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Testing Lucas Alternators

Some background
Originally I wanted to know if the alternator on my T100 was working. The engine was in bits so I mounted the stator and rotor onto my bench grinder. This ran at about 3000 RPM but my grinder struggled to maintain speed when the stator was connected to a load. I later bought a more powerful three-phase motor and inverter and built a small test rig (on the right.) This rig can drive an alternator from 0 to 4000 RPM under load. The top limit is arbitrary as I don’t know the maximum speed of the motor! To make measurements I used a digital multimeter (DM) and a Picoscope (software oscilloscope.) Lucas specifies a 1 Ohm load resistor to test their alternators and initially I made my own from resistance wire. There is a fair amount of heat to dissipate by the load (at least 120W) and after burning my hand a couple of times I fitted a cooler running 200W device below left. I also added a selection of resistors to simulate ignition and lighting loads.

Although I started out to test my own alternator, over time this has changed and I have taken the opportunity to test any alternator I can get my hands on. I have logged the test results at the end of this document.


Testing Lucas Alternators
Stators are pretty simple devices, just a long length of copper wire wound around coil formers. Generally they will either work or they won’t. There were two types latterly produced by Lucas, single-phase and three-phase. You can identify each type by its number of output wires and coils. A single-phase stator has two wires and six coils (below left), while a three-phase stator has three wires and 9 coils (below right).

Confusingly the early single-phase stators also had three wires. This was because they were initially used on 6 volt electrical systems which had no voltage regulation (no zener). To increase alternator output whenever lights were used, extra stator coils (the third wire) were brought into use. These stators can also be used on 12v systems by connecting the green/yellow and green/black wires together to make a two wire single-phase stator. Some even earlier stator types had 5 wires but these were used on AC only bikes. Lucas stators have an ID number and date of manufacture stamped on them. To find your numbers you may have to remove your stator. Aftermarket stators tend to have only a name at best.


Testing Lucas Alternators
As far as I can tell there is no difference between single and three-phase rotors. Rotors have identifying numbers and sometimes a date.

The rotor keyway is only required for timing purpose, it is not required to drive the rotor. I never use a key on my rig and only ever just nip up the rotor nut, it never moves. You must use a key if you run a battery-less ignition system (including with a capacitor) or if you use the marks on the rotor for ignition timing. There may be rub marks on your rotor but these are not necessarily a bad thing. However there must be a gap between the rotor and stator, check yours with a feeler gauge. The gap size is not critical but make sure you can get a feeler all the way around. If the rub marks have any depth or formed grooves, check the nearest main bearing for wear.

There is a lot of forum talk about how much magnetism a rotor loses over time and what impact this might have on alternator output. I have a collection of old rotors and some are good, some are bad. Shown below two of my old Lucas rotors are very close to a new Wassell on output (C & E), two are close and rotor B wants chucking in the bin. Meter Reading Scope reading Power 1 No load 1 No Output % Ohm Ohm load AC AC Peak Peak Compared to Volts Volts Volts Volts Wassell 12.2 22.1 23.2 58.2 70 10.4 18.8 20.1 51.2 51 14.3 25.3 27.2 63.7 96 14.6 25.9 27.2 63.7 100 14.2 24.8 26.7 61.4 95 12.9 23.2 24.1 60.4 78


Make Lucas Lucas Lucas Wassell Lucas Lucas

Year 11 68

ID 54215824 54212006 ww10105p 54212006 54212006

44 78 5 69

Watts 149 108 204 213 202 166

RPM 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000


Testing Lucas Alternators
I have tested a Sparx high-output rotor and this gave a useful extra 50W output on a single phase stator and 25W extra on a three phase. Take note that this increase would stress a standard zener through overheating. A modern rec/reg should be OK with the extra output though. Power Output % Compared to Wassell 96 100 141

Rotor Lucas Wassell Sparx

Voltage 10.8 11.0 13.1

Watts 117 121 171

I used a two wire stator 47205A with 1 Ohm load at 3000 RPM in this test.

