Sunday, April 15, 2012

Resolved: Journey of discovery

On September 17, 2010 I started on a journey to understand, and ultimately fix a nagging problem with my alternator - the start of charging was delayed until the engine RPM's reached 1400 or so, and then it worked normally even at idle.

If you were with me on that journey, you might recall that it ended, unresolved, when I ran out of time and energy to continue.

Recently, I had occasion to remove the alternator for another reason, and this suited as an ideal opportunity to open it up and see if there was a problem inside.  As it turned out, everything inside was in perfect condition - the brushes were like new, all 6 diodes were working and all the connections were tight.

You might recall also from that 2010 journey that I cast suspicion on the connector that mates with the alternator, delivering the bootstrap voltage.  So I pulled the terminals out of the nylon connector, and found, yes you guessed it, that they were dirty and bent enough that a poor connection was being made.  Cleaning and restoring the terminals to their proper shape completely resolved the issue.

By the way, if they are not molded in, it is not difficult to pull terminals out of connectors. When they are assembled, the metal terminals are inserted into the nylon connector housing from the rear, that is, from the end where the wires will ultimately protrude.  Each terminal is equipped with one or two locking tangs that, when the terminal is fully inserted, snap out into recesses in the connector housing, keeping the terminal from being pushed back out the rear. 

To release a terminal from the housing, all you need to do is, working from the front of the connector, depress the tang with a knife, small screwdriver, stiff wire, or whatever fits into the space, and you can then withdraw the terminal out the back of the connector.

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