1. Caleb

    Caleb Loyal Comrade

    Alright so last night I ventured out in the Trabi during the day and had a pleasant drive out to the parents house. car ran well enough and no problems. Then the sun went down... I am talking full on Jeykell and Hyde kind of stuff. The drive home was eventful to say the least. Everything started off just fine. The car started just fine and we pulled out on the road with lights on low beam. made it up to fourth gear about 1/4 mile for the parents drive way and within 10-15 seconds of being in 4th gear the car dies. Lights are still lit but engine is dead. Car will not restart by dropping into lower gear and letting off clutch. I don't like using this method so I only tried once and then came to complete stop. car took a minute or 2 to restart. She fired back up and away we went. got her back into 4th gear about 1/2 mile from first stop and the same thing happens again. This was my drive home for a good 35-40 minutes. After the 7th time the car died on me I finally gave up and called the wife to bring the trailer and haul the Trabi home. I did notice that the red warning light on the speedo seemed to glow a little as the speed increased while driving. It never came on full bright unless the engine died. and while stopped with the lights on it usually did not come on but once I would take off or rev the engine while stopped on the side of the road it would glow a little as the revs increased.

    I was able to make it to a church parking lot while waiting on my wife to bring the trailer. Out of curiosity I let the car continue to run. I checked the fan belt while running and everything was there and seemed fine. I drove around in circles a few times while waiting, with the lights off as the parking lot was lit. Car seemed to drive around and run just fine in the parking lot. Idle was fine. Cut-off and restart was fine. The only difference was the lights were off. We loaded the car and took it home. After unloading I started it back up and backed into the garage with no fuss at all. and that was the end of my night.

    So my question is does everybody drive at night on a regular basis with no problems? I know a lot of you have upgraded to the 12v system and it is more reliable when it come to electronics like lights. I am still running a 6v and would like to keep it that way (original). Am I resigned to a day time driver? What can I do? First thought is to replace the dynamo but I would like to have it tested first to see if maybe its not creating enough power to send back to the battery.

    Sorry for the long post. I was pretty aggravated last night with the car. For it to run so well in the day and with no lights on and then to run so poorly with the lights is frustrating. Also the battery on the car is just over 1 year old.
  2. RHFabrications

    RHFabrications Loyal Comrade

    Similar symptoms to a blocked fuel tank breather?
  3. Caleb

    Caleb Loyal Comrade

    If it were a fuel issue, I.e. Tank, quality, amount. Wouldn't it have the same issues even if the lights are off? Mine was only having issues last night when the lights were on.
  4. mati0921

    mati0921 Loyal Comrade

    My trabi is 12V with alternator
    One day i noticed when the ignition was on the charge light did not turn on. did'nt think more about it until tree days later. i was on my way to work and the high beab stopped working. took the cover off the relay and swiched it manually on the relay. 2 km later lights was getting weaker and weaker until it ran completely out of electricity and the engine died out... Got my dad to drive me to work and left the trabi at the roadside. :)
    Later that day we went with a trailer to take it home, and it started and drove home, but without the lights on. :)
    Alternater was toast, so it was not charging the battery. apparantly it can drive quite far only on the battery. must have been 3 or 4 days, 60 km a day. :)

    Start it up and put a voltmeter on the battery, should be around 7V :)
  5. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Loyal Comrade

    I don't do allot of night time driving in my Trabant but do drive it in the dark from time to time.

    My charge indicator lamp started doing some funky things after I started making some "upgrades". When I would pull out from a dead stop in 1st gear, the indicator light would actually get brighter. Shouldn't a generator (dynamo) produce less voltage at lower RPMs instead of higher RPMs?

    I once drove 20 miles with the headlamps on and never had any problems.

    My guess was from where I had added several circuits to the car such as 50/55 watt H4 bulbs (with adapters), those auxiliary lights which come on with the high beams pretty much maxed out the 220 watt generator. It wasn't until I added electronic ignition which runs off my 6 to 12 V converter that I started seeing the light glow. My guess is that system pulls allot of current.

    I ended up installing a 60 amp AC Delco alternator with a 6V internal regulator. Now I have double the electrical power. No issues whatsoever. I was having some idling issues when I turned on the headlamps but after I installed new battery cables that problem went away.

    No, putting a Chevrolet alternator on a Trabant is not for the purists but it was a easier and cheaper solution to getting more amperage out of a 6 volt electrical system without having to change all the bulbs, starter, relays, etc.

