Charging voltage

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Charging voltage

Postby Tacoclaw » Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:34 pm

I seem to be having a problem in the electrical system of my truck, if you can believe that. :roll:

The problem first started about 1 1/2 years ago when my starter burnt up, and ended up taking the battery, alternator, and regulator out with it. I replaced all four, and everything was ok, till about 6 months ago.

I was leaving work to go to a diesel show a few hours away, and the charge wire from my alternator comes unhooked from it's connector by the hot wire. The amp gauge started going wild, all my dash lights went out, and the radio restarted itself about 3 times, then erupted into a smoke ball. I didn't realize what was happening, so I turned on my dome light, not sure why, and saw an arc jump from one side to the other under the lens. A really big arc. Besides the dash lights, every light on the truck had literally exploded from whatever had happened. I rehooked the cable, bought a new regulator and all new lights, and went drove the whole way with no radio. No other incidents occured, besides having the lowest dyno number of the day. :lol:

Now, onto my problem. When running, my charge gauge has stayed in the same place since I've owned the truck. It stays at about the 3/4 mark, but if the idle drops too low or something like that it responds correctly by dropping to around 1/2. However, recently it seems to bounce around, not a lot,maybe from one side of the 3/4 mark to the other, but it seems to be timed with the idle of the truck. Also, if the window gets stalled out, it overcorrects kind of wildly when the button is let off.(how I burnt up my fresh new junkyard radio I spent 3 hours looking for)

I just put in some new Westach gauges, boost and Pyro, and the pyro gauge seems to have a complete mind of it's own. sometimes it's bottomed out, sometimes it's pegged, and, when cruising about 60ish, it seems to work fine. The old gauge I got from them was rated for 12-30 volts, but this new one says 12v only. I've got a good ground, and the probe ohms out good, but the truck is charging at 14.6 volts now, and I wonder if that's a problem. Since I was using a digital meter, I assume that's an average of the high/low sweeps of the needle. I pull my battery cables off when I park it, and sunday when I popped the hood the battery was smoking out the vents and smelled like acid really bad.

I've cleaned the ground to the block that comes off the alternator, and I've had 2 regulators now that haven't seemed to change anything. Any chance I've somehow screwed up the alternator again when the cable came unhooked? My next step is another ground to the frame from the block, but I figured I'd ask here before I went under that oily-ass thing.
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby ellis93 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:16 pm

14.6 is over charge on a 12volt system. Most u should see is 13.5. I would change out the alt and reg. 14.6 volts will fry a battery. Is there any way you could measure the amps that the alt is putting out.
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby 1STGENFARMBOY » Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:44 am

Mine has started gradually falling off for some reason, at 800 rpm with everything on high beams, blower on high, radio, fuel pump, it.s only puttin out 11.89v, but if i take it up to 1,500 rpm it puts out 13.9v, is this also a sigh of a faulty VR.

Dar
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby ellis93 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 10:27 am

The way I understand regulators is that it takes the AC current that the alt puts out and levels the highs and lows to covert it to DC voltage. Some also start the charging of the alt. I may be part wrong on this. Some one may know more.
As far as weak output at idle I would point toward the alt. Your brushes inside could be worn.
Think of it like this. If you were to take it of and have it tested by a parts house. And they spin it 3000rpms. It would test good because they spin the hell out of it cuaseing the good brushes to pick up the slack of one worn brush. Same with your truck. Its just worn. Have it rebuilt and save some money. Brushes are cheap.
This is just what I've had happen to me in the past.
93 D250 ,5 speed,4.11s,k&n autometer tach pyro trans boost guages,GDS 60mm h1c 14cm,honed 5x10,hplp/reg,1/8 timing,M+H M2 fuel pin, tims cooler tubz
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby BobS » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:56 am

ellis93 wrote:14.6 is over charge on a 12volt system. Most u should see is 13.5. I would change out the alt and reg. 14.6 volts will fry a battery. Is there any way you could measure the amps that the alt is putting out.


