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Alternator in a Can, or How to fool the judges and run 12v.

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  • Alternator in a Can, or How to fool the judges and run 12v.

    Original Thread:

    Since I have been boasting about my 12v neg system I was told I needed to do a pictorial and text of how and what I did to get my "Alternator in a Can" or "How to fool the judges and still run 12v". So, you asked for it, and yes, I am going to get winded.

    Disclaimer: There were NO working or rebuildable to working condition Powerhouse generators used in the making of this project!

    First I found an old Powerhouse generator that had been in a fire, partially due to the internal parts being fried somehow. I did not get a background story on the generator, but it had this distinct smell to it when it arrived. If anyone has ever had an old electrical fire where the old style varnish had been cooked, they will know and remember that smell.

    On to the meat of this. After helping out a friend by completely wiring his car (Calendar #2 April) from head to tail, I realized that the nice shiny chrome 35amp alternator he used would, or should be usable inside the Powerhouse can, and this is what got me started. So, gingerly removing the burnt intestaguts from the "can" I proceed to machine out the central cone that houses the bearings of the original stater/armature.

    AiaC 5.jpg

    Now, as you can see it is relatively flat on the bottom except for the radius at the very corner. If you will note, there is a ring and at that ring there are 3 holes, these are the new holes to mount the alternator. Now I did have to remove some of the ears of the alternator (voiding any warranty) to get it within the confines of the "can". You can see this in the next picture, and you can also see one of the brass spacers I made to offset the mounting so it could be straight in the "can".

    AiaC 15.jpg

    This next picture is the other brass spacers made to mount the other ear of the alternator. I also used nothing but flathead allen screws, if memory serves, ¼x28 on all the new screws, and whatever the slot head screw Ford used were replaces with allen. (I HATE slot top screws!!)

    AiaC 11.jpg

    The reason I disassembled this today is because I started with what they call a "Self Energizing" voltage regulator, which means it only needs One (1) wire to allow it to charge. Well, since hindsight is 20/20 I thought I had enough cooling but evidently I was wrong, because I let the smoke out of that regulator and had to go to my backup, which is a "tickled" or 3 wire regulator and I needed to make modifications to add the second wire from the junction box to settle down the amount of charging, and also make a setup for my backup GM alternator which is also a "tickled" regulator. And since I have the wherewithal to make it plug n play, I figured I do the tutorial at the same time.

    Now, without numbing your mind, I think the following pictures should be self explaining. I am sure some of you may have questions, and you know me, chatter box as it were will be happy to answer any and all.

    AiaC 8.jpg

    AiaC 6.jpg

    Pictured above is the sneakiest of judge foolings. If you note, there is an extra seam. Well, since the alternator is just a wee bit longer than the "can" it was necessary to add 1.375 (1 3/8") to the original "can" to allow the cover replaced to finish the charade. Now, when it is all assembled and installed in the car, the wires run right along that seam and unless you move the wires, you can't see it. You can also see the jumper across the base of the cutout since that too is no longer needed, and is covered to look stock.

    The picture below you can see the three (3) new holes in the "can" to mount the alternator.

    AiaC 9.jpg

    If you notice, I even went to the trouble of getting the allen head screws to replace the slot screws used to hold the fields in the "can". This could be a give away to the judges, but in Touring Class I doubt they would look that closely as long as it has a generator mounted! (Your mileage may vary).

    As you can see from the next picture, I used the stock feed through and soldered a 10gage wire for output from the alternator. You can also see the amount of radius left at the front of the "can".

    AiaC 12.jpg

    Here is the new addition to the housing for the "tickler".

    AiaC 13.jpg

    I went to my local electronics store and got a pair of power supply female banana feed throughs and drilled a ½" hole to pass through.

    This next picture shows the amount removed from the original mounting and the 2 new threaded holes for mounting.

    AiaC 14.jpg

    After assembling the alternator in the "can" how the wiring is set up. You can see both wires and how they orient.

    AiaC 17.jpg

    AiaC 16.jpg

    Just to let you see the rest of the assemblage, it is nice that the mounting ear was never welded on as I have seen so many were, and it is actually early as well with the Ford script!

    AiaC 3.jpg

    The altered aftermarket cover. Let us hope that there is enough flow through of air to keep the smoke inside.

    AiaC 2.jpg

    And the finished assemblage ready to be reinstalled. I will be running another wire through the stock harness up to the Junction box after I finish posting this.

    AiaC 1.jpg

    Thank you all for allowing me to ramble and use up precious minutes of your day.

    Alternator 2.jpg
    Attached Files
    You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!

  • #2
    Now that is downright brilliant! Excellent engineering and fabrication.
    Eastern Connecticut


    • DaWizard
      DaWizard commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Bill. It did take a lot of thinking before cutting.

  • #3
    I have often looked at a Powerhouse ginny and wondered if something like this was possible. Didn't ever try it though, since all of my Model A's have been 31 models.
    Alaskan A's
    Antique Auto Mushers of Alaska
    Model A Ford Club of America
    Model A Restorers Club
    Antique Automobile Club of America
    Mullins Owners Club


    • #4
      Very interesting approach! I wonder though, since the alternator is in a "can" would there be any danger of it overheating?


