It started one hot summers morning when I was all booked up to go to the Bardi Hillclimb in a wonderful historic village in the castle region of Emilia Romagna and meet up with a fellow Dino owner (a 2.4 litre Spider). I got a short distance down the road when I noticed the charging warning light had stayed on. I waited a little while hoping it would go out, but to no avail so I tured round and headed for the refuge of my garage where I hoped to find a loose wire or something simple so as to get going again before the evevitable build up of summer traffic on the Italian autostradas.
I spent the next few hours testing the alternator, battery and relay, looking up information on the internet and basically coming to the conclusion that the alternator itself wasn't producing any charge.
I then proceeded to remove the alternator from the car so as to see what the exact problem was. To do this I removed the top tension adjusting bolt and started loosening the bottom bolt when I saw that it wouldn't slide out completely as the anti-roll bar was slightly in the way. After loosening the anti-roll bar bracket so as to drop it down a centimeter or so, the bottom bolt came out.
To extract the alternator from the engine bay it was necessary to disconnect the top main hose from the expansion tank and unbolt and remove the cooling fan. This done and the wires disconnected, the alternator came out the top.
I then set about removing the rear cover and the four retaining bolts which keep the unit clamped together so as to open it up. Upon doing to it was immediatly evident the cause of the non-charging. The brushes were in a terrible state, the container being partially melted and one brush stuck in. As you can see from the previous pictures as well, there was a lot of engine oil inside and outside the alternator which was probably the root cause of the problem.
I cleaned things up as best I could and took the whole lot to the local Elettroauto
who found a set of new brushes, turned down the communicator on a lathe so as to flatten it and cleaned and rebuilt it all for 50 euros. I took it home and refitted it and bingo, the warning light went out.
Before refitting I cleaned up the area above and around the alternator so as to make it easier to spot where the oil was coming from which caused the problem. The main 2 suspects are either that someone split oil while filling it up (the left side filler cap it directly above the alternator) or that the chain tensioner is leaking from the O-ring (more likely). I have put a small bag around the chain tensioner housing to catch any residue and will keep it under observation and report back my findings.
Incidentally the chain tensioner has a flat cap where apparently it should have a bolt through it (as the result of a recall by Fiat), but that's another story...