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Old 11-12-2009, 01:28 PM
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New old truck dead as a doornail!

Hey guys-

Friend of mine bought a decent old truck. 88 chevy with a 350, towing pack, 4 speed, good running truck, solid. Figured we'd have to sort through some problems and now I'm a little stumped.

When we picked the truck up the serpentine belt was squeeling and the truck wouldn't hold a charge. Guy says "it needs a battery or alternator." My guess was, as I told my friend, I'll bet you a dime that the belt tensioner is shot and its just not driving the alternator to run the charge up.

One new tensioner later, we have a squeeling sound and dead battery still. I'm now officially a parts-chucker. I take the belt off and run the belt driven equipment by hand. Alternator squeaks noticeably when it turns. Awesome I think, two birds.

New alternator. Dead battery. Belt still squealing. I'm not an even bigger parts-chucker and I've always prided myself on testing stuff first. Got ahead of myself and now I'm slowing down and stepping back a minute.

The truck will run with a fresh battery, of course, but will kill it. The new, or old, alternator will not charge said battery. Take the jumper cables off the truck and run it for 5 minutes, it starts loping and dies.

Here's my plan for tonight: charge the battery with a proper charger for 18 hours or so until I can get to it tomorrow. Start the truck and test voltage at battery while running. I know lower than 12.xx is a turd battery. I think the battery is fine.

So I have a situation where I'm relatively sure I have a known-good alternator, a battery I'm pretty confident about but will test tomorrow. Any advice on further searching? Have the standard, 3 wire alternator (two knife fittings and a bolt) which I assume means we've also changed the regulator given this thing is internally regulated. Have I overlooked something obvious?

K

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Last edited by killerformula; 11-12-2009 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 11-12-2009, 02:37 PM
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Sounds like you have been checking everything, But have you checked the power steering pump or maybe the water pump ? JMO..............Cole
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Old 11-12-2009, 02:57 PM
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looked at them with the belt off and didn't see anything too abnormal. I see a weird pattern on the back of the belt, a repeating half-moon shape so I think something's wearing on the back, only things that run on the back of the belt are an idler pulley, the tensioner I already replaced and the water pump. At this point, however, I'm more interested in solving the charging issue, at least that way its on the road again and otu of my driveway ha ha-

K
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Old 11-12-2009, 04:29 PM
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Look for the ground wire from the neg. post to the body on the battery.
Alt. should be putting out 14 V at least. I had a problem with my 76 chevy and finally found that the horn wire in the column under the steering wheel was shorting out and draining my battery every night.
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Old 11-12-2009, 05:23 PM
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Make sure you have the correct length belt. There are usually marks on the tensioner to show the correct range of movement. I have seen the wrong length belt installed more than once because teh parts store didnt have the right one. 1/2 inch difference can be enough to cause an issue with a serpentine setup.
The other possibility is someone changed one of the pulleys and put the wrong one on. The marks on the tensioner should show this
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Old 11-12-2009, 07:11 PM
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Check the alternator by tunring it with a drill, it will put out something and will eliminate that, or take it to a parts store to verify unless the parts counter retard can't run the test equipment, had that happen here and actually taught the high schooler how to do his job.

Anyhow, when you figure out the belt problem, and verify the alternator to be a good unit it still won't help find the possibility of a loose connection in the wiring harness on the starter solenoid, which is where it can and will come loose on rare occasion, I've had it happen. You can also check for a burnt fusible link which will be in that very hard to reach let alone replace harness running across the firewall behind the engine.
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Old 11-12-2009, 07:28 PM
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does the charge light come on with key in run position but engine not running? it should.

if not then problem with indicator wire or fuse etc,


are all the bigger red wires at the alt hot all the time no matter where the key switch is?

does screwdriver tip or something similar get grabbed by the shaft on the back side of the alt with the engine running?

if so then that means the field is working(magnetic)


you have a bad belt or pulley or improper pulley alignment somewhere thats causing the squealing

too long of a belt is possible yes

is the tensioner at the end of its swing travel with the belt installed/

if so then you need a shorter belt

are all cable ends tight dry and clean including at the starter solenoid and engine block ground end?



good luck

Last edited by fast68; 11-12-2009 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 11-12-2009, 10:13 PM
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Thanks for the heads up guys, the dude we got the truck from said he just did the belt, I'll take it down to the parts store and see if we're looking at a longer belt. The swing arm does look pretty deep into its tension range...

I figure the next thing I'll do is install a couple of new battery cables, the current ones are old and in bad shape and the new owner wants them on. Give us a chance to clean up the connections as well. I'll check for blown fuses and loose grounds to chassis as well while I'm at it...

K
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