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Vintage Delco Battery Topper & Decal

Discussion in 'Early Jeep Restoration and Research' started by maurywhurt, Jan 23, 2018.

  1. Jan 23, 2018
    maurywhurt

    maurywhurt Member Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

    Western North...
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    The battery I've had in my '67 since 2009 was a Group 34 Sears Die Hard, which served me well for 8 years. Visually speaking, though, the Die Hard was a good deal shorter than the original battery, as evidenced by the angled firewall bracket and the spacers under the hold-down bolt wingnuts.

    [​IMG]

    I've been trying to slowly bring the engine compartment closer to its original look over the past few years, and wanted to replace the old battery with one that was more appropriate from an appearance standpoint. When I was visiting my brother-in-law Fred a few weeks ago, I noticed that the battery in his '67, a Smart Start 24EXT from O'Reillys, was just the right size and height for the original battery carrier. I was able to find a dimensionally identical battery with exactly the same amperage specs, the Duracell SLI24M, which was still locally available and a bit less expensive than the Smart Start. (The same battery is also sold by NAPA as the Legend Premium, part number BAT8424: https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/NBP8424.)

    I'd heard somewhere about a company called Legendary Battery Toppers. It turns out they carry several variations of polymer toppers designed to fit over Group 24 batteries, giving them a vintage look: Legendary Battery Toppers : Reproduction Battery. These toppers run about $68 shipped. Though there are less expensive toppers available, from what I could gather online, those don't appear to be the same quality.

    After speaking with Legendary Battery Toppers' owner, Carl Stuber, who was extremely pleasant and helpful, I ordered one designed to look like a 1960s Delco battery. The original batteries in this era of jeep were likely made by Willard, but going that route would've required buying a very expensive reproduction battery. Since the Dauntless V6 engine is a GM design, a Delco topper seemed appropriate - and when this battery eventually goes bad, I can hopefully transfer the topper to the next one.

    The new battery fresh from the store:

    [​IMG]


    The sticker on the front peeled off easily. The top of the battery case is perfectly flat except for the raised 1-3/16" diameter rings around the terminals.

    [​IMG]


    The battery topper was the correct proportions to fit over the new battery, and the reproduction hold-down bracket (from Walcks) fit on the topper just right. However, there were two minor issues. The terminal holes in the topper were just slightly off-center from the new battery's terminals, and because of the raised rings around the terminals on the battery case, the topper would not sit flat on top of the battery. As a result, the remaining height of the terminals extending above the battery topper weren't long enough to allow the cable clamps to sit all the way down to fully engage the terminals as they should.

    [​IMG]


    There were two options I was aware of to address this. First, Legendary Battery Topper sells terminal extenders, which create full-height terminals above the topper, allowing the cable clamps to be fully engaged. The other option was an example I came across online of someone who used the same type of battery and topper, but modified the topper to make it fit better. He did this by enlarging and offsetting the terminal holes in the topper to fit around the raised rings on the case: Chevrolet Battery Topper Installation and Fit. I decided to go with this second idea.

    The terminal holes in the battery topper were at approximately 8-1/8" centers. To fit over the raised rings on the battery case, I needed them to be 8-1/4" on center, and to be 1-1/4" in diameter.

    To accomplish this, I cut a piece of 2x6 to fit inside the battery topper and tacked in some nails to help keep it aligned. The original terminal holes were traced onto the 2x6, then the centers of the offset enlarged holes to be cut were marked. After drilling pilot holes at these new centers, a 1-1/4" hole saw on a drill press was used to cut the larger holes in the battery topper.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The modified topper now sits nice and flat on the top of the case:

    [​IMG]


    Before installing it, the caps were glued to the topper from the inside. The cable clamps are just big enough to cover the enlarged terminal holes. With a new 90-degree firewall bracket made from 1" x 1/8" bar stock, IMHO the installed battery & topper look pretty good!:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2018
    47v6, Bowbender, ojgrsoi and 2 others like this.
  2. Jan 23, 2018
    Walt Couch

    Walt Couch sidehill Cordele, Ga. Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

    cordele, Ga.
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    Sure looks good to me.. (y)
     
  3. Jan 23, 2018
    Howard Eisenhauer

    Howard Eisenhauer Super Moderator Staff Member Sponsor

    Tantallon, Nova...
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    Looks very good. I'd get some laser printer bumper sticker stock & print out a "Willard" logo for the side. :D

    You can get the "haircell" pvc & make an cover for the front & sides that duplicates the old battery finish-

    Delco Battery Topper

    I actually tried to make one of those myself, either my pvc was too thick or I couldn't develop enough vacuum but the outcome was less than perfect :(

    Maybe I'll give it another shot someday.
     
