R12 Alternator Upgrade
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  1. #1
    1000+ Posts REN TIN TIN's Avatar
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    Default R12 Alternator Upgrade

    Guys,

    I want to upgrade the alternator in my R12 from the standard 35 amp unit to something that'd s bit more able to cope. In theory, 35 amps should be plenty but those 35 amps only appear at something like 3000 RPM and the unit isn't within a bull's roar of this at say, 800 RPM idle.
    Even with the original feeble 40/45W light globes the battery meter barely stays in the green at idle. On a rainy night with lights, wipers and demister fan running she's well into the red at idle. Don't have a sound system or electric radiator fan so it's a bare-bones set up and it's only called-upon for the essentials. I know the accuracy of the meters is not fantastic but it should be close.

    Anyway, are there any higher capacity alternators that bolt up to the original alternator mount (engine side)?

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    I have tried a Bosch 85 amp alternator from a Magna. It's got the mounting holes at 180 degrees and is only marginally bigger than the original (the outer side bracket doesn't need to be moved out too far so doesn't foul the chassis) so looked suitable. Problem is that it's set about 14mm further back than the R12 alternator. The mounts are moulded into the aluminium casing of the alternator so they can't be moved so I can't simply pack it out with spacers. Moving the mounting bracket forward with an adaptor plate is a problem because it then fouls the no.4 plug. I could possibly make up a custom mounting bracket but I'd rather use the original mounts if possible and if there's a bolt-up alternative I'd rather try that first.
    I'd like to stick with a Bosch unit if possible. They may not be the best but parts are relatively easy to get and there are heaps of them around in other Aussie built cars so they're easy to find and cheap.

    I'm not concerned with the wiring, I'm sure that can be sorted without any difficulty.

    I expect someone has gone down this road before and I don't want to re-invent the wheel.

    Cheers
    Ren
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    There are threads about R8 alternator options if you go hunting and these might be helpful. Robmac has provided good advice more than once and I think both Frans and Geckoeng have described what they have used - all in the last year if I recall correctly.

    A modern-ish Holden Bosch with internal regulation gives you 85 amp capacity or something like that. I have one set up to bolt onto the R8, which has the same pulley position on the crankshaft as the R12 I guess, but of course a different fitting bracket.
    JohnW

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    May be worthwhile getting the alternator checked out, as well as the battery.

    You may actually have faults here, rather than rushing off putting in a higher capacity alternator.

    You can actually increase speed and output at low revs of alternator by putting on a smaller pulley.

    Do not however exceed rated rpm of alternator

    Check out Alternator & Charging System Checks (Alternator Testing)

    As good as any

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    Hi Ren Tin Tin
    This is a generic answer as I have not had a R12 for many years. Great cars !

    Bosch made hundreds of alternators styles for everyone. They were very similar in the workings but had different brackets to suit the application. Bosch would make 3 legged ones if somebody ordered enough. My point being that there is exactly what you want out there on some engine.

    The other point is that the ends which have the brackets moulded in can be swapped to another set of innards. In fact it is possible the later models may even fit the earlier ones if the basic diameter is the same.

    Also the later innards may fit your ends and brackets if the stator diameter is the same.
    Cheers and good luck Jaahn

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    1000+ Posts REN TIN TIN's Avatar
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    Hello John,

    Yes, I've seen those posts and they have been instructive. But the R8 alternator fits under the water pump on the manifold side of the motor. The R12 alternator mount is on the head near the camshaft so the bracketry that would work with the R8 won't apply to an R12. And, if memory serves, they were on bespoke brackets. I was hoping to use the R12 bracket because of the issue with #4 spark plug.

    Hello Driven, The present alternator appears to be working fine. The battery isn't going flat and there's plenty of life in the battery to turn the motor over on starting. The voltage reading on the battery is within normal parameters but it's a maintenance-free type so I can't check or top-up the electrolyte. I haven't checked the alternator but the battery is charging so expect it's doing it's job (or most of it). I don't want to fit a smaller pulley as the one that's on there is pretty small already and I don't think have the alternator turn fast is going to do the alternator much good at high revs.

    I still think a higher capacity alternator is the go.
    Doing some quick sums:
    2 x 40 watt headlights (feeble ones) = 80 watts
    2 x 20 watt taillights = 40 watts
    2 x 20 watt front sidelights = 40 watts
    3 x 2 watt dash bulbs = 6 watts
    So that's about 12 amps for these alone.

    I don't know how much current the kettering ignition system draws but the primary resistance of the coil could be less than 1 ohm up to a few ohms (I'll have to measure it one day). To keep it simple lets say the resistance is 1.4 ohms so the current draw is about 10 amps.

    So with just the lights on and the engine running we're pulling around 22 amps.
    If it's raining and you have wipers and demister fan running you're pulling another 10 amps (approx.).

    Not sure about Bosch but I'm guessing the rated output of the alternator is only achieved at around 3000 - 4000RPM.
    At idle or say, 1500RPM is it delivering half or less of the rated output?

    So even if the alternator is in pristine condition and all the wiring connections are in perfect condition (which isn't the case on a 40+ year old car), the alternator isn't going to cope on a rainy day in heavy traffic. On a sunny day, no problem and my 12's battery gauge doesn't normally dip into the red on fine days even at idle.



    Cheers
    Ren
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    The ever reliable GT40 ignition coil has a resistance of 3.4 ohms so does not need a balance resistor
    Essentially a 9V coil.
    So, current draw at 13.4V is maximum 4 amps.

    Engine RPM and alternator RPM are entirely different due to size of pulleys

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    Yup, understand the mounting matter - we had AC too, which made it a more complicated fitting, and ours already had a larger capacity alternator of same dimensions except the laminated iron section was wider, i.e. alternator was maybe 15 mm longer.

    If the battery is OK and all circuitry OK, it really doesn't matter if at extreme conditions (idling and everything is ON) the alternator doesn't match demand as the time spent on normal running should catch it up. I still agree though that it is nice to have more capacity and perhaps a newer alternator - yours is probably due to have that wire break! My R8 alternator is 40 amps not 35, but by accident not design, as it is the new one I found in the cupboard!

    Cheers

    Cheers
    JohnW

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by driven View Post
    The ever reliable GT40 ignition coil has a resistance of 3.4 ohms so does not need a balance resistor
    Essentially a 9V coil.
    So, current draw at 13.4V is maximum 4 amps.

    Engine RPM and alternator RPM are entirely different due to size of pulleys
    Hello Driven,

    There's no balance (presume you mean ballast) resistor on the standard R12 coil so it's getting the full 12 volts (or 13.8 or thereabouts). I looked through a few manuals but couldn't find the primary resistance of an R12 coil but a normal (i.e. not performance or ballasted) coil is usually a couple of ohms max (most between 0.6 - 2 ohms). I don't know the GT40 and don't doubt your 3.4 ohms measurement but it might be designed for use with a ballast resistor ignition circuits. From my limited knowledge of ignition circuits, a higher resistance coil can be used in place of a lower resistance coil but the reverse isn't possible. So I might be able to put a GT40 coil in the ol' girl and drop a few amps.

    Yes, the alternator RPM is different from the engine RPM (alternator is higher) but the ratio of engine RPM to alternator RPM isn't going to change with speed. At 4000RPM engine speed the alternator could be spinning at 10000RPM or more. So we can talk engine RPM.

    I don't have the numbers for a R12, but for a JA Scenic (Bosch 0124415007AC 98 AMP) the outputs are:
    4000RPM 95AMPS
    3000RPM 86AMPS
    2000RPM 63AMPS
    NOTE, engine RPM not alternator RPM.

    So it drops around 33% between 4000RPM and 2000RPM.
    The manual I have doesn't state the output below 2000RPM but at 1000RPM one can assume the output is going to be about or less than 50% of the rated output.
    Now this is a relatively modern alternator that's more efficient than the old unit from 40+ years ago so the losses could be much higher in the R12 alternator. If those sort of losses are extrapolated to the R12 alternator, at 2000RPM it would be barely coping with the demands of the engine running and headlight lights on. I do practically all my driving in suburban areas so my average speed is probably less than 20 - 30MPH so rarely get to cruise at the higher RPM's, (2000RPM is around 35MPH in the 12).

    Anyway, regardless of the maths of whether I need a larger capacity alternator, I think I do.

    John, I have plenty of depth to play with in the alternator. What matters is the engine side mounting lugs lining up so the pulley is the correct position for the fan belt. The width of the alternator is also a consideration as well as the diameter but not as important.
    I was hoping for a drop-in replacement where the front lined up but this looks like being overly optimistic.

    No matter, I'll have to make up a bespoke mount or adaptor.


    Cheers
    Ren
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  9. #9
    1000+ Posts robmac's Avatar
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    The primary resistance of the coil is largely irrelevant. It's the time the points are closed, ie duty cycle that determines the average current.

    Allow for around 3-5 amps as the average current draw.
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  10. #10
    1000+ Posts REN TIN TIN's Avatar
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    Okay, I have found a different alternator that appears to be ideal, it's a Mitsubishi A2TB2891.
    The one I got was off a Subaru but they're apparently as common as dog shit and in a huge number of Japanese cars from the noughties and maybe earlier. So parts like bushes, diode packs, bearings are common and cheap if/when it needs fixing.
    I looked for a commodore alternator as suggested but all the commodores at the local wreckers were without alternators. (Maybe they fail regularly).

    The good points:
    It rated at 80 - 90 amps depending on who's specification you believe so is more than double the existing Bosch unit.
    The direction of rotation is the same.
    The depth from the centre of the pulley to the back of the mounting lug is the same so the existing alternator mount can be used.
    The pulley off the Bosch alternator (V-belt) has the same size as the pulley on the Mitsubishi alternator (flat belt) so is a straight swap.


    The bad points, none major (yet).
    The housing is fractionally larger (circumference) so the current fan belt is marginally short.
    The housing is deeper so a spacer has to be used on the back of the mount and adjuster. No biggie.
    The terminals when fitted on the 12 are on the bottom of the alternator (one plug and on bolt-on king lead), awkward but no biggie.
    The mounting lugs are for an M7 bolt so will have to be drilled out to take the R12's M10 bolt. No biggie.

    The only real issue is the fan belt. The 1220 belt is fractionally too short but the next size up is 1250 is a bit too long. If I can't get a belt that's around 1230 or 1240 long, I'll probably have to use spacers to move the alternator mount out a bit to tighten the belt.
    The 1250 belt, with the alternator at is maximum extension is just a fraction loose (can be twisted more than 90 degrees) so will no doubt stretch in use and slip. it will be trial and error on how far the mount will have to be moved but I'm thinking it shouldn't be more than a 1/4", hopefully even less.

    A question for those knowledgeable in alternator matters , as 2 watt (max) incandescent bulbs are pretty near impossible to find these days with everything now being LED, can I replace the warning bulb in the lamp circuit with a relay coil of the correct resistance to maintain the 2 watt max? Then I can use an LED or any other type of bulb that will switch on when the contacts close. I don't think I can replace the bulb with an LED (and suitable resistor) and they're polarised but I'm happy to be corrected in this.

    Cheers
    Ren
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  11. #11
    1000+ Posts bowie's Avatar
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    Good work on finding that common alternator replacement.

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    Hi,
    Perhaps instead of drilling out that mounting bolt hole, you can use the difference in size to your advantage and space the bolt out by the difference and get the extra length to suit the belt. A suitable thin flat strip or flattened rod may do. Only need to hold it till the bolt is tightened.
    Additionally a bit of filing may help for extra mm as well. Not much required as you suspected. 7 mm seems a bit suspect as a size though, non prefered size.

