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View Full Version : Lucas, the Pince of Darkness, and my Elan +2



Hegg
12-11-2004, 08:40 PM
Alright, so I've got my Elan +2 running more or less. Now my problem is that the car isn't "charging" while it runs. It was originally a generator car converted to alternator.

Sometimes the ammeter will read positive amps, but most the time it reads negative (i.e., the alternator isn't supplying the system). Of course since sometimes it's charging and sometimes it's not, I would suspect wiring.

I can't seem to trace it down though! When the car is in non-charging mode, I check continuity between all kinds of stuff and it all looks good. I'm to the point that I want to check the alternator output while the car is running, but I don't know how.

So, that's why I'm here now. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif My alternator has the ground wire and a thick red wire going to the fuse "box", on the same side as the thick Brown/Yellow "hot at all times" wire. There's also a plug with two brown/color wires, but I assume that the red wire is the one that should be providing amperage output.

What can I hook my multimeter up to while it's running to see what the output is? I would assume I need to pull the red wire from the fuse box, otherwise my readings would just show battery amperage.

Electrics aren't my specialty. I broke my headlight switch this morning, so now I gotta source one of those. Can't wait to see the price tag on that!

Thanks once again for allowing me to draw on your expertise.

aeronca65t
12-12-2004, 04:13 AM
Unless you're willing to pull the alternator apart, I'd just bring it to an automotive electrical shop and have it tested. You may have to search your phone book (or the internet) but I'll bet there is one of these places within driving distance of you. They will put your alternator on a stand and drive it with a belt to check output. Be sure to tell them it's intermitent, so they give the alternator a chance to warm up.
Other than that, you could go all over your connections. Old cars (not just British) are famous for having corrosion on connectors that feel tight but will not pass current.
Note: a quick way to see if your alternator is putting out any juice is to loosen the negative battery terminal (but do not remove). Start the car and have someone sit in it holding the RPMs at about 2000. Remove the battery terminal for a few seconds...if the car keeps running, the alternator is working. If it dies right away, the car is running off the battery and the alternator is not charging. DO NOT leave the car in this conditon (running with the battery disconnected) for more than about 15-20 seconds, since it can overheat the alternator.

Bugeye58
12-12-2004, 06:01 AM
Another quick test is to measure the voltage across the battery terminals, then start the engine. An increase will tell you if the alternator is charging, and by how much. I would expect to see at least 13.5 volts, if not more.
Jeff

Hegg
12-12-2004, 08:24 AM
Thanks for the replies. I do know that the system is NOT being charged (based on the ammeter reading) because I did do the battery cable removal test as you mentioned.

I haven't paid attention before, but maybe it does start charging after it warms up. Is that a possibility that the alternator isn't charging until it's warm enough?

If that's the case, I'd assume I can have it rebuilt by the local experts and hopefully that'll solve the problem! Either way, I'll run it down to AutoZone to have it tested.

Thanks for the advice! By the way, how far do you think I could drive without an alternator working? As in, how long will my battery power my coil? (I need to fill up with gas very very soon) /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif

Keoke
12-12-2004, 12:28 PM
"How long will my battery power my coil",probably just long enough to get you to the gas station then it will Die.---Keoke /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

Hegg
12-12-2004, 12:43 PM
Ha ha, I hear ya!

I did make it to the gas station and back. I've also driven another 10-15 miles and all is good still. My ammeter is reading "0" most of the time now, unless I turn on my blinkers.

I think I'll pull the alternator next week and have it all tested. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt anyway.

coldplugs
12-12-2004, 05:49 PM
[ QUOTE ]
<snipped> I broke my headlight switch this morning, so now I gotta source one of those. Can't wait to see the price tag on that!
...

[/ QUOTE ]

If what I've been told is true (& the switch is like the earlier cars with both vacuum & electric functions), you'd better save the pieces & try to fix it.

So - you've been driving it. Did the smokescreen go away?

Hegg
12-12-2004, 08:14 PM
Nope, still got a decent smokescreen behind me. Funny thing is that it gets REALLY REALLY bad if I do a U-turn. In general it's blue, but U-turns and such are billowy white. Still not losing any coolant, my oil is still full, and my coolant doesn't have any evidence of oil in it.

But MAN was it fun driving it around today in the sun! It seems to wander a little on bumpy roads, but then again the shocks are 35 years old. I haven't really opened it all the way up yet, and I can squeak the tires in 2nd gear. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

Why didn't I get me one of these sooner?

TypeRboy
12-18-2004, 12:02 AM
After my last rebuild it took a while to clear the smoke away. I was starting it in my garage off and on ( just to hear it run while i was sorting some other stuff over the spring ) and it smoked like crazy every time. I thought for sure I had messed something up, but after a few days of bombing around town, things began bedding in and the oil smoke screen went away. Boy was I relieved.

Which switch did you break, the one on the column, the electric one in the dash or the vacume switch for your pods? I may be able to scare up some parts for some of them..

Hegg
12-19-2004, 12:49 PM
I've taken my Elan around about 150 miles now (holy moly, that is SUCH an awesome car) and the smoking seems to be all gone now. I feel much more relieved now!

As far as the switch, it was the microswitch on the switch in the dash. I haven't taken the dash off yet to get it out, so I don't really know the extent of the damage yet.

Thanks!

TypeRboy
12-23-2004, 06:47 PM
Hmmm... Must be different than mine, I have a regular toggle switch in the dash.. Oh and I guess that yours are rocker switches anyway..