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Old 06-13-2017, 08:55 PM   #1
OldWest
T1N Westfalia
 
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Default Maintenance/Repair: Alternator

Not a mechanic or techie, so please correct any mistakes in the following.

Westies have a Bosch 200 amp alternator.

I wonder if this Bosch alternator is designed for continuous duty use and if our Westies put a heavy burden on the alternator from recharging coach batteries and running the rooftop air conditioner.

It seems like Westy owners are having to replace the alternator or voltage regulator at relatively low mileage.

There are three issues to watch: corrosion from road spray, voltage regulator, and pulley.

1. Corrosion (Colorado folks, etc.)

LindenEngineering posted that road spray from certain states with snow chemicals can create corrosion and alternator problems. Fix is to clean.

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...8&postcount=11

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...45&postcount=6

2. Voltage Regulator

The voltage regulator is a screwed-in plug-in part at the back of the alternator. It has brushes (rectangular metal prongs like an electrical plug) which contact a spinning cylinder. Over time, the brushes wear down so the alternator does not provide consistent voltage.

Often, it is the voltage regulator which is the issue and not the rest of the alternator. As the regulator is about $60-90 compared to a new alternator of $350 to $900, may be worthwhile to replace the voltage regulator.

No obvious test to see whether voltage regulator or rest of alternator is at issue, but if alternator looks clean on outside (no scorch marks) and no issue with pulley (see below), then low and/or fluctuating voltage readings maybe a faulty voltage regulator.

(Assume one has checked all cable connections and cables before looking at voltage regulator.)

Our central computer console shows voltage at coach batteries which may be a sufficient proxy for reading alternator voltage output when engine is running (no solar panels).

TFrazie did extensive research to find the correct part number. Follow-up poster confirmed Tim's info in the first thread below.

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ght=Alternator

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...69&postcount=4

3. Pulley

At the front of the alternator is a special clutch type pulley. These pulleys often fail before the alternator fails.

A worn or defective pulley will often cause the serpentine belt to flutter and can wear out the tensioner (often causing various pulleys and/or serpentine belt to break).

A. Inspect the serpentine belt for flutter when engine is running.

B. When engine is turned off, listen for any funny noises for a few seconds after turning off engine (defective alternator pulley often makes noise).

C. Visually look at alternator pulley for proper alignment with rest of serpentine belt components.

D. Remove serpentine belt. [Following needs to be confirmed/corrected.]

1. Rotate and spin alternator pulley clockwise. Should be smooth rotation (but not freely spin?). Inside alternator fins should also move.

2. Rotate alternator pulley counterclockwise???

3. Stick a plastic pen through an opening at front of alternator and between the fins so fins can't move. Then try to rotate alternator pulley clockwise. Pulley should be locked and not rotate.

4. Stick a pen like #3 above, and rotate pulley counterclockwise. Pulley should rotate counterclockwise (but not freely spin?).

If have a pulley problem, can replace pulley. Will need special tools, available from Europarts-SD.com

As the price of the pulley and tools may approach half the price of a new alternator, some folks just buy a new alternator.

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ight=Magnesium

4. Replacement Alternator

By buying the Bosch 200 amp alternator, you can save a lot of money versus buying the 200 amp alternator from Dodge or Mercedes.

Discus located the Bosch AL0817N as the correct 200 amp replacement for our Westies. The Bosch replacement has the pulley and the voltage regulator as part of the alternator.

Discus and Juju purchased from Amazon.

Europarts-sd.com also carries but at a higher price.

Eurocampers.com sells rebuilt ones at an even higher price.

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ernator+pulley

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=18432

Last edited by OldWest; 06-13-2017 at 09:30 PM. Reason: Add links.
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Old 11-01-2017, 08:19 PM   #2
OldWest
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Default Re: Maintenance/Repair: Alternator

Update (info based on new Bosch AL0817N 200 amp alternator):

3. Pulley

D. Remove serpentine belt. [Following needs to be confirmed/corrected.]

1. Rotate and spin alternator pulley clockwise. Should be smooth rotation (but not freely spin?). Inside alternator fins should also move.

[Yes, correct. Pulley can be hand-turned/rotated smoothly clockwise and counterclockwise. Does not spin by itself more than a quarter turn or so. Internal fins/vanes also move directly with pulley.]

2. Rotate alternator pulley counterclockwise???

[Yes. Pulley can be hand-turned/rotated smoothly counterclockwise. The internal alternator fins/vanes also move directly.]

3. Stick a plastic pen through an opening at front of alternator and between the fins so fins can't move. Then try to rotate alternator pulley clockwise. Pulley should be locked and not rotate.

[Yes, correct. When pen is stuck so fins cannot move, the pulley also cannot be hand-turned/rotated CLOCKWISE.]

4. Stick a pen like #3 above, and rotate pulley counterclockwise. Pulley should rotate counterclockwise (but not freely spin?).

[Pulley does NOT hand-turn/rotate smoothly counterclockwise when fins/vans "locked," but hand-turns/rotates like one is unscrewing the pulley--although not really unscrewing.]

Last edited by OldWest; 11-01-2017 at 08:46 PM. Reason: Edit description of unscrewing.
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Old 11-01-2017, 08:43 PM   #3
OldWest
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Default Re: Maintenance/Repair: Alternator

4. Replacement Alternator

Regulator or Alternator: :Should you get one or carry a spare regulator?

Several Westy owners have had alternator issues which were fixed by replacing the regulator. The regulator is screwed into the alternator.

Other Westy owners have replaced their alternator around the 100,000 mile mark or so. Not clear whether a pulley and/or regulator issue.

In lieu of replacing prematurely or hauling a spare alternator around, Europarts-SD.com is good at emergency shipments.

Lifecycle:

I believe OneManVan noted in another thread that a cable bolt between the alternator and battery--Kerstner air conditioner (not sure) was very hot when running the Kerstner air conditioner off the engine alternator.

Besides the Kerstner air conditioner, the Bosch alternator also recharges the coach batteries.

So there is little info as to how the Bosch alternator is designed for continuous use in running Kerstner air conditioner and recharging the coach batteries. It'd be interesting to know whether replaced regulators and/or alternators occur more frequently with owners who often use the Kerstner off the engine alternator.and who often boondock or dry-camp without hookups or solar.

But, it seems several Westy owners have replaced alternator (or regulator) without a lot of miles (100,000 or so?).

Amazon:

I purchased this new alternator from Amazon Direct and Fulfilled by Amazon, like Discus and JuJu did, as Amazon had a good price.

But, be wary of the lack of protective packaging.

I originally purchased one from Amazon a year or so ago as a spare. Unfortunately, the integral black plastic cover was chipped and cracked and I was concerned that the alternator may have been dropped in transit (so possibly unseen damage internally). So I returned.

So a year or so later, ordered a new alternator from Amazon. Right before the delivery date, the shipper returned it to Amazon as damaged in transit.

So Amazon shipped out a replacement--the new one I currently have.

It comes without any protective packaging (just some cardboard wrap inside and the Bosch retail box). There is a small hairline crack in the integral black plastic cover.

Last edited by OldWest; 11-01-2017 at 08:52 PM. Reason: Edit info generally
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Old 11-01-2017, 08:59 PM   #4
OldWest
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Default Re: Maintenance/Repair: Alternator

Installation.

Search the T1N Write-Up subforum for excellent threads on installation.

One thing the threads highlight is the importance of installing the alternator in the right position or dire consequences.

While obvious that the alternator pulley is in front, the alternator can be rotated and bolted on in the wrong position. So need to watch the shape of the alternator and which position to install.
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