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5 Things You Should Know Before Using a High-Output Alternator

1 wire Alternator

 

So you’re considering swapping out your stock alternator.

There are plenty of good reasons to make the leap to a high-output alternator, but you’ll need to do a little bit of homework first. Luckily, we’ve got smart friends to help us with our studies, so you can ace the topic. In conjunction with the alternator experts at Powermaster and MSD, we’ve compiled the five things you need to know before upgrading to a high-amp, or high-output alternator.

This starts with the most basic of questions:

Do You Really Need a High-Output Alternator?

If you’ve got a basic, stock vehicle, chances are you don’t need a high-output alternator. Most factory alternators are rated at 65 to 100 amps and are capable of handling your vehicle’s basic necessities, such as headlights, gauges, fuel pumps, A/C, etc. These alternators also typically come with a 10 to 15 percent reserve to handle additional accessories.

However, many of our readers don’t have a stock vehicle. For example, you may have a custom-built street rod with a unique combination of accessories. Or you may have a high-end stereo system or a race vehicle with an array of on-board electronics. As the electrical load of all these accessories add up, you may find yourself in need of a higher-amperage alternator.

But how do you know?

There are a few ways to figure out whether you need to upgrade your alternator. A few telltale signs are dim headlights, poor stereo system performance, or an alternator that simply wears out quickly. You can also check your electrical load using an ammeter. Simply connect the ammeter in series with the battery’s ground terminal (with the engine turned off), switch each electrical component on and off, and note their amperage draws. Add up the total electrical draw and compare with your alternator’s rated output. The output should be 50 percent greater than the draw.

One final way to estimate your vehicle’s electrical load is to check the accessory fuses. The amp ratings, although slightly higher than the highest draw of each component, will give you a good estimate of your vehicle’s electrical load.

What Amperage Do You Need?

That depends on the current draw, along with any future accessories you plan to add. For that reason, we’ve supplied a list of some common accessories and their amp draw:

Accessory: Amp Draw:
Air Conditioner 20-21
Audio Power Amplifiers 10-70
Back-up Lamps 3-4
Cigarette Lighter 10-12
CD/Tuner with amp 7-14
CD/Player/Tuner without amp 2.5-5
Clock 0.3
Dome Light 1-2
Electric Cooling Fans 6-15
Head Lamp Dimmer 2
Head Lamp (Low Beam) 8-10
Head Lamp (High Beam) 13-15
Heater Defroster 6-15
Horn 10-20
Ignition 1.5-4
Ignition (Racing) 8-36
Instrument Panel 0.7-1.5
Lamp, Gauges 1.5-3.5
Lamps, License Plate 1.5-2
Lamps, Parking 1.5-2
Lamps, Side Marker 1.3-3
Lamps, Tail 5-7
Nitrous Oxide Solenoid 5-8
Power Windows Defroster 1-30
Power Seats 25-50
Power Windows 20-30
Power Antenna 6-10
Pumps, Electric Fuel 3-8
Starter Solenoid 10-12
Voltage Regulators (1 Wire) 0.3-0.5

How Much is Too Much?

You can never have too much amperage when it comes to alternators; therefore, you never have to worry about choosing an alternator with too high of a rated output. Here’s why:

Amperage is basically the amount of electrical current your alternator can supply. And it basically operates off of supply and demand. That is, your alternator will only supply the amount of amperage a particular component demands—and no more. So high-output alternators will not harm your components or charging system, no matter how high you go with the amps.

What Gauge Wire Do You Need?

8 Gauge Wire

A performance alternator really doesn’t require much in the way of modifications. However, Powermaster and other alternator manufacturers do recommend you replace both the ground straps and charge wire. Keep in mind the factory cables weren’t designed to handle the juice of a higher-output alternator, and can restrict the flow of electricity.

