View Full Version : Help please. Electrical

03-26-2017, 06:47 PM
Hi. So I went down the street for a cruise, came home, restarted the car, which turned over more then usual, I smelt burning plastic, shut the car off, popped the hood, and noticed the yellow wire from the solenoid down to the Gen, and from the Gen, all the across the radiator bottom support, and up to the voltage regulator...all FRIED! Completely melted, just bare copper wire laying there. What the H e double hockey sticks is going on here?
Did I crank it over too long?

03-26-2017, 07:28 PM
I assume we're talking about a Squarebird... If the wire was fried from the Generator; the small wire is your field, the large wire is your armature. Both have windings inside your generator.

Evidently, one of these shorted to ground.
Your charging system has NOTING to do with your starting system. Cranking could not have damaged your generator. - Dave

03-26-2017, 07:45 PM
Yes '60 Squarebird. The yellow wire from the starter solenoid runs down to the Gen, also melted and fried. That's why I was asking. I've heard of poorly grounded starters causing problems like this, but I'm no auto electrical wizard. So you think it was something inside the Gen? Or possibly one of the wires grounded out on the rad support? It is original wiring. Thank you for the help. I'm new to birds.

03-26-2017, 07:49 PM
The yellow wire should go from the solenoid to the voltage regulator and then from the voltage regulator to the generator. If it goes from the solenoid directly to the generator then it's wired wrong.


03-26-2017, 09:03 PM
The yellow wire should go from the solenoid to the voltage regulator and then from the voltage regulator to the generator. If it goes from the solenoid directly to the generator then it's wired wrong.


Definitely wired wrong then. Going off of the wiring schematics from the technical resource library, and what you just mentioned, I'm pretty sure it was wired entirely wrong.
Can I go off of the diagram in the library to rewire the whole front end of my bird? What I'm asking is, is there anything missing from the wiring diagram? I will attempt this with new wire, cut and crimped myself. I just don't know what the gauges were before they melted, and its really hard to tell now... Would be cool if the wiring diagrams also stated the gauge of wire.
1960 Thunderbird hdtp 352, no A/C.
Everything works (or did for that matter) except the door switches for the dome light.

03-26-2017, 10:18 PM
The wiring diagram is correct. The yellow wire is pretty heavy. I suspect it's probably 8-10 gauge. It's the thickest wire in the entire car besides the battery cables.


03-26-2017, 10:30 PM
The yellow wire from the solenoid to the voltage regulator is 10 gauge per the shop manual.


03-26-2017, 11:50 PM
I sure do appreciate the help. And thank you for the gauge info.
I'm just curious as to why it decided to burn out now. After driving for 1000 miles after purchasing the car. It must have been a wire that rubbed through and grounded itself.
Funny thing, last night I lost headlights and pulled the dimmer out to get a good ground to it, and installed it. Drove the car for 20 miles, and then this happened just by starting it for 5 seconds. It just seems odd to me. If the ibwas wired wrong, wouldn't it have burnt out miles ago, or at first start up?

03-27-2017, 12:27 AM
I kind of doubt that it's wired wrong. If so you would've noticed it before. The GEN light would certainly be on if it was wired incorrectly. The wires go into the harness so it's difficult to tell which direction they go. The main wire on the generator is yellow with a black stripe, not plain yellow. The wires that run along the top of the cross member in front of the radiator are exposed to a lot of heat so it's not unusual for the insulation to become brittle and crack. I would rerun all the wires and then use an ohmmeter to check for grounds or shorts before I started the car again.


03-27-2017, 01:31 AM
...Funny thing, last night I lost headlights and pulled the dimmer out to get a good ground to it, and installed it...Nothing on the headlight switch or headlight dimmer switch has or needs a ground. All wires to both switches are 'power' wires and neither switch needs a 'case ground'.

If what you say is true, that wires burned up starting at the generator, continuing through the voltage regulator, and on to the solenoid switch; if all those wires cooked then the generator AND the regulator need to be tested with a common multimeter for grounds. Your fault ground must have started at the generator, for that entire path to be destroyed. Is there any portion of wire in that path that is NOT burned? If not, where is it?