Tight Fit Rotor
While mentioning Sparx, their rotors are now an interference fit on the crankshaft. Until we know different I’d suggest using an expanding reamer or hone in the Sparx rotor bore to give yourself a bit of clearance. Rotor Lucas Wassell Sparx Bore size 0.753 0.7525 0.7505 Clearance 0.003 0.0025 0.0005 The crankshaft diameter is 0.750in. All dimensions in inches.

Rotor Offset
A rider said his rotor has a 0.25” (6.35mm) offset from his stator and wondered what effect it would have on output. I did a quick check using a standard Lucas rotor with single-phase 47205a stator running at 3000rpm without and with a load. Voltage No load 33.4 35.5 Voltage 1 Ohm 10.2 10.7 Watts 104.0 114.5 That offset caused a 9% drop in output so worth getting it right. It would be interesting to know if the offset is standard or has been caused by a mismatch of parts ie wrong size spacer or stator

Offset Aligned studs.

Shorted Stator Output
There has been some forum discussion about the power consumption of Lucas alternators, i.e. how much effort does it take to rotate a rotor. Most thought it would be at maximum effort when the output leads are shorted together. However one lone voice declared that the drive power would be at minimum with leads shorted. To test the theory I set the frequency of my inverter to 17Hz (1000 RPM) and noted the output current of the inverter with no load, with a 1 Ohm load and with the stator leads shorted together. To just drive the motor alone (no rotor or stator) the inverter current was 1.9 amps.


Testing Lucas Alternators
The tests showed that minimum power is required with shorted leads. Not surprising then that most modern rec/regs work using this system as the following example Motor current (A) shows: Stator D Stator J load 3.3 2.9 1 ohm 3.6 3.1 voltage-regulator.html shorted 2.8 2.5 I was surprised at how little difference there is between the no load and 1 ohm load values. If anyone is wondering why the no load values are so high don't forget that you have a set of rotor magnets trying to hang onto the stator poles. Since doing this test I have found Lucas circuit diagrams that show output leads shorted together in some lighting switch positions (Lucas Workshop Instructions, Section L-2, Part E, Page 3 Nov 1960). The following text was included, “In the lights ‘off’ position the alternator output is regulated to a minimum value by the interaction of a magnetic flux set up by the current flowing in the short-circuited coils with the magnetic flux of the rotor – the latter flux being distorted and therefore less effective.”

Will a shorted stator overheat?
Another forum member suggested that although it takes less power to rotate a shorted stator, over time a shorted stator would still fatally overheat. The accompanying chart shows stator J with its output leads shorted together running with a Lucas rotor at 3000 RPM. After 40 minutes the temperature is stabilising around 80 deg C. The output leads of the stator were only warm to the touch suggesting that the temperature rise is mostly caused by eddy currents. I am not sure what the internal temperature of a Triumph primary chaincase would be after 40 minutes running but I would imagine that it is likely to be 80 deg C or more.


Testing Lucas Alternators
Finally to give an idea what an alternator is doing have a look at the plot below, the output of stator M. As you can see, with no load the stator output is a straight line. If you double the speed of the rotor you double the output voltage of the stator. With a load, the curve is flattened.

100 90 80 70 60 Peak Volts DC 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 2000 RPM 4000 6000

1 Ohm load No load

Testing your alternator
RM stators are robust things; it is difficult to destroy one. If you are having charging problems it is likely to be something other than a bad alternator. Also if you replace your alternator without first testing it then the chances are you are wasting your money. If your bike suddenly develops a flat battery then to test your alternator:    First charge your battery (so you can start your bike and keep it running) Disconnect your stator Measure the stator resistance and compare your readings to mine in the tables below. When measuring very low resistances the meter lead resistance can be higher than the stator resistance so measure the lead resistance first (connect the meter leads together and note the meter reading), then measure your stator resistance and subtract the lead resistance to give actual stator resistance. Remember that with stator resistance results, near enough is good enough. If my stator measures 0.5 Ohm and yours is 0.62 Ohm then that is OK. If you have an infinite or very high stator resistance then you have a broken stator coil or stator lead. Now measure the resistance between the stator lead and the crankcase, it should always be infinite (very high). Start your bike and measure the AC voltage between leads at 3000 RPM (you don’t need the 1 Ohm resistor.) Compare your results with mine. Again, being close is good enough. Don’t just blip the throttle to make measurements, hold the revs until you get a steady meter reading.

