Lotus Elan

Battery won't Charge

PostPost by: davidwinegar » Thu Sep 12, 2002 5:08 pm

Hello All,

Well, I am just 2 weeks into Elan +2 ownership and have my first
mechanical problem. The battery keeps dying on me. Origianlly I
thought that I had a bad battery (which I think was the case because
all the water had leaked out) so I replaced it with a new 12V 50Ah
battery from my local car part shop. Everything went along good for
the next week and 1/2 and now today it was dead when I went to drive
home.

Can I assume that it is the dynamo that is bad and not charging the
battery properly or at all? I see I can replace the dynamo from
either Paul Matty for 81.25 GBP or from SJ Sportscars for 21.50 GBP--
anyone know why such a big difference?

Also, are my assumptions correct? Forgive me, but I am really a
novice and just trying to learn.

David
1970 +2S
davidwinegar
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PostPost by: "Aaron J. Courteau&q » Thu Sep 12, 2002 5:17 pm

The good news is you should have some sort of warranty on your battery.
Do you have any idea if the generator (or has it been converted to an
alternator?) has been changed? If not - get yours tested. My +2 had a
problem for years that if I did not disconnect the battery at night it
would be dead by dawn. When I replaced the wiring in the car that
problem went away so you could have a bad ground somewhere.

Aaron
'68 +2
St. Paul, MN USA

-----Original Message-----
From: david_c_w [mailto:***@***.***
Sent: Thursday, September 12, 2002 12:09 PM
To: ***@***.***
Subject: [LotusElan.net] Battery won't Charge

Hello All,

Well, I am just 2 weeks into Elan +2 ownership and have my first
mechanical problem. The battery keeps dying on me. Origianlly I
thought that I had a bad battery (which I think was the case because
all the water had leaked out) so I replaced it with a new 12V 50Ah
battery from my local car part shop. Everything went along good for
the next week and 1/2 and now today it was dead when I went to drive
home.

Can I assume that it is the dynamo that is bad and not charging the
battery properly or at all? I see I can replace the dynamo from
either Paul Matty for 81.25 GBP or from SJ Sportscars for 21.50 GBP--
anyone know why such a big difference?

Also, are my assumptions correct? Forgive me, but I am really a
novice and just trying to learn.

David
1970 +2S





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"Aaron J. Courteau&q
 

PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Thu Sep 12, 2002 5:28 pm

Sorry Aaron
but a poor earth connection will not drain the battery but it might prevent
it charging properly.
like you say first step is to ascertain dynamo or alternator,the best bet is
an alternator conversion
if you have a voltmeter,watch it whilst driving,the same said for your
ammeter,during the day it should show a healthy charge or 14-15v,this
dropping at night as lights etc are in use
john
68plus2
( if only i lived local i could get my meter out)


-----Original Message-----
From: Aaron J. Courteau [mailto:***@***.***
Sent: 12 September 2002 18:15
To: lotuselan
Subject: RE: [LotusElan.net] Battery won't Charge


The good news is you should have some sort of warranty on your battery.
Do you have any idea if the generator (or has it been converted to an
alternator?) has been changed? If not - get yours tested. My +2 had a
problem for years that if I did not disconnect the battery at night it
would be dead by dawn. When I replaced the wiring in the car that
problem went away so you could have a bad ground somewhere.

Aaron
'68 +2
St. Paul, MN USA

-----Original Message-----
From: david_c_w [mailto:***@***.***
Sent: Thursday, September 12, 2002 12:09 PM
To: ***@***.***
Subject: [LotusElan.net] Battery won't Charge

Hello All,

Well, I am just 2 weeks into Elan +2 ownership and have my first
mechanical problem. The battery keeps dying on me. Origianlly I
thought that I had a bad battery (which I think was the case because
all the water had leaked out) so I replaced it with a new 12V 50Ah
battery from my local car part shop. Everything went along good for
the next week and 1/2 and now today it was dead when I went to drive
home.

Can I assume that it is the dynamo that is bad and not charging the
battery properly or at all? I see I can replace the dynamo from
either Paul Matty for 81.25 GBP or from SJ Sportscars for 21.50 GBP--
anyone know why such a big difference?

Also, are my assumptions correct? Forgive me, but I am really a
novice and just trying to learn.

