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  #1  
Old 03-14-2010
NH Bill's Avatar
NH Bill NH Bill is offline
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Default Bouncing Volt Meter

Bouncing Volt Meter

Hello All,

I’m running a 130 Amp Leece Nivelle alternator in our 83 FC 225T. Since I bought the coach 9-07 with 74,000 miles on it, the voltage indicator on the dash bounces at idle between roughly 12 and 16 volts. At higher RPMs it is stable in the 14 to 15 volt range. Also, the alternator seems to be making a subtle noise that may be coming from a bearing. This noise has always been there too.

Now have roughly 81K for mileage. I am running 4 -T105s and they are in great shape. I added a Pro-Sine 2K inverter with 130 amp 3-stage charger about 1.5 years very happy with it overall. Also running electromagnetic retarder and use it for a majority of my braking. No issues other than the bouncing volt meter and the faint bearing sound.

Questions:

Does this bouncing matter? So far it has not bothered me any and I am not looking for ways to spend any more money on the Bird, she’s pretty good at finding them herself.

But, for the sake of good PM, is it time to consider replacing the alternator?

Came across this information from the Leece Naville support site. Based on this,

http://www.prestolite.com/pgs_suppor...le_shoot_1.php

it looks like the voltage regulator on my existing alternator is adjustable. Wondering if I can turn this down a bit to keep it from overcharging?

Also, came across this info on the new Leece Naville school bus alternators. The topic of the electromagnetic retarder is raised. They are recommending 200 Amp output units for this application. If I am going to replace the one I have, wonder if I should consider this because I use that retarder constantly.

http://news.prestolite.com/us/produc...amp_alternator

What do ya’ll think?

Anybody out there running one of these higher amp units?

NH Bill
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Bill and Lisa Garamella
83 FC-35 SB "Casa Billisa"
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Last edited by NH Bill; 03-14-2010 at 12:37 AM.
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  #2  
Old 03-14-2010
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Mike Hohnstein Mike Hohnstein is offline
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Installed a new L/N purchased from Freightliner per Randy. Wire to regulator from chassis caused my gage to act funny, changed it to 12v stud on alt. all good now.
I paid a bunch of dinero to a rebuilder once, it wasn't good. Change the regulator source to the hot stud and see what's up. Dunno what to make out of that red wire and blue thingy coming off your hot stud.
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  #3  
Old 03-14-2010
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NH Bill NH Bill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Hohnstein View Post
Installed a new L/N purchased from Freightliner per Randy. Wire to regulator from chassis caused my gage to act funny, changed it to 12v stud on alt. all good now.
I paid a bunch of dinero to a rebuilder once, it wasn't good. Change the regulator source to the hot stud and see what's up. Dunno what to make out of that red wire and blue thingy coming off your hot stud.
Mike,

Just to be clear on terms, is the "regulator source" also "wire to the regulator from the chassis"? In my case, is this the yellow wire coming through the plastic split loom leading to the bottom side of the regulator?

You state to "change the regulator source to the hot stud". So, are you saying to move the yellow wire to the hot stud?

Red wire going to blue thingy is the power side of the fuel solenoid relay circuit. The blue thingy is a 30 AMP circuit breaker. That was the nearest power source.

Thanks,

NH Bill
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2006 Jeep Liberty CRD
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  #4  
Old 03-14-2010
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OK, I've got the fuel solinoid power set up behind the swing panel. L/N generally sources the regulator from the hot stud w/ a metal strut from the reg. stud to the 12 output side. I had quite a journey due to the lousy job the rebuilder did to my unit, would make 16v steady, changed regs, puttered with regulator source, both from chassis wire and directly from hot stud. Inconsistent results, tore reg down, winding was falling apart, bummer. Installed new L/N, had the bouncy volt meter deal, changed to the stock L/N deal, no more problems. Story is, BB sourced the reg from the battery bank to provide a more accurate state of battery charge. I don't know why the the meter was disturbed by the BB battery bank voltage wire, just know that it would be the next logical thing to change. And never let some shop tell you they can repair your alternator. The local creeps laid me away over twice what I paid for the NEW piece, AND it's made in USA. Only change, I had to lengthen the adjustment rod a little, I don't think you will have to judging by the free length you have.
Before Randy brought me up to speed, I paid **** near what the new alt. cost for a new regulator from the creeps. Let my financial pain be a lesson. If your alternator gets tired, just buy a new one. A word on abandoning the 'bird' wiring; I have a 4d truck 12v in the original batt box, 4 6v agms in the rear road side box accross from the gen set and 2 agm Optima 12v on the gen set tray, all are charged rolling down the road, original batt combiner and gen set diode are abandoned, all batts seem to charge well.
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  #5  
Old 03-14-2010
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No matter what you do to the OEM alternator and batteries we can never get the correct charging current to the batteries. Why? The voltage regulators installed in the alternators are a compromise between cost and doing a decent job.
If you have a xantrex link 1000 or similar installed in your coach you will notice that it takes many many hours if ever to get to a float charge. I have watched mine and even after charging the batteries at a campground overnight and the batteries going into the float mode, once on the road again the alternator after an hour or so will start putting out 20-30 amps which is overcharging the batteries and causing them to gas. I have installed battery misers which helps tremendously in keeping the water level up in the batteries but even with these after a while distilled water has to be addeed.

