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Batteries, Alternator and tensioners....


PEIFamily

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Going to do some shopping..

 

Recently I went out to do some interior work and noticed my bunk lights would not work.. Checked the batteries, about 6 V.. (had it fully charged about 2 days earier) So I hooked a charger on them for almost 2 days (at 6amp). So then started the truck, it fired up fine (showed 12.4 v on dash and at alt). But after about a minute it shut down.. Checked the ECU diag and it was no connection again. SO.. thinking I still had my wiring issue, I hooked up the charger again, it showed really low again, but with the charger on, it showed the ecm info again.

 

I have a faint squeak/squeal in my belts, but I thought it was just from not being driven enough as one time I drove it 30 minutes, it worked great.

 

I have a 140amp alt on it now, I called a local shop and they have a brand new 150 amp for $170. no trade in with three in stock.

 

After looking closer at the tensioner, it "looks" rough. I was speaking to the origional owner, he said it was replaced about 4 years ago, then last year a new bearing was put into it by a local to him shop and there was a little play in the alt (in/out play).

 

He also mentioned about the starting battery/three acc battery thing some of the guys where he worked are doing and thought that would be a good option for me if I do new batteries as well.

 

I have been monitoring my batteries since, they are dropping just a slight bit each day and nothing alarming. Not sure why I can leave it for a week and barely loose any voltage, and another time almost dead after two days (nothing else was changed in the truck).

 

Also, batteries.. If I do have a bad or weak battery, Would it be a better option to get one of the starting batteries and keep my other three in unison as acc batteries? OR would they need to be changed as well?

 

I remember reading about someone that did that on here but not sure how its working out.

 

So what would you all recommend for a shopping list?

 

150 amp alt. (or should I get higher? There is a good bit of lights on the truck).

New acc belt, (main fan was changed last year with the fan clutch)

alternator pulley? Can this be tested by taking off and checking for play?

 

It is not too pretty....

 

 

 

 

I doubt I will be driving it the rest of the winter.. Should I leave the batteries in it and keep manually checking them or pull them out to store them until spring? Would this hurt the ecm?

 

And since I still have my old alt, would it be worthwhile to get it rebuilt as a spare to carry? What other parts do some of you carry vs trying to find after your broke down? (starter, belts, etc?)

 

Thanks!

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I am a little puzzled on a single starting battery and three accessory batteries. My truck (an '04) has four batteries, all connected in parallel and thus used for starting as well as accessory. Perhaps your truck is newer and has a different system? Don't know but just one starting battery probably isn't going to cut it in cold weather.

 

Anyway, on the D12 the idler is easy to replace. Loosen the tension with a 1/2" drive ratchet to drop off the belt and take out the two bolts attaching the tensioner to the block. You can easily replace the belt at this time. A new one is something like $10.

 

Alternator failure is almost always associated with bearings, diodes or brushes and slip rings. A local rebuild usually includes at a minimum cleaning, replacing bearings and brushes. A good quality "re manufactured" alternator will also include a new diode ring and regulator even though these are non-wear parts and do not fail without some external reason. Having a spare handy in case of a part failure is convenient but there is a limit to how many spare parts you can carry. An alternator is not high on my spare parts priority list providing I have good batteries.

 

140 or 150 amp alternator? Not enough difference to worry about one way or the other.

 

You will do no harm to the ECM by removing the batteries. But, if you let your truck sit all winter remember to crank first without starting by removing the EECM fuse to redistribute oil through the engine then put the fuse back in and start in the spring.

 

As for batteries, you do not want to replace just one. It is easy to think that you can save money by just replacing a weak or bad battery but the remaining older batteries will quickly pull the new one down to their level due to different charging needs. When one goes down either remove it and run on the remaining set until a full bank can be replaced all at once or replace all of them together when a bad one is identified.

 

If you are not going to be using the truck until Spring I would suggest waiting until you are ready to hit the road before buying a new set of batteries.

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For a few extra bucks, if you need an alternator (and can't have it rebuilt cheaply), I'd definitely think about a higher-output alternator. They're available for not much more (here, for example). I figure if my car's alternator puts out 130 amps at cruising speeds, and I'm drawing a whole lot more on the truck (everything from more lights to charging house batteries), 140 or 150 amps doesn't seem like much.

