Citroen DS23 Manual - Voltage yo-yo-ing
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Thread: Citroen DS23 Manual - Voltage yo-yo-ing

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    Default Citroen DS23 Manual - Voltage yo-yo-ing

    Hi. Been trying to sort an electrical issue and going round in circles. Maybe someone can help?

    Lights have always pulsed a little and there's always been an on/off whining noice from the engine compartment. Been suggested it was the alternator on its way out so changed to a recon unit. No change. Am now running in after an engine refurb/rebuild and 600 miles in started to occasionally get the battery light flicking on and off randomly while driving. So I took matters into my own hands a decided to check over the regulator. Whipped it off, cleaned the points which weren't in a great state and possibly mal-adjusted it. After putting back on no pulsing lights at any revs and no battery warning light. Pretty constant 12v+ at the battery. Conclusion: managed to stop the regulator working altogether and reason for nice constant lights was that I'd set the points to far away or something.

    Spoke to Darrin at CitroenClassics who has kindly lent me a regulator that has been converted to electronic but said connections will be the same. Popped it on this morning and seems like regulation is working again. At idle charge at battery is constant and lights not pulsing. Increase revs and here we go again into the cycle of voltage rising to 15v+ (lights bright), drops to below 13v (lights dimmer), whining noise, back up to 15v and round and round. Voltage is rising and dropping between 12+ to 15ish in a matter of seconds. I know that driving her like this is like watching a strobe which is pretty awful. This time the battery warning light is going on and off in keeping with the cycle and all lights - headlights, dash, interior pulsing in the cycle. Maybe she's preparing for Christmas ;-)

    Battery is new and connections good, starter is newish, re-furbed and turns quickly, negative cable had a small exposed area where the sheath had a cut in it so taped that up. Alternator is newish, re-furbed. Now tried mechanical and electrical regulator. Only electrics that don't work are my main beam driving lights (because the switch on the stick wont push in any more), cigar lighter, rear window heater but that's all the usual stuff I guess. I have electronic ignition, ingition key barrel a bit dicky and sometimes wont let the key in unless I put the steering lock on then it goes on. Cant think of anything else that might have any bearing on it.

    So the challenge is "why is the voltage yo-yo-ing like this" and what's the whining noise which I don't hear on other Deesses.

    I really don't know too much about electrics but can find my way around with a spanner. So a bit unsure where to stick my voltmeter and why and what I might check, adjust or replace to fix the problem. Any ideas most welcome. Thanks!

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    Fellow Frogger! marc61's Avatar
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    I'd suspect bad joints or worn out wiring at the alternator connections, or at the lead positive terminal on the battery. Superficially the positive terminal on the battery can look ok, but I can remember finding the thin black wire wasn't a great connection here and solved that by using big pliers to squeeze the lead against the wires a bit tighter. Worth checking.

    Cheers

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    Whining can also be a sign of rectifier diode issues, "rebuilt" is a highly elastic term in respect of what may have been undertaken...

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    I had similar issues and replaced with a new alternator with built in regulator. Never had a problem since. Hard to pick the difference especially I'd you leave the old regulator as an empty box. Good place to put those now unnecessary wires.
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    Thanks everyone for the advice. I've spent a few hours checking the wiring. The wire with the spade connector to the alternator had a nick in the wire by the spade so I trimmed and put a new spade on. Cleaned up all connectors, checked continuity in them, cleaned battery poles. Disconnected positive feed to air horns as they're not working anyway, removed a wire that wasn't connected to anything (think it was positive on coil to relay for electric fan/water temp switch which now doesn't use relay because relay just ticking). Net result is that it all looks tidier, voltage variation now between 13.5v and 14.5v now but battery warning light still flashing with the whining cycle. Turn on the lights and the warning light stops flashing but the headlights and interior lights still pulsing substantially. One thing I did notice was the wire to the spade connector on the regulator has a join in it. Nicely done but a join nevertheless. Not sure what that wire does though. There are a few wires connected directly to the battery, could they be causing an issue? One seems to be the circuit to the standard DS23 electric fan via the water temp switch. As mentioned before this was originally via a relay but that was buzzing not opening closing so hence wired direct. Think another is a relay which was put in to give the starter more juice but think Ive changed the starter since that was put in.

    Next stop...change alternator (again!) or worth disconnecting anything else connected directly to the battery? Many thanks!
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    Now go make me a sandwich Hotrodelectric's Avatar
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    Try adding a ground wire from the base of the regulator to a more solid ground point, such as the back of the alternator or the engine block, The problem is that the battery hold down serves as the ground point for the regulator. Years of corrosion, rust, and loose fitting all serve to make that ground a very poor one. When you attach the wire to the regulator, attach it to the one foot with the brass tab. That's the regulator ground.

