Technical aspects of automobiles

Re: Battery or alternator or other?

Subject: Re: Battery or alternator or other ?
In <14…@ncar.ucar.edu>, wild…@niwot.scd.ucar.edu (Wes Wildcat) says:

>      Hello everyone, I’m having a possible electrical problem with my car.
> It’s a 78 Chevy Malibu, V8, 306 engine, automatic.  When I put the key in
> my dash board lights come on, but when I try to start it evrything goes
> dead, not even a sound from my engine…[More weird electrical problems
> deleted]

     Not too long ago I owned a ’78 Malibu V8 with similar odd electrical
problems. It turns out that at least in that year (and probably other years,
eh, Val?) Chevy used some cheapo copper-clad aluminum battery cables. The
problem was where the heavy-duty terminal was crimped onto the positive
battery cable, at the end that attaches to the starter solenoid. There was
a lot of corrosion that looked like aluminum oxide; basically just a lousy
connection. A nice, new aftermarket 100% copper battery cable fixed the problem.

+—————————+————————————————+
|        Gary Parker        |       E-Mail: par…@iccgcc.decnet.ab.com      |
+—————————+————————————————+
|                      Men make gods in their own image                      |
|—————————————————————————-+
| The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Allen-Bradley Company,|
| its parent company, or subsidiaries.  Your actual mileage may vary.        |
+—————————————————————————-+

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posted by admin in Uncategorized and have Comments (3)

3 Responses to “Re: Battery or alternator or other?”

  1. admin says:

    In article <1992Jan10.091115.6…@iccgcc.decnet.ab.com> par…@iccgcc.decnet.ab.com writes:

            Not too long ago I owned a ’78 Malibu V8 with similar odd electrical
       problems. It turns out that at least in that year (and probably other years,
       eh, Val?) Chevy used some cheapo copper-clad aluminum battery cables. The
       problem was where the heavy-duty terminal was crimped onto the positive
       battery cable, at the end that attaches to the starter solenoid. There was
       a lot of corrosion that looked like aluminum oxide; basically just a lousy
       connection. A nice, new aftermarket 100% copper battery cable fixed the problem.

    Hmmm…  I’ve never heard of copper clad aluminum cables in automotive
    applications.  Mind you, it may be true…. but I’ve never heard of such
    a thing.

    If it IS true, I’m surprised that it lasted more than a few years.
    The underside of an automobile is home to quite a corrosive
    environment, especially here where we use salt to clear ice and
    snow from the streets.  

    I do know that the home building industry was quite taken by the copper
    clad aluminum wires for household wiring.  After numerous problems and
    even a number of fires, it is no longer considered acceptable for
    new installations.  However many houses built in the 70′s still have
    those inferior wires within their walls.

    -val-

    Val Breault – vbrea…@gmr.com – N8OEF/AA

    The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect
    the position of the General Motors Corporation.

  2. admin says:

    In article <VBREAULT.92Jan10110…@rinhp825.gmr.com> vbrea…@rinhp825.gmr.com

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    (Val Breault) writes:
    >In article <1992Jan10.091115.6…@iccgcc.decnet.ab.com>
    par…@iccgcc.decnet.ab.com writes:

    >        Not too long ago I owned a ’78 Malibu V8 with similar odd electrical
    >   problems. It turns out that at least in that year (and probably other
    years,
    >   eh, Val?) Chevy used some cheapo copper-clad aluminum battery cables. The
    >   problem was where the heavy-duty terminal was crimped onto the positive
    >   battery cable, at the end that attaches to the starter solenoid. There was
    >   a lot of corrosion that looked like aluminum oxide; basically just a lousy
    >   connection. A nice, new aftermarket 100% copper battery cable fixed the
    problem.

    >Hmmm…  I’ve never heard of copper clad aluminum cables in automotive
    >applications.  Mind you, it may be true…. but I’ve never heard of such
    >a thing.

