Alternator & Generator


Just got my '90 Vanagon back from the shop and they said they could hear that my alternator bearings were gettin' out of wack. Sounded like a job I could take care of myself, but I need one basic question answered. I know there are two bearings involved, but I don't know if they are identical in size or two different size bearings. One is called the slip ring end bearing and the other the drive end bearing. The picture in Bentley (27.17) makes them look different in size. My online parts source just sells one alternator bearing (part #034 903 221). Gotta get that parts microfiche one of these days! Anyone out there had one of these apart and know about the bearings?

JOHN
 

ben

New member
When an alternator start to go away, change it, have it rebuilt or buy a new/rebuilt one. Ball Bearing wear is a pure sign of an over hall failure / fatigue (Your lucky that it's still working). Other damage can be: spool, wire, stator or brushes wear. You can get a rebuilt for less than a $100Â… This is standard maintenance. Don't take any risk for a basic part like that
Regards, Ben
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Per Message Board Guideline #7, you need to make a visit to your dealer with the full ID information from your alternator. Although the US fiche only shows one alternator for US models, unless you've owned the vehicle since new, the possibility exists you no longer have the original alternator. He can then advise you as to correct bearings and availability of spares.

Version #3, listed for US models, shows TWO bearings and two part numbers. Other versions used only one and may be the source of your on-line dealers conclusions.

In reality, the difficulty and special equipment often needed for internal alternator repairs usually makes a factory reman alternator more practical and cost effective. There may be 'tabbed' or stab-crimp caps and sealed joints that could not be duplicated in a home repair. A reman alternator will also come with a warranty.

Some of the 'on-line' parts places have proven grossly inept at keeping up with variations and stocking multiple parts. See some representative experiences of on-line dealers in the PARTS forum.
 
Thanks for the help gentlemen. I'm off to the dealer tomorrow. Hopefully I won't have to deal with severe sticker shock as is usually the case. Ben you must be talking $100 CAN because the cheapest rebuilt Bosch alternator I can find is $160 US. If you've got a secret source please share! Thanks again and happy holidays.

JOHN
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Canadian dollars are worse than US -- usually prices are about 60-70% higher in CD$. But I agree, CD$100 would be cheap for a Bosch reman. I see them for US$150 at Van-Again, US$130 if not rebuilt by Bosch. But the Bosch rebuilt has a 1 year/2 year warranty.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same subject.

Broken post for alternator support bracket

Ian Voparil Junior Member # 982 posted 12-03-2001 09:35 AM

Hi all!

I've got a 1985 VW Vanagon Westfalia with the 1.9L water-cooled engine. Last night, after replacing my v-belt, I broke the bottom post for the alternator support bracket off! (I was tightening to spec (18ft lb), but it seems that the metal was already fatigued.) There's a diagram on Bentley page 27.15. This post is seemingly cast with the engine case.

My question: what do I do now? Should I drill out the old post and tap in a new one? Any other suggestions?

Thank you,
Ian
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
You are not going to like this answer! /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

I assume you are talking where the lower end of the Alternator support bracket bolts to the engine casing. You didn't give a full description of the failure but both will probably require removal of the engine due to working room considerations.

IF you're lucky, your 'broken post' means you've just broken off the stud. In which case there are a couple of solutions: Drill out and use an easy-out. This is not something to be taken lightly or by amateurs because a broken easy-out is even worse than the original problem. See the post under TOOLS on "Stud removers" for some additional info. You may even be able to salvage the hole threads if its a clean broken stud.

If you must drill out and lose the threads, the preferred solution would be to heli-coil the existing hole.

You can drill out and install a dual-size stud (the lower end will be a size up in hole & thread size while the upper protruding end will be the original 8mm), or oversize all the way if there is adequate clearance for the larger nut and material to oversize the bracket hole as well.

However, if the casing is broken away significantly, you will need the services of a very competent machine & welding shop to grind out the broken area, reweld in a suitable base, then drill & retap for your stud. The question of competent comes from the fact that your case is an aluminum alloy and requires special equipment and skill to weld (MIG). It's done all the time, but tracking down that 'competent' shop will be your challenge.

[ 12-07-2001: Message edited by: Capt. Mike ]
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Before you chunk out big buck$ for an oversize alternator (with resultant consumption of power & mileage) may I suggest you back up and reexamine your usage & dual-battery system? 80A out of 90A max new may be accounted for by measuring instruments and losses while the engine is running. The 90A output is at a very narrowly defined test condition with ALL electrical loads off, which is next to impossible to achieve in a Westy with it's miscellaneous draws like clock, radio memory, and warning systems. So 80A may be an in service full rating. Testing OFF the car is about the only way to be 100% sure.

