Alternator/Battery Warning light
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  1. #1
    Tadpole
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    Default Alternator/Battery Warning light

    Hi everyone,

    I seek advice to troubleshoot why my battery charge light has started remaining illuminated after the first start of the day for about 10 to 15 minutes, although the alternator appears to be producing power.

    It's a 1973 DS23.

    It's had some electrical work done in the last few months due to pulsing headlights and intermittent battery light problems. (Which seemed to fix everything for a while)

    The Ducellier Alternator had new brushes and bearings installed.
    A NOS ducellier voltage regulator was fitted.
    Various tidying up of the wiring and a relay fitted.
    New battery installed.

    Voltage readings are at idle
    14.9 Volts (no electrics on)
    12.6 Volts (headlights, de mister, both fans, interior lights on)
    13.9 volts engine off dropping to 13 volts after about 5 minutes.

    Doesn't this indicate that the alternator is still producing enough volts under load?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

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    Cheers
    Owen


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  2. #2
    Now go make me a sandwich Hotrodelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSpallas View Post
    Hi everyone,

    I seek advice to troubleshoot why my battery charge light has started remaining illuminated after the first start of the day for about 10 to 15 minutes, although the alternator appears to be producing power.

    It's a 1973 DS23.

    It's had some electrical work done in the last few months due to pulsing headlights and intermittent battery light problems. (Which seemed to fix everything for a while)

    The Ducellier Alternator had new brushes and bearings installed.
    A NOS ducellier voltage regulator was fitted.
    Various tidying up of the wiring and a relay fitted.
    New battery installed.

    Voltage readings are at idle
    14.9 Volts (no electrics on)
    12.6 Volts (headlights, de mister, both fans, interior lights on)
    13.9 volts engine off dropping to 13 volts after about 5 minutes.

    Doesn't this indicate that the alternator is still producing enough volts under load?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Cheers
    Owen


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    Oy- much like Betelgeuse, summon my name three times and I pop up like a bad penny. I'll take the other two as read.

    Let's see what ya have here. The initial idle reading is actually a tad high, but not impossibly bad. S/B more like 14.5-14.7 What disturbs me is your voltage reading with all your lighting on. It shouldn't drop that low. That reading is more like what a battery at rest should read. Somewhere you have a severe volt drop.
    You also should not be experiencing a fall away on voltage at idle- it should remain steady.

    There are two immediate areas to check. The first is the ground cable from the battery to a stud on the water pump. Inspect that cable, and see if strands are broken or the connections are loose. The thing about that cable is it isn't very large to begin with. Any broken strands or looseness will exacerbate an already weedy system, which unfortunately is a problem on a D.

    The second thing to look for is the 5mm2 charge line, which on the later cars was directly bolted to the battery positive connector by way of a ring terminal. Again, check for broken strand or loose connection at the positive post and on the back of the alternator.

    Now- it is possible that your sparky hooked things up at the regulator incorrectly. There will be four connections to check for: a yellow one, which is "EXC" (connects to the 1/4" spade at the top of the alternator), a white one, which is "R" (connects to the small insulated stud at the back of the alternator), a light pink/mauve one (occasionally purple), which is "BOB" (this is ignition switched battery power), and a red one, which is "L" (this one is one side of the charge lamp- actually a ground). All of the connection tabs should be stamped as indicated. The BOB at the regulator is a 1/4" spade- no mistaking that one. The two that go to the alternator are direct lines- they go nowhere else. The "L" wire goes to your charge light AND, if you have hydraulic shift, one side of the start switch.

    Check all that out and let's go from there. It sounds like you already have a multimeter, so checking the regulator connections should only take a few minutes.

    One other quick thing to check- the front fender grounds. Both sides need to be hooked up or you will have some bizarre problems with the headlights.

    The measure of your character isn't what you do when people are watching- it's what you do when they aren't watching.

  3. #3
    Now go make me a sandwich Hotrodelectric's Avatar
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    By the way, why was a relay fitted?
    The measure of your character isn't what you do when people are watching- it's what you do when they aren't watching.

  4. #4
    Thank God for my Hydroen harrisson_citroen's Avatar
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    Owen, mate, do what he says......Trust me, you'll be glad you did.
    DS Un jour, DS toujours !

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    Now go make me a sandwich Hotrodelectric's Avatar
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    I was checking back on the thread, curious to see what Phil had said- thanks for the compliment, Phil!- and there was one other thing I thought of.

    Make sure the regulator is properly grounded.

    The battery retainer frame is the only ground point the regulator has. On the regulator, there are three feet that have rubber insulators on them. One of those insulators have a steel crush insert that pinches the copper grounding tab to the frame. Make sure the three mounting screws are present and the copper tab connects to clean steel.

