Sounds like the carbon brushes. These are spring loaded. You have to hold these back to clear the armature (spindle inside the alternator). I usually use sewing cotton to tie these back, and then cut the cotton and draw it out when assembled.
They can wear unevenly, don't worry about it.
You may need to clean up the armauture (the copper bit), if it is worn or dirty. Use very fine glass paper and clean off all the dust. Do not use emery paper or carborundum paper, or whatever it's called in the States. The dust off this is electrically conductive and may cause you problems!
I hope you aren't going to put the alternator back on when it is clearly overcharging. Spraying boiling hot acid around the inside of your car is not part of the maintenance schedule!
Last edited by neileg; 10-21-2002 at 04:38 AM.