Give me your electrical 0.2 (HELP) - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums

 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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Give me your electrical 0.2 (HELP)

Alright I just want to get this started by saying that I am pretty novice at electrical system in a car but I know my way around a multimeter and how to use this community with people who have had similar issues. I am prone to rookie mistakes and some of this might make you veterans cringe out there and for that I apologize.

I want to give as much information as I can to help you all help me narrow down this annoying issue. I will try to paraphrase as much as possible but as we know with electrical issues it could be complicated. I have pictures and pictures are worth a thousand words so hopefully those will help.

In hindsight, I was driving around at night on a little cruise around the town enjoying the top-down nightlife. Radio on, headlights on and dashlights full. This put a nice load on the battery and at the time I should of realized that my ancient alternator was probably on its way out the door- which it was. Next morning was fun as you would expect, I jumped it, alternator wouldn't charge the battery and for some reason it looked like the wires leading from the alternator to the fusebox were a little fried. I replaced them as well as got the alternator rebuilt. Now comes the fun after driving it for a bit it died again. I always keep a multimeter with me and should honestly get a holster for it because it is always in use. Here are my findings at idle with no load:

Battery sits at 12.14v and the alternator positive post sits around 9v. (Have not checked it when running at higher RPM) This is transfered up the wires to a connector that I had to improvise (see photos, you can judge) then up into the fuse box. Now the issue is that the battery is still not being charged or there is a short thats drawing to much current. My dad said it's a possibility that when my alternator sustained damage the voltage regulator did... the only thing that might make that statement true is that the first fuse showed a voltage that did not pass through to the other side. This fuse is labelled courtesy lights and horn relay. (SPECIAL THANKS TO THE MAN- PAPAJAM- FOR THE DIAGRAM.)

so give me some wonderful two cents and try and help my diagnose why my battery is suffering some hard times. I would like to try to determine wether its the Voltage Regulator, Alternator, Shortage (through wiring) or maybe even the Fuse. I respect all advice and feedback given I know this is was a long read so if you made it through god bless you. Hopefully you can help me target this issue and narrow it down through this information and pictures.
Photos:
Alternator Positive Post
Connection Between Alternator Wire to Fusebox
Volt Reg. Connection and Cables
Inside the Volt Reg (smells funny like electrical fire)


Thanks sincerely,


MatteoS
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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Further into it.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 12:44 PM
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I was driving around at night on a little cruise around the town enjoying the top-down nightlife. Radio on, headlights on and dashlights full.
Wasn't there a Chuck Berry song that went something like that?

Quote:
This put a nice load on the battery and at the time I should of realized that my ancient alternator
You really weren't putting much of a load on your alternator & battery; other than the headlights, nothing else you mentioned draws much current. Radio, dashlights, ignition - all those are small loads. So I doubt your nightime drive had anything to do with the alternator failing.

Quote:
got the alternator rebuilt. Now comes the fun after driving it for a bit it died again..... Battery sits at 12.14v and the alternator positive post sits around 9v. (Have not checked it when running at higher RPM)
Can you fill in a few gaps in the above description:

- Who rebuilt your alternator? Did they report finding any problem with it? Didn't they want to test the regulator too?

- So after the alternator was rebuilt, did it charge OK? Does the red "GEN" light go out at RPM's above idle?

- It would really help to know what the alternator output voltage is at speeds above idle.

Quote:
My dad said it's a possibility that when my alternator sustained damage the voltage regulator did...
I'm not convinced that your alternator did sustain damage. But your dad is right, that if the car has charging problems, the problem could be the regulator.

Quote:
the only thing that might make that statement true is that the first fuse showed a voltage that did not pass through to the other side. This fuse is labelled courtesy lights and horn relay.
Those fuses can have hard-to-see cracks, or just be corroded, and not conduct electricity. Have you tried swapping in a new fuse? The bad fuse probably is a separate issue from your battery going dead.

Quote:
...it looked like the wires leading from the alternator to the fusebox were a little fried. I replaced them...
This could be the real problem. Unfortunately, the BB isn't letting me view pictures any more, so I can't see what you posted. How fried is "a little fried"? Clearly, the wire coming off the alternator shouldn't be fried at all. Has the new wire gotten fried too? A short somewhere - perhaps an intermittent short - would cause the fried wire and dead battery.

Jay Mackro
San Juan Capistrano, CA

'63 Guilia spider
'65 Guilia Sprint GT
'67 Duetto
'91 164L

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 01:00 PM
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battery voltage at 12.14V is not good (12.6 is a full chrged battery)...charge the battery overnite and see if it goes up to 12.6 or real close.
That battery ground lead end looks totally knackered! The other end, the bolt on the body looks corroded and needs removing, sanding down to clean metal, and reattaching with some copperease grease (or similar)...that might give you back a volt right there!

as Jay says above, start the car and see what voltage you get across the battery poles with a meter, at fast idle, say 1000rpm (clean those battery leads first!)