In the case of the charge wire, you really can’t go too large. However, here is a chart that matches cable gauge size to total amperage:

Amps Up to 4′ 4′-7′ 7′-10′ 10′-13′ 13′-16′ 16′-19′ 19′-22′ 22′-28′
0-20 14 12 12 10 10 8 8 8
20-35 12 10 8 8 8 6 6 4
35-50 10 8 8 6 6 4 4 4
50-65 8 8 6 4 4 4 4 2
65-85 6 6 4 4 4 2 2 0
85-105 6 6 4 2 2 2 2 0
105-125 4 4 4 2 2 2 2 0
125-150 2 2 2 2 2 0 0 0

What is Pulley Ratio (and Why Should You Care)?

In short, pulley ratio is a comparison between the crankshaft pulley diameter and alternator pulley diameter. This ratio is derived by dividing the crank pulley diameter by the alternator pulley. For example, a 6-inch crank pulley with 2-inch alternator pulley will yield a 3:1 pulley ratio.

The ratio has a direct effect on how fast the alternator spins.

In order to understand the importance of pulley ratio, you first need to understand the “power curve” involved with alternator output. Although the alternator’s output is dependent upon engine speed, it follows a unique curve. At idle, small changes in the alternator’s speed can make a big difference, so the pulley ratio becomes very important.

Powermaster supplies its alternators with pulleys matched to the alternator’s power curve. The company follows this common rule of thumb:

  • Street use = 3:1 ratio or slightly higher
  • Drag racing = 1.75:1 ratio
  • Circle track = 1:1 ratio

So why should you care?

Because differing ratios can affect performance, you should take care to maintain the same pulley ratio if you decide to use dress-up pulley sets. A mismatched pulley ratio and alternator can lead to big problems, especially at idle where alternator performance is critical. That’s because these high-amp units typically lose output under 2,400 rotor rpm. Rotor rpm are a factor of pulley ratio multiplied by engine speed. So, if you have a pulley ratio of 2:1 multiplied by an engine speed of 870, you’ll get a rotor rpm of 1,827.

At 1,827 rpm, you’ll see a significant drop in alternator output.

Again, the ideal ratio depends on your application (street, drag racing, circle track racing), but you need to understand the effects of altering pulley ratio.

With all this in mind, you’re ready to choose the right alternator for your application.

Article Courtesy of David Fuller

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The 2015-2016 5.0 Coyote is impressive by itself but fast is never fast enough!! 2017  Mustang GT features  the Aluminator crate engine series, the 5.2-liter Aluminator XS. Capable of producing  570+ horsepower, the 5.2L Aluminator XS offers an aftermarket option for  enthusiasts looking for enhanced powertrain options.

5-2-short-block

How does the 5.2L Aluminator XS differ from the engine in the GT350?  

Significantly. The Aluminator 5.2L XS combines all of the FPP highest-performing Coyote engine parts built since 2011 into one package:

  • Ford Performance Parts Cobra Jet 5.0L 4V intake manifold Engineered for the mustang cobra jet drag car  allows for an additional 20-25hp @ 8000 RPM
  • Ford Performance Parts 65-mm Cobra Jet billet aluminum throttle body M-9926-CJ65 – Dual 65mm throttle body that allows better flow over 5.0L or 5.2L throttle bodies
  • Ford Performance Parts fully CNC ported 5.2 cylinder heads with custom high lift (5.0L firing order) camshafts to allow better flow and correct timing for a cross plane crankshaft
  • High-performance timing chain tensioners
  • Custom H-beam connecting rods & forged crankshaft – a cross-plane crankshaft is used to keep GT350 exclusive with the flat-plane crankshaft
  • Includes 200 amp alternator

.What do you see the intended use of this engine for Mustang enthusiasts?

This engine can be used as a crate engine in high-end resto-mod builds or used as an engine upgrade for customers building track-day cars.

How did Ford  go about developing the 5.2L Aluminator XS?

FPP engineers made slight modifications to work with the cross-plane crank.  As a result, the Aluminator XS is a capable, high-revving. One thing we set out to do with the new Aluminator was keep the flat-plane crankshaft exclusive to GT350. Doing that meant integrating a cross-plane crankshaft which was a challenge because it changes the firing order which impacts valve timing.