    You can also make a jumper wire from that foot directly to the negative post on the battery.If you do this though, make certain you are not grounding the base of the regulator. Copper ring tab to ground only.
    Last edited by Hotrodelectric; 30th January 2014 at 08:14 PM. Reason: spelling
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  6. #6
    Tadpole
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    Hotrodelectric,

    Thank you very much. That's awesome info. I'm quite uneducated with electrics so that's just what I need.

    The voltage regulator appears grounded well but the earth from he battery to the water pump has seen better days.

    I have two Bosch relays fitted, neither I can fathom completely what they are for. One is hooked up to the small wire that heads to the starter motor the other goes between the coil and another wire that disappears into the loom to perform some mystery function.

    The wiring does look a mess, I am wondering if I may have to invest in new loom?

    I really appreciate the detail and the trouble you've gone to in your reply to help me understand what's going on. Thanks,


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  7. #7
    Tadpole
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    And yeah the voltage regulator is connected correctly

    I will get David at AutoFrance to set up a new main ground and alternator output wires as they both look tatty as it's going to have the balljoints done next week.



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    Now go make me a sandwich Hotrodelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSpallas View Post
    Hotrodelectric,

    Thank you very much. That's awesome info. I'm quite uneducated with electrics so that's just what I need.

    The voltage regulator appears grounded well but the earth from he battery to the water pump has seen better days.

    I have two Bosch relays fitted, neither I can fathom completely what they are for. One is hooked up to the small wire that heads to the starter motor the other goes between the coil and another wire that disappears into the loom to perform some mystery function.

    The wiring does look a mess, I am wondering if I may have to invest in new loom?

    I really appreciate the detail and the trouble you've gone to in your reply to help me understand what's going on. Thanks,


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    You're quite welcome. I can give info to you for days, and if I don't have it, someone like Robmac (he's another really good electrician) will. Lots of others here who've run into the same problems and can tell you "OH, yah, the fix for that is....".

    It sounds like your car is a manual transmission (BVM). The only reason for a relay out that direction is to help with starting. The other one you say is between the coil and the harness, and that is probably to help with some ignition-tripped accessory such as A/C.

    Don't think new loom just yet. The cloth wrap by now is nearly rotted away, but you're fortunate- your car isn't one of the 3rd nose cars where the wire insulation rotted away. A good, careful cleaning and some spot taping will help immensely.

    I'm relieved to hear the regulator is connected properly. Being Ducellier new-old-stock, that regulator should be adjusted correctly right out of the box.

    You mentioned getting AutoFrance to make a new alternator output wire. He's going to cringe a little when he hears that. The reason being that the output wire is a loop running from the alternator to the battery. Attached to that loop are battery feeds for much of the fusebox, the horn switch, the headlight switch and the ignition switch. If David recommends anything at all here, he'll want to try some new ends first.

    Happily enough, the battery ground cable is a simple, common affair. Sheesh, that's something when I have to cheer "Hey everybody! Look!! I found a cable that I can replace with common parts! Yay!!". The cinch bolt will be 13mm across the flats instead of the factory 10mm, but hey, take your victories where you can find them, right?
    The measure of your character isn't what you do when people are watching- it's what you do when they aren't watching.

  9. #9
    Tadpole
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    the output wire is a loop running from the alternator to the battery. Attached to that loop are battery feeds for much of the fusebox, the horn switch, the headlight switch and the ignition switch. If David recommends anything at all here, he'll want to try some new ends first.

    Would it be possible that this 'loop' may have been replaced by some kind soul in the past with a single wire to the battery and all these accessories are now connected directly to the battery positive terminal? That is how it appears

    I can't bring myself to post a pic of the setup right now due to the shame and humiliation of just how diabolical it all looks around there 😰



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  10. #10
    1000+ Posts daffyduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSpallas View Post
    the output wire is a loop running from the alternator to the battery. Attached to that loop are battery feeds for much of the fusebox, the horn switch, the headlight switch and the ignition switch. If David recommends anything at all here, he'll want to try some new ends first.

    Would it be possible that this 'loop' may have been replaced by some kind soul in the past with a single wire to the battery and all these accessories are now connected directly to the battery positive terminal? That is how it appears

    I can't bring myself to post a pic of the setup right now due to the shame and humiliation of just how diabolical it all looks around there 😰


    Yes.
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  11. #11
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    Owen,

    Before you start tearing apart the wiring - remove the alternator and have some one or you check for a dead or doggy diode(s). Your symptoms sound like a problem I had years ago - was a duffed diode in one of the 3 pairs of diodes that 'rectify' the A/C output of an alternator to DC that the car system uses. Diodes go all of sudden and they can also suffer from thermal break down.