Now turn on the headlights and heater...what voltage now?

Dom - Alfa Spider 1990 S4 - formerly: Alfa 101 Sprint, 2600 Sprint, Montreal - family classics: Jensen Interceptor II, '58 Hooper RR Silver Cloud I, Shadow II, '60 Corvette.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Alfajay and I would be delighted to fill-in the gaps.

I believe I am way too young to know who chuck berry is hahaha. The guy who repaired the alternator is a small local shop that was recommended to me by a friend of mine who had his done. As to his diagnoses I can't really remember to a T (my apologizes) however I may call him back to inquire. After the rebuild everything seemed okay and felt okay however there was a really odd "GEN" problem that at idle my car would show the GEN light on at the very start. after 2 minutes idling the GEN would go away but putting the car to higher revs with some loads on it will have it return. I will try it just rev and no load and see if it will still do that as well as check the output so I can reply with more helpful information.

I have not tried swapping in a new fuse but will attempted to do so- that sounds silly now that I think about how effortless it is and I should have done it before posting- but nevertheless I will give it a try and report back with all my findings.

Could be a day.

Thanks for the reply

Born in 1997 driving a '77 spider.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 01:06 PM
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however there was a really odd "GEN" problem that at idle my car would show the GEN light on at the very start. after 2 minutes idling the GEN would go away but putting the car to higher revs with some loads on it will have it return
that GEN light should go off as soon as you start the car (as long as your idle revs are not too low!) and should not come on again revving up.

Voltage regulator might be the culprit there....

Dom - Alfa Spider 1990 S4 - formerly: Alfa 101 Sprint, 2600 Sprint, Montreal - family classics: Jensen Interceptor II, '58 Hooper RR Silver Cloud I, Shadow II, '60 Corvette.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 01:10 PM
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that GEN light should go off as soon as you start the car (as long as your idle revs are not too low!) and should not come on again revving up. Voltage regulator might be the culprit there....
Yup. I would bring the alternator AND regulator back to the guy who did the rebuild, describe the symptoms to him (*), and see what he says.

*) Just repeat what you wrote: "at idle my car would show the GEN light on at the very start. after 2 minutes idling the GEN would go away but putting the car to higher revs with some loads on it will have it return". There is absolutely nothing normal about those symptoms!

Jay Mackro
San Juan Capistrano, CA

'63 Guilia spider
'65 Guilia Sprint GT
'67 Duetto
'91 164L
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 01:58 PM
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Another issue you might look into is grounding of the alternator and engine. This is often the problem when alternator wiring has problems - the lack of ground creates a "sneak circuit" which finds a ground by running a powered line backwards.

Your variable GEN light hints at a loose ground somewhere.

Good luck

BTW - lots of us with early 105's with generators have replaced them with later alternators. My 25 amp generator gave way to an 80 amp Milano alternator. Newer alternators have a built-in regulator, so it's pretty easy swap. Still all Alfa parts.

Another issue to look into is replacing the headlight circuits with relays. Headlights do carry high current and all of it goes thru the steering wheel stalk switch. They can arc and corrode, and are almost unobtainable to replace. Kits for this are available, and it's an easy job.

Robert
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 04:24 PM
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Spiderserie4 and 60sRacer hint at the easiest first steps - clean up those grounds first, including checking the engine-to-chassis ground under the car. Then recheck your voltages and Gen light behaviour.
The more electrical problems I experience, the more often I find that poor connections and grounding is the culprit.
Although a scorched regulator circuit board can't be a good sign, it does provide a good pointer to getting it checked out.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 09:37 AM
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I'd only emphasize that your principal electrical connections on a car this old... any car this old... have to be squeaky clean in order to work well. That means grounds, especially, and your battery terminals. Use an electrically conductive anti-corrosion grease on the main ground points, both chassis and engine. A good electrical spray contact cleaner will really help relays, the fuse box, wire terminals, etc. And it flashes off and dries quickly. Your fuses should all be new, brass or copper if they are the European bullet style. No aluminum fuses! Clean your fuse box contact fingers with a pencil eraser, and spray off with contact cleaner.

It's all grunt work, but it pays off.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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Hello Everyone!

This feedback is exactly what I hoped for such a extensive wealth of knowledge from all the input provided to me and for that I thank you. It is pretty obvious the grunt work I will need to implicate and apply to the car but all sounds worth while .

