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Generator rebuild to Alternator

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I have an old automotive generator that is giving low output on test. I have been looking for a business that can rebuild the gen. with alternator internals. I found Genernator site, but was hoping somebody knew of any other options for this as I'd like to shop around. 

Thanks

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It would not be "rebuilding", but re -engineering alternator parts to fit an existing housing. There are NO common parts between an alternator and a generator. Fields, armature, brushes, all different in size/shape and the way they work. 

 

What is this generator for or from, as maybe it has been done. Have you checked with Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts? I know they build alternators for Hemmings Great Race participants. I have no personal experience with them.

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Interesting, "vintage" starts on page 54- of the catalog. Case is 5.1" diameter. Catalog is strange: have to enter the page number then click on left or right to display.

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Posted (edited)

That's quite the product line up. U.S.A. or offshore ? If U.S.A. they must have an impressive factory. The  "factory" they show in the catalog looks more like an assembly area to me.  U.S.A. assembly of offshore produced parts perhaps ?

 

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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1 hour ago, padgett said:

Interesting, "vintage" starts on page 54- of the catalog. Case is 5.1" diameter. Catalog is strange: have to enter the page number then click on left or right to display.

 

Yeah, I absolutely hate those "page through" on line catalogs. What a waste of time and bandwidth.

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Easiest, and cheapest way is to take your generator to a local auto electric shop and have it rebuilt. Have them test the voltage regulator or cutout at the same time.

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It's www.gener-nator.com 
They will take your original generator and rebuild it with alternator internals. Cost is $899 + shipping though. I was hoping to find something a little more cost effective though as I have quite a few 40's and under cars coming through my shop and would probably need quite a few of these done if they worked well.

I checked out the powermaster site and checked out the dimensions of all there generator looking alts. For the 1940 Packard i'm working on the bottom bracket spacing is doable with some spacers, but the one I'm worried about is the spacing between the bottom front mount and the tensioner bolt mount. Mine is 5.5" most of there's is 6.61. Might be too much to compensate for without bracket changes and/or belt changes.

 

Also we are looking to stay as original as possible. So while the "re-engineering" is the best way it would seem. Just trying to keep costs down for the customer by seeing if there are other avenues. 

 

And yes, I'm aware I can just get it rebuilt just like it was before, I will if it comes to that. But we'd like to explore this avenue if at all possible. 

 

Thanks for the replies 

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I used to think like that, too, but by 1940, generator/regulator systems were both reliable and powerful. I've never been able to out-power the system in my '41 Buicks, even at night with all the lights burning and the radio on and powering the divider window up and down--I have never run out of juice. There are also later 6V generators that put out considerably more electricity--my wife's '56 Chrysler has what I believe is a 45 amp generator that never gets fussy. It's 12 volts, but it's robust enough that we're going to add A/C without changing any of the electrical system. It has zero problems keeping up with night driving/radio/wipers. Unless you're running a powerful stereo or multiple electric fans, rebuilding what's there is still your best option and will likely be cheapest as well. I have a guy who rebuilds my generators and it costs $95. I keep telling him it's too cheap, but that's all he asks.

 

New regulators can be bought for under $50 if the one you have is shot. I just paid $25 for an NOS regulator for the aforementioned Chrysler. Worked perfectly right out of the box, but adjustment is easy if you follow the manual. 

 

What, if any, modifications are you planning that would require an alternator? Don't worry about seeing a slight discharge condition at idle, it'll top itself off once you start driving. Totally normal and perhaps even better for the battery as it's being "used" more than with an alternator that's always pushing current. A little discharge/recharge cycle seems to do wonders for battery longevity in old cars. Don't worry about old technology being unreliable--it really isn't. You can learn to understand it, too. If those guys back then could fix, adjust, and maintain them, so can you! Don't change parts to things you understand so you can fix them, upgrade your knowledge so you know how old parts work and can keep them in top condition.

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A quick glance and didn't see any cautionary response regarding possible limitations of your ammeter.  Your ammeter is designed to measure the current flow for which your system as it was designed. If you decide to up-power to say to 45 amps, and your ammeter is only capable handling 35 amps, you will run the real risk of burning it up. 

