Vanagon – power distribution at the alternator mod

I’m still in a funk about all my unfinished van projects. I seem to be easily daunted these days. I can’t find things in my workshop (a key component for a swanky audio accessory and a canoe thingy I promised to take pics of for James F.), the rear bumper project is still halted, and locating that new big-assed battery has me scratching my head.

I’ve come to the realization that if I don’t make something each day I feel unsettled. I suppose this is a personal issue I have to deal with.

What to do, how do I get back in the game? I know, why not make something simple. Ok then, I’ll do something I have been thinking about for years. In the Vanagon electrical system, and this holds true for all years, the power leads from the alternator are not fused at the source. Seems suspect perhaps. I agree that the vans with the battery up front under the passenger seat complicates matters, i.e. having an unfused power lead from alternator to starter then a big assed unfused cable from starter to battery. But even if you set aside the issue of fuses, what if you are like me and add more wires to the alternator, don’t it all begin to look untidy?

For years I have been using one of those fuse boxes found in 2000 and up Golfs and Jettas (maybe others too) as a handy little fuse box/distribution panel. First in my old ’82 Westy where it was located back in the engine compartment, and latterly in my ’86 syncro up under the drivers seat to distribute and fuse accessories.

Here it is in my I4 ’82 Westy, on the battery.

And here it it under the driver’s seat of my ’86 syncro.

Same old box. But the other day I bought another from the wreckers, and this one will go back to sit by the the alternator. Now, how to mount it?

Some scrap aluminum again, you should know by now that the scrap aluminum pile is my go to place. First some 1/8″ plate cut to this shape.


See how the plate fits into the tabs on either side of the fuse box?


Holds fast.


Then, more bits and bobs of scrap and a bit of tubing are welded on to the plate. I have to apologize for the picture quality in this post, I couldn’t find my little Canon point-and-shoot and used my iPad mini instead. Maybe hard to see, but some tubing and 3 tabs added to plate


Better view, the tabs with the holes in them will fix to an unused hole in the alternator body. the other tab will rest against the inboard end of the alternator.


Now you can see what I was up to, the paired tabs fitted around the unused hole in the alternator body (will be secured by a 5/16′ stainless nut and bolt).


And here with the distribution/fuse box attached.


Another view sans box.


But, there is always a but, I think I made the mounting  bracket too long. So I cut it up and trimmed it down.


Re-welded the tube to the plate.


Much better.


I haven’t shown what’s in the box. Originally there was a thick wire coming into the box at the top right hand side. This was connected to the positive battery connection in the donor car. That wire supplies power to the bus in the box.  My box had that wire cut short, so I trimmed it right back flush. To compensate, I used the first lead on the right, the black wire at the base of an 150A fusible link. On the other end of that black wire I crimped on a ring terminal to attach to the positive stud on the alternator. Next left is a wire connected to to a 110A fusible link, then two 50A fusible links. Three 30A spade fuses protect the smaller wires in the connector on the left.


I just swapped over the wires I had connected to the alternator stud, I do need to clean things up a bit, perhaps combine the two 8 gauge wires I have added into one, didn’t have time to do that tonight.


Looks much neater than before and I think it is better than stock having the power leads fused at the alternator. I know, there is more to it, but thats for another post.


  1. #1 by famillysyncro on November 15, 2013 - 2:15 pm

    Looks really nice Alistair, good idea.
    I am so proud of you ditching those white cable tie and put some black one (at least for this job…), good move 😉


    • #2 by albell on November 15, 2013 - 6:52 pm

      Ah, you noticed that Jerome.

      I bought a couple of packs of black cable ties about a week ago. At the time I thought how happy you’d be when you saw the, 🙂




      • #3 by famillysyncro on November 15, 2013 - 8:13 pm

        Good thinking…. 😉
        I’ll sleep way better during our vacation thinking you did the right choice…


      • #4 by albell on November 15, 2013 - 8:16 pm

        Har dee har Jerome 🙂

        Where are you going for your vacation?



      • #5 by famillysyncro on November 15, 2013 - 8:28 pm

        China to see my family in law.
        Shopping is the plan, I have a good list of stuff (mainly led lights….) and food of course for 2 weeks, this will be nice.


      • #6 by albell on November 15, 2013 - 9:20 pm

        It will be a wonderful trip. Eat, eat, then eat some more 🙂

        As well as led lights, maybe some lathe tooling?



      • #7 by famillysyncro on November 16, 2013 - 4:20 am

        I was thinking about it but not sure what quality I’ll find there and what brand name to look for either.
        I am stle new to it but since I do more work on it for my job that for myself, I’ll get some cutting tools from McMaster Carr to replace my damaged one…..
        I would like to replace the tool order system (works ok but too small…..), not sure what is avalaible/compatible……

        Have a nice weekend Alistair.

    • #8 by edbee on November 16, 2013 - 2:13 am

      nice work as always. How about a description/tour of what’s under the drivers seat… thanks

  2. #10 by edbee on November 20, 2013 - 10:09 am

    muchas gracias senor! and I couldn’t help but thinking as I looked at the comments on this post that I hope your friend Jerome has never been to my blog as the blinding array of different coloured zip ties on the bottom of my blue vanagon might make him feel ill. (I bought a big container of all different coloured ties from Canadian Tire as it was on sale cheap.)

    • #11 by famillysyncro on December 2, 2013 - 4:18 pm

      Hi Alistair and Ed

      Actually Ed, I did go on your blog and didn’t notice anything, as well as Alistair’s blog.
      Good work on both blogs, nice write up…… as always.

      Some times ago, Alistair started to complain about the quality of his work (I didn’t notice anything in particular), especially not being happy about those %^&$#^!@!% white cable tie.
      Well, since I am doing the same on our van, I didn’t see anything wrong (but I usually use black cable tie outside and when the job is done and definitive).
      Another post, same remark about with cable ties (again from Alistair) about his own work and seriously, I don’t even remember what it was about, might be more than 2 years old…..
      I thought at that time it would be fun to joke about it (bad Jerome….) and now well I often do…..

      Of course, when I saw those black cable ties on this post, I couldn’t resist either…… 😉


      • #12 by albell on December 2, 2013 - 6:07 pm

        Hey Jerome, back from trip?

        it gets better I just spent some time on the weekend tearing out stereo install and adding another amplifier. Reasons and details to come later. But I used black cable ties in places where youre never even going to see them! Hows that for over compensation?



      • #13 by famillysyncro on December 2, 2013 - 7:33 pm

        This is sad…….for me, less to laugh about….. 😉
        Just kidding……but what is going on with those amplifiers?
        Are you making a teen’s van? Hidden black cable ties?

        Back to normal. Yes, we are back, we had a good time but it was too short.
        A lot to post about (I saw you were really active during that time as I was able to get email updates but not able to go on our blogs from China…..) but it is going to take some time.

        I got Leds projectors, lathe tools following your advice (not sure what I really got but….) and …some weight….. sadly.

        Quite a shock today with our blizzard, snow and cold weather after the good weather we had in China….. it is Alberta….


      • #14 by albell on December 2, 2013 - 8:16 pm

        Ill pm you Jerome.

        But you are on the right track about the stereo, teens van.


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