  13. #13
    1000+ Posts REN TIN TIN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaahn View Post
    Hi,
    Perhaps instead of drilling out that mounting bolt hole, you can use the difference in size to your advantage and space the bolt out by the difference and get the extra length to suit the belt. A suitable thin flat strip or flattened rod may do. Only need to hold it till the bolt is tightened.
    Additionally a bit of filing may help for extra mm as well. Not much required as you suspected. 7 mm seems a bit suspect as a size though, non prefered size.
    Hello Jaahn,

    It's a strange bolt. Only the last 15mm or so of the bolt is threaded and the shaft of the bolt is smaller than the thread end. Could be a Subaru thing maybe.
    I tried using a sleeve around the M7 bolt but it wasn't successful and even with no sleeve at all the belt was still too short. One could perhaps shave a bit off the alternator mount but I'd rather leave the mount stock standard and I'm not confident I'd be able to get the mount perfectly flat. Angle grinders and bastard files are not precision tools, at least not in my hands they aren't. But if all else fails I might have to consider this. As much as possible I don't want to alter any of the original R12 parts is it can be avoided.
    I suppose another alternative is to elongate the mounting holes on the alternator. The front hole has plenty of metal around the hole so could be taken out a bit. The back hole is about 12mm anyway and has a steel sleeve in it to drop the size.
    If I have time I'll have to experiment on the week-end to see how much it needs to go either in (original belt) or out (longer belt). I should be able to attach the alternator in a suitable position with a G-clamp and take some measurements.

    Cheers
    Ren
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    Hi REN TIN TIN
    Just a note or two on the way things are done in the auto world.
    The bolt is 8mm with the thread rolled on to an undersided plain shank. As the thread rolling increases the final diameter the original shank is smaller. Current practice.
    The sleeve in the rear hole is designed to be a tight sliding fit so keep that design. The front bolt should clamp the alternator body tight and the rear sleeve is bolted tight but can slide a bit to allow a small difference in length as necessary and not break the lug off. That end has little to do. That was standard practice too. But if you hand fit some spacers for length it could be replaced.

    Your idea of leaving the mounts original and modifing the alternator holes sound good to me. As you suspect only a few more mm is needed in my experience too. A careful hand file is easy to do on alloy, take your time and try often. It is only the holes internally. Also there are finer files than "bastards" you know
    good luck Jaahn

    PS the belts do not hardly stretch after first use really.

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  16. #16
    1000+ Posts robmac's Avatar
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    Further to belts.

    Rather than try belt sizes by trial and error.

    Get an old belt. Set the alternator 1/3 the way from minimum adjustment. Cut the the belt to correct length and join it up with a wire staple or a twist of welding wire.

    You then have a correct length belt to take to the belt supplier which can be measured.

    Saves a lot of stuffing around.

    And guarantees the correct size belt first time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaahn View Post
    Hi REN TIN TIN
    Just a note or two on the way things are done in the auto world.
    The bolt is 8mm with the thread rolled on to an undersided plain shank. As the thread rolling increases the final diameter the original shank is smaller. Current practice.
    The sleeve in the rear hole is designed to be a tight sliding fit so keep that design. The front bolt should clamp the alternator body tight and the rear sleeve is bolted tight but can slide a bit to allow a small difference in length as necessary and not break the lug off. That end has little to do. That was standard practice too. But if you hand fit some spacers for length it could be replaced.

    Your idea of leaving the mounts original and modifing the alternator holes sound good to me. As you suspect only a few more mm is needed in my experience too. A careful hand file is easy to do on alloy, take your time and try often. It is only the holes internally. Also there are finer files than "bastards" you know
    good luck Jaahn

    PS the belts do not hardly stretch after first use really.
    Agreed. I'd add that I've found the parallel files used for chain saw sharpening are really good for this sort of work, as it is easier to keep the expanding hole parallel. And they are very sharp little files.
    JohnW

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  18. #18
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    Serious files:

    Precision files
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    I would have suggested replacing the innards of the alternator as well. I am sure the same Bosch alternator with different innards has been used on other cars of the era.

