Alternator replacement

Battery, alternator, starter, cables, etc.
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MountainManJoe
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Alternator replacement

Post by MountainManJoe »

My new alternator came in the mail today. I started reading the documentation that came with it, and it's actually quite informative, so I'll paraphrase some of it for you:
  • Alternators usually fail due to an external cause such as belt tension. Failure to address the source of the problem can lead to premature failure of the new alternator.
  • 15 years ago, alternators were built to withstand the abuse of delivering full output for long periods of time. Today alternators are built for lighter weight and less cost. High temperatures and electrical loads will cause the diode/rectifier to fail quickly.
  • The leading cause of alternator failure is a marginal battery which will stress the alternator. A discharged battery can take 7-8 hours to recharge. A battery should register 12.6V after applying a 25A load for a couple of minutes (to remove "surface charge"). A good battery should withstand a load of 1/2 its cold crank rating (CCA) for at least 10-15s without dropping below 10V.
My dead alternator is a Delphi unit and probably original. It quit at around 250,000 km which is probably pretty good considering the abuse I gave it. (high loads, deep discharges etc.) For a few weeks before it gave up completely, it howled a bit. Also, my belt tensioner rattles.

Here are the details on my new one:

Source: autopartscanada.ca
(also operated as marksbugbarn.ca, bestpricecarparts.ca, bestpricecarparts.com and marksbugbarn.com)
Canadian branch is based in Hamilton, ON and Washington in the U.S.
(The part was actually shipped from a warehouse an hour away from me in Richmond, BC.)
Price: $94.99 CAD + Tax. Free ground shipping on orders over $75 (took 2 days)
Item#: W0133-1603381
Brand: BBB Industries (also sold as "Wilson")
Manufacturing Plants:
Reynosa, Mexico - Rotating Electrical
Reynosa, Mexico - Power Steering
Sparta, Tennessee - Rotating Electrical
Winnipeg, Manitoba - Heavy Duty Electrical

(It's not made in China which is encouraging)

It's a new unit so theres no core exchange.
The new alternator also included a test spec sheet (attached below). I has a neat performance graph which shows current output versus RPM.

When I was removing the positive connector nut on the old one, the crimped wire terminal broke off (this is the positive one going to the starter) so now I have to replace that and it doesn't look easy to get to. #-o I would like to fix the belt issue before installing the new alternator. The belt is almost new, so my question to you guys is, how do you fix a rattling tensioner?
Attachments
alternator.png
Last edited by MountainManJoe on Mon Nov 14, 2011 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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1Gary
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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by 1Gary »

Have you checked the tension pulley bearings and the idler pulley bearings??.
1979 Malibu drag race only car
1999 Sonoma 4.3 5 speed-Rufus
1989 Astro-Ole Yellar cancelled-still selling off parts
1985 Astro-shop van R.I.P. my friend
1994 Astro LT RWD W4.3 rod knock RIP
1982 Winnebago single rear wheel-Chevy 350 Scraped 1/28/13-broken dreams......


Rochester,NY
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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by MountainManJoe »

No I haven't, but I will certainly do that when I take the belt off. I assume idler pulley is the one that isn't connected to anything. What is the procedure if one or both of these bearings is worn out? Do you replace just the bearings or a whole assembly?
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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by 1Gary »

you will hear them by spinning them by hand and you can just try to move them too to see if there is any slop
1979 Malibu drag race only car
1999 Sonoma 4.3 5 speed-Rufus
1989 Astro-Ole Yellar cancelled-still selling off parts
1985 Astro-shop van R.I.P. my friend
1994 Astro LT RWD W4.3 rod knock RIP
1982 Winnebago single rear wheel-Chevy 350 Scraped 1/28/13-broken dreams......


Rochester,NY
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1Gary
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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by 1Gary »

a worn belt will do that too
1979 Malibu drag race only car
1999 Sonoma 4.3 5 speed-Rufus
1989 Astro-Ole Yellar cancelled-still selling off parts
1985 Astro-shop van R.I.P. my friend
1994 Astro LT RWD W4.3 rod knock RIP
1982 Winnebago single rear wheel-Chevy 350 Scraped 1/28/13-broken dreams......


Rochester,NY
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1Gary
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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by 1Gary »

Sorry-I was eating water melon in the post before.Take a look at my big three upgrade thread where I took off the alt.The bracket is a real pita!!.The bad part about your situation is your could find it is the bad Alt bearing that is creating this and you won't know until you get it back together.