 

Also, if you're buying pulleys and/or tensioners, be warned that prices are all over the map. The Cummins dealer wanted $250 for the A/C belt tensioner, and I found a cross-reference number that was available on Amazon for about $50.

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I am a little puzzled on a single starting battery and three accessory batteries. My truck (an '04) has four batteries, all connected in parallel and thus used for starting as well as accessory. Perhaps your truck is newer and has a different system? Don't know but just one starting battery probably isn't going to cut it in cold weather.

 

Anyway, on the D12 the idler is easy to replace. Loosen the tension with a 1/2" drive ratchet to drop off the belt and take out the two bolts attaching the tensioner to the block. You can easily replace the belt at this time. A new one is something like $10.

 

Alternator failure is almost always associated with bearings, diodes or brushes and slip rings. A local rebuild usually includes at a minimum cleaning, replacing bearings and brushes. A good quality "re manufactured" alternator will also include a new diode ring and regulator even though these are non-wear parts and do not fail without some external reason. Having a spare handy in case of a part failure is convenient but there is a limit to how many spare parts you can carry. An alternator is not high on my spare parts priority list providing I have good batteries.

 

140 or 150 amp alternator? Not enough difference to worry about one way or the other.

 

You will do no harm to the ECM by removing the batteries. But, if you let your truck sit all winter remember to crank first without starting by removing the EECM fuse to redistribute oil through the engine then put the fuse back in and start in the spring.

 

As for batteries, you do not want to replace just one. It is easy to think that you can save money by just replacing a weak or bad battery but the remaining older batteries will quickly pull the new one down to their level due to different charging needs. When one goes down either remove it and run on the remaining set until a full bank can be replaced all at once or replace all of them together when a bad one is identified.

 

If you are not going to be using the truck until Spring I would suggest waiting until you are ready to hit the road before buying a new set of batteries.

Hi,

 

Here is some info on the starting batteries. You could keep three as accessory batteries and have the ultracap as a guaranteed starter.

 

http://www.maxwell.com/esm/

 

Good to know about the batteries removed from the truck and the ecm. I have been monitoring it every day since and its not dropping any on the charge.. Very strange that it dropped that one time.

 

For a few extra bucks, if you need an alternator (and can't have it rebuilt cheaply), I'd definitely think about a higher-output alternator. They're available for not much more (here, for example). I figure if my car's alternator puts out 130 amps at cruising speeds, and I'm drawing a whole lot more on the truck (everything from more lights to charging house batteries), 140 or 150 amps doesn't seem like much.

 

Also, if you're buying pulleys and/or tensioners, be warned that prices are all over the map. The Cummins dealer wanted $250 for the A/C belt tensioner, and I found a cross-reference number that was available on Amazon for about $50.

Great info about the alternator on Ebay. I need to take a run down to Maine soon to pick up my ET hitch (cheaper then having it shipped into Canada) and I may as well get an alternator sent to there as well for pickup. Thanks for the link.

 

 

I had went into the truck shop to pick one up the other day, showed him a picture of mine, he got his catalog out and said he was mistaken on the one I needed (even though he asked if it was the 4 bolt mount) seems he quoted me for the 2 bolt mount one (22?). The one I needed was a 35? and his list was $1014 with taxes but could let me have it for $456. Ebay is 1/2 that and a bigger alt.. Good thing I waited :)

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Also look into a feedback (remote sense) alternator. It feeds the battery voltage, at the battery, back into the charging circuit and uses that as the reference. It may require a tiny bit of rewiring though.

 

Alternator brushes - pretty much thing of the past. Most of them are regulated and fed back into a separate winding.

 

Sizing - Many alternators have a rating that is a 'peak' rating. NOWHERE close to a continuous rating. Sorry Dave (Nuke), if you compare the size of a car alternator (at 130 amps) to the truck alternator at 130 amps - it physically is twice the size. The car alternator is a SLI alternator - may come close for a few brief minutes to peak and quickly drops off. The truck alternator can dissipate a lot more heat and is closer to being a continuous power source. Think about what it is really supplying. The truck has 6x the battery, same headlights, 30? X the clearance / marker lights, fans (heater / AC - several sets) TV, frig, inverter? microwave? several radios? and most of this came from the factory. A car may have an upgraded (boom box) radio. The current alternator is larger than the Honda 2000 alternator, almost twice the size.

