Could be the PO replaced the altenator with one off a gas engine that won't drive the tach.
If you look at the back of the alt. it should have a terminal marked tach.
Use a anolog volt meter and you should see the neddle bounce when the alt. is turned by just cranking, most digital meter won't read this pulse.
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I am not a prejudice racist sexist bigot. I just hate stupid people.