ALTERNATOR UPGRADE KIT INFO
Thank you for your interest in the SwEm modern charging system for the B18/20. Genuine Volvo parts are excellent, but here is a reliable, cost-effective alternative and improvement.
History: This kit was developed to fulfill the requirement of eliminating a sometimes difficult-and-costly-to-get-parts-for Bosch Generator, in addition to upgrading the Charging System to a popular alternator - typically capable of twice the output current of the original Generator. The alternator recommended is an internally (solid state) regulated AC Delco style 10 or 12SI, available all over the country, new or rebuilt (beware of the cheap $39 "rebuilt" specials containing internals of dubious quality - I recommend the official GM, quality rebuilt units at around $100). If you are really dressing up the engine compartment, many speed shops even have chromed alternators available. See also: Comparing Generators and Alternators , and Comparing Bosch and AC Delco Alternators, $40 Alternator Experience.
Installation: Installation of the kit is straight-forward using a custom fabricated bracket, held in place by the original three 5/16NC bracket bolts (these may need shortening if they bottom out before holding bracket, See tech bulletin1) . The belt and belt tensioning bar are retained and reused as directed in the explicit instructions. Your well-equipped toolbox should contain all the tools necessary for installation. Some wiring modifications are required, and the addition of an ammeter is optional and covered in the instructions. Highly recommended is reworking the Fuseblock (see also tech article: Gas-Tight-Joint) so that it will be able to safely carry the increased currents available from the alternator, especially if your Fuseblock is exhibiting much green corrosion! Kit installation is based on the typical GM installation. The standard AMP Indicator is retained with the original function (this would not be the case with a "One-Wire Alternator" installation). Depending on you/your mechanic's ability, installation takes typically two to four hours.
Alt kit instructions are explicit, but at least some mechanical / electrical experience and confidence would definitely be nice...this is probably not a good "first hands-on project" for someone unless they have an experienced mentor who can at answer questions, and supervise...modifications require working on critical, high-power mechanicals and electrics of the vehicle, and there is just too much which an inexperienced do-it-yourselfer without the judgment which comes with experience, could get wrong, with serious consequences, if totally on his own.
Service: Delco-Remy alternators have a provision for bypassing the regulator for an in-situ manually controlled "full-field" test requiring no special tools. If the alternator needs to be removed/replaced, this is no more difficult than removing/replacing the generator was. The alternator is a standard unit, and can be serviced by automotive electrical service shops. Rebuilding parts or entire kits are readily available at a number of sources. Example: regulator module $9, brush set $6, last time I checked.
Reliability/Track Record/Reviews/Testimonials: This kit has given reliable, satisfactory service of tens (maybe hundreds at this point) of thousands of miles on a number of vehicles. See also Phil Singher's Vclassics online magazine article (Jan/Feb 98 Issue) [Thanks Phil!]; also the unsolicited honorable mention in VSA's publication of Nov/Dec 91, page 5; Rick W. of Oakland, California writes: "The kit...was a breeze to install and has performed flawlessly...well-engineered with great schematics and clear, written instructions". [Thanks Rick!]; Brian S. of NYC writes: I have received and installed my new bracket and am very happy!....thank you for getting it here so quickly. [Thanks Brian!]; See also John Erickson's kind words in our old Guestbook, and Chris Doyle's in our new Guestbook [Thanks everyone!]. In the interest of full disclosure, a very limited number of failures over the years have occurred, typically after long time of successful of service. These have all been due to installation problems. These failures have all been very carefully scrutinized and the lessons learned have been worked into kit instructions. They are also covered in the Bulletins: tech bulletin1, and tech bulletin 2. See also link to Failed Alt Kits!
Altkit additional info page. I've collected a number of relevant bits, which should be of interest to anyone considering this upgrade, on this page...recommended reading for those wanting to be fully informed!
Application: The kit has been successfully installed on 544, 122, 1800, and 140 vehicles because of its compatibility with either B18 or B20 engines. Special applications other than those mentioned are possible but will require individual consideration (please e-mail).
More Power?: For those who might want to install an alternator capable of even more output current, like the 100Amp units available...beware! Without additional uprating of wiring and other components, if you were to draw that much current through the OE electrical system - I can just about guarantee, something WOULD burn up! I advise against it! Installing one of the recommended (~60Amp) units will give the desired improvement in Charging System while still retaining a good mechanical margin for reliability. Don't forget that the mechanical energy needed by a monster alternator to generate 100Amps would have to be transferred through the belt, and transferring so much power through a single belt would require tightening up the tension so much as to certainly be life-shortening to your waterpump!!! ...I HAVE heard of pulley failures when running NORMAL generators...so my recommendation on 100A alternators is: Don't do it! See also: Installing a 100A Alternator
If you insist on installing a Super High Powered Audio System (>200W) and have convinced yourself that you need to supply it with even more power which to show off, you don't really even need that 100A alternator either, since that system really only needs high power on bass peaks which are quite brief, I recommend instead, installing some big "soup-can" capacitors to supply the those peak loads!
The kit consists of: A painted (Volvo engine red) professionally fabricated, serialized bracket; highest quality Holo-Krome thermo-forged socket head cap screw pivot bolt, and washer - naturally prep'ed with anti-seize; electrical connector for the Delco-Remy alternator prep'ed with anti-corrosive paste; vehicle specific diagram showing original and upgraded wiring with color codes; detailed installation/maintenance instructions; diagnostic and service information; detailed information helpful for procuring the appropriate alternator from your local parts supplier.
Statement of Guarantee: One year to the original purchaser, given correct mounting (this might seem obvious, but needs to be reiterated...several installers have gotten it wrong!).
You supply: AC Delco alternator (style 10/12.SI) with an integral electronic regulator, and output rating of your choice, a new battery cable if ammeter is installed, installation labor.
The bottom line: The kit cost is $130 including (normal, stateside) shipping and handling and telephone assistance with any additional questions.
Want to place an order or need more information? Please e-mail
Back to SW-EM Kits page, Alt Kit.