    I did have some photos on my Photobucket album of my installation but accidently deleted them. I wrote up an article on Instructables:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Install-a-6-volt-alternator-on-your-old-car/
  6. 'bant

    'bant Loyal Comrade

    In Norway I have to run with dipped headlights all the time. I ran the car like this for the 250km journey home after I bought it. The car has the standard dynamo on it but I haven't had the car cut out as a result of having the headlights on. Your problem sounds more like a fuel feed or intermittent ignition fault to me.
  7. Caleb

    Caleb Loyal Comrade

    I have not completely ruled out a fuel / ignition issue but based on what the car was doing I really feel like it is more an electrical issue. We took the car out to a car show over the weekend. I had hooked the charger up to the battery just to give it a boost in case I had run it down the other night. we drove a total of about 24 miles majority of which was at 80 km/h with some small rolling hills. The car ran great the whole way there. When we were leaving the car was running fine and we started to run into a small rain shower. I turned the wipers on for maybe 2 minutes and then the car started stalling out again. We were able to stop and keep the car running. Once we took off again I did not use the wipers any more and the car ran fine the rest of the trip home.

    So long as nothing comes up tonight I will be testing the battery to see the voltage being produced when the car is running. I will let you all know what I find out. I am also going test the fuel line to see how much fuel is flowing out and how clean it is. The battery cables on the car seem really clean with no corrosion but could the connections on the dynamo be too dirty causing a bad connection leading to the stalling when using the lights?
  8. Caleb

    Caleb Loyal Comrade

    Well after a voltage test here are the results:

    Engine off: 6.5v
    Engine at idle: 6.4v
    Headlights on low beam: 6.3v @ idle
    Headlights on high beam: 6.2v @ idle

    it did appear that as the revs increased the voltage would increase but as soon as the revs dropped back down so would the voltage. I am not well versed in automotive electronics so can some one else tell me what they think? @mati0921 you had said it should be 7v at idle correct? does this mean the dynamo/generator is going or gone bad? could it be something else?
  9. mati0921

    mati0921 Loyal Comrade

    It's not charging the battery, so when you turn on the lights there is not enough juice in the battery to kepp a good ignition spark. :)
    I dont know why, and i am not familiar with the dynamo/charging relay system. someone else on here must know some more about it. :)
  10. 'bant

    'bant Loyal Comrade

    A DC dynamo (as originally fitted to Trabants) produces less electrical power at low engine speeds. So it would be normal to see the charging light glowing dimly when at idle if you had the headlights and wipers on at the same time. This effect is worse with a 6v system as (IIRC) due to the way a DC dynamo works the upper limit for current is somewhere between 35-40 amps. With a 12 v system (aircooled VWs) you get over 400W out of your (38amp) dynamo with a Trabant you max out at 220W. In contrast 100 amps is quite normal with an AC alternator, ie 1200W for a 12v system. If you fit H4 headlamp bulbs and a set of H3 driving lights to your Trabant and run them together then you have pretty much used up all the power from the dynamo.

    As for possible other problems (in no particular order). Corroded connections somewhere? A wiper motor taking too much current due to old age or resistance in the wiper mechanism. Dodgy dynamo (new brushes needed)? Fault in the voltage regulator? Battery on the way out? An important cable that has broken invisibly inside the insulation and disconnects randomly? A component in the ignition system that is sensitive to drops in voltage or starts to fail when hot? I assume the fan belt is tight enough? A loose spade connector in the wiring? There´s plenty for you to check during those long winter nights that are fast approaching ;)

    I can check the voltages on my car at the weekend if that would help. I am planning on replacing the battery as it won't take a full charge so I can test with the old battery and then with the new one.
  11. Caleb

    Caleb Loyal Comrade

    I had a look underneath the car at the dynamo and surrounding area. I pushed on the belt to see how much flex it had. It did move some but not a lot of flex to it. Seemed pretty tight to me.

    Something I did notice was that the area all around the carb seemed to have a thin covering of oil on the outside. the bottom of the carb even had a small spot of oil like it was puddling to drip off. the cables going to the dynamo had the same thin layer on them. Is this normal? Is there maybe a gasket leaking that is allowing some fuel/oil out of the carb which could also be causing some of the stalling problem? I really do think majority of the issue is electrical but maybe this is adding to it.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
  12. 'bant

    'bant Loyal Comrade

    My carb was leaking from the gasket between the engine and the carb. The lower part of the engine was coated in a fine layer of lubricating oil. Good for corrosion protection but it made my engine run like crap. As I said in another thread, it isn't difficult or expensive to overhaul these carbs. That would allow you to eliminate the carb from your list of suspects.

