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On my 76 Aspen can I change the ammeter to a volt meter ?
Not direct plug in but, sure. You’d need a volt meter and run a new wire to a 12v source that’s switched on with the ignition and a ground wire. Ammeter wires you could just tape up and secure out of the way.
It can be done but will require some work.
The gauge guts would need to be changed out and a way to switch off power to it when car is off (might cause an excessive engine off current drain).
The older Mopars (think older muscle cars) all current, except for starter) goes through the ammeter. The ammeters FMJ’s used are shunted so not all power goes through them – which is a much better design – but to most people, the gauge doesn’t tell them much.
I prefer the volt gauge system better – but that might be because I use a volt gauge a lot for automotive testing purposes. Some might argue the volt gauge doesn’t tell them much either – but I’ll step out of that argument and watch from the sideline.
I have a couple of F and M ammeters that I would love to pay someone else to convert for me. I know someone who does a lot of gauge work for ’66-67 Chargers, that would do it. The big thing is I just need to get off my butt and get-r-done.
Note: the ’66-67 Charger gauges are unique in the fact the gauge face is electroluminescent (the backlighting is attached to the metal gauge backing with a black sticker placed on top so it glows through the sticker) and gauge dials are miniature light sticks. A very cool setup - especially at night.
I always thought an ammeter is about useless. A voltmeter is much more useful. As long as the voltage is 12.5-14.5 volts (or so) driving down the road, you know the alternator is maintaining battery voltage. The ammeter only tells you if the battery is charging, discharging or neither.
A voltmeter should be hooked to key-on power so it's "dead" with the key off.
I know there are (or were) places that convert the "popular" Mopar's to voltmeter and they may be able to do an F-body as well.
I would think the wires to the former ammeter would have to be connected together, even with the shunt(?). I remember when the ammeter in my '70 Barracuda fried, way back in the early '80's, the car went completely dead. Seems like a bad idea the way they were without the shunt. All the vehicle power went through the problematic bulkhead connector and then to the ammeter, out of the ammeter and back through the same bulkhead connector. Almost seems like a disaster waiting to happen
The “direct wired” ammeter was changed to a shunt around when F-bodies came out (might be the first one that way). The older Mopars could have ammeter bypassed by bolting the two leads together and taped up (well).