 ALUMINATOR  XS CRATE ENGINE FEATURES

coyote-xtreme

Maximum Coyote Crate – 570+ Horsepower

  • 5.2L – 317 cubic inches
  • 12:1 compression ratio (nominal)
  • Ford Performance 5.2L GT350 aluminum block
  • Mahle® hard anodized forged pistons with low friction coating
  • Manley® H-beam connecting rods with ARP2000 bolts
  • Lightweight aluminum cylinder block features cross-bolted main bearing caps
  • Camshafts Camshaft kit – M-6550-M52A
  • M-6675-M50BR 12 quart rear sump oil pan features optimized oil drain back and windage tray to control oil and improve high-rpm performance
  • M-6600-50CJ High Performance oil pump with billet steel gears
  • M-9424-M50CJ Cobra Jet tuned intake manifold
  • M-9926-CJ65 dual bore throttle body
  • M-9593-LU47 47 lb. fuel injectors
  • Ford Performance GT350 fully CNC ported aluminum heads M-6049-M52 & M-6050-M52
  • M-12A227-CJ13 high RPM pulse ring
  • M-8600-M50BALT alternator and mount kit
  • M-6P067-M50BK black coil covers
  • M-12405-M50A heat range zero (0) spark plugs
  • M-6731-FL820 oil filter

 



Flat Out: Inside the Shelby GT350 Mustang’s Engine

On the outside it may look like your garden variety 5.0-liter Coyote V8 found in the engine bay of a Mustang GT or F-150, but appearances can be deceiving. “This is a new engine top to bottom,” said Eric Ladner, engine program supervisor at Ford. The list of changes and enhancements compared to the standard five-oh are exhaustive.

2016-ford-shelby-gt350-crankshaft

And as you’ve no doubt heard, the most important update of all is the crankshaft. Engineers eschewed a traditional cross-plane arrangement for one that’s flat. Rather than having the throws arranged at 90-degree intervals the Shelby GT350’s are set 180-degrees apart. Flat-plane cranks are common in supercars like Ferraris where maximum performance is a top concern but this is the first time Ford’s ever offered one and they’ve been mass-producing V8s for more than eight decades, ever since old Henry’s first flathead rolled out of the Rouge foundry in 1932.

Ladner said, “Flat-plane cranks are inherently lighter than their cross-plane counterparts.” This is because bulky counterweights are not required to balance them. But he also cautioned that crankshafts account for less than 15 percent of an engine’s rotating mass, so this is hardly their only benefit.

Beyond all of this, they “[allow] all the cylinders breathe the same,” said Christian, which makes tuning the engine much easier so they can run it closer to the ragged edge and get more power. Additionally, the Shelby GT350’s crank is made from forged steel for extra strength and it’s been “gun-drilled,” meaning holes have been punched through each of its throws to further cut mass. These openings also allow the adjacent bays inside the block to breathe together, further reducing parasitic drag.

Bored and Stoked Another major change compared to other Coyote V8s is this powerplant’s internal dimensions. Giving it that extra 0.2-liters of lung capacity is a larger bore and longer stroke. The 5.2’s digits clock in at 94 millimeters by 93 millimeters, respectively. If you’re curious, a regular 5.0-liter measures 92.2 by 92.7.

2016-ford-shelby-gt350-intake-manifold

Instead of traditional cylinder liners that are either pressed or cast into place the Shelby’s engine uses a plasma transferred wire-arc technology, which saves a significant amount of mass. Additionally its block is unique to this application but the bore spacing and deck height are identical to a five-oh so the same machine tools can be used. The GT350’s engines will be assembled on Ford’s niche line in Romeo, Michigan; standard Coyotes are built in Windsor, Ontario.

These rotating components squeeze incoming air and fuel with a frighteningly high 12-to-1 compression ratio and apparently that’s ok. Thanks to exhaustive computer modeling the engine runs just fine on 93 octane pump gas and it doesn’t even have direct injection. According to Ladner this feature “wasn’t necessary to meet our performance targets,” plus DI systems are heavier and add cost.

