'61 182D charging system problem

'61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>Hello to all,
My airplane wouldn't start yesterday a.m.  I fly it twice a week minimum. It has
a new starter and new battery.I flew it 2 days before on a 2 hour night flight and had all the lights on, 2 radios, etc. I jump started the plane and went on my flight.
The plane started correctly the rest of the day.  Generator light worked correctly
and ammeter showed charging system working.
I cleaned all the terminals between the battery,starter, generator, etc. and
checked resistance on wires where able. All seems good. I plugged a voltmeter
into the cigar lighter to monitor the charging system and observed the following:
I had 11.5 v prior to startup. After startup and at about 1000-1200 rpm I get 12v
to 12.5v  At 1700rpm I get a max of 15v with all electrics off. HOWEVER,
at 1700rpm with EVERYTHING turned on it drops to 11.2volts. It seems that
the generator can't keep up with the electrical load.
      Is there a kit that would allow an alternator to be installed or is a larger
generator available?  I'm trying to build this plane into an IFR platform and I don't
need to worry about how much electrical power I have on hand.
      Any additional troubleshooting tips would be appreciated.</HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>There are "kits" available to install alternators in older aircraft under an STC.  But that is an expensive way to fix your problem,...similar to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  Most likely your charging system isn't working correctly, and you should simply fix it.  There are several things that could cause your particular problem.
The first thing to do is determine that your battery is in good condition.   A battery that will not take a charge and hold it, will disguise a lot of electrical problems and make them look complicated.  (An internally shorted battery will appear just fine, but because it still won't jump-start it will absolutely convince you that your starter motor is bad.  Don't ask how I know.  I just do. ;Þ )
The next thing to do is determine the size or capacity of your generator/regulator, and determine the total electrical load of your aircraft with all the accessories turned on.  (If you have a total electrical demand of 50 amps, but you only have a 35 amp gen/reg then that is indeed a problem and may explain your described results.  (Still not likely tho', because who flys around with everything on all the time.  It would take a couple of hours to kill a good battery even at that!)   The fix in that case is to increase generated capacity by upgrading to either a larger generator/regulator or alternator system.)
If the total elec. load does not exceed the design capability of your generator/regulator system, then you should troubleshoot the system. 
First, take a small (12 ga.) jumper wire and connect one end to the field terminal of the regulator.  Connect the other end to a good ground at the firewall or negative terminal of your battery.  Run your engine up and check your charging circuit voltage with everything turned on again.  (Stay away from that prop!!!)   If it looks good, then the problem is either a faulty regulator or a faulty master switch.  If it's still bad, then it's either a faulty generator or faulty wiring.
Check out the entire wiring circuit according to the electrical schematic of your airplane.  (Especially check out the Master switch which has two seperate circuits through it, one for the battery relay and one for the regulator field terminal.)
The most likely problem is your regulator.  If it isn't requesting an increase in output from your generator, then you'll not get the required current.  It's critical that the base of the regulator is properly grounded to the firewall.  (Many regulators have rubber shock mounts, and sometimes that insulates the reg. base from the firewall unless there's a proper grounding strap in good condition.)
According to my resources, you have a 12-volt system.  If you want an inexpensive way to replace a regulator (just for ground testing mind you,...this is not FAA approved for aircraft use, you understand ;Þ ) a 35 amp automotive regulator that is an exact replacement fit is the AutoZone VR699.  The 20-25 amp replacement is VR605.  These will be an electrical and physical exact replacement for the original Delco-Remy or Electro regulator on Cessnas, but they only cost between $11 and $19 which is far too inexpensive to gain FAA approval, and they're warranteed for either a couple of years or a lifetime depending upon which part you bought.  This also is far too much warranty to qualify for aviation use, of course.    Be certain to not get the original approved regulator cover accidentally installed upon the automotive type regulator,...or you'll not be able to easily tell the difference between them anymore.  I'd hate for you to accidentally go off flying around for years and years with an unapproved part, no matter how perfect it works. At that price and with that warranty it's obviously not to be used in an airplane...... 
