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Testing generator
#1
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Rscott77x
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What is a the best way to test the current the generator is putting out? The Packard service manual mentions all this equipment which of course none of us have. Is it as simple as putting a multimeter on the battery with engine running and testing the current? I ask because when I drive the car during the day, normally the needle is in the center. When I put on the turn signals the needle will deflect a little to the left and then go back to center. But when I put on the parking lights the needle goes to the left of center and stays there. Eventually, it will come back to the center. It looks like the regulator is lazy. When I cut on the headlights the ammeter needle pegs to the left and stays there regardless of engine speed until I cut the headlights off. Regulator is about three years old and less than 1,000 miles.

Posted on: 2019/4/4 18:59
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Re: Testing generator
#2
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Owen_Dyneto
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Sounds like your charging system is not working. Does the ammeter never move to the right or (+) side? If not, 99.999% your charging system is dead.

Very simple test you can do. Temporarily ground the Field terminal of the generator and run the engine at a good brisk speed. Read the charge rate on your ammeter, the needle should be pegged at near max on the + side.. If there is no charge, then the generator is not functioning. Do not leave the field grounded after the test.

If the charging system charges (ammeter positive) with the field grounded but does not charge after you remove the ground, the regulator is suspect. To determine if its charging, just look at your ammeter.

An even simplier test is to run the engine after dark with the headlights on. If the don't get brighter as you increase the engine speed (and of course the ammeter well into the positive), your charging system is not functioning. Then you could use the above test to determine if it's the generator or regulator.

Posted on: 2019/4/4 19:25
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Re: Testing generator
#3
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HH56
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Most lead type multimeters which measure current directly by being in series cannot handle the max amps the charging circuit will put out. The generator spec is 35 amps and inexpensive multimeters the home mechanic are likely to have generally can handle 10 to no more than 20 amps.

If you want to measure your output, a clamp on ammeter capable of reading DC amps is something you might consider. Some have features or accessories that come in useful for things besides voltage and current. On the clamp on type meter you just open the jaws and put them around the wire connected to the armature at either end and measure the current. If you are interested, Amazon carries several fairly inexpensive clamp on meters with decent specs. Do a search for clamp on dc ammeter and go thru the ones that come up.

Sometimes Amazons search is less than spectacular and they populate the results with sponsored items which may not be exactly matching the search parameter. On any meter you are interested in be sure the description specifically says it can measure DC current. If it only says AC the meters will not work on DC.

Posted on: 2019/4/4 19:37
Howard
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Re: Testing generator
#4
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Rscott77x
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Great response! Yes, I think the charging system is dead!! It never shows a charge. I will run the tests.
Question: How do I determine which terminal is the field?
I just bought an amp clamp but don't think it measures DC current. My old one did. I better find it!
I bought my last regulator from Kanter. Any other sources?? I have never trusted it. No gault of theirs but want to be sure to get one not made in China.

Posted on: 2019/4/4 19:58
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Re: Testing generator
#5
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Owen_Dyneto
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You can ground the field at either the generator or regulator. On either, that terminal is usually marked as "F", or "FLD", or "Field".

I generally get my regulators at NAPA.

Posted on: 2019/4/4 20:17
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Re: Testing generator
#6
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jfrom@kanter
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None of our electrical components that we offer are made in China. They are either new, NOS or NORS. We take the quality of what supply to hobby very seriously. If you have an issue with a product that we supplied please feel free to reach out either to our customer service or myself.

Thanks
James From
Kanter Auto Products

Posted on: 2019/4/4 20:54
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Re: Testing generator
#7
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Rscott77x
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Thank you James. I am delighted we are on the same page! I bought it 3 years ago so I would be reluctant to press you for any type of warranty. Thank you for maintaining quality in parts for our beloved treasures. I will run the tests to determine the problem and go from there.
Again, thank you, James!

Posted on: 2019/4/5 6:23
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Re: Testing generator
#8
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JWL
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Question: Is the battery/charge meter used in the 21st series cars an amp meter or volt meter or just some kind of indicator of what's happening in the electrical system? I seem to recall reading some qualifying words in the owner manual that it is NOT an amp meter. I do not recall looking at a wiring diagram to see how the meter is wired which would answer the question. I am probably mistaken, but...

Posted on: 2019/4/5 10:54
We move toward
And make happen
What occupies our mind... (W. Scherer)
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Re: Testing generator
#9
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HH56
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It is wired and functions as an amp meter but Packard says it is a battery charge indicator and not an ammeter. I take that to mean that since the meter has no calibration markings to speak of it may not be linear and the accuracy one would expect with specific amp markings or equal distances in a regular ammeter is more a guesstimate than a fact when looking at this one.

Basically the owners manual says the needle just goes in the charge or discharge direction to give an indication of what is happening. Since there is no way to tell how much current is flowing to move the needle a little or a lot an indicator is apt.

Posted on: 2019/4/5 11:07
Howard
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Re: Testing generator
#10
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JWL
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Thank you Howard. Your explanation helps me to better understand its function and will be of help to others.

Posted on: 2019/4/6 10:27
We move toward
And make happen
What occupies our mind... (W. Scherer)
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