If your cruising around town in your Tri-Five Chevy, it’s a good bet your car still has a generator under the hood. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because auto manufacturers used them with great success for many years. During the ‘60s however, manufacturers made a switch and started using alternators.
While your car can produce electric power with either a Direct Current (DC) generator or an alternator — which creates Alternating Current (AC). There was a time when the automotive world solely used DC generators. In case you didn’t realize that time has long since passed. The benefits of an alternator make it the preferred choice over the old DC generator.
But there are two concerns many Tri-Five enthusiasts have when contemplating a conversion to an alternator — appearance, and complexity of the electrical connections. Thanks to the folks at Danchuk Manufacturing, both can be alleviated.
The main component we’ll talk about for this swap is the Powermaster PowerGEN. While it looks like a factory generator, the internal parts have been modified to make it work like an alternator.
The PowerGEN alternator combines the look of a generator with the output and reliability of an alternator. PowerGEN units offer one-wire operation and produce up to 90 amps — with a whopping 60 amps at idle.
With a couple of hand tools and an afternoon, you can easily upgrade your Tri-Five with modern components and retain that factory look. The ’55 and ’56 models are the same and will use a Danchuk PN: 403 wiring harness. The ’57 is basically the same as ’55 and ’56 cars, but there are subtle differences.
Another thing to keep in mind, is there are two different-length generators used on Tri-Five cars. Before you order any parts, you will need to use the corresponding-length PowerGEN alternator or change your brackets. If you do not have brackets, they are available through Danchuk. PN: 1206 is for a 7-inch bracket and PN: 1205 is for a 6-inch bracket. The original adjustment bracket is PN:1299 for the V8 engines. Finally, mounting kits are available by ordering PN: 13533 and 13565.
Generator Or Alternator
Generators are the less complicated of the two. They generate power with simple mechanical motion. As long as the shaft keeps turning, the generator produces electricity. An alternator is more complicated because it needs to convert AC current to DC current. This adds an extra step to the process. Despite its added complexity, the benefits of an alternator make it the better choice of the two.
One benefit of an alternator is its parts are more robust than what you’ll find in a generator. This lets them rotate more quickly without the risk of causing damage. The higher rotation speed means an alternator can generate more power overall. It also means an alternator can produce more power at lower speeds. This helps develop a charge even when a vehicle is idling.
Installing a new PowerGEN is an easy process and one that can be accomplished in an afternoon. To see all the details and complete installation tips and tricks, click here and you’ll be directed to the complete install process with Danchuk.
If having the appearance of a stock generator is not a concern for you, Danchuk also has parts for you to upgrade to a more modern traditional-looking alternator. For conversions that will utilize the Delco 10SI (Lester 7127) or similar alternator, there are different brackets depending on your situation.
If your classic has a V8 engine, Danchuk offers the Bill’s Hot Rod alternator bracket (Danchuk PN:12550). If your classic has a six-cylinder engine, you will need to use the Danchuk PN: 14224 alternator conversion bracket kit if you want to use the Delco 10SI alternator.
Whether you choose the PowerGEN or 10SI GM alternator from Danchuk, as easy as this upgrade is to complete, there is no reason your Tri-Five should suffer the ill effects of an outdated generator.
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