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Old 16-05-2022, 05:25   #1
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More durable alternator

Iíve about had it with my Ballard alternators. I have a 100 amp Series 6 mounted on the engine, and one similar as a spare. That spare us pretty important, because I am constantly swapping out and repairing. This last time around I only got about 115 hours on the one in service before it crapped out.
This has been going on for about 15 years. Itís not horribly expensive- about $75 at a typical alternator shop- it I think they should last longer. I keep the heat sensor on it, so assuming thatís working ( how do one know?) I donít suspect excessive heat to be the problem, but it probably is.
Iím using the Balmar spare parts kit, which seems to make no difference. Itís possible the repair shops donít rebuild to Balmar specs, but sense Balmar doesnít repair any more, thereís no option.
Anyone have any suggestions?
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Old 16-05-2022, 06:36   #2
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Re: More durable alternator

I have a couple of series 90 100 amp Balmars (probably 20 YO at least). I have rebuilt both my self (parts from a local alternator shop $20) but more like every 1,000 hrs. The failure point has typically been the carbon brushes wear out and while I have them apart I install new bearings. Don't ever remember a bearing failure.

I typically run mine at half output (short the temp sensor input on the regulator to keep the belt dust under control). If you have a big discharged battery bank they will get hot (200+ F). A few years back I added a $12 ebay digital temp controller connected in parallel with my reduced output switch and a right angle computer fan blowing directly at the alternator case. I set the temp controller to reduce output at 180 F and depending on my battery situation sometimes it will stay at full output. As soon as the alternator heats up the max output drops to around 80 amps but still contend with the belt dust (high quality Gates belt).

Might check your belt alignment, that fwd bearing takes a lot of load. Wouldn't take much extra friction to do it in. If using the Balmar regulator might try backing off the charge current a little.

I ran a lot of years mostly at half output. I used to think this was a lot of money spent to just have a 50 amp alternator, but it will run forever at that output. I have 660 AHs golf cart bank so when thirsty it can soak all that alternator can deliver for hours.


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Old 16-05-2022, 06:50   #3
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Re: More durable alternator

Frankly speaks with wisdom. The cause from your description may be simply running the alternator at close to full load. You can eat up 100 amps in a hurry with a half discharged house battery bank.
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Old 16-05-2022, 06:53   #4
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Re: More durable alternator

My 100amp Balmar is 21 years old and has 3400 hours on it. I am running it now at a 30% belt load reduction, which has stopped belt dust mostly and has to be better for the unit. I also finally added a temp sensor for the regulator.
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Old 16-05-2022, 07:06   #5
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Re: More durable alternator

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Originally Posted by Mickeyrouse View Post
Anyone have any suggestions?
If you have room for a large frame alternator, it is worth considering. They are available in a wide range of models including higher output options than their smaller cousins.

The larger case helps the alternator run cooler without exotic construction, and as they are common on heavy automotive equipment such as buses they are readily available at inexpensive prices.

All you need is little extra room in the engine bay.
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Old 16-05-2022, 08:58   #6
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Re: More durable alternator

Can you go with a serpentine drive?
While it's not a cure-all, (still a friction drive,) it does run cooler.
A step up the ladder is as already posted; a larger frame unit, although they
can be a mixed blessing regarding their mounting schemes.
Having a large frame unit perched up in the air on an engine that has the "shakes/harmonic vibration" can put enormous stress on bolts/bracketry as well as the cable connections.
Installations of that type need careful consideration.
If possible, off-engine mounting is preferable.
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Old 16-05-2022, 10:06   #7
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Re: More durable alternator

I used a summit racing on a 70mph Donzi. Lower amps than this one. They are amazing 2 speed run cool for monsters
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Old 16-05-2022, 10:08   #8
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Re: More durable alternator

In the 30ís 6v generators in boats burned up quick. Delco came out with a liquid cooled generators and later liquid cooled alternators. They still make them. Want a better one then check out Bosch
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Old 16-05-2022, 10:15   #9
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Re: More durable alternator

The wonderful thing about some of the newest tech in alts I like is the two speed. They have a control wire so a charger can tell it which speed is best.
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Old 16-05-2022, 10:17   #10
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Re: More durable alternator

I have been surprised how durable the small frame 100 amp alternators were for me. Balmar or other makers. I never had a failure except one front bearing. Although I worried about it. You could have fried eggs on them.

What are you using for a regulator? It sounds like you are over taxing the alternator...

An improvement is a big frame Motorola large truck alternator rebuilt for marine use. They are sturdier and run cooler.
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Old 16-05-2022, 20:52   #11
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Re: More durable alternator

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In the 30ís 6v generators in boats burned up quick. Delco came out with a liquid cooled generators and later liquid cooled alternators. They still make them. Want a better one then check out Bosch

Do any of these liquid cooled alternators not require LIN bus?
I have looked all over looking for a liquid cooled alternators. Everything I find is for newer cars that use this LIN bus system,. I do not have any first hand experience with LIN bus, and I was unable to find enough info on Google on how to by pass it in favor for a balmar regulator or similar. Does anyone know what it would take to hook a Lin bus alternator to a aftermarket regulator??

I currently have (2) 160 12v amp large frame leave Neville alternators , they run about 80-120 amps each. In the Mexican heat my small engine room gets very hot fast, I use a huge construction turbine style fan to cool it , I still burned up 2 alternators last summer. I have 30 6 volt gc2 batteries, and occasionally run a/c off the inverter, so my charging demands are high , but I cannot find an alternator that will last.

This is my solution to shitty alternators.
I'm switching to 48v lifepo4 560 ah batteries and mounting a aftermarket jeep transfer case to my velvet drive transmission along with a me1616 water cooled brushless motor . I'm hoping for 100+ amps 48v continuous "Regen" it also doubles as electric propulsion!!

But i would still like (2) high amp 12v alternators mounted on the front of the engine. I am very interested in making these liquid cooled bmw/Audi alternators work. Anyone actually do it ??
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Old 17-05-2022, 00:48   #12
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Re: More durable alternator

The LIN based regulators are no different then previous generation regulators. Disconnect the regulator from the field coil and itís effectively dead.
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Old 17-05-2022, 01:30   #13
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Re: More durable alternator

Painted alternator housings [like Balmar] might run hotter than unpainted aluminum. I think I’ve read* that they typically run as much as Ī 20 to 30 degrees hotter?
* Maybe Nigel Calder’s “Boatowners Mechanical & Electrical ...”
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Old 17-05-2022, 07:27   #14
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Re: More durable alternator

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The LIN based regulators are no different then previous generation regulators. Disconnect the regulator from the field coil and itís effectively dead.
That's what I was hoping for, These Bosch 150-180 amp liquid cooled alternators seem like a really good solution for boats , where small engine rooms tend to kill air cooled alternators, Surprising that no one seems be using them.
I'm going to give them a try .
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Old 17-05-2022, 09:03   #15
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Re: More durable alternator

I love the Bosch liquid cooled. Has a great diode pack. I had a pair of 395 cats with them. The Delco is too deep to fit easily.
They suck up a bit more horsepower Parts are modular so you have extra diodes.
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