World's cheapest alternator rebuild (Hint: it was free) - Lincoln Mark VIII air suspension hijinks

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So, in an effort to convert my Dad's Lincoln Mark VIII back from being a "low rider" - entirely undesired, I realized we needed to rebuild the alternator.

The system wasn't pumping up the air, and we did have a leak at one rear bag solenoid. Anyway, this was NOT what we wanted:

IMG-4431.jpg


Scouring Lincoln/Ford forums, someone mentioned it didn't get proper pump action if under 13.5V. I tested the battery at idle and the alternator was making 13.4V. Not ideal at any rate. Probably not our problem, but a need to address anyway. We pulled the alternator and found one brush retracted and not contacting (and the corresponding split ring to the retracted one was grooved, and pitted badly). The brushes in the regulator/holder assembly looked like this when we removed them ( I am replicating it with my thumb since we had freed it at this point):

IMG-4427.jpg


I did some searching and the replacement assembly was $40, steep for a pair of brushes IMO. I tested it while running with a multimeter for AC voltage to make sure the VR was good, no traces. Really, it came down to brushes (bearings where whisper quiet).

While I was searching that on the computer, dad blasted the whole thing with ether (he got a case of starting fluid for $.99/can, so it flows like water with him...). Then the brush popped out and I realized it was just stuck with dust and carbon. We cleaned up the regulator/brush holder, polished the split rings - (this kinda takes three hands):

IMG-4428.jpg


Popped it back in and 14V vs. the 13.4 before. 14V at idle is not ideal, but it will work. I know in this situation people would drop $200 to $350 for a new alternator, but if you'll just take it apart and service it, it's an easy way to save some money.

The alternator on this 1997 car is original, 126k on the car in total. Cleaning carbon dust out was all it took, not slapping in new inferior parts (and most rebuilt LAPS alternators are way less reliable).
 
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Great job! Is that a 4G alternator?

Those are beautiful cars, especially in LSC trim. Your dad's looks to be in great shape!
 

Oro_O

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Great job! Is that a 4G alternator?

Those are beautiful cars, especially in LSC trim. Your dad's looks to be in great shape!

I gather it is in fact a 4G alternator. I am not a Ford expert, but these particular alternators were only on the 4.6l on Town Cars, Mark VIII's, and mustangs from 96 to 2003-ish. It's stuck in the "V" and it's hot in there, that can't be helpful for wear. Even after hours sitting like that, we went back to install the alternator and I could not put my hand back in the mounting area; the heat from the engine and the intake manifold was too intesnse - hours later. That's why putting an alternator in the "V" of a V8 is tempting, but stupid.

A little elbow work and this one could be museum quality. Pacific North West cars age amazing if garaged/taken care of. The underside of the car, exhaust, etc. - looks fantastic, too. Only real issue on this one is the driver's seat trim (plastic surround on the side) is all broken. No Idea why. Have tried to replace it, no luck.
 
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First of all, great save.

A Mark VIII is one of my "bucket list" cars. My dad had a 94 TBird that he drove the wheels off of(he use to trade cars yearly because he'd drive a lot for work, but got that one with 15K in about 95 and sold it with 125K on it-more mile than I remember him putting on one car even though it would have gone a lot further I'm sure), and then bought a 98 Continental after he retired and racked up another honest 100K behind the wheel of it over several years. If I'm not mistaken, the Mark VIII is a longer TBird chassis with the Intech engine used in the Continental and a lot of the same tech(albeit with the high-speed suspension drop added in).

In any case, I'd have looked at doing the same thing. In general, I have a low opinion of a lot of currently available parts. That's especially true as cars get older and many owners start getting a bit more tight with what they will spend and some things like alternators may be on their 2nd or 3rd rebuild.

If it's within my capability, I often opt to recondition myself. It's not only less expensive, but often gets me a better end result and saves money plus the satisfaction of saving what's probably a better quality original(or original replacement) part.
 
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The DIY fortitude is refreshing to see and the write up is sharp. ...The owners manual crowd though doesn't see fixing brushes and polishing slip rings anywhere in the manual? :eek:
 
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