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Thread: Plane Power 60A internally regulated alternator question

  1. #1
    CamTom12's Avatar
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    Plane Power 60A internally regulated alternator question

    Yesterday about 2 hours from the house my Alt Field CB popped out. It took me a little while to notice, but when I did I reset the CB and all was well until the battery was almost charged. The ammeter was getting back close to zero and the voltage was right around 14.4V, then the breaker tripped again.

    On the ground, I was able to reset the CB and it stayed in. Then when I brought the RPM up around 22-2300 it popped again and wouldnít reset until the RPM went back down.

    Some internet research is pointing me towards a faulty overvoltage protection in the regulator, and that makes sense enough to me. I have the troubleshooting sheet from the Plane Power website and will complete that tomorrow.

    Is there anything else I can do to check this out? Also, Iím beyond warranty - is this a repair/replacement I can make or should I just remove and ship it back to PP?

    Thanks!

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    wireweinie's Avatar
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    5 amp circuit breaker? Was it replaced when the alternator was installed?

    If your wiring is not chaffed and is connected correctly, then it is most likely an internal issue like the OV protection. Probably send it back to Plane-Power.

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.

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    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Check grounds between engine and airframe.


    Sent from my iPhone using SuperCub.Org

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    Plane Power 60A internally regulated alternator question

    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    5 amp circuit breaker? Was it replaced when the alternator was installed?

    If your wiring is not chaffed and is connected correctly, then it is most likely an internal issue like the OV protection. Probably send it back to Plane-Power.

    Web
    Yes 5A, but it wasnít replaced. About 4 years ago I replaced a 30A automotive alternator that had worn out brushes with this 60A PP alternator. I replaced the main power wire with the appropriate gauge and replaced the main fuse, but left the field side alone. Iíll verify there isnít any chafing tomorrow, but I was just deeply into the behind-panel wiring with my ICS re-work and it all looked good from a 10,000í view.

    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    Check grounds between engine and airframe.


    Sent from my iPhone using SuperCub.Org
    I have a 2 gauge braided cable from the engine case to a bolt on the firewall. On the other side of that bolt another 2 gauge braided cable connects to my main airframe ground cluster and my battery ground.
    Last edited by CamTom12; 08-02-2019 at 10:57 PM.

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    wireweinie's Avatar
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    New unit = new breakers/switches.

    Try replacing the field breaker here as the existing one has unknown time.

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.

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    CamTom12's Avatar
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    Well, I went through the Plane Power troubleshooting sheet and made it to the step that says "call tech support for further instructions." So I went ahead and removed the alternator and brought it home. I spun the pulley and could hear a faint grinding from the back end - might be time for a rebuild. I think they'll ask me to ship it to them.

    I'll replace that breaker too.

    This is a boss-mount alternator, is the long bolt with the metal lock nut is a one-time use thing?

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    Tom,
    was great to meet you in person At Keith's when I picked up the 170 in Murfreesboro. I am wondering how many hours you might have on the alternator? I just put a plane power on the 170 and from what i am reading from others it may not have a long life. Good luck on yours.

    JP
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    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CamTom12 View Post
    This is a boss-mount alternator, is the long bolt with the metal lock nut is a one-time use thing?
    On condition. Check for wear on the bolt and locking action on the nut.

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eskflyer View Post
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    Tom,
    was great to meet you in person At Keith's when I picked up the 170 in Murfreesboro. I am wondering how many hours you might have on the alternator? I just put a plane power on the 170 and from what i am reading from others it may not have a long life. Good luck on yours.

    JP
    Hey JP! It was great meeting you, too! That was a good looking 170 - I hope itís doing well for you!

    Unfortunately not a ton of hours on this alternator, probably somewhere around 250. It replaced an automotive-style that wore the brushes out in under 100 hours. Iíll reserve judgement on the PP until after the manufacturer gets a look at it, though.

    Iíve read some others having issues with the regulators in these, but I had to search for it to hear it. Hoping that means itís not common.

    Iíll update this thread with the outcome.
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    not hi-jacking your thread lol.
    Took 39.7 hrs from Murfreesboro to My runway AA16 here in Kenai AK. Have put almost 200 hours on her since i got the 170 to AK. The generator took a dump on me when flying across Cook Inlet. So I put the Alternator on and have about 6 hours on it now.
    If you ever make it back up holler at me.

    JP

  11. #11
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CamTom12 View Post
    Hey JP! It was great meeting you, too! That was a good looking 170 - I hope itís doing well for you!

    Unfortunately not a ton of hours on this alternator, probably somewhere around 250. It replaced an automotive-style that wore the brushes out in under 100 hours. Iíll reserve judgement on the PP until after the manufacturer gets a look at it, though.

    Iíve read some others having issues with the regulators in these, but I had to search for it to hear it. Hoping that means itís not common.

    Iíll update this thread with the outcome.

    YOU, have 2 different post going here... BOTH having to do with electrical noise issues!.. fix your ground/electrical issues... don't keep blaming the components....

