Repairing the Firefly - Alternator

Last Updated Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008

When I tried to start the car with a boost from the other car, the engine started just fine, but there was an ear-splitting squeal. I got out to see which belt was rubbing, but soon it was obvious because there was a thick cloud of smoke developing. I rushed back to the car and shut it off. Looking under the hood I could see glowing embers of burned rubber on and around the alternator pulley. It was pretty obvious that the alternator was seized.

I jacked up the car, braced it, spread plastic onto the oily smear under the car and slid myself to work.

The alternator wasn't the only thing seized, of course. Every last bolt holding it in was seized, too. I broke two of the bolts completely off while trying to remove it. I must have spent three afternoons on my back trying everything to get it unstuck. I pounded and wrenched and pried. I used every persuasive trick in the book except intense heat, and got that stupid alternator to drop. Of course it lodged against the axle and fought me for the last foot to the ground. What a struggle! Here's a picture of where it used to be:

Check out the damage to the casing!

Yup, the alternator wouldn't turn a bit. I did some shopping around for a rebuilt alternator, and found one for $152. In the picture below, the bolt on the right is from my junk box. I ground flats on each side of the slot-head bolt, but after putting the alternator in place I opted for a hex-head bolt that was shorter but looked like it might be just long enough. Apparently this car is made with Japanese parts. Look how nice it is when it's like new:

I replaced the belt, too; the old one was intact, but I don't trust it. Another $21. (Do you sense a sub-plot to this story yet?)

It was so much easier to install the new one. I had to replace the bolt I broke with one from the junk box, but I found what I needed and got it all back together, including the plastic mud guard.

I made some pizza dough before starting this, so at this point I went in the house to punch it down for a second rising, and head off to Canadian Tire to replace the battery.

Next: The battery