This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue.
You truly find out who your friends are when you’re stuck in a field at the fairgrounds in a drenching rain with a powerless truck, thanks to a bad alternator. While attending the Alligator Performance Hunting 4 Horsepower event in northern Idaho this fall, I found myself in a desperate situation. My stock 120 amp alternator gave up the ghost after a summer full of modifications that proved to be more than it could handle.
And speaking of friends, it is worth noting that Johnny Ramirez, the owner of Fusion Bumpers, offered up his trailer to help us get home when we were trying to figure out what our game plan was. The diesel industry is full of good people like Johnny who are willing to alter their plans to help someone out.
Frustrated with my predicament, I called around to every part store in the area and ended up taking the best alternator I could find on a Sunday of a three-day holiday weekend, which was a 130 amp model. Sure, there were better options if I were willing to wait for one to be ordered in, but I was more than anxious to get started on my eight-hour journey back home and didn’t want to wait.
This is where the humbling part comes in when you realize installing an alternator can be done in a muddy field, but how much better it would be to have a dry shop and a wider selection of tools to work with. Lucky for us, Chad Hall, co-owner of Alligator Performance, stepped up and not only offered his shop, but also his right hand man Mark Smith to assist us. Again, another example of how our niche in the industry is full of great people. Mark met up with us early Monday morning following what had to have been an exhausting weekend for him as he helped with Alligator’s two-day event. A true professional who knows his stuff, he quickly had us back on the road and heading home.
Time To Get Mean
While I was thankful to get home without a single issue, my confidence in the 130 amp alternator was a little shaky. On the drive home, Mean Green kept popping into my head as the company I should have gone with if I had more time. Mean Green from Derry, Pa., has established a solid reputation in the industry for producing over-built starters and alternators for owners who demand more from their trucks. So even though I had a brand-new alternator now, I still got on the phone with Mean Green when I got home and got its 300 amp, High Output Alternator heading my way.
It seems like most alternators are an easy five-minute installation with it being located on the top of the engine, but that’s not the case with the 6.4L Power Stroke. Ford engineers decided to bury it, so the easiest way to get it out is through the passenger fender well. I recruited the help of Austin Carlisle, one of the account executives at Diesel Tech, to assist and it only cost me my wife’s biscuits and gravy to get him to my shop.
We started by unhooking the batteries and then pulled the Bushwacker fender flare, followed by the wheel well. With the alternator in clear view, the next step was to release the tension from the fan belt. Clearly Mark, the professional tech from Alligator made it look easy because we didn’t recall it being this difficult. But after a few attempts we had our 3/8-inch breaker bar in position so we could slip the belt off.
Three Bolts Later
At this point the install really is quite simple. Austin removed the three bolts holding the alternator as well as the electrical plug and quickly replaced it with the beefier (yet similar in size) version from Mean Green. The fender well and fender flare went back on after double checking the belt to make sure it was correctly positioned, and we were ready to fire up the Power Stroke. Note, in some cases by upgrading to the larger alternator the drive belt tensioner might begin to rattle. If it does, simply exchange your belt to one a half-inch shorter to fix this problem.
Mean Green says its alternator provides up to 300 percent more power than stock and I believe it! The alternator's tool steel rotor shaft is supported at both ends by heavy-duty double sealed bearings. Even the heavy-duty solid copper starter windings are sealed with high temperature insulation. Another is the heat-resistant, multi-function integrated regulator, which continues to operate even at extreme temperatures.
It’s probably just in my head, but I swear my truck runs better now that everything is getting the proper amount of power. I’m getting more charging volts (around 14.3) than I ever got before and I couldn’t be happier. Not that I’ll need it, but it is nice to know the alternator does come with a one-year unconditional guarantee, which says a lot about Mean Green and the products they manufacture.
It might have cost me a necessary misstep, but in the end I got it right and now I can officially take the alternator off my worry list, thanks to Mean Green.