First, the exotic isolators and amplifiers to separate the auxiliary battery from main, are in my opinion, a waste of money. A $50 solution to a $5 problem. All you are trying to achieve is putting the 2 batteries in parallel while the alternator is running which was handled by the original relay fine.

I don't know your inverter capacity, but under the WESTY GADGETS forum, there is a complete topic dedicated to them. I'd assume to run a computer & accessories you're in the 500w range. 500 ÷ 12 = 42 AMPS. Your invertor could be drawing half your alternator output! And the typical 72aH battery would draw down in <2 hours.

I've never seen specs for the draw on the fridge while on DC but it's on a 16a fuse so that should give you some indication it's fairly heavy, at least while the coils are on.

Thus your problem may not be solved by just adding some extra capacity. I run my fridge on DC, not just while driving, but often for 2 or more hours during stops. Add a penchant for night driving with some very powerful auxiliary lights (about 400 watts total draw). Yet I've never had a serous problem with the auxiliary battery drawing down and not being able to recharge in the appropriate period for my alternator. Except when it was the battery! 'New' does not necessarily mean it's full capacity.

I just killed my auxilliary & main batteries together -- we won't go into the combination of stupidy it took to achieve that -- and it took 3 days of charge & discharge cycles to return them to normal. Killing a battery will cause immediate sulfation and that may or may not be reversible. In my case, I was lucky and the batteries recovered to a good condition.

So I guess what I'm advising is go slow. Besides fit & compatibility, will it achieve your goal?
 

frito

New member
Ok thanks for the input. Just to be clear the amplifier is for the radio. My invertor is a 300 watt deal running just a laptop periodically. I am likely jumping the gun here.

My batteries do run through the relay. Last year however, I had not run the new wire between batteries. I had run a larger wire from the fuse box but I may still have been limited by this. Anyway, I recently did it the right way with an 8 gauge wire. Maybe that is enough.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

mscarbor Junior Member posted October 10, 2002 08:34 AM

Alternator bracket broke. Cannot see how to get a wrench on the nuts that secure the bracket to the block. Have tried to remove the coolant pipe (pipe goes from right rear of the head into the assembly that holds the thermostat) that crosses behind the bracket without success...can't get it out of the "thermostat assembly". Any suggestions on how to get to the bracket nuts or how to remove this pipe will be greatly appreciated.
This is my first time using this post so bear with me if I am not using properly.

Thanks.

Mark
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
I'm not sure I understand the problem. Referring to the Bentley, my page #27.15, "Alternator, removing and installing", there is a cradle bracket held on with two 13mm nuts to studs on the block above the head coolant pipe. I assume this is what you're talking about since it is the only two-piece item to 'fracture' into its pieces.

There is an alternator support bracket (also the adjusting bracket) to near the top left of the alternator, and one more that is not shown in that diagram. It connects from the same stud near the pulley that the alternator support bracket is on and goes to the alternator bolt -- the long one that passes through the alternator body and comes out as the upper of the three nuts on the cradle bracket.

Reaching the cradle bracket nuts appears clear. On mine I can reach them from below with a manifold wrench (Mac #S161 -- see Mac topic in TOOLS forum) or I can reach them from above with a socket and appropriate length extension. They are well clear of the coolant pipe, but there isn't a lot of swing room for a straight wrench so the S-shaped manifold wrench's ability to reach around the coolant pipe would help. If using a socket from above, a wobble extension might give a slightly better angle of attack.

The nut on the alternator bolt is easily accessible from above -- more so than below where access is blocked by the oil filler pipe. Since that bracket has a small lip on it, an deep offset box-end might be easier. The toughest looks like getting to the head of the alternator bolt in case it tries to turn while removing the nut. I was still able to reach it with a standard box-end from the center of the engine. All you need is enough grip to keep it from turning and my box end set has just enough angle that it will reach over the flange of the cradle bracket.

