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Old 16-09-2016, 15:33   #1
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Just bought a towing generator!

I just bought what I thought was a Hamelton Ferris towing gen. On arrival it has labels that say SECOND WAVE, ENGINES, ELECTRIC WATER GEN. Is this just another name for the Hamilton Ferris gen? I am going to have to find and download manuals and I am not sure what to look for. Anybody knowledgable about this old technology, or have any advice? ____Grant.
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Old 16-09-2016, 15:51   #2
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

I don't have any info personally, but I recall this coming up in a fairly recent thread... try doing a search of threads and posts
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Old 16-09-2016, 20:26   #3
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

These things are pretty damn simple... what do you need to know? Likely one of us can help without no steenkin manual!

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Old 16-09-2016, 23:13   #4
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

My main question is how to build a regulator for it. I assume (maybe incorrectly) that you dont just wire it directly to your batteries. I used the search feature and came up with dozens of threads, but none with any useful information. I will spend more time in the morning. Grant.
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Old 17-09-2016, 09:00   #5
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gjordan View Post
My main question is how to build a regulator for it. I assume (maybe incorrectly) that you dont just wire it directly to your batteries. I used the search feature and came up with dozens of threads, but none with any useful information. I will spend more time in the morning. Grant.
As far as I know, ANY kind of variable voltage output charge source requires either internal (as is often, but not exclusively the case with alternators) or external voltage regulation, such as a Balmar 612/4 with an alternator, or you would cook your batteries at noon with solar panels pumping out 20 VDC or so. Same with a towed generator, with is simply the watery version of a wind gen.

So, no, you don't "just wire it up to your batteries". You put it through an MPPT which you program through switches or via software to the desired "set points" your batteries require. The amperage varies then, not the voltage. When towing at 2 knots, you'd get a trickle of amps at, say, 13.2 V for "float" on a flooded lead-acid (FLA, or "old school") battery. The same setting at six knots produces the same voltage, but at a mightily increased amperage, which may or may not be available to transfer to, say, a windlass or a start battery if your house bank is at or near 100%.

A wind/water generator is a simple device with few parameters; much like using a propane torch to start an indoor fireplace, however, not knowing those parameters can cause a lot of damage! Read up on Gerr, Calder and/or Wing to understand this stuff. Your batteries and insurers will thank you.
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Old 17-09-2016, 09:24   #6
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

According to the Farris website the towed generator does require an external regulator
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Old 17-09-2016, 09:28   #7
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

Back in the 90's I purchased a Ham Ferris combination wind and water generator. The wind portion worked like a conventional wind generator; to use as a towing gen you remove the generator from the post, and where the blade is fitted you install a 50 ft. special cable which is outfitted with a prop on the other end. This prop spins from the momentum of the moving boat in the water thus turning the cable in turn turning the generator mounted on the stern.....pretty simple. Cannot comment on the regulator issue
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Old 17-09-2016, 09:36   #8
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

You will need to wire it up to the battery through a diode, and I would recommend an ammeter as well.

You are the external regulator. You can't use anything like an MPPT, PWM regulator. The only thing that would work is a dump regulator, but it isn't really needed.

When the towing generator is deployed, you will have significