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V6 Alternator Options

Greggers

SAOCA Vice President
Platinum Level Sponsor
So my alternator is intermittently overcharging. The voltmeter will peg for 30 seconds, then come back down and be fine for an hour, then the voltmeter will peg for a minute. Went to get it tested, but the battery tested bad, so I had to replace it first. With the new battery, the alternator tested as bad. Here's the challenge:
  1. According to the old dog at NAPA, it's an 80s-90s GM, but clocked and pulleyed differently from stock. And there's a little box on top that appears to convert it from 3-wire to 1-wire.
  2. No numbers on it except a rebuilder sticker. The rebuilder went out of business. The company that replaced it says those parts are long since discontinued. He was kind enough to offer to sell me a $275 replacement alternator. It won't arrive in time for a planned trip.
  3. The bracket setup on my car is a little different from the DanR and Jose kit standards. Unsure of what bracket it is, but the alternator is on the passenger side.
  4. The car isn't wired for anything but a 1-wire.
  5. All the auto parts stores ask for year, make and make and model, which I obviously don't have.
  6. Because it's overcharging, I can only assume it's that little box that's bad, so even if I found an exact replacement alternator, I'd have a 3-wire and a probably broken conversion box.
A few gents recommended some options:
  1. There's a Delco 7127. It's great, but it's a good two inches larger in diameter, which would put it close to, if not in contact with the inner fender.
  2. Allegedly there's a Hitachi 14231 that can be converted to 1-wire (although it needs at least 1 additional wire (1-ish wire?))
    1. And saying Hitachi 14231 to the countermen has resulted in blank stares.
      1. Googling for cross references comes up with a lot of forklifts, which resulted in my own blank stares.
  3. There's other stuff on Amazon I can order and hope I can receive it and make it work by Friday morning. But most involve finger-crossing and quick rewiring.

So, is there a small 1-wire alternator that I can go to the AutoZone and say, "Give me an alternator for a 1987 Buick Yada Yada with the X.X liter motor" and that thing will work?
 

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sunalp

Diamond Level Sponsor
That looks alot like the alternator on my 1987 Jeep wrangler. It is a GM alt, so maybe an option for
you?
 

Greggers

SAOCA Vice President
Platinum Level Sponsor
I don't know what my car has or doesn't have, because I didn't build it. (If I had, it definitely would've had another Rebel Wire kit.) It's an S4 that was converted to negative earth and fitted with an alternator at some point in its history. Some things over the years have made me think someone went ahead and swapped in an S5 wiring harness, but that's just speculation.

I can see that the control box is gone. I have no idea what if anything is hooked up to the warning light. It's obviously non-functional, as there was only one wire going to the alternator, which is now on the passenger side. If it has been fitted with an S5 harness, I don't know whether the warning light simulator is present or hooked up if it is. Is there a way to test the warning light circuit? I do have a wire that's brown with yellow tracer tucked out of sight in the neighborhood of the fuse block, which is consistent with both S4 and S5. Am I one jumper away from a functioning warning light – or a catastrophic fire?

So, I see my only option at this point is finding another true self-exciting / 1-wire alternator (and install it by Friday at 10am). Amazon to the rescue with a Delco 7127ish.

If that fails, I could go to the local alternator shop (In Atlanta, "local" means it's 30 minutes away) with the one I have and beg for help.


That looks alot like the alternator on my 1987 Jeep wrangler. It is a GM alt, so maybe an option for
you?

The ones I'm finding for a 1987 Jeep Wrangler look pretty different. And they all seem to have a 3-wire setup.

MG guys like the 91-97 Saturn. 90-105 amps, can be reclocked. This is how it is wired. Cheap at Rockauto with no core. You have to change the pulley to V belt by swapping yours..
Promising, but I'd have to wire in a warning light, unless there's some means of figuring out where the wires go for mine.
 

Greggers

SAOCA Vice President
Platinum Level Sponsor
Updates:
  1. The 7127 is an absolute no-go for my needs. Others have used it successfully with the DanR and Jose brackets. But with whatever bracket's in mine, it was wedged between the spark plug and the frame rail. For sale, cheap.
  2. Warning light failed test, wires jiggled, passed test. Yay, 60-year-old wiring.
  3. I spent an obscene amount of time researching every alternator installed on anything for the last 50 years. During that time, I could've probably just carved a functioning alternator out of a block of billet aluminum using only a soup spoon and my wits.
  4. The 90s Saturn CS-130 definitely looks like a winner. In fact, it looks almost exactly like what I have now. If only I'd taken 260Alpine's advice and ordered the RockAuto one on Monday. It might be here by now. Instead, the local Autozone has one for three times the cost.
  5. I was able to get a Hitachi 14231 variant (1980 Datsun 720 ) at the local O'Reilly. TBD whether or not it will work.
 

Greggers

SAOCA Vice President
Platinum Level Sponsor
Greg, any junk yards near you? Or automotive electrical rebuilders near you?

There’s one relatively close to me, but the good ones are a good 45 minutes away. The electrical rebuilder known for their alternator work closed. Another Covid casualty.

Greg, did you get your alternator fixed in time for your trip?

Well, I picked up the Hitachi at about 5pm Thursday, got home, popped it in, went to check the gauge, and it wasn’t charging. I gave up, put the bad alternator back in, and it wasn’t charging. That’s about the time I realized that all my gauges were out. So I searched for a broken ground, shorting wire, anything that would cause that.

About 10pm, I gave up and started prepping the white car, a 1725. Doing that involved swapping wheels from one car to the other to get to safer tires. Thanks to differing lugnut types/sizes and one car with larger than stock lug size, the whole jack, remove, jack, swap, jack, remove, jack, swap process took 90 minutes.

Very long story short, after a quick shakedown drive, and fixing various minor to major issues, I got to bed at about 2am.

Friday morning, over my cornflakes, I was reading the wiring schematic (as one does) to figure out why the gauges would be dead in the V6 car. Tracing my way back and forth across the schematic, I discovered a connector at the wiper that feeds the wiper, horns… and gauges. When installing the new alt, I must’ve tugged the harness to get the extra 1/2” I needed to reach the new battery lug and popped out the magical bullet connector. Hit the key, and the gauges came to life. Turned it, and the car was charging!

So Friday morning was spent reinstalling the new alternator, re-swapping the wheels, and finally packing a bag. It’s time to get going.

That’s when I discovered the fuel hose spraying the brand new alternator with premium unleaded.

Through 95 degree weather and Friday holiday Atlanta rush hour traffic, the car and I both made the trip without much difficulty.

So to finally get around to answering your question, yes, yes we made it both there and back safe and sound. Tired, but sound.
 
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