I suspect what you are running into is just not having the right tools. Many specialty tools like the manifold wrench don't seem like a good investment for the one or two uses expected for their 'designed' purpose, but often they can solve other problem accesses. Mine gets used quite regular just because it's convenient -- in to clear the way to the drain plugs for every coolant change for one. The average ratchet set doesn't have but a couple of length extensions, usually 'too long' and 'too short'. But getting a full set of extensions plus a short wobble extension often give you that just-right length. Flex-head and stubby ratchets often get you into tight spots. Ditto a flex-socket vs. a regular socket with a u-joint extension. Mid-length socket sets are becoming popular where a deep socket is just too long. I have full sets of open-end crows foots, and a couple of most often box-end crows foots and flare crow foots. Again, a socket that reaches around a corner, so to speak. Sometimes a ratcheting box end will fit where a ratchet & socket won't.

Follow-up: The S-shaped manifold wrench I got from Mac is 13mm (size needed) on one end and 14mm on the other. You can reach up and around a pipe to get the nut above. That's what it was designed for. But it should also clear the coolant pipe and reach the nuts on the cradle bracket mount studs. I bet all the Mac reps carry one on their truck. Snap-On sells the same thing plus a complete set of S wrenches that have an 11mm/13mm one it. Matco sells ½-moon versions. Schley (SP), Snap-On and CIP all sell one meant for the Cummins diesels that is basically a half a half-moon with handle in 13mm. All those companies have topics in the TOOLS forum on the site (CIP in PARTS). For kicks I tried my Cummins one and didn't have too much trouble reaching the left of the 2 nuts; the right is clear for a straight wrench. Both from underneath.

From the top, I was able to reach mine with nothing more exotic than a 3/8" drive deep-well socket -- ol' Sears & Nobucks brand. I had to put the socket on by feel since it's below the cradle bracket and the belt would have to be removed to work the ratchet. That would be the best way to reinstall so you could torque the nuts to the 18 ft-lb. called for.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferrred to consolidate same topic.

California Westy Junior Member posted April 07, 2004 09:30 PM

Have 69 Westy I have had no trouble with Generator till I tightened the belt 1 spacer now the generator light stays on. I have checked the belt and its not too tight. Any ideas. Thanks.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Have you done any of the generator troubleshooting or in-car testing of generaotr and regulator per Bentley 4-6.1 & 6.2 (Guideline #3)? Any repairs on an older car run the risk of damaging brittle wires & connections or perhaps causing the brushes to lose clean contact.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

tim gabbert Member Posted August 07, 2005 09:27 AM

most alternator problems i have run into occur because the carbon brushes have worn down to nothing thereby sending no charge to the battery. rarely does a diode give out. these brush/voltage regulators are simple to install. two screws and no removal of the alternator. cost about 20 bucks. i carry a spare. my alternator(bosch) is originalwith 330,000miles. i have replaced the brush set three times. always on the road. hope this helps.

tim
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
I ran into an interesting situation the other day. I had a battery going dead but all the tests per my manual were passing. I assumed it was the alternator but the test specified said it was putting out and the readings were proprtional to the loads.

Finally I realized that the ammeter lead to the battery was in common with the lead from the battery to load. I.e. I was measuring the current going to & from the battery. With no "in", the reading was battery drain. I removed the alternator lead from the connector and put in a heavy jumper. Finally, the ammeter read zero -- no charging current.

I had replaced the "brush pack" as above; no change. But it wasn't that difficult. Reminder: alternators with the black rectangular housing (pre-'83, 45A & 60A) should have a suppressor added if not already equipped, Bentley 27.20

I also did two preliminary tests for shorts within the alternator while still on the vehicle. Slip-ring to slip ring is supposed to read a resistance. Each slip ring to case ground should be open circuit -- not connected. It passed all those tests so I knew I was over my head and headed to the pros.

The shop I use has an alternator drive that will test it "in use". It was dead -- apparently a failure in the diodes that are inside. Off for a reman, installed, and we have amps! I wasn't able to return the brush pack -- electrical part non-return -- but I lucked out in that it is the same for both my Westy and my wife's car. So I have one spare for two cars.

FYI: My Bosch reman did NOT have the supressor that is standard on VW's. Be sure, if you get a reman, to transfer or replace your suppressor -- don't assume the reman will have it. Also, the reman will require you transfer your pulley's. Take special not of any spacers, orientation and the proper torque. Inspect your pulley carefully while you have this opportunity.
 
