regarding the audio system, you’ll likely need to convert to 12-volt to get a modern version of a retro stereo installed in your Studebaker’s dashboard. But I wouldn’t even bother with the factory stereo—or the hole in which it resides. Instead, run something like this audio alternative that runs on your 6-volt system, interfaces with your phone, and spits out amplified audio for either two or four speakers.

For your application, I am tempted to run the 2-channel setup, replacing the Studebaker’s front speaker and adding another one discreetly in the rear parcel shelf or the C-pillar. (My 1965 Ford Galaxie had a factory-installed speaker at the C-pillar; it was kinda awesome.)

The speakers will be cheap on eBay or Amazon, as you don’t need a fancy, brand-name driver to make a big improvement over the stock Studebaker setup. But that might be too intrusive, so perhaps sticking with the 2-channel amplifier with two speakers mounted in/under the dashboard might be best.

There are several ways to slice this particular loaf of bread. What say you, Hagerty Community?

Have a question you’d like answered on Piston Slap? Send your queries to pistonslap@hagerty.com, give us as much detail as possible so we can help! Keep in mind this is a weekly column, so if you need an expedited answer, please tell me in your email.

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