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The Lifetime warrantied Alternator
In 2004 or 5, back before I knew much of anything regarding batteries and their charging systems, I replaced a failed 90 amp chrysler alternator, with a 120 amp rated one in the same van I drive now.

At that time, I had a dedicated house and engine battery, and only realized that the charging system failed, when my wipers were wiping at half speed, and the turn signals were also blinking much slower. I was keeping them in parallel most of the time, rarely moving the 1/2/both/Off switch. While Dodge provided an Ammeter on the dashboard, the needle only moved about 1/8'th of an inch to the left when cranking the engine and most of the time 1/32 to 1/16" to the right of dead center when charging.  I never noticed it had moved 1/32" to the left of center when the alternator failed.  Useless fucking gauge.

Anyway, back then, I bought a 'Lifetime warranty' 120 amp alternator from Kragen Autoparts, installed it, and I watched that ammeter needle swing higher into the charge side than I ever seen before, for about 2 seconds, then it swung to the discharge side and a drama and learning experience ensued.

I was unaware of the fusible link that was stuffed behind the brake booster.  The newly remanufactured alternator tested fine. I bought a third battery to drive around on while I figured out the issue. I had no plug in charging source nor place to plug in, but thought it was the voltage regulator inside my engine computer.  Long story somewhat shorter some Autoparts electricians dug out the 10 gauge fusible link and replaced it with 14awg and all was again well.  

Remanufactured alternators are known to be very hit or miss with a heavy leaning on the latter, and I used that lifetime warranty no less than 6 times in the ensuing years, perhaps as many as 9 times, the last being in 2015.

3 weeks ago I drove cross country for Xmas, the last 3 hours were through a rainstorm, and then the van sat parked, unstarted unmoved for 3 weeks.  

2 Days ago at night, I was going to my sister's, about 2.5 hour drive away from my parents, and 30 minutes into that drive My Digital voltmeter went from 14.62v and ammeter reading ~6 amps into the battery, to 12.64v and 25 amps leaving the battery.

I turned off the stereo and blower motor and got that down to 21 amps to run engine and headlamps and fans in the back and the fridge.  I asked Fiona to go back and turn off the fridge and fans,  but her lack of opposible thumbs became an issue once again.  When the fridge cycled off the load was about 18.6 amps.

Having a new healthy ~90% charged group 31 Northstar AGM battery, I decided to just keep going without a functioning charging system.  I knew the battery could provide the average 20 amps for 2 more hours of driving.  Voltage fell to 12.26 when i pulled in her driveway, and rebounded to 12.41 when i shut off the engine. I likely could have driven another 2+ hours before the engine stalled.

Following day I check my modified external voltage regulator wiring and all seemed well, but still no charging.  I reconnected my original engine computer voltage regulator, same results.  Checked my parallel paths from alternator to battery, they are fine too.

So that leaves the alternator alone as the failure point, unless both VRs are failed, which seems unlikely.

I think perhaps the brushes/alternator got all wet in the rainstorm and then when parked unused for 3 weeks, got stuck in their holders.  When the alternator failed it was making perhaps making 26 amps and was only 129f, far from being stressed out.

Today, I call up Oreilly autoparts, who bought out Kragen, whom I bought the original lifetime alternator from back in 2004/5.  While My phone number and name generated hits in their system, none of them were for an Alternator.  Not really surprising, and  honestly I felt a bit bad having used that warranty so many times when i was overworking the alternator previous to my having solar and plug in charging sources and replacing batteries every 9 to 12 months.

I am researching my options. I suspect the brushes are just stuck and delivering no field current to the armature.  I've no experience getting inside alternators, yet.  I can get new or remanufactured 120 amp alternators in the 100$ range with core charges ranging from 15 to 65$.  Some options go as high as 265$.

I could get the internal fan 120 amp Nippon Denso alternator too, though I am not sure which would perform better at lower rpms, and which should be more reliable.

Part of my external adjustable voltage regulator modification required bending the tabs for the field terminals out of the way on the original molded wiring harness, and one of those tabs broke off yesterday during testing and I likely will cut out that molded wiring harness though i have 'fixed it' soldering some wire to remnants of the broken tab.

I don't really need a higher amperage ability with my current battery capacity.  Idle speed with a well depleted battery is the only time my existing alternator could not maintain 14.4+ volts.

I've heard/read nothing good about remanufactured alternators, and the horror stories might be limited to specific alternators for specific vehicles in specific parts of the country.  Napa, Advance Auto, O'reilly, Autozone are the local Autoparts stores, but Advance Auto does not exist in California, kind of moving them to the bottom of the list.  Prices are all very similar for remanufactured.  
New only seems to exist on RockAuto and seem very similarly priced in the 120$ range, but they get you on shipping and i'd rather not have to wait a week for delivery.