It is obvious that this will take sometime to complete and as I am pretty limited to time with alfa (I work 14 hour days 6 days a week) I will slowly be updating you all on my progress.
@Alfajay and @spiderserie4 I will be taking in the alternator and the voltage regulator to be looked at again by him. I will explain the symptoms and have him give me a detailed report so I can give you all a better description.
@Alfajay the wire was toasted. There was exposed copper and melted black plastic so it needed a replacement... It even melted the clip that holds it to the frame where the 3 red leads meet and go behind the dash. If there is a short do I just have to trace the wires and hope it reveals itself or is their a more simpler way.
@spiderserie4 I will be trying to get all that cleaned off today (mostly just the battery area) its hard for me to get at the grounding bolt but hopefully I can get something to give back to you. The battery is fully charged and isn't declining so I have a solid battery. Ill get back to you.
@60sRacer Hi Robert, thanks for your feedback! I actually have seen that quite commonly on this forum but haven't seen a thread on the process of it and how to go about it if your able to link or point me in the direction it is something I am gonna look into doing. Can you provide me with the general location of the Engine ground underneath the car ? Thanks for bringing up the headlight circuit as it looks like it may be something I want to look into and will do my research on!
@Ranz Thank you for simplifying the process as it gives me a clean and organized way to approach this potentially daunting task. Do you know if the regulator boards are replaceable ? Thanks
@alfaloco The fuses are all European bullet style and I don't know where to grab them from or the specific part number or reference, do you know if they are pretty easy to obtain ? A pencil eraser? Awesome saving money is the way I like to do it and I will give it a try. I am prepared to do the grunt work!

Thanks all for your feedback as it is incredibly useful into teaching me how to properly upkeep this beautiful car. I don't really want a big debate when it comes to this (I know this community is better than others when it comes to opinions) but what products/materials do you use to clean up connections? (brand of contact cleaners, anti-corrosion grease, ect.)

I will be back to update soon

MatteoS

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 01:42 PM
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https://www.centerlinealfa.com/store?tag=Fuse%20Box

There are a number of good electrical contact/motor cleaners out there. Just get a brand name like CRC.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 02:24 PM
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This feedback is exactly what I hoped for such a extensive wealth of knowledge from all the input provided to me and for that I thank you.
Well thank you for continuing to respond to this thread, and be responsive to our follow-on questions. You'd be surprised by how many people will ask a question like yours, have six BB members pour their hearts into suggesting solutions, and then write nothing further. It's like the questioner couldn't be bothered to say "thanks", tell us how it turned out, or answer whether his gas tank really was just empty.

Quote:
Alfajay: the wire was toasted. There was exposed copper and melted black plastic so it needed a replacement... It even melted the clip that holds it to the frame where the 3 red leads meet and go behind the dash.
Ugh! That's a big problem. I was hoping your wire was just a little cooked from being next to the exhaust manifold for the past 40 years.

Recall I had asked whether the replacement wire had also gotten toasted. Have you driven the car enough to know the answer to that one? Apparently there was - or still is - a serious short somewhere that caused that wire to overheat. If so, that load may be what killed the alternator and/or regulator, as well as melted the insulation off the wire.

Quote:
If there is a short do I just have to trace the wires and hope it reveals itself or is their a more simpler way.
Well, the "more simpler way" is to just see which fuse blows. It's supposed to be that easy - if the fuse labeled "radio" blows, then the short is in your radio.

Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like it will be that simple on your car. It sounds like none of the fuses are blown (yea, I remember that one isn't conducting, but you didn't say it was blown, which isn't subtle when it happens). So your short is probably between the alternator and the fusebox. Maybe you addressed it when you changed the heavy wire. Or maybe it is an intermittent short, one that only happens when you hit a bump or when it's a Tuesday with a full moon. Intermittent shorts are the hard ones to find.

Jay Mackro
San Juan Capistrano, CA

'63 Guilia spider
'65 Guilia Sprint GT
'67 Duetto
'91 164L

Last edited by Alfajay; 04-21-2017 at 04:25 PM.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 02:52 PM
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I always thought those red-white-blue bullet fuses were so cheap. Except I have them in my Mercedes S-class too!! To clean the contacts, just take a pencil eraser and rub the ends of the fuse. (Pencil eraser is slightly abrasive). Also spin the eraser tip in the brass finger it goes into. On my Duetto, the brass fingers seem to get weak and need to be gently bent in to put a bit more pressure on the fuses.

The engine ground is very important. It is a 15 mm wide braided copper strap from the passenger side of the engine arch to the engine bell housing upper bolt where the bell housing and the engine connect. Its a bit hard top get to. Its a 6 or 8 mm bolt (13mm wrench) that sometimes comes loose at the body side. The most common symptom is fried alternator wiring when the ground comes loose; next time you run the starter motor (REALLY high current drain) it will find whatever wire it can to make a ground. Only there is no wire (Except from the battery to the solenoid) that is big enough to carry starter current - and that is no. 00 welding wire!

Another problem Alfa has is loose grounds at the instruments. REALLY hard to get to, but there is a ground nut on the metal part of the dash for each instrument. The instruments act flakey if their grounds get loose.

Good luck.

Robert
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