#10 wire safely carries 30 amps continuously. Your voltage regulator is also rated for 30 amps. Cooked wires carried at least twice that current. This is a major ground fault, not a frayed wire that touched the chassis.

19-strand #10AWG THHN wire (from Home depot) is ok to use along the body of your car because it doesn't move around. THHN (thermoplastic insulation) is rated for 60C (or 140-degrees F). Use this wire from the starter solenoid to the voltage regulator. They sell yellow OR you can cover any color wire with yellow electrical tape.

I would make my own wire harness. Generators generally have a wire harness with two #10 and one #16 wires. The #10 wires are for the armature and ground. The smaller wire is a field wire. All three start at the generator and end at the voltage regulator so, this harness is normally taped into a cable assembly. I realize the schematic shows #18 for the black ground wire but I always use ground wires equal to the size of my power wires.

I'm sure you will have more questions as you test your components, before applying power. - Dave

03-27-2017, 02:01 AM
...Drove the car for 20 miles, and then this happened just by starting it for 5 seconds...

Alright I admit, this statement haunted me because I'm trying to visualize your thoughts.
First, you drove for 20 miles.
THEN, the burnout happened, 'just by starting it for 5 seconds'.

How could that be possible?

If your engine ground wire came off (burned off, fell off, came loose, etc.), then all your starting current would seek another path (the path of least resistance) back to the battery. Namely, your generator's skinny little ground wire and/or any other path to ground.

(This is why I use large ground wires.)

Check the wire from your battery (neg) to your engine. Give it a good shake to see if the connections are solid and the strands are not frayed. If you don't have a separate battery neg wire to the body (like modern cars have), install one. - Dave

03-31-2017, 01:54 AM
So far in my journey, I've prepared the car to accept the new alternator conversion. Today I installed the Pertronix ignitor ii distributor. Got everything wired with the help of people from "Squarebirds.org" I really appreciate the time and shared knowledge. Just waiting on the alternator and pigtails to arrive now.

04-04-2017, 11:48 PM
Well I got the 3g installed today using the old generator bracket.
I removed the pulley from the old generator and put it in the lathe, and cut the fan blades off. The 3g has it's own internal fan.
I elongated the hole that bolts the bracket to the side of the block by 3/4" back towards the rear of the car. This allows you to push the set up forward to align pulleys.
Then I took the top bracket that comes from the water pump, to the generator bracket, (upright vertical piece) and took the bend out. With it being straight it pushes the bracket out 1/4".
Back to the lathe, I machined one spacer at
-2 1/2" to fit between the alternator and the rear dog ear of the bracket that bolts to the block.
2 x 1/8" washers go in between the water pump and vertical bracket.
I then cut out a piece of 3/16 steel, "half round"
Welded at the corner where the bottom and vertical bracket meets, for my adjuster. It wraps half way around the alternator (much like C.R.A.P's adjuster bracket) Milled in a slotted hole for adjustment, and viola. 3G in 1960 Thunderbird. So far the pulley lines up perfect. The cool thing is, it's adjustable back and forth to perfectly align the pulleys. I have room for adjustment in both directions. With everything locked down and tight, it runs smooth.
Tomorrow I'll wire it in, and see how it does with a load on it, especially with that single pulley.

04-05-2017, 01:38 AM
Very cool! I hope you took lots of pictures along the way.

If you are using a single sheave, you might want your pulley to be slightly larger in diameter, just to give the belt more surface to grab onto. (You'll find out the first time you sit at a light, and then take off.

I love my 130-amp alt. I even run an inverter to give me 115-VAC for when I'm away from power. My trouble light is just a standard cord with a bulb that I keep in the trunk. I use other power tools as well.

I'm excited for you to crank it up! Don't forget the fuse and heavy wire on the output lug. AND, make sure you secure the wire to your bracket (or to the block), so the electrical connection doesn't get any vibration. Give extra wire between the fender apron and your engine for vibration. I put a full loop in my wire. "Welding wire" is the best. - Dave

04-05-2017, 04:14 PM
14.4v Seems a little excessive lol but I'll take it. Not used to having that much power on tap. Yes sir I got some pics. I'll have to write this out better, with pictures as soon as I sit down.

