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Old 16-05-2009, 22:11   #1
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Balmar Bummer!

After a couple of days of thought I decided to post my experience with Balmar Alternators.

I have rebuilt the engine in my boat a Lehman 4D220. This engine has been out of production for a long time. The old alternator was not well installed and the mounting bracket was worse. After a thorough examination of my options I decided to build my own bracket.

In my mind Belmar had a strong reputation although expensive. My old alternator needed to be replaced. After studying Belmar material online I decided on installing the model 712-110 a 110-amp unit. I needed the case specs in order to build the bracket. I downloaded it from their website http://www.balmar.net/PDF/Alternator%20Drawings/712-seriesdimensionaldrawing.pdf

I built the bracket it turned out really good very true to the other sheaves on the engine. I order the unit from my local supplier. I have been working to a schedule to crane the engine back into the boat, this was done last Friday. The alternator arrived on Wednesday; I fitted the it only to discover that the sheave center was not 1.25” but 1.0”.

I called Belmar on Thursday morning and spoke to Rich, I could hardly get the story out of my mouth before interrupted me saying that he had been trying for a couple of years to get the owner to alter or remove the specs as they are out of date and not accurate, he basically said that if I complained to the owner maybe I could prevail on him to change the specs. Surely not my responsibility to do this. As to any recourse Rich had nothing to offer. I called the owner Steve Gamman later that morning, he basically said that it was my fault as I should have waited until the unit arrived, then measured it. He said that the specs are a rendition and that they are not accurate. This all left me with a bad taste and has me rethinking any further purchase of Balmar’s products, if you can not trust their technical drawings what can you trust or perhaps they are resting on their past laurels. He did say that he would post some sort of disclaimer on the website saying the drawing specs are not accurate.

Here is the contact info for the company http://www.balmar.net/Page43-contactus.html

I modified the bracket down the road I will be installing a second large case unit, not sure if I will give my business to this guy.
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Old 17-05-2009, 05:13   #2
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Large fonts are like yelling.

In my experiences, there is nothing like having the item in hand, to take your measurements.

So what you are saying is there is a problem with the drawing...not the unit
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Old 17-05-2009, 06:37   #3
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Sent them a quick email saying how important it is to leave good impression after a customer service event. Sometimes will pay extra to patronize a company that takes great pains to make sure a call to customer service is positive experience.
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Old 17-05-2009, 06:54   #4
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Balmar has always made an average product at a high-end price and their marketing clearly outshines the product and customer service. It says a lot when they offer to add a disclaimer rather than make the ad specs accurate.
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Old 17-05-2009, 09:23   #5
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Balmar has always made an average product at a high-end price and their marketing clearly outshines the product and customer service. It says a lot when they offer to add a disclaimer rather than make the ad specs accurate.
OK, so this is at least the second unsatisfactory experience I've heard of re. Balmar. Who are the best alternator people? Talking about a high-output, reliable, durable product, and of course reasonable cost if possible.
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Old 17-05-2009, 10:26   #6
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OK, so this is at least the second unsatisfactory experience I've heard of re. Balmar. Who are the best alternator people? Talking about a high-output, reliable, durable product, and of course reasonable cost if possible.
Right away, your qualification of "reasonable cost" excludes Balmar.
I think if you check around, you also might find more than a couple of complaints. Regardless, among a myriad of high qualify alternatives are those made by Leece-Neville, to name just one, who also sells to Balmar.
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Old 17-05-2009, 10:54   #7
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OK, thanks Illusion. Did some googling re. Leece-Neville and now I have more questions:

1. What's the relationship between Leece-Neville and Prestolite?

2. Leece-Neville does not appear to have the same kind of marketing, distribution, and (alleged) customer support that Balmar has. How does a boat owner who has limited electrics expertise overcome that problem?

3. Are there any requirements for a specific "marine" alternator, or do I merely have to make sure it will fit on my engine (Perkins diesel) and provide the amps I need?

