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Old 19-06-2008, 10:47   #46
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My bet is that its a fine system, working for years and if there is a problem it will be solvable
Remember its a ex-charter boat and its Beneteau and neither want systems that fail as the boats would be off line instead of earning money.

I did another test at different RPM's - excellent idea, Hellosailor - and its sitting on 13.5 at all engine settings from 1,200, 1,500, 2,000 and 2,500.

So if I can't figure the problem at least I can charge at a low rpm

I have had to bite the bullet and I have called in someone with a bigger thingy than me. A bigger multimeter thingy, I mean....

After I have been cruising for 25 years I will prolly be able to fix these problems while Nicolle is cooking breakfast (for her then boyfriend).



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Old 19-06-2008, 11:01   #47
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Mark, you will probably find that for the price of calling someone in, you can buy a 100-amp rated DC shunt, and a good "12 volt bible" type book for the systems information.<G>

13.5 all the time sounds like something is wrong. Could be a blown diode in the alternator, could be the regulator, could be a few other oddities. But an ex-charter boat was built "to a price" for profit, and being "ex" that means all sorts of hands may have touched it. The alternator may have been "Well, yours is broke but this one looks like it will fit" and not necessarily stock, either. Sometimes, a clever kludge simply works too well and is never fixed right.

Probably easier to get/fix the parts and all before you get much further into the Pacific.<G>
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Old 19-06-2008, 11:52   #48
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I vote for the regulator. The voltage level is set by the regulator and your voltage output should be at least 13.8. The alternator has the capacity to output a much higher voltage than 14 volts. The regulator in a standard type controls to a max. voltage that should be a bit under 14.0 In the good old days of mechanical relay type regulators you could adjust the voltage output. You could get adjustable solid state types for the automotive industry, but I think they are no longer made. Too many people fried their batteries. The present answer is the smart regulators.
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Old 19-06-2008, 11:58   #49
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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Probably easier to get/fix the parts and all before you get much further into the Pacific.<G>
Oh yes, it will be fixed here. I can't speak spannish, but I more can't speak Pacific Islander!! LOL
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Old 19-06-2008, 12:41   #50
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Yup, gotta agree. If there is a 3 stage regulator all you have to do is follow the wires from the alternator to it. No, not those big fat wires, the 4 little wires.

Bulk charge (+14.2v) is the first stage of charging but you will only bulk charge for 30 or 40 minutes. Then the regulator drops down to (~13.6v) for an absorption charge and then finally down to a float charge ~13v. If you always charge at a bulk rate you will kill your batteries.

http://www.balmar.net/PDF/MC-512manual.pdf


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My bet is that Mark has the standard alternator with an internal regulator. These things belong on cars and not on boats.
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Old 19-06-2008, 15:37   #51
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There are service manuals available for all alternators, and usually there is a grounding tab hidden behind some of the fins or slots, so that when you push in move that tab, it disconnects the internal regulator circuit and the output from the alternator should shoot right on up to 16-17 volts. They're built that way for convenient field testing, but absent the manual and unfamilair with alternators...better to do the more comprehensive tests the harder way. Electronics can get upset when 17 volts appears on the "12" volt lines.

"Zap! Pop! Tink, tink, tink!"
Yup, the regulator is bad. And there go the radio, GPS, and three cabin lights.<G>
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Old 20-06-2008, 04:01   #52
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... V-belts easily slip and glaze, and the tension must be set manually. Too little and they slip, too much and they burn out alternator and water pump bearings. There's a simple tension gauge that can be used to make sure they are set right (if you don't have a calibrated thumb to measure deflection<G>) but those are getting hard to find too!...
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Old 20-06-2008, 07:51   #53
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I had to to stand on my head to read that frist page on belt & pully
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Old 20-06-2008, 08:16   #54
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Reg. votlage 13.5 to 15.2
13.5 seem a little low. a bad doide could be why it low. Alternator that pop one will be noise and not charge up to snuf, like a howling or whine.
A belt thats been slipping will make the pully rusty from hot and cold but it is a boat could be rusty anyway. Best of luck mark I hope this problem get fixed asap so you can get on with your trip.
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Old 20-06-2008, 09:17   #55
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Mark, If your cruising for extended periods, you will eventually need a new alternator and likely a new regulator at some point in time. Along with a replacement V belt and water pump impeller, I consider these essential engine spares to have along with you. As an Electrician and Electrical Engineering Technologist who has spent countless hours cramped into very tight and uncomfortable spaces I give you this suggestion. Todays electronic charging systems are very difficult to diagnose without specific tools and experience. Splurge on a new Alternator, 3 stage regulator and V belt. One by one, through a process of elimination, starting with the Alternator and belt, change out each and retest the system. The worst case scenario is you will have nice new dependable parts installed and a set of known, working spares on board as you should. You will also have eliminated these most likely components as the troublemaker. Think of it this way, one of the three parts is very likely toast and the belt which is probably not the culprit, is cheep. One way or the other you need to replace something, as we here on the forum all seem to agree that somethings not rite. As my bad knees can attest to, over many years of crawling around machines of all types, this will get you back to sailing the fastest!!
Just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions.........