 

Personally, I would look at that idler, replace it and look to the batteries, before you get too excited about the alternator.

 

PS - I'm on the 3rd alternator on the Ford, original idler - and 400,000 + miles. Alternator (it does have brushes) quits by the lights fading and going out.

 

Check out the Delco Remy site. I'll link to it in the morning.

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Hi Bill,

 

I realize there's a big difference in the tasks they're up to--they're also designed to run at very different speeds too. The car alternator can operate at speeds in excess of 12K RPM--in my case, highway cruising is at about 6K RPM at the alternator. The higher speeds also get you more power per unit volume. There's probably a pretty big difference in idle output too. My point was just that a bigger alternator isn't going to hurt anything--if you can go bigger for the same price, why not?

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Sorry - I did not pick up of the fact that you were considering a capacitor bank to replace a starting battery. I thought you were saying you currently had one battery for starting and 3 for accessories which did not seem right. My advice is to simply get four new group 31 batteries for your truck and leave it as it is. Nothing new about capacitors - even the so called Ultra Caps. But, once charged, they can give quite a kick for a short interval and supply a higher voltage to a starter than even a fully charged battery since they have less internal resistance than battery cells. Personally, I would not buy one for my truck even if I had the spare cash. I would rather invest the cost in something that would give me a better return, but I don't live in below zero weather either..

 

One bad battery in a parallel circuit is like a boat anchor. The fact that it is bad doesn't always remove it from the resistance equation that determines the re-charge voltage and current accepted by your battery bank (unless it has a totally open circuit). You don't push anything into a battery from an alternator or charger, the battery has to "accept" what is available which is ultimately determined by it's current state of charge and internal resistance. Of course, if your battery bank is capable of accepting a higher charge current without damage a larger alternator may be worthwhile. What is important is to have enough alternator output to run all the lighting and accessory circuits and still recharge the battery bank. When additional heavy accessory loads are added, like maybe from an inverter pulling 100 amps at DC input, the larger alternator is a good thing. But, you may also need to increase the AWG of the charging wire coming off of your alternator to avoid a voltage drop due to wire resistance. Ohms Law, or voltage = current/resistance (E=I/R) is always going to determine the end result.

 

As for alternators with self excited fields (no brush set/slip ring) more commonly know as "one wire" alternators, they are certainly lower maintenance than self exciting or inductive fed field coils but as noted by David, require a high rotational speed to be efficient (higher frequency). The initial current for excitation in this type of alternator is generated within the alternator by a residual magnetic field and then maintained by current generated as the alternator builds speed (sometimes called a feed-back alternator or generator). Thus, a portion of the alternator output is used to maintain the magnetic field necessary to develop the inductive field needed to produce electricity in the opposing coil. Translated - a 100 amp rated one-wire alternator may not be able to send 100 amps to the battery and/or accessory circuits. Pay attention as to how the specs and ratings are computed.

 

As for higher amperage alternators - be careful. That higher amperage does not come free. Higher current will require less internal wire resistance along with a larger stator and rotor to increase the inductive field, this will require larger conductors that increase overall component size. Improperly sized wiring/windings, or worse yet, CCA wiring (copper coated aluminum) will increase heat which is the #1 enemy of an alternator. Many "imported" non-OEM alternators may have CCA wiring rather than solid copper to cut cost. They may work OK until demand puts them at high output for extended intervals when the true character of their construction raises it's ugly head. Be very suspicious of an alternator rated for 200 amps that is the same physical size as your present 140/150 amp alternator. Another consideration with a higher amp alternator that actually produces the higher amperage is the drive belt and engine drive power. Engine drive power is somewhat insignificant for us, but with the A/C compressor running and an oversize alternator that really is pumping out those extra amps there will be more loading on your drive belt and friction in the tensioner/idler bearing. Hopefully they are designed to take the increased load - hopefully :wacko: . When it comes to power generated by rotating magnetic/inductive mass you are not going to get something for nothing. You must look at the bigger picture before you make any major changes.

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Dave - you'll love this - http://delcoremy.com/Documents/High-Efficiency-White-Paper.aspx - (Dang, I need a life, well it is cold (52*F) and rainy outside).