Having run an alternator rebuilding service from 1989 through 1996 I have to slightly disagree. Most internal voltage regulators of this era were preset to 14.7V as the high charge voltage. Fords were a tad higher on some at 15.1V. Some Agricultural applications were set to the low 14 volt range. Normal resting battery volts on a fully charged battery should be in the mid 13 volt range. This is measured after the vehicle has been driven and shut off. Most voltage regulators seem to have used the same circuits packaged in different housings and attaching points.
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby ellis93 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 1:46 pm

A new battery,fully charged measures 12.6. That 2.1 volts per cell. If measured after runnin vehicle it would measure that high but it will not stay charged to that amount.
I also know that some do charge high voltage. I just don't think our trucks with tempermental wiring needs 14.7 volts pulsing thru it.
Reguardless of my opinion. he said that the battery was cookin and something is cookin it.
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby PToombs » Wed Nov 17, 2010 5:51 pm

Dar, you have a diode going bad in the alternator. Used to see it alot with the '70's dodges. ;)
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby Tacoclaw » Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:02 pm

The battery is actually fried. I've had it unhooked for about a week now, and it just barely had enough juice to light up the oil pressure light. It may have had a cell going bad in it for a while now, and that is what has been causing this, I'm going to throw another one in it tomorrow and see.


Thanks for the advice so far, I did go to Carquest and grab a regulator. I may throw it on if the battery doesn't help anything.
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby BobS » Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:46 am

Check the date code of the battery BEFORE you buy it. Normally it's specified as a 4 digit code burned into the top of the case or in some rare cases on the top posts. IIRC, first 2 digits represent the month of manufacture 01=Jan, 02=Feb...12=Dec followed by the year 09=2009, 10=2010, etc. There are places that have batteries setting on shelves for almost a year or more that have never been charged. When I worked at NAPA in the 70's it was totally irrelevant because they were shipped dry and the electrolyte was added at the time of purchase. I think that due to insurance liabilities, shipping hazzards of shipping acid in 5 gallon carboys has now eliminated this process so now they are filled at the factory and set around in some cases at distribution locations and eventually at auto parts stores. I still prefer the non sealed batteries. The one in my old Ford is a Motorcraft made in 1999. Checking it and adding distilled water when needed still seems to be the better method to me than the maintenance free sealed versions that you can not check for specific gravity, water use, etc.
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby BILTIT » Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:10 am

ellis93 wrote:The way I understand regulators is that it takes the AC current that the alt puts out and levels the highs and lows to covert it to DC voltage. Some also start the charging of the alt. I may be part wrong on this. Some one may know more.
As far as weak output at idle I would point toward the alt. Your brushes inside could be worn.
Think of it like this. If you were to take it of and have it tested by a parts house. And they spin it 3000rpms. It would test good because they spin the hell out of it cuaseing the good brushes to pick up the slack of one worn brush. Same with your truck. Its just worn. Have it rebuilt and save some money. Brushes are cheap.
This is just what I've had happen to me in the past.


Not exactly,

The alternator itself has a 3-diode bridge internally which takes the three seperate, out of sinc, AC waves and combines them to get a DC (straight line ''wave''). The VR controls the output of the alternator in reference to what is needed from the battery/electrical system.

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/alternator.htm


Just an FYI.
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby Richie O » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:14 am

BobS wrote:Check the date code of the battery BEFORE you buy it. Normally it's specified as a 4 digit code burned into the top of the case or in some rare cases on the top posts. IIRC, first 2 digits represent the month of manufacture 01=Jan, 02=Feb...12=Dec followed by the year 09=2009, 10=2010, etc. There are places that have batteries setting on shelves for almost a year or more that have never been charged. When I worked at NAPA in the 70's it was totally irrelevant because they were shipped dry and the electrolyte was added at the time of purchase. I think that due to insurance liabilities, shipping hazzards of shipping acid in 5 gallon carboys has now eliminated this process so now they are filled at the factory and set around in some cases at distribution locations and eventually at auto parts stores. I still prefer the non sealed batteries. The one in my old Ford is a Motorcraft made in 1999. Checking it and adding distilled water when needed still seems to be the better method to me than the maintenance free sealed versions that you can not check for specific gravity, water use, etc.