Moving into the basement, this engine features a composite oil pan that saves more weight, about 20 percent in fact. But it’s hardly just a sump; it also contains an integrated pickup and windage tray, all in one unit. A higher-capacity oil pump ensures there’s plenty of lubrication at all times.

Breathe Deeply

Taking an elevator ride topside, the Shelby engine breathes through an 87-millimeter throttle-body, the largest Ford’s ever fitted, as well as an open-element air filter. Beyond this there’s an all-new intake manifold. Its runners are both longer and larger in diameter than the ones found in the dearly departed Boss 302. This configuration bolsters torque production across the rev range and all told, 90 percent of peak twist is available at just 3,450 RPM.

The cylinder heads are where all the magic happens in modern engines and the 5.2-liter V8’s have received special attention. For starters they’ve been strategically lightened and weigh about 6 percent less than the ones that cap off a standard Coyote block. Beyond this, the engine’s enlarged bores allowed for even bigger valves to help get copious amounts of fuel and air into the cylinders and speedily evacuate spent exhaust gasses once the mixture’s gone off.

Overall this engine is lighter than the 5.0-liter V8 on which it’s based and it puts out A LOT more power. And despite spinning beyond 8,000 RPM it has to meet the same durability requirements as any other Ford product. Accordingly it will be backed by the same warranty, so don’t be afraid to tickle that redline.

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Dropping a Coyote  Engine into a Vintage Bronco

What do you do when you have a vintage Bronco and want stronger V-8 power? You probably look to Mustang engines. But what if you already have a hot rod pony powerplant and want more?

 

Perhaps a Coyote crate engine . This “Aluminator” engine is a 5.0L Four-Valve unit with an 11:1 compression ratio and comes complete with a manual transmission engine injector harness. Lamb Fab pulled the existing engine and started working to fit the wider, modular Ford V-8 under the hood. The work required modifications to the fenderwells, front cowl, steering shaft, and front driveshaft along will all the other usual changes that have to be made when a different engine is swapped in.  Front Runner Pulley system

For this swap, the Coyote engine was mated to a six-speed auto. This in turn was adapted to the existing Dana 20 transfer case that has a twin-stick shifter setup.

trans-adapter

Follow along as we detail some of the tasks needed to complete this swap. The results are impressive to say the least. With 435-plus horsepower on tap, there are plenty of ponies to make this Bronco move rapidly. With backing of the six-speed, the engine is always in powerband and drivability is awesome, especially when compared to the older three-speed C4 auto it had previously. It is supersmooth now.

The complete powertrain is temporarily assembled for test fitting. It is a clean setup adapting modern to vintage for this classic Ford. The six-speed auto transmission In the final configuration, driveshaft lengths were unchanged. However, some mods were made to the front driveshaft to clear the larger transmission. No CV joint was used, but high-angle U-joints were needed.

An adapter  was sourced to mate the modern auto transmission to the Dana 20 that was already in the Bronco. Multiple bolt holes on the adapter allow for numerous clocking configurations to place the t-case at almost any angle relative to the transmission.

To best mate the engine to the Bronco framerails and make moving the engine in and out easier, an engine cradle were fabbed under the oil pan that bolts to full-metal engine mount plates using urethane bushings. The cradle then sits in a set of pocket brackets on the framerails. Determining the final engine placement took some time to ensure that the hood, radiator, and firewall clearances were maintained.

heidts-frame

Ford Racing headers were used but modified a bit to fit around the inner fenders and steering shaft.  Cut off and reworked some of the tubes as needed.

bronco-headers

The Coyote engine computer itself monitors water temperature and oil pressure.  Autometer gauges used in dash. The mechanical water temp sensor was plumbed into one of the heater ports on the new engine.