 

On page 27 - figure 30 I think that I see your lights, LOL. Just guessing here - the 40 amp load is daytime running and the 110 amp load is night time running (your lights in the mix). Now, translating that to us, our trucks running in the daytime, lights off, our alternators are putting out 40 amps (really?? I'm surprised) and that is going to leave us with 100? amps to play with. And with most of us moving into LED's those numbers are probably dropping. (written in 2008)

 

Edit - eh Randy, might want to read this also. The power curve on the alternators is http://delcoremy.com/Alternator-Models/36SI-HP-Heavy-Duty-Brushless-Alternator.aspx showing about 100 amps at engine idle.

 

Probably the best is to get one with and use the Remote Sense feature. It measures the voltage at the battery, feeds it back into the regulator, and adjusts things accordingly. I power the trailer with 120v off the invertor, rather than rely of the 12 v system. (Randy's reference to Ohm's I=E/R law) or a variation of that (PL (power loss)= I^2*R) basically double the voltage - 1/4 the loss carried out to 10 X voltage is 1/100 the loss. Seeing as I come off the batteries with big wire (250 mcm), the remote sense detects the load immediately. (Actually thinking of moving remote sense location to the inverter power input, 12' (out and back) ref - http://delcoremy.com/Alternators/Remote-Sense.aspx

 

I limit the power that the trailer battery charger draws to 5 amps (50 at 12 volt) so that I don't overwhelm the truck alternator. Typical is about 35 amps (12 volt)

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That's definitely an interesting read! It would be neat to see a breakdown in those charts showing current into and out of the batteries--you could be discharging the batteries at the engine speeds where it's putting out 40A. Most of that "daytime" load is going to be powering the blower motors, various computers, servo actuators, etc.--DRLs like on the gen-1s, which run the 55W low beam headlights at half power, would only account for about 4 amps.

 

Randy, I can't speak to the supplier I linked above, but I've had some good success with upgrading alternators. On my old RV, which shipped with a 100-amp Ford "Ambulance" alternator, I was able to upgrade to a 240-amp 3G Ford alternator from an outfit in NE Tennessee, and made a huge difference, particularly with charging at idle. I think there have been a lot of improvements in regulator design, cooling fan design, etc., that continue to allow casing sizes to shrink and get higher output. You have to figure the alternators we have were designed at least 15 years ago, and maybe quite a bit older than that. That said, I'm sure there's a lot of junk out there too.

 

Here's an interesting read that talks about some of the changes in Ford alternators, and some of the aftermarket suppliers with upgraded stuff: http://www.hemmings.com/mus/stories/2011/11/01/hmn_tips2.html What it doesn't mention is that the Ford 2G alternators developed a reputation for starting fires--the charging wire connected to the alternator with a spade connector that had a tendency to work loose.

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Nuke - I'm figuring the batteries are floating. (Again, all conjecture, I'm guessing that the study was done over multiple trucks for multiple months). Otherwise, as we all know, batteries are finite power sources and there would be a bunch of trucks by the side of the road in the morning, other than the HOS that puts them there now. Running day, night, brights or regular, my dash voltage stays at a consistent 14.1 volts. If it was on the batts, I would look for it to be falling and in the 12.8- range.

 

Also, as I mentioned above, the study was 2008 (back page of the paper). LED's were just coming online and now, 7 years later, it is getting to be about all you see. Figuring your headlights at ~35 watt + 5 for ballast loss?, that's still a 30 watt (another 2.5 amps off the alternator). Even the 192 lamps in the chicken lights - 0.33 amp vs 0.04 X many has got to reduce alt load.

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Edit - eh Randy, might want to read this also. The power curve on the alternators is http://delcoremy.com/Alternator-Models/36SI-HP-Heavy-Duty-Brushless-Alternator.aspx showing about 100 amps at engine idle.

Yep - but note the info I shared was not for Remy. I specifically said "imported" (a nice way of not singling out China) which is what you often find from some bargain priced sellers with big power claims. I know of nothing I wrote that is contradictory.