I might be able to simply open it up and free the brushes too.

Anyway, wanted to share this experience.

Having a large healthy capable battery was awesome, to continue the journey, rather thsan Diagnose while en route.  No dedicated house battery capacity to tap into was not an issue.  

If I did not have a dashboard digital voltmeter, and an Ammeter, i would have been and perhaps could still be completely unaware that the charging system failed, only to find out in some less than favorable location.

Its also nice having a plug in charging source capable of 40 amps to quickly recharge the battery to truly full.

Those of you without a good dashboard voltmeter, which can easily show the difference between 13.6v+ and 12.6v, should consider one.  Those of you with engine starting batteries of questionable health, should consider the benefits of the biggest battery you can stuff inside the engine compartment.  The dashboard ammeter was wonderful to have just to see how much juice was being sucked by engine and headlights, and it does change with rpm, lessening slightly with lower rpm.  

'reserve capacity'   in minutes, listed on most starting batteries, is how many minutes the battery can provide 25 amps before it falls to 10.5v.  My engine with the headlights on was certainly close to that 25 amp load, and I needed about half  the 220 minutes my Northstar g31 AGM  is rated for to get to my destination.

I have the 18Ah AGM 'jumper/ portable battery I could have  easily parallelled too, but it was not required.

I've an Alternator guru friend, I want his opinion on the Nippondenso internal fan externally adjustable  alternator compared to my 50/120 chrysler.  I can stay here as long as needed, but the Pacific Ocean is calling.
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  • American Nomad Patriot (02-19-2020)
summit racing has free shipping over $100
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  • American Nomad Patriot (02-19-2020)
The summit/jegs alternator  offerings for my make model are north of 350$, and they are internally regulated, which I despise.

Still researching offerings . the nippon denso 120 amp and the chrysler 120 amp that are drop in, externally regulated, can be had for much less.

The model I have was only offered for 2 model years across chrysler, the nippon denso  internal fan design is still in use.  Would be nice to have actual  data beforehand on idle speed amperage, but longevity seems to point towards ND.

Thinking more and more my brushes are just stuck. 

Found one outfit offering a reman ND for 85$ free shipping.

I'll definitely try the hammer, but there is no good way to hit the stator casing  solidly,  with it installed, but again it is not a huge deal to remove and replace either.

I've had the in tank fuel pump issue too, but at that time did not know about the banging the tank trick.  When i removed it and gave it 12v it did not work, until I flicked it with a finger, then it  fired up but was loud and vibrated up a storm, then quit and was super hot.  The new one purred quietly and stayed cool, in comparison.

The unit I have looks like this:
[Image: 3100502_qsa_7552a_pri_larg.jpg]

The nippondenso unit looks like this:

[Image: and0006-1__90466.1560359868.jpg?c=2]

The body of the ND is obviously smaller diameter, and it is the large frame alternators which are recommended on large capacity battery banks, so it would seem the upper alternator would be superior.

but the ND unit has legs, the same general apprearance and design and diameter has withstood the test of time, whereas the upper was employed by Chrysler for only two years.  It is also significantly less expensive in general, and I already know its amperage capabilities.

My data collecting  experimental nature would point to getting the ND alternator, perhaps it can make 10 more amps at hot idle.  Perhaps not. Perhaps it is more reliable, perhaps not.

The high output aftermarket makers seem to use the ND design, but I am not willing to spend 400$ for one, and 125 amps at idle is likely  nearly double what I would ever need.  I'd be quite happy with 60 amps at 550 engine rpm instead of the ~ 50 the Chrysler alternator can accomplish, but 400$ is unpalatable. I really dont see a large increase in battery capacity in my future where this upgrade would be realized.

Also that above link, the unit comes with a serpentine belt pulley and I need a Dual V belt.  Assuming the Dual V belt pulley is going to fit perfectly on the shaft is another negative.  I cannot remember if they are a tapered compression fit or a keyed flat shaft.

Right now I am leaning towards the 120 amp ND unit from Autozone, Oreilly, or Napa, If I really need a new one, and cant just get mine to work properly again with some spit and polish and a hammer.

If I do get a new one I will be keeping the old one, and try and rebuild it myself with higher rated diodes and better heatsinking.
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  • American Nomad Patriot (02-19-2020)
While I could have spent less money from another outfit, I ordered a New 50/120 NipponDenso style from AutoZone.

They offered next day free shipping to my Sister's door, and when checking out I saw the 'enter coupon code' box. 33 seconds spent on a google search, came up with a 20% off code, and it worked saving some 29+ dollars.

While new, they still charged a 40$ core charge which i will eat. I doubt they'd acceot a differenbt alternator as a core and I want to try to see if i can rebuilt it and burlify it to have as a backup or perhaps install in place of My AC compressor, which has just a big heavy pulley since 2004 or so.

I also decided to buy another transpo540hd voltage regulator for 25$, just to have as a backup. I saw they have non adjustable voltage versions and some 'severe duty' models, with adjustable voltage available too. I might have opted for that but i could not see where/how the voltage was adjusted. I of course want to remove the trimpot potentiometer and add wires to my 10 turn trimpot on my dashboard, and could not see if this was a possibility with the 'severe' duty model.

My alternator guru online friend responded quickly, and had little good to say about the chrysler/bosch style of alternator I have been using, saying the brushes tend to dig deep grooves, and that stuck brushes were highly unlikely. That the bearing used on the ND alternators is twice as large and they use two more diodes, have 2 internal fans and better output at low rpms.

The proof will be in the Data i collect afterwards regarding hot idle speed output. AZ's ' limited lifetime' warranty might be meaningless, but the less expensive option, any warranty work would require shipping it to Georgia , Killing the 20$ in savings. I could also have saved 25$ or so getting a reman'd ND over the supposedly new one.

I'd enjoy comparing the new to remanufactured, but not so much as i'd buy one of each just to compare.
New ND 50/120 alternator arrived at 3PM or so, about 21 hours after placing the order.

The protecive collar on the (+) output stud is causing issues with my additional stacked ring terminals, as expected. Mosquitoes then attacked and I put all tools away returned engine cover, and cracked a beer.

I found the ring terminal I installed on some paired 6awg jumper cables, for a parallel + feed to battery, when i did not have the proper tools, sometime the decade before last, was absolute crap. Embarrassing really.

With electrical tape removed I was able to pull ring terminal off wire with my hands and fingers. I thought I redid this ring terminal when I got the hydraulic crimper but obviously misremebered events. As recently as 2017 this cable by itself was carrying a full 120 amps with this hideous 'crimp' that I apparently did with a screwdriver and a hammer, likely in the 2006 time frame. I can;t believe I somehow though this acceptable, even back then.

Needless to say the new ring terminal on this paired 6awg parallel feed, will be done properly. The protective collar over the output stud might get deleted and something else figured out, or I might use the dremel and open it up to accept proper ring terminals.

I've not opened up the failed bosch/chrysler 50/120 alternator. Curiosity is not yet there.

The ND alternator is slightly physically smaller, but the pulleys and ear tabs lined up perfectly with old alternator and installing it was cakework.
The new ND alternator was made in Malaysia.

The + output stud and its protective collar design, annoy me. The protective collar is keyed, to stick out at an angle, but is a little bit off requiring the wires attaching to it take a bigger bend and turn. That in itself is not a huge issue, i could delete the Key and put it at any angle i desire.

What I really do not like is that this collar is held in place with a 10mm steel nut. Not yet sure of the thread size. All ring terminals would then need to make contact with the surface of this nut, and a tiny portion would be touching the output stud itself.

The output stud is copper colored, perhaps some copper alloy like silicon bronze or some brass alloy. Usually the threaded stud is ONLY to secure the ring terminals to the flat mating surfaces and not designed to be the main conductor of electricity, but obviously in this case the threaded stud is designed to carry the current and must be isolated from alternator grounded casing. But they provide a tiny shitty steel nut that has very little flat surface onto which a ring terminal can make contact.

And this system is designed to be able to support passing 120 amps????

Kind of ridiculous in my opinion.

I am seeking a copper alloy nut that has both the correct threads and a lot of surface area on which to place the stacked ring terminals. the first nut holds the protective collar in place, then three ring terminals, then another copper alloy nut to hold them all in place. That would be as close to ideal as I will be able to achieve.

Acquiring such copper alloy nuts, is now the task of the day as I do not want to just use steel nuts and have minimal surface area for the stacked ring terminals, even though I could have it all up and operating in minutes if I said good enough.

Wish I had a tap and die set with me, and some copper slugs. I'd make my own nuts.
Not really Keen on doing the hardware store jaunts either, but am not sure what the threads of the output stud are. Looks similar to 1/4-20 threads and I do have that tap size with me, but it is likely a metric thread with coarse pitch.
I've read that current travelling the outside perimeter of  of the wire is true only for AC current, not DC current.

The steel nut provided with the alternator is not going to have a ring terminal placed atop it, but it might be the final nut compressing the ring terminals together.

Found this neat table showing the electrical resistivity of metals/alloys.

If pure copper scores a 100
304 stainless Steel is 2.5
Pure silver scores 108
Pure aluminum is 65
Phosphor bronze is 48
Leaded bronze is 42
annealed Brass is 32
Yellow brass is 27
Zinc is 26
Silicon bronze is 12

Tin solder is 12!
Steel is 2.9.