04-05-2017, 06:22 PM
14.2 seems pretty normal to me for an alternator. Just keep an eye on the battery and make sure your not boiling the water out, but it should be fine.

04-05-2017, 07:23 PM
14.4v Seems a little excessive lol but I'll take it...I'm with Nyles. I would expect up to 14.5 VDC for the charging circuit.

Oh wait, you're comparing to a generator. There's no comparison. And BTW, you're all set for powering an electric fan and any other options you like. - Dave

04-05-2017, 09:39 PM
I get a little squeal at start up. But nothing that lasts. At least for now, haven't run through the night with lights and fans on. I think I'll go with a larger single sheave pulley when I get the time.
As for the tune of 14.3v, I'm loving it. I'm definitely used to that in my newer vehicles, along with the amenities. But for a 1960 Thunderbird...its a blessing.
Thanks for all the help Dave, I'm very grateful to you. Now for a reliable fan...any suggestions?

04-05-2017, 10:14 PM
Excellent job, Audie. I'm proud of you. Thanks for supporting our site and thanks for keeping your word.

You gotta know that I'm CHEAPPPPP! I don't throw parts at a problem and I believe in using bone yard OEM parts from modern cars. Above all, 'necessity is the mother of invention', so I fabricate as well.

Years ago, I suggested that YellowRose (Ray Clark) visit his local pick-and-pull to pick up a SET of cooling fan and alternator for his Squarebird. I think he got them from a Crown Vic, but he realized this job was too much for his abilities. So, he sold them to me for what he paid and sent them up to Michigan from Texas. I've been using both in our '59 Galaxie Y-Block ever since. Now, our family participates in The Woodward Dream Cruise (http://woodwarddreamcruise.com/?page_id=934), where 1.5M people attend every Aug. You can imagine, traffic is snail-slow for miles. I've had a pizza delivered, while we were in the street, in front of the place.

With an OEM electric fan and a 130-amp alt, no problem. While all the other classics MUST PARK, I'm out there without a hint of overheating.

For electrical hookup, you need a radiator thermostat, a 30-amp 12-volt relay and #10AWG wire. When the radiator gets hot, the fan turns on. It's that simple. When moving at 40-mph, the fan rarely ever turns on.

Realize that a mechanical fan robs HP at all times, even in winter months. Electric fans only operate when needed. You may feel more HP right away and your mileage will increase without any engine modifications. - Dave

04-06-2017, 01:22 AM
...If the wire was fried from the Generator; the small wire is your field, the large wire is your armature. Both have windings inside your generator.

Evidently, one of these shorted to ground... - DaveAudie took his generator apart. This is what he found:

Originally Posted by Bird-in-the-bush
Oh man, I forgot to tell you. When I pulled me generator off and inspected it...the armature bars inside, fell apart and ripped the brushes away, some were completely missing, some were laying inside the case and fell out when I took it off and turned it lol...ohhhh now I know why all that wire fried like chicken...haha..just thought you would like to know about that.
Drove the car tonight to work. Ran great as for charging. Ever since I installed the Pertronix 2 distributor, I'm getting a hesitation off idle to part throttle. I just removed the stock dist with pertronix 1 in it, so I may need to spend a day checking air gaps and what not.

I'm relaying this as a reminder to all, that brushes need to be checked before catastrophic failure. Alternators use brushes too but they usually last longer because the main current does not go through them and they ride on smooth slip rings, not commutator segments.

Brushes are reasonably priced at about eight bucks, even for our starter motors.

Audie, Pertronix doesn't make this information popular but... make sure the top of your reluctor (that black unit that slips over your points cam) is 'dead even' with the Pertronix pickup. They hit hard on the reluctor-to-pickup air gap being .030" but say nothing about height. - Dave

04-07-2017, 03:34 AM
I wrote up a new thread and included my pictures. "Generator to Alternator stock Gen bracket"
It's my first write up slash tutorial...go easy on me lol. Thanks, Audie.