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lamune

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PostSubject: total electrical death   Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:36 pm

You guys will like this story.

I took my car to a charity car show at work. After the show was over and I'm on my way home, I get a couple of miles down the road, the car just kind of goes "bluh", backfires, throws a check engine light and then just stops running.

Anyway I was wondering how hard it would be to steer and stop if the motor died. Answer is: really hard!

Car rolls to a stop. Nothing works. I got some dashboard light activity but the starter just clicked- pretty obvious the battery was dead.

I got stuck in the middle of the road, in a pretty inopportune place during commute time, and my hazards didn't even work. Thankfully a couple of guys came over and helped push the car into the Dairy Queen parking lot. Called the motor club and waited for a tow for 2 hours, but I was able to get them to tow the car home since it seemed to be an electrical problem which is something I can usually handle.

With the car home but out in the street (couldn't unload the car on the driveway) I took the battery out and charged it, then moved it back into the car and it started right up, ran fine, got it up into the garage where I could investigate.

The stud on the back of the alternator where the B+ cable goes was always a little loose, even when I got the alternator new a couple of years ago. I noticed now that it wiggled around quite a bit. I figured if I had something going intermittent there that the oscilloscope would show it more obviously than a multimeter, and sure enough when I wiggled the B+ wire/stud there was all sorts of nastiness going on.

The 140 amp alternator can be disassembled, so I did. The FSM has a nice exploded diagram. 4 little case bolts and the whole back cover is off, and sure enough that stud has a nut on the back of it and it was backed out a couple of mm easy. Tightened that up, reseated and retained the brushes, put it back together and all is good. I've never seen the interior lights so bright. I guess it was messed up from the day I got it.

So, if the stud on the back of your alternator is loose- it shouldn't be.

Also be cautious when tightening up the B+ cable, because the stud is sandwiching an aluminum heatsink, so it's very soft and easily mangled.

The good news though is that it's repairable. The hardest part is getting the brushes back into their holders so you can reassemble the case. It's only a 1 beer job at best.

The strange thing to me is that the alternator idiot light never came on. In fact, when I put the alternator back in and started the car with the field connector disconnected, the alternator isn't working but I got no light then either.

Really, I wish all cars had voltmeters. It would probably have been noticed long before I ended up dead in the street.
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phantom 309

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Sat Oct 08, 2016 9:01 pm

lamune wrote:
You guys will like this story.
Also be cautious when tightening up the B+ cable, because the stud is sandwiching an aluminum heatsink, so it's very soft and easily mangled.

The good news though is that it's repairable.

What a Face
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lamune

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:22 am

"I am a man of few words. Any questions?"

Smile
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phantom 309

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Sun Oct 09, 2016 10:27 am

lamune wrote:
"I am a man of few words. Any questions?"

Smile

Yes,...

Is there any collective info, regarding the relationship dollar wise and time wise of one of your repairs, to the amount of extra repairs needed to repair the repairs?
Dollar wise is there info regarding the extra costs involved in repairing the repaired repair?
Has any of this info been compared to dollar to fun ratio ratio repairing the repairs already repaired?

what will you repair and rerepair next,.? What a Face
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lamune

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:32 pm

That's a really interesting set of questions. No, I haven't been scientific enough about it to really give you any good answers about the dollar to fun ratio of refixing what I broke when fixing something. I mean, there's always the potential of some collateral damage when you delve into something unfamiliar! What a Face

Maybe I give the wrong impression when asking about things or sharing mistakes. I don't mind fixing things. I bought a beat up 20 year old car to fix it (and more importantly) to learn about fixing it. As long as nobody gets hurt, and I learn something new, and the car is available to run to the store to pick up some oversized thing when we need to, all is good. Smile

And if there's a silly story or rant that comes out of it, even better!
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lakeffect
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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Sun Oct 09, 2016 11:43 pm

I would suspect most of us consider our own time to be "free" as compared to what a shop charges per hour.
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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:21 am

I personally take it as a challenge to keep my cars running. I appreciate knowing when something is fixable instead of just getting a new part. I am budget constrained, and time blessed, so fixing something myself is like having a job at whatever the going rate is. I could take a boring job at a low wage (wholesale rate), and spend all my time making enough to pay someone (at retail rate) to fix the problems that occur. I prefer to have the liberty to come and go at my own whim, and have a job that is usually different every time I go to it.

