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Open Roads Forum  >  Towing

 > Dead alternator, its late, 90 miles to go

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ExRocketScientist

Laurel, MD

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Posted: 12/05/11 04:17pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I was coming up I-81 in Virginia towing my fiver with my wife's 2003 PSD. In January 2010, I had replaced both batteries with the top of the line Motorcraft batteries that have a 100 month warrantee. We had been out in the National Forest on some rough roads, and a little mud. When we got to the interstate, we stopped for dinner. I noticed when we went to leave, the starter didn't run quite as usual. I was following my diesel mechanic, with my regular SAE certified mechanic following me. A little ways up the interstate, the ABS light comes on and stays on. So I talked to my mechanics on the (FRS) radio. They agreed I probably got some mud in the sensors.

About 10 miles further up the road, all of the guages, the speedometer, and the odometer turn off. I get on the radio and announce I have developed an electrical problem. My diesel mechanic looks in his rear view mirror and says my headlights are getting dim. My mechanic says the tail lights on the fiver look fine. I inform him I did the LED conversion. My diesel mechanic pulls off at the next exit. When I hit the brakes, the cruise kicked off and all of the guages come back on. We pull into a gas station, leave it running and pop the hood. They notice the cables to one of the batteries are a little loose and tighten them up. Then they check the voltage with a little analog meter. Barely over 11 volts. The alternator appears to not be charging. We shut it off and try to restart. Click, click, click. We hook up the jumper cables and restart it. Looking at my watch, it is 8:50 PM. No way in the middle of nowhere are we going to get an alternator. Meanwhile, with 4 trucks and 2 trailers (did I mention we had a fourth truck in our group with an electrician?), we are taking up half of the gas station. I go in and ask if there is somewhere close by I could take the rig and park it. As it turns out, there is a huge gravel parking lot next to the station where they let truckers park. So we charge the batteries for about 15 minutes off of my mechanics truck with the jumper cables. Then I drive next door using nothing more than a little flashlight.

What to do? We are about 90 to 100 miles from my diesel mechanic's house (where we were headed anyway). So I hop in my mechanic's truck and we drive 15 miles to the Walmart and buy 2 batteries. Go back and swap out the batteries (a two minute job with 4 of us working on it). Start it up and check the voltage. 12.8. We hit the road doing 70 mph. I'm glad I upgraded from ST tires to commercial LT tires. I made it fine to my diesel mechanics house. The next morning, it started up without jumper cables. My regular mechanic drops by his work and grabs his really good meter and comes out. Sure enough -- dead alternator. We go get a new one, $150.

So this past weekend, I put my Motorcraft batteries on the charger. They charged up fine. I let the sit over night in the cold garage and checked them Sunday morning. 12.81 and 12.85 volts. I put them back in the truck (better warrantee than the ones from Walmart). So now I have two batteries we used all of 8 days I don't need. Perhaps I can get this guy Craig to put them on his list of things to sell.

Lesson learned . . . if you drive a 2003 Ford diesel and the ABS light comes on; you may be running on the batteries -- which you can do for over an hour towing a fiver at night (especially if you have LED tail lights on the fiver).


ERS

BuckBarker

Treasure Coast Florida

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Posted: 12/05/11 04:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Two mechanics, an electrician? Where was the plumber?

K3WE

Missouri

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Posted: 12/05/11 04:37pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Had a very similar experience on first trip- the wire from the alternator broke- and was charging intermittently.

Didn't know it, stopped for the night, charged EVERYTHING (camper and TV battery which was hard wired), and then drove home....the next AM, I went to the dump station (after a slow crank) and then the extremely low voltage was obvious and I sputtered to a stop. Luckily, I then discovered the loose wire and got a jump.

BillJ999

Home

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Posted: 12/05/11 04:42pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You should swap one of your friends for an auto parts clerk, with a key to the store!

DUNEBUGGYDOUG

SHELBY FOREST TN.

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Posted: 12/05/11 04:42pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Dang ,you take two mechanics ever place you go???????????????????

midnightsadie

ohio

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Posted: 12/05/11 04:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

just can,t resist, but with a ford diesel HE NEEDS TWO MECH,S WITH HIM. glad all turned out well.

ExRocketScientist

Laurel, MD

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Posted: 12/05/11 05:14pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DUNEBUGGYDOUG wrote:

Dang ,you take two mechanics ever place you go???????????????????