    And following on Adam's suggestion, talk to the rebuilder and see what exactly was done during that refurbish. Many times, even though they're cheap, the diodes don't get replaced if they check OK.
    Last edited by Hotrodelectric; 26th October 2015 at 11:13 AM.
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    Now go make me a sandwich Hotrodelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pallas74 View Post
    One thing I did notice was the wire to the spade connector on the regulator has a join in it. Nicely done but a join nevertheless. Not sure what that wire does though. There are a few wires connected directly to the battery, could they be causing an issue? One seems to be the circuit to the standard DS23 electric fan via the water temp switch. As mentioned before this was originally via a relay but that was buzzing not opening closing so hence wired direct. Think another is a relay which was put in to give the starter more juice but think Ive changed the starter since that was put in.

    Next stop...change alternator (again!) or worth disconnecting anything else connected directly to the battery? Many thanks!
    Just for curiosity sake, I reread your complaint. You say the spade connector. That should be your "bob" (bobine) input. It's the ignition trip into the regulator, switching things on. There are also 3 screw connections: a red one which is to your charge lamp, a white one which is to the stator at the back of the alternator, and a yellow one which is your field wire at the rotor. There were a few wire connected directly at the battery post, especially on the later cars. These would be the charge wire from the alternator, a power out for the air horns (that has it's own "layover" harness, and isn't part of the main loom), a power out for the electric fan you have (same as the air horns) and for FI if you had it. Very common for the later cars to have 3 or 4 battery + out lines directly at the battery. With the new starter you should be able to remove the assist relay. The buzzing relay for the fan is a symptom of a poor ground- again that poor ground because of a degraded connection by way of the battery hold down. Those Sanor relays don't often go bad. When they do, they can be subbed for a standard "icecube" relay. The function is exactly the same, and jumper leads (Citroen 4mm female pins to 1/4"female spades) aren't at all difficult to make.
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    Thanks Hotrodelectric. Very useful and reassuring. I might even be able to sort the horn and tidy up the starter wiring. Re the battery hold down I presume you mean the cage that holds battery in place. This has been sandblasted and painted so probably not acting as a good earth at all. Wonder if anything else relies upon this earth? I already have a cable from the earth point on the regulator to the battery negative terminal. Is that incorrect?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pallas74 View Post
    Thanks Hotrodelectric. Very useful and reassuring. I might even be able to sort the horn and tidy up the starter wiring. Re the battery hold down I presume you mean the cage that holds battery in place. This has been sandblasted and painted so probably not acting as a good earth at all. Wonder if anything else relies upon this earth? I already have a cable from the earth point on the regulator to the battery negative terminal. Is that incorrect?


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    I do what I can.

    Yah- the cage holding the battery down. The regulator and whatever relays are underhood (save for the air horn) mount on the plate that is welded to it. The relays and the regulator need that ground to function. The ground lead you have (regulator to battery ground) should work about as well as you can get. You say earth point on the regulator- we're talking about the one foot of three that has the thin brass tab/washer folded over the top, yes?

    The battery negative connection at the water pump housing is solid, tight and clean?

    Just for grins, there is something else about your lighting. It has to do with the fender harnesses. Open up the bonnet and remove the spare. Look almost straight down at the chassis where it comes together at the front bumper and the fender. You'll see a wire (this is on both sides) that is bolted to the chassis. This is your headlight ground. It connects to the fender harness on either side. The color ends will be brown. Make sure these connections are made and clean. Not having them or they being corroded can cause some pretty weird lighting problems up front. .
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    Thanks again. Yes the brass tab corner is the one. I'll check that connection and also the ground to the water pump. That main earth lead from the battery to pump looks a bit old and dry with dark copper where exposed and a taped up section where the insulation had a gash in it.

    Yes I know those front earth points. Oddly they caught my eye the other day and I thought they looked a bit suspect. Will clean those up and make sure the ear this good there too. Cheers.


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    Excellence. Please do report back if you find or correct anything. I tell my customers "always look for simple and stupid first, then dig deeper".
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    Checked all earth points but voltage barely registering. Set meter to 2v and it only registered about 0.02v with a bit of fluctuation when increasing revs. Same when measuring foot of regulator to back of alternator, neg terminal to waterpump, Meg terminal to front light earths and to what I presume is earth on coil. Dash light still on/off with whining cycle. Dash light doesn't light up with lights on but lights pulsing and whining quicker as revs increase. Hmmm. Thought the earths might have been a possibility.


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    Time for a modern replacement alternator with an inbuilt regulator.

    gererator to alternator conversion.......

    The problem you are having seems to me, to a voltage regulator issue. If you are handy with tools then the best option is go down this path.