If the above testing shows the problem to be the regulator, then simply keep the auto regulator in your garage for future testing (after you've bought the $300 FAA approved equivalent part and installed it.)  If the above tests show that the generator is at fault, then take it to a repair shop and fix it.  Simple brush replacements are just a few bucks.  Even a totally cooked generator is only a couple hundred bucks, ....lots cheaper than an alternator conversion.</HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>After considering my previous reply, I thought I should add something.  Never install a larger regulator to a smaller generator.  (For example, if you have a 25 amp generator, don't install a 35 amp regulator.)  If you do that, the higher capacity regulator will make excessive demands upon the generator and burn it up.  (However a smaller regulator, say a 25 amp reg, installed on a 35 amp gen is no problem as long as you don't need the 35 amps, as it just will never request the full 35 amps from the gen.) 
Also, if you install a new battery, new generator, or new regulator in an aircraft and then immediately suffer charging system problems,...then you probably have need to "polarize" the system.  Here's what that means.
A generator makes D.C., or direct current.  That means the current flows in only one direction, as opposed to alternating current like an alternator produces (but which is rectified into D.C. current before it is sent onto your aircraft system.)  Anyway, this works by virtue of "residual" flux or magnetism within the field-core of your generator.  When a new component is installed into the system, the residual flux may be lost, and it may be necessary to momentarily "remind" it which way it is to flow.  The process is called "polarizing" or "flashing" the field. 
If you are having mysterious chargine system troubles, you should try to re-polarize the system.  Here's how.
Find and identify the three terminals on the regulator.  They are labeled "BAT" "ARM" "FLD" (or sometimes BAT/GEN/FLD).  If you can't find the lables (they're usually on the terminal itself or under the wire end-connector where it screws onto the regulator), then examine the routing of the wires.  Two of the wires lead pretty directly to the generator, a relatively large one to the Armature and a smaller one to the FieLD terminals on the generator.  The third regulator wire is a relatively large wire and leads into the firewall where it connects to the BATtery via the main electrical buss inside the aircraft.  So, it's pretty safe to say that the two largest wires connected to your regulator are the BAT and ARM regulator terminals (and that they are the center and far left terminals when viewing the regulator from the terminal side.)  Anyway, turn the master on, and take a short jumper wire and MOMENTARILY make a connection between these two terminals.  It only takes a fraction of a second and it only has to be done once.  That's all there is to it. 
You'd be amazed at how many aircraft mechanics don't know this simple trick.  But not having the regulator and generator properly polarized can give all sorts of crazy charging system difficulties.  Good luck.</HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>Thanks for your speedy and thorough reply. The circuit breaker in the plane for the generator is 50 amps, and it looks old enough to be original so should I assume I have a 50 amp generator?
If this were true, what would the part number be for a 50amp regulator-from Autozone- for testing purposes only:)
When I put a jumper on the regulator from field to ground that will make the generator go to max output, correct?, Similar to putting a "nail" in the back of
your alternator to test total output. I leave the factory wiring alone and clip on
a jumper from field terminal to frame ground? Just want to make sure.</HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>That's correct, leave the wiring alone.  You're just making the gen go to max output.  Don't do this for more than a few minutes or you'll boil your battery if the gen is healthy.
As for the CB question,....Circuit breakers protect CIRCUITS......not appliances.  The CB size is selected based upon the wiring size that serves the circuit, ...not the size of appliances connected to the circuits.  In fact, a 35 amp gen normally has a 40 amp CB, but a larger CB is allowed if heavier duty (larger guage) wires are in the gen. circuit.  This is why you can't simply add up all the CBs in the airplane to determine the total electrical load.  The sum total of the CBs in an airplane can vastly exceed the capacity of the system.  (Same thing is true in your house.  You might have 100 amp service to your house, but for certain you have a lot more than five 20 amp CBs in the box, ...right?)
The correct way to determine the generated capacity of your gen is to look at the part number and compare it to the catalog listings/parts manuals, or look at a correct equipment list.  Read the data tag on your gen and give me the part no and I'll look it up for you if you don't have access to a catalog. 
