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One Way

alternator rebuilding-78 280Z

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With  all the years of owning vehicles and doing most of the repairs myself, I have never had an alternator apart.  A trip to the local parts store to buy a remanufactured alternator and leaving the old one for the core has always been my solution.  On the 78 Z resurrection project that is slowly progressing I believe it is the factory original alternator still with the vehicle.  The blue label-INTERNAL REGULATOR-was still on the unit before spraying some degreaser on the alternator.  Just thought it would be neat to keep the original unit with the car and was quite surprised to find the brush assy/ voltage regulator part still available as a separate part.  The bearings are standard parts as well.  I have the unit disassembled and pretty clean and looks as though there are just 3 solder joints to the regulator/ brush assy.  Just looking for any tips or suggestions from the Z experts.  Reman units are very inexpensive and hard to determine what exactly "REMANUFACTURED" means. Cleaned? New bearings?  New brushes? or just a cleaning and a quick test to see if it is charging?  Any help will be greatly appreciated, John-Lugoff, SC.

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42 minutes ago, One Way said:

 hard to determine what exactly "REMANUFACTURED" means. Cleaned? New bearings?  New brushes? or just a cleaning and a quick test to see if it is charging?  Any help will be greatly appreciated, John-Lugoff, SC.

I have a Bosch reman and it came with a label that said every electrical part was tested and if it met specs it was reused.  They're generally poorly reman'ed.  Lots of failures soon after buying.

An attempt at a rebuild would be interesting.  Has yours failed or are you planning ahead?

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outside of toasted wires, seem like the only difficult part would be how to address the commutator, if its scored up it would be an issue. I recall working on small electric motors for RC cars and Planes they were brushed with segmented comms (DC motors) and it was common practice to use a small lathe to dress copper. I assume that would be a good idea with the solid comms on alternators, but you would need a full size lathe to do it right. Suppose you could just spin it and try some kind of abrasive cloth but the idea was to get the comm true so it would make full contact with the brushes. would be interesting to take a reman apart and examine that area.

Edited by Dave WM

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I am just planning ahead on the project and just thought it would be nice to have the factory original unit still in place.  I am an assistant manager at a nation wide 5,000 plus store company and we do offer 1 year warranty remans, lifetime warranty remans, as well as new units on some applications.  For the obvious reasons a new unit is not offered for the Z, but a lifetime reman is available.  We changed suppliers for our reman electrical components about 2 years ago due to a high rate of failures.  The new supplier has been much better quality but details are very vague about what actually gets replaced.  Just thought it might be an interesting challenge to attempt but have no experience in rebuilding alternators.  The commutator looks real nice, brushes still intact, bearings still free, but unit was covered in grime and the pulley pretty rusty.  The last time this car was running according to the seller, as well as the inspection tag still on the window was 1996.  20 years of use and 20 years of sitting.  Neither one a good option.  Keep the helpful tips coming and I will continue to do some more research.  Thanks again, John-Lugoff, SC.  Thankful to the LORD for sparing us from the main fury of the hurricane and praying to the LORD for those who lost so much due to the storm.

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Another new reman alternator failed from advance auto today for me.  I bought a reman a couple of years ago for my 240. As soon as I turned the key to on it popped the fuse, no gauges no nothing. Today I get another one for Mom's car, failed after installing July 2015.  Asked them to test the new one, they rolled their eyes but I said this isn't like changing out a battery or light bulb TEST IT! please.  4 times the machine kicked a breaker/reset.  They said the alternator was good that their machine was bad.  But it worked fine failing the old one so I got a little upset and showed my arse a little bit.  He carried it across the street to an AutoZone and had them test it, FAILED.  Went to another advance across town and had one of theirs tested.  Passed with all green OKs.

Lesson i learned today, always have the new stuff tested before I leave the store.  I'm joining the club of reman stuff sucks!

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We have a shop here but they're Monday through Friday and I needed it today or else would have to let my Mom drive on of my cars.  I love my Mother more than myself but she thinks cars are like appliances,  use them till they quit then buy another. LOL

Second place on my love list.

Screenshot_2018-07-17-16-08-08.png

 

 

Edited by siteunseen
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I would really like to know more about the quality control standards of both reman and new parts.  Seems that todays business strategy stresses quantity over quality.  Price is the obvious controlling factor.  Most parts, including many reman units carry a lifetime warranty.  Are they remanufactured to that quality standard or are the profits so high that warranty returns do not affect the bottom line that much?  As stated before , my employer switched suppliers for reman alternators and starters about 2 years ago with the reason given being % rate of failures.  That being said I am going to tackle my own rebuild on the alternator.  Then I will know which parts are really new.  I will have an enjoyable new challenge, just not too sure about my lack of experience and knowledge.  It may end up like those dreaded reman stories shared in the above posts.  Hopefully  the factory service manual will have some tips and specifications. Just have not had the time needed to do more research.  Thanks for all the comments. John-Lugoff, SC.

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Just an additional thought.  I will be spending about $30 more for the parts-2 bearings and the brush/regulator assy-than purchasing a reman unit, plus the time involved.  Honestly I was quite surprised the brush/regulator assy was even available.  The bearings are just common sized ball bearings.  Probably does not make any financial sense but I will enjoy the project.  Thanks for your time, John.

