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Old 07-01-2011, 06:01   #1
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Battey and Windlass Problems - Related ?

Good morning. Just got back to Grenada from being up islands for the past month. Toward the end I found problems with my batteries and windlass. Not sure if they are related??
I have four house batteries and two engine batteries. It seemed as though I needed to run the engine everyday to keep them charged. My system says while I run the engine I generate 44 AMPS, 40 hp Volvo. Testing the batteries the hydrometer reads white to red reading, low charge, prior to charging after only 24 hrs. The engine runs for 2 hrs and the on-board amp meter reads 13.5 to 13.8, turn off the engine and drops to 12.5 fairly quickly and then after the night, 11.7.
We run a refrigerator and minor lights. Everything else is turned off.
My windless has also been running poorly, I think part of the battery problem? It will pull the anchor up VERY slowly with no tension on the anchor. If I get it running and let go of the button, it will not start up again for a minutes so I hand crank. The engine is running every time I pull the anchor. When it does not turn the winch, this happens regularly, there is a clicking sound each time I push the button.
Two problems but I hope one solution. I think it is bad batteries that are not charging, although I don't understand why the windless would not work properly when the engine is running.
Thanks Dave
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:09   #2
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We haven't entirely solved the problem but we have traced a similar one to the trickle charge on the windlass battery which drains the house bank. We trip the breaker on the windlass and that seems to help. But we have not solved the problem.
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:41   #3
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So you have a seperate battery for the windlass? I believe mine runs off of the engine batteries, although I can flip the fuse off. That is an easy thing to test. I will try that first thing. Thanks Dave
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:55   #4
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Your windlass performance is symptomatic of low voltage/weak batteries. You've likely got a dead short drain somewhere. Keep an eye on your thru-hulls. We had a similar problem at one point that proved to be a dead short where the edge of a copper foil grounding strap hade worn a hole in a battery cable that was not properly shielded or secured following some work at a local shipyard. In your absence, perhaps a mouse chewed through one of your cables?

FWIW...
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:57   #5
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Dave,

There could be more than one thing going on, but both problems seem related to low battery voltage and/or capacity.

First, the 13.8 volts you're seeing is too little, for any kind of battery. If you have flooded lead acid cells, you want to charge them at up to 14.6 volts or so, that is, when they are near full the charging voltage should be 14.4-14.6.

Next, you can sort out your problems by the judicious use of a digital multimeter, which you should have aboard. Check out the voltage at the terminals of the windlass before and after activation. With and without engine running.

You also want to be absolutely sure that ALL your 12V DC connections from the batteries all the way to the connected equipment are CLEAN and TIGHT. Surface corrosion is a stealthy threat to all marine electrical equipment, and can reduce the available voltage dramatically. I've even seen several big battery switches on customer's boats which had a significant voltage drop across the contacts.

Let us know what you find.

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Old 07-01-2011, 07:04   #6
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With the trickle charge on the batteries, would a reading of amps being used show this problem? If everything is turned off and the solar panel disconnected, would I see a reading of amps being drained? I have a solar charger that reads amps to the battery from the panel and amps being drawn out of the battery.
I don't think we have mice, but could have a short somewhere. Another place to check before buying new batteries and still having a problem. Thanks
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Old 07-01-2011, 07:12   #7
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What come out must be put back in. So try to estimate and compare the energy coming out of the battery with the energy provided to the battery. 2 hours a day recharging the battery does not seem excessive to me.
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Old 07-01-2011, 07:14   #8
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You need to do the troubleshooting using:

1. visual inspection of all connections;
2. a good multimeter; and
3. lots of patience to do a thorough job.

There are no shortcuts. And, just because you identify one problem doesn't mean there aren't others.

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Old 07-01-2011, 08:31   #9
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Had problems with the windless and burnt out a motor on it... found out that the voltage drop from the house bank to the windless was great so we mounted another battery under the windless in the line with the house bank.. gave us a larger bank and high voltage at the windless..
About your batteries, you have to treat them just like one of your kids and know everything possible about them, the algorithms of the batterys, how they charge, the fully charged point and the 50% area.. (ours, lifeline AGM 4ds) are charged at a high rate but are fully charged at 12.8 volts, and are at 50% when at 12.2 volts.
You will gain and lose a "TOP" charge or "SURFACE" charge very rapidly.. so what you might see is 14 volts after charging, will drop to a low charge after 24 hours... you've lost the surface charge..
To check the batteries, take each one independantly off the system, charge it and let it set, and see where it lies after 24 hours.. Your batteries will only charge to the weekest link in the chain and if you have a problem in "one" battery, it will show in the whole system.. Checking each one independantly is about the simplest and cheepest wat to start.
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