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CISDbusman
Senior Member

153 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2005 :  12:43:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Does anyone else have as much thunder with these alts as I have had?

I only have one LN alt in my small (12 bus) fleet and it has been on and off so many times (under warranty even) that I have had it with them!

Everything else runs a Delco alt and I have NEVER had to touch one of them.

Brief history of this pile. When bus was about 6 months old it runs the batts down over night. I take to shop they change the ECM?? Get it back during colder weather and all seems well. Once the outside temp started to climb in the 90's the batts would be dead the next morning. Eventually killed batterys!! Took back to shop after nearly a full year of dis/reconnecting the batts each morning and they replace the batts and the alt as they said the alt was not the proper one for bus?? What ever, as it was under except they couldnt give me my 2 month old batts cause they had been picked up by there batt supplier.
So 3 sets of batts, one ecm, 2 voltage gages, and a new or rebuilt LN later I am still having issues with this thing!! I want to fix it as I feel it can't be good for the ABS and engine ECM to see voltage spikes like this.

Now the #$%^ alt is charging irratically!! Will be rolling down the highway and its like someone turns the sun on all of a sudden. The voltage gauge tops out (18+) when it happen also so I know its the alt.

Anyway its our newest bus (1998 freightliner with a 3126 thats a whole nother gripe!!) activity bus so I need this thing to perform.

Should I spend the coins on a replacement regulator?

Can I convert it over to a Delco unit or will the 3126 not accept Delco mounting hardware?

Thanks for listening!!

Thoughts??

Edited by - CISDbusman on 02/01/2006 2:01:05 PM

Brad Barker
Administrator

USA
838 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2005 :  6:20:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit Brad Barker's Homepage  Click to see Brad Barker's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Leece Neville is the alternator of choice in my fleet. I have had my share of problems but LN has been best overall. Don't condemn the alt until it has been tested. If it tests ok check all of your connections, mainly grounds. Try running a separate ground wire directly from the alternator to the frame and make sure the battery to frame ground is good and clean at both ends. Use at least a #4 gauge wire or a braided strap.
Regulators have been a problem on these units as well as brushes. Make sure the brushes are in good condition. They will need to be removed for inspection. The best regulator is a remote unit that attaches to a harness and can be installed away from heat somewhere on the frame although I still use many alternator mounted units.
Never replace an electrical component until you have eliminated all parasitic draw sources and know that the batteries are fully charged and test good. Battery connections from end to end need to be removed and cleaned and tested for voltage drop. There are two electrical circuits on electronic engined buses. One is a 12V electrical circuit and one is a 12V electronic circuit. Make sure cables and connections for both circuits are good.
It can be converted to a Delco very easily. Both are interchangable. The only difference may be an exciter wire that may or may not be needed on the Delco. This is an ignition source that runs from ignition switch to the alternator. Depending on the model you have or want to install it may or may not be necessary. I prefer the exciter wire because you obtain instant charging as soon as the engine starts.

Brad A. Barker
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Craig Thoricht
Senior Member

USA
177 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2005 :  03:03:03 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I must agree with Brad. Leece-Neville is the alternator of choice for us here in Ohio. Don't ditch that one just yet.
The over charging condition you describe is a "somewhat common" problem we have seen on the 175 AMP models we have and we have gone to the external regulator.
The part numbers you need are:

Brush cover- L/N A027100265S-

Bluebird- 0056782

Remote Regulator- L/N 8RD2041S

Bluebird- 0056515

Heat is the issue, especially with the Cat engine.
Brad is correct when he brings up about checking ALL the electrical connections and I've seen battery cables go bad in some of the craziest places you could imagine.
Good luck and keep us posted.
If you need help with changing to the remote regulator let me know. I can get you a copy of the wiring diagram. It's pretty easy to do.