It is possible to have a 50 amp gen, however.  They were certainly made and the 182 might have had one as original equipment, and it's certainly possible that it's protected with only a 50 amp breaker.  Unfortunately I don't have a part no for such a regulator in my notes.  But I'll bet if you go down to a local automotive generator repair shop and tell them you're looking for a Delco 50 amp regulator they'll be able to give you the correct pn to cross reference or will actually sell you a regulator.  (And if you don't tell them it's for an airplane they'll probably also be willing to test/repair your gen if it needs it.)</HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>Thanks again. I went back to the airport and polarized the generator and regulator and hooked jumper from field to ground. I got 12.0-13.0v with everything on and
rpm @ 1700 smile Looks like the regulator as you suspected. I checked continuity with an ohmmeter for the field circuit but I left all the wires connected. I have continuity with the master switch on or off. I really should have removed the wires from the field terminal on the gen and on the reg and checked continuity that way...it would have been more correct. Either way, I think the master is ok.
Yes, I'll have to call a generator shop because the guys at Autozone are unable
to help me without year,make,and model...and i'm sure Cessna won't come up in their computer. I should have got the part # off the gen while I had the cowl off
but did not. I'll try and get that tomorrow.</HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>Actually you may have complicated your problem with the process you used above.  Whenever you troubleshoot a problem, you want to take it one step at a time so you can discover the cause and the cure.  If you did what you said, polarized the gen and then ALSO grounded the reg field terminal, then you haven't really isolated the problem.  Example:  Was the system not polarized and that fixed it?  Or is the regulator dead and jumping the FLD to ground what made it work?  The way you described your work, ...you still don't know. 
Go back and remove the jumper wire and see if the system is now working without that jumper wire. 
Also, as you probably have figured out, you did it again when you checked for continuity with the jumper still attached.  Of COURSE you'll have a ground in that condition.  That's not what you want to know.  You want to know if the FLD terminal is grounded ONLY when the master switch switch is on and the engine is not running.  Duh.  <grin></HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>Hey!  The "Duh" I put at the end of my previous post was followed by a (grin) comment that didn't post for some reason.  I think I had parenthesized it with the < and > marks found as Shifted , and . punctuation.  Anyway, I wanted you to know that I was just kidding with the "Duh" comment.  George</HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>Hello George,
Actually the only complications were in the way I explained myself. First let me say that I put a "test only" regulator on and the problem is solved...at least for now.
Let's go back a day- I polarized the generator and ran it. no improvement. I connected the jumper from field to ground, ran with all accessories on and had a 13.0volt charge. good. I removed jumper and check continuity on field circuit with
everything connected, and cycled the master switch- I was looking for fluctuation
on the meter. It showed continuity with master on and off. Had I removed wires from field terminal on regulator and field on generator and cycled the master, then
I would have seen the circuit go "open" when I turned off the master.
      My generator is indeed a 50amp DelcoRemy p/n 1101912 and my regulator
is a DelcoRemy p/n 1118736. The "replacement" I found is p/n VR-18...that's
a Standard Motor Products,Inc. part number and that is for 1968-1971 Kenworth
trucks. I'm not sure if I should leave it in as it is not rubber mounted, I had to put
it directly on the firewall or I'll have to come up with a way to ground it if I use the
rubber mounts.
     With the new regulator installed and EVERYTHING turned on I get 12.5volt
at 1700rpm which makes me happy:)
     Here's a new tech question for you: how familiar are you at adjusting regulators? The installation sheet says that you can adjust "Cut-out, Voltage, and
Current" by bending the spring hanger for each of the 3 relays inside. The specs
are as follows: Cutout points close at 11.8-12.6hot....Voltage unit operates at 14.0-
15.0volts,hot....and current unit operates at 50amps-hot or cold. I was thinking about trying to adjust my old regulator to see what I get. What do you think???
And which is which- cutout is the bat terminal, voltage is arm terminal and current is field terminal? please advise. no offense taken for the DUH.</HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>If you just like to "tinker" then you can certainly play with it.  If you really want to try to save the old regulator, you should take it to the generator rebuild shop and ask them to adjust/repair it for you.  They can put it on a test-bench and get it right without a lot of trial/and/error which typically destroys even those regulators that were ordinarily capable of being repaired.
But to answer your question,  (Whew!  I'm gonna have to charge you for all this ground school!  I'll put it on your account.  (grin))....