    I see you work at the GM Research Lab. Please check with the folks
    at the manufacturing branch of GM. I used to own a ’77 Nova (no complaints
    really after 14 years and 200k miles). A few years ago my dome light
    wouldn’t work one day. Checked light bulb, fuse, switches all OK, but
    no 12V at the dome. So some problem with the wiring, didn’t feel like
    ripping up the inside to fix it, I can live without the dome light sez I.
    A few months later my fuel gauge wouldn’t work. No problem with the
    gauge itself or the fuse. So, I thought, the sending unit in the tank
    failed, didn’t feel like taking the tank down to fix it, I can live
    without the fuel gauge, sez I. Always bought a full tank of gas, marked
    the mileage and calculated, conservatively, when I should refuel.
    Never run out of gas until my wife drove the car one day, put gas in it
    but "it was too cold to stand there and fill it up" and "I forgot to
    tell you". Anyway some months later my tail lights went out. Now this
    is serious, have to fix it. Soon I conclude that there must be a problem
    with the wire harness running from the front to the rear of the car.
    I pull it out, open the protective sheath and I see the wires looking
    almost new. But then I noticed some bubbles at several spots. I cut
    them open and the bubbles are full with a white-yellowish powder,
    aluminum oxide! Yes they were aluminum wires! I replaced them with
    copper ones and, sure enough, the tail lights were working, the fuel
    gauge was working, and the dome light was working. I don’t know when
    the practice started or when it stopped, if indeed it has stopped.

    >If it IS true, I’m surprised that it lasted more than a few years.
    >The underside of an automobile is home to quite a corrosive
    >environment, especially here where we use salt to clear ice and
    >snow from the streets.  

    >I do know that the home building industry was quite taken by the copper
    >clad aluminum wires for household wiring.  After numerous problems and
    >even a number of fires, it is no longer considered acceptable for
    >new installations.  However many houses built in the 70′s still have
    >those inferior wires within their walls.

    Oh, yes. My house on Long Island was built in ’67. Yes you guessed it,
    it has aluminum wiring…Some of us don’t seem to be able to get away
    from aluminum wiring…
    Ven

  3. admin says:

    In article <1992Jan12.163915.3…@bnlux1.bnl.gov> polych…@bnldag.ags.bnl.gov (Ven Polychronakos) writes:

       In article <VBREAULT.92Jan10110…@rinhp825.gmr.com> vbrea…@rinhp825.gmr.com
       (Val Breault) writes:

    <buncha stuff deleted>
       >
       >Hmmm…  I’ve never heard of copper clad aluminum cables in automotive
       >applications.  Mind you, it may be true…. but I’ve never heard of such
       >a thing.
       >
       I see you work at the GM Research Lab. Please check with the folks
       at the manufacturing branch of GM. I used to own a ’77 Nova (no complaints
       really after 14 years and 200k miles).
    <another bunch deleted>

    Sorry Van.  You’re talking to one worker-bee at the Research Laboratory
    in a Very Large corporation.  If you would like to follow up on your
    question yourself you might start with Customer Relations at Packard
    Electric.  That’s the part of GM that makes the wiring.

    I’m glad to hear that you were pleased with your ’77 Nova and that you
    were able to get so much use out of it.  If you liked the 77 Nova, you’d
    really go bonkers over the cars we offer today.  (I went to the
    third annual International Auto Show yesterday…..  *BOY* what a swell
    bunch of cars… and not just OURS (GM)….  WHAT A SHOW!)

    As far as the issue of aluminum wiring goes…  

    There’s a substantial amount of weight and cost involved with wiring
    a car.  I’m not sure, but I’d guess that when the wire sales people
    came up with a lighter and less expensive alternative to copper the
    wiring harness people would naturally be interested.  

    I still don’t know for sure that they actually used it though…  

    Your anecdotal tale sounds quite familiar.  You see I have to repair the
    trailer wiring on my van about every other spring.  The connecter hangs
    below the bumper and gets quite a salt water spray every winter.  The
    wires inside get quite corroded to the point of total failure.  I KNOW
    these wires are copper wires Ven.  I installed it and maintain it myself.
    (maybe that’s why it needs repair every other spring)   Copper *WILL*
    corrode.  Copper wires that normally carry some positive electrical
    potential (battery cables, some trailer wires, perhaps others) seem to
    corrode *MUCH* faster and *MUCH* more severely than others.

    If you still have a piece of that wire laying about would you please
    check to see if it is copper clad aluminum or solid copper?  My guess
    is the latter.  As I said before… I’ve never heard of the copper clad
    wire used in an automotive application.

    -val-

    Val Breault – vbrea…@gmr.com – N8OEF/AA

    The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect
    the position of the General Motors Corporation.

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