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post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2001, 12:29 AM
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Electrical Geniuses: electrical nightmare on \'83

This is rather long!

2 years ago, my stock alternator was not able to handle 2 100 watt KC offroad lights (installed correctly) at an idle (800 rpm). Anything above idle was fine. So I replaced the alternator. After a few months, this alternator started squealing under load, i.e. headlights, heat, stereo(no amplifiers) all on at same time. So I replaced this alternator. 2 months later, same symptoms. I replaced this alternator with a "high performance" 140 amp Powermaster alternator. 2 months later same symptoms yet again. So I replaced it again with same powermaster alternator. This alternator was fine for the first few months, but then started to develop similar problems, it could not keep the voltage up at a normal level( <14.6 ) with the headlights, heat, and/or 100 watt driving lights on. (I dont feel this is too much to ask out of an alternator!) The electrical system then progressively got worse, and would randomly, and frequently shut down, thus leaving the vehicle stranded temporarily. As time wore on, the system started to blow fuses. Upon replacing the fuse and starting the engine, the alternator would then squeal for long periods of time while trying to recharge the battery, and would sometimes not even charge the battery, and would in turn cause the engine to die again. Replaced the alternator with a new Duralast 93 amp 3 weeks ago, thinking that the voltage regulator was bad (I thought the fuses were blowing because of power surges). This one worked well for the first week, and then started having the same symptoms (would not keep voltage up to 14.6 at idle, squealing to hold charge) with only the headlights on.
All through out this time, I tried several small upgrades. I ran a 4 ga cable off the positive terminal on the battery to a custom terminal for all accesories(driving lights, trail lights, etc) to get thier power. I ran 14 ga solid core (not braided) copper grounds directly off the negative cable to the threaded hole on the alternator case, to the bolts that mount the heater motor, to the frame, to the fenders, on top of all the existing stock grounds. I have all new, TR ignition, ignition control module, the largest battery I could buy; Exide 850 cold cranking amps.
The engine wires are somewhat hacked up, but all connections are secure and clean. There is one 10 ga wire that goes to nothing from the fuse block in the engine compartment that used to be hooked up to something unknown.
I used to think I just had bad alternators, but now I am realizing the odds of me buying 5 bad alternators in a row is pretty slim, and that the problem must be elsehwere. As far as I know, all accessories are wired correctly; from the battery, to a fuse, to a switch, and then to the accessory with a good, solid ground. There must be something that is causing too much resistence, and drawing all power from the alternator, and killing it.
What are peoples thoughts on this? please dont say new Painless Wiring harness

Thanks alot,

Justin
www.geocities.com/jeepboyjus
'83 CJ-7, 258, TR ignition, headers, T5/D300, 3" suspension, 1" body, Moser 1 pce axles, Model 20, 3.54:1
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2001, 06:57 AM
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Re: Electrical Geniuses: electrical nightmare on \'83

Some thoughts. The solid copper wire will work for awhile. Then from vibration it will work harden then crack. Also stranded will bleed off any AC freqs. better than solid. Grounds: Alternator to engine; Engine to frame; Frame to body; Battery to engine; Battery to body; And any other possible combination. Complicate this a bit more if you have a fiberglass body. Also you can put an ameter in to see if it is charging all the time. With all accessories off at idle the alternator should be putting out enough amps just to power the coil(to keep the engine running). It should be very low and probably not visable on an analog gauge. Maybe an amp or two. Anything higher and you have something on or trying to short to ground and drawing current. Good Luck.

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post #3 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2001, 07:39 AM
 
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Re: Electrical Geniuses: electrical nightmare on \'83

You mentioned that you got a new battery. Just to check if the battery is causing problems (drawing too big of a load to charge it), start the jeep up and disconnect the + lead from the battery. It should run find with no battery hooked up to it.
It would be nice to know the current coming out of the battery when the jeep isn't running. Do you have a current meter you could put around the red wire on the battery while the jeep is off? If you have any current drain there, there's definitely a short.
Last resort: Start disconnecting EVERYTHING (the hot + wires for all devices) one at a time, stereo, lights, heater..... All you "need" to keep the jeep running is +12 to the ignition wire. I'm suspecting a faulty headlight switch or something. Have you feelt around for warm wires while the jeep's runnning?
big ed

[img]/wwwthreads_images/icons/cool.gif[/img] Big Ed
<font color=red>'88 YJ, 4" susp,3" body,35's,283 Chevy V8,TH350,4.11's,D30,D35c</font color=red>
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2001, 11:17 AM
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Re: Electrical Geniuses: electrical nightmare on \'83

*******
Orange_Crush posted:

There is one 10 ga wire that goes to nothing from the fuse block in the engine compartment that used to be hooked up to something unknown.

*******

This sounds like your main fuse panel battery supply. This wire is in the factoty harness (or appears to be) correct? This wire supplies power to most of the jeep via the fuse panel. #1 it poweres all of your battery-on devices, AND your ignition-on devices. This wire should go to the battery side of the starter stolenoid. If there is only the battery cable on that side, this is definately an issue. The problem being that somehow another wire was hooked up and is supplying most of the jeep's electrical power, but it isn't up to the task. Probably what's been happening is that the alternator's voltage regulator is sensing the fuse panel voltage, and because of the resistance of the smaller wire, its less. So it starts putting out max amps continously, and its a never ending cycle. You did the first part of solving your problem by grounding everything. Now you must be sure that the power has a good pathway to get to the devices of the jeep.

