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Discussion Starter #1
OK Poncho, let's see what you think....?

Is the 1 wire alternator "that bad" when compared to a 3 wire, or external sensing alternator?
I have a Ron Francis wiring kit made for a 1 wire alternator, and I bought a Ford case 200 amp 1 wire alternator, I think it's a 3G case, if that matters....?
I've since been told the 1 wire alternators are best suited for farm trucks etc as battery chargers mainly. Ever heard of this????

What's your opinion on 1 wire alternators, and can they be wired in a manner that makes them an "equal" to the three wire set up???
Here's the link that got me reading/thinking....
http://www.madelectrical.com/electricaltech/onewire-threewire.shtml
 

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I have always used the 3 wire GM with the built in regulator. That is the one from the 70s and 80s with a large red wire and 2 wires to the little plug.

I have no experience with a 1 wire alternator, so I can't be much help to you.

I find the Mopar charging system on my 77 Dodge van (Yeah, I own a Dodge , I'm so ashamed) is a good system that is quite easy to trouble shoot. Only problem I ever had was a set of brushes.
 

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I've spent a lot of time reading the stuff on the MAD electrical site and I'm convinced he knows what he's talking about. I wound up ordering his alternator wiring kit, two relay kits for the headlights, and a couple of his distribution blocks. I'm very pleased with the quality of the materials and with the information in his booklet.

I would try to pick up one of the GM 3 wire alternators if you're going to run much more than the basics (heater and stereo). I'm running AC, power windows, a big stereo w/10 CD changer etc so I need the three wire. I also wired the alternator (following his suggestion) for remote voltage sensing which I really like.

Centerline
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I guess my problem STARTS with the fact that the wiring kit I got from Ron Francis is based around a 1 wire alternator, which I guess I could change if I had to? I'm sure re-doing the wiring for the 3 wire with remote sensing isn't too difficult?
Now, about that brand new $350.00 1 wire alternator I have sitting on my shelf....
*tears*
 

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350 dollars for a 1 wire alt? ! I recently bought one from my local napa dealer for $70. I'm putting it on a 41 cad/chevy street rod I'm building.

I run a 1 wire alt on my 59 chevy 1/2 p.u..(daily driver) It was on it when I bought it 10 years ago. Works fine, the only thing that makes it different is I have to 'blip' the throttle a little to get it to start charging after I first start it. Other than that, it works fine. I don't see any drawbacks to a 1 wire alternator.
 

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My alternator (CS144) has a cable running to the battery and a single small wire that drives an indicator light. The MAD web page indicates that a 1 wire cannot drive a light... hmmm.
 

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36scsc said:
My alternator (CS144) has a cable running to the battery and a single small wire that drives an indicator light. The MAD web page indicates that a 1 wire cannot drive a light... hmmm.
Where's the wire that's driving the light hooked to on the alternator?

Centerline
 

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Centerline,

The part about the 3 wire 1 wire controversy I don't get is if, as in my case, my alternator is rated at 140 amps, and is functioning as advertized, then who cares how many wires it has?

This is what the thing looks like...


 

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I don't think I'm looking at a one wire alternator there. Looks like you have a main battery feed and then an exciter wire hooked up as well. That would indicate a three wire system, even though you're not using the third wire.

Here's a short article on the advantages of using the three wire alternator. There is another article on the advantages of remote voltage sensing which makes very good sense as well. I'm no electrical engineer but what is contained in these articles definitely passes my logic test. I also happen to agree with using relays to provide a full 12 volts to things like the headlight system and cooling fans.

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I'm not the brightest light in the electrical grid, but I have no reservations in using the BIG one wire alternators. My Powermaster 140 Amp is doing fine. I personally take madelectrical position on them with a grain of salt. Crazy Mopar, I also have the Ron Frances wiring kit on the two junkers in my avtar and they are trouble free with the battery in the trunk of the coupe and under the seat of the pu. Follow Ron Frances instructions to the letter, put on that big alternator and enjoy. The key is using a Big wire(#2) from the alternator to the positive post on the starter (GM) and at least the same size wire to the positive terminal on the battery. Idiot lights earned their name, so leave out and install a volt meter. Your instructions tell you how to wire it in.

Trees
 

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trees said:
I'm not the brightest light in the electrical grid, but I have no reservations in using the BIG one wire alternators. My Powermaster 140 Amp is doing fine. I personally take madelectrical position on them with a grain of salt. Crazy Mopar, I also have the Ron Frances wiring kit on the two junkers in my avtar and they are trouble free with the battery in the trunk of the coupe and under the seat of the pu. Follow Ron Frances instructions to the letter, put on that big alternator and enjoy. The key is using a Big wire(#2) from the alternator to the positive post on the starter (GM) and at least the same size wire to the positive terminal on the battery. Idiot lights earned their name, so leave out and install a volt meter. Your instructions tell you how to wire it in.

