Generator vs Alternator Opinions

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2017: Generator vs Alternator Opinions
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Eaton on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 07:33 am:

I'm looking for your thoughts and opinions about my putting a 6 volt alternator on my FORDOR. The generator needs to be replaced. A new alternator is close in price. New generator or new alternator...Need info {786084,}


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By G.R.Cheshire on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 07:40 am:

Since you are not concerned with authenticity the Alternator is more reliable and since you are sticking with 6 volts you can change it back at any time.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chad Marchees _____Tax Capital, NY on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 08:53 am:

John, There have been many debates on this topic. My opinion since you did ask, is that both working as they should, there is no advantage to the alternator.

The one issue that has come up is the cooling of the alternator. Most cool from the front and that is what gets bolted to the T timing cover adapter, thus hindering airflow.

Most generators don't need a whole lot to work again with few parts needed. I wouldn't call these rebuilt per-say, the only person around that I personally think rebuilds generators (and starters), is Ron Patterson. However that said, we have a guy in our club that reconditions them to working condition and he generally gets about $150 for the whole job depending on whats needed.

If you stick with the generator (my recommendation), buy a Fun Projects voltage regulator for your generator. It is leaps and bounds ahead of the original cutout.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chad Marchees _____Tax Capital, NY on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 08:58 am:

Also, you can do searches on past topics of this or other things rather easily. Using your favorite search engine (Google for me), type in what your looking for and add MTFCA on the end.

Example:
Alternator vs generator MTFCA

This will bring up several topics, older and newer, including this one.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Scott Conger on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 09:39 am:

There is no evidence that an alternator is more reliable than a generator when the generator is properly remanufactured.

However, it's your car and if you are inclined to replace perfectly adequate century old equipment with something that will look out of place under the hood that's certainly your prerogative.

A search of the forum will show that the alternator will provide current to your electrical system vastly beyond it's needs and safe working capacity.

In the end, just understand that it is not an improvement.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 09:58 am:

With a 1914 i have neither but there ain't nothing like the real thing!!! We also have a 29 Model A and see many Model A"s with alternator's,same deal,Ain't nothing like the real thing!!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stephen D Heatherly on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 12:29 pm:

John, a properly rebuilt generator is very reliable. The problem is they are also very expensive. If it were not for another very generous forum member who gave me a rebuilt armature for my generator it would have cost me about $400 to rebuild mine to new condition. An alternator is $260 but it's not correct and no better than a good generator. It also looks very out of place and I get satisfaction out of making the original system on a model t work as they should. What ever you decide it's your car and either one will work perfectly fine.

Stephen


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kevin Whelihan Danbury, WI on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 02:33 pm:

I think a lot depends on what voltage you are running. Most of the guys I know who have 12 volt systems in their cars (by default or design) use alternators. The standard Model T generator can put out 12 volts but amps are limited. One common complaint for the alternator guys is that they seem to be going through rectifiers on a pretty regular basis. I suspect heat is the issue. I run a properly rebuilt and adjusted 6v generator with a FP regulator. When I do need to drive in the dark I have no trouble pushing the halogen headlights and LED tail/stops, with an amp to spare for charging while rolling down the road.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Schedler, Sacramento on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 04:03 pm:

I have one of Ron Patterson's generators on my new speedster and it works perfect!!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Doug Money - Braidwood, IL on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 09:38 pm:

Since you are asking for opinions, I would send the generator to Ron Patterson and have it rebuilt. It will last longer than we will be around. Spend the money once and move on and have fun.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chadwick Azevedo on Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 10:40 pm:

While comparing 6v a new alternator is cheaper, less authentic, can produce more power, and may be prone to overheating problems.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Larry Smith, Lomita, California on Sunday, September 03, 2017 - 09:36 am:

Don't do it! A properly rebuilt generator is the only way to go. Just ask Ron Patterson!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Sunday, September 03, 2017 - 10:16 am:

I highly recommend getting lucky at an auction and paying $4 for a shelf full of stuff that includes a working Model T generator. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John F. Regan on Sunday, September 03, 2017 - 01:30 pm:

I agree with Steve Jelf. One thing that should be considered is that the better alternator is belt driven and hopefully well enough engineered that it has a correct size pulley to spin it at the correct speed. You cannot adjust the speed of a gear driven alternator fitted to the T and some have complained that it has to be revved up pretty high to get some output. I have no personal experience with that but it does make sense because the alternator would only be spinning at 1.5 X engine speed and the T is a rather low RPM motor. Alternators in normal use NEED forced air cooling which is normally provided via the back part of their belt pulley so if you toss that pulley away and slap the alternator behind a portion of the T motor casting then you are replacing a cooling device with a heating device and that probably is not a very good idea. With a belt driven alternator fitted with a proper fan pulley the alternator has a better chance of working OK. Your mileage may vary.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Strange - Hillsboro, MO on Sunday, September 03, 2017 - 01:49 pm:

John et al, I have what I believe to be a Becker one wire, gear driven, 6V negative ground alternator on Betsy (she came to me that way).

