Chevy High Performance - - Front Page - TEXT & PHO­TOS: Tommy Lee Byrd

Up­grade your GM charg­ing sys­tem with a Pow­er­mas­ter one-wire al­ter­na­tor

Up­grade your GM charg­ing sys­tem with a Pow­er­mas­ter one-wire al­ter­na­tor

T he charg­ing sys­tem of your Chevy is a vi­tal piece of the re­li­a­bil­ity puz­zle, and if you’re re­ly­ing on a crusty orig­i­nal al­ter­na­tor you might be on bor­rowed time. The fact of the mat­ter is an orig­i­nal al­ter­na­tor from a 1960’s Chevy isn’t ca­pa­ble of sup­port­ing a car with mod­ern fea­tures such as an elec­tric fuel pump, EFI, air con­di­tion­ing, elec­tric fans, and a stereo sys­tem. Not ev­ery high-per­for­mance project car has all of these mod­ern fea­tures, but it’s im­por­tant to know that an orig­i­nal charg­ing sys­tem can­not keep up when all of those ac­ces­sories are run­ning. That’s where Pow­er­mas­ter Per­for­mance comes into play with their lineup of high-out­put al­ter­na­tors, many of which are avail­able with one-wire hookups.

We’re wrench­ing on an early Chev­elle, which is still sport­ing a mostly orig­i­nal 283ci small-block Chevy en­gine. It’s a sim­ple car, but we do plan to add a few ac­ces­sories to the tried-and-true 1960’s GM for­mula. Air con­di­tion­ing is one of the big­gest items on our to-do list, and the folks at Vin­tage Air sug­gested we up­grade to a high-out­put al­ter­na­tor. We went with a Pow­er­mas­ter 12si-style unit, of­fer­ing 150 amps and a sim­ple one-wire con­nec­tion. We or­dered it with a V-belt pul­ley and in­cluded a new charge wire in our or­der.

The in­stal­la­tion was ex­tremely sim­ple and we had the new al­ter­na­tor in place after about an hour in the shop. Reg­u­lar hand tools are all that’s nec­es­sary for the in­stall, un­less you also plan to in­stall a volt­age sen­sor for use with the orig­i­nal bat­tery (gen­er­a­tor) warn­ing light or a volt gauge. At that point you might need to crimp a few wires to com­plete the in­stall, but it’s still a very sim­ple process. For now, we’re tak­ing the easy route and we’ll test func­tion­al­ity with a volt­meter be­fore we take off down the road. The folks at Pow­er­mas­ter say to never test al­ter­na­tor func­tion­al­ity by re­mov­ing a bat­tery ca­ble while the car is run­ning. Ours checked out fine with the volt­meter so we’re back on the road with con­fi­dence that our charg­ing sys­tem is up to the task. CHP

01 | As al­ways, any time you’re deal­ing with the elec­tri­cal sys­tem on your clas­sic Chevy, dis­con­nect the bat­tery. This is also a great time to buy new ca­bles and ter­mi­nals, as this is cheap in­surance against wiring grem­lins down the road.

04 | Some ap­pli­ca­tions vary, but our Chev­elle fea­tures a 3/8-inch bolt that passes through the bracket and the al­ter­na­tor. We use a 9/16-inch socket and a wrench on the back­side to loosen and re­move the bolt.

07 | We re­moved some of the tape from the fac­tory wiring har­ness in or­der to re­move the old wires that run to the volt­age reg­u­la­tor. 08 | The orig­i­nal volt­age reg­u­la­tor is re­moved. We care­fully traced the wires, as this reg­u­la­tor was orig­i­nally wired into the horn re­lay, which acted as a power dis­tri­bu­tion point. With­out adding an af­ter­mar­ket volt­age sen­sor, the bat­tery warn­ing light will no longer be func­tional after re­mov­ing the volt­age reg­u­la­tor. A volt sen­sor can be added to the new al­ter­na­tor for volt gauge or warn­ing light func­tion­al­ity.

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