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Discussion Starter #1
I'm pretty happy with something actually turning out well for a change, so I'm posting about it. :smile2:

I've been having issues with low battery charging. Voltage at the power distro box on driver's fender was 14.1, voltage at battery 13.4 at idle. When driving with lights and wipers, the battery will discharge during my commute early and late in the day. Today I looked into things.

I was always curious about the ground strap, as I've never really checked it out. It was pretty gunked up...I went to NAPA autoparts and picked up another strap, and cleaned the mounting locations with a brush and simple green. After that, I saw 14.2 and 14.0 at the battery terminals! Pretty happy with that. I then pulled the fuses and cleaned the contacts with a small wire brush and contact cleaner. I saw some gains there, also.

I still have a big voltage drop when I turn on the heater motor or the AC blower, but one thing at a time...I picked up a good used ignition switch yesterday, so maybe that will help with with the drop.
 

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Good to hear. The new ground strap can't hurt but I bet the cleaning of the mounting areas is probably the main reason for the improvement.

Instead of a new ignition switch you might consider adding a relay so that full power goes to the switched circuits of the fuse box. The original pathway has the ignition switch trying to carry all the load of the switched circuits. When the switch gets old the electrical contacts can't handle the load and you get significant voltage drop.

In our GTV6 (similar circuitry) I added a relay so that the ignition switch only has to carry a small load to trigger the relay. The relay then delivers full system voltage to the switched circuits. Info in replies 3 & 9-12 in this thread: http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/alfetta-gtv6-1972-1986/543281-proud-owner-82-gtv6.html
 

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Be sure to replace any aluminum fuses with brass or copper, too (Centerline sells them). Clean both ends of the engine ground strap, grounding on the left front fender. Use toothed lock washers to improve the connections. Finally, make sure your alternator red wire is clean and tight on both ends.
 

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You could also tell us about the year, type, etc about the car. Early cars with generators had really very little electrical power as the regulator aged. Later alternators would sometimes have failure of the rectifier diodes.

Just a little more info would save a lot of time...

Robert
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Be sure to replace any aluminum fuses with brass or copper, too (Centerline sells them). Clean both ends of the engine ground strap, grounding on the left front fender. Use toothed lock washers to improve the connections. Finally, make sure your alternator red wire is clean and tight on both ends.
I was going to post a history of troubleshooting, but shortened my post instead...but yeah; All terminals were replaced on the power distribution box on the fender. Sunday, I pulled the alternator wire 'harness' that consists of the green and the red wire, and split the harness to check them out. They are fine, and the terminal on the red wire to alt had a patina on it, so I filed it to fresh material and sprayed contact cleaner on it. I cleaned the green up, also.

I cleaned up the original ground strap. It doesn't look bad at all now, and I plan to use it on another grounding point. Probably the hood latch-to valve cover, like another on here did.

All fuses are new, although there are a few non brass or copper fuses...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You could also tell us about the year, type, etc about the car. Early cars with generators had really very little electrical power as the regulator aged. Later alternators would sometimes have failure of the rectifier diodes.

Just a little more info would save a lot of time...

Robert
Hi Robert,
The year is in my signature. I have an 86 Veloce.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Good to hear. The new ground strap can't hurt but I bet the cleaning of the mounting areas is probably the main reason for the improvement.

Instead of a new ignition switch you might consider adding a relay so that full power goes to the switched circuits of the fuse box. The original pathway has the ignition switch trying to carry all the load of the switched circuits. When the switch gets old the electrical contacts can't handle the load and you get significant voltage drop.

In our GTV6 (similar circuitry) I added a relay so that the ignition switch only has to carry a small load to trigger the relay. The relay then delivers full system voltage to the switched circuits. Info in replies 3 & 9-12 in this thread: http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/alfetta-gtv6-1972-1986/543281-proud-owner-82-gtv6.html
I like this idea, Eric. Last night while driving, the speedometer suddenly lit up on the left side after 3yrs of ownership. I'm thinking it's because more electrons are being forced past crusty contacts. I really should pull the console and the cluster and replace the bulbs...

I still want a GTV6. Like the housing market, 2yrs ago was the best time for me to move on one. They are close to 10K for a fair to good example now! You're a lucky man :)
 

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Most any reasonable electronics shop has a spray can of electrical contact cleaner. Squirt into any switch, and toggle it a few times. For crusty contacts, a pencil eraser is nearly perfect for cleaning them - just enough abrasive. Then spray with cleaner.

My biggest problem is the brass contacts in the fuse box; pencil tip eraser is perfect here - like it was made to fit. Also, ditch all the aluminum based fuses and get brass ones. They are harder to find, but will solve many problems as the aluminum and brass corrode.

Robert
 

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My ground strap story: not Alfa but I replaced the engine in my Land Rover last summer and on two occasions I noticed the starter cranked over really slow. The truck started and afterwards everything was fine for a couple of months then it did it again but was very difficult to get started. I eventually did get it to start but then my parking brake wouldn't release. I managed to get it home and troubleshooting eventually led me to the fact that I had forgotten to tighten the nut that held the ground strap to the firewall.

Next I Googled "frozen parking brake" and the first link that came up told me that if your ground strap comes loose the starter will find a ground through your parking brake cable and promptly weld it to it's own sleeving - which is exactly what happened :whistling:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Most any reasonable electronics shop has a spray can of electrical contact cleaner. Squirt into any switch, and toggle it a few times. For crusty contacts, a pencil eraser is nearly perfect for cleaning them - just enough abrasive. Then spray with cleaner.

My biggest problem is the brass contacts in the fuse box; pencil tip eraser is perfect here - like it was made to fit. Also, ditch all the aluminum based fuses and get brass ones. They are harder to find, but will solve many problems as the aluminum and brass corrode.

Robert
Pencil eraser, Robert? I'm thinking there you had a slot car track when you were a kid! I used a pencil erasor on the pickups on the bottom of the cars, and to clean the oxidation off off the track itself. Laborously.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
My ground strap story: not Alfa but I replaced the engine in my Land Rover last summer and on two occasions I noticed the starter cranked over really slow. The truck started and afterwards everything was fine for a couple of months then it did it again but was very difficult to get started. I eventually did get it to start but then my parking brake wouldn't release. I managed to get it home and troubleshooting eventually led me to the fact that I had forgotten to tighten the nut that held the ground strap to the firewall.

Next I Googled "frozen parking brake" and the first link that came up told me that if your ground strap comes loose the starter will find a ground through your parking brake cable and promptly weld it to it's own sleeving - which is exactly what happened :whistling:
Yeah, I'd like to point out now that the connection to the stud on the frame was loose, but little more than finger tight. I could have gotten away with cleaning the old ground strap and the connection points, but the lure of a new one that was way thicker was better.

I'll find a place, probably one of the bolts for the air valve and the hood latch, to provide an extra ground. And I'm going to look into Eric's relay idea.
 
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