My observation is that while it is true that the engine needs to be revved up to get the alternator to START charging, once it cuts in it will continue to charge well at normal RPMs.

I have a Ron Patterson rebuilt generator in the basement ready for Betsy if the Becker alternator ever gives out, but so far so good for the four years I have had Betsy. :-)

pic


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tom Bergmann Sydney - Australia on Monday, September 04, 2017 - 12:38 am:

The other thing is if you go the alternator route, you may need to change the 20 0 20 Amp gauge to a voltmeter. My take is to keep it simple.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Jablonski on Monday, September 04, 2017 - 06:31 am:

Tom:

Why the need for the volt meter ?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Jablonski on Monday, September 04, 2017 - 06:34 am:

Tom:

Why the need for the volt meter ?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Vern (Vieux Carre) on Monday, September 04, 2017 - 07:39 am:

Bob,
When I bought my 53 Ch3vy, someone had put an alternator on there which went bad and I swapped it out at A.Z. It produces up to 92 amps which may do bad stuff to my original ammeter. Unfortunately all the current passes thru it as the device completes the circuit. To keep my ammeter, I ran a 14-gauge wire across the posts to reduce some of the load so that the needle wouldn't peg out after starting. Now I probably got my electronics wrong as this was a gut decision and no math was done. I wish I had used a 12-gauge.
Vern


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John F. Regan on Monday, September 04, 2017 - 09:40 am:

Vern:

But the rest of the harness in the main charging path is only 12 GA and cannot possibly handle that large current either. I do however doubt you are getting 92 amps through the rest of the wiring since it would be getting very hot if subjected to that much current.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tom Bergmann Sydney - Australia on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 04:23 am:

Bob:

Well spotted. I should have said, you may want to change the 20 0 20 Amp gauge to a voltmeter. Was thinking about the new voltmeter(s)that replace pre 26 amp meters. https://www.modeltford.com/item/5016-12V.aspx


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Jablonski on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 07:24 am:

Has anyone with "negative" alternator opinions ACTUALLY tested any alternators available on the Model T market for voltage & amperage output ????????????

The elder ( RIP ) Becker had a quality alternator.
Unfortunately, family problems complicated business.
Son Daryl Becker stepped forward to do the right thing trying to correct negativity in both family and consumer based misinformation.

It's been some time since I spoke to Daryl. Noticed a loose part in my Becker alternator, Daryl fulfilled his father's service ethic not only fixing the alternator but checking the unit electrically and physically for proper use as intended.

My observed Becker 6 volt alternator output never exceeded 15 amps ( weak battery ) or 7.5 volts.

I really question posters who speak of units churning out 90 amps......Has anyone using one of these units experience wiring meltdown/fire due to this perceived greater amperage being pushed thru a 14 guage wire that is rated to carry 15 amps ???????????????...... 12 guage wire is rated at 20 amps.

I've seen & read opinions but NO QUALITATIVE RESULTS to back up their accusations.

No degree in electrical/electronic systems, but I do know how to use a basic Simpson tester.

I decided to use a alternator on our '26 to power the higher output 50 Watt headlight bulbs and insure battery charging reliability that I needed for my use.



Bob Jablonski


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Jablonski on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 07:28 am:

Has anyone with "negative" alternator opinions ACTUALLY tested any alternators available on the Model T market for voltage & amperage output ????????????

The elder ( RIP ) Becker had a quality alternator.
Unfortunately, family problems complicated business.
Son Daryl Becker stepped forward to do the right thing trying to correct negativity in both family and consumer based misinformation.

It's been some time since I spoke to Daryl. Noticed a loose part in my Becker alternator, Daryl fulfilled his father's service ethic not only fixing the alternator but checking the unit electrically and physically for proper use as intended.

My observed Becker 6 volt alternator output never exceeded 15 amps ( weak battery ) or 7.5 volts.

