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MONTAC Enterprises
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Azle, TX 76020



Alternator Upgrade
"More Power!"


Face it...  The OE alternator simply doesn't have the juice necessary to do what most of us want...  Whether your aim is a monster stereo system, upgraded headlights, bigger electric fans, electric water pump, etc... A 130 ampere, 3G (third generation) alternator is the solution.  I bought mine from PA-Performance.  They're good folks with whom to deal. Rick Harmon, the owner, spent a lot of time patiently answering ALL my questions! They also offer housing coating options, fuse and wiring kits, and even a massive 200 amp, 3G version now.  This article details the installation procedure I used to install the 130 amp version in my 1989 Mustang Coupe (2.3L) in preparation for all the electric goodies I plan to add.  Now, my install is into a car that has already been modified for manual rack and pinion steering, so no OE Power Steering bracket mods were necessary.  But the wiring drill should be applicable to virtually all Mustangs and can easily be adapted to most other TurboFords.

Disconnect your Batt(+) cable from the battery and place it such that it cannot accidentally make contact with the positive lug on the battery.  Also... all the images are linked to larger versions for a little more detail.


Click for larger version...Yeah, my engine bay is still pretty nasty... It'll be cleaned, smoothed, and painted before the new engine goes in... But, as you can see in the image, it's simply a typical 2.3L engine bay.  The original alternator is still in place, though the housing was modified to work with the OE upper alternator bracket and the manual steering Ranger lower alternator bracket.

You can see the OE alternator harness passing over the top of the alternator and down into the "black hole" beneath the coil and starter relay. Note: some of the harness has already been broken out during previous harness pairing operations.

Click for larger image...Here's another shot from the top.  Note the regulator connector on the alternator (center/rear). The 3-pin power connector is at the end of the split loom harness over the top of the alternator. The starter relay (red) is at the bottom of the image. The relay output is on the left side of the relay (hidden by the small black boot). It only has the starter power wire connected to it. On the right side of the relay, you can see the BAT+ terminal loaded down with ring terminals. This side of the relay acts as the main power distribution lug from the battery to the car AND the power input lug from the alternator to the battery.

Down below that worn out (+) battery cable is the bundle of wires we'll be hacking into soon.  Also, if you look closely, you can see the negative battery cable exiting from the rear of the battery and traveling down and across to the main engine ground (lower left bolt on the standard Power Steering Housing/Alternator Bracket.

The first thing you need to do is remove the regulator and power plugs from the OE alternator, and un-bundle the alternator harness all the way back to the starter relay. Gotta get a look at those wires...

