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Lucas 2MC capacitor

What does it actually do? The Lucas way of using a capacitor usually looks something like this.

Here we have a single-phase alternator feeding a rectifier; on the rectifiers output is a zener to control the voltage and a capacitor. The capacitor, from Lucas explanation of the system, is to reduce the effect of alternator timing. The capacitor does this by smoothing the fluctuations of alternator output by raising the voltage in any alternator output dips. The capacitor cannot generate voltage, only the alternator can do that. To see the effect of a capacitor on an electrical system I have built the circuit alongside on my rig. I tested two stators both are a nominal 120W, a 47205A single-phase and 47244A threephase. I used the same rotor in each test. Ive used a modern encapsulated solid-state rectifier and a modern capacitor (Epcos) rated at 4,700uF 63V with a ripple current of 8.5A. I also have a 3.3 Ohm load I can switch in and out of circuit to replicate an ignition coil load. The motor speed of my rig was set at 16.6Hz which equates to 1000 RPM. I used a Pico Automotive oscilloscope with their software to make measurements.

Single-phase system
Here is the full-wave output from the alternator with no load. Note that the peak output voltage is 30 volts. The peaks are quite narrow.

Here is the output from the rectifier with no load, no zener and no capacitor. Note that the peak output voltage is now 29.5 volts, the loss of the 0.5V is due to the rectifier diodes. All the peaks are now positive. About 30% of the time the output is around 0V.

Adding a zener drops the voltage (no load, no capacitor.)

Below is the output from the rectifier with a load and capacitor.

The average voltage is just over 10V with a peak of around 12V.

Finally, just to prove a point, if we take away the load but keep the capacitor we get a straight line at 15V.

Three-phase system output


A three-phase stator has 9 coils where a single-phase has 6. Here is the output from the alternator with no load. Note that the voltage is lower than before at just over 16 volts peak but the waveform is much wider.

Below is the output from the rectifier with no load and no capacitor. The advantage of three-phase shows is shown here, nowhere does the voltage fall below 12.

Below is the output from the rectifier with the load and capacitor. It looks to be a pretty steady 9 volts.

With no load the voltage rises to 14.

Summary
The single phase alternator gave a higher output than the three-phase, but only just. Note that suitable capacitors are likely to measure 30mm in diameter and have screw or spade terminals. Use 16V as a minimum. Remember that my simulation the load just represents an ignition coil, if you put the lights on the voltage will drop further; this may have an effect on your ignition and indicators. I have not yet tested a modern encapsulated rec/reg. If you want to use one I would suggest you select a device that is rated for working with a capacitor and no battery. DerryUK January 2013