  Look at the underside of the regulator and find some resistors (usually wire-wound).  Make certain they are in good condition with no obvious breaks or burned spots. (If they are damaged, then we're through.  Send the reg out for overhaul or  t
hrow it away.) 
...The cut-out relay is unlikely to need any adjustment whatsoever, so I'd recommend you not mess with it.  Here's what it does.  When you turn your master on, the cutout relay senses which has more voltage...the battery or the gen?  If the battery has more voltage then the relay ...(which is nothing more than an electromagnet that pulls a clapper closed to make a set of contact-points mate up) ...does nothing.  This prevents the battery from discharging into the inactive coils of the generator-armature.  If, however, the gen is turning sufficient to generate current, then that current flows through the cutout relay coils (making them an electromagnet) which pulls the contacts closed,...which puts the generated current on-line.  Later when you taxy in from a flight, and you pull the mixture, you'll see your ammeter momentarily show a discharge (because the battery is now dischargine into the generator) and then the ammeter snaps back toward zero....which shows that your cutout relay has properly lost it's magnetism and (because the cutout relay's points are not burned and failed in a welded-shut position) the relay has opened...thereby disconnecting the generator from the battery.  In other words, think of the cutout relay as a generator activated electromagnetic ON/OFF switch for your regulator (which normally is what connects/disconnects your gen to your electrical system.)  Now that you know how it works, it's a simple matter to test it.  Watch your ammeter when you shut down.  The most common failure of the cutout relay is burned/welded points or failed coil.  You can't fix the coil, and you can only file, clean, and adjust the point springs. If that's the problem, (and it doesn't sound as if it is in your case) then if you can't fix it's points, then throw the regulator away.
  Before going to any further adjustment items of current regulator and voltage regulator coils/contacts I want to describe how to bench check for operation.
  Get a healthy battery (your aircraft battery is fine) on the work bench.  Make a set of test leads (Three (3) ordinary alligator-clip leads from Radio Shack will work.  You'll also need a 12 volt light-bulb such as the little "peanut" lamps that are used in automotive side-marker lamps or in automotive instrument panels.  I like those because they have little wire loops that can be straightened by hand and clipped onto easily with alligator clips, but if you don't have any, and must go out to WalMart or AutoZone to buy a lamp, then buy a No. 561 lamp, which is commonly used in overhead dome lights in autos.  A 561 is glass tube about 2" long with a wire loop at each end.)  What you want to do to make the test-set is to be able to clip a test lead onto each lamp lead to make it into an indicator lamp.  You should be able to hook each lead up to each battery terminal and see the lamp illuminate.  To be able to easily describe this test procedure to you, I'll assume you have one red, one green, and one blue lead with alligator clips at each end of each lead.  And I'll assume you've already placed a green and a blue lead onto each wire loop lead of the test-lamp.  Next hook the free red lead to the positive terminal of the battery, and the green lead's free end to the negative terminal of the battery.
  Now hook the red lead (which already has it's other end hooked to the pos bat terminal) to the ARM terminal of the reg.  Hook the blue lead (which has it's other end hooked to the lamp, the other end of which is connected to the neg battery term with the green lead)...Hook the blue lead to the BAT terminal of the regulator.  The lamp should NOT light, but by closing the cutout relay contacts (the ones associated to the BAT terminal) by finger pressure the lamp should light. If not, throw it away.  If the lamp illuminated, then proceed.
  Now remove the blue lead from the BAT terminal and clip it onto the regulator metal base.  As you do, you should observe the voltage regulator contacts move (the ones associated with the FLD terminal).  If they do not, ...throw it away.  If they do, then proceed.
  Without changing the connections, lightly touch the cutout relay armature (points-clapper) with one of your fingers.   If the assist of the finger closes the contacts, it proves the coil winding is continuous and OK.  If the contacts do not close, ...throw it away.  If they closed, then proceed.
Remove the red lead from the ARM terminal and clip it to the FLD terminal.  The lamp should illuminate, but when the voltage regulator contacts (the ones associated with the FLD terminal) are opened by hand the lamp should go out.  Similarly when the current regulator contacts (the ones associated with the ARM terminal) are closed the light should dim or go out.  If these conditions do not coincide with the foregoing, either the insulators are failed at the point-arm bases or they are mispositioned.  (A short exists that you must either correct or throw it away.)  If things are OK so far, then we may proceed with cleaning and adjustments.  Remove the test leads from the battery and secure it safely.
