Lucas… arggh

Not an intentional part of the project, but just when things are going well, Lord Lucas strikes again (though it’s technically a mechanical issue, not an electrical one).

Went to a car show about a half hour from home on Sunday, one of the typical shows in the area (meaning that if your car wasn’t built in Detroit, very few people are interested). Still, it’s a good way to kill a day. Anyway, as we arrived, I noticed a new, interesting, and not very good sound coming from under the bonnet. Consistent with engine speed, kind of a scraping sound. “This can’t be good”…

After we got parked and registered and all that, I popped the bonnet (because you can’t show a car with it closed, that’s just wrong!) and took a quick peek under there… didn’t see anything obviously amiss. After a couple of hours I decided to look further into it. Started her up, listened while walking around trying to pinpoint where the scraping was coming from, and zoned in on the alternator. Turns out that the alternator fan was just barely touching the alternator body. Hmm. Guess I tightened the belt too tight a couple of weeks ago?

So, now that I know the engine isn’t going to blow up, we enjoyed the rest of the show and then drove her home. Nothing out of the ordinary other than that scraping sound. Once home, I pulled the alternator out (it’s the Lucas alternator) and took it to the bench, and it appears that the shaft is slightly bent… there is a noticable wobble to the pulley and fan when they spin, though the bearing seem tight enough (which wasn’t what I was expecting to find, figured it was loose bearings).

Did a little forum reading, tried a couple of the shops like O’Reillys and Auto Zone, trying to find a single wire Delco 10si (since that seems to be the non-Lucas replacement of choice) with no luck. Then this morning, made a call to Mike at Delta just for comparison’s sake, and as luck would have it he had a Lucas 14037-HD, brand new, in stock. Apparently the “HD” means heavy duty, it’s rated for 63 amps instead of 43, but he found no reason that it wouldn’t be a direct replacement. So, I went ahead and ordered it along with a new plug kit since I haven’t had the original plug in years (I replaced the connectors right when I first got the car with crimp on female spades just to get her going) and should be back up and running later this week. Maybe the new larger capacity alternator will actually be able to keep up to the headlights.