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-   -   Generator Still A Problem- Going Nuts (http://squarebirds.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=9073)

jackbird60 06-21-2010 07:29 PM

Generator Still A Problem- Going Nuts
i have a 1960 bird, 352 with a/c. the gen light was on when i bought it. i figured easy fix. not so.

to dated. i have replaced the generator with 2 rebuilt ones, and replaced the vr.

i also, made my own wires 1 - 8 ag, 2- 10 ga. i attached the 8ga to the back of the gen (arm) and attached it to the arm, on the vr. i attached the other two wires to their respective locations. field and grd.

still the gen light is on. i put a volt meter on the bat clip on the vr, and no matter if i accelrate it or not, i only get around 12 volts and the gen lights on.

i am not wild about connecting the field and the arm to the battery. when i do that, it sparks and the voltage (with the car off) goes to 9.5 or 10.

it just doesn't sound right.

so either i am very unlucky and i got 2 bad gens, or something else is happening here.

is there anyway, to test voltage from the gen attached to the car, without involving battery?

i am really perplexed on this one. oh, the starter switch is a bit goofy. you have to push it in then turn it, to start. else it will just turn and turn with no action. i mention this just in case this comes into to play somehow.



tbird430 06-21-2010 08:19 PM

PLEASE, turn your "caps" off. It is the same as yelling.


jackbird60 06-21-2010 08:44 PM

I do the caps, for people like me with bad eyes. Didn't know that was yelling!

Anyway, I did a test similar to Dave test that I saw at this URL:



i made a 10 ga jumper wire from the ARM to the BAT terminal. then made another jumper wire, and it says to touch the Field to the arm. All wires connected.

Upon jumping the arm to the batt, the Gen light goes off, but I am only getting about 10 volts. Then jumping the Field to the Arm, there was no change. Even upon acceleration.

My guess is the 2nd generator is bad as well.

Any thoughts?


Richard D. Hord 06-21-2010 08:47 PM

Hey Jack,
I also went through two generators. Got tired of fooling with them and put alternator on. Have not had any problems since!
Richard D. Hord

jackbird60 06-21-2010 08:52 PM


was it the same problem with the gen light, or did the generators just wear out over time on you.

The reason I ask is, if that solves it , I'll buy it, but I worry that might not be it.

Did you have to remove the fan pulley to install the new SS bracket??

I saw the design, and I was wondering.

simplyconnected 06-21-2010 10:23 PM

Jack, if you have an old headlight (a substantial load), disconnect your armature and hook it up to the headlight. Connect the middle headlight prong to a good ground.

So now you have only a headlight connected to the armature. Start the engine and touch the field wire to the Batt.

If the generator is putting out, the headlight will shine. Remember, this test is UN-regulated, so don't rev the engine too high. You can gauge rpm's by the brilliance of the headlight. I like using light rather than meters because you can see what's happening.

Remember, I said the GEN light only shines when the generator is making less voltage than the battery? In your test, when you touched the bat to the arm, the light went out because it had exactly the same voltage on both sides of the bulb (from your key switch and from your jumpered armature-to-battery).

I'm glad you did the #8 wire, in case you go to an alternator. The wires are already sized right and in place.

Call me if you want. We need to put this problem to bed. The system is simple and shouldn't be this hard to fix. - Dave

jackbird60 06-21-2010 11:01 PM

Thanks Dave for all your help. If it doesn't rain tomorrow, I'll be able to try it. Your right, this thing shouldn't be this hard. I am betting that the gen I am getting from O'rielly auto parts is not good.

wow , so much work for just a gen. well now, I am a pro at take them out and put them on.


jackbird60 06-21-2010 11:19 PM

H i Dave ,

Quick question, how important is that condensor/rectifier that connected to the armature. VR How does that part fit in? Is that just for RF interferfence?


simplyconnected 06-22-2010 01:32 AM

Jack, the condenser is just a simple capacitor. It is supposed to tame down spikes from contacts OPENING. In a generator, when the commutator segments leave the brushes, they still want to flow power, so the brushes naturally arc.

We usually put condensers at contacts. Points are contacts, mechanical voltage regulators have contacts, and some vintage gas tank sensors have contacts (like my '55 Customline). Expect to see a condenser at each location.