Regards-
Craig
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Bus 29
Active Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2005 :  6:36:27 PM  Show Profile  Send Bus 29 a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Leece-Neville is the alternator of choice for us
You have got to be kidding! We have them on our 05 and 06 IC's and they are a pile of junk! Constant charging problems. The only reason we have left them on is because they are still under warranty. Once the warranty is up they will be changed out with delco's.
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Mechan1c
Top Member

USA
665 Posts

Posted - 12/09/2005 :  12:49:39 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ok...big deep breath...I run 160-175 Amp LN JB series and 160 Amp Delco Remy 31SI's and a few 21SI's. They are both about as reliable as one another. My preference is also the Leece Neville JB because I have more experience working with them, they have parts available, good repair literature, and better manufacturer support. I also have 100+ G and Express chassis with OE AC Delco generators that are pretty much bullet proof. The 31 SI's have come a long way since when they first came out. I had so many early regulator failures Delco Remy sent me a case of them! The only reason I don't replace the undersized 21SI is a case size/clearance issue.

After reading Chuck's original post a couple of times, and looking at what's been done so far, I have several questions:1)Why was the ECM changed? 2)when the batts were dead in the yard the second go-round, was any key off draw found? 3)When it was dead in the yard, was the bus jump started and allowed to run each day? 4)When you were dissconnecting the batts every day, did you ever dissconnect the Alt to see if that was where the draw was? 5)Why 2 volt gauges? (I suspect because the alt read 14V output, but the gauge read low, because of the voltage drop at the batteries)

My buses are all Thomas CAT powered D pushers, so engine heat has not been an issue like you FE and C folks (not to mention the mild Seattle climate!). Where heat is an issue, esp with LN JB series, is if you use them as battery chargers. Add to this, high ambient heat and engine compartment temps, and you will have problems. Our proceedure here is: if the bus won't start because of low voltage, we will NOT jump start it and send it out. We WILL put fresh batteries in and check the entire system first.

Charging problems on 6 month old buses indicate poor specs, poor engineering, and poor application. I would not be happy with an '05-06 bus that had "Constant charging problems." I would expect the manufacturer of the bus to help me solve the problem immediately.

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ModMech
Top Member

USA
948 Posts

Posted - 12/09/2005 :  1:07:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit ModMech's Homepage  Reply with Quote
We used ONLY LN alternators in our 100+ bus fleet. Some of the new units came with Delcos, but we tossed them whan you had to rev the H#LL out of the engine to get them to "cut in" in the mornings.

There are MANY grades of LN alternators, the "555" is a 90% duty cycle model as I recall, many others have lower duty cycles and therefore ARE NOT suitable for use in a school bus or ambulance.

If you want customer service, you NEED an International!
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Joe Hartnett
Advanced Member

USA
359 Posts

Posted - 12/09/2005 :  5:41:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I used the LN-JB (105-130amp) series for years and was always having problems. Since changing to Delcos have really seen a low failure rate. I am also more experienced working on the LN's and there is a good reason why, more experiences.
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Bus 29
Active Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 12/09/2005 :  6:40:50 PM  Show Profile  Send Bus 29 a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Our biggest problem is the fact that when both front and rear a/c units are on any setting but low and the bus is left ideling (like 5 to 10 minutes while loading/unloading) the battery voltage will drop down to 11.5 volts and the "lowbatt" light and alarm will come on. Now if you set the throttle up to 1000 rpm's as soon as you stop it will keep the voltage up around 12.5 to 13 volts, but if you stop and wait until the voltage drops to 11.5 and then turn on the throttle or resume driving the voltage will NOT come back up until you turn off one of the a/c units.

We have 6 buses with a/c. All 6 have front and rear units. 5 of these buses have leece neville's and one has an a/c delco. Guess which one we are NOT having any problems with?

Now I happen to be one of the drivers of a bus with a leece neville and yesturday we had a snow storm come through. This is a run down of the switches I had on while driving in the snow strom (no they didn't let us out early either)

headlights
right htr
main htr
rear htr
defrost
hrt pump
left fan
right fan
heated wiper
heated mirror
strobe
trac control
the wippers were on the intermitten setting
fm radio
two way radio

also all blowers/fans were on low


and guess what happend when I would stop to let kids on or off using my eight way lights????????.........thats right the "lowbatt" alarm would come on!

Now when we speced these buses they knew all of the electrical devices that they were going to have and were told to put the appropriate sized allt. on.

