Restoration Impossible: An Alternator That Looks Like a Generator

Nov 29, 2017 update to the Lotus Elan project car

Lotus Elans are legendary for electric gremlins. Lucas jokes were prevalent when the Elan was new, and the Elan probably did little to dispel those harsh jokes.

Unlike its steel-bodied contemporaries, the fiberglass Elan offered owners additional electrical challenges because every ground would need to run to the frame, rather than to the body. When working, this grounding system was fine, but its longer ground leads (compared to a steel-bodied car) only added to the other problems.

Perhaps the biggest culprit of the Elan’s electrical system problems was the marginally effective, 30-amp output generator.

These generators were barely adequate on a stock Elan, and when owners added auxiliary lighting, radios and the like, the generator’s capacity was soon taxed beyond its capability.

Thankfully, our friends at Gustafson have developed a 55-amp alternator hidden in the original-style Lucas generator case.

This alternator not only provides nearly twice as much charging capacity, but also wastes decidedly less horsepower (through less drag) to make that electricity. An alternator will also spin happily at higher revs than a generator.

All in all we felt this very subtle modification, coupled with a British Wiring wiring harness that had been altered to run the alternator, made for one of the few, slick, subtle changes we would make to make our Lotus a bit more joyous to own and live with.


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Reader comments:

wschaub
wschaub New Reader
Nov. 30, 2017 8:52 p.m.

That's pretty slick.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver PowerDork
Dec. 1, 2017 4:50 a.m.

their site doesnt show the regutted genny, any ballpark on price and models it would fit?

RoddyMac17
RoddyMac17 Reader
Dec. 1, 2017 5:52 p.m.

I couldn't find it on Gustafson's site, but it appears that British Parts Northwest can get them.  The downside is they're out of stock at the moment.

BPNW Alternator

gjz30075
gjz30075 HalfDork
Dec. 2, 2017 7:14 p.m.

I talked to Keith Gustafson about this and they are still in the prototype stage.    Keith is making his own case.   

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
Dec. 4, 2017 5:46 a.m.

Yes, I have the first one. We should have it up and running and the car done in about 60 days.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
Dec. 4, 2017 6:46 p.m.

Powermaster also sells an alternator that looks like a generator, mainly for the hot rod / street rod crowd:  http://www.powermastermotorsports.com/index.html  You can get them from Summit Racing, Jeg's, Speedway Motors and probably other sources.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
Dec. 7, 2017 6:38 a.m.

Yes I have used the Powermaster alternator too. Fine for a Mustang, but no appropiriate for a Lotus.

 

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