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The home renovation game is exactly the same. Even shows like "This Old House " have evolved from a vintage home restoration show to a near infomercial showcasing modern products that look vintage. Problem is many of these "modern improvement" for obsolete "old fashioned" fittings are decent looking on the outside but in reality cheap offshore junk where it matters.

 If the old stuff is so bad how is it still working 50-60-70 years down the road. I bet lots of the "new and improved " stuff is in the trash before its 20th birthday. 

 The "vehicle improvement" racket seems to be along much the same lines. Complete with TV shows which show how easy it is to get rid of all the obsolete junk and install new junk.

 

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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23 hours ago, 1912Staver said:

That's quite the product line up. U.S.A. or offshore ? If U.S.A. they must have an impressive factory. The  "factory" they show in the catalog looks more like an assembly area to me.  U.S.A. assembly of offshore produced parts perhaps ?

 

Greg in Canada

 

 I haven't used the Powermaster alternator in a generator case, but I have used their high output alternators on a number of other cars and they have all been made in the US.  I believe the majority, if not all of their product line, is US made. you pay a little bit more for it over some other brands, but they make some really nice stuff.

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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

Don't change parts to things you understand so you can fix them, upgrade your knowledge so you know how old parts work and can keep them in top condition.

Thank you Matt for this pearl of wisdom... 

 

I feel that taking the time to learn how older systems work gives me a foundation to their evolution to newer systems...

 

Paul

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An alternator should work ok, but it is probably unnecessary for reliability, and is going to cost several hundred dollars that I would enthusiastically spend on something the car actually needs if it were my money.

 

You can most likely fix the ammeter issue by adding a shunt. If you increase the current capacity of the alternator much over original you should also replace (enlarge) the wiring from the alternator to the ammeter to the battery, and to the main accessory feed. That wire could get really hot under some conditions.

 

On most 1940 up cars, the stock stuff is entirely adequate. IMHO hit the books and set it up. Don't buy new stuff, adjust and or rebuild. The old regulator, for instance, is going to be 10 times the quality of a new one. The generator might need bearings and brushes. Parts don't cost much

 

Sealed beams came along for 1940, and they drew more current. Most manufacturers were forced to abandon the kludges they had been using and make a real charging system.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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I go 12v and alternators (and radials) on everything I have. Why? Because I'm cheap and drive AND DRIVE my cars. Generators, 6v batteries, regulators, are expensive and 6v bulbs are not at every FLAPS. For under 50 bucks you can get an Autozone alternator with a lifetime guarantee and also find any bulb or accessory for 12v. If I putted to local events or hauled on a trailer original would be dandy but for one that a thousand mile cruise is common place it makes sense to be able to buy over the counter in Podunk, Iowa.

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40 years of doing this, and I have been stranded/disabled using a factory electrical system, even on my 6V cars, exactly once (maybe I'm lucky but maybe not). However, I have been stranded multiple times by a home-made electrical system full of "modern" and "easy to get" parts, which is a good thing, because I had to replace them to get back on the road after troubleshooting someone else's idea of what an electrical system should be with no manual or diagram to help figure out what the home genius did to it.

 

In fact, I was just driving a formerly 6V car full of "modern" electrical parts yesterday and got about a mile from the shop when it stopped dead without warning. No power anywhere. No lights, no start, no gauges, no nothing. Battery had voltage, but everything after that was DOA. Lots of brand new wiring, some modern relays spliced in there for fun, and, WTF is going on? $150 to flatbed it a mile back to the shop and discover that the brand new "internally regulated" 12V alternator had failed to regulate and overloaded the wires the builder had used, which melted and took a bunch of stuff with it. I'm sure he thought he was outsmarting the original engineers who used stupid 6V parts and a generator with an external regulator, but since we were shooting in the dark, I instead had three hours of diagnostics, a $150 tow, a $100 alternator, and another hour of rewiring just to make it run again. Meanwhile, I can walk out to my 1929 Cadillac right now, hit the button, and drive it to California without a second thought. I have a spare set of points, a spare coil, and a set of plugs and I'm 98% sure none of that stuff will end my journey. Six volt electrical systems have NEVER stopped me from driving the heck out of my cars, but I often hesitate before setting out in some car full of "upgrades."

 

Just because we have the benefit of 70 years of technology doesn't mean the guys back then were wrong.