Edited by - Bus 29 on 12/09/2005 6:41:45 PM
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Craig Thoricht
Senior Member

USA
177 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2005 :  03:07:13 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
To "Bus 29"-

According to your profile you are 13 years old. Does the State of Illinois allow 13 year old people to drive their buses or do you need to update your profile?



Regards-
Craig
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Brad Barker
Administrator

USA
838 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2005 :  6:42:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit Brad Barker's Homepage  Click to see Brad Barker's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
The biggest cause of problems I have seen is that alternators are not speced heavy enough for the maximum load. In order to get an alternator that will perform for you, find out what the maximum load is of your bus then add 10% as a buffer. This amperage load should be no more than 75% of the maximum rated output of any alternator. A type D bus in my fleet will draw around 135 amps when all accessories and lights are activated . Add 10%=148.5 round to 150, then divide by 3=50. 150=75% of 200. You really need a 200 amp alternator to handle the load effectively for this bus. The other problem is that OEM's often do not install the best size wire gauge when they upsize the alternator so the alternator still can't supply the proper current flow back to the batteries and run all the accessories at the same time. In order to get the best wire size a 270 amp alternator is needed but if price scares you away then increase the wiring size when you receive the new bus or add a second set of wires, ground and hot, parallel to the existing wiring, from the alternator to the battery for the hot and alternator to frame for ground. This also requires that you double the fusable link as well.
Excessive heat is another problem on FE buses especially if you run AC units. An aftermarket alternator may be a better choice that has larger bearings in it. Neihoff makes a good one. My theory is that a 270 amp alternator is only working at 50% capacity so it produces less heat and will last longer. It's only a theory but so far seems to be paying off.

Brad A. Barker
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Bus 29
Active Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2005 :  7:11:41 PM  Show Profile  Send Bus 29 a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
To "Craig Thoricht" I am infact 30 years old (born 4-29-75). Didn't realize that was a big deal.

I do agree that they probably need bigger alternators, but its just irratating that when the buses were speced IC knew what was going to be on the buses and should have said hey wait that won't work you need to go bigger.

I just find it funny that the one bus that has an a/c delco of the same size isn't having any problems.


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CISDbusman
Senior Member

153 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2005 :  12:17:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Craig Thoricht

I must agree with Brad. Leece-Neville is the alternator of choice for us here in Ohio. Don't ditch that one just yet.
The over charging condition you describe is a "somewhat common" problem we have seen on the 175 AMP models we have and we have gone to the external regulator.
The part numbers you need are:

Brush cover- L/N A027100265S-

Bluebird- 0056782

Remote Regulator- L/N 8RD2041S

Bluebird- 0056515

Heat is the issue, especially with the Cat engine.
Brad is correct when he brings up about checking ALL the electrical connections and I've seen battery cables go bad in some of the craziest places you could imagine.
Good luck and keep us posted.
If you need help with changing to the remote regulator let me know. I can get you a copy of the wiring diagram. It's pretty easy to do.

Regards-
Craig



If I go this route and install the external regulator isnt that reverse engineering so to speak? Sounds like a band-aid repair to me. Anyone else make these mods on a new bus?
Thanks!!
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CISDbusman
Senior Member

153 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2005 :  2:05:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mechan1c


After reading Chuck's original post a couple of times, and looking at what's been done so far, I have several questions:1)Why was the ECM changed? 2)when the batts were dead in the yard the second go-round, was any key off draw found? 3)When it was dead in the yard, was the bus jump started and allowed to run each day? 4)When you were dissconnecting the batts every day, did you ever dissconnect the Alt to see if that was where the draw was? 5)Why 2 volt gauges? (I suspect because the alt read 14V output, but the gauge read low, because of the voltage drop at the batteries)


Charging problems on 6 month old buses indicate poor specs, poor engineering, and poor application. I would not be happy with an '05-06 bus that had "Constant charging problems." I would expect the manufacturer of the bus to help me solve the problem immediately.