    Any chance that oil has made its way inside the dynamo contaminating the electrical contact surfaces?
  13. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Loyal Comrade

    Mine would sometimes stall at idle even when warmed up. I truly believe it was those corroded battery terminals. As well as the idle speed dropping with the headlamps on to the point it would stall the engine after I installed the 6 volt AC Delco alternator. After that all problems went away.

    I've just about replaced 75% of the electrical terminals on this car as well as converting to an ATO fusebox. Just that took car allot of my problems.

    I know allot of my modifications are not for the purists but the electrical system on this car needed a major updating/upgrading.
  14. 'bant

    'bant Loyal Comrade

    @turbofiat124 that alternator upgrade you did, is there any way to replace the Trabant dynamo but retain the Trabant voltage regulator?

    I also read somewhere that converting a 12v alternator to 6v operation is not difficult for an automotive electrician. Did you look at that as an option? I have a newish 12v 80 amp alternator lying around that could be converted.
  15. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Loyal Comrade

    Bant wrote:

    "that alternator upgrade you did, is there any way to replace the Trabant dynamo but retain the Trabant voltage regulator?"

    I suppose it's possible. I don't know why you would want to do that. For two reasons. For one the Trabant voltage regulator is rated at the same wattage as the dynamo (220 watts) so there would be no benefit in switching to an alternator. Second. I'm not sure if the Trabant regulator could even handle 12 to 15 volts.

    "I also read somewhere that converting a 12v alternator to 6v operation is not difficult for an automotive electrician. Did you look at that as an option? I have a newish 12v 80 amp alternator lying around that could be converted."

    The only difference between mine and a typical GM 10-SI 12 volt alternator is the voltage regulator.

    I'm assuming the alternator you have maybe a Bosch?
  16. 'bant

    'bant Loyal Comrade

    @turbofiat124
    I meant swapping the dynamo for a 6v alternator but keeping the Trabant regulator in place. How does the regulator alter the current supply? It is the dynamo that is rated at 220W ie around 35 amp output at 6v.

    The 12v alternator I have lying around is a generic Bosch style one. The wiring and brushes at the back are the same as Bosch alternators. Any idea what has to be changed in the regulator?

    @Caleb
    I put a voltmeter on my car last night with the old battery in it. Voltages that showed up were between 6v and 6.2v at the battery. Engine warm and lights on (60/55W 6v H4 bulbs with a standard P43t foot) the voltage at the battery was 6v. I will try swapping the battery at the weekend.
  17. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Loyal Comrade

    My regulator is still bolted to the firewall but there are no wires going to it. Is that what your asking? You just want to leave it there for aesthetics?

    When you remove the wiring harness between the dynamo and regulator you are left with two wires. The thin blue wire comes from the charging indicator lamp and is used to power the voltage regulator. On an AC Delco alternator there is an additional wire from regulator that is used to monitor current load and increase voltage if necessary. Such as if you turn on the headlights and the regulator detects a massive voltage drop, the alternator compensates for this. That's why I like AC Delco alternators over Bosch.

    So the blue wire would goto the white wire on the AC Delco regulator and the thick red wire from the Trabant regulator would goto the red wire on the AC Delco regulator. Then you would need to run a wire from the post on the back of the alternator to the post on the starter. That's it.

    I'm not sure if anyone makes a 6 volt regulator for a Bosch alternator.

    Yeah I've got a bunch of FIAT Bosch 65 amp and some Yugo Iskra 55 amp alternator laying about I considered using.
  18. Caleb

    Caleb Loyal Comrade

    @'bant - Thanks for the info!
  19. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Loyal Comrade

    I suppose you could plumb in several ballast resistors in parallel to handle the current to drop the voltage down. But you would still need to feed 12 volts to the regulator to activate it.
  20. 'bant

    'bant Loyal Comrade

    @Caleb OK new battery in, voltages are 6.4v engine off, 6.5v warm idle with the headlamps on and 7v warm idle with the headlights off. The battery was fully charged when I put it in yesterday. I took it for a 20km run with dipped headlights on before testing the voltages. Cranking speed both cold and hot start is much better. Hot or cold it starts now after one or two "wuh-wuhs". I tested hot starting after five, fifteen and thirty-five minutes. I will see how it goes, maybe this has cured the hot starting problems. I will also do a cold start tomorrow as there will probably be a frost again in the morning.

    The difference in starting is significant. Maybe your battery is on the way out? The old battery (which had enough juice to start the car when I started charging it) did not charge fully even after 24 hours with the charger connected. This was 4A @7.5v "intelligent" 9 step charger. Before that I tried a traditional 6v 4A charger which after a similar amount of time was still pumping 3A into the battery. If your battery does charge fully then maybe the dynamo is at fault or, less likely the voltage regulator.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2015

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