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1959 American Generator

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MARTINSR View Drop Down
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    Posted: Jan/07/2018 at 11:16pm
Ok, my daily driver 59 American's idiot light for the charging system stays on until I have driven a mile or so and bring the RPM up good revving the engine. It then will go back on when I shut the engine off. I slap the regulator with an open hand and the light goes out. I have pulled the regulator cover off and cleaned up the points and it doesn't done a thing. The last time this happened a year or so ago cleaning up the points fixed it.

One of the points which is very much unlike the others, it even has an adjustment screw to change the contact pressure. If the points are open when the engine is running and the light is on I can simply push on the top and it will click down making contact and the light goes out. When I turn the motor off I have to open those points to shut the light off, which is what is happening when I slap it. 

I checked with a voltage tester and at idle it was at 12, I brought the RPM up and it was at 13.25. I turned the head lights on and it was at 13. 

I know nothing, I am a bodyman, I can cut the car in half and weld it back together but don't know this simple friggin charging system. LOL 

Any ideas? I do have a spare generator I got from my parts car and it looks good at the armature and brushes, I has a "rebuilt" sticker on it but who knows how long it was used. Anyway, I could put that in there and try it but if all I need is regulator I'd rather do that, I don't have to pull the battery and get under the car for the regulator. LOL

Thanks so much for any ideas.

Brian
1959 Rambler American daily driver. And I mean EVERY SINGLE day.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tomj Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/08/2018 at 12:40am
well you seem pretty good at diagnostic tests, so your methodology is not shabby, even if your specific knowledge is short. you'd probably be actually good at electrics if you care to work at it! that sort of thinking is a great start.

those regulators are simple, but subtle. given it's age, before i did and serious messing-with, i would do the tedious but important checks on the wiring: is every single electrical connector bright and shiny metal? after half century, it wont naturally be that way! warranty is over! lol

if any of the spade lugs have frayed wires, i'd go after those. strip to bare shiny copper, get a real crimp tool, and put on new spade lugs. wire brish all the terminals SHINY. (batter disconnect first). the generator body has a ground wire -- it's *critical*. a bad connection can be a significant fraction of a volt, or worse, vary with vibration, corrosion, etc. that'll make you NUTS trying to test.

if you go through the wiring and make every single connection clean and solid and not wiggly, there's a non-zero chance it will fix things. if not, you are definitely not wasting your time. also its cheap. also it's purely mechanical work.

sounds like it's able to charge, and that behavior with the voltmeter doesn't sound bad to me.

gennies dont put out crap at low speeds (< 1200? or so). so that's normal enough. 13.25 is in the range of normal. 12 at idle means the generator isn't doing much, but that's normal also. 

1961 roadster american
195.6 OHV, modded
T5z, 3.42:1 mustang axle
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MARTINSR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/08/2018 at 1:47am
Thanks, I'll look that over.

Brian
1959 Rambler American daily driver. And I mean EVERY SINGLE day.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote farna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/08/2018 at 11:53am
Might be time to consider an alternator swap since this is a daily driver.

This will help troubleshooting:
http://www.secondchancegarage.com/public/83.cfm

There is an all electronic drop in replacement:
http://cloversystems.com/products/other/dynamo-regulator/dr110/
Just put your cover on it! At $165 (up to 30A) and $180 (up to 55A) they aren't cheap, especially compared to about $60 for a mechanical replacement, but you should never need another one.
Frank Swygert
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MARTINSR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/08/2018 at 3:28pm
I'm sorry, I love my woman as God made them, I am not going to give Marge a Boob job! I already feel bad for the third brake light, and the stereo...I'm sorry Marge.