I will try to anwser your questions as best I can. And for the record when I said "take it to the shop" I meant back to a local Freightliner dealer for repairs. I am not for sure as to "WHY" some things were replaced. I feel it was all done do to lack of qualified tech's to make the proper diagnosis. I have had lenghty conversations with the "higher ups" in the company because of this dealerships repair records and lenght of repairs. Needless to say I try everything in my power to keep from taking ANYTHING back there for repairs!!!
You mentioned "spec'd wrong", and that might be a possibility as I had nothing to do with the specing of said bus. The super I worked under at the time just took bids and this was what we ended up with. He was one of those kind you couldnt tell anything to because he had been in this business longer than I had been alive kinda fella's. Praise the lord we have one now that will ask for input on anything he is involved in.

Back on task. I just looked back over my records on the dealer repairs of this bus and it made me mad all over again.

IIRC the first trip for batt trouble was when they changed the ECM due to an excessive draw (like 2 amps) with the ignition off. I could look up the circuit they mentioned but this problem is water under the bridge. I have no bill for these repairs, so if memory serves me it was repaired under warranty.

Then it went to dealer for :
Intermittant voltage gauge drop out (would go nuetral or show no voltage). Dealer replaced. 96 dollars for labor,36 dollars for gauge and misc. total $139.12

Second trip to dealer:
Batts running down. $96 labor to diagnose batts were bad and replaced. $142 for batts and fees. $Total 238.00 And I didnt get my new batts back for adjustment at my local parts dealer either, so we could add another $150 or so because of this little issue.

Third 150 mile roundtrip to shop.
Batts still running down!! 12hrs labor to diagnosis (guess they charged me stall/lot time?) for a total of $816.00. 2 new battery cables designed for 3 batts @ $46.62, another batt @ $71.00 (other 2 were adjusted),$3 battery fee,1 160 amp alt @ 325.59, freight on ?? @ 46.16, and another volt gage @ 29.88, plus another 10 bucks or so for misc for a grand total of 1447.41. Ouch!! ALL THAT JUST FOR A BAD ALT???? I remember now that I cussed and discussed the bill till we agreed on $1195.37 Still was NOT HAPPY but was ready to put the whole mess to rest.

Now I am back to having charging trouble again.

And I also remember having to reinforce the battery box as the extra (third) battery they added broke it loose from the bus body

So after further review I have been out a chunk $ on this thing and now I gotta buy more parts to fix it??

What to do???

Thanks for everyone input so far!!












Anyone have any ant-acid??

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Brad Barker
Administrator

USA
838 Posts

Posted - 12/14/2005 :  5:10:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit Brad Barker's Homepage  Click to see Brad Barker's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Leece-Neville was finally convinced that there was a problem with heat a year or so ago and just developed the external regulator. It is a factory install now from Blue Bird. I am not sure on other makes. The new regulator really works a lot better.

Some advice concerning dealing with the OEM's:

1. Do not rely on their engineers or salesmen to give you what is best. You may get it or you may not. Sometimes things get foaled up on the assembly line too. Competition is so high in the school bus industry that a penny makes a big difference to them.

2. Demand from the OEM's the best you can afford. You as a mechanic, shop foreman, or director need to demand what you feel is best. The OE's only build what is demanded of them. If no one demands perfection the OE's do not give it to you.

3. Make educated recommendations to those individuals who make the decisions. Then when the buses are delivered to you from the factory make sure you or someone who has authority goes over the standard AND optional items list line by line, item by item. If one single thing is not the way you ordered it and is substandard, refuse delivery of the bus. Don't sign anything until each bus is inspected and meets your approval. Of course if they want to give you something that is better than what you ordered then by all means accept it. I have heard of items from other districts and seen items first hand, come in that do not meet the state required standards or the district standards.

4. Sometimes you just have to work with what you get. But always try to make an educated recommendation to others who might have the authority. Low bid is never best in my book but it is to others.

Brad A. Barker
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CISDbusman
Senior Member

153 Posts

Posted - 12/15/2005 :  07:34:53 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Brad Barker

Leece-Neville was finally convinced that there was a problem with heat a year or so ago and just developed the external regulator. It is a factory install now from Blue Bird. I am not sure on other makes. The new regulator really works a lot better.

Some advice concerning dealing with the OEM's:

1. Do not rely on their engineers or salesmen to give you what is best. You may get it or you may not. Sometimes things get foaled up on the assembly line too. Competition is so high in the school bus industry that a penny makes a big difference to them.