Your car is alive with spikes going everywhere. The battery tames most of that down, but a condenser (at the source) helps smooth the power, tremendously.

The condenser doesn't rectify, and it isn't directional. It absorbs voltage spikes, then gives the energy back when the spike returns to normal. This helps prolong contact life. If you are missing a condenser, I guess it isn't a biggie. Most folks only notice a change when the points condenser fails. If the points condenser opens, the points arc, causing a delayed opening, and premature points failure. If the condenser shorts, no spark at all (and the ballast resistor gets real hot.

Richard D. Hord 06-22-2010 06:10 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Hey Jack,
I could never get them to charge at all. I tried to get in touch with C.R.A.P. for the bracket with no luck. So I done some modifications and made it work! Here's what I posted!
Generator to Alternator conversion
Houston we have power!
Boy it was a booger. I'm going to try to explain what I done to complete this project. Special thanks to Ray Clark for all his information and his input.
I tried to contact C.R.A.P. for bracket and never got a response. So I used what I had and it don't look bad at all. And best of all it works!!!
Disconnect and remove battery!
First you want to purchase one wire GM Del-co alternator with internal regulator and pulley. Remove old generator.
Measure from the radiator (the radiator is a stationary point of reference) to get you a dimension to the center line of the crank pulley and the fan pulley, (this dimension should be the same) write this dimension down. The alternator pulley needs to be the same dimension.
If your bracket is like mine it was all one piece, You got the front part that mounts to the water pump, a cross piece that ties to the rear part that bolts to the block.
Take a reciprocating saw and cut cross piece out, close to the back part and close to the front part.
Measure from the radiator back to front part of bracket, write that dimension down.
With pulley on new alternator hold rule, center line of pulley, on dimension you got on fan pulley and crank pulley center line (should be same) see how much you need to get to the front of mounting position on new alternator. EXAMPLE: mine was 3/4"
Remove fan and fan pulley from engine. Remove front part of alternator bracket. Remove upper stud, it will come out with vise grips and twist.
Now you need to make a list of things you need. I needed 12" 7/16" all-thread rod, two lock washers, two nuts, 2" x 3/8" bolt, 3" x 3/8" bolt, 6" x 1/2" ID galvanized pipe, 4" x 1/2" ID galvanize pipe, 3' number 8 wire, wire-end terminals and metric bolt and lock washer to fit Alternator hole for adjustment mounting bracket.
With the extra dimension you need to get front bracket out to be in line with outer pulleys, cut you two pieces off the 4" x 1/2" galvanized pipe (this is best done in vise)
Next is for the replacement for the stud you removed from the water pump. Take the 4" x 3/8" bolt and cut off threads and cut it long enough to accept the top part of front bracket plus shim, drive it into place where stud was and install galvanized pipe shim.
With the pieces of pipe you cut, shim out the front part of the bracket (stud and bolt) Attach front bracket to water pump. Use the 2" x 3/8" bolt.
Now measure from the front bracket to the rear bracket and deduct the Alternator mounting position. (Mine was minus two inches) this will give you the dimension you need to cut the 6" piece of pipe. Cut 6" pipe to that dimension.
Next measure from front bracket to back bracket and add enough to that dimension to except two lock washers, two washers and two nuts. Cut your all-thread rod to that dimension.
Remove tension bracket (mine had two bends in it) get bracket on solid surface and straighten bends with hammer (it needs to be straight) after you have done this reinstall.
Use your all-thread rod, put washer, lock washer and nut on one end. Start this into rear bracket and install pipe you have cut as shim. Work alternator into place and slide all-thread rod threw front bracket. Now install washer, lock washer and nut (hand tighten only) Bracket will be on front of alternator.
Now that alternator is hanging, jack up car set car jack stand in place and get under it. Align lower bracket and install metric bolt and lock nut (hand tighten only) Bracket will be on front of alternator.
Reinstall fan pulley and fan. Install belt. Tighten tension on belt, tighten tension nut and nuts on all-thread rod.
Take ARM wire (yellow wire that was attached to generator) and attach it and new number 8 wire with wire end connector to back of alternator. Tape up other two wires as they are not needed.
Attach other end of new number 8 wire with wire end terminal to battery side of solenoid. (where positive or red battery cable is connected)
Now to the voltage regulator. Gut it, disconnect any connections inside, and underneath, It is not needed, but I left mine because I wanted it to look original. Reinstall and hook it back up the way it was.
Arm post on voltage regulator you should have yellow heavy gauge wire and small yellow wire with black stripe. Go to wires on drivers side at firewall and look for small yellow wire with black stripe, cut it.
Reinstall battery.
Start car and check on fire wall for 12 volts, (I found this at relay in front of passenger) turn car off check for voltage again at that location, if it is dead attach wire then run to yellow wire with black stripe coming through firewall. Tape off other wire coming from Voltage regulator.
Start car and check voltage at ARM and BAT at voltage regulator, you should have 12 volts or a little more. (I had 13volts)
You should now have power and GEN light should go out when car is running.
Richard D. Hord

