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1953 Willys pickup 6 volt

Can anyone tell me if a 1953 Willys pickup would be neagtive ground or positive ground.
I got the new starter in it and hooked up, but I remember someone mentioning that
it bcould be a possitive ground.


Look at the battery.

If the positive cable on the battery is connected to the chassis it’s a positive ground system.


Thanks @Tester but, The truck came to me without a battery. And the owner cannot remember weather it was a negative ground. Would it make any difference how it’s hooked up.


The positive terminal on the cable will have the larger diameter opening and it will probably be red. See if it goes to ground.

Turn everything off in the truck. Connect the battery with the positive terminal connected to the ground. Turn on the headlights and see if the ammeter gauge goes to the discharge side or the charge side. If it goes to the discharge side, you have it right. If it goes to the charge side, then reverse the battery connections.

I bought a 1948 Dodge which was a positive ground. I noticed after I bought the car that the ammeter gauge worked backward which tipped me off that the battery was installed backward. The radio didn’t play, but the car would start and run. I corrected the situation by completely discharging the battery, then recharging the battery with a battery charger. I then repolarized the generator. This is a simple operation, but check to see if the field coil of the generator is internally or externally grounded. It seems to me that all I had to do was momentarily bridge the battery and field coil terminals on the regulator with a screw driver.

My guess would be that your Willys has a positive ground. I think that back in the 6 volt days, GM was the only U;S. manufacturer that had a negative ground. I know that Ford and Chrysler were positive ground and I think that the independent manufacturers were as well. Fortunately, you don’t have diodes in the generator or computers that can be ruined by reversed battery connections.

Thanks @Triedaq; I’ll give that a try. I hope the ammeter is working.

THis thing is so patched with electrical tape, it’s scary!!!

Sorry @MY 2 CENTS; both cables are black and were converted at some point to a side post battery. so both terminals are identical.


I had a feeling there would be a twist to this. My suggestion seemed too easy.

I think I’ll take @Triedaq’s suggestion but disconnect the ignition. That way I can see what all runs off the 6 volt system. Electrically it’s a rats nest of add on wires.

I’m told that at one point it had a 12volt battery for a snowplow only, but the engine and truck itself ran on 6volts. There are two places for batteries under the hood.
I don’t see how they charged the 12 volt, unless they just put it on a charger after plowing.


I checked on the internet and the Willys was originally a positive ground. What scares me, however, is that you stated the cables were converted to a side post battery. The only side post batteries I have ever seen are 12 volt batteries. Be sure your truck has a generator and not an alternator before trying my suggestion. A generator body will look much like a starter motor.

Just curious - Are we talking about a side POST battery or a side TERMINAL battery like GM used over the past few decades?

Side terminal @My 2 CENTS; My mistake.

It does have a Generator @TRiedaq; I’m sure of that.


If it’s a GM style side terminal cable it would have to be for a 12 volt battery. This may be the one for the plow. What kind of cables go to the other battery location?

Nope, these go to the starter…sorry first to the relay under the battery shelf, then the starter.
Thevground vgoescvtovbthevblock.


OOOOPPS THe ground goes to the block.

New keyboard…big fingers…well thats what they say!!!


That makes me wonder if it was converted to 12 volt.

The owner who bought it this way swears that it ran on 6 volt. Wouldn’t there be a step-down resistor at the ignition if it was converted to 12 volt.

Got to go for tonight…so much editing is driving me nuts and I’m tired.


A ballast resistor is all that is required to convert the ignition to 12v. It could be hidden under the dashboard. The original gauges also need a resistor to cut the voltage back down. And the headlights and bulbs can be upgraded to 12v with just a swap. Some creative wiring to convert to neg. ground and it’s done. FTR, I have not seen a side post battery that was not 12v, either.

I already have an old 6 volt battery that is about to be recycled. It will still hold a charge, so I think I’ll use it to try starting the truck.


My oldest source on the Willys is for the 1954 model, it is an old Chilton’s manual which has it listed as 6v Negative ground. Good luck

I’ll check with the owner today.
I think he may have said that it was a 54 motor.