Swapping Your Imperial From A Generator To An Alternator


Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Electrical System -> Swapping

Question from Joseph (1959):

Ok, I've had it!!! The darn '59 Imperial generator burned out again, this'll be the third since the engine was rebuilt. Wish there was some way to show the rebuilders did something...First one died a week after the engine was rebuilt, the rebuilt generator died after five days, this one after about the same. Replaced the voltage regulator and battery before the last one. What do I have to lose? Apparently the generator is dying for some reason or another. Might as well try a stinking alternator, they're cheaper if they burn out. And YES, they were all polarized before starting.

So, if one gets a two field Chrysler alternator, what should I avoid doing? The website says to disconnect the original charge meter since it's an ammeter and the alternator will burn it out, and my son can live w/o a volt meter in the car. Of course the generator wires can just hang there, but it'd be nice to actually see a diagram of sorts somewhere. We'll fashion a bracket for support.


From Rick:

On my '59 I put a 63 amp 2 field alternator on with electronic regulator, and never looked back.  The main heavy charging wire from the generator goes to the alternator main out.  Remove all old regulators from inner fender (main wire goes from alternator through amp meter and to the battery).  Electronic regulators need a 12 volt line from the high side of resister and it goes to the center post of the regulator and to either field connector on the alternator.  The other field connector goes to the side post on the regulator.  The center post is the blue wire, the green wire goes to the alternator field only.  Once you do this you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner...no more discharge at idle.

From Steve:

My '59 has a Chrysler alternator but I did not do the conversion. The original amp meter is still connected and functions perfectly.

From Sherwood:

I don't think you have a problem with the generator. My son has a '58 Belvedere with very low miles and we, too, had a generator problem. There were two problems before we cured the generator ills. Mind you, the car was bought in Florida, driven to Detroit and burned out the first generator on the way. I stored the car in Detroit for use in various 60th Anniversary Chrysler shows in 1985. After getting to Detroit on the battery from Ohio, I removed the generator, took it home to California, rebuilt it, flew back for another show and reinstalled the generator. Shortly thereafter, burned it out again. OK, I forgot to set the regulator so drove the few miles again on the battery after getting the necessary jump to start. Back to California to go home and await the next show.

After more generator burnouts, I knew there was another problem. To make a months long dilemma short (the summer of 1985), the car was shipped home to California and, shortly thereafter, the problem was found. The ground strap to the body, while externally looking OK, was found to have corrosion inside where the bolt attaches the strap to the body on the fire wall. After cleaning the bolt and hole with a wire brush, the generator is still working after 17 additional years.

Therein, lies your problem. It's a grounding problem.

Question from Dave (1960):

Would there be a problem if my generator went down and I had to replace it with a modern alternator with the regulator built in then swap the wires over on the amp meter? If I am right it should read a charge.  Can anyone confirm this theory.  Or would it damage other components?


From John:

The later 60 came with an alternator. Perhaps you can locate the parts to mount it.

From Dave:

To use the amp meter you would have to wire it slightly different, if you don't you will smoke check the gauge. I did this to my 81 IMP two weeks ago. It was set up for a voltage light and I was told the amp gauge would work fine. WRONG!! As soon as I hooked up the new gauge cluster it literally smoked and died. I now have an autometer voltage gauge installed.

Question from Marc (1960):

I was wondering if anyone has replaced the generator with an alternator on a 60 Imperial. I am placing dual air conditioning on an engine that previously didn't have it, so I have to upgrade the Generator anyways. I was just hoping someone had upgraded to an alternator before and could possibly tell me a part # to use for the Alternator and the Voltage regulator. I know originality is a factor to most, but I've only dealt with alternators and I like the fact that if the battery dies you can get a jump and still run off the alternator until the battery gets charged. 


From Dick:

This point is moot for those unlucky Imperial owners who don't have a rear pump in their transmission, however. Last year for the rear pump is somewhere in the mid-60's.

From Dietmar:

I changed to alternator which is mounted different. I had to cut off a piece of the header/mounting part. As to electric - I exchanged the total front lining, fuses and relays with new ones from US. Now the relays, fuses, voltage regulator are under the driver seat but -- because of the long way I increased the diameter of the alternator - ammeter - regulator lining. As You see - changing something on an IMP is always special. Not with a CHEVY.

From Arran:

From what I understand the late production 1960 Imperials used an alternator anyways so the originality factor isn't as much of a problem with those cars as on might think. Luckily the 61' and later 413s and 383s engines came with them as standard equipment so I would think that it would just be a matter of a bolt on and some wiring changes to make it work provided you use a Chrysler alternator. I would go by a 61' to 63' Imperial's wiring diagram to find out what goes where and whether you need a different voltage regulator. Some manuals may even show an early and late model wiring diagram for the 1960 model year as well which would make it even easier to convert. Unfortunately with my car the power steering pump is power through the back of the generator so this isn't as viable of an option.

This page last updated March 18, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club .