Coral 06-22-2010 08:51 AM


Originally Posted by jackbird60 (Post 46379)
I do the caps, for people like me with bad eyes.

Jack, for a quick fix you can press the CTRL and + keys at the same time (count the number of times you press the keys) this will enlarge the print
sometimes forum boards will not allow a post to be entered with the print enlarged, if this happens simply press the CTRL and - keys (the same number of times as you increased them) and the print will return to board standards and allow the post to go through... ;)

YellowRose 06-22-2010 09:39 AM

Generator Still A Problem- Going Nuts
If anyone is thinking of converting to an alternator, C.R.A.P. again has the mounting bracket available for our 352 engines. Larry has made more of them available. He can be contacted at 815-634-8216. Here is the webpage that has the bracket on it.

KULTULZ 06-22-2010 02:28 PM

You can also use later BIRD FE brackets to make it look more as an original appearance-

I believe CRITES RESTORATIONS sells take-off parts-

The early FE block will not have the threaded hole to accept the mounting bolt, but C.R.A.P. offers this rear mounting adapter (or one can be fashioned)-

jackbird60 06-22-2010 09:15 PM

i like that seem simple an effecient with the modern fe bracket. do you know what size belt to use. what type of alternator is used? model and year?

I like that a lot. So if I am looking at this correctly. the adapter piece is side mounted to the engine block, and the other piece of that bracket has a threaded hole were the alternator bolts to .

i like it- very effecient design. I wondering how much for that little adapter bracket from c.r.a.p. and how much for a FE bracket.


jackbird60 06-22-2010 10:02 PM

Hi Dave,

I did the procedure you mentioned with the headlight. Had to buy one, it had only 2 post. I connected one to the grd, one to the arm. Then I started the car, and touched the field wire to the batt. nothing, nada. So bad gen. I can now take this gen off in my sleep. But not tonight. I do it tomorrow. Probably before work. so I can return it.



KULTULZ 06-23-2010 12:51 AM


Originally Posted by jackbird60 (Post 46428)

what type of alternator is used? model and year?

Shown is a 1G ALT. They are very common in salvage yards.

The charging circuit harness will have to be upgraded from GEN to ALT.

Just stay away from GM one wires.

KULTULZ 06-23-2010 12:57 AM

1) Repair the ignition switch,

2) Full diagnostic sequence is in the Shop Manual,

3) A GEN has to be polarized after install and before starting car.

4) The voltage regulator is mechanical and adjustable. Check your manual.

JohnG 06-23-2010 07:50 AM

Jack, do you have a factory Shop Manual??


ncbird 06-23-2010 08:54 AM

simple tool
to do what was done with the headlight there is an easy tool you can make. Electrical supply and most box stores sell a light bulb socket with two wires with aligator clips. This is so an electrician can see from a distance if a circuit is hot. To adapt to cars all you have to do is go to a marine supply store (west marine or such) and buy a 12v DC bulb. Large boats use them in lamps etc and they screw into the standard 120v light socket. Voila a large test light and cheap. G

simplyconnected 06-23-2010 03:52 PM

Good suggestion, Grant.
I think all the RV stores have 12-volt bulbs, too. Just be careful you don't accidently put it in a regular 115-v lamp socket.

simplyconnected 06-23-2010 04:04 PM


Originally Posted by KULTULZ (Post 46440)
...Just stay away from GM one wires.

