by Dan Masters, firstname.lastname@example.org
At the stock alternator, you will find either a five, or a three, wire connector. If you have the five wire connector, you will find a large Brown wire, a smaller Brown wire, and what appears to be three Brown/Yellow wires.
What appears to be three Brown/Yellow wires are actually only two. At one terminal, you will find two Brown/Yellow wires, and at another, you will find one. The single Brown/Yellow wire actually goes into the harness for a very short distance, and then turns around and comes back out, where it connects to the terminal with another Brown/Yellow wire. If you pull on the single Brown/Yellow wire, it will pull out of the harness, and you will see what I mean. You may have to loosen the harness a little bit to get it to pull out. That short piece of Brown/Yellow wire is to be discarded.
If you have a three wire connector, the short piece of Brown/Yellow wire has already been removed - either by the factory or by a previous owner when he replaced the alternator with a later model.
The large Brown wire is the main charging lead. The smaller Brown wire measures the system voltage to tell the alternator how much to charge. The Brown/Yellow wire(s) operates the alternator warning light, and provides the initial voltage to the alternator to start it charging when the engine first starts.
Discard the short Brown/Yellow wire, as above. Cut off the terminals from the Brown wires. On the back of the GM alternator, you will find a large screw type terminal, and in the side of the body, you will find two recessed male spade terminals, labeled (1) and (2). When you buy the alternator, be sure to get the plug that fits these terminals. It will come with short wire leads already attached.
Connect the Brown/Yellow wire to the lead coming from position (1) of the plug (the plug is polarized, so it will only go in one way). Connect the small Brown wire to the other terminal, (2). Connect the large Brown wire to the screw terminal. Insert the plug, and you are finished.
As above, except the short Brown/Yellow wire is not there.
Of course, Disconnect the ground lead from the battery before proceeding with any electrical work, and follow all the rules of proper wiring practices. I recomend using solder connections, and covering them with heat shrink tubing, but crimp type connectors will work quite well also. You will need butt connectors for attaching to the plug wires, and a large ring connector for the screw terminal. If you would prefer not to have splices, you can remove the terminals, and the wire, from the plug. Using new terminals of the proper type, connect directly to the existing wires, and insert the terminals into the plug. New terminals can be purchased from British Wiring, (20449 Ithaca, Olympia Fields, IL 60461, 708-481-9050) and The Wire Works (167 Keystone Road, Chester, PA 19013, 800-292-1940), among others.
There are two things, however, to be aware of:
If you wish to upgrade the wiring to take advantage of the higher output, it is really quite simple.
Disconnect and remove (or cut both ends off, or insulate and tie back) the large Brown wire from the alternator to the starter solenoid. Replace this wire with a very large (10 Ga or better, preferably 8 Ga.) wire from the screw terminal on the back of the GM alternator to the terminal on the starter solenoid. Leave the other existing wires on this terminal as found. Very carefully route the wire, as much as possible along the existing wiring harness, and support with the liberal use of cable ties.
Now, the alternator can provide full charging current without worrying about burning up the wiring.
If you wish to add extra loads, such as a high power sound system, connect them directly to the batteryconnection at the starter solenoid, properly fused, of course.
You may wish to add a voltmeter. If so, simply connect the plus terminal of the voltmeter to any convenient Green wire, and the minus terminal to a good ground point. One side of the ilumination lamp inside the voltmeter should be connected to the most convenienet Red/White wire, and the other side should connect to a good ground point (unless the lamp is grounded to the meter case. If it is, ensure that the case is properly gronded to the metal dash structure).
You may also choose to use a different alternator , rather than the GM unit. If so, it will be wired very similarly to the above, only the connections at the alternator itself will be different.