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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

Does anyone have a Honda/Toyota reliable charging system on their Spider?

I have run out of room in the driveway and the storage shed so I am selling my daily transportation, so that means the 86 Spider will become my new daily transportation. Daily transportation is a bit of a misnomer and that is where the problem comes in. I travel a lot for business and the spider, which normally would be in the driveway at home and just a jump-start away from a ride, will now be sitting for anywhere from a day or two up to a few weeks. Arrival back at the office or airport can be anytime of day or night. I really need to feel sure that the car will start when I get there.

I think I have had this car since around 1992. It has never been a reliable starter. So far over the years 3 batteries, maybe 4 and 2 alternators haven't really improved anything. If I drive it everyday and keep use of the lights and fan to a minimum it would start the next morning. Don't drive it for a few days or use it a few cold wet nights with the lights and heater/defroster on and the next morning would be iffy. I have often rolled down the drive and down the street to pop start it when the battery has been right on the edge of having enough volts to tell the computer to make spark.

This summer after having the battery charged and checked and the alternator checked I added a small solar charger. It worked great. If I got to park right under a post lamp at work it would charge at night also.

Well, the charger crapped out, the battery went to almost zero. It was stuck at work but luckily parked in a place where I could run a cord to it and charge the battery.

I had several times previously disconnected one cable and inserted an ammeter. Upon completing the connection it reads about 12-13 milliamps and then drops down to a steady 6-7 milliamps. This is a powerful 34 case size battery under the right rear fender in the trunk. 7 milliamps should take forever to drain this battery down to less than useful levels. Even if not fully charged I wouldn't think 7 milliamps would be that detrimental. Is it?

So I've begun to think that maybe occasionally the alternator stops in a position where it can drain the battery rather quickly. Can this happen???

I do have a 70 amp bosch alternator floating around the garage someplace. I am not sure what it came from and it looks similar but I have not compared them side by side. I think the original spider one is 65 amps maybe? I think the Alfetta alternator was 45 amps. A long time ago I bought an adjustable regulator from Fred DeMatteo, when he was still in Maine for the Alfetta. I think I remember it helping that car, which also had the battery in the trunk. Is anything like that still available?

So, my thoughts are that I get an adjustable regulator, if available, put it in the 70 amp alternator, if it fits, reclean all the electrical connections between the alternator and battery. Get another solar charger. Last choice would be one of those green knob disconnects right on the battery.

Sorry for rambling, I hope it all made sense.

So, what do you think?

Thanks
Wayne
 

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..i stuffed a 95 amp ford alt. from a 92 escort in my car works great,,even high beams on, fan on highest setting( 2:) ) my wipers work really fast on 1 st. speed and faster on high..my car is an 1984 spider..
 

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Wayne,
I have had all three of my Spiders at an airport for an extended period of time many times. They were my daily drivers for many years (until 2004), and I used to travel every week for work. There is nothing wrong or unreliable with their charging systems, and I have arrived late due to a delayed flight on some very cold nights to get into a Spider that's been sitting at the long term parking lot for more than a week. Never any problem, and the Bosch injected cars always fired right up.

I don't doubt that there is something very wrong with your charging system. It does need to be corrected, but if you do, then you won't have to worry. Sometimes, when people install modern stereo systems in the Spiders, the installers use a connection that is always powered. Other times, there is just a drain somewhere else. Anyway, it's not normal. For right now, what you could do is install a battery disconnect on one of the battery posts, and get by until you get the problem diagnosed.

Best regards,
 

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An adjustable regulator is available here through IAP.

70 amps at the alternator should be plenty to keep things happy, and the regulator above will ensure that the juice it puts out is adiquate.

I found even a new standard regulator in a known good and tested 65amp alternator didn't even put out what the books call for voltage-wise, so I opted for that choice myself. I've got it set so it puts out just a shade above what the books call for w/full load, and never drop below 12V on the (aftermarket) voltage meter even with everydamnthing turned on.