Trees
I used a one wire alternator and a Ron Francis kit on my pro-street car and had no problems with it. I had the battery in the trunk as well but wasn't running any accessories other than a simple stereo. After doing some checking I found that the Ron Francis circuit panel has proprietary circuitry and if anything ever goes wrong guess who's the only guy who can fix it? Yea, Ron Francis. I switched to an It's a Snap harness (very similar to Centec) for the truck and am very happy with it. Anyway a one wire will work fine if you're not running a lot of electrical accessories but if you are and want a really robust electrical system, I believe a three wire with remote voltage sensing makes very good sense. I also don't buy everything on Mad Electrical's web site like his love of the fusible link. Give me a good old fashioned fuse any day.

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Crazy Mopar Guy

Why not just ask, call him up:

Ron Francis Wiring
Since 1974, doing our best to make you 100% satisfied.

Have a question?
Click here to contact us!

Sales 800-292-1940
Support 866-330-1933
Ron Francis Wiring
167 Keystone Road
Chester, PA 19013

Dutch
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks guys!
If I can make what I have work, then I'll do it, if not, I guess I'll be wiring and swapping!
My biggest loads will probably be my electric fans, I'm just concerned because I have a big stereo, EFI, etc etc etc.

I'll give Ron Francis a call too.
:D
Thanks again!
 

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The debate...

Doc here:pimp:

This is a debate that could go on for years... And both sides would be correct For their particular Application or needs.

The upside of a one wire, It is very easy to install. It is more or less a hands off system (no other parts to break) It is great for a short trip Rod (weekend warrior) with a minimum of an electrical system to keep the engine compartment "Clean"..(like Start, Ignition, headlights only)

The Downside, No terminal For a charge lamp, No way to mechanically Regulate the output (no external regulator), overcharge/undercharge issues. It either "Is" or it "Isn't" working with little more than checking ground and power to check to correct a low charge situation (which can be an upside also..)And may or may not keep a battery full charge on a cruise / parade type rod that idles a lot (low rpm output) without resizing a bunch of pulley's ...

The 3 wire with external regulator has it's good points, you have a terminal for a charge light,(good for retro's and resto's, and rods that idle a lot , light will flash at low output) you have a field wire for troubleshooting and output control, You have a regulator that can be adjusted for your specific needs (air gap and field contacts)

The downsides, More parts to go wrong, More electrical connections to check when it malfunctions. more wires to clutter a "clean" engine compartment...

Both Alternators are home rebuild-able, with a little talent and tools, (provided the stator windings are good) and rebuild about the same, with the addition of a diode/resistor pack for internal regulated units.

So Pick your needs or wants and go with that...

Another misconception is the 1 wire is going to belt out more juice at the same output rate as the stocker... This is only true if you upgrade the amp output on the alternator, and actually applies to both units.

If your running a 65 amp now and total system draw is 80 amps...you need to upgrade to a 100 amps. Plain and simple.

To determine your specific needs, Do a system load check at idle with FULL output.. worst case situation...All the lights on, including high beams, wipers on, heater / and or air full on, brake lights on, Electric Defroggers <--misspell but I like it so it stays) Which are current hogs...Electric cooling fans , Stereo Thumping at ear shattering output with all amps etc on...

Find out that value, and upgrade at least 25% more in either type alternator...
I've seen guys underrate alternators (barely enough to keep the battery charged with just the headlights on) and the battery slowly discharges over time, until it gets to a point where it barely keeps the coil running...

Then, can't figure out why every time they come to a stop or slow down in traffic the engine quits...(because the brake lights are robbing the coil of power..) and the battery is so dead it won't start even with a quick jump...and another reason for short life on a battery.

Just my quick Nickel's Worth...

Doc :pimp:
 

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1wire versus three wire

the 18 wheelers have have used the one wire alt system for years and sometimes the idle all night long and they have a tremorous amount of options that are on 100 percent of the time
 

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chasjr1450 said:
the 18 wheelers have have used the one wire alt system for years and sometimes the idle all night long and they have a tremorous amount of options that are on 100 percent of the time

Doc here, :pimp:

Yes, But aren't those systems 48 or 72 volts? We are talking Mac and Peterbuilt trucks, Right?

Doc :pimp:
 

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re i wire alt

no they are 12 volts systems just like you car and yes we are talking about KW< PETE< MACK FREGHTLINER< VOLVO< the only24volts systems currenting used in the cicilian world are on buses
 

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where this wire go

this wire that feeds the alt can and does go to the batt or to the starter main hot post which one is the most easier acess to
 

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Doc here, :pimp:

Was wondering, because I had a Guy contact me about how to install Communications equipment in a Freightliner a while back,

Seems he had a problem with a 24 or 48 volt system, (But the Battery's were separate 12 's , so he was able to tap one set..

Guess it must have been an ancient truck..

One wire systems were developed for Exactly that, Farm and tractor type installations. No frills system, with a minimum wire count..

Doc :pimp:
 
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