    Don't be put off by the fact the units were originally fitted to Holdens. The Bosch K1 series are a high quality alternator.
    Last edited by robmac; 1st November 2015 at 10:08 AM.
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    Now go make me a sandwich Hotrodelectric's Avatar
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    I have to agree with Rob. It appears you've done all the obvious stuff first, now it's time to clean house, as it were. Selecting an internally regulated Bosch would be an excellent mod. The hookup is simple enough- you can even use the old regulator as a terminal strip if you like, so the look is still "original". Select one of the two wires coming from the alternator (not the battery output line!). This wire, whichever one, continues to the regulator only. For instance: the yellow "EXC" (field) wire. You will use this wire to hook to the ignition trip input at your new alternator. Going back to the regulator, connect the yellow and red wires together. The red wire is from the charge lamp. You can also do this with the white "R" (rotor) wire. One or the other though- not both.

    Of course, battery is always hooked up at the battery output stud.

    You must disconnect, insulate and tuck away the 6.3mm female spade connector from the purple "BOB" (bobine- ignition on) connection, as this will have your regulator tripped on at all times when running. Additionally, it will not work as the ignition in for the alternator, as the light must be in line because it gives you the warning lamp if the new alternator fails. You may use this source as an ignition trip for a relay fed circuit, like an electric fan.
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    Thanks for the suggestions. First I do want to find the source of the problem to be sure. Darrin has now kindly lent me an old alternator to swap in to check. Tried today but the mount for it has what looks like a safety feature to stop belts coming off. Metal bit that stops you bring able to push it nearer the engine. So I can't get the belts on! Got one on but second just won't go. Took off thinking I'd change the mount to the one I had but the 3 bolts are aligned slightly differently. Might see if I can hook belts on before sliding mount into position. Don't want to remove the piece on the bracket as it's clearly designed that way and it's only on loan.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pallas74 View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions. First I do want to find the source of the problem to be sure. Darrin has now kindly lent me an old alternator to swap in to check. Tried today but the mount for it has what looks like a safety feature to stop belts coming off. Metal bit that stops you bring able to push it nearer the engine. So I can't get the belts on! Got one on but second just won't go. Took off thinking I'd change the mount to the one I had but the 3 bolts are aligned slightly differently. Might see if I can hook belts on before sliding mount into position. Don't want to remove the piece on the bracket as it's clearly designed that way and it's only on loan. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Hi there, you may (or may not) find this useful - I've just been working through an alternator/regulator problem with much input from Robmac: Bosch alternator with external regulator problem on the R8

    I had exactly the same thought as you, that is that I wanted to be sure I knew what the problem had been. In my case, without doubt the old alternator had a dud diode (my fault) but it took a while to get there, as the local auto-electrician was certain that the alternator was charging (it cannot).

    I've become much faster at getting the alternator in and out of the Renault.

    Our Citroen CX has an internally-regulated 120 amp Bosch alternator after the old Paris-Rhone unit became senile. Excellent modification.

    Good luck with it.
    Last edited by JohnW; 8th November 2015 at 08:09 AM.
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    Now go make me a sandwich Hotrodelectric's Avatar
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    Metal bit that stops you bring able to push it nearer the engine. So I can't get the belts on! Got one on but second just won't go. Took off thinking I'd change the mount to the one I had but the 3 bolts are aligned slightly differently. Might see if I can hook belts on before sliding mount into position. Don't want to remove the piece on the bracket as it's clearly designed that way and it's only on loan.
    Try capturing the belts onto the pulley, then mount into place. Once the belts are in place, there might be enough slack to allow the alternator in place.



    I had exactly the same thought as you, that is that I wanted to be sure I knew what the problem had been. In my case, without doubt the old alternator had a dud diode (my fault) but it took a while to get there, as the local auto-electrician was certain that the alternator was charging (it cannot).
    Citroenfan (Steve) was experiencing almost the exact same problem with the alternator on his recent XM. The charge rate was low and the charge warning lamp was on dimly- clues that a diode had popped. I remember telling him so immediately (I was in the car when it happened), and he got a confirmation of sorts when someone on the Yahoo XM list told him it was a rectifier problem.

    A rectifier is simply a series of diodes meant to lop off that bottom 1/2 of a sine wave, giving you DC voltage. Remove or fail any of the diodes, and that bit of AC gets through, reducing the DC charge rate by rather a lot. The light comes on because the regulator, not sensing full voltage, grounds the lamp, turning it on. In the case of a dim lamp, the effect is very much like a potentiometer, because with one diode out you're still sensing DC voltage. Just not enough to keep the lamp off.
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    So, got the pulleys on the second alternator. Thanks for that advice. So with second alternator and the electronic regulator I get 13.5-14.5 volts at battery. Charging warning light blinks like an indicator light and the blinking speeds up with engine speed. Turning in headlights results in charging light turning off but headlights and interior lights pulse.