I really question posters who speak of units churning out 90 amps......Has anyone using one of these units experience wiring meltdown/fire due to this perceived greater amperage being pushed thru a 14 guage wire that is rated to carry 15 amps ???????????????...... 12 guage wire is rated at 20 amps.

I've seen & read opinions but NO QUALITATIVE RESULTS to back up their accusations.

No degree in electrical/electronic systems, but I do know how to use a basic Simpson tester.

I decided to use a alternator on our '26 to power the higher output 50 Watt headlight bulbs and insure battery charging reliability that I needed for my use.



Bob Jablonski


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Jablonski on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 07:29 am:

My apology for double post


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Richard E Moore Jr. Pickwick lake Tenn. on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 07:34 am:

I have 2 alternators on the shelf that we're given to me and both of them had been overheated and fried.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stephen, South Texas on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 07:39 am:

The "90 amp" story is from a 53 Chevy. I doubt he was using a Model T version. These stories always support the draconian flame of a Model T alternator even though the authors have never used one.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry VanOoteghem - SE Michigan on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 10:58 am:

I'm in the camp that has never used an alternator. I have never considered it, as the only generator trouble I ever had was just some minor insulation problems. I have never used a remanufactured/rebuilt unit either. Just original generators, cleaned up, with new bearings, brushes, insulators, gears, and recut comutators. They're set at 10 amps. I have however seen lots of alternator problems on cars owned by fellow chapter members. Burned out units, gears that come loose, housings that fall apart, etc. Not suggesting that you can't have many years of good service from an alternator, I know many of you have. Just relating my observations.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Pat Kelly Montana on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 11:20 am:

I'm running two Texas T alternators. They work great. They have a regulator with a low turn on requirement. I only see higher amp demand after starting for a minute or two while the battery charges back up. Beyond that, you only have normal Model T loads on the alternator. If you are seeing high amp loading you have a problem that would be there with a generator also. An alternator can only generate to the demand on it. Also, you can limit the amp output by throttling back the RPM which is what I do after starting keeping the amps at about 10.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Scott Conger on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 11:26 am:

I think the high amp loading comes when the gadget guys load up on electrical devices, placing strain on the battery and thus the generator/alternator. Can't recall the number of times I've heard someone say that the generator couldn't keep a charge on the battery so they went to an alternator. Then you see that the car is lit up like an expedition vehicle so it's no wonder that the generator couldn't keep up.

Myself, I'm an original guy.

And Pat...I'm a guy you pulled up the hill to the lodge after I overheated at Whitefish. Many thanks to you as well as those that worked with you. Our meeting and conversation was very pleasant. Thank you.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jeff Humble on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 11:50 am:

Ron Patterson generator with a John Reagan voltage regulator is what I run and what I recommend.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 12:37 pm:

Only an observation, and admittedly, possibly through rose colored glasses: There seem to be more people on here complaining of alternator problems than generator problems. Of the ones who complain of generator problems, how many are old worn out generators with cracking 90 year old wire insulation and 50 year old brushes? How many 50 year old alternators are out there still working? You're lucky if one lasts 5-6 years on a new car. Yeah, you can go to the O'Reiley's and get a rebuilt one, even on a Sunday. Can you say the same for one of the T alternators, especially the ones that mount where the generator is supposed to go? That kinda blows the excuse a lot of people like to use about 12v stuff being superior due to easy availability. Seems all these folks cars like to break down on Sundays.

Not to badmouth the Becker's, but he came on here a few years back and was a pretty regular poster, running infomercials on his alternators. Seems every time he did, there were always a couple of people wanting to make a warranty claim. To his credit, he honored the warranty for these guys, but I did have to wonder if his free advertising here on the forum didn't cost him more in warranty work than any profits he may have made on new sales. None of my business and probably shouldn't have brought it up, but it did make me wonder.

And since you did want opinions......Alternators are just BUTT ugly under the hood of a T. But, hey, who am I to tell someone what they should do with their own car?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson, southern Sweden on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 12:37 pm:

It's not rocket science to combine parts from a couple of original generators using the club's electrical shop manual - I'm certainly no electrical expert, but I could measure what parts were good and put a good reliable generator together from two - three bad ones without much trouble.

Now I've changed to 12 v with the same generator - only things needed were a new battery and new bulbs + readjustment of the third brush. Only half the amperes needed for the same output in watts on 12v. (Usually 6v is good enough, but my gps had a bad habit to cut off as soon as I slowed down and the charging got below 7 volts and it takes forever to restart. .)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Jablonski on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 01:22 pm:

Hal Davis:

Good point you brought up to light....about Daryl honoring us father's warranty... it was his way of continuing his father's way of doing business.

