Alternators For Early Engines
By Stephen Kassis
Generators were standard equipment on all Chevrolets through 1962. Early engines will run on a generator or alternator system. If your vehicle is completely original, there is no reason to change from the generator to an alternator. The drawback to a generator system is that it requires a cut-out switch or voltage regulator to control the charging system. More components mean more chances for problems.
Alternator systems can be internally regulated and are a much more efficient way to charge the battery. If your car is not a show vehicle, but a driver, an alternator is a great upgrade from the original generator system. Also, if you are planning to run halogen headlights in your early car, it will require an alternator system. Generator systems cannot charge fast enough to keep up with the requirements of halogen headlights.
If you have decided to change to an alternator system, the recommended type of alternator is the internally regulated alternator. The GM style alternators require no external regulator. This alternator is easily found at any auto parts store, so availability is very high compared to the stock generator.
Special brackets are required to mount an alternator to early engines. Brackets are available for 1926-1928 4-cylinder; 1929-1936 early 6 cylinder; 1937-1953 engines; and 1954-1962 6 cylinder engines. Installation is a simple bolt on procedure with a single wire hookup. A new fan belt may be required on some installations. Wide belt engines, 1952 and earlier will require a wide belt pulley to be installed on the alternator.