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Old 03-23-2013, 10:20 AM
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Alternator power lead problems

OK, this is a new one to me. My grandson and I finished building his '59 El Camino and it is running great, except; it keeps burning the power lead to the alternator right at the crimp-on terminal loop on the alternator. It burns the lead in two right at the crimp. It is a plain vanilla 307 SBC, Accel points eliminator ignition w/ Mallory ignition box. 70 amp Summit chrome alternator, EZ wiring harness. The rest of the system is the usual electrics, biggest load is a Mark VIII two speed radiator fan but that is powered by a 10ga lead directly from the battery to a circuit braker, control module, then the fan. The alternator never sees it.

The first time we fried that connection was after the battery was run down and barely charged to get the car running so I thought maybe the alternator was maxing out trying to get the battery charged, we had a bad crimp and resiatance & hi current fried the wire. However this time the battery is charged the crimp had TLC and it still fried. I will solder the connection this time and see what happens.

Any ideas?

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Old 03-23-2013, 11:24 AM
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tool

What size wire is being used for the alternator? #8 would be a miniumun.
What kind of tool was used to install the lug for the connection to the alternator? The proper crimping tool is critical to making a proper connection. Anything else produces a hot spot and eventually will burn up.
I have seen #10 wire used for a 125 amp alternator with the proper crimped on lug. The wire would get hot and the voltage would drop but the connection held up just fine.
Just to clarify, any load that is connected to the battery, becomes a load for the alternator to maintain the battery in a fully charged condition.

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Old 03-23-2013, 02:46 PM
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I was an electronic tech for years and I always try to solder my electrical connections even if they are crimped. Can't get a better connection for amperage, and they don't get intermitten contact that crimps alone can, and be Hell to find. Your gonna need a good sized tip to transfer enough heat to get the big wire/terminal hot and stay hot while you apply the solder. Put a good bit of solder on the tip before you touch the wire(helps heat transfer). Don't forget to slide a piece of shrink tube a good ways up the wire before soldering.
Of coarse you probably already know all of this. I thought I'd mention that you might check to see if something is pulling the battery down when its shut off(like a gauge light or similar). If something is draining the battery enough it will put a good load on the alternator especially when other accessories turn on.
ssmonty

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Old 03-23-2013, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willys36@aol.com View Post
OK, this is a new one to me. My grandson and I finished building his '59 El Camino and it is running great, except; it keeps burning the power lead to the alternator right at the crimp-on terminal loop on the alternator. It burns the lead in two right at the crimp. It is a plain vanilla 307 SBC, Accel points eliminator ignition w/ Mallory ignition box. 70 amp Summit chrome alternator, EZ wiring harness. The rest of the system is the usual electrics, biggest load is a Mark VIII two speed radiator fan but that is powered by a 10ga lead directly from the battery to a circuit braker, control module, then the fan. The alternator never sees it.

The first time we fried that connection was after the battery was run down and barely charged to get the car running so I thought maybe the alternator was maxing out trying to get the battery charged, we had a bad crimp and resiatance & hi current fried the wire. However this time the battery is charged the crimp had TLC and it still fried. I will solder the connection this time and see what happens.

Any ideas?
Bad crimp, too small a gauge wire, poor quality ring terminal or a combination of the three. I would go up a size on the wire (lower #)from what you are using, get a good quality copper end, crimp then solder it. Make sure when you crimp it you don't break the strands of the wire, this effectivly makes it a smaller gauge.
Quality terminal can be purchased at an electrical supply house. The ones at radio shack etc are not very high quality
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Old 03-23-2013, 03:25 PM
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When you put in the painless kit, did you insure the #1 and #2 terminals were correctly oriented in the alt pig tail?

With the wires hooked up and the engine not running, does the alt casing get hot?
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:28 PM
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Thanx for the input. The wire is I think 10ga - whatever comes in the EZ harness. The wire was fine no signs of overheating, it disintegrated just downstream of the crimp. I buy my connectors at an industrial electrical supply store so they are top of the line. Of course crimp with a commercial crimping tool.

UPDATE: talked to grandson this morning and he clarified that he did not see the connection burned again, just saw the voltmeter stay below 12V so it is probably not the connection, probably the V-regulator in the alternator. I have a couple of GM alternator rebuild kits (I buy them by the handful), will install one and recover the alternator function I figure. And just to be safe I will solder that ring and also add a 10ga jumper from there to the lug on the radiator fan that leads back to the battery so there are two big wires headed over there. When I build my harnesses I always run 2 10ga wires from the alternator to the starter/battery lead and from there to the fuse block.

And I do have a great soldering iron. Got it at the age of about 10 in the 1950s when men were men and boys were boys. This iron has no modern safety features that make it unuseable; it is full power!!
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:34 PM
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Not really a good idea to use the alternator to charge a
nearly dead battery.
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:48 PM
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From your lips to grandson's ears!!! I think he has learned that lesson.
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:52 PM
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I learned not to start my car with the battery charger connected.
One fried alternator.
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Old 03-24-2013, 12:57 AM
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Been down that road,the Mark VIII has the highest amp draw of any electric fan so you may want to read this:Electric Fan Conversion Using the Notorious Lincoln Mark VIII Fan - FordMuscle You really should have opted for a 100 amp alternator,but this is a cheaper solution first you should run a H.D. relay like in this article:Custom Cars Classic Hotrods Streetrods-Watsons StreetWorks You can actully get this relay and matching plug harness at Fry's Electronics for about $10,then replace the 10 gauge feed wire from the alternator to the battery with a Ford type 4 or 6 gauge cable this is the type with flat lugs on each end about $7 at most parts houses,so for under $20 you should be good.Doc Vette turned me onto being a relay freak,bless Him!
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Old 03-24-2013, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willys36@aol.com View Post

UPDATE: talked to grandson this morning and he clarified that he did not see the connection burned again, just saw the voltmeter stay below 12V so it is probably not the connection, probably the V-regulator in the alternator. I have a couple of GM alternator rebuild kits (I buy them by the handful), will install one and recover the alternator function I figure. And just to be safe I will solder that ring and also add a 10ga jumper from there to the lug on the radiator fan that leads back to the battery so there are two big wires headed over there. When I build my harnesses I always run 2 10ga wires from the alternator to the starter/battery lead and from there to the fuse block.

And I do have a great soldering iron. Got it at the age of about 10 in the 1950s when men were men and boys were boys. This iron has no modern safety features that make it unuseable; it is full power!!
If the alternator is not charging it is not going to burn the wire, no current = no heat. Don't be surprised if it burns again once the alternator is working.
I would use at least an 8 gauge wire, 10 seems a little small. Two under sized wires is not a good idea. If you lose connection on one then the other one will be overloaded trying to handle the current and possibly burn up.
If there is no sign of heat then the crimp must be damaging the wire.
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