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western electric generator help

Chris Wheeler

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/15/2019
Guys, I need your help. I have a Western Electric 110 volt AC generator that I don't know how to wire up. Some of the external wires were cut. It has a wire coming from each brush. These are cut. It also has 4 wires coming from the windings. How do I wire this up to an outlet. I only want to run a lightbulb for display. Also should I put a fuse in somewhere? What type would be period correct? I would also like to get a gauge and knife switch in the future. I will post pictures of my generator tomorrow. Thanks, Chris
 

ArodaPowerCo

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
09/22/2019
How many brushes are there? Are they on slip rings, or a commutator? If only two on slip rings, then they most likely would be for exciting the rotor. The 4 wires coming from the field should be your AC voltage. T1, T2, T3, and T4. Sounds like a reconnectable generator, since the nameplate states 120 and 240 volt. They would connect like this...

For 120 Volts:
Connect T1 & T2 = L1
Connect T3 & T4 = L2
L1 - 120V - L2 @ full rated capacity

For 240 Volts:
T1 = L1
Connect T2 & T3 = Neutral
T4 = L2
L1 - 240V - L2
L1 - 120V - Neutral @ half capacity
L2 - 120V - Neutral @ half capacity

Hope this makes sense. I'm not a professional electrician, but my girl is. I'll double check with her to make sure terminology is right. The problem here is figuring out which of those 4 wires is which.

-Eric
 

armandh

Sponsor
Last Subscription Date
09/02/2010
OK with 4 wires 120-0-120
use an ohm meter to find the pairs that go to each of the 2 coils
connect in series apply some field voltage and spin up the generator
half voltage on each side but little across the pair, one is out of phase
[subtracts rather than adds] reverse the wires of one pair.
 

John Newman Jr.

Subscriber
Age
64
Last Subscription Date
01/10/2019
Looks like there should be 3 brushes. I see 3 slip rings and the ID tag says it makes 110/220.
 

ArodaPowerCo

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
09/22/2019
Looking at the nameplate, it says, "DC wound field". I think there is supposed to be DC voltage fed to those brushes to provide the magnetic field for the rotor. Varying the DC voltage is a means to regulate the output voltage. My guess is that the third slip ring is not used (does not appear to have ever had a brush on it), and is there because it uses a "standard" rotor. A different model of generator might have a purpose for it.

I know one of the generators in my collection has a DC field, and a regulator that senses the output voltage in order to adjust the field voltage for proper output. As for yours, I couldn't say. Just trying to offer up "trees to bark up".
 

Chris Wheeler

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/15/2019
That makes sense. I wonder what input voltage I need? I would assume that they originally used dry cell batteries for input voltage? I might try a 12 volt battery and see what kind of results I get.
 

Jim Rankin

Registered
Age
58
Probably most likely used a DC generator belted onto it to supply the field. The regulator controls the DC section (might have been as simple as a rheostat you set by hand), so that may be why it's missing along with the DC machinery.

the 12 volt plan is a good idea. See what it will do and then if it will generate, you can move on to some sort of rectifier (very cheap these days and compact, so you can hide it pretty easily so as not to detract from your display)

If all you want is to run a steady load for a display, you probably can get by just fine with a bridge rectifier and a rheostat or fixed resister and fine tune it perhaps by varying the rpm (I know it's not the "right" way to do it, varying the rpm, but if you are running lightbulbs, it won't bother them)
 

ArodaPowerCo

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
09/22/2019
I agree with Jim. A lot of older generators, especially larger ones, had a separate "exitiation" generator, and that may well have been the case with yours. It's entire purpose was to provide DC power for the field. One way you could do this in for your application would be to use an old Delco-Remy automotive generator for an exciter. That would give your setup a "period" look. They can be found in 12 volt and 6 volt models allowing you to pick the appropriate voltage level for proper output of your generator. They have two terminals. One for "Power" and one for "field". This will give you great flexibility in voltage regulation. Depending on components used for the regulator, you could end up with a set that actually produces very high quality power for not a lot of cost. The major cost will be "tinkering time".
 

Chris Wheeler

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/15/2019
I spun the generator last night while testing the 4 terminals. The best I got was about 12 volts AC. It did not change when I hooked a battery to the brushes. Not sure which way to go now. :shrug:
 

Jim Rankin

Registered
Age
58
Sounds as if the field is not working. Did you get a spark when you touched the battery leads to the brush terminals? that would be an indication that there is a circuit through the field. Clean sliprings and recheck resistance through field (slipring to slipring) if you have not already done so.
 

Chris Wheeler

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/15/2019
I did get a spark when I touched the battery to the brush wire. I am going to clean the brush holders. They are somewhat rusty. These are not like modern brushes that have a wire connected directly to them. The use a piece of metal screwed into the back end of the brush. It holds it and conducts at the same time?
 

Chris Wheeler

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/15/2019
I took the brush holders all apart and cleaned them. I then spun the generator again and this time got up to 80.5 volts! I am on the right track for now. Thanks
 
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