I deer hunt with them. Always handy having that diesel mechanic. He replaced a turbo cooler hose in that general area of I-81 a couple of years back. That time, the SAE mechanic wasn't with us, so the electrician gave me a ride to the Ford dealer that sits behind the same Walmart.

To top it off . . . the diesel mechanic is a part time butcher. Real handy when you get a deer in the middle of the week and its too warm to let it hang. I have a hydraulic boom on the truck for stringing it up, supply a large cutting board to sit on the tailgate, and fire up my generator to run the vacuum packer. When we're all done, I supply them with a nice hot shower (my diesel mechanic has never had a trailer with a shower in it he could actually use). I do have my redeaming qualities.

ExRocketScientist

Laurel, MD

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Posted: 12/05/11 05:17pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BuckBarker wrote:

Two mechanics, an electrician? Where was the plumber?

No plumber. We kind of fake our way through that. I do sometimes have a chemist along. I'm working on getting a surgeon. Based on the way my diesel mechanic cut himself twice with his new pocket knife on this trip, we might need a doctor on board.

boogie_4wheel

SLC, Utah

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Posted: 12/05/11 05:20pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DUNEBUGGYDOUG wrote:

Dang ,you take two mechanics ever place you go???????????????????


It must be a Harley Davidson Edition Ford

Sorry couldn't resist.

Glad you were able to drive it home on just the batteries. Just think how much farther you could have gone if it was during the day and you didn't have to run the lights.


2005 2500 Cummins/48RE/3.73, QCLB, 4wd, BigHorn, Edge Juice w/ CTS + Turbo Timer, ISSPro Oil and LP pressure gauges in cubby hole, GDP 20/2 filters on frame rail, Custom Diesel Steering Box Brace
'10 Forest River Shockwave Toy Hauler 21'
Honda EU3000I Genny

BenK

SF BayArea

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Posted: 12/05/11 06:00pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you had a GM side post battery...I'd say the infamous positive side post POS
bolt/cable issue...but you don't have a GM...

You did say loose connection and wonder if it load dumped the alternator diodes

Load dump, for those who don't know that is in reference to an alternator, is
where a loose connection connects and breaks the contact.

That then creates very high voltage spikes that will punch through silicone semi-conductors

That will either die 'NOW' or fail over time. Usually a short or open and lots
of time during the failure...less and less voltage.

This will also over voltage the batter and in some cases, cause it to short
internally

Also, when jumping a dead battery...DO NOT have the good battery
vehicle running while the dead battery vehicle cranks.

The draw from the dead battery vehicle's starter is in the hundreds of ampers
and the good battery vehicle will have that draw from it's highest voltage
source...the alternator...which will then punch through the alternator diodes
to fail as mentioned above.

Best to 'charge' the dead battery with the good battery's vehicle
running...BUT DO NOT CRANK the dead battery's starter. After about 10-15
minutes of charging...turn off the good battery vehicle engine. While
leaving the jumper cables hooked up.

Whenever I hear of a dead alternator, it is either the infamous GM
side post battery and/or that they jump started another while their
engine was running...

PS...you know a Andy L? Buddy of mine who retired from NASA Houston. He managed
the software integration. Or Chun T? He is the jockey they fly in to simulate
whatever problem is 'out there' and then recommends a HOW2 work around it 'out there'


-Ben Picture of my rig
1996 GMC SLT Suburban 3/4 ton K3500/7.4L/4:1/+150Kmiles orig owner...
1980 Chevy Silverado C10/long bed/"BUILT" 5.7L/3:73/1 ton helper springs/+329Kmiles, bought it from dad...
1998 Mazda B2500 (1/2 ton) pickup, 2nd owner...
Praise Dyno Brake equiped and all have "nose bleed" braking!
Previous trucks/offroaders: 40's Jeep restored in mid 60's / 69 DuneBuggy (approx +1K lb: VW pan/200hpCorvair: eng, cam, dual carb'w velocity stacks'n 18" runners, 4spd transaxle) made myself from ground up / 1970 Toyota FJ40 / 1973 K5 Blazer (2dr Tahoe, 1 ton axles front/rear, +255K miles when sold it)...
Sold the boat (looking for another): Trophy with twin 150's...
51 cylinders in household, what's yours?...

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