4. Balmar offers other stuff like regulators, etc, that boat owners may need. Who would be a good alternative for those kind of products? Again considering reliability and reasonable cost.. Ample?
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Old 17-05-2009, 11:40   #8
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With the money I saved going with Leece Neville over Balmar I bought 2 Trojan 105s and the install cost. Never had one problem plenty of amps and constant. external regulator and switchable as in on and off for extended motoring.
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Old 17-05-2009, 12:05   #9
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FWIW...I've installed 2 Balmars (110amps) on two different engines...(Yanmar44hp and Perkins 84hp) and they never gave me a moments problem in 6 years of continuous liveaboard use. I had a couple of problems with the ARS regulators but these were replaced without charge. Their website is fantastic despite the noted problem above and product support has been excellent for me.
Not saying anything about the above posts...just wanted to go on record with a different perspective and personal experience.
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Old 17-05-2009, 14:56   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedoo View Post
OK, thanks Illusion. Did some googling re. Leece-Neville and now I have more questions:

1. What's the relationship between Leece-Neville and Prestolite?

2. Leece-Neville does not appear to have the same kind of marketing, distribution, and (alleged) customer support that Balmar has. How does a boat owner who has limited electrics expertise overcome that problem?

3. Are there any requirements for a specific "marine" alternator, or do I merely have to make sure it will fit on my engine (Perkins diesel) and provide the amps I need?

4. Balmar offers other stuff like regulators, etc, that boat owners may need. Who would be a good alternative for those kind of products? Again considering reliability and reasonable cost.. Ample?
One of the biggest complaints seems to be that Balmar does not always have direct replacement cases and mounting hardware whereas L-N does. That plus the price disparity and the ability to easily fit ext regulation are both things to consider regardless of anecdotal stories how well Balmars perform.
In answer to your questions, L-N makes Presto labeled parts. Although their distributors are nationwide and elsewhere, you should call them directly to get pointed to the best local source. I've never heard bad customer support stories about L-N but that's just my experience. Just tell the supplier you find what your needs are and if you need more help, you can bring along or send them your existing alt to ensure you get a direct replacement at whatever amp capacity you require. As far as ext regulators, any of them will work, Balmar ARS-4 being one.
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Old 17-05-2009, 15:06   #11
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how tough is it to have an accurate drawing anyway? this is not a small company. disclaimer? what a joke.
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Old 18-05-2009, 10:13   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedoo View Post
1. What's the relationship between Leece-Neville and Prestolite?
2. Leece-Neville does not appear to have the same kind of marketing, distribution, and (alleged) customer support that Balmar has. How does a boat owner who has limited electrics expertise overcome that problem?
Leece-Neville is a division of Prestolite Electric.
Prestolite Electric Incorporated manufactures alternators and starter motors, under the Prestolite Electric, Leece-Neville and Indiel brand names.

See their EXCELLENT support pages (lots of good stuff):
Prestolite / Indiel / Leece-Neville Technical Services
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Old 18-05-2009, 10:34   #13
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Thanks Gord!
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Old 18-05-2009, 10:35   #14
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One of the biggest complaints seems to be that Balmar does not always have direct replacement cases and mounting hardware whereas L-N does. That plus the price disparity and the ability to easily fit ext regulation are both things to consider regardless of anecdotal stories how well Balmars perform.
In answer to your questions, L-N makes Presto labeled parts. Although their distributors are nationwide and elsewhere, you should call them directly to get pointed to the best local source. I've never heard bad customer support stories about L-N but that's just my experience. Just tell the supplier you find what your needs are and if you need more help, you can bring along or send them your existing alt to ensure you get a direct replacement at whatever amp capacity you require. As far as ext regulators, any of them will work, Balmar ARS-4 being one.
Thanks again, Illusion.
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Old 18-05-2009, 11:21   #15
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Actually Balmar is a very small company, they are right up here near to me. I once inherited a dual output Balmar alternator in a boat I bought. As I was going on a long cruise I took it in to their shop to see if they would check it out. They took me out in the shop, took the unit apart, put any new obvious worn parts in it, put the newer style fan/pulley on it, handed it back to me and said have a good time.....
That was years ago at their old facility. I have not been over there for a few years, but was at their newer facility once. The whole attitude seems to have changed... based on my one visit, hard to even talk with anyone except the receptionist. I had both their regulator and Ample Power's regulator on one boat. The AP regulator put out a lot more amps for a longer time than the Balmar did.
The Leece Neville has been a lesser known item for years. They were basically the alternator used on kenworth trucks etc. Very Heavy duty, but they do (did?)have a huge case. A knowledgeable alternator person can change one over to external regulation in 15 minutes or so.... finding someone who wants to for reasonable $ may be an issue though... Do they now sell smaller case ready-to-use units?
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