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Well I'm not in the rebuilding business, but it's clear from the costs of the remanufactured parts that they simply can't be spending a whole lot of time one each one. It sounds like you are a lot closer to the reman sources than most of us and you would have a better chance of providing some real input here.

On ‎9‎/‎18‎/‎2018 at 11:25 PM, One Way said:

I am an assistant manager at a nation wide 5,000 plus store company and we do offer 1 year warranty remans, lifetime warranty remans, as well as new units on some applications.  We changed suppliers for our reman electrical components about 2 years ago due to a high rate of failures.  The new supplier has been much better quality but details are very vague about what actually gets replaced.

If I were in that business, I would do as little as possible to get things turned around and back out the door. Based on the costs involved, they can't be spending more than fifteen total minutes on each one. New bearings and brushes, some quick plating, check it on "the test fixture", some crappy paint and into a box before the paint dries.

Have you asked your supplier for a description of their rebuild process? I have no doubt that it would sound completely credible and reasonable. Which begs the question of why the failure rate is so high and the reputation is so bad.

I am much more confident in my own work. Might not look as pretty because I'm not going to re-plate anything, but I would use bearings who's lineage I could trace, and I would make sure the brushes ran true on smooth surfaces. I've been into at least ten alternators in my automotive past and none of them ever needed any more attention after that. In fact, the one on my 77 is an internally regulated 83 version that I "rebuilt". It's been trouble free for a couple years now.

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Would you not replace the coils of wires on the stator?  I had summer job at an electric motor business and we baked them overnight, cut the old coils out and put new windings in then dipped it into a vat of resin.  Sanded the resin off the magnets then put the armature back in.  Those were three phase motors though and completely different from all I know but they sure looks like this photo of an alternator stator. 

 

Image result for alternator stator

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I wouldn't rewind anything unless I had a reason to believe I needed to. I would give the field windings and armature windings a good visual and if I didn't see anything troublesome, I would put them on a fixture to check the resistance and make sure everything was in spec. Would probably also hi-pot test to check for leakage and/or shorts between windings. If everything there checked out OK, I wouldn't rewind anything.

And I can assure you from the costs that are being charged... The rebuilders aren't either.

Think about it this way... RockAuto is currently selling reman units from seventeen to fifty-five bucks. Seventeen bucks!!!!!   How much labor does seventeen bucks pay for?? It's all labor since you are sending back a core. They put labor into the core and send it back out. Even at fifty-five bucks... How much labor do you get for that?

Certainly not enough to strip, rewind, and varnish field windings!

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The FSM, even 1978, has excellent instructions for tearing down and testing the parts.  Looks like fun.  I tore one down but found that one of the big diodes was bad and couldn't be sourced.  Held on to the parts for a while but eventually threw them in the recycle bin.  I'm pretty sure that a person could buy most of the rebuild parts in the past.  Probably find some NOS on eBay.  (Shouldn't it be old new stock?  ONS?)

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The reman alternators and starters we sell with the lifetime warranties do come with an inspection and test sheet with a technician ID #.  There is a PASS/ FAIL column and naturally they are all checked off PASS.  Very few customers ever take the paperwork and instructions with them when we swap out the core at the time of purchase.  Core must be placed back into the original box to be sent back.  The reman operation is based in Mexico so I am sure the labor rates are very low.  According to the store operations manual we are supposed to test each alternator sold-both reman and new-before giving it to the customer.  Rarely happens unless requested by the customer due to the fast paced nature and low staffing of our store.  That is the nature of almost any business today.  We have had our share of alternators taken out of the box to examine before sale-another store operations manual instruction-and this usually gets done-and find broken/cracked posts or terminals, pulleys that will not turn, plastic covers cracked, etc.  Some of that may be shipping damage, or could be lack of quality control.  I will be digging into the service manual and having a challenge to tackle.  Parts should be here towards the end of the week.  Will keep you posted on progress, success or failure.  Thanks , John-Lugoff, SC,

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Just some additional thoughts toward the cost of reman products.  Without looking it up and relying on my faulty memory, I believe  the reman alternator for the 78 Z with a lifetime warranty was around $70 plus a $10 or $15 core charge.  Basically the reman operation has an initial cost of that $15, plus shipping expenses, plus labor, overhead, parts, etc.  Core costs are purely supply and demand driven. Not uncommon to have a $50-$80 core charge on newer vehicle alternators selling for $150-$200.  Check out core prices for GM instrument clusters.  Very often the core charge is much higher than the cost of the part.  Core charge may be $300 or a little higher while the customer pays $150-$200 for the cluster.  Very hard to figure out.  Sometimes I wish I were a bit more involved on that end of the auto parts industries but really do enjoy the position of helping customers at the front counter solve their automotive needs.  The LORD provided me this job and am thankful for it.  Thanks for your time, John-Lugoff, SC.

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I appreciate you spending your time enlightening us, at least me, on this subject.  I just had an ordeal with an alternator replacement for my Mom's car, post #5.  It's interesting to hear from a guy who knows and sad to learn also that it doesn't happen concerning the pre-testing of alternators and starters from the store before final sale out the door.  I know I'll tell everybody I know to get them tested before leaving even if they need to wait until someone is available to do this.  I see it every time I go in how understaffed you guys are and the phones constantly ringing.  That's one thing that really makes me mad though.  I am standing in front of their counter and someone sitting on the couch calling gets priority over me.  But "if them's the rules". :huh:

Thanks John!

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