  12. #12
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    Plane Power 60A internally regulated alternator question

    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    YOU, have 2 different post going here... BOTH having to do with electrical noise issues!.. fix your ground/electrical issues... don't keep blaming the components....
    Well, one post was about noise issues in the original ICS wiring, which I rewired to correct in accordance with the great advice I got in my other post.

    This post is about an alternator failure of some sort.

    Not sure right now what Iíd fix wiring-wise to make the alternator work. I passed all of Plane Powerís troubleshooting steps to make sure the failure was in the alternator and not in the wiring. Iíll ship the alternator to them on Monday and see what they say when they look at it.

    I donít think the posts are related. I think the issues are just coincidental to each other.



    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    Check grounds between engine and airframe.


    Sent from my iPhone using SuperCub.Org

    Quote Originally Posted by CamTom12 View Post
    I have a 2 gauge braided cable from the engine case to a bolt on the firewall. On the other side of that bolt another 2 gauge braided cable connects to my main airframe ground cluster and my battery ground.
    Is this not a good ground system? What would you do differently?
    Last edited by CamTom12; 08-03-2019 at 10:50 PM.

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    When Mike said "check grounds" he did not mean to look for a wire or a braid. He meant dismantle the connection and clean it so it is a good electrical connection. You know like the lead clamps on your car battery can be clean and tight on the outside but on the inside they are corroded and not passing electricity.
    You can't get there from here. You have to go over yonder and start from there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by N86250 View Post
    When Mike said "check grounds" he did not mean to look for a wire or a braid. He meant dismantle the connection and clean it so it is a good electrical connection. You know like the lead clamps on your car battery can be clean and tight on the outside but on the inside they are corroded and not passing electricity.
    That's fair, I'll pull them off and relook connections when I get back from vacation.

    For background - this ground set-up has been on the airplane for about 2 years. I put it on myself and the plane has ~350 hours on it.

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    Back from vacation and I have some updates:

    1) grounds are good, no corrosion.

    2) I had a brand new warranty-replacement alternator waiting for me from PlanePower (Hartzell). I sent an email last night asking what ended up being wrong with the old one, they probably won't see it until Monday though. Either way, I'm VERY happy with PlanePower's customer service!

    I'll try and get the new alternator on during the week next week. Hoping for a full weekend of flying next weekend!
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  16. #16

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    Current generation Plane Power voltage regulators with internal crowbar are of questionable quality, and I experienced similar issues. The rebuild kits are readily available, although PP voids the warranty if you open them as there are no user serviceable parts within (even though a regulator/brush assembly is available from Spruce...). It takes ~15 minutes to replace it once you get the alternator off (and maybe a few more if you want to anneal the copper so it doesn't snap when you reassemble)





    Rectifier is a bit tougher to find but easily cross referenced.

    I have two PP alternators on the shelf now as I was tired of carrying a spare regulator (or spare alternator) and went in a far lighter direction.
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  17. #17
    CamTom12's Avatar
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    Plane Power 60A internally regulated alternator question

    What did you end up going with? Your pictures arenít working for me.

    Turns out my rear bearing was failing due to the age of the alternator. Back when mine was made they were using petroleum lubricants but have since switched to synthetic and are getting more life from the rotating components.
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    (the pictures were a parts diagram blowout of the Plane Power regulator and rectifier)

    I am experimental so I limited my power requirements and switched over to a B&C spline driven alternator. It is a max of 8AMPs (lower output at lower RPMs; Lycomings drive the vacuum pad spline at 1.3 to 1) but is only 2 pounds has a simple lightweight external regulator and crowbar circuit. It won't work for everyone, but this solution has plenty of power for my simple glass dash and is much lighter with fewer moving parts. This alternator is common on aerobatic planes and I have seen it used as a backup alternator on some RVs as well.

    That said, I am not trying to charge a battery after a startup. The EarthX battery will draw 20+ amps on full tilt charge and while this alternator can charge it, it charges it slowly and you can expect a voltage drop until it gets to a steady state charge rate.
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    I can see the pics just fine on my android phone but not on my computer.

    SJ HELP

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    Odd?

    The pics do not add too much to much to the discussion, although I can share a progression of pictures with anyone who is interested in the full process of replacing both the brush/regulator as well as the rectifier on a Plane Power alternator. (not much of a mystery in it however)

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    CamTom12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motosix View Post
    (the pictures were a parts diagram blowout of the Plane Power regulator and rectifier)

    I am experimental so I limited my power requirements and switched over to a B&C spline driven alternator. It is a max of 8AMPs (lower output at lower RPMs; Lycomings drive the vacuum pad spline at 1.3 to 1) but is only 2 pounds has a simple lightweight external regulator and crowbar circuit. It won't work for everyone, but this solution has plenty of power for my simple glass dash and is much lighter with fewer moving parts. This alternator is common on aerobatic planes and I have seen it used as a backup alternator on some RVs as well.

    That said, I am not trying to charge a battery after a startup. The EarthX battery will draw 20+ amps on full tilt charge and while this alternator can charge it, it charges it slowly and you can expect a voltage drop until it gets to a steady state charge rate.
    Gotcha. Iím also experimental but donít have room back there for an alternator. Iíve got a pretty tight fit behind my motor.