Please let us know what you find out.
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Old 20-06-2008, 10:13   #56
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OK the technician has just been here for 2 hours.
He was great!

The problem is not the charging system but the circuit board showing the idiot lights - Just as I expected in my original post!

YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Yes, he did suggest a bigger alternator and more bigger batteries, solar panels etc etc.

I was gipped: There is no 3 step regulator on my boat. It was advertised as having one. Oh well.

We discussed improvements when we get back to Oz but in the mean time we can safely cruise with good use of the multimeter to monitor the charging and by charging 4 times a day for 30 mins instead of twice a day for 1 hour.

So I do thank everyone for their contributions here Its all a great learning experience for me. I am rereading the posts now after the tech's visit.

And yes, I would like a few thousand dollars to make the best electrical system... back can someone flick the cash my way, please?


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Old 20-06-2008, 11:06   #57
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Hi Mark:

Glad to hear the system is working. I've been wondering about how this was going to turn out. I'm glad it was something minor. I guess I'm not the only one who saw something in the ships inventory and assumed it was there and working.

Good luck with the rest of your adventures. Keep us informed as you can. BTW I spent some $$ on having a mechanic come and look at my propeller shaft b/c I wasn't sure if it was in bad shape or not right before I left for a 4 day run down the coast. Better safe than sorry.
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Old 20-06-2008, 11:42   #58
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A Relief, and a Thought


Good news about the basic health of your system.

Everyone here realizes that you are budget-conscious, but still consider installing the 3-stage regulator for maximizing the charging performance (read: reducing engine running hours) of your basic system. The internal regulator in that alternator was designed for automotive use: the regulator doesn't have to be efficient, because it can rely on typically long periods of engine running @ relatively low output.

The charter companies don't have an incentive to spend money to improve that, but a private owner certainly does. For the price of only 800 dresses, you can vastly enhance your convenience and prolong the life of your engine.

Fair Winds,
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Old 20-06-2008, 14:49   #59
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Good news about the basic health of your system.

Everyone here realizes that you are budget-conscious, but still consider installing the 3-stage regulator for maximizing the charging performance (read: reducing engine running hours) of your basic system. The internal regulator in that alternator was designed for automotive use: the regulator doesn't have to be efficient, because it can rely on typically long periods of engine running @ relatively low output.

The charter companies don't have an incentive to spend money to improve that, but a private owner certainly does. For the price of only 800 dresses, you can vastly enhance your convenience and prolong the life of your engine.

Fair Winds,
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Agreed.

Plus if you are still charging at only 13.6 v then you have a poor system and will kill your batteries as mentioned a while back.
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Old 20-06-2008, 15:09   #60
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I'm just guessing, but maybe the 3-stage charger you saw in the equipment list was your shore charger?

It's not the ideal setup, but I lived for years with a similiar setup, two batteries and a $50 Delco Remy car alternator with internal regulator. You can get by with it, but they will need the occasional really good charge, like motoring for 12 hours or a good shorepower charge. You also may want to rethink the 4 1/2 hour charges, just because it will be a tougher life for your diesel. If it were me, I'd probably just stick to 1-2 hours a day at one time, but I also understand your reasoning for the shorter charges.
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