Way back when I ordered from Mr. Becker, he expressly said he would send the alternator, only after it was installed and we were satisfied with the unit would we be told to send monies due in full, OR , send the unit back to him. ......... This may shock some but Mr. Becker had a trust in Model T people and extended that trust to his sales practices.

Who today in the Model T vendor world does that ?



Bob J.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Norman T. Kling on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 05:14 pm:

I have not personally used an alternator, however, I have been on many tours and have found that quite a few cars with alternators have had trouble with them. One problem is the gear gets loose on the shaft.

If you are using 6 volt the generator works fine.
Norm


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gene Carrothers Huntington Beach on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 05:58 pm:

Hey Bob, You asked who might also do the same and I can think of One guy.

You might also know him, I suggest that Mike Kossor would come as close to that as anyone else?

YOMV


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Vern (Vieux Carre) on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 06:22 pm:

Hi, just to clarify my statement.
I'm not suggesting that anyone use an alternator but in fact I think they are out of place, even on my 53 Ch3vy that I bought that way. I have a generator for it that needs to be rebuilt to run on the existing 10 gauge wiring. The only point that I'm trying to make is that if someone has to have an alternator, that it may be possible to keep the ammeter by running a parallel wire. Our wire has been on there about six years and the ammeter still works. So, it may not be necessary to replace it with a voltmeter.
Vern


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Vern (Vieux Carre) on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 06:26 pm:

John Eaton,
I just ordered parts yesterday to rebuild our Model T generator and it only cost me $22.85 (w/o shipping) plus a lot of cleaning.
Vern


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James A Bartsch on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 06:35 pm:

Vern: FWIW, generator armature endplay can be nicely corrected with a 'finger washer', McMaster-Carr p/n 9717k65, installed in the endcap space between the cap and brg. (Coilman recommended using this part)Best, jb


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Vern (Vieux Carre) on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - 06:53 pm:

Thanks James,
I know I have to check this after it gets put back together and wasn't sure if I was going to have to make my own shim or not.
Vern


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Stroud on Thursday, September 07, 2017 - 04:59 am:

My old "beater" '25 coupe has a generator and it works just fine. I fully intend to keep it that way. If it quits, it will get fixed. :-) Dave


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Doug Money - Braidwood, IL on Thursday, September 07, 2017 - 07:11 am:

Several years back I decided my T needed some upgrades. I needed 12 volts for lighting and accessories. I found it runs much smoother now. It has a nicer ride. It has seatbelts. Parts are available at most any parts store even on Sundays. I did choose to keep the Black paint. I say all of this in jest. Everyone have a good day.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Jablonski on Friday, September 08, 2017 - 06:35 am:

Norman:

I also observed the gear problem with several alternators.

The plus feature of the Becker alternator is the gear is threaded onto the armature, not pinned as lesser quality.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stephen, South Texas on Friday, September 08, 2017 - 08:18 am:

I don't care what your invoice says. You can't "rebuild" a Model T generator for $22.85. Brushes, bushing(s) and a can of spray paint is NOT a rebuild. Well, maybe on Ebay it is.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Vern (Vieux Carre) on Friday, September 08, 2017 - 11:06 am:

The brushes were good, terminal screw was bad, new bearings, parts from Big L. Armature was good but commutator needed sanding and mica sawed out, coils good. Generator was caked in crud. I wish to encourage John to be bold and try to fix the existing device because it actually may be cheap; all the parts are available.
Vern


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ron Patterson-Nicholasville, Kentucky on Friday, September 08, 2017 - 03:43 pm:

I agree with Stephan.
Words have commonly understood meanings.
A word commonly misused on this Forum and eBay is the word "Rebuilt"
In automotive parlance there is a significant difference between "Rebuilt" and "Repaired".
What Vern is doing is repairing a generator, not rebuilding it.
The parts, at cost, to properly rebuild a Model T generator will run you will run anywhere from $250 to $350 depending upon source/situation.
I quit repairing Model T generators years ago. If you repair a generator for the hobbyist you own it for the rest of your life.
Properly rebuilding work can be guaranteed for one year and will then need proper maintenance.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Aldrich Orting Wa on Friday, September 08, 2017 - 10:22 pm:

My generator became unreliable so I switched to the alternator.

Very happy with it so far.


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