Click for larger version...The harness is un-bundled and draped over the driver's side fender. The regulator plug is on the left, and the power plug is on the right.  On the regulator plug, you will have three wires.  The A-terminal (Y/W) connects battery power from the BAT+ terminal on the starter relay via a series of two fuse links to the alternator regulator (always hot: 12vdc). The S-terminal (W/BK) which is the stator wire connected from the regulator to the stator via the power plug (on this alternator).  On some alternators, it might already be a separate plug, and I've heard of it not being connected at all... simply left unconnected in the harness. The I-terminal (LG/R) connects the regulator to Batt(+) via the voltmeter and the ignition switch (Hot in START or RUN). BTW... if you remove your instrument cluster, your alternator will not charge the battery unless you jumper the voltmeter pins.
Click for larger image...Here is an image showing the other end of the harness where the BAT(+) power wires from the alternator and the A-terminal wire join for connection via the ring terminal to the BAT(+) terminal on the starter relay. Note: The slender wire between the splice at the ring terminal and the 3-to1 splice in the center of the picture is a 14GA fusible link wire that is SUPPOSED to protect the two large power wires coming from the alternator (2x BK/O). The slender wire section between the 3-to-1 splice and the splice in the yellow w/ white stripe wire (A-wire) is the 18GA fusible link wire that is supposed to protect the Y/W wire. We are going to keep the 18GA fusible link, but delete the 14GA fusible link... Time to snip some wires...
Click for larger version...Clip the LG/R (I-terminal wire) and Y/W (A-terminal wire) about 1" from the back side of the regulator connector. then clip the Y/W wire's fusible link as close to the 3-to-1 splice as possible. You will be left with 1) LG/R wire open at one end, and disappearing into the harness leading to the firewall at the other, 2) a length of Y/W wire with an 18GA fusible link wire at one end, and 3) a bunch of trash wire between the two OE alternator connectors (this assumes that you are replacing the regulator connector with a new one from PA-Performance and that you are replacing, rather than supplementing the OE power wires as I did... and recommend).
Click for larger image...With the old wiring out of the way, switch gears a minute and get the bracket(s) prepared to install the new 3G alternator. If, for some bizarre reason, you still have power steering, you MAY need to use a die grinder or other suitable tool to grind away a bit of material from the PS housing to clearance for the new alternator.  I however have manual steering, and am temporarily using the upper and lower brackets from a manual steering '91 Ranger.  The image at right shows a comparison between the stock upper bracket, and the Ranger upper bracket (bottom). The Ranger flips the alternator.  Of particular note is the thinner bolt bosses on 2 of the 3 bolt holes...
Click for larger version...You can re-use one of the OE bolts from the PS housing, but you'll need 2 shorter bolts to properly mount the Ranger upper bracket. Either get them with the bracket from the donor, or use new hardware (M8). The shorter bolts I used are 25mm in length. They will work fine, but you can go as long as 30-32mm if you choose.
Click for larger image...From the top, you can see that both brackets are installed.  Be sure to use thread locker on all the bracket bolts; you definitely do not want any of them getting loose. The Ranger setup moves the long pivot bolt to the top and uses a steel, swing-arm for the bottom. It also uses a horizontal brace from the lower bracket to the lower intake, but this isn't really necessary on our cars, and in my case, the brace was too short to reach the blank bolt boss on my lower intake. I simply removed it. Be sure to press the pivot bolt bushing into the upper bracket some to make inserting the alternator into the upper bracket easier.

You can install the alternator now if you choose.  As I said, the Ranger brackets clock the alternator 180 degrees, so a stock alternator would have the plugs on the bottom as installed.  The 3G has its plugs on the opposite side of the housing, so my harness routing will remain the same... to the top side.  A 3G on an OE power steering housing will move the harness routing under the alternator.

Click for larger version...Back to the wiring stuff...  I use solder connections (or solder AND crimp).  I never use crimp only connections.  Solder the included 1-wire stator plug to the W/BK wire (S-terminal) on the new regulator plug. Then solder the Y/W (A-terminal) wire to the Y/W on the regulator plug.  Solder a short piece of wire the same gauge as the Y/W wire to the fusible link wire on the other end. Then terminate this short piece of wire with an appropriately sized ring terminal (to fit over the starter relay BAT(+) terminal). Then solder the loose LG/R wire from the car harness to the LG/R wire on the regulator plug (I-terminal).  That's it for the regulator plug and stator plug...
Click for larger image...Of course, you need to put a length of shrink tubing on the wire before soldering, then shrink it over the connection. PLEASE don't use electrical tape!!  Shrink tubing is cheap, won't come loose, and won't get sticky and nasty...  Personally, I very often use two layers of shrink tubing over my solder splices in auto harnesses just to make sure.
Click for larger version...Now, you still have to connect the power lug on the alternator to the BAT(+) terminal on the starter relay, AND you have to add circuit protection.  PA-Performance's instructions are based on supplementing the two OE power wires with a third power wire into which a Little Fuse Mega 200amp fuse is inserted... I say, why use three wires, when you can do it with one wire AND eliminate two "electric matches" (my term for fusible links in high current circuits).

I used #4 welding cable and solid copper solder/crimp lugs. Yeah, it's probably overkill, but there is zero chance that the cable will blow before the fuse, and the large cable minimizes voltage drop between the alternator and the battery... less voltage drop means more efficient/quicker charging. Welding cable has many more strands than standard battery cable and is much more flexible. Pictured is the alternator to fuse block cable.

