Charging System Basics
Most cars have a relatively simple "primary" electrical system. There's the battery which holds lots of stored power for starting the engine and regulating the secondary power usage. That part is obvious. Wired into that battery are the starter and the alternator (or generator in older cars). These are motors for opposite functions. One, the starter, eats the most power while the other generates power. Connecting these together are wires and the ignition switch. Seriously, that's pretty much it for the charging system. There could be a voltage regulator (VR) between the alternator and the battery, but oftentimes these are integrated into the alternator so you don't need to worry about them independently. The VR is separate on the original '72 bus, mounted on the right side of the firewall in the engine compartment. There are lots of other things connected into the electrical system, of course, but for today I'm focusing on getting the the battery to charge.
And We're Talking about this Why?
Fortunately, it was mid-afternoon on a Friday, so the traffic wasn't too bad. I got AAA on the phone and stood behind the little orange car in the sprinkling rain waving cars around me. While waiting for the truck, an ambulance pulled up behind me. One of the guys helped me push the car some of the way up the ramp. At the intersection, a couple of guys hopped out of a car and helped push the rest of the way up the ramp and around the corner to where I could turn onto Allen Blvd and coast downhill. I came to a stop around the corner on King and Lee where Oliver was loaded onto a flatbed.
|LM 11009 (BA7s)|
|top: blown bulb|
bottom: new bulb
Even if the "Ignition" bulb weren't critical to getting a charge, it is wise to run with all of your warning lights working. Gauges are great, but when you're enjoying the scenery or enduring bumper-to-bumper rubber-banding traffic, you may not note your gauges as often. A bright red light on your dash attracts the eye. And, in my case, I don't have a battery / charging gauge to tell me how well my electrical system is. I like the stock look, so I doubt I'll change that, but if I wasn't thinking about it before, I kind of am now.
Anyway, that's it for today. Thanks, as always, for following along.