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A tip regarding your mechanical voltage regulator on pre-71 Rivieras


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I ran into something on my 65 Riviera last Friday that I had never run across before

in 45 years in the Auto Repair business. Last Friday night I was prepping my Riviera

for a drive to a car show on Saturday morning that would be a 160 mile round trip. I

 hadn't driven it that far in several years, so I took it out and drove it Friday night for

a few miles to make sure everything was OK.......it was not! When I got back I opened the hood and I smelled battery acid.....my 1 year old battery was boiling acid out the

vents and I could hear it bubbling inside the case. I hooked up a voltmeter to the battery posts and the charging voltage with the engine running was almost 18 volts!

I had to fix it that night or cancel the trip, so I took the cover off the voltage regulator

which is 56 years old and original to the car and discovered that the contact points

on the regulator had built up deposits on them to the point that they could no longer

break contact....they were touching all the time thus the 18 volts. I took some sandpaper and loosened the adjustment screw so I could open them enough to sand down the contacts, then I restarted the car and adjusted the screw until the voltage read 13.6 volts. I made the trip the next day no problem and when I got back I double checked the voltage and it was still 13.6. When this happens the only clue that you have that something is wrong is that your battery is boiling acid...high voltage does not activate your charging light on the dash. If I had driven the car on that trip with the voltage at 18 I would have had acid all over my engine compartment screwing up the paint on everything and perhaps a battery explosion.

You might want to check the condition of the points on your voltage regulator if you

have a very old regulator with lots of miles on it.

Edited by Seafoam65 (see edit history)
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Winston, you knew what to look for is 90% of the battle ( for me it is ). Thank you for taking the time to tell us about the problem and the fix.

Turbinator

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YES, AND IF you replace the regultor with a NEW  old style regulator, that costs more $$$$, it will give major problems ALSO.  This is one time where the China electronic regulators actually do what they are supposed to do AND cost less $$$ to boot. All that needs to be done is swap covers & that to the untrained eye look original.

After being an auto tech for more than 60+ years after you've done all your troubleshooting & still have problems you start questioning your own abiilities.

This is one of the reasons most DIYers when they run into problems such as this start asking MANY questions because they have done ALL the troubleshooting & are still having a problem/problems.

 

Tom T.

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When I bought my '65 back in '92 the battery box & much of the surrounding metal were severely eaten away, & the chrome on the adjacent grille was also badly burned, even though the rest of the car was in great condition. Since then two used grilles that I've acquired also showed signs of acid damage in the same area. Looks like my car may have suffered the same malfunction. Probably not a chronic problem if it's new to Seafoam, but has anyone else seen an unusual amount of acid damage in the same area?  

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I think that most of the newer VR covers are riveted on.  That’s so you can’t get inside and try to make adjustments. To make the new one look authentic, you’ll need to drill out the rivets and screw the old cover to the new unit.

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My last adventure with my 65 was similar, except mine was lighting the gen light because it WOULDN'T charge. I replaced it with a NAPA regulator, the old style. like what was on it. Still had the gen light on at start up. Checked the new regulator with the voltmeter, and it was putting out 185 volts, just like Winston's. Shut the car down and bought an electronic one from AutoZone, and no more issues. Thing is, my gen light was coming on with the overcharge condition as well as when it was not charging at all and running off battery voltage.

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Stuck points is the sort of thing that happens 50+ years on. A gentle scrape with a tiny file is better than sandpaper, which can leave grit behind leading to further burning. Don't go crazy on them, or try to make the contacts look perfectly flat or new. Best to drag a piece of paper with some brake cleaner on it through the points after you scrape them, to get any loose crud out. I'll bet Seafoam65's regulator goes on longer now than any of the modern cheapie replacements. Out in my driveway is a 60s Chevrolet that uses the same series alternator and mechanical regulator as an early Riviera. It has been here since 1987. I still haven't had to scrape the points. Maybe someday. I seriously doubt will anyone get that sort of service from a modern replacement.

 

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5 hours ago, RIVNIK said:

When I bought my '65 back in '92 the battery box & much of the surrounding metal were severely eaten away, & the chrome on the adjacent grille was also badly burned, even though the rest of the car was in great condition. Since then two used grilles that I've acquired also showed signs of acid damage in the same area. Looks like my car may have suffered the same malfunction. Probably not a chronic problem if it's new to Seafoam, but has anyone else seen an unusual amount of acid damage in the same area?  

 

Not so uncommon, some very nice cars have rough battery trays and extending to that front corner. Replacing the battery tray is a substantial job.

 

Offgas from the battery is the problem, take it out for long term storage stops further damage.

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