Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Make It Better to Make It Gone

I may have a prospective buyer for Lucy. He answered my Craigslist ad last week and we had a tentative appointment for him to stop by Sunday afternoon, but that ended up not happening (he did call me, so my faith in mankind is still intact). We rescheduled for Wednesday evening, but I'll leave Lucy parked on the curb while I drive something else to work tomorrow, so the guy can start his inspection prior to my arrival.

Much of this last weekend was consumed with non-car activities, but I was able to complete Lucy’s alternator swap Friday night. With my new Harbor Freight soldering iron, I finished splicing the LM alternator harness into the EM harness. After protecting the soldered joints with shrink tube, electrical tape, and plastic armor, I installed the new voltage regulator. Since it is smaller than a stock EM regulator, I had to fashion a couple adapters from strips of sheetmetal leftover from past radio installations. I was finally able to turn the key and see if the GEN-FAN light would go on and then go off once the engine was running. I first plugged my charging system monitor (voltmeter) into Lucy’s lighter socket so I could see how much electricity the alternator of unknown provenance was putting out – if anything. The light came on with the key in the ON position, so I knew I’d wired up the idiot light circuit correctly. The light went off once I got Lucy’s engine to fire. The monitor was showing a nice, steady reading of greater than 14 volts. Project successfully completed.

The only other car work that was accomplished occurred Sunday afternoon and was precipitated by a Saturday morning text message from Ariel, “My car wouldn’t start so I had to take your truck,” and, “the battery is dead I think.” Thinking the terminals were corroded, I gathered up my voltmeter, wrenches, wire brushes, and Ringo’s key and headed out to the curb. The meter read over 12 volts once I probed the battery’s two terminals, so I plopped my butt into the driver’s seat and turned the key. At first, the engine barely turned, but eventually it began spinning fast enough for the engine to start. I let it idle for a while noting the charging voltage was above 14. That told me the alternator and voltage regulator were doing their job. Confident I’d put enough juice into the battery to get another start out of it, I turned off the engine and thoroughly cleaned the positive and negative terminals and connectors, reattached everything, turned the key to START, and the engine returned to a nice, steady idle. Fifteen more minutes of idling and charging and I pronounced him good-to-go (with fingers crossed on both hands). By the way, he started right up this morning.

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