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Re: 57 Dodge: generator or alternator?

From: Daven Anderson
Email: 1961fury<at>
Remote Name:
Date: October 14, 2003


Jason is right that a properly rebuilt DC generator is a good choice for a stock '50's car (without modern accessories that need lots of power). The main weakness of the DC generator versus the AC alternator is that generators do not produce a charge when the engine is idling. However, the best modern 12v car batteries offer far more reserve capacity and cold cranking amps than 1950's car batteries did. You benefit MORE from these battery improvements if you have a DC generator than if you have an AC alternator (your battery supplies all the power when the car is idling), so if you have a DC generator it pays to buy the biggest and best battery that you can afford. One of the problems with modern AC alternators is the smaller case sizes that cause more heat buildup (late 1980's GM alternators with 100+ amps and small cases are notorious for overheating!). I use a large case 100 amp Mopar truck alternator (1970's vintage) in my 1960 Plymouth, these are extremely reliable. Keep in mind that installing an alternator much past 35 amps in your car may necessitate upgrading some of the power wires to larger guage wire. One of my dash wires on my Plymouth was toast when I put that 100 amp piece. (Oops!) The easiest alternator upgrade is to the 1961-69 large case 35 amp Mopar alternator, no fried wires and with that huge case and only 35 amps these last a long time. In fact I rebuilt my 1961 Plymouth's alternator using a 105 amp upgrade kit and have had no problems with it (car was rewired as well!). I use alternators because my cars have accessories that benefit from them (high-power halogen headlights on my '60, stereo amps on my '61, soon a stereo in my '60 as well), but if I didn't have any of this stuff a DC generator with a big CCA/reserve capacity battery would be all I'd need, even for daily driving.


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