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studeboy

Regulator bench setting machine

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I am sure there is a technical name for the machine. Please let me know what it was / is. In the day they used to make a bench machine that you could put a regulator on, off of the car, and set the output etc. My generator starter guy, who does incredible work, does not have one of these as they are long obsolete. Who may have one? I need to get a regulator setup for my car. 

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I think the Allen company made these types of test equipment. I too am not sure what it was called.  Generator / regulator tester?

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Posted (edited)

I don't know what that tool is called.

 

Better to do it on the car anyway IMHO. The tool to do it on the car is called a "generator test set", and lots of companies made them including Allen, Sun, Snap-On, and so on. They can be found at swap meets.

 

Someone well-versed in electronics can probably fake most of it with some kind of more modern test gear like an AVR or something, as long as it has a carbon pile in it. You might also need a separate analog voltmeter, and possibly an ammeter. This assumes a complete setup.

 

I am gonna go out on a limb here because I don't know what you are working on. What follows applies to typical generator systems made after the introduction of sealed beams, with 3 relays inside the voltage regulator.

 

There are basically 3 settings in a typical post-1939 regulator (except for air gaps and point gaps and stuff like that. Those are set with drill bits and feeler gauges). The 3 settings are: 1) cut-in voltage 2) maximum current and 3) system (charging) voltage.

 

Typically, the first two should NEVER need setting unless things have been really messed with.

 

1) Cut-in voltage just shuts the whole system off to keep the generator from trying to run like a motor, and also to keep it from trying to run the battery dead when it is not being spun by the engine. The cut-in voltage is specified in the manuals, but should never change, and so should rarely if ever need to be adjusted.

 

2) Maximum current: This is to protect the generator. Generators will happily charge way over their rating and melt if allowed to. This setting is just set to the maximum current the generator is rated for. 20 amp generator? Set it to 20 amps. 35 amp generator? Set it to 35 amps. As you might imagine, there is no reason to ever change this unless you got the regulator or generator off of some other car.

 

3) System Voltage (Charging Voltage). This one is pretty simple. It is the only one that should need setting in normal use. There will be a specification in the book, and it is a really good place to start. All you need is the battery fully charged, terminals and connections tight, and an analog voltmeter. Digital meters might (probably will) lock up. If a digital meter does not lock up you can use it. Rev the engine up to 2000rpm or so and watch the battery voltage on the meter. Let it stabilize. Set if necessary.

 

The setting is the tension on the little spring on the relay inside the regulator. Make sure you have the right relay (the book will tell). Assuming the air gap and points gap has been checked and is OK, you set it by bending the little tab the spring is hooked to a TINY amount, though some rare regulators may have a screw to adjust the spring tension.

 

You must check and recheck the system voltage with the regulator cover ON, because having the cover off affects the setting. If you don't know where you are, set to the factory setting.

 

Check the battery with a hydrometer after driving a week. Make tiny changes if necessary. If the battery isn't fully charged after driving a week, set the voltage 0.2 Volts higher and try again. If the battery is overcharged, lower the voltage 0.2 Volts. Repeat until the battery is happy.

 

Good luck!

 

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Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

I have an Auto-Lite manual from about 1951 that shows the adjustment process in detail using an Auto-Lite Volt Ammeter and some external circuits to do the regulator setup and testing. The Auto-Lite meter looks like a more rugged analog voltmeter used by old school electronics repairmen.  If you would like some photos from the manual just let me know.

Actually, I have no real use anymore for the Auto-Lite manual which also covers starters, generators, ignition and maybe electric wiper controls.  Would sell it for a very reasonable price.

Edited by TerryB (see edit history)

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Your starter generator guy should have a generator test bench and should be able to run the regulator with a generator to calibrate the regulator. I have a regulator test bench, but dont use it because I prefer to run it on the generator test stand with a generator (preferably the one off the car, but not totally necessary). I feel its more of a true test by basically simulating the on car setup. If I can help in any way, please let me know.

-Jason

 

https://www.facebook.com/AERrebuild/

Edited by startergenrebuilder (see edit history)

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I'm with Bloo, set up regulator on car with generator you will be using. Instructions are usually in shop manual. These instructions also cover troubleshooting the charging system, you just need the adjustment part. Modern DMM works fine for a voltmeter, and up to 10 amps too, For over 10 amps, you need a different ammeter, maybe just use the dash gauge. As Bloo points out, usually just the voltage setting needs adjusting. 

 

You don't say which car's regulator you are needing to adjust. If we assume Studebaker, then it could be Autolite or ACDelco in the 50s/60s.

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I'm with Jason. I always ask for the cutout or regulator when we do generator work. It is easier and you have fewer variables when you make any regulator adjustments on a generator test bench. As long as your guy has a test bench he can spin the generator with then he can run the generator and regulator as a set and make any adjustments. I'm not saying you can't make adjustments on the car. But when someone is not familiar with making adjustments you could end up costing yourself a regulator. And Standard Motor Products does not just hand out replacement regulators for free.

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