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You'll want to be sure to cure all of your fueling and starting issues before installing the Ultracap though. The ESM is pretty darn neat and you are guaranteed to add it to the best things you've ever done to your truck thread. BUT a truck that won't start is annoying as hell with an Ultracap. You get a shortened cranking period and you can't jump it and you can't hook it to the big battery charger/starter to crank it for however long as you want. All you can do it crank and then do your 15 min key on recharging time over and over and over again.... It gives you lots of chances to read the forum!

 

Regarding alternators, I've done quite a few retrofits of the 400A 55SI alternator and they are pretty neat but brutal expensive. They install just as easy as anything else and the charge cable and remote sense wire isn't too bad to do. But putting in the 4/0 ground harness is absolutely brutal to install. That thing puts up a wicked fight. I can't imagine trying to do it without my truck lift.... ;)

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But putting in the 4/0 ground harness is absolutely brutal to install. That thing puts up a wicked fight. I can't imagine trying to do it without my truck lift.... ;)

Bill mentioned that he is using 250 MCM (Metric Circular Mils) cable. It is a size up from 4/0. You need a hydraulic pipe bender for that stuff. Don't know if he is running CU or AL but either way it is very stiff. It would be interesting to learn how he managed it on his truck.

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How about 450 mcm? Involved in a project where (3) 450 mcm wires per phase need to be pulled thru 250' of conduit. A heavy rope, lots of lube, and about 20 big strong guys. The project is on hold because its literally Ground 0 for the Ebola problem (ELWA in Liberia). I've been there twice-before the outbreak!

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Randy - welding cable - 47 gazillion strands - I came with the truck (sorry to disappoint)

 

Tool - http://www.greenlee.com/products/BENDER%40dCABLE-W%40FPUMP.html?product_id=17238

 

How to do it -

 

Still have one of these at home - http://www.greenlee.com/products/CUTTER%40c-CABLE-HYD-(750).html

 

All about the tools to do the job.

 

Jeff - biggest I pulled was 6 wire (2 per phase) 1000 mcm off of spools.

 

Also ran tons (bad pun) of 750 mcm cu armored (3-750 mcm with fillers and 3 grounds (750 mcm total) wrapped in "Al" armor and then coated with 3/8" thermoplastic). Basically, a cable, 4" in diameter

 

https://objects.eanixter.com/PD373346-AN.PDF

 

11.7 lbs per foot - 1325 ft spools Limit 3 spools per truck (48K pounds). These were 3 paralleled - 2000 amps at 13.8 kv. Also used 5 miles of 500 mcm for the individual distribution feeders.

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Hmm--Bill definitely gonna pass that on to my buddy. That's some pretty cool stuff! We are designing a 1200A genset/utility system. He and I aren't electricians by training...we consult those who are when we can, but we are the people available, so we do our best with the help of reference books. There is one place we need to go out the back of one breaker cabinet and into another with 1200A @ 480V. I've decided to design a set of copper bus bars to save bending wire! Tools in Africa are a piece of wood and a hammer...a hydraulic wire bender would be...wow.

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Jeff - old school. pair of -- 1" water tee's, file out the inside threads, at the t portion, piece of pipe with a coupling welded on the end. Add stubs as necessary to gain leverage. Trim the wire after bending as the 'inside' strands will grow.

 

Buss - take cupped washers - http://www.fandisc.com/ - or Belleville (same thing) washers.

 

Sequence - bolt head, washer, buss 1, buss 2, washer, Belleville washer, nut.

 

Washers of course spread the load (tension). The washer under the Belleville keeps the Belleville from 'digging' into the copper / AL buss. The Belleville also maintains the clamping force for ..... until you take it apart. It is not a Lock washer, it is a clamping washer.

Maybe a better way to explain it - http://www.fandisc.com/news.htm

 

I'll try to find a picture of the set up.

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Bill: I agree--Belleville washers on EVERYTHING. My friend says they have found that properly crimped cable shoes, bolted to a bus with spring washers, are pretty much completely permanent, while typical allen screw compression lugs need tightening yearly.

 

WE have a website at Metatek.org. The public area has a general design showing a basic system. If your interested, send me a PM, I can get you "user access" into the area where we have details of a couple overseas generator projects. Its kinda designed for techies-but there is a lot of data and info. Any suggestions or comments are always welcomed. (Information is restricted from the GP because of the sensitive areas of the world these projects can be in).

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