    Low voltage under load is, typically, not a regulator problem. Can be the result of worn brushes, a worn or carboned commutator (the brass 'sleeve' that brushes ride against) or a bad diode(s).

    Over voltage is most always a voltage regulation problem or related to the voltage regulation circuit which includes the feed back circuit.

    Steve

  12. #12
    Now go make me a sandwich Hotrodelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSpallas View Post
    the output wire is a loop running from the alternator to the battery. Attached to that loop are battery feeds for much of the fusebox, the horn switch, the headlight switch and the ignition switch. If David recommends anything at all here, he'll want to try some new ends first.

    Would it be possible that this 'loop' may have been replaced by some kind soul in the past with a single wire to the battery and all these accessories are now connected directly to the battery positive terminal? That is how it appears

    I can't bring myself to post a pic of the setup right now due to the shame and humiliation of just how diabolical it all looks around there 



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    Don't be ashamed. Much as a nurse, I have seen. it. all. Shall I tell you of the time I replaced a D harness where the owner thought masking tape would be a great substitute for insulation? Or the Jeep where all of the battery leads underdash were badly soldered together in an uninsulated ball? How about the D a friend of mine has (he's a financial guy- not an electrician) where the charge circuit never really worked? Yah- that was a fun one. The crimps were so bad the plastic insulators had burned off. I remember a Corvette where the bulkhead connector had melted and fused together. Or the TR7 that was having a problem with the cooling fans- owner decided he was going to outsmart the system. That started a fire in the fusebox andcamethisclose to destroying his car. The world may have been better off with that one....

    You cannot possibly have anything worse. Not even Shane's CX (he's sorting a few problems on his) scares me. Pics help with seeing what's going on anyway.

    It is possible some well-meaning soul did replace that loop. If that's the case, I will lay down a dollar that's a lot of your problem. As I noted, there are a number of connections that had to be made there. Pulling those connections off the battery can work just fine, but those connections have to be made firmly and correctly. A bad or loose crimp is going to give problems.

    Steve is right about checking the diode stack in the rectifier bridge- but I would have thought any competent sparky would have done that just as a matter of course since they're already inside the housing replacing other parts. Literally 1/2 minute with a voltmeter. Eh- perhaps I assume too much.
    The measure of your character isn't what you do when people are watching- it's what you do when they aren't watching.

  13. #13
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    I'd be interested to know what the outcome was here. I am having exactly the same symptoms at the moment - first 5-10 minutes the battery warning light is showing, and I have a parasitic leak somewhere that drains the battery over several days if the car is not being driven. Other than that the voltage seems fine - around 13.5v. Also, I can't get the lower left hand main headlight bulb to work, despite replacing bulb and tracking through to check wiring etc.



    Quote Originally Posted by Hotrodelectric View Post
    Don't be ashamed. Much as a nurse, I have seen. it. all. Shall I tell you of the time I replaced a D harness where the owner thought masking tape would be a great substitute for insulation? Or the Jeep where all of the battery leads underdash were badly soldered together in an uninsulated ball? How about the D a friend of mine has (he's a financial guy- not an electrician) where the charge circuit never really worked? Yah- that was a fun one. The crimps were so bad the plastic insulators had burned off. I remember a Corvette where the bulkhead connector had melted and fused together. Or the TR7 that was having a problem with the cooling fans- owner decided he was going to outsmart the system. That started a fire in the fusebox andcamethisclose to destroying his car. The world may have been better off with that one....

    You cannot possibly have anything worse. Not even Shane's CX (he's sorting a few problems on his) scares me. Pics help with seeing what's going on anyway.

    It is possible some well-meaning soul did replace that loop. If that's the case, I will lay down a dollar that's a lot of your problem. As I noted, there are a number of connections that had to be made there. Pulling those connections off the battery can work just fine, but those connections have to be made firmly and correctly. A bad or loose crimp is going to give problems.

    Steve is right about checking the diode stack in the rectifier bridge- but I would have thought any competent sparky would have done that just as a matter of course since they're already inside the housing replacing other parts. Literally 1/2 minute with a voltmeter. Eh- perhaps I assume too much.

  14. #14
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    Most of the time a diode fails, it fails as a short (or at least completed) circuit. Since the alternator is connected directly to the battery, a bad diode can easily be the cause of a battery drain.
    Cheers,
    John T.

    54 11BL; 61DS19 LHM (son's); 71DS21 BVH; 73SM 3.0; 73SM 2.7EFI; 73SM 3.0 (other son's); 74 Maserati Merak

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