    Iím hopeful this alternator works good for a long time!

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    The 8-amp spline version is not very tall and is shallower than a mag. Orange mushroom-looking-thing is the alternator/generator.



    Unrelated to this thread, but related to a previous thread you and I chatted about and visible in this photo:

    I got rid of my vernatherm, installed the viscosity spring and valve, and re-did my #4 cylinder rear mounted oil cooler box with an even larger air gap and air ramp between the cylinder wall and the oil cooler face. A variety of small changes like that led to much improved control and balance of CHT and oil temps even though my ground-level DAs are often 8000K+ at 90 degrees. The ramp in the mount is similar to what I saw from yours, so I appreciate the inspiration:





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  23. #23
    CamTom12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motosix View Post
    The 8-amp spline version is not very tall and is shallower than a mag. Orange mushroom-looking-thing is the alternator/generator.

    My oil cooler and whatnot are all back there - itís pretty tight. I think if I had a gear driven alternator Iíd have to pull it every oil change to get at the filter. As it is I can barely get a hand in there.

    Quote Originally Posted by motosix View Post
    Unrelated to this thread, but related to a previous thread you and I chatted about and visible in this photo:

    I got rid of my vernatherm, installed the viscosity spring and valve, and re-did my #4 cylinder rear mounted oil cooler box with an even larger air gap and air ramp between the cylinder wall and the oil cooler face. A variety of small changes like that led to much improved control and balance of CHT and oil temps even though my ground-level DAs are often 8000K+ at 90 degrees. The ramp in the mount is similar to what I saw from yours, so I appreciate the inspiration:





    Glad I could help! Still canít see the pictures though. I donít think you can link google user content links on here. Maybe if the link ended in .jpg or another type of picture extension. I tried pasting the links into my chrome browser and couldnít see them there, either. Now Iím super curious to see your cooling work!

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    D@mn it. I will fix the links for you.

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    Photos uploaded rather than referenced. Lets hope this works this time!


    Orange mushroom is the B&C alternator, and is shorter than the mag:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Hardest part of rebuilding the plane power alternator is getting it off the airplane:

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    Heat shield removed:

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    Regulator removed, stator wires unscrewed from rectifier:

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    Ready for new rec and regulator:

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    This is what comes in the rebuild kit from Spruce (regulator and brush assembly)

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    Here is the diagram for my specific alternator, but most PP are similar:

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    Completely unrelated, here is the 3D model of my oil cooler mount with the air ramp installed:


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Orange is 3D printed test part with start of finished mount on right (much easier to model+3D print to test fitment than build out of aluminum, just to rebuild)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I control the air amount by a guillotine that slides down from the top between the oil cooler face and the back side of the mount:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Hand showing air flow over the top then down over the face of the oil cooler:

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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by CamTom12 View Post
    My oil cooler and whatnot are all back there - it’s pretty tight. I think if I had a gear driven alternator I’d have to pull it every oil change to get at the filter. As it is I can barely get a hand in there.
    My oil filter is on the rear as well, and it is a bit of a tight fit getting it out I admit. I expect my engine mount might be a bit longer than yours as well which may account for a bit more wiggle room.

  27. #27
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    Plane Power 60A internally regulated alternator question

    Pictures worked perfectly that time, thanks! I like your new oil cooler mount, thatís a great design!

    I think my mount is shorter. My oil filter actually sits in a pocket cut into the firewall. Might be tough to see here, but this is a picture looking down from the top:


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    Quote Originally Posted by motosix View Post
    I am experimental so I limited my power requirements and switched over to a B&C spline driven alternator. It is a max of 8AMPs (lower output at lower RPMs; Lycomings drive the vacuum pad spline at 1.3 to 1) but is only 2 pounds has a simple lightweight external regulator and crowbar circuit. It won't work for everyone, but this solution has plenty of power for my simple glass dash and is much lighter with fewer moving parts. This alternator is common on aerobatic planes and I have seen it used as a backup alternator on some RVs as well.

    That said, I am not trying to charge a battery after a startup. The EarthX battery will draw 20+ amps on full tilt charge and while this alternator can charge it, it charges it slowly and you can expect a voltage drop until it gets to a steady state charge rate.
    Quote Originally Posted by CamTom12 View Post
    Gotcha. Iím also experimental but donít have room back there for an alternator. Iíve got a pretty tight fit behind my motor.

    Iím hopeful this alternator works good for a long time!
    For you experimental guys, here is a very good solution. It is a Kubota tractor dynamo and regulator. Total installed weight 5 pounds. The output is just over 15 amps. It is shown on a float plane but will mount on a land plane just as well.
    This one has a homemade prop.


    This one is using a marine side thruster prop.


    Here it is on a land plane.


    Also for you who have never had an engine driven generator, this gives you electric generating power without the requirements for a mode C transponder and ADS-B out.
    N1PA
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    I followed that build and install and really enjoyed the solution.
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