Try a simple test. With the jeep idleing, check the voltage across the battery posts. then go to the fuse panel and check the voltage at any of the fuses. Technically there shouldn't be a .1v difference (using a digital multi-meter) but due to losses in connections and 20 yr old wires up to .3V is acceptable. If there is any voltage drop however, go through the entire wiring and check everything. A good diagram is absoulty nessecary. I like my Hanes, but chiltons or the ever popular TSM is worthy as well.

Solid wire has no place on a veichle as stated previously. Too many if's. And with the amperage of that alternator, I'd run 10ga min. I'd go 8-4 overkill even. with 2-4 ga battery cables. This includes the + and - alternator cables, engine and chassis ground, and body to chassis. Also if you deem nessecary run a new power wire to the fuse block. Remember, the factory skimped you on wire so they could make an extra $1 a jeep.

Sorry that went so long, but I hope that helps. Most of this is on the assumption that the wire you described is the proper wire.

'77 CJ-5: 304/T-150/D-20 F-D44 R-9" Power 4 wheel disk, 36X12.5 swampers
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2001, 12:03 PM
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Re: Electrical Geniuses: electrical nightmare on \'83

FlMudCJ,
if that is the wire, seems like that could be the problem. i happen to have a picture of my new TFI coil, and that wire can be seen in the photo. i have included it with this post. i know you cant tell much with this photo, but maybe you can tell just by the size maybe? i was talking with Digger76, and he wondered if might be the resistance wire? if so, would it cause similar problems?

ps: dont apologize for the length.... i like the replies nice and thorough

thanks!

Justin
www.geocities.com/jeepboyjus
'83 CJ-7, 258, TR ignition, headers, T5/D300, 3" suspension, 1" body, Moser 1 pce axles, Model 20, 3.54:1
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2001, 12:28 PM
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Re: Electrical Geniuses: electrical nightmare on \'83

Its possible. You'll have to trace it to see where it goes. There was another wire that looked to be approx the same size and the one in question, it could be it also... Do the voltage test to see what your fuse vs. batt voltage drop is... If possible.

'77 CJ-5: 304/T-150/D-20 F-D44 R-9" Power 4 wheel disk, 36X12.5 swampers
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2001, 02:09 PM
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Re: Electrical Geniuses: electrical nightmare on \'83

Dang, adopt me and throw parts at my Jeep. You've still not identified the problem. Let's just go back to basics.

Unhook all the fancy stuff that you've got connected. You've got so much wiring running everywhere that you don't know where to start. You did good by running new cables and grounds. Double check them to make sure you know where they go.

Is the red wire connecting the alternator to the starter solenoid good? These fail INSIDE the insulation and you'll never know it unless you look. For kicks, replace that wire. It carries the whole load of the Jeep. The circuits brance off of that stud on the solenoid and go to the tub and other places.

If the battery was bad I'd be surprised. If the alternator was bad, again I'd be surprised because 5 ain't usally bad in a row unless you're subjecting them to some extreem torture. To be on the safe side check ALL the pulleys the alternator belt runs in. You may have something as simple as a dished out "V" which is trapping the belt. On an 83 that would not be uncommon.

Did you do a load test? If not, do one.

With just the OEM circuits connected does the alternator perform OK? It should.

If not, you know more that when you started. Start isolating circuits to find the high current draw. Remove them one at a time and if there is no change, reconnect them.

Email me off line if you need more help, I'm getting pretty dangerous on my 83' CJ7.

Safe Jeepin'

LEVE
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2001, 02:52 PM
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Re: Electrical Geniuses: electrical nightmare on \'83

Leve,
Forgot to mention that my factory wire from the alternator to the solenoid had splices in it, and was pretty badly worn, so 6 months or so ago I replaced it with a 4 ga battery cable, directly connecting the positive of the battery to the positive on the solenoid.
As for a load test, i have not done on yet. i can only do work on it on the weekends, because i am away at college during the week. I'll definitely email you with more questions.
Now, is my alternator ruined?, because i had to run it for about 3 minutes (with the alternator screaming the whole way, puting out about 12.5 volts) to get it home after the most recent time it died, (over the weekend).

Justin
www.geocities.com/jeepboyjus
'83 CJ-7, 258, TR ignition, headers, T5/D300, 3" suspension, 1" body, Moser 1 pce axles, Model 20, 3.54:1
post #9 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2001, 06:04 PM
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Re: Electrical Geniuses: electrical nightmare on \'83

I'd doubt the alterntor is ruined... But, of course it's not a good thing to hear an alternator screaming for it's life...kinda reminds me of bunnies when thier being converted to good luck charms... When thier hopping around they never make a sound, but grab 'em by the ears and they let you know it's uncomfortable and hope you drop them.

Safe Jeepin'

LEVE
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 02-03-2001, 07:26 PM
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Re: Electrical Geniuses: electrical nightmare on \'83

to the top

Justin
www.geocities.com/jeepboyjus
'83 CJ-7, 258, TR ignition, headers, T5/D300, 3" suspension, 1" body, Moser 1 pce axles, Model 20, 3.54:1
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