YES! I agree. They don't have a GEN or 'sense' wire.


Originally Posted by KULTULZ (Post 46441)
...A GEN has to be polarized after install and before starting car...

Actually, if your GEN light is working, that's exactly what it does when you first turn the key; it 'tickles' the armature with +12-volts as it shines. That small current produces enough magnetism to kick-start the armature as it cuts through the field lines of flux. The GEN light goes out when the generator produces more voltage, than the battery's voltage.

jackbird60 06-23-2010 09:57 PM

Hi John, I do have a 1960 Tbird Manual.


JohnG 06-24-2010 09:26 AM

hi Jack

Where are you at? Have you succeded in testing your VRs? Generator(s)? Have you narrowed down who does not work?? What can we do to help?


vernz 06-25-2010 03:23 AM

Have you checked the integrity of your wiring between the VR and generator? My 60 generator was not working last year. Using the knowledge I gained on this site, I finally found that one of the bolts that hold the generator together had worn through field wire insulation and grounded out the field wire inside the generator. Since you replaced your generator, that shouldn't be an issue, but the wire external to the regulator could be an issue.


JohnG 06-25-2010 08:09 AM

An example of a basic rule of old cars: assume nothing - take nothing for granted .

Tedstehr 01-10-2014 10:53 PM

Generator light
It sounds like you have narrowed the problem to the generator not charging, but you should be aware that a charging light can come on for reasons other than poor or no generator output. That light comes on whenever there is a difference in voltage across the bulb. Normally this is when the battery is higher voltage than the generator output, but it could be caused by a faulty battery (absorbing current,) a short circuit, or a live wire grounding. I had a problem with a power window motor being stuck on and absorbing so much current that the light came on. Essentially the current is flowing in the opposite direction across the bulb.

I always use the screwdriver method as my first step diagnosing charging problems. Hold a screwdriver to the back bearing of the generator. (This works on alternators too.) If there is a strong magnetic pull, you are almost certainly charging. No or very little pull usually means the field is not energized so you are not charging.

If you have access to an ammeter, you can clamp it around the output wire and note the amperage. (Flow of current.)

If you haven't checked this, please do. I don't know much about your supplier, but more than one faulty generator seems very unlikely. Usually, they are bench tested; full fielded while driven by a belt connected to a motor before being released.

Good luck!

simplyconnected 01-11-2014 03:45 AM

Ted, this thread is 3-1/2 yrs-old. I'd be willing to bet, he's good now.

I like your troubleshooting methods for detecting magnetism.

Recently, my friend took his generator into an auto parts store for their 'free testing'. The employee had a box full of jumpers, but had no clue how to connect an armature or field. He had no clue as to how the gen worked at all. I find that as more time passes, more folks in the car industry really don't know (or care, sadly). Generators are becoming like the old 'growler' boxes; cool to have but not much use for one, now.

Olde tyme methods that used to be handed down to the next generation are nearly extinct.

Nearly everything on a generator or motor can be tested with a Continuity Tester, Jumper Wire, and screwdriver.

With one Continuity Light lead on the generator's ground:
A good field will produce a pretty blue spark if you lightly scrape the test light on the Field post.
If no sparks and the light immediately shines bright, it's shorted to ground.
The Armature post works the same through the brushes but remember to slowly turn the shaft to test all the commutator segments.
Of course, if you get no light at all, it's open.

I use the Continuity Light on big 460VAC motors as well. Normally, a meter will show a dead short no matter which way you test. A Continuity light between phases will hesitate (slightly) then shine. Pull the tester off, and here comes the telltale blue spark. Inductive reactance causes this because an inductor opposes changes in current, then the collapsing field produces counter-EMF. - Dave

JohnG 01-11-2014 12:54 PM

there is another simple area of generators that needs to be kept in mind: the brushes and brush holders.

As the brush wears, you get a build up of grime in the holder. Where the car is driven intermittently, the grime can harden, keeping the brush from moving freely and exerting the pressure against the commutator that is needed. A simple clean-up takes care of things. (same advice applies to almost any electrical device that has brushes - - motors included. Old toy trains.)

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