Generator vs. Alternator - Ford Muscle Forums : Ford Muscle Cars Tech Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 04:50 AM Thread Starter
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Generator vs. Alternator

Hey guys, I'm back after a 1 1/2 year hiatus. Work got in the way and I've not been able to work on my 64 Galaxie 500 til this week.

She still has the original generator. I'm looking to replace it, if only temprarily. I've pretty much given up on the full restoration idea. Not enough time, money, or skill for that. My question is this.

What is the difference between an alternator and a generator, and which should I get as a replacement.

I also ordered a new set of belts from napa, the power steering was the correct size, but my fan/gen belt was way too big. Napa says that's the stock size. He then asked if it had AC, I said no, and he said it could be that some had that option. Is that correct?

'64 Ford Galaxie 500 Fastback 289 Windsor V8
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 05:47 AM
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

From allpar.com:
  • Alternators charge while the engine is idling, reducing battery use and allowing for more use of electric accessories (seats, windows, radios, etc.)
  • Alternators can have a much longer lifespan because the brushes donít handle their full power
  • Alternators can create far more power than generators, in automotive use

Unless you are creating a museum piece, there's no reason not to convert to a modern alternator. A "one wire" (self regulating) is the easiest way to go.

If you go up in amperage from the original, it's very important to protect the old wiring from this increased potential. Especially if you have an in-dash ammeter (Which I suspect that you have). The easiest way to do that is to review the wiring diagram for the car, install a new power panel under the hood fed by the alternator, and back-feed your original panel from a fuse in the new panel. Your ammeter probably won't work if you do this (mine didn't), but you should consider converting that to a voltmeter anyway (which I did).

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 08:07 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

Napa has a universal alternator for 40 bucks. It has multiple terminals on it. Could I use the three wires on the stock setup on this? If not how hard is it to convert to a one wire system like yours/how much would that cost minus the alternator?

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 08:32 AM
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

It's super easy to wire an alternator wrong. Regulators can be mechanical or electronic, and the type must match the alternator. Just ask your NAPA dealer on what regulator matches that alternator and follow the included wiring diagram to the letter.

For a one-wire, the regulator is internal. So you can leave your regulator there and don't connect it, or remove it; your choice.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 11:40 AM
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

Your NAPA guy needs to get his old belt book out and get off of the computer. Also this subject of converting to an alternator has been beat to death on this forum. Use later Ford brackets for whatever engine you have and use a Ford alternator. There were even wiring diagrams.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

It doesn't let me use the search this forum option when I'm on my phone for some reason.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 08:40 PM
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

I like the old generators. New brushes and bearings and they last a long time.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2017, 11:51 AM
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

But they don't charge at idle and most only putout 30 amps max.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2017, 06:02 PM
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

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Originally Posted by 63ford406 View Post
But they don't charge at idle and most only putout 30 amps max.
Yeah, but I really don't sit at idle? I don't have anything in the car that puts a heavy load on the charging system and the car in on a battery tender while it's in the garage.

I had the generator in my 1947 Willys CJ2-A rewound for 12 volts, That was 20 years ago, still going strong.

To each his own, but if your electrical system is basically stock, a generator works just fine.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-15-2017, 10:01 PM
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

I drive my cars, across country. Try finding a rebuilt generator at 3 pm on a Sunday afternoon in Showshoe, Montana or Resume Speed, AZ. Ain't happening. Needed a distributor for a 390 once in New Mexico. Never found one. If you don't drive 'em more than an hour or two from home or it's a high point Hi-Po car then keep it stock.

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-16-2017, 06:51 AM
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

You would think there would be more parts in stock for a 390. Drove from Kalispell MT to the Oregon coast and had a water pump bearing going bad. The only one on the west coast was in Spokane. Luckily we were going through and snapped it up just in case. Changed it out when we got home.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 03:11 PM
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Re: Generator vs. Alternator

I finally broke down and swapped to an alternator after adding an electric fan and almost at a stop for 30-45 mins at a time doing a cruise i do every year my battery was dead. Brake lights and fan draw a lot when you forget that you need to keep the engine revved to keep the generator charging. I also do parades and such. Just took me many years and a fan to admit it was time for change. Still have my points though and got the petronix to swap just been procrastinating.

I just returned from an Eastern Oregon trip where it was 97* most of the time there and that fan was a lifesaver! Took me 12 hrs to get there and 6 back as i was driving down dirt roads and doing circles sightseeing in the middle of nowhere. 714 miles all together. Had fun though and did a car show while there!



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Last edited by ShotRod64; 07-17-2017 at 03:14 PM.
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