    For my part, I just sent the alternator to a place in Adelaide and asked them to rewind it to up the output. They gave me a 85A rating, which was more than fine for the car (BMW 2000), even using the projectors. I think it was about a couple of hundred bucks for an excellent result which demanded no stuffing around from me.

    As for your situation now, I wouldn't modify anything, but try to get the original Mitsubishi/Subaru bracket and see if I can adapt that to the R12, or use that as a model and make up a new one (angle steel is wonderful) that would satisfy requirements. That way all original bracketry remains as spare on hand should it be needed in the future.

    Looking again at the bracket/alternator, I remembered the alternator is clamped with the bolt between the front casting and the rear steel bushing. I am not sure if you modify the alternator castings by enlarging/slotting the holes if you're going to be able to keep the bushing in the correct position in the alternator casting, so you might end up with your alternator flopping about at the rear or at least there is a risk the alternator pulley is not going to run square with the belt with the associated consequences.
    Last edited by schlitzaugen; 22nd February 2017 at 05:16 PM.
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    Thanks, I might give them a try.
    They're only 5 minutes away from home.

    Cheers
    Ren
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    1000+ Posts REN TIN TIN's Avatar
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    Well, fitting the uprated alternator turned out to be far easier than anticipated once I got one with favourable nose dimensions.
    The main bracket was about ˝” shorter than the alternator legs so I just cut a spacer from a M10 threaded coupling.

    The original M10 mounting bolt was about a ˝” too short so a longer one is needed.

    The fan belt issue is resolved, Dayco make a 1230mm V-belt so that solved that issue.

    The only other changes were to the adjuster bracket which had to move back about ˝” and about Ľ” further out. As there is plenty of room on the base of the bracket it just needed a couple of additional holes drilled so it could be mounted further back and some spacers under the bracket to move it out.
    The alternator had to be re-wired of course but again that was pretty simple.
    The wires are a bit of a PIA as they’re on the bottom of the alternator now directly above the oil filter. There is a cap over the king lead but one will have to exercise care when removing the oil filter to avoid shorting the filter spanner to the wiring.

    Here it is mounted but not wired.
    (Yes, the fuel filter should be on the inlet side of the pump but there’s no room)
    R12 Alternator Upgrade-mirsubishi-alternator-2.jpgR12 Alternator Upgrade-mitsubishi-alternator-1.jpg

    At the end of the day it turned out to be quite easy once a suitably sized alternator was found.
    Apart from drilling a couple of holes in the alternator adjuster bracket, no permanent changes had to be made to the car. Even the wiring can be restored if need be.
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  22. #22
    1000+ Posts robmac's Avatar
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    The wires are a bit of a PIA as they’re on the bottom of the alternator now directly above the oil filter.
    Most alternators allow rotation of the rear bracket. Simply undo the fixing bolts/screws and rotate the rear end case to a more favorable orientation. The fixings are usually symmetrical.
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  23. #23
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    R12 alternator was more than adequate.
    Must be faulty.

  24. #24
    1000+ Posts REN TIN TIN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Most alternators allow rotation of the rear bracket. Simply undo the fixing bolts/screws and rotate the rear end case to a more favorable orientation. The fixings are usually symmetrical.
    Hello Rob,

    No, in this case it's not possible.
    Unlike the Bosch alternators, this device has the mounting leg moulded into the rear case so it can only be fitted one way.
    See the photograph in post#21.
    Anyway, it's not a big deal.
    It's awkward putting the nut/washer on the king lead if the alternator is already mounted (as any that have worked on a R12 know if you drop something onto the sump guard you might as well forget about retrieving it) but one can do the up cable before mounting. There's a cap over the nut it should be protected from accidental shorting when removing the oil filter.
    Or one can remove the earth lead from the battery when changing the oil filter.

    Cheers
    Ren
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    I love that. Disconnect the battery when changing the oil filter.

    There must be room somewhere for a fuel filter on the suction side of the pump. ??
    JohnW

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