  4. Jan 23, 2018
    Glenn

    Glenn Kinda grumpy old man Staff Member Sponsor

    Apopka, Fl
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    Definitely looks pretty cool! :coffee::)
     
  5. Jan 23, 2018
    maurywhurt

    maurywhurt Member Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

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    ...or, since the caps say Delco, maybe one of these instead?:

    [​IMG]

    These are available at REPRODUTION OLD VINTAGE DELCO BATTERY LABEL Apparently these graphics were used by Delco from the later 50's through the early to mid 1960s.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
  6. Jan 23, 2018
    Howard Eisenhauer

    Howard Eisenhauer Super Moderator Staff Member Sponsor

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    Works for me :)
     
  7. Jan 24, 2018
    maurywhurt

    maurywhurt Member Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

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    I think this is the kind of cover you're describing, Howard:

    [​IMG]

    Here's how they built it - though this one wasn't made as a battery surround, but to contain modern ignition parts:

    A Custom Vintage Battery Box | Foxi Auto
     
  8. Jan 25, 2018
    maurywhurt

    maurywhurt Member Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

    Western North...
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    This is a reproduction of the DC-12 battery that was sold by Delco until at least 1966. I like the look of this later battery better, and will see if I can find (or if not, make) a decal for the side of mine with these graphics.

    Interestingly, I read that in the early '60s, General Motors' chief designer requested that Delco use black caps on the OEM batteries in GM cars, as he felt the yellow caps "distracted from the beauty of the engine". In addition, the Delco graphics on OEM battery cases in GM's were left unpainted. However, some other Delcos, including many sold over-the-counter as replacement batteries, retained the yellow caps and painted side logos.

    Personally, I like the yellow!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
    ojgrsoi likes this.
  9. Mar 22, 2018
    maurywhurt

    maurywhurt Member Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

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    Here's the same battery shown in the first post, with the decal I made based on the 1960's Delco case graphics above:


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
    ojgrsoi likes this.
  10. Sep 30, 2019
    Hellion

    Hellion Banned

    Eastern TN
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    Zombie thread! [​IMG]

    I see the Willard name mentioned in this thread. Was that an original equipment battery supplier to Kaiser-Jeep?

    It was a GM design until Kaiser acquired all the rights to manufacture it and renamed it the Dauntless. The GM-Delco connection was just something you noted and made it your personal preference. It is not out of the ordinary for a Delco battery to be a period-correct replacement battery though, after the original wore out.
     
  11. Sep 30, 2019
    maurywhurt

    maurywhurt Member Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

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    I believe Willard batteries were original equipment for mid-sixties Kaiser Jeeps. There may have been more than one brand of batteries used, though I don't have any evidence that Delcos were OEM batteries on CJ's.

    You accurately described it - I simply preferred to make my battery look like a Delco. As you said, the Delco could very well have been a period replacement for the original battery after it wore out.

    Another factor was that, without spending a ton of money to get a reproduction Willard battery, I could get a relatively inexpensive topper to visually convert a modern battery to look (more or less) like a Delco. I'm glad to say that the decal I had made for it has held up well so far. I need to post a photo of the battery installed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
    Hellion likes this.
  12. Sep 30, 2019
    maurywhurt

    maurywhurt Member Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

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    Here's the installed battery. Note that I've completed a frame-off since the earlier photos in this thread were posted. The engine compartment was painted black before, but is yellow now:

    [​IMG]


    When I was taking these photos just now, I was reminded that several of the OEM external engine parts on my '67 V6 were made by AC / Delco....including the air cleaner, distributor, oil filler cap, etc. The reason is almost certainly that it was less expensive for Kaiser to outsource some parts through GM than to produce them internally.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
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