16 Nov 2014

A few developments:

Vendors have been surprisingly nonresponsive; in this age of the internet it’s amazing how many don’t answer email. I understand that they get a lot of traffic, but how is that a bad thing or the customer’s problem? During research into dry sumps, three vendors were contacted. One never answered at all. Another didn’t answer email, twice, so they were called. What was wanted was discussed, and a quote sent – which didn’t include what was discussed. Another email was sent, correcting the first quote and requesting a second quote – no reply. It makes one wonder if they’re this bad now, how will support be after they’ve made the sale? (My answer is: how can they make that sale if they don’t answer email?) The third vendor, called on the phone, was very helpful and said to send an email detailing what I wanted and they’d send a quote, it’s been days and no response. What’s that saying, “only one out of five businesses last more than five years?” That makes it sound like it’s random chance – no it isn’t.

The plan over the next 6 months is to upgrade to a dry sump and a better ECU – both require changes to the alternator for very different reasons. Virtually all FWD dry sump pumps go right where aftermarket Honda K20 vendors tend to relocate the alternator to, so it’s got to move – again. The OEM alternator has a four wire plug and the four wires go straight into the ECU. The ECU that I’m considering doesn’t do anything with those wires and the manufacturer said it’ll be fine to just unplug it. Really? I think “fine” is subjective, because it means that the alternator won’t be using its remote sense input, resulting in lower system voltage, but that’s not the ECU maker’s problem… I’ll try it just for fun and see what happens, and likely have to rewire it in spite of their “it’ll be fine” comment.

My brother pointed out a pretty cool website for one-wire alternators, Power Master, which caters mostly to circle track and hot rodders. They make nice small units that put out decent power, but they’re expensive, single-source, and don’t have remote sense inputs on the smaller units. The concern is being somewhere remote and having the alternator fail. If it’s an oddball part it means having the car towed home, so before considering these units, a late model Honda Civic alternator will be checked out. It’s smaller and lighter than the K20 unit and widely available. It also has the more traditional alternator mount instead of bolting straight to the block like the Honda K24 alternator does, making the tensioner unnecessary. The Civic unit is 70 amps while the TSX/RSX alternator is 105 amps, but it should be fine since there’s less electrical load than in the factory car.

The irony is that my re-engineered alternator mount that’s been working great is going away, but so goes progress.