      • #5
        Slammin, it doesn't show really well, but the next to last picture shows there is an area around the pulley that can draw in air, and now that I have vented the back plate I think it will cool enough.

        This over heating is the reason I needed to replace the regulator as the last one let the smoke out I suspect because it got hot.
        You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!


        • #6
          Nice set up! Agree with post 4, any way to add more cooling holes to allow air to pass thru?


          • #7
            Couple of things that may or may not be an issue.
            What rpm does it need to generate? Will it be able to charge at parade speeds?

            Alt need to be cool. In fact you will find most alt derate 50% once they get hot. It might get too hot inside to output a reasonable charge rate.

            I would think it would be wise to monitor voltage under different conditions to be sure it is working.


            • #8
              First question; is that something like technician in a can?

              Sorry i had to get that out

              What is the actual OEM application for this unit and the AMPS?

              I must say a very nice ingenious make over very well done. Once you get the cooling corrected, i want to see them marketed on the VFF with a lifetime guarantee.

              Thanks for sharing your project here and it is definitely tech thread material you the man
              3~ Tudor's & 1~ Coupe
              Henry Ford said,
              "It's all nuts and bolts"
              "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

              Mitch's Auto Service ctr


              • #9
                One of the OEM applications that I know of is the Kubota. It is a Nippon Denso alternator, readily found in many speed shops and such.

                It is rated at 35amps and I'm not sure what the minimum RPM is for charging, it obviously won't charge at an idle, but once you get up to running speed, it is charging for all it's worth. I think it starts to charge at around 1,000 RPM, I don't have a tach so I can't really say.

                Kevin, I have the stock ammeter as well as a voltage meter, so I try to keep a close eye on it. Also, I don't know if you noticed, I did drill 4 ½" holes in the back cover, so it will have flow through air.

                Here it is on ebay...

                You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!


                • Mitch
                  Mitch commented
                  Editing a comment
                  The ebay ad says 45 amp

                • DaWizard
                  DaWizard commented
                  Editing a comment
                  All I know it is cranks out enough to peg the needle on my 30amp ammeter without the fan running, with fan, 20amps, so I'd say mine is 35amp

              • #10
                Hey Wiz remember that favor we talked about some time? :rolling Just kidding nice work.


                • #11
                  So Wiz, why a powerhouse looking generator when you have a fan that is far from looking "how to fool the judges"?


                  • DaWizard
                    DaWizard commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Dennis, since I am using the stock water pump all it takes is 4 tie wraps and a fan blade to look stock, and you don't have to run an electric fan to run 12v.

                    Besides, I am not trying to fool anyone, 'cause I don't care to have mine judged, I just want to keep'em guessing.

                • #12
                  Plug and Play Alternator::

                  Well, after experiencing an epic fail of my "Alternator in a Can" I decided that a plug-n-play replacement was needed. So, after a Pick-yer-Part trip, I start thinking how to do this and NOT need any more tools than necessary to remove the "Alternator on a Can".

                  Simply done is my goal, so I look through my bar stock bin and since I don't usually deal in steel, I decided on brass, but the 1.185 wide by .250 thick didn't seem stout enough to simply do the trick with needing a ½x20 threads. Something was telling me that I would need at least ½" worth of threads to make it work. So, I superglue a short piece to a longer piece, drill 3 holes and install 3 3x35mm flathead allen screws because that is what I have laying around. No need for anything larger as they are only keeping the two pieces together long enough to drill and tap to the ½x20 hole. As you can see by the pictures below, a bit of paint and tadaa!

                  One bolt mount.jpg

                  Now, using a long 3/8x24 bolt, drill alternator mounting hole under-size and press the bolt into the mount., this way I don't need to hold the bolt to tighten the nut holding the alternator in place.

                  One bolt mount 2.jpg

                  One Bolt Mount 3.jpgOne bolt mount 4.jpg
                  Now, just a simple slide on of the alternator and the nut and the adjusting strap, hook up the wires and done.

                  So here is the GM alternator installed right before running the wires and adjustment strap off the timing cover. I know you all have seen this before, but hey, here it is again.

                  GM Alternator 1.jpgGM Installed.jpg

                  Now, all I need do is remove the lower ½x20 original mounting bolt, remove the original 3/8x24 nut from the timing cover bolt, and unhook the wires, and either of the 2 alternators fit with a minimum of tools

                  Attached Files
                  You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!


                  • Mitch
                    Mitch commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Nice job planning... It always pays to be prepared and that looks like a very easy roadside change over

                  • BILL WILLIAMSON
                    BILL WILLIAMSON commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Your Powerhouse CAN could be converted to a COOKER, "JUST SET IT & FORGET IT":rolling

                  • Dennis
                    Dennis commented
                    Editing a comment
                    You could probably make a round sheet metal cover front and rear and mount your powerhouse end cover to it. Chop that ear off the top. Make it out of aluminum to dissipate the heat...Put a dummy cutout on top. I've thought about that at times doing it to mine. Glad I didn't throw out the old Ford script cutout on my old genny.

                  • carolinamudwalker
                    carolinamudwalker commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I like it, heading to the workshop as soon as I finish my coffee. What kind of cooling fan & how well does it work? I don't see a shroud though. Bob

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