The solution to the problem is to do what Shane did and that is to add a xantrex voltage regulator to your LE alternator
http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/107/p/1/pt/7/product.asp and a temperature sensor to monitor the temperature of the battery terminals
http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/105/p/1/pt/5/product.asp. Everything else is only a bandaid approach and will eventually shorten the life of the batteries.
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  #6  
Old 03-14-2010
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Hello Mike and others,

Your responses are helpful. Now I'm starting to think my existing alternator may be ok and the solution may be simply eliminating the BB wire for the regulator power source and powering the regulator from the 12 V post on the alternator.

Another question. If I use the power from the alternator and simply jump it to the positive terminal on the regulator it will be constantly hot. Is this ok or do I need to have it switch off when the engine is off. Also, was the voltage from the BB wire to the regulator 12v or was it reduced?

I will take out the meter and check this stuff before I start messing with it. It all sounds simple enough, but, I've been tinkering with the Bird long enough not to make any assumptions.

Thanks,

NH Bill
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  #7  
Old 03-16-2010
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Default Self Exciting!

Self Exciting….

Well, alternator was not the first thing that came to mind when I heard that phrase for the first time. Thought it was something the nuns warned me about…. You know, go blind and stuff. Once again, they were wrong. 

Now back to the alternator. I called Leece Nivelle tech support this morning and got help almost immediately. Within one minute I was speaking with a real live tech person who could not have been more accommodating.

I gave her my part # and told her how the volt meter was bouncing between 14 and 16 amps and asked her about the wire coming from the coach that was on a post on the bottom of the voltage regulator. Then she gave me her email and I sent her picture.

She said I’m pretty sure you have a self exciting alternator and do not need that third wire at all. All you need to do is disconnect it. But, to be certain, I am going to send this photo to the supervisor and have him call you back. She explained that he was in Arizona at the moment and she would track him down. Amazing… Well I gave her my # and within 15 minutes or so I got a call from head tech. I told him the story and he concurred that I did not need the wire coming from the bird to the regulator…because mine was self exciting.
He gave me his number and told me to call him if I needed more help.

After I disconnected the wire I put a meter on it and found that it is switched to the ignition and putting out 12.6 V. I went on to start the coach without the third wire and sure enough, no bouncing volt meter and not weird harmonic sound (thought it might be a bearing). But, I’m still not convinced my problem is resolved. When the coach was idling without the excite wire the volt meter was staying at 12 v and the ProSine panel was reading about 12.5 v. I brought the revs up to about 1000 for about 5 min and no change. Turned on the head lights and it dropped to 12.4 and stayed there.

Is this normal? Since I have owned the Bird I always had the bouncing volt meter so I don’t know what I am supposed to be looking for here.
Please let me know what you think.

I also spoke with the supervisor guy about a suitable replacement if I should need it. Told him about the electromagnetic retarder and the 2K ProSine inverter charger and the relatively low horsepower engine. He thought the 130 Amp I’m running is not adequate and suggested a Leece Nivelle 2824 LC but, going this way would require a J180 mount. Not sure how involved that would be. Have any of you gone this route with an FC?

Thanks,

NH Bill
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  #8  
Old 03-16-2010
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Bill,
What is your amp meter reading? If the batteries need a charge the volts will be lower, but the charging amps will be higher. As the batteries move to a full charge the volts will rise. At lease that is the way mine works. (rebuilt alternator)
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  #9  
Old 03-16-2010
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Another way to check is what is the voltage before engine start? Does it rise after engine start. (The alternator may require an increase in RPM in order to self excite.) If it rises the alternator is charging. If the voltage remains the same or lower than no charging is occuring.

I am not sure if this is applicable but I have a self exciting alternator on my street rod and another one on my boat. They require I rev the RPM up to about 1,000 RPM on a gas engine before charging begins.
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  #10  
Old 03-17-2010
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Bill, we run 12.5 with full load: lights, fans, heat etc.
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