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bobCamp

New member
I am having a frustrating problem with my charging system. Every once in a while the battery is dead (after sitting overnight) and I need to either pop start, jump start, or charge it. I have been through a few batteries, it has a new alternator, a new starter, and several of the wires have been replaced (negative wire on the battery for example). It has been checked at 2 shops, including a dealer, and they say that everything tests correctly. I am not leaving the radio or lights on or anything. I am not sure where to look next. Before I replaced the battery (the last time) and starter, it would start to drain everytime I started it and eventually it would drain. One night I stopped at a convenience store and I needed a police officer to block traffic so I could push it out to the street to have room to pop it! As much enjoyment as this brings spectators, I don't want to have to do that anymore
Has anyone had any experience like this before?
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
There is a troubleshooting chart in the Bentley, 27.10 for your symptom.

Batteries don't draw down overnight unless something is going on. For quick & dirty test, start with an inductive ammeter (TOOLS > "Diagnostic Tools. . . > 1st post) at the battery. This tells you if the battery has a draw when the vehicle is idle & shut down. Self-explanatory; diagnosis in Bentley. Couple of Battery topics here & in TIPS forum.

Then put the same test on the alternator output to see if charging -- putting out ~14v and then tapers only as the battery approaches charged. Tests to see if current going TO battery. Only load test tells if battery is accepting charge or just acting as 'pass through'.

Finally, put the ammeter on the starter when starting to see if the draw is within expectations, usually ~200 amps. Tests to see if draw is so large it exceed battery capacity and battery 'shuts down' or shorts. Starter topic in BASIC WIRING forum.
 

bobCamp

New member
Unfortunately the issue with my 87 Westy 2.1 manual is becoming a major problem. I get extremely nervous parking anywhere that does not have a hill (which unfortunately includes camp sites). I have brought it to two mechanics including a VW dealer. They could not find anything wrong. They said the alternator is working properly and the battery is not drawing down when powered off. I am now about to purchase a third battery in one year. This time it seems to have died after using the A/C around town. I've replaced a ton of wires, etc. Not sure what to do next. When getting my state inspection, it was started and shut off several times in a short period, and eventually needed to be pop started. It has a new starter that the dealer said was working properly. I am completely at a loss. I also want to add that I left the fridge on overnight a month ago and it started immediately the next morning. In my previous post I mentioned that it seemed to happen overnight, this was simply my perception which was not accurate. When it drains, it happens very quickly and will not start. It was merely a coincidence that I was getting to my driveway and parked for the night before it died. I will provide an update when or if I ever figure it out.
 

icarus

Moderator
I would first look to see if you have a draw when everything is off. A simple test is to disconnect the battery with all the loads off. If you do it in the dark, with all the loads off, you shouldn't see any arc. (Remember the little loads of the clock, the tuner presets on the radio etc. Take these fuses out if need be). If you have an arc, even a tiny one you have a draw of some sort. If you have no load draw then your problem is elsewhere. It sounds like you have done some proper checking, but perhaps you have missed something. Don't forget the obvious, (not that I would know what it is!) From your description it sounds like it could be a relay problem somewhere. Are there anyother electrical gremlins? Maybe a wiper motor not parking, sticking lock activators,,, your guess.

Good luck, Icarus
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
I still don't see any indications you've done the ammeter tests suggested 4/26/07 to determine where, when & how much draw down there is! Your frustration that it quits on you without warning is understandable but you haven't given us anything that helps isolates the problem.

Icarus's are 'field tests' of the same thing, but until you do the necessary tests, it's impossible for others to diagnose sight unseen. When something is intermittent, it is as difficult for shops to diagnose as for you -- that's not an indication they are 'bad' shops. Icarus is indicating a couple of possibilities that deserve further attention -- i.e. somthing high-draw is not shutting off when it should, perhaps even a defective ignition switch is leaving the 'ignition on' circuits live when you think they are off. This you can easily test with test light or voltmeter.

Temporarily install one of these and an ammeter as suggested above can help you catch it. The A/C draws 40 amps -- enough to kill a battery in less than 2 hours and make it 'non starting' in even less than that; is the A/C clutch disengaging? Remove that, the fridge and water pump from the circuit entirely until found. Fans are high energy consumers -- pull your heat/vent system fan fuses. Look for things feeding or interconnected to the 4-way flasher. That circuitry remains live at all times because of its emergency nature. When you are down to basic start and engine run circuits only, then you can add back until the symptom reappears. You may have a broken wire not visible within its insulation or a wire chaffed through that still touches and connects, but draws or grounds intermittently.

Now that you have a shop confirming this is NOT an alternator problem, it no longer belongs in this topic.
 

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