Owning the car outright also allows me to literally save the payments (there is no save in spend even when you spend less). I can then use my savings to fix the car, and keep it nice. That usually costs less than making payments on a new car that I can not fix by myself. If you make small modifications, it seems like a "new" car and extends the visual appeal for much longer than the planned obsolesence of the manufacturer. It feels good to get extended miles from the original design, way beyond the planned lifespan of the vehicle.
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Andebe

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:50 am

atlantadan wrote:
phantom 309 wrote:

what will you repair and rerepair next,.? What a Face
Since you are a blocked-user for me, every now and then, I click 'show anyway' in one of your posts. You never cease to reinforce my original decision to block you. You are easily the biggest egomaniacal asswipe on this board. The way you appear to get some weird pleasure out of shaming and embarrassing certain users on this forum would be ample cause for the ban-hammer in most other forums. Why this is allowed here is beyond me...

lamune wrote:

Maybe I give the wrong impression when asking about things or sharing mistakes. I don't mind fixing things. I bought a beat up 20 year old car to fix it (and more importantly) to learn about fixing it. As long as nobody gets hurt, and I learn something new, and the car is available to run to the store to pick up some oversized thing when we need to, all is good. Smile

That's how the vast majority of us learn. I appreciate people that have the guts to dig into a problem and sort it out themselves versus throwing $ at it through a shop. I, for one, have never torn into an alternator because to me - its just easier to buy a new one when they malfunction than to repair it. If I ever find myself with an alternator with a loose stud, I now know what to try and fix instead of just replacing it. Thx.
Much like this election,Ive noticed people tend to see what they want to see. I would like to go on record and say I wish there was a sarcasm font,it sure would say on a lot of hurt feelings and bruised egos. Idea
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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Mon Oct 10, 2016 1:34 pm

We should designate a sarcasm font, and if it is not used, it will be deemed that the statement was made from the heart, and not in jest.
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Rev Bob



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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Mon Oct 10, 2016 2:29 pm

""good-hearted and the sort to needle someone in jest""

Mutually exclusive.
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Andebe

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:54 pm

Good idea,Fred. cheers
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TheRoadmasterKing



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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:01 pm

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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:30 pm

A volt meter is fine, but he is looking for a short.
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phantom 309

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:51 pm

atlantadan wrote:
Sarcasm is easy to interpret through a forum if the person posting is generally known to be good-hearted and the sort to needle someone in jest.

Most of the folks that meet me in person or talk to me on the phone,. come to that conclusion,.that i,m generous and good hearted to most, and i like to needle in jest,.

You have such a nice wagon dan,.

but,..i think dan,. you need a glass belt buckle,..or maybe a liberal does of anal bleach,.

at no time have i called you any sort of derogatory name such as asswipe,.

In fact i think thats against the rules on this forum,. to openly insult somebody,.with bad language,.

Will you be at the florida wagonfest,? It would be an exciting moment to meet you in person,.
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lamune

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:01 am

Fred Kiehl wrote:
A volt meter is fine, but he is looking for a short.

Nope, we're fine. Problem solved. A cigarette lighter voltmeter is certainly better than nothing. One of these days I'd like to put some sort of real gauge solution into the wagon.
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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Tue Oct 11, 2016 7:35 am

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Andebe

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:59 am

Ive said it before,I'll say it again. I love this place,just made me laugh out loud this morning.
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lamune

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Tue Oct 11, 2016 1:21 pm

Fred Kiehl wrote:
Oldie but goodie from Station Wagon Forum: http://www.stationwagonforums.com/forums/threads/z28-gauges-in-roadmaster-wagon.16876/

I remember seeing that swap long ago. I like it.

Are the 94-96 Caprice/Roadmaster clusters the same shape?
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lakeffect
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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Tue Oct 11, 2016 7:12 pm

I'm running a '93 with the rectangular dash pocket.

Intellitronix makes a 6 gauge universal unit that can be fitted into the 91-93 box. https://intellitronix.com/products/digital-gauges/universal-dashes

Mine is a Nordskog unit, very similar to the Intellitronix unit

Someone recently posted a ,total plug in change over available. (maybe from Dakota Digital (IIRC))

As stated,it is easier to load a few selected meters of your choice into an A-pillar pod.

And name calling is in fact a no-no on this forum, so knock it off.
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lakeffect
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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:11 am

Like I said Dan, Knock it off Whether you hurt someones feelings or not is immaterial to the point that you broke the rules. If you want to discuss your point further with a particular member or ADMIN or Moderators, then use a PM to do so from this point on

Dave Buchholz, Moderator
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lakeffect
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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:16 am

Thank you for editing your comments.

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lamune

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:30 am

On topic, I did forget to comment on the alternator idiot light.

So far the only times I've seen it come on are: running the motor with the alternator removed, and running the motor without the drive belt installed.





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jayoldschool

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:41 pm

lamune wrote:
On topic, I did forget to comment on the alternator idiot light.

So far the only times I've seen it come on are: running the motor with the alternator removed, and running the motor without the drive belt installed.






Both are really bad for computer controlled cars. Don't do that. Why would you do that?
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lakeffect
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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:46 pm

I do lots of things because I don't know any better NOT to do them.
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lamune

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Thu Oct 13, 2016 12:28 am

jayoldschool wrote:

Both are really bad for computer controlled cars.  Don't do that.  Why would you do that?

I don't see how. I've had to do testing to isolate a source of noise, or various other reasons.

No alternator in the car doesn't do anything, the car will run fine until the battery runs down. The biggest danger there is shorting out the B+ cable and melting the wire.

