Alternator Ulsterman

[Jeebus! -that’s the worst one yet!]

With the long nights drawing in, I found myself driving Herman in the dark a few days back, on the way back from Mazza’s mum & dad’s. I noticed that his charge warning light was glowing very faintly and slightly less faintly, when I had to put my headlights on.

So today, working on the tried & trusted ‘try the cheapest remedy first’ approach, I thought it was time to fit a new alternator belt and see if that helped things along. Unfortunately, this would involve patronising that den of uselessness known as Halfords.

Needless to say, they didnae have anything listed in any of their parts catalogues for an LT, but -knowing them of old- I had taken the precaution of getting under Herman with a tape measure before setting off and measuring the existing belt’s vital statistics. So I was able to find a belt of suitable dimensions. It did take a while tho’, as I had to stand there for about twenty mins, plucking likely candidates off the shelf, taking them out of their cardboard sleeves and measuring them, then sticking them back in their sleeves again -until I found the right one.

You willnae find it listed under VW LT, in the parts catalogue, but this belt was the closest I could find to the size of the one that was already fitted:

When I got home and took the old belt off, I was glad I’d decided to replace it, even if it turned out not to be the cause of the warning light -as it was on its last legs; cracked and crumbling and fraying along the edges.

The old belt. T'was probably about to fall to bits anyway
The old belt. T'was probably about to fall to bits anyway

Fitting new drive belts is always a ball-ache of a job at the best of times, and this was no exception. The pain was slightly ameliorated tho’ by the cunning use of a set of cogs; one on the alternator holding bolt and another on the bracket. This allowed you to ‘wind’ the alternator out along the bracket until you got the required tension, just by turning the head of the bolt. A nice bit of simple German ingenuity there. On all the previous motors I’ve owned it’s been the old ‘try and brace the alternator with a screwdriver wedged between it and the engine block, with one hand, while simultaneously trying to do up the holding bolts with the other’ dance.

German ingenuity - taking a wee bit of the pain out of drive-belt fitting
German ingenuity - taking a wee bit of the pain out of drive-belt fitting

With the new drive belt in place, I was feeling confident that this would sort the problem [especially after seeing the state of the old belt]. But, when I climbed in and fired up the engine, I could just make out that old warning light, still glowing gently and mockingly at me.

New alternator drive belt fitted
New alternator drive belt fitted

O Well - further investigation on that one is another job for another day.

Meta TAGS: beltlightchargealternator
ORIGINAL PUBLICATION DATE: 07 Aug 2009
AUTHOR: stíobhart matulevicz