    So, took off battery to engine earth lead and gave it a good clean. No change.

    Now changed to a third regulator. Mechanical Paris Rhone. So now got different alternator and different regulator. Some excitement at this point as charging warning light not on and lights bright and steady. Oddly a sort of rumbling noise from engine with lights off but not when they are on. So thinking it's all good. Checked voltage and its 16v with only a little fluctuation apart from when idling with headlights on when it's 13.5v.

    Thinking it's all sorted apart from rumbling noise and then read that 16v is too much and will fry the battery.

    I am now braced for everyone to say change to a new alternator with built in regulator. Note there are no Holdens in UK

    Still don't understand the blinking light or quite what's going on. Maybe my multimeter is not reading accurately. Might try the battery in my wife's car as a test.

    Thanks all, decided to stop for now and a glass of wine to celebrate progress of sorts, if possibly a step sideways.


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    A multiplicity of alternators and regulators sounds so familiar - my situation last week!

    I have just under 15 volts with my old electro-mechanical regulator, and the solid state one arrived in the mail today (Bosch RE55 for what that is worth to you).

    Our CX has a brand new Bosch not one scrounged from a wreck, but I paid to have that job done a few years ago. In my ignorance, at that stage, I didn't even know there were both types!

    What I did discover in my recent chasing around, most of which is on the link I posted, is that there are quite a few alternators I could fit in with a bit of fiddling around. The reason the Holden ones are mentioned of course is that they are common and cheap here, but I'll bet more or less identical ones are all over Europe. I can't imagine Bosch Australia developing their own designs except for minor housing adjustments for the General Motors' product they were fitted to - and then Chrysler/Mitsubishi and Ford, maybe Toyota factories too, in those days. Robmac would know!

    Sorry about the 16 volts! I'd be celebrating getting that far, for sure.

    I think Robmac et al. are completely right regarding a modern alternator (well, semi-modern) and it is definitely my Plan B. Plan A is using what I have, and I agree with Robmac that it might be a poor compromise!

    Cheers
    JohnW

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    Most Citroen parts suppliers have aftermarket alternators with built in regulator. I bought mine from atelier and it has been faultless. I would take modern reliability every time.
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    Now go make me a sandwich Hotrodelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pallas74 View Post
    So, got the pulleys on the second alternator. Thanks for that advice. So with second alternator and the electronic regulator I get 13.5-14.5 volts at battery. Charging warning light blinks like an indicator light and the blinking speeds up with engine speed. Turning in headlights results in charging light turning off but headlights and interior lights pulse.

    So, took off battery to engine earth lead and gave it a good clean. No change.

    Now changed to a third regulator. Mechanical Paris Rhone. So now got different alternator and different regulator. Some excitement at this point as charging warning light not on and lights bright and steady. Oddly a sort of rumbling noise from engine with lights off but not when they are on. So thinking it's all good. Checked voltage and its 16v with only a little fluctuation apart from when idling with headlights on when it's 13.5v.

    Thinking it's all sorted apart from rumbling noise and then read that 16v is too much and will fry the battery.

    I am now braced for everyone to say change to a new alternator with built in regulator. Note there are no Holdens in UK

    Still don't understand the blinking light or quite what's going on. Maybe my multimeter is not reading accurately. Might try the battery in my wife's car as a test.

    Thanks all, decided to stop for now and a glass of wine to celebrate progress of sorts, if possibly a step sideways.


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    The rumbling noise is directly related to the overcharge condition. The alternator is literally beating itself trying to drive the rotor through the magnetic field of the over-voltage stator. You might be able to remove the top on the regulator and adjust the field coil back a tad. You can also convert your regulator to a Ford style regulator, which will allow you to keep the stock appearance. I have the instructions for that, and will send you a copy if you like. If you have any mechanical ability at all, it takes about an afternoon. The single most important thing is carefully watch what you're doing. You can also go as Peter mentioned, and buy an internally regulated Iskra that mounts exactly as the factory alternator. It even cones with the lower mount. Hookup is too simple. That option is expensive, though, about 400.00 US. You can also opt for an internally regulated Bosch, like from a 123 or 124 chassis Mercedes. It will take a little fettling to fit, but it isn't horribly difficult. Again, hookup is dead-nuts easy. These have the added advantage of the regulator, although internal, can be changed out in a heartbeat.
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    Have taken everyone's advice and changed to an alternator with built in regulator supplied to me by Darrin at CitroenCkassics here in the UK.

    A bit of simple rewiring as it just uses 2 leads. A nice constant 14.6v, no whining and steady and bright lights.

    At same time as learning how it all works I've fixed the main horns, boot light and fitted a new headlight switch found on eBay. So all good. Ready now to fit my Retrosound radio with kit kindly supplied by Greenblood.

    Thanks everyone for advice and encouragement.
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