Some I have seen have a letter that represents the month made then the year. Like A9 could mean Jan of 2009 or Jan of 1999. :roll: When I sold parts 12 years ago the only dry batteries they had then was the motorcycle size. All the rest were wet and pre charged. We never put a charge on them and I am sure there were plenty of batteries that sat for a year or two. Not the best for sure.
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby BobS » Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:31 pm

Richie O wrote:
BobS wrote:Check the date code of the battery BEFORE you buy it. Normally it's specified as a 4 digit code burned into the top of the case or in some rare cases on the top posts. IIRC, first 2 digits represent the month of manufacture 01=Jan, 02=Feb...12=Dec followed by the year 09=2009, 10=2010, etc. There are places that have batteries setting on shelves for almost a year or more that have never been charged. When I worked at NAPA in the 70's it was totally irrelevant because they were shipped dry and the electrolyte was added at the time of purchase. I think that due to insurance liabilities, shipping hazzards of shipping acid in 5 gallon carboys has now eliminated this process so now they are filled at the factory and set around in some cases at distribution locations and eventually at auto parts stores. I still prefer the non sealed batteries. The one in my old Ford is a Motorcraft made in 1999. Checking it and adding distilled water when needed still seems to be the better method to me than the maintenance free sealed versions that you can not check for specific gravity, water use, etc.


Some I have seen have a letter that represents the month made then the year. Like A9 could mean Jan of 2009 or Jan of 1999. :roll: When I sold parts 12 years ago the only dry batteries they had then was the motorcycle size. All the rest were wet and pre charged. We never put a charge on them and I am sure there were plenty of batteries that sat for a year or two. Not the best for sure.


That sound correct Richie. I did'nt have one in front of me to look at & I have the gray hair memory excuse that comes with the over age 60 group!
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby Richie O » Thu Nov 18, 2010 3:35 pm

I have forgot basically everything I learned from my parts days too and my hair is not grey. I think I got dropped on my head when young.

I do know that lately when I buy a battery they don't even bother to punch the date anymore. I think they go by the build date on pro rated exchanges. Not very fair if the dam thing is a year old when you get it. We have bought over 20 batteries in the last 4 years. Does not take long when the trucks take 2, 3 and 4 batteries at a time plus a couple at a time in the heavy equipment.
1989 W250 727, 3.07 L/S, S300, P/S Intercooler, Stans exaust, Pump adjustments, 127k miles,297 hp
1993 W250 extended cab, rag, 4.10 l/s, 6x16's, HTT 62/71/14 piston l/p, Isspro EV series tach, fuel pressure, boost, oil pres, water temp, volt, pryo, 132k/ 301 hp
1992 W250 with NV4500, 3.54's, 16cm 60mm GDS H1C, ground stock cone, Isspro tach, pryo, boost, fuel pressure, slow, rusty, dented,180k
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Re: Charging voltage

Postby Mark Nixon » Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:19 pm

I can tell you from sad experience, a weak, or dead cell will absolutely play hell with an electrical system.
The carhauler has 2 batteries, one for starting the truck, another under the bed for the winch.
The winch battery's positive side is tied into the starting/charging system with a heavy guage (0-2) jumper CABLE to the starter, so, in essence I have 2 batteries to power either the truck, or the winch.

Problem is, if either battery starts to lose a cell, it automatically starts to overcharge BOTH batteries, and it'll start to leech down the other battery, too.
No, I don't have an isolator....yet.
What's worse is, it doesn't show an overcharge on the guage, the first thing I notice is the starter cranks differently.
After that, if I ignore the warning the starter gave, I'll soon get a rotten egg smell (overcharged/boiling battery), but by then it's almost too late for the GOOD battery.

It's ALWAYS best to start troubleshooting with a KNOWN GOOD BATTERY.

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Re: Charging voltage

Postby ellis93 » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:43 am

Well from reading the info in this link
http://auto.howstuffworks.com/alternator.htm
I've found that I have a faulty understanding of an externaly regulated alternator.
Been workin on vehicals for the last 15years and only fooled around with internal reg alts. Most are just replaced with new at my shop. Most on cars are in bad places and are hard to get to. Sorry if I confused anyone. :(
Maybe I can help with something else at another time. :)
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