 

If your resistances are OK but your voltage is much lower than mine then you have weak magnets in your rotor.


Testing Lucas Alternators
If your bike passes these tests then you need to look at your rectifier and zener (or your rec/reg for combined units) for your charging problems. There is further guidance here:

The log, what it all means
ID - is what I scribed onto a stator as I pulled it from the box so I could refer back if necessary. Type – single (1) or three (3) phase Number - is what was stamped onto the stator. I am not sure what the numbers mean and I suspect that you could get the same alternator type but with different numbers for each bike manufacturer. Where it says ‘unknown’ this refers to a rotor purchased new from eBay and I think of them as a Royal Enfield (India) types of stator rather than of Lucas origin. Year - what was stamped on the stator. Wires - the number of, coming from the stator. Number of laminations - counted. Lead colours - if the majority of lead colour is brown with a thin blue stripe then this is brown-blue in my log. Resistance between leads - in Ohms. As I said previously measuring low value resistance is tricky because part of the resistance you are trying to measure is caused by the meter itself; often the meter lead resistance is greater than the stator resistance. To overcome this in my tests I used the ‘four-wire’ resistance measuring method, done using two meters (hence four-wire) and a separate power supply. The power supply is used to provide a current flow through the stator being tested and one meter is connected to measure this current flow. If we now measure the voltage across the stator leads we can calculate its resistance (R=V/I). The important point is that with this method the meter lead resistance is of no concern. Using the circuit on the left I adjusted the power supply until 1 amp was flowing through the ammeter; from Ohm’s law the voltage measured across the stator is the same as the stator resistance. So if I measure 0.5v across the stator coil then its resistance is 0.5 Ohm. Watts - an idea of what the stator output power is likely to be. I have multiplied the meter reading with 1 Ohm load by itself. It is not accurate but a reasonable indication. RPM – of the rotor used for the measurement. Meter reading 1 Ohm load volts AC - what my meter measured with a 1 Ohm load. These readings are relative rather than absolute. You need what’s known as a “true RMS” meter for accurate results, my meter isn’t but it gives you an idea what to expect. 7

Testing Lucas Alternators
Meter reading no load - as above with 1 Ohm load disconnected. Peak 1 Ohm volts - peak voltage measured on my Picoscope, the dotted lines shown below.

Stator C 4000 RPM 1 Ohm load Meter reading 6.0 volts AC

This is important as it gives an indication of whether at maximum load your battery will be charged. Now a charged 12v battery measures 12.6V across its terminals, so to charge it we need more than 12.6 volts. Looking at the image above you can see the peak voltage is just over 10 volts which isn’t enough. Peak no load volts - as can be seen bellow you have plenty of voltage to charge your battery.

Stator C 4000 RPM no load Meter reading 52.1 volts AC


Testing Lucas Alternators
In practice you can never achieve “no load” as your electrical system will always have a load of some sort (the battery itself, ignition coils, zener diode.) Notes - some remarks. An ‘X’ in this column indicates the leads I used for measurement on threephase stators. DerryUK August 2013


