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Old 08-30-2013, 12:23 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by YC1 View Post
Here is a great answer.

My owners manual specifically recommends running the generator to charge the house batteries if they are low. The RV even keeps the battery banks isolated from each other if the generator is running and the ignition is on.(alternator running)..

I'm an ET and own an electronics repair facility. Heat will cause thermal runaway in solid state components. That is, diodes will fail due to excess heat caused by extensive current loads for long times.

Alternators are designed to refill starting batteries, not fill large banks of batteries.

Can they do it? Yes of course. Pay your money and take your chances.
+1.........99% of early alternator failure is caused by this on rv's. Always charge house battery with charger or generator before starting main engine. Or keep coach plugged in if equipt with a charger.

Do this and your alternator problems will go away.
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Old 08-30-2013, 12:45 PM   #16
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Can't compare a Coach electrical system to a regular car or truck. There is a lot more for the alt. to take care of on a coach.
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Old 08-30-2013, 04:13 PM   #17
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When replacing an alternator on the road, you have limited choices, but at home it's a different story? If you're a confident do it yourselfer, you can locate somebody capable of rebuilding alternators (a good old fashioned auto supply) and buy most any component you need from them? Knocking a failed diode out of a bridge on the bench might take 30 seconds? They're easy to test, and they're CHEAP! Bearings, regulators almost always easy to get and reasonably priced.

No voodoo involved.... If you've got a bad alternator and some time to mess with it, I would encourage you to give it a try. You have nothing to loose, and the potential to save a buck or 2 pretty good.
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Old 08-30-2013, 04:53 PM   #18
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Some good info so far, but each case is different. To get the real story (or close to it), you would need to know what components are actually failing inside the alternator. If it has always been bearings, you would look for over-tensioning, belt mis-alignment, etc. If it's the diodes or internal regulator, then things that can cause voltage spikes, overheating, etc.

This is where having a qualifed rebuilder do the work is an advantage over just swapping out with another unit. They should be able to tell you exectly what failed, and suggest things to look at that might cause a repeat failure.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:21 PM   #19
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I had a 97 Fleetwood Discovery and I replaced 3 alternators during the 7 years I had her. In my case, I blamed the failures to the mounting location of the alternator. I had the first alternator disassembled at a rebuild shop and saw a large amount of corrosion, and dirt inside the housing. Everything was in really bad shape. The second alternator was the same way, and the third.

In my Discovery the engine fan pulled air from the engine compartment and pushed it out the rear. While the engine was running the fan pulled air/water/debris/salt up from the rear wheel area and right past/through/around the alternator through the air-cooler and radiator. Granted we did use the coach in the winter time, but we also use a Honda SUV to and from work in the winter with no problems. Another problem I noticed in my Discovery set up was the alternator was mounted so the rear end was facing the airflow. The cooling fins on the front of the alternator were trying to pull air from the down stream side of the air flow, and then push it toward the rear, or the upstream end.

So, in at my case at least, I felt the problem of failing alternators as a mounting location problem.
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Old 08-30-2013, 10:53 PM   #20
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Depends on the alternator you are putting on also. Is it a remanufactured. Some of those are basically what will it take to make it work. They only replaced failed part and not rebuild the whole alternator. I had one that I put on a pickup once in an emergency. It went out shortly went to the Alternator rebuild shop I usually use. He took it apart and showed me where the field windings had shorted to ground and they just put a piece of tape between the windings and ground instead of replacing the windings. If you can get it off I always recommend taking it to a reputable engine electrical rebuild shop. My guy asks me if i want it fixed or totally rebuilt. I have him rebuild it and when he is done it is like a brand new one.
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:42 AM   #21
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Most of the time you can trace it ack to the alternator charging a depleted house battery setup. It s not aging a residential fridge but having used the batteries over night and starting up and going. I always turn my generator on and bulk charge the house batteries. I replaced my alternator one in a 12 years and 150k miles.
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:02 PM   #22
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Hmm... So if folks boondock, without running the genset, alternators are at genuine risks. Makes one wonder why we haven't returned to generators in the engine bay for charging batteries.
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:07 AM   #23
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Well, some put up solar and Foretravel tells us at the company events to turn on your generator an hour or two before leaving or if you are leaving then to start it up first and then run it for an hour as you run down the road. It will bulk charge the batteries and the alternator will only have to deal with the chassis side. THe alternator is really a maintainer not a charger that is the issue. SOme of the coaches are coming out with 300 amp alternators and that lets you charge a bit more than the 190 amps.
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:32 AM   #24
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Depends on the alternator you are putting on also. Is it a remanufactured. Some of those are basically what will it take to make it work.
X2.
A re-manufactured alternator is rebuilt using all new electronics.
A repaired alternator is simply repaired, replacing only "what will it take to make it work".

I have a rebuilt alternator on my engine, (I carry a repaired one as a spare).

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Old 09-01-2013, 08:44 AM   #25
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Hmm... So if folks boondock, without running the genset, alternators are at genuine risks. Makes one wonder why we haven't returned to generators in the engine bay for charging batteries.
wanderso
That's correct!
That's one of the reasons that most motor homes have generators.
(however, most are NOT in the engine bay).

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Old 09-01-2013, 09:44 AM   #26
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X2.
A re-manufactured alternator is rebuilt using all new electronics.
A repaired alternator is simply repaired, replacing only "what will it take to make it work".


I have a rebuilt alternator on my engine, (I carry a repaired one as a spare).

Mel
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Personally, I don't think there's a "re-manufacured" standard, or enforcement. I've never seen evidence of it anyway? A lot like "refurbed" whatever, that's simply been performance checked and the first layer of grease wiped off? Of course there's the shop's reputation that may preceed your purchase, but if you're down while on the road thinking all you're going to care about is whether the replacement is going to work?
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Old 09-01-2013, 06:11 PM   #27
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:33 PM   #28
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I had a 97 Fleetwood Discovery and I replaced 3 alternators during the 7 years I had her. In my case, I blamed the failures to the mounting location of the alternator. I had the first alternator disassembled at a rebuild shop and saw a large amount of corrosion, and dirt inside the housing. Everything was in really bad shape. The second alternator was the same way, and the third.

In my Discovery the engine fan pulled air from the engine compartment and pushed it out the rear. While the engine was running the fan pulled air/water/debris/salt up from the rear wheel area and right past/through/around the alternator through the air-cooler and radiator. Granted we did use the coach in the winter time, but we also use a Honda SUV to and from work in the winter with no problems. Another problem I noticed in my Discovery set up was the alternator was mounted so the rear end was facing the airflow. The cooling fins on the front of the alternator were trying to pull air from the down stream side of the air flow, and then push it toward the rear, or the upstream end.

So, in at my case at least, I felt the problem of failing alternators as a mounting location problem.
That is what the fellow that rebuilt my Alt. said as well. They are facing backward in a motorhome and get alot of spray and dust from the rear wheels. I have a side rad but the alternator was still badly corroded. He said every one that he has seen coming out of a motorhome is corroded as compared to a truck application. The heat is another factor but sitting for long periods of time is another killer. What was said about firing the genset to charge up the batteries is a great idea.
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