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Well, if going to do a 12 volt conversion then why stop, next:  AC, modern V-8 , automatic transmission, fuel injection, etc etc etc. 😁  Hey, wasn't there another discussion going on of when does an antique become a hot rod? 😉

 

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25 minutes ago, Frank DuVal said:

Well, if going to do a 12 volt conversion then why stop, next:  AC, modern V-8 , automatic transmission, fuel injection, etc etc etc. 😁  Hey, wasn't there another discussion going on of when does an antique become a hot rod? 😉

 

Well if thats the case, I have a super hotrod. 12 volt conversion (still 3rd brush generator), pertronix ignition, electric fuel pump, hotrod style blinkers, and LEDs bulbs in the head lights....😉

 

A normal alternator does look out of place under the bonnet (hood) of a vintage, but I guess if you are going to have an alternator, having it encased in the original generator would be ok IMHO.

 

If you want to look original but want the benefits of an alternator then you don't have many options. So it will cost you some $$$.

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The power master powergen is made in the USA...I have one and run it on my daily for the past year with no issues.. My problem wasn't the generator but the crap regulators...I would buy brand new made in the USA Borg warners and dead out of the box.. Or if I was lucky two to four weeks later and then dead.. And yes the wiring was good and I was polarizing them.. Just got tiring and not great on a daily.

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2 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

40 years of doing this, and I have been stranded/disabled using a factory electrical system, even on my 6V cars, exactly once (maybe I'm lucky but maybe not). However, I have been stranded multiple times by a home-made electrical system full of "modern" and "easy to get" parts, which is a good thing, because I had to replace them to get back on the road after troubleshooting someone else's idea of what an electrical system should be with no manual or diagram to help figure out what the home genius did to it. 

 

In fact, I was just driving a formerly 6V car full of "modern" electrical parts yesterday and got about a mile from the shop when it stopped dead without warning. No power anywhere. No lights, no start, no gauges, no nothing. Battery had voltage, but everything after that was DOA. Lots of brand new wiring, some modern relays spliced in there for fun, and, WTF is going on? $150 to flatbed it a mile back to the shop and discover that the brand new "internally regulated" 12V alternator had failed to regulate and overloaded the wires the builder had used, which melted and took a bunch of stuff with it. I'm sure he thought he was outsmarting the original engineers who used stupid 6V parts and a generator with an external regulator, but since we were shooting in the dark, I instead had three hours of diagnostics, a $150 tow, a $100 alternator, and another hour of rewiring just to make it run again. Meanwhile, I can walk out to my 1929 Cadillac right now, hit the button, and drive it to California without a second thought. I have a spare set of points, a spare coil, and a set of plugs and I'm 98% sure none of that stuff will end my journey. Six volt electrical systems have NEVER stopped me from driving the heck out of my cars, but I often hesitate before setting out in some car full of "upgrades."

 

Just because we have the benefit of 70 years of technology doesn't mean the guys back then were wrong.

 

Me too. I drive my cars. If my Pontiac had it's electrical system all hacked up I wouldn't have bought it. The only things keeping me from taking it on long trips right now are the extremely low rear axle gearing and my distrust of tube-type bias ply tires. It sure isn't the 6 volt electrical system.

 

People charge in and change things without understanding the car and what it's actual weaknesses (if any) are. We have had threads on this forum where someone discovered after the conversion that they couldn't figure out how to make Buick Autostart work (because it is intertwined with the voltage regulator), or discovered that the transmission (Mopar M6) wont shift.

 

I used to do a lot of electrical system work on cars. I have seen a lot of 12v conversions. I have yet to see one roll into the shop with everything working. There is always SOMETHING that doesn't and never will. It might be the radio, the wipers, a gauge, or even something insignificant like the clock. I am obsessive over stuff like this. I need everything to work.

 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, mcdarrunt said:

I go 12v and alternators (and radials) on everything I have. Why? Because I'm cheap and drive AND DRIVE my cars. Generators, 6v batteries, regulators, are expensive and 6v bulbs are not at every FLAPS. For under 50 bucks you can get an Autozone alternator with a lifetime guarantee and also find any bulb or accessory for 12v. If I putted to local events or hauled on a trailer original would be dandy but for one that a thousand mile cruise is common place it makes sense to be able to buy over the counter in Podunk, Iowa.

 I couldn't disagree more.

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