another setback

Didn’t make it to the dyno.  Friday night, I took the truck out for  a little bit of a shakedown run, and realized the alternator wasn’t doing its job.  I brought it back to the garage, ran a couple tests, and found the regulator was shot.  No output.  So I pulled the alternator.

I was at the auto parts store when they opened at 7:30, and they gave me a new one (reman) since this one I got from them in FEBRUARY.

Alternator went on, truck fired up with good voltage, and I was GONE.




I got about 10 blocks down the road when the dash went blank and the engine died.  NOTHING.  No dash lights, no buzzers, no engine, nada.  I pulled off Market St., parked in a driveway to an apartment complex, and then saw smoke coming out of the engine bay.  NOT GOOD!

I opened the hood (breaking the 16 year old piece of metal that holds the hood latch cable to the handle), lifted the hood, and found flames snaking up from behind the alternator.  SONOFA!!!!!  I ran to the cab, grabbed the handy bottle of water I used to keep the V6 radiator topped off, and luckily had plenty in there to douse the flames.  Pant, Pant, Pant.

Turns out that I didn’t get the alternator wire (BATT+, remember) far enough away from the engine, and it had been contacting the headers on occasion.  As I charged up the Market St. hill out of Ballard, the up angle on the truck caused it to continuously rub on the header, which burned the insulation off.  When the bare wire contacted the header next, it sparked, and the battery started discharging directly through the engine back to the negative post.  This welded the wire to the header, and caused all the electronics to shut down, including the fuel injection system.  I quickly disconnected the battery and was able to pry the wire off the header with a screwdriver.  Hopefully, the ceramic coating isn’t TOO badly damaged from the electricity (yeah right..I’m not that lucky), but what can I do except see if it fails?

I taped up the wire, reconnected the battery and everything appeared to work well, although the battery had drained sufficiently to be incapable of starting the truck.  My wife came with a car and I got a jump start, and it ran fine all the way home.  I was so frustrated, and even afraid, that I cancelled the dyno appointment (I would have been late anyway), and didn’t touch it the rest of the weekend.
I did buy a replacement battery cable and some cable stops to hopefully fix the hood pull.  I’m out of town two days this week, but I’m going to try to do some driving tonight and tomorrow night, and next week in the evenings.  Hopefully by next weekend, I’ll have enough confidence to get it over to Kirkland to try and do some tuning again.

Incidentally, I found a build on Car Craft’s website where they did heads, a cam, roller rockers on an LT1 and the motor gave 412hp/402lb-ft.  Not too shabby, I say!


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