Click for larger image...Here you can see that I've installed the alternator to fuse block power cable. I've also zip tied all the regulator wiring to the power cable for neat routing across and up to the starter relay. I've left it open to illustrate the routing. This harness MUST be wrapped, preferably with self-fusing silicone tape to protect the neoprene insulation on the welding cable, as neoprene and petroleum products don't play well together.  Note that the W/BK stator wire is simply folded and bundled neatly along the cable. The"A" and "I" terminal wires are zip tied neatly across to the apron with the power cable. None of the BAT(+) connections have been made yet, as I also replaced my battery cables while I was at it.
Click for larger version...Here is the shorter, fuse block to starter relay power cable of the same #4 welding cable.  Note the two different size lugs. The bigger size fits the fuse block snugly, and the smaller size is required for the alternator and starter relay connections (both cables). You can see how the lugs are crimped onto the cable. I used a large screwdriver and my bench vise. A proper crimp tool is preferable if available. BE SURE to double shrink tube the ends of the cables to minimize the exposed copper to guard against accidental shorts to ground. Also, if you use adhesive lined shrink tube, you can prevent moisture infiltration into the copper cable and the accompanying corrosion.
Click for larger image...Here is a close-up of the MEGA fuse holder with the two cables attached and bridged with the 200 amp fuse. I chose to route the extra LG/R wire up along the power cable to make it neater.  I also ran the Y/W (A-terminal) wire along the same route since it and the power cable terminate at the same place... neater.

In this picture you can see that I simply mounted the fuse block to the apron using some sheet metal hardware I had handy. I used a die grinder to cut the flat in the captured washer, and used a single edge razor blade to trim the fuse holder tab for a flush fit to the washer. Note also that I made sure not to let the shrink tubing far enough down on the lug so as to interfere with the flush mounting of the lug to the fuse tab.

Click for larger version...This image shows the fuse holder cover installed. Wrap the alternator harness with black self-fusing silicone tape, and it'll basically disappear.  All that is left to do now is route and reconnect all the terminals to the starter relay... oh, and of course in my case, I have to re-install the battery and make the new battery cables.
Click for larger image...Here is the completed install (sans the new alternator belt). It may take some creativity to get all the terminals on the starter relay, but it's doable. I am eliminating the starter relay when I install the mini-starter, and replacing it with either a larger distribution terminal or a bus bar arrangement to make things a bit cleaner/easier. Most likely I will move the BAT(+) distribution point to the firewall (probably INSIDE the firewall) since the battery is going to be moved to either the trunk or passenger rear foot well. Moving the distribution point to the firewall will make the battery cable runs shorter and allow for the elimination of about 2.5' of wire from each of the main distribution circuits as they travel from the starter relay to the ignition switch and/or the interior fuse block.  Additionally, I will be eliminating all the fusible links and the entire interior fuse block in favor of aviation style push/pull circuit breakers of the appropriate type and rating.

In this image, you can see that the new battery cables have been installed. Since the runs are so short, I only used #2 welding wire. Quite a bit larger than the standard battery cables, they still keep voltage drop to a minimum, but are flexible enough for easy routing and useable with my old quick release battery connectors.

Click for larger version...From the top, mod complete... except for the belt and tightening the alternator bolts...

I put the alternator at it's adjustment extremes and used a tailor's tape to measure the circumference around the crankshaft power pulley, water pump pulley, and alternator pulley. For those who are curious, the minimum is 44" and the maximum is 46.75".  I chose a Kelly 445K6 belt (44.5" 6-rib serpentine). This gets the alternator down about as low as it will go... maybe even low enough to pass a rotated upper intake over the top.... probably not quite though.

Well, that's it... That'll get me by until I get the engine swap complete, finish the bracket to mount the alternator low on the passenger's side, install the 1-V Esslinger pulleys (new engine), and/or install the electric water pump. I will likely do the water pump before the engine swap, so I can complete the testing of the flow controller and water pump eliminator inlet plate I have designed.

Oh yeah...  it works great!  With the OE alternator, you could see the headlights dim at night when you hit the brakes or opened/closed one or both of the electric windows...  With the new alternator, the headlights have never been brighter, and there is no flicker no matter what is on or what you turn on/off.



Copyright (C)2003 MONTAC Enterprises.  All Rights Reserved©
Revised: March 03, 2006 .