Still, if it's going to sit, all the charging power in the world isn't going to do squat if the engine isn't actually running, so in your case, I'd suggest going for the green knob too and getting the version that completely cuts the power instead of the one that allows the 'trickle' so you don't lose clock and stereo memory.

Yeah, you'll have to re-do all that stuff after it's been sitting, but then again there won't be any draw while it's sitting. (and on the 'security' side of things, it's awful hard to hotwire a car when the battery is disconnected)
 

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As a secondary thought, if you've got the option to park in a multi-story garage during these periods of downtime, there is another possible way to ensure you can get yourself home:

Park on an upper level close to a ramp. If the car doesn't start, give it the short push to the ramp, then pile in, get a bit of coast going, and bump start it.....
 

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When I lived in Houston, that was one way I started my beater truck-roll down the driveway, pop the clutch-I was always afraid to do it wi the Alfa -I heard that if the charge was too low it might not spark-would the bump start over ride this?
 

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It sounds like you have a drain on your battery, my GTV6 has the same 65amp alt in it and it was a daily driver for 6 years and never failed to start for me, even with the same battery for those six years. Do you have an aftermarket radio in your car? My Spider will sit for a few weeks in my garage and start right up, it even has a slow drain from an aftermarket radio. The other choice listed above is to get the green knob you mount to your battery post and unscrew when you leave it parked for a long time, this should cut the power supply so as long as your battery is good, you should have power when you get back. A third option is to get one of those rechargable jump starters and just keep it in your trunk for emergancy use.
 

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When I lived in Houston, that was one way I started my beater truck-roll down the driveway, pop the clutch-I was always afraid to do it wi the Alfa -I heard that if the charge was too low it might not spark-would the bump start over ride this?
if it is too low, it won't start, you're right
 

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Your problem is definitely not your charging system. If it was your charging system you'd have trouble day-to-day, not just on extended parking. Your battery is discharging for some reason. I'm not really sure on your numbers if that's a high drain or not. My Spider will sit for months and fire up nice and strong.

You may want to track that down but otherwise.....first, what sort of battery do you have and how old is it? Get a new good one. I'm a big Optima fan but have had good luck with Interstate and Die Hard batteries. Then get yourself one of these for when you're going to park it for a while:

WirthCo BATTERY DISCONNECT SWITCHES : JC Whitney: Auto Parts & Accessories

edit: like SamW said....

edit, edit: like Tifosi said too...I should read the treads closer!
 

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most radios have a memory and clock that draw current now days. the value of 6 ma. is only going to draw an amp hour of current in 166.6 hours. not enough to drain a battery. if you can measure the charge voltage with the engine running and lights on and such, it could be the charge system if the voltage isnt high enough. my old 74 spider sits sometimes for a couple of months and usually starts right up, but has no modern radio or clock.
do a thorough check of connections to the alternator, fuse box and battery, check for voltage drops under load, current flowing thru a bad connection drops voltage, easier seen on a volt meter than an ohm meter, unless you have access to a milliohm meter, it is easier to find.
cliff
 

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I agree that the alternator is not the problem. And with only 6mA draw, disconnecting the battery or adding a disconnect switch is not the answer either (Alfa spec for max draw is, I think, 37-43mA).

I would wager that there's a voltage drop in the charging circuit. Meaning that all of what the alternator is putting out is not getting to the battery. To test for this, record the charging voltage at the alternator output with the engine running. Now check the voltage at the battery. If the two readings are different, there's a voltage drop in the circuit. Cleaning the connections at the junction box (left inner fender) and at the starter usually solves it.
 

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But if it's not charging the battery right to start out with, and he has very little draw wouldn't he see the same problem overnight as he does in a week? If it's got a charge the next day it must be getting charged right so it's losing that charge somehow after the fact if you have a problem a week later. That's always the logic I've applied to situations like this and I've always been right. Of course that could be just down to pure dumb luck.......but that's always seemed logical.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Wow! Thanks for all the replies.

Bianchi1, is that Ford alternator a direct fit? If not what did it take to get it working?

Enrique, it is good to hear that the system can work like it should.