Brian
1959 Rambler American daily driver. And I mean EVERY SINGLE day.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote billd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/09/2018 at 12:19am
LOL - might be a good use for a couple of NOS AMC generator parts I have.  ;-)

I don't recall which system the 59 used but I believe it's Delco and it had a voltage regulator, current regulator and a cutout relay all in the "regulator". 
First off - 12 volts is low. A fully charged battery is 12.6 (actually a tad little bit more, but most meters won't give that detail)
So if your battery is GOOD and fully charged (meaning a real life battery charger running on it over night and no less) it should read 12.6 volts. Less and it's either not fully charged, or will not hold a charge.
12.6 is awfully close to 13........ which is too low to charge anything.. Even 13.25 isn't going to charge a battery. A cold battery won't take a thing at that low voltage, you'd never fully charge it. 

Your regulator should be adjustable and should be set to 13.8 to 14.7 volts and the voltage regulator portion air gap about .060"
With that in mind, either that generator ain't keeping up or the regulator is set too low or something....

There's a current regulator and I think that should be something like 30 amps and there's an air gap for those points, too - not sure on that one. 
The cutout relay has a setting, too and should close at close to 12 volts ranging up to 13.5 meaning when the voltage drops below that area, it opens and isolates the generator from the battery preventing discharge of the battery through the generator. 

So besides cleaning - check the regulator settings.....
It's possible to have a bad armature - and that should be tested out for shorts, opens and grounds - like you'd check any armature (but has to be removed for that)

Last generator system I worked on was a Lucas - ugh.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MARTINSR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/09/2018 at 12:33am
Good stuff there Billd, you have sparked my interest and I went back and looked at Farma's post links and damn that is educational, thank you so much Farma.

Funny thing is, yesterday I came home and the light was on as normal until the motor fired up and it went out and wasn't on when I shut the key off, again today, operated perfectly, geeez. 

I will look a little further and get a little educated.

Thanks guys,

Brian
1959 Rambler American daily driver. And I mean EVERY SINGLE day.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote farna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/09/2018 at 7:14am
I was going to ask if it was cold out when the light was acting up, but then remembered you were in CA... probably not, at least not cold enough to affect performance.

If an alternator is out of the question you might want to spend the dough for one of those electronic regulators. The 30A model would be fine. I ran a generator the full 14 years I daily drove my old 63 American. I remember replacing the regulator once, and having the generator rebuilt once (really more of a refresh -- just bushings, bearings and brushes... I think there's one bearing in the front, bushing in the rear...). The only time it sort of failed was my last trip from Idaho. Got caught in a late snow storm (March) and was going up the Continental Divide in Wyoming. Ran through the mountains with lights on and a trailer with lights 5-6 hours that afternoon and evening. Didn't make Cheyenne -- had to stay at some little mountain hotel that night. At 9 am the next morning it was 9 degrees!! Starter grunted and slowly rolled the engine a few revs, that was it. Called a tow company and they jumped it off, fired right up with their heavy cables and warm engine hooked up. My guess is the long cold run with the extra trailer lights, plus the cold, was just a bit much for the generator. Ran 40-45 the whole time, so should have been fast enough to charge, but the conditions and bit of an extra load from the trailer lights...
Frank Swygert
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MARTINSR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/09/2018 at 8:47pm
What a story! Yeah, it's not cold, 45ish the absolute lowest. It's funny you should mention Idaho because I am looking at moving there, and wondered if I would drive the Rambler there or trailer it. I think I will trailer it. :D 

Brian
1959 Rambler American daily driver. And I mean EVERY SINGLE day.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lyle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/10/2018 at 9:10am
Another thing to consider is your generator may be just dirty. Just like your old drill it has carbon brushes that wear on the commutator. Carbon builds up between the segments and if damp or heavily packed can produce dead spots and poor output.
These are simple mechanical devices and if you can take apart an electric drill and clean it you can also do the same for your generator - it's just bigger.
Inspect the brushes for wear and replace if worn too much, clean between the commutator segments - I cut an old hacksaw blade and use the back end. If the commutator is worn at the brush contact area find a generator/starter shop to refinish.
Use a generator/starter shop for the work and not a machine shop. Soft copper requires specific machining/finishing and some machinists, not knowing, can ruin a commutator in one cut.
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