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Would it be possible to put a pre-filter style mesh around the alternator (not directly touching) in order to help attempt to prevent some of the dirt and debris that can kill the alternator in water crossings? Or would there be too much heat generated?


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Would it be possible to put a pre-filter style mesh around the alternator (not directly touching) in order to help attempt to prevent some of the dirt and debris that can kill the alternator in water crossings? Or would there be too much heat generated?


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I think the water getting into it is the bigger issue vs dirt.
 

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Yeah good question, I suppose if the alt was that sensitive to water they wouldn't have mounted it at the bottom of the the accessories. Idk then, I've always done my best to keep water out of mine and never once even tried to keep dirt out and it's lasted 163k. The one time I really did submerge it was in a really swampy section of a powerline road but it was really low mileage at the time and maybe that kept it going.
 

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I don't think the mounting of the alternator down low was because the alternator is not sensitive to water. It is unsealed electric component.

Dirty water is certainly going to be worse than clear from the abrasion side of things. I had a 2013 Xterra that the front end was dunked into water and the engine died out immediately (not water intake into engine) the vehicle was then drowned and written off. I believe if the electrical system was more water proof, I would have had a fighting chance to restart my engine and save my rig. Anyhow, that's my opinion.
 

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It’s the suspended mud and sand in the water that can cause problems.

I go through nasty water all the time and haven’t had an issue but I’ve seen several alternators go bad on the trail. I do carry a spare alternator, but that’s mostly because I usually wheel 7 hours from home.

I have also seen a mud/stagnant water hole that ate 3 alternators in a row.
 

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I've had an alternator go bad on the trail, so pulled it & put in the spare. When I got home, I took it all apart and cleaned it out. After cleaning, I brought it down to Autozone for them to test & it functioned just fine. So I now carry that one as my spare ;-)

It's the dirt & debris that makes it's way into the brushes on the backend of it and the electromagnet-thing that spins around inside the coils.
 

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I've had an alternator go bad on the trail, so pulled it & put in the spare. When I got home, I took it all apart and cleaned it out. After cleaning, I brought it down to Autozone for them to test & it functioned just fine. So I now carry that one as my spare ;-)

It's the dirt & debris that makes it's way into the brushes on the backend of it and the electromagnet-thing that spins around inside the coils.
Looking back do you think that it was fixable on the trail with something like electrical contact cleaner? I remember when I was kid and loved driving my RC car through puddles, it would eventually stop working and I'd take it to my dad who would use some magic spray on it that brought it back to life (found out later it was that cleaner).
 

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Looking back do you think that it was fixable on the trail with something like electrical contact cleaner? I remember when I was kid and loved driving my RC car through puddles, it would eventually stop working and I'd take it to my dad who would use some magic spray on it that brought it back to life (found out later it was that cleaner).
It's definitely worth a shot not like you're gonna break anymore than it already is LOL

I'd still keep a spare tho. It's quicker to just replace it...then clean out the bad one later on. Rather than pull it...take another 15-20-some-odd mins to take it apart/clean/reassemble, then put it back in.

Tho I didn't use electrical contact cleaner. Just water and a brush.

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Discussion Starter #11
Do y’all think that the brushes can chug right through some of the finer silts and such and that it’s the larger suspended debris that kills the alt, or is it just about anything? That’s my whole purpose behind this thread. I want to figure out if putting a mesh screen around the alt would keep the thing kicking longer or just not really do much.


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Do y’all think that the brushes can chug right through some of the finer silts and such and that it’s the larger suspended debris that kills the alt, or is it just about anything? That’s my whole purpose behind this thread. I want to figure out if putting a mesh screen around the alt would keep the thing kicking longer or just not really do much.


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IMO.... Whatever "mesh screen" ya think you'd be able to work up would only slow down the debris build-up....but the gunk will build up enough to eventually kill it.

But you'd be looking at using a fine screen mesh. Which would end up getting covered in gunk itself. And then becoming like a solid cover of sorts

But also...of you haven't had a chance to get an up-close look at the alternator.... there's not a whole lot of room around it to add anything anyways.

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A screen would keep out coarser stuff but do nothing for fine abrasive which is likely the stuff that gets in the critical spots and causes problems.
There has been several reports of people not having catastrophic failure with their alternator after driving through water but for what it's worth... crystal clear mountain stream water was what shorted out my alternator/electrical system that led to the total write-off of my xterra.
 

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A screen fine enough to block fine sand would also significantly block airflow through the alternator. Without that airflow, the heat will build up in the alternator and it's life of the aternator will be shorter.

The particles that do get in will accelerate the wear of the brushes and the commutator.

It is probably better to have a spare since the damage that is caused by overheating and the wear on the brushes/commutator are not the sort of failure you can repair on the trail.
 
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