Re-manufacturing an alternator

Trains are fitted with sophisticated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to keep temperature and air quality in the passenger coaches optimal. Power for running these systems is supplied by an alternator which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.

This device is mounted under the train carriage and fulfils its task under heavy circumstances. As alternators are expensive, re-manufacturing at the end of their life time is a good method in getting them in as new condition at significantly lower costs. Manufacturer Elite KL Ltd. from Tamworth (UK) also recognizes an increasing demand from railway operators for re-manufactured alternators which they once supplied new.

Re-manufacturing an alternator

After having received the alternator assembly Elite KL proceed with a thorough inspection to be able to schedule the necessary works and get the alternator in as new condition again. Part of the reman plan is upgrading the unit to the latest technical standards. This inspection is followed by disassembly of the main components as the cooler, motor, pump and alternator which then individually go through the several test runs, re-manufacturing processes and if necessary also upgrading.

When the alternator raft assemblies come in they are covered with a thick sticky layer of grease, oil and debris. This harsh contamination must be removed in the reman process. This resulted in difficulties when Elite KL started working on the first returned units and tried to clean them with a soap solution in hot water applied with rags and brushes. The cleaning agent was not effective in dissolving the heavy dirt, resulting in greasy brushes only spreading it over the surface again. Although the customer asked them to provide re-manufactured units in a clean condition, there was no clear definition of the required cleanliness.

Coming to an effective cleaning procedure

To tackle the problem Elite KL decided to investigate their needs and design an effective cleaning process in partnership with Henkel Adhesive Technologies. Firstly, the target was that cleaning must clearly contribute to the quality provided by re-manufacturing. Secondly, the newly designed cleaning process had to be easily repeatable and meet clearly defined cleanliness requirements. Subsequent discussions, investigations and trials resulted in measures in three key areas:

  • A written specification of required cleanliness leaving no doubt about how clean the parts must be.
  • Cleaning procedure: This practical step by step procedure makes it much easier for the operators to reach the cleaning requirements.
  • Pick BONDERITE C-MC Gel-7 as the cleaner of choice. It removes all debris but is safe to use on the many materials in the alternator raft assembly (e.g. painted steel housing, aluminium parts, hydraulic rubber hoses, zinc plates bolts).

Having implemented their new cleaning procedure now Elite KL experience faster reman operations with significantly lower rewash rates. Without delay the cleaned parts go to re-assembly and a final 5 hour test run checking both the hydraulic and electrical systems to approved requirements. The alternator raft assembly is ready again to fulfil its task: quietly powering the systems that deliver you comfort during your train journeys.

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