With a connected but not spinning alternator, there is some potential to damage the regulator or maybe overheating of the field windings due to no airflow, but neither of those things would damage the computer. Belts snap all the time, and I've yet to hear of someone's computer blow up because they lost an accessory belt. Hell that's happened to me a few times as I can recall. I can also recall an incident where I lost one alternator bracket and the alternator basically fell off. Losing the belt and thus the water pump with it was way more problematic! (That's not an issue on the LT1 of course)

The failure mode I had where the stud was loose and making intermittent contact was/is way more likely to cause problems since it was sending high frequency noise and voltage spikes throughout the electrical system.
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jasonlachapelle

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:18 am

Fred Kiehl wrote:
We should designate a sarcasm font.
comic sans
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TheRoadmasterKing



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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:20 pm

jasonlachapelle wrote:
Fred Kiehl wrote:
We should designate a sarcasm font.
comic sans

I don't think Comic Sans will have enough "IMPACT..."

HA!
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lakeffect
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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:42 pm

How about moving sarcasm font comments to a separate thread and stop hijacking this one.
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jayoldschool

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:59 am

lamune wrote:
jayoldschool wrote:

Both are really bad for computer controlled cars.  Don't do that.  Why would you do that?

I don't see how. I've had to do testing to isolate a source of noise, or various other reasons.

No alternator in the car doesn't do anything, the car will run fine until the battery runs down. The biggest danger there is shorting out the B+ cable and melting the wire.

With a connected but not spinning alternator, there is some potential to damage the regulator or maybe overheating of the field windings due to no airflow, but neither of those things would damage the computer. Belts snap all the time, and I've yet to hear of someone's computer blow up because they lost an accessory belt. Hell that's happened to me a few times as I can recall. I can also recall an incident where I lost one alternator bracket and the alternator basically fell off. Losing the belt and thus the water pump with it was way more problematic! (That's not an issue on the LT1 of course)

The failure mode I had where the stud was loose and making intermittent contact was/is way more likely to cause problems since it was sending high frequency noise and voltage spikes throughout the electrical system.

You can run an engine without oil for over a minute. Everything will seem fine. Yet, you know it is really bad for it. Understand?
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Big Wagon Guy

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:01 am

Hang on running the engine without oil is bad?
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jayoldschool

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Sat Oct 15, 2016 1:07 pm

You'd be amazed how long an engine will go with zero oil. Yes, I've done it. We did an charity auction pool at school for a vehicle that was going to be scrapped. Damn thing just wouldn't die...
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TheRoadmasterKing



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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Sat Oct 15, 2016 4:55 pm

jayoldschool wrote:
You'd be amazed how long an engine will go with zero oil.  Yes, I've done it.  We did an charity auction pool at school for a vehicle that was going to be scrapped.  Damn thing just wouldn't die...
I read a story on Reddit before on this guy who went to the Jiffy Lube and they forgot to put the oil back in the car! He had been driving the car for a week to work and back before it seized up. So yeah, they can go awhile without oil.

You might also be interested in this video about engine oiling systems from Chevy in 1937. They go into a lot of detail and it's honestly quite interesting how it all works.
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lamune

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:20 am

Quote :
You can run an engine without oil for over a minute.  Everything will seem fine.  Yet, you know it is really bad for it.  Understand?  

Well, not really. And I've already driven this car over a minute with no oil in it Smile

I might not be the best with the wrench, but I do know my "magic pixies" pretty well. I see no technical problem that would cause electrical system or computer damage to a car if you ran it with the alternator missing. Contrary to popular belief the car does not really "run off the alternator". The car runs off the battery, the alternator converts mechanical energy to electrical energy that supplies the load and charges the battery. Which reminds me, the worst thing you could probably do would be to disconnect the positive battery cable while the car is running. The sudden loss of the load of the charging battery could cause a large enough voltage spike to damage electronics before the regulator in the alternator adjusts.

Here's a picture of the inside of the alternator. The loose nut is sitting above the heat sink there, the black marks are arc damage from the nut/stud bouncing around making intermittent contact.

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jayoldschool

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:50 am

You forgot to pin your brushes in place before splitting the case. That's what those little holes are for...

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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:03 pm

The holes are for pinning the brushes in place before reassembling the case. You can not lift the brushes to pin them before separating the case halves.
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lamune

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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Thu Oct 20, 2016 12:00 am

Fred, if the brushes are brand new, you might be able to run a pin or wire through the hole. That alternator has maybe 2,000 miles on it at best, and even worn in to that degree the edge of the hole on the brush is just about broken through. It's quite possible that you can't lock the brushes in before you pull the case off, and the service manual procedure doesn't suggest you even try.

Getting them back in is by far the hardest part of the job.

It's hard to see here, but the pick I used to lock them is visible through the remaining half of the original retaining hole.



And before someone points it out, I used the pick from the inside to lock the brushes, then held them in with my thumb and flipped the case over to re-lock them from the other side. If you use a piece of wire instead you can just pull it out from the back once you put the case back together. The pick just happened to be handy and of the right size.
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Rev Bob



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PostSubject: Re: total electrical death   Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:01 pm

A toothpick run in while you hold the brushes with your finger works pretty well, too.
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