Tifosi, I don't have a multi level garage but live on the top off a real small hill and usually park on the uphill side of the lot at work. I have ended up at the bottom of the hill with the same problem I had at the top of the hill. Sometimes the battery level was just too low.

The battery is not an Optima but is a spiral wound gel cell something or other. I forget the brand.

Earlier this summer when I thought that I might finally get to the bottom of this I took the dead battery to the shop to get charged and checked out. It is about 3 years old and has a 84 month warranty period. Once charged it checked out good as new.

I took the alternator to Advance or Autozone. The fellow there hooked it up to their tester and said it met spec.

Put it all back together and it worked great for 3 to 4 weeks then back to normal after taking it for a midnight cruise with my wife one night. Only used the lights, no need for radio, fan, etc. That is when I got the solar charger. That worked great until it didn't.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
charging system

The only things that should draw when parked is the clock and memory for the radio. It is a Blaupunkt Cancun, I think, I usually don't use it. $99 at Best Buy a long time ago. Nothing fancy but it does have to remember the presets

This weekend I will order the adjustable regulator and try to check out the system while everything is in the car

I thought that I would be in town next week but the phone rang and the boss says that I am needed someplace else. The break was nice while it lasted.

The 70 amp alternator is
Bosch
0 120 488 102 103
K1 14V 28/70A

regualtor is
Bosch
1197 31128
EL 14V4C
Made in Germany
751

capacitor
Bosch
2.2uf 100V
0280800

The capacitor on the back of the 70 amp alternator is cracked. Can that be bought separately if the adjustable regulator into the Spider doesn't help?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
charging system check out

Yesterday I borrowed a Fluke multimeter from work.

First thing measure battery voltage at battery, 11.93 volts
measure battery voltage at junction on fender, 11.93 volts
start car, voltage at junction 13.9 volts. voltage at battery 13.6 volts. I run some wires from the battery to the passenger seat so I could watch the Fluke. Pull onto the highway and the battery voltage climbed to 13.9 to 13.99 volts. Turn on the lights and heater fan and the voltage at the battery dropped to a fluctuating 13.65 to 13.75 volts.

This morning battery voltage is 11.99 volts, cold start was fine. Battery voltage is 14.3 volts. As I drove to work, 2 miles to on ramp, 17 miles highway, 1 mile to office, the voltage at the battery dropped slowly down to the fluctuating 13.65 to 13.75 volts. The voltmeter on the instrument pod reads lower than the battery voltage. The dash lights, etc dim a little if the fan is turned on and dim a lot if the lighter is pushed in. The battery voltage drops a few tenths but the instrument voltmeter drops a couple of volts.

What should the battery voltage drop to when cranking the engine?

Thanks,
Wayne
 

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your 'volts are ok.. but amps are what really ower your car.....i remember in a sceince class, we would hold a 1000 volt lines in our hands..had no 'amps' that's why i am still here:)amp's is power..as for the ford conversion works really well just for fun i turn on my headlights..55 watts low..90 watts high.. i run down a empty road with my high beams on, fan on full blast..wipers on full( 2 speed ) wipers going really quick..and stereo on.. and have more than enough power...send my your address( privite mail) and i will send you a diagram on the wireing and all you need to know on the ford alt..
 

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your post says voltage at junction, 13.9 volts, voltage at battery 13.6 volts. that is due to voltage drop somewhere between the battery and terminal block. the battery cable is connected to the starter solenoid, then the about 10 guage wire from the same lug on the solenoid to the terminal at the junction. amps are nice, but when the resistance from a bad connection drops the voltage, it reduces the amps. check the wire from the starter solenoid to the junction, it has crimped connections and has a bad history of corroding.
cliff
 

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Are you sure the glove box lamp is not staying on? The glove box door and the pin swithch is not exactly, how should I say... space shuttle level technology.:rolleyes:

What about your main ground lug at the frame, the eye-terminal end of the negative cable? Is the connection clean and bright? Engine ground strap?

I agree that the Bosch system on later Spiders is capable of handling any kind of starting conditions, short of Fairbanks, Alaska perhaps. I'm leaning toward an alternator issue, myself, if the basics check out OK.
 
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