I thought solder itself was way more conductive than it is. I also wrongly assumed brass or bronze are good conductors but they score very badly!

So Ring terminals whether copper or tinned copper placed atop a steel nut, only a small portion of the ring terminals is in direct contact with the threads of the stud

The steel nut is only touching the stud's threads a certain amount and steel is lucky to have 3% the conductivity of pure copper.

When a hungry battery, or other loads is asking the alternator to produce anywhere near its rated amperage, there is an extremely restive bottleneck when the steel nut is providing most of the contact area.

I have to opine that this causes tremendous point source heating that will only get progressively worse and worse.

I have found some m5 threaded copper nuts, but they only have 9mm hex heads.  I'd like 12mm+ hex heads.  I;d have to order them and wait, No good. 


I don't know what the 6mm output stud is made from It is tinged yellow/copper , but that 6mm diameter includes the threads, thread pitch is 1.

The threaded steel nut first holds the protective collar in place.  I am going to make my own copper nut for here. The torque need not be huge to hold this  collar in place.  I'll tap it for 6mm threads, but not run the tap all the way through.  This way the threads will be a tight fit on the studs for maximum surface contact for subsequent ring terminals that lay atop the nut and thread strength of the copper.

The final nut compressing the ring terminals can bethe steel original with a copper washer under it.  This should be so much better an electrical connection than stock, that the minstrels in the hills should start composing their heroic poetry now

For a copper source, i am going to crush a thick walled 4awg butt connector in my hydraulic crimpers, after dremelling with stainless wire wheel, that resistive tin coating, maybe.  I'll figure the biggest size socket which will fit inside the protective collar and then scratch that Hex size into it and use the dremel to cut the sides of the nut. Then drill and tap the center of it and have the Copper nut Of whatever thickness it comes out at.

Seems to be plenty of stud length for stacked copper nuts and washers  and ring terminals, so I could in theory crimp a thicker nut to start with, and perhaps separate the larger ring terminals with a copper nut too, which would further increase the surface area passing current from output stud to copper nut and ring terminal.

The final nut compressing the ring terminals can be the steel original with a copper washer under it,not overtorqued, and perhaps with a dab of loctite.  This should be so much better an electrical connection than stock, that the minstrels in the hills should start composing their heroic poetry now.

I wonder if my Arctic silver thermal grease is conductive too......
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  • heron (01-18-2020)
didnt see silver solder on the list

since i'm here,i have been completely unsatisfied with my cheap terminal crimps and regret using them,any recommendations for something that will give me a nice wide and solid crimp for up to 12-14 gauge terminals,mainesail's are just out of my price range
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  • American Nomad Patriot (02-19-2020)
Silver tin solder is way down the list at 16.6.

I Despise the insulated terminals. All of them.

I buy the ones at home despot, and remove the insulation. I use a dimple crimper, but bass ackwards and use the dimple on the crease to fold the tangs into the wire, then a different part ofthe crimper to compress those towards each other. Then i use a Qtip dipped in 91% rubbing alcohol and clean all surace then cover them with paste flux.

I then angle the ring terminal upwards in some 'helping hands alligator clips, get a big blob of solder to dangle off the end of my 140 watt weller gun and hold it to the seam until it wicks into the crimp and covers the stranding but not up the stranding on the wire insulation side,, then one perhaps two layers of heatshrink after removing flux residue from both wire insulation and crimp.

i can't recommend any of the insulated ring terminals/butt connectors/quick disconnects. Anything I bought online that was a good price was disgusting crap, and how is a proper crimp supposed to happen over plastic?

I have achieved good and some terrible butt connector crimps using the dimple crimper, which is not supposed to be used on insulated crimps, but again by doing it opposite of all recommended procedures by trying to force the seam down into the stranding, rather than the dimple opposite the seam.

If Time were an issue and it was how I made a living, I'd get Mainsail's tools and connectors, but as long as its copper, I'll buy the crap at HD remove the plastic insulation crimp opposite every instruction manual and cover with solder then heatshrink.

Forgot to add I also use the alcohol dipped Q tip quickly after the solder hardens to remove excess flux and promote bonding of heatshrink to connector and wire insulation. If you wait long to remove flux it hardensand I believe it helps initiate the beginnings of oxidation/corrosion if left there.

I saw Lowes has insulated wire terminals that have an extra ring around the crimp portion. not sure how I felt ablut them backin 2015 when i last used them.

I use a razor blade and slice the insulation and then push it out with a jewelers screwdriver or something similar taking care to not warp the quick connector clamps. Removing the insulation can be a time consuming pain in the ass, but very rarely have I trusted any terminal with the insulation, regardless of the too and method used to crimp them
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  • Scott7022 (01-20-2020)

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