2. Demand from the OEM's the best you can afford. You as a mechanic, shop foreman, or director need to demand what you feel is best. The OE's only build what is demanded of them. If no one demands perfection the OE's do not give it to you.

3. Make educated recommendations to those individuals who make the decisions. Then when the buses are delivered to you from the factory make sure you or someone who has authority goes over the standard AND optional items list line by line, item by item. If one single thing is not the way you ordered it and is substandard, refuse delivery of the bus. Don't sign anything until each bus is inspected and meets your approval. Of course if they want to give you something that is better than what you ordered then by all means accept it. I have heard of items from other districts and seen items first hand, come in that do not meet the state required standards or the district standards.

4. Sometimes you just have to work with what you get. But always try to make an educated recommendation to others who might have the authority. Low bid is never best in my book but it is to others.




What does the external reg kit usually run??

Thanks for the info!!
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Craig Thoricht
Senior Member

USA
177 Posts

Posted - 12/15/2005 :  08:39:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The brush cover is $28.13 and the regulator is $83.43 plus shipping.
It usually takes me about an hour on our Bluebird front engine transit buses.
If you need the wiring diagram let me know. Happy to help.

I'm glad some of you have good luck with the Delco units. That has not been our experience here. We are opening bids on two new buses 12-28-05 and we spec'd 270 amp alternators on those. We are hoping for the best.

Best Wishes For the Holidays-
Craig
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flyboy
Senior Member

USA
147 Posts

Posted - 01/10/2006 :  09:23:57 AM  Show Profile  Visit flyboy's Homepage  Reply with Quote
We run a mix of buses and have both Leece-Neville and Delco alternators.We seem to have about the same amount of problems with either one. The problem school buses have with any alternator is the fact that the bus uses the most current when stopped and the alternator is turning it's slowest.Alternators put out more when turning fast.One way to reduce the load on the alternator is to use multiple HD batteries.We run two group 31 12v batteries rated at 900-1000 cca.each. Another possiblility is to change the pulley on the alternator to a smaller size to increase output at idle.The output listed for alternators is developed at 2500 alternator rpm so at idle you get less. Also high output alternators need a reliable external ground.
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CISDbusman
Senior Member

153 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  2:15:58 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Craig Thoricht


Heat is the issue, especially with the Cat engine.

Regards-
Craig



Does everyone else get the same IH parts flyer as we do in Texas? Last one had three different operating temp LN alts listed and you had to get the proper one for your model engine. Seems crazy to me!!

Has Delco had to change up anything in ther alts to meet the engine temp issues of the "newer" busses??

Not trying to start a ruckus here, just simply asking for info from anyone.

I have done some serious digging on the LN/Prestolite web page and have about decided that if I stay with a LN, I need to go with a different series alt altogether.?? The one in place now is a 160 amp 2800 series. I feel I need to go with the 4836LGH in the J180 mounting configuration. The 4800 series is rated for 230 degrees unlike the 199.4 the 2800 is rated at.

http://www.prestolite.com/literature/alts/PP1114_School_Bus.pdf

What yall think, change series or makes??

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Mechan1c
Top Member

USA
665 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  3:20:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The 4800 takes up a bit more room than the 2800, esp as you go up in Amps. The stators are thicker and the rectifiers are mounted differently. We ran 4 of the 200 AMP versions of the 4800, they were good alts, big $$$, and they were 11"+ long. I measured a JB2800 and a 31SI (both 160A) and the "A" measurement was about 9 3/4" I also had a 160 AMP 9802LC on the shelf, and its about 10 1/2"
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mktreadwell
Active Member

USA
37 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2006 :  4:55:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We have had intermittent problems with LN that we took care of by going to the Powerline version. This has a higher output (275 amp) and an external regulator. It is costly, but when the math is done it is a good investment.

As far as the external regulators in the 175 or 200's--this is the best idea yet. Heat kills the internal regulators in a very short time.

Just for fun, the next one that is giving you a problem--take a wrench and see if the feilds are energized. The wrench will be attracted to the case strongly. This will drain the batteries in about 7-9 hours.

Good luck and dont give up on the LN's just yet.

Go figure.....
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