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We own a 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook. We are trying to get everything in working order for the inspection coming up in August.

I ran across two issues:
  • Horn not working
  • Front blinkers not working
I bought a multitester, and the horns in front of the radiator are getting power.
I replaced the bulbs in the front blinkers, and the one on the driver's side works now, but the one on the passenger side does not.

While we were testing things, smoke started coming from the steering column. This makes me suspect my troubles are coming from there.

I have a single piece horn ring. The instruction manual says to depress the ornament, and turn it counter clockwise, and it should come off. I can't get the thing to turn.

Help?
 

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The horn wire in the column is just a ground-return from the horns to the steering wheel horn ring to body ground when the ring is pressed. It shouldn't carry any great amount of current that would smoke.
The turn signal wiring will carry some current and may be what is smoking if the wiring is cut, pinched or rubbed through. If this wiring is cloth or rubber insulation, it may be deteriorated and falling apart?
Disconnect the battery negative terminal. Then the spring-loaded horn ring should push down and 'unscrew' (CCW?) about 1/8 turn. The center horn cap may pop-off and you might be able to look in there to see the retainer lock tabs. Some don't release easily as they didn't want the horn ring to land in the drivers lap as they were making a turn.
 

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Wiring in those years was the best for longevity, rubber and cloth insulation. I owned one of the few 50s cars with excellent main wiring, but most of the accessories still had rubber/cloth insulation. It was a 1955 Packard Patrician, and had Hypalon wiring on everything Packard made.

If the existing wiring isn't damaged too badly, you can probably splice in modern wiring in the column where it isn't visible if you are going for restoration, if not, just replace all of it with modern wire, just keep in mind 6 volts needs more current and larger wire than 12 volts.
 

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Hypalon and rubber are apples and oranges. One is neoprene a synthetic the other comes from a tree as latex. These cars used a cylinder shape carbon brush wiping against a copper ring under the steering wheel as the horn switch. Th most durable wire I have encountered is much newer. Cross linked polyethylene. It is harder to strip. Aircraft teflon is great except very stiff. Newer silicone wire is supple but the silicone jacket is too easy to damage
 

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Horn ring may have become stuck to the three retainers nay have to push and work back and forth to break that bond. Probably have a short in the column. Wires can be changed and contacts cleaned.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Update on the Cranbrook repair:

We were able to get the wheel ring off and identify the problem with the horn not sounding. Once we repaired the wire, the horn now works, but won't stop honking. In fact, it's sparking.

When we put it all back together, and turned the ignition, the horn started blaring. So we took the horn ring assembly back apart, and started putting it back together with the ignition on. When we started screwing the screws, that's when it sparked and started honking.

Help?
 

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My '55 had rubber isolaters/insulaters that had deteriorated and come apart. To get mine back together, I had to use some black Permatex to repair them and wait for it to cure before reassembling it. Unfortunately, it's one of the few things I failed to photograph.
 

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Honking means that you are shorting that single wire to ground.spring holds the contact away from the ground but most times will touch the ground as it is assembled. Once tabs are in place, clearance is restored. If all looks correct, pull the gounding wire off the relay until assembled. Then reconnect when ring is back in place and test. Wire should not be grounded until horn ring/button is pressed.
 
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