We dug into a problem that has been plauging us for awhile today, the generator. Our generator has never worked as it should. We get a howling from the engine compartment at times and a "dry bearing" sound at others. In addition, we are constantly hooking the battery tender to the car when not in use because the generator and voltage regulator are not keeping the battery charged.
After some research on the Moss Motors website and others, we tried polarizing the generator and cleaning the regulator while still installed. Additionally we checked/cleaned all of the wire connections. No joy. Previously we had purchased and aftermarket generator, so we decided to give it a whirl...literally.
NOTE: Before getting into any of this we took a lot of pictures. The engine compartment of our Sprite was repainted at some point and they did a pretty poor job of it. As a result the wires are all red and it takes a close eye to figure out what goes where. We have been able to scratch off some of the paint to make this easier, but it's best to just take lots of pictures (see our post on the tachometer if you don't understand why).
To get the work done efficiently Jax took to the voltage regulator and I dove into the generator. Both of us had our parts off Tracy fairly quickly, and then Jax went into cleaning/checking mode and I went into "remove the pulley" mode. Jax found a video on cleaning tractor voltage regulators, noticed the similarities and just went at it. In 15 minutes he was done and re-installing ours. You'll note in the pictures how clean our regulator looks. This is how it came out and we believe that it's original. The cover was really tight, so we think it's just well preserved. Even so, Jax cleaned all of the leads and the sanded all of the contactors. The generator was a different story...the name of the story was "Pain in the Ass." Getting the bolts undone was a moderate chore, but removing the pulley was a huge PITA. This generator had done its time and was ready for the pasture. The pulley wanted to go to the pasture also. However, in an attempt to save some cost we didn't buy a new pulley. So it had to come off. With some heating, penetrating oil and grunting I had the pulley in my hand and had almost thrown the old generator twice. At one point I actually thought about rebuilding it instead of replacing it...but that was just a dumb thought. Installing the pulley on the new generator was actually a piece of cake.
Now it was time to install the new generator. The new one is an aftermarket one, and we expected some difficulties. However, we did not expect the difficulty of not being able to rotate it enough to tension the belt. We had a new belt, so that helped (it wasn't stretched out at all), but after 2 hours of trying to fit the generator it still wasn't tight enough.
There are 4 attachment points for the generator. 2 are visible from the top and amount to really just hinges on the front and back. The other 2 are invisible and on the front side. the first is closest to the right wing and is technically a static mount. The last one is in the same plane as the last one but behind the fan. This one is the "sliding" slotted mount that allows for rotation of the generator to tension the belt. Now this all makes it sound nice and simple, but the reality is that all 4 (or any of the 4) can make adjusting the generator completely impossible. What I realized at the 2 hours point, in addition to throwing the new generator would take more work to remove it than I was willing to do, was that all 4 bolts had to be loosened to the point of almost falling out in order to rotate the generator sufficiently. The major problem being that, at this point, one has to hold the generator in the correct position and tighten at least 2 of the bolts so that it doesn't fall back into the wrong position. Luckily Jax had finished his work on the voltage regulator and was able to tighten while I grunted (I'm 6'2" and leaning over the engine bay/under the hood can be difficult) all 4 points. Now the belt was properly tensioned.
With this complete we had to was test the voltage regulator and adjust as necessary. Again, YouTube and Moss Motors hooked us up. A picture of our testing rig is below, and we found that following the video's instructions was easy. We quickly polarized our generator and then adjusted the voltage regulator and the engine idle. Our voltage regulator charges at about 1250 rpm. The red light drops out on the dash as expected also. So no more battery tender and another system operating properly.