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Thread: Polarizing your regulator

  1. #1
    Registered Member
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    May 2018

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    Polarizing your regulator

    Can installing a new 12 volt voltage regulator in your 57 Chevrolet and not polarizing it , cause damage to your original style generator with the built in power steering pump ? My friend just did this in his 58 Impala and we drove 4 hours to the Hershey fall meet Car Show and 10 miles to our destination I smelled something burning and then his generator light came on . We made it to the camp ground , and it seemed that if you manually closed the upper batt. points in the voltage regulator the light would go off but , as soon as you revved up the rpm's it would throw the batt. upper points open . Someone their said that if the generator is not putting out enough current it will not be able to keep them closed ?
    Last edited by nomad; 10-09-2022 at 06:53 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered Member BamaNomad's Avatar
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    Nov 2016

    Member #:3217
    Rocket City, USA (Huntsville, AL area)
    1. There's no difference in how the generator works whether it drives a PS pump (or not).

    2. There's a procedure in the Service Manual describing how to conduct the polarizing operation.

  3. #3
    Registered Member Rocketman's Avatar
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    Jul 2017

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    Rowlett (DFW), TX
    That is a procedure I remember doing many years ago (several decades actually) but don't remember how it is done.
    Glenn Hargrove

    USAF (66-70) Viet Nam Vet

  4. #4
    Registered Member BamaNomad's Avatar
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    Nov 2016

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    Rocket City, USA (Huntsville, AL area)
    A quick search of the internet was easier for me than finding my '57 service manual and digging thru it:

    WHEN should the polarization be performed?
    The generator has to be set up for either polarity. The generator will charge either way, however the voltage regulator has only one polarity. Whenever the battery is disconnected from the vehicle for any reason the polarization procedure should be performed.

    Answer: (a good explanation from a Motortrend article)

    Polarity is the direction of a magnetic or electrical field. For the generator to charge correctly the armature must have the correct polarity in relation to the field coils.

    Let me start with what I hope is a simple explanation of polarization. The polarity of the generator must be set to match the polarity of the voltage regulator. Polarization is a procedure that matches the polarity of the generator and that of the voltage regulator to make sure they are working and charging the same. In other words, making sure the generator and voltage regulator are working together and not against each other.

    Vehicles using generators could use a positive or negative ground. However, all Corvettes, whether they have a 6-volt or a 12-volt system, use a negative ground, but sometimes we need to remind our Corvette that it is using a negative ground.

    When you polarize the generator to the voltage regulator you are making sure that the generator and voltage regulator are both using the same ground.

    The generator uses permanent magnets that can lose their magnetism, especially if the vehicle is stored for long periods of time. The generator is self-exciting and needs no external current to produce a charge. You are re-magnetizing the magnets and setting the correct polarity when you polarize your generator.

    You may need to polarize your generator whenever any of the following services are performed:

    The generator is replaced or repaired.

    The voltage regulator is replaced or repaired.

    The battery is replaced or disconnected from the vehicle. Most of the time using a battery disconnect or replacing the battery will not affect the polarization of your vehicle. You should test your charging system after a battery replacement or after the first few times you use a battery disconnect to see if either of these affect the vehicle's polarization.

    It's possible—but not probable—for the vehicle to lose its polarity for no apparent reason and need to be polarized again, especially if the vehicle is stored for long periods of time.

    SEE ALL 5 PHOTOSA look at what is inside of the voltage regulator.

    How to Polarize the Generator and the Voltage Regulator
    This is a relatively simple process and is done by permitting a surge of current to flow through the generator, correctly polarizing it. The following process is for a 6-volt or a 12-volt negative ground system.

    You will need a 16-gauge wire approximately 12 inches long.

    The battery will need to be fully charged.

    The engine is not to be running.

    Polarize the generator by momentarily connecting a jumper wire between the "BATT" (Battery) terminal at the voltage regulator and the "ARM" or "A" (Armature) terminal at the generator for approximately one second or until you see a brief spark. (Do not hold this jumper wire for more than one second).

    This will allow a momentary surge of current to flow through the generator, which will correctly polarize it.

    Jim, if you do not polarize the generator there is still a 50/50 chance it will work correctly, but if your vehicle is not polarized correctly, damage to electrical components can occur. Good luck and let me know how everything works out. Vette

    SEE ALL 5 PHOTOSMake sure the brass grommets are installed onto the voltage regulator.

    SEE ALL 5 PHOTOSCheck to make sure the system is charging correctly after the system has been polarized.

    Last edited by BamaNomad; 10-11-2022 at 12:31 PM.

  5. #5
    Registered Member
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    Aug 2022

    Member #:4966
    Excellent explanation BamaNomad!


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