Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Homemade Powerplant

About 12 years ago, my dad gave me a camper that had been given to him. The previous owner had placed the camper on barrels when they unloaded it from their truck. They evidently waited to long to put supports under it, and a wind storm knocked it off the barrels, tearing off all but one of the hydraulic jacks. That's why it was free.

Dad and I fixed up the damage and put the camper on a flatbed trailer we had built out of a travel trailer we had junked out. We added a large water tank and a bank of automotive batteries for power. Since I needed something to charge them with, we set about to build one. Dad had already built one for his camper and we decided to make mine similar.

For an alternator, we used what was at hand, a 55 Amp Motorola Alternator out of an AMC we had parted out. The Motorola uses a external regulator and is a compact unit. In retrospect, I would rather use a Delco 1 wire alternator, but we used what we had at the time.
Here is a view of the wiring on dad's genny.

That round device at the top right of the picture is the rheastat.

As you can see by this picture, the unit is very narrow.

Here is another view of the wiring. If you look closely you can see the external voltage regulator.

Rather than hassle with a fuel can, Dad made this up to refuel the genny's out of his saddle tanks on the camper. The little white rectangular thingamabob is an on/off switch. I believe the long end went to the saddle tank.

Here is my genny. The concept is a little more polished in this one.

The wiring is similar if not the same, just laid out different. I believe the (momentary) switch is used to excite the field once the unit is running.

My unit has a double v-belt setup. I had planned to power multiple devices such as a power steering pump for powering a wood splitter and a water pump for suppling water to the campsite.

Some one with real good diagramming skills could probably draw up a wiring diagram for the blog readers. Any takers?

When charging the batteries we would crank up the amps for about 20 minutes. After that we would turn the amps down to finish the charge. Total run time was about an hour. I don't remember how much fuel it used. Think lawn mower for that.


  1. Excellent, excellent work.

    I really think that this kind of stuff is the ticket. There are going to lots and lots of cars (mostly big V-8 and V-10 SUV's) out there for us to get parts from. I see an entire industry converting this stuff to micropower like this.

  2. I agree with degringo...repurposing these SUV's and the like will be the wave of the future and a better use for their powerplants.

  3. Using available resources...this is a good thing!

  4. That is simply awesome coolness. I'm so impressed!

    I've been enjoying your blog...

    Best Regards...

  5. Thanks Sharon, I am glad you like my blog.

  6. Great thoughts Vern. I built a similar battery charger out of a Honda 4 cycle motor years ago.

    Joe T.

  7. Thank you for sharing this information. I hope to see more in the future.