Testing Lucas Alternators
T Y P E Stator number Y e a r Resistance Between Leads 0.916 0.451 0.484 4.790 0.847 0.851 0.851 0.849 0.858 0.860 0.234 0.529 0.530 0.517 0.519 0.519 0.519 0.829 0.831 0.844 0.704 1.102 2.350 1.092 Meter reading 1 Ohm No load AC AC Volts Volts 5.2 6.7 3.0 3000 1000 2000 3000 4000 3000 3000 1000 2000 3000 4000 3000 5.8 4.5 5.5 5.8 6.0 12.2 7.3 4.9 6.6 7.3 7.7 6.0 4.2 1.0 1.1 1.2 13.2 26.4 75.9 38.0 13.2 26.3 39.4 52.1 22.1 30.0 9.8 19.6 29.2 38.6 37.3 20.4 7.5 16.5 10.1 Scope reading 1 Ohm No load Peak Peak Volts Volts 9.1 11.2 4.5 9.6 7.8 9.1 9.5 10 23.2 12.1 8.5 11.4 12.2 12.8 9.8 6.9 1.7 1.9 1.9 35.5 92.5 203.0 67 22.3 48.0 72.0 96.3 58.2 56.8 16.4 33.5 50.4 67.0 60.3 55.7 30.1 54.9 37.8










Lead Brown Brown Red Black-white Green-yellow Green-yellow White-green Green-yellow Green-yellow White-green Green-yellow Green-yellow Green-yellow White-green Green-yellow Green-yellow White-green Green-yellow Green-yellow White-green Brown Brown Brown Brown








3 1 3

47252 47161A 47244A

89 64 88

3 2 3

21 16 20

colours brown-blue red brown-blue black Yellow Green-black White-green Green-black Green-black White-green Green-black Green-pink Green-black White-green Green-black Green-black White-green Green-black Green-black White-green Green-black Clear Red Purple Mauve

Watts 27 45 9 34



Notes No connection Stop Lamp Lights Ignition coils X

34 36 149 53








53 59 36 18 1 1 1









1 Unknown





Testing Lucas Alternators
T y p e 1 Stator number 7188B Y e a r Resistance Between Leads 0.499 3.950 0.400 4.340 0.424 0.597 1.120 1.700 0.735 2.040 1.330 0.531 0.960 Meter reading 1 Ohm No load AC AC Volts Volts 6.5 26.6 2.5 73.8 5.9 16.0 2.8 89.5 6.5 11.1 9.5 22.2 10.8 33.1 Scope reading 1 Ohm No load Peak Peak Volts Volts 10.2 78.2 3.7 225.0 9.8 37.9 4.1 265.0 13.6 31.3 17.6 62.3 17.9 92.4


Wires 5

Laminations 18

Lead Red Brown Brown Black-white White-green Light green Light green Dark green Green Green White Orange Purple

colours Brown-blue Black-white Black-yellow Black-yellow Green-yellow Mid green Dark green Mid green White Purple Purple Yellow Purple







Watts 42 6 35 8 42 90 117

RPM 3000 1000 2000 3000

Notes Marked C15






Not tested Stator did not fit my rig 71 1 29 92 41 3000 8.4 0.3 5.4 9.6 6.4 27.8 1.9 26.0 23.0 25.8 14.0 1.0 9.0 17.6 11.16 75.1 12.3 67.1 66.2 79.7 Windings In-phase 104.7 101.0 4.6 Windings In-phase Broken leads










32 Orange White-green White-green Green-black White-green Red Red Green Yellow Green-black Green-yellow Green-yellow Green-black+ green-yellow Green Yellow Yellow 149 31 88







1.199 0.584 1.788

3000 129

12.2 5.6 9.4 0

40.1 38.5 1.5

23.9 8.55 14.6 0.38











Testing Lucas Alternators
T y p e 3 Stator number Sparx Hi-output Sparx Hi-output Y e a r Resistance Between Leads 0.495 0.497 0.497 0.495 0.497 0.497 Meter reading 1 Ohm No load AC AC Volts Volts 7.9 28.0 Scope reading 1 Ohm No load Peak Peak Volts Volts 12.78 40.9


Wires 3

Laminations 20





Lead Green-yellow Green-yellow White-green Green-yellow Green-yellow White-green

colours White-green Green-black Green-black White-green Green-black Green-black

Watts 62

RPM 3000

Notes Wassell rotor Sparx hi-output rotor