Since the Coyote engine was primarily designed for late-model Mustangs that use electric power steering, no steering pump is provided on the engine. Use of a Vintage Air Front Runner Setup includes the Power Steering Pump.

As work progressed, the engine was placed in and pulled out of the engine bay a number of times for fit checks. The Coyote engine is a good bit wider across the cylinder heads than the older 302 V-8 it replaces.The Bronco uses a 1980s Ford 2WD steering box and a Borgeson shaft. The position of the Ididit steering column had to be modified, as did the inner fender panel in order to push the steering shaft a bit more to the driver side to clear the wider engine. You can also see the beginning of a frame mount to capture the engine cradle

The shop fabricated this simple, high-clearance mount for the adapter at the end of the transmission. It mates with two pairs of tabs on the inner framerails and attaches with two bolts.

Coyote 5.0 Bronco Engine Swap Radiator

The radiator is from a late-model Thunderbird; it is very slim and packaged well. The Coyote engines are quite thermally efficient, so very large volumes of coolant aren’t needed. A 60-plus-psi inline electric pump was installed along the framerail to feed fuel to the new engine.

 Coyote 5.0 Bronco Engine Swap Radiator Filler Hoses Neck

The radiator is a closed-style, having no top radiator cap. An inline radiator fill assembly was used, simply spliced into the upper radiator hose. Hoses are late-model Mustang pieces. All hoses were secured with heat-shrink hose clamps.

Coyote 5.0l Bronco Engine Swap Radiator Steam Line

These modern motors usually require a cooling system steam line. In this case it was run with a rubber hose to a connection at the top of the radiator. This radiator also had an integrated cooler for the transmission fluid with inlet and outlet connections.

Coyote 5.0l Bronco Engine Swap Transmission Lines

A set of factory Ford steel fluid lines was mated to the automatic transmission and routed forward. They were cut off just forward of the crank pulley, and compression fittings were used to adapt to rubber lines leading to the cooler integrated in the radiator. Also tucked up on the bottom side of the engine is an OEM Ford starter. Wiring was straightforward, and the existing Bronco connections were all used on the new starter.

Coyote 5.0l Bronco Engine Swap Power Steering Reservoir

A remote power steering reservoir from a late-model Mustang was mounted up near the cowl on the passenger side along with a small cooler for the steering system. Low- and high-pressure pump lines were custom fabricated and run from the pump on the passenger side to the steering box on the driver side.

 Coyote 5.0 Bronco Engine Swap Shifter

auto shifter from the 2013 F-150 that’s designed to work with the six-speed transmission. Functions include manual tap-shift capability and tow/haul mode selection. The shop fabricated a metal console to mount and house the shifter, then had it covered in bedliner material to match the interior floor of the Bronco.

Coyote 5.0 Bronco Engine Swap Transfer Case Shifter

The transfer case shifter assembly was custom fabricated. The shifter mount is bolted to a tab point on the new transmission.

Coyote 5.0l Bronco Engine Swap Accelerator Pedal

The Coyote engine control uses signals from a drive-by-wire throttle assembly so no mechanical throttle cable routing is necessary. Installed an accelerator pedal assembly from a 2013 F-150.

 5.0 Coyote Bronco Engine Swap Battery Computer Harness Fuse Box

A Ford Racing engine harness was used along with the engine computer. It was programmed  and sits on the passenger-side wheelwell just ahead of the battery. These units are designed to survive heat and vibration under the hood, so mounting here is no problem. A Bussman fuse box on the inner fender provides overcurrent protection and cleans up the power supply wiring.

5.0l Coyote Bronco Engine Swap Radiator Cowl Photo

Along with using the slim radiator with the new engine, cut out much of the original cowl.  then bridged the area with a new crossmember that preserves the strength but is much more compact.

5.0 Coyote Bronco Engine Swap

The air intake was put together from generic air intake fittings, and a large Spectre open element filter was isolated in a cold air box. The finished engine swap looks superclean sitting in the Bronco. It fits, but there’s very little leftover airspace under the hood.

SOURCES

Lamb Fab