David
1970 +2S





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Read the Disclaimer! CopyrightC 1999, 2000, 2001 LotusElan.net and the
email author, all rights reserved.
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http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/










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PostPost by: schwartzd13 » Thu Sep 12, 2002 5:50 pm

Congrats on your foray into Lotus life, sorry you're having difficulties
so soon.
It may just be a problem with the voltage regulator...and it is
adjustable as well as easy (and not costly) to replace.
You definitely need to get a voltmeter hooked up and readable while you
drive. If the charging system is not putting back voltage into the
battery, it will drain in a matter of days of normal use.
I recently went through a regulator episode on my baby Elan and with a
few days of tweaking and watching a jerry-rigged voltmeter, I was able
to get it to consistently put 14.5 volts back into the battery while
driving normally at moderate speeds. If you need to see the directions,
let me know, I think I have a jpeg stashed somewhere.
-David
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PostPost by: MikeC » Thu Sep 12, 2002 6:10 pm

On Thu, 12 Sep 2002 17:08:41 -0000 david_c_w wrote:

Can I assume that it is the dynamo that is bad and not charging the
battery properly or at all? I see I can replace the dynamo from
either Paul Matty for 81.25 GBP or from SJ Sportscars for 21.50 GBP--
anyone know why such a big difference?

If it is a dynamo and not an alternator, your problem could be one of
two things that are pretty cheap to fix. First the dynamo braushes may
have worn out. These are not hard to fit and won't cost much -- if you
get them at all that is. Most common thing to go wrong with a dynamo is
these brushes.

The next most likely thing is that the voltage regulator, which is a
black box about the size of your clenched fist mounted somewhere in the
engine bay, needs adjustment. The cover will be held on by a wire loop
anchored to the base and there will some moderately heavy duty wires
going into it at the bottom. Open it up and there are two (or 3 in
later cars) coil/relay things in there which have contact points that
can burn out or require adjusting. Now open your workshop manual to the
electrical section.

What? You don't have one? OK, you're stalled until you get one. When
the manual is delivered from your favourite dealer you'll also need a
reasonably accurate voltmeter (+-0.25V) and a pair of hands with a
delicate touch and some patience. A set of feeler gauges too. Your new
manual will tell you the rest.

Only when you've done both the bushes and the regulator is it worth
replacing the dynamo.

Oh, BTW, the voltmeter is also very useful for tracking down problems
with bad earthing.


Mike
--
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GPG KeyID 1C2DDA07 WWW - http://www.mikecauser.org
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PostPost by: MikeC » Thu Sep 12, 2002 6:16 pm

On Thu, 12 Sep 2002 18:28:42 +0100 ***@***.***e:

like you say first step is to ascertain dynamo or alternator,the best
bet is an alternator conversion

Providing it's a negative earth car, an alternator is a good long-term
idea, but if it's early enough to be positive earth there's quite a lot
of work to do to convert to -ve before fitting the alternator. (TTBOMK)


Mike
--
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GPG KeyID 1C2DDA07 WWW - http://www.mikecauser.org
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PostPost by: "Martin Stuart" » Thu Sep 12, 2002 10:09 pm

If I may add a couple of cheap and basic suggestions to the good advice aready given...

If you find all the talk of voltage regulators and multimeters a bit daunting, Gunson's do a little test gadget called (I think) the 'Start n Charge' or something similar. About a tenner from your local motor accessory shop. You connect it up to your battery and a row of LED lights will indicate how well charged your battery is. If you start the engine and rev it a little ('cos if you have a dynamo rather than an alternator, it will give bugger all output at idle speeds), some more LED's light up to tell you whether the dynamo is undercharging, providing the correct output, or overcharging.

If you have a charging problem, get the voltage regulator and dynamo checked (shouldn't cost more than about a tenner for an autoelectrician to do this for you, if you haven't a multimeter or don't feel confident enought to do it yourself).

Second cheap gadget is something like the 'Dis-car-nect' (advertised in the more practical classic car magazines, if your local accessory shop doesn't have them). This is basically a heavy duty switch that you bolt to the positive teminal on the battery, allowing you to isolate the battery when the car is parked up. Apart from being an additional anti-theft device, if you isolate the battery every time you park the car and your dead battery problem goes away, you know you have a current drain somewhere on the electrics. Only problem with this one is that there is a fuse which allows a small current drain (for things like clocks, radio memories and alarms) which will still allow enough current drain to flatten the battery -you can remove the fuse, but then the accessories mentioned above won't work.

The other basic way of testing for current drain is to switch everything off, disconnect the earth lead at the battery, then touch it against the terminal a few times. If there is a significant drain, it will give tiny sparks as you touch it against the terminal. Again, this is to be expected if you have radios, alarms etc. fitted which are trying to draw current, but I don't think the clock on a +2 should be drawing enough to create a noticable spark on its own.

If you have a problem with excessive current drain (and bear in mind that clocks/alarms/radios can draw enough current to flatten the battery in a week or two, if you are not using the car regularly), your best bet is to find someone who knows what they are doing with a multimeter (or pay an auto electrician) to trace the fault.

I'm afraid that electrics are a weak spot on old Lotus', so a decent multimeter and a book on auto electrics would be a sound investment (Haynes do a book on restoring auto electrics on classic cars which is a good primer).

Where in the UK are you - you might find a lister nearby who is willing to drop by and give you sympathy and support?

Martin Stuart

PS: I am guessing the dynamo from SJ is reconditioned exchange, whilst the one from Paul Matty will be outright purchase, perhaps? In any case, the conversion to an alternator is straightforward, cheap, and probably the way to go if you are a novice to auto electrics and are running the car on a daily basis. Club Lotus do a free fact sheet on the conversion if you are a member (if you aren't, let me know and I'll send you a copy).
----- Original Message -----
From: david_c_w
To: ***@***.***
Sent: Thursday, September 12, 2002 6:08 PM
Subject: [LotusElan.net] Battery won't Charge


Hello All,

Well, I am just 2 weeks into Elan +2 ownership and have my first
mechanical problem. The battery keeps dying on me. Origianlly I
thought that I had a bad battery (which I think was the case because
all the water had leaked out) so I replaced it with a new 12V 50Ah
battery from my local car part shop. Everything went along good for
the next week and 1/2 and now today it was dead when I went to drive
home.

Can I assume that it is the dynamo that is bad and not charging the
battery properly or at all? I see I can replace the dynamo from
either Paul Matty for 81.25 GBP or from SJ Sportscars for 21.50 GBP--
anyone know why such a big difference?

Also, are my assumptions correct? Forgive me, but I am really a
novice and just trying to learn.

David
1970 +2S
"Martin Stuart"
 

PostPost by: "peteandjanet" » Thu Sep 12, 2002 11:16 pm

I have a very small battery drain problem which I'm damned if I can find, so
I bought a Discarnect from Club Lotus (about 8GBP). I switch this off every
time I park and now have the double benefit of an anti theft device and no
more flat battery. It actually fits to the negative terminal, rather than
the positive, and if you do not fit the fuse (not needed on a car with no
clock or alarm system) then there can be no drain on the system.

-----Original Message-----
From: Martin Stuart [mailto:***@***.***
Sent: 12 September 2002 23:17
To: ***@***.***
Subject: Re: [LotusElan.net] Battery won't Charge


If I may add a couple of cheap and basic suggestions to the good advice
aready given...

If you find all the talk of voltage regulators and multimeters a bit
daunting, Gunson's do a little test gadget called (I think) the 'Start n
Charge' or something similar. About a tenner from your local motor accessory
shop. You connect it up to your battery and a row of LED lights will
indicate how well charged your battery is. If you start the engine and rev
it a little ('cos if you have a dynamo rather than an alternator, it will
give bugger all output at idle speeds), some more LED's light up to tell you
whether the dynamo is undercharging, providing the correct output, or
overcharging.

If you have a charging problem, get the voltage regulator and dynamo checked
(shouldn't cost more than about a tenner for an autoelectrician to do this
for you, if you haven't a multimeter or don't feel confident enought to do
it yourself).

Second cheap gadget is something like the 'Dis-car-nect' (advertised in the
more practical classic car magazines, if your local accessory shop doesn't
have them). This is basically a heavy duty switch that you bolt to the
positive teminal on the battery, allowing you to isolate the battery when
the car is parked up. Apart from being an additional anti-theft device, if
you isolate the battery every time you park the car and your dead battery
problem goes away, you know you have a current drain somewhere on the
electrics. Only problem with this one is that there is a fuse which allows a
small current drain (for things like clocks, radio memories and alarms)
which will still allow enough current drain to flatten the battery -you can
remove the fuse, but then the accessories mentioned above won't work.

The other basic way of testing for current drain is to switch everything
off, disconnect the earth lead at the battery, then touch it against the
terminal a few times. If there is a significant drain, it will give tiny
sparks as you touch it against the terminal. Again, this is to be expected
if you have radios, alarms etc. fitted which are trying to draw current, but
I don't think the clock on a +2 should be drawing enough to create a
noticable spark on its own.

If you have a problem with excessive current drain (and bear in mind that
clocks/alarms/radios can draw enough current to flatten the battery in a
week or two, if you are not using the car regularly), your best bet is to
find someone who knows what they are doing with a multimeter (or pay an auto
electrician) to trace the fault.

I'm afraid that electrics are a weak spot on old Lotus', so a decent
multimeter and a book on auto electrics would be a sound investment (Haynes
do a book on restoring auto electrics on classic cars which is a good
primer).

Where in the UK are you - you might find a lister nearby who is willing to
drop by and give you sympathy and support?

Martin Stuart

PS: I am guessing the dynamo from SJ is reconditioned exchange, whilst
the one from Paul Matty will be outright purchase, perhaps? In any case, the
conversion to an alternator is straightforward, cheap, and probably the way
to go if you are a novice to auto electrics and are running the car on a
daily basis. Club Lotus do a free fact sheet on the conversion if you are a
member (if you aren't, let me know and I'll send you a copy).
----- Original Message -----
From: david_c_w
To: ***@***.***
Sent: Thursday, September 12, 2002 6:08 PM
Subject: [LotusElan.net] Battery won't Charge


Hello All,

Well, I am just 2 weeks into Elan +2 ownership and have my first
mechanical problem. The battery keeps dying on me. Origianlly I
thought that I had a bad battery (which I think was the case because
all the water had leaked out) so I replaced it with a new 12V 50Ah
battery from my local car part shop. Everything went along good for
the next week and 1/2 and now today it was dead when I went to drive
home.

Can I assume that it is the dynamo that is bad and not charging the
battery properly or at all? I see I can replace the dynamo from
either Paul Matty for 81.25 GBP or from SJ Sportscars for 21.50 GBP--
anyone know why such a big difference?

Also, are my assumptions correct? Forgive me, but I am really a
novice and just trying to learn.

David
1970 +2S











the Disclaimer! Copyright) 1999, 2000, 2001 LotusElan.net and the email


"peteandjanet"
 

PostPost by: motocicletta at aol.com » Fri Sep 13, 2002 3:30 am

Dave,
The advice so far is good. May I offer some thoughts from my experience.
First is a poor ground connection. This will not discharge a battery as has
been noted but will prevent a battery from getting a good charge. With this
problem you may be abvle to drive around for a few days, seemingly with no
problem and then the next morning it won't start.
The second potential problem is that all automotive charging systems have a
means of isolating the battery from the rest of the electrical system so that
the battery will not discharge back through the generator /alternator. If
you have a generator this is the function of the cutout coil. If it sticks
closed when you shut off you are guaranteed a dead battery tomorrow. This
same funtion is incorporated in an alternator regulator which on many
alternators is built into the unit and is not servicable as a separate piece.
Don't assume it is the generator. Get a decent digital volt/ohm meter (VOM)
and run the checks show in the service manual before you spend money.
Finally I have tried to adjust the points on Lucas regulator a number of
times over the years and have not found it to be very successful. If it were
me and I had a bad rugulator I would get a new one. Good Luck
Jeff Manuel
65 S2
motocicletta at aol.com
 

PostPost by: "kstrutt1" » Fri Sep 13, 2002 7:22 am

David,
As others have probably said by now the best way to check this out is
to use a voltmeter across the battery, if the old battery was dry it
is possible the dynamo is overcharging, is the new battery now low on
electrolyte. Personally I prefer to use a internally regulated
alternator for everyday use, the dynamo really strugles to cope with
low speed running with lights, cooling fans and wipers etc on. If you
can find one the cheapest method (assuming the car is negative earth)
is to get the alternator and brackets from rear wheel drive escort
(Mk2).

Kevin +2S130.


--- In [email protected], "david_c_w" <[email protected]> wrote:
Hello All,

Well, I am just 2 weeks into Elan +2 ownership and have my first
mechanical problem. The battery keeps dying on me. Origianlly I
thought that I had a bad battery (which I think was the case
because

all the water had leaked out) so I replaced it with a new 12V 50Ah
battery from my local car part shop. Everything went along good
for

the next week and 1/2 and now today it was dead when I went to
drive

home.

Can I assume that it is the dynamo that is bad and not charging the
battery properly or at all? I see I can replace the dynamo from
either Paul Matty for 81.25 GBP or from SJ Sportscars for 21.50 GBP-
-

anyone know why such a big difference?

Also, are my assumptions correct? Forgive me, but I am really a
novice and just trying to learn.

David
1970 +2S
"kstrutt1"
 

PostPost by: "Roger Sieling" » Fri Sep 13, 2002 1:08 pm

The other thing I have found on dynamo equipped cars is that one of the contacts in the regulator can stick, and this causes a discharging battery condition. Usually, this is late in the life of the regulator, and I too have found replacement to be the surest way of solving the problem.

Roger


>> ***@***.*** 09/12/02 11:30PM >>>
Dave,

The advice so far is good. May I offer some thoughts from my experience. First is a poor ground connection. This will not discharge a battery as has
been noted but will prevent a battery from getting a good charge. With this
problem you may be abvle to drive around for a few days, seemingly with no problem and then the next morning it won't start.
The second potential problem is that all automotive charging systems have ameans of isolating the battery from the rest of the electrical system so that
the battery will not discharge back through the generator /alternator. If you have a generator this is the function of the cutout coil. If it sticks
closed when you shut off you are guaranteed a dead battery tomorrow. This same funtion is incorporated in an alternator regulator which on many
alternators is built into the unit and is not servicable as a separate piece.
Don't assume it is the generator. Get a decent digital volt/ohm meter (VOM)
and run the checks show in the service manual before you spend money.
Finally I have tried to adjust the points on Lucas regulator a number of
times over the years and have not found it to be very successful. If it were
me and I had a bad rugulator I would get a new one. Good Luck
Jeff Manuel
65 S2








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"Roger Sieling"
 

PostPost by: davidwinegar » Tue Sep 17, 2002 12:08 pm

Hello Everyone and thanks much to all who gave suggestions on this
problem. I think David Schwartz was the one who tracked it down for
me---it turns out that the dynamo is brand new and so is the voltage
regulator so no problems there. It appears that it is just a problem
with adjusting the voltage output and the cutout--I haven't yet had a
chance to get the voltameter out and test the output and make the
adjustments, but it looks like that is the problem.


One other suggestions that I haven't checked is that the ammeter may
itself be draining the battery and might need replacing. I am going
to check it.

One suggestion for checking leaks given to me was this...just unhook
the negative terminal and place a light bulb connecting one wire to
the positive terminal and the other to the unhooked negative
connector--if the light lights up--you have a leak. Doesn't help in
tracing the leak, but at least you know there is a problem.

Again,

Thanks to all.

David
1970 +2S
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PostPost by: BillGavin » Tue Sep 17, 2002 1:13 pm

David -

If the generator is brand new, did you 'flash' the field?

New generators don't have the residual magnetism required to
operate, or they may be polarized incorrectly, Momentarily
hitting the field with a surge of battery voltage of the correct
polarity will 'set' the polarity and provide the residual magnetism
required.

I haven't done this for a long time, so I won't go into great detail,
but I'm sure that someone who still works with dynamos can
supply details if required.

- Bill
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PostPost by: "Stan Aarhus" » Tue Sep 17, 2002 7:10 pm

Hi David,

It is unlikely that the ammeter is draining the battery, since it is hooked
in series between the source and the load, and thus offers no natural path
to ground..

Stan


One other suggestions that I haven't checked is that the ammeter may
itself be draining the battery and might need replacing. I am going
to check it.
"Stan Aarhus"
 

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