  Inspect all the point contacts and clean them with a point/contact file or your wife's fine emery nail polisher.  Make certain the points are clean and dry and polished with no roughness.  Don't mess with points that are not obviously injured as filing them will only subject them to further injury.  If any points are a double set, then test them with your finger to make certain they close and open simultaneously.  (Most regs no longer employ double contacts, but a few older styles did on the cutout relays.)  This is adjusted by either bending the support, or if available, adjustment of air-gaps with adjustment screws, if equipped.   If there are adjustment screws for the air-gap, they should be adjusted for .020".
   After making sure the battery is fully charged (critical for these tests), install it and install the regulator and run the engine up to 1700 rpm, with the cover on the regulator.  Make certain the regulator base is grounded.  This should be done for about 10 minutes to heat the regulator up.  You may have to re-polaraize the units.
  Remove the reg. cover and using an insulated screwdriver (wrap tape around the shaft of the regulator so as not to accidentally ground it against anything while running.   Using a digital voltmeter and running the engine at 1700-2000 rpm, check the system voltage.  With the screwdriver, increase voltage adjustment with the voltage regulator coil adjustment screw.  (The one associated with the FLD reg. terminal).  The correct voltage is 13.5-14.5, anywhere in that range is fine.  Reduce speed to idle and observe the cutout relay to open and the ammeter to show a discharge.  Turn on landing lights and increase speed to 1700-2000 rpm and look for 13.5 volts minimum.  If necessary repeat the adjustment.
   Shut the engine down and let the landing lights discharge the battery for about 5 minutes.  Turn all lights and accy's off, start the engine and run it up to 2000-2400
rpm to observe the ammeter, which should indicate approximately full generator capacity ratings (50 amps in your case?).  If so, close it all up and you're through.
  If not, then increase spring tension on the current regulator points (the ones associated with the ARM terminal).  Make very small adjustments so as to not make excessive demands upon your generator.  If you over-adjust this, you stand to overheat your generator on long flights.  Never try to adjust the gen for more than it's rated output.  If you can get a gen to put out 80% of rated capacity using the ship's crude ammeter and these crude instructions, call it quits and pat yourself on the back.  You've done as well as any overhaul shop.
  Stay away from that propeller!!!!!!  (I'd rather run an automotive regulator than run the risk of injury.)  By the way, using the rubber shock mounts shouldn't be a big deal, just use a jumper to ground the case from the base to under the mount screw-head. 
  Good luck.  George</HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>Wow George, thank you very much for all your help. This last reply is great!
I agree about running the auto reg. for safety's sake, but I truly wanted to
understand how the regulator works. I'd hate to be out in the middle of the desert
on a camping trip and have to figure it out then:)
I'm going to make the test leads and bench test my regulator just for the
experiance. As far as fees go, if you're ever in the Burbank area, look me up and
I'll treat you to dinner at one of the airports. Thanks Again.</HTML>

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Re: '61 182D charging system problem

<HTML>If "you're ever in the desert" ...and you've absolutely got to get that battery charged, then you'll be glad you didn't switch to an alternator system.  All you'll have to do (if the gen is ok) is remember to ground the field terminal of either the regulator or the generator, and it'll charge the battery after you prop it.  The only real problem is a long flight (more than half an hour) will overcharge your battery and cause loss of electrolyte.  (So after 30 mins fly with everything turned on.)  More than an hour and you'll run the risk of overheating your generator, even in flight. 
While on the subject of heating up generators, remember that gens of more than 25 amp capacity should have blast-tubes hooked up to a ram-air source for cooling.  Also, notice that the sheet-metal brush-cover/blast tube can be mis-positioned in such a way that the blast tube is actually blocked by the web (generator body) of the brush-holder/end bearing support, ...so make certain when you inspect it or remove/re-install it that the blast tube has a clear path to blow air on the brushes/commutator.
Hope this has all been helpful.  -George</HTML>

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