Keep us updated and good luck on this job.
1979 Malibu drag race only car
1999 Sonoma 4.3 5 speed-Rufus
1989 Astro-Ole Yellar cancelled-still selling off parts
1985 Astro-shop van R.I.P. my friend
1994 Astro LT RWD W4.3 rod knock RIP
1982 Winnebago single rear wheel-Chevy 350 Scraped 1/28/13-broken dreams......


Rochester,NY
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Smiliesafari
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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by Smiliesafari »

It's always a good idea to replace both the idler and tensioner. If both on your van are the original then they are 12 years old. They aren't expensive.
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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by photo_van »

Timely thread as I have my van apart to replace the water pump. I was just staring at the alternator thinking; "wonder if now would be a good time to check the brushes"? So I came in to look and see what you all had to say, and hey, here's a current thread!

Just about every car I've owned (Datsun, Subaru, Toyota,) the alt went "bad" ~+100,000 miles; my van is at 99,900. In each one of those cases I fixed the "bad" alt by putting in some new 50 cent brushes and re packed the bearings (yes you can repack sealed bearings).

Any ideas when these GM alternators fail? Think I should check it out?

RE the tensioner. The one on my 98 was falling off about 6 months ago. Super cheesy design where as the pivot bolt wears thru the pot metal spring housing. I ended up "rebuilding" it with a better design. Also repacked the tensioner and idler bearings. Lots of time into a $20 part.

I saw a pic of a tensioner on the "replacing water pump" thread that looked like a much better design and is the type I would look for.
1998 AWD/4WD
4" lift, 31x10.50's, NP 242j/c hybrid, 4.10 gears, S10 front disconnect, rack & pinion steering, trans cooler, rock sliders, ARB fridge, house battery and 100w solar, swing out rear rack with foldout camp table, bed and passenger swivel chair
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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by MountainManJoe »

Smiliesafari wrote:It's always a good idea to replace both the idler and tensioner. If both on your van are the original then they are 12 years old. They aren't expensive.
I just called GM. $156 for the tensioner.

Thanks for mentioning that water pump thread, photo_van. The pics there are great. Here's the link...
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=4270
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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by 1Gary »

Did you find the tension bad??.
1979 Malibu drag race only car
1999 Sonoma 4.3 5 speed-Rufus
1989 Astro-Ole Yellar cancelled-still selling off parts
1985 Astro-shop van R.I.P. my friend
1994 Astro LT RWD W4.3 rod knock RIP
1982 Winnebago single rear wheel-Chevy 350 Scraped 1/28/13-broken dreams......


Rochester,NY

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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by photo_van »

[quote
I just called GM. $156 for the tensioner.
[/quote]

Try this http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/raframecatalog.php

Starting at $17. AC Delco $50. There will be some shipping cost.

Also, if it is made like mine, if it's not bad now it will be soon.
1998 AWD/4WD
4" lift, 31x10.50's, NP 242j/c hybrid, 4.10 gears, S10 front disconnect, rack & pinion steering, trans cooler, rock sliders, ARB fridge, house battery and 100w solar, swing out rear rack with foldout camp table, bed and passenger swivel chair
dirt bag camping rig
1981 Toyota 4x4 pu
1974 John Deere 710
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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by 1Gary »

timelessbeing wrote:
Smiliesafari wrote:It's always a good idea to replace both the idler and tensioner. If both on your van are the original then they are 12 years old. They aren't expensive.
I just called GM. $156 for the tensioner.

Thanks for mentioning that water pump thread, photo_van. The pics there are great. Here's the link...
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=4270
That price seems high.
1979 Malibu drag race only car
1999 Sonoma 4.3 5 speed-Rufus
1989 Astro-Ole Yellar cancelled-still selling off parts
1985 Astro-shop van R.I.P. my friend
1994 Astro LT RWD W4.3 rod knock RIP
1982 Winnebago single rear wheel-Chevy 350 Scraped 1/28/13-broken dreams......


Rochester,NY

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Re: Alternator replacement

Post by photo_van »

Well I have to eat my words. Pulled the alt to have a look. Bearings were a little rough and didn't feel like there was much grease left. Sooo, I tried pulling the alt apart and couldn't! Some how the case was attached to the winding. Struggled with it for a while to no avail.

Snow storms coming and I wrench in the dirt so I needed to get the whole thing back together. Much to my chagrin I bought my first alternator and installed.

The tip about pressing the mounting bushings out is a good one! I used a 3/8" 17mm socket for the "press", worked great. Also, I needed to remove a wiring harness retainer bolt (hidden left of alt) to get enough slack in the wires. I could then just barely, reach behind and disconnect the terminals.
1998 AWD/4WD
4" lift, 31x10.50's, NP 242j/c hybrid, 4.10 gears, S10 front disconnect, rack & pinion steering, trans cooler, rock sliders, ARB fridge, house battery and 100w solar, swing out rear rack with foldout camp table, bed and passenger swivel chair
dirt bag camping rig
1981 Toyota 4x4 pu
1974 John Deere 710
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Re: Alternator replacement - PART 1

Post by MountainManJoe »

And finally here is my "how I dunnit"...

First I like to take an extra few minutes to clear my work area, which makes it more pleasant to work in, and save frustration in the long run.
Engine bay: Disconnect the battery. Remove the intake, fan shroud, and push cables/hoses out of the way to expose the alternator.
engine bay.JPG
There... now isn't that much better?

Dog house: Remove ignition coil + module. Unclip engine wiring harness. If you don't like to spend time with your body contorted into uncomfortable positions, remove the passenger seat. Next time I will.
doghouse.JPG
Next, unplug the VCM connector from the back of the alternator. With a flat screwdriver, simultaneously lift the tab and push it. It may not release easily so be careful not to break the tab. On my 2000, the plug only has one wire. It allows the VCM to monitor the charging system health (and turn on the malfunction light)

Then, slide the boot off the terminal of the heavy gauge connector. The wire is double crimped to a ring terminal which is fastened to a stud on the alternator. This is where the alternator supplies DC current to the electrical system, but it does not connect directly to the battery. Instead the wire leads to a fusible link, then to the starter motor, and finally to the battery with a heavier gauge conductor.
CAUTION!
Ladies & gents, exercise great care during this step. When loosening the nut, the wire terminal may turn with it. Access/visibility to the area is poor, and it is very easy to break the terminal. (like I did) Use something like a vice-grip to stabilize the terminal first. It is also very easy to drop washers into the deep, dark nether regions of your motor. :yawinkle:
alternator rear ANN.jpg
alternator terminal broken 0.JPG
alternator terminal broken 1.JPG
Last edited by MountainManJoe on Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:21 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Alternator replacement- PART 2

Post by MountainManJoe »

As luck would have it, I had a wire lug in my toolbox that was the right gauge and diameter that I needed, so I soldered it on with a mini torch.
alternator terminal repaired.JPG
Next, go back under the hood.
To take off the belt, put a 1/2" breaker bar, or ratchet with long handle or cheater bar right into the square hole in the belt tensioner. Crank it until the belt is loose enough to slip off the idler pulley (beside alt) with your other hand.

My old tensioner rattled with the engine running, so I turned the pulley by hand, and sure enough it felt rough. Part suppliers had just the pulley ($23) or the whole tensioner assembly ($56).
tensioner.JPG
I smiled when I saw it was made Canada and the spring felt much tighter than on the old tensioner so I took it home. The idler pulley was still tight, and turned smoothly.

Then, remove the two long bolts at the front of the alternator.
Place a pry bar between the alternator and the bracket, and gently lift upwards.
Once free, pull the alternator straight out. Mine cried out when I spun the the pulley by hand.
alternator front ANN.jpg
The 2000 Astrofari takes a model CS130D alternator with integrated bridge rectifier and PWM voltage regulator. (not interchangeable with 2001)
CS= Charging System
130= 130mm stator
D = Dual fan.

Here is my new one:
alternator new.JPG
INSTALLATION
The bracket which the alternator bolts to has two metal sleeves at the front which the bolts slide through. Pushing the sleeves out makes installation 100x easier. They are tight, so I used a C-clamp and a large socket. Drop in your new alternator, line it up with one hole, slide the bolt through, and hand thread a couple turns. Pivot the alt on this bolt to line up the next hole, and do the same with the other bolt. Tighten it down. Loosely thread your serpentine belt. I like to leave the idler pulley last. Crank the tensioner and slip it on. Make your connections at the back and button everything back up. You're done.
This was my first try on an Astro, and I did use colourful language a couple of times. But like most repairs, once you learn the procedure it is very easy.

Good luck!
Last edited by MountainManJoe on Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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