Bright Spark

Today was the day I finally solved the niggling problem of Herman’s alternator. The astute reader will remember that it has been giving me gyp since I first bought the van and I’ve made at least two abortive attempts to sort it out before: Exhibit A, Exhibit B.

Having a split charge system and hence a spare battery has ameliorated the problem somewhat, in that I’ve got into the habit of swapping the batteries round every couple of weeks and charging up the one I’ve just taken off the ignition circuit, but it’s a pain in the arse carrying a heavy duty battery up two flights of stairs, every time I need to put it on the charger in the flat.

So today, I vowed to have another go:

First off, I swapped the brushes in the alternator, which did sweet FA. Then I traced every bloody lead coming out of the damn thing as they weaved and meandered around Herman’s nice oily engine bay. I removed various of these leads in turn and bypassed them temporarily with lengths of known-good wiring. No matter what I tried, the alternator stubbornly refused to output more than a feeble 6 or 7 volts. 

Wish me luck, skip. I'm going in!
Wish me luck, skip. I'm going in!

Eventually, after about an hour of cursing, swearing and generally having a whale of a time, I happened to trace the lead back from the battery to the starter motor and found that the connector on the starter motor end was so loose, I could undo the nut by hand.

The culprit!
The culprit!
After a good wire-brushing
After a good wire-brushing

I undid the nut, whipped off the connector, which was covered in oil and gunk and gave it a brisk rub down with a wire brush, then reconnected it good and tight and fired up the engine…

Halle-fuckin’-leujah! Turns out, the problem had nothing to do with the alternator at all, but was down do a dodgy connection between starter motor and battery. Dontcha just love auto-electrics?

At least with electrical jobs, you dinnae have to get your hands dirty!
At least with electrical jobs, you dinnae have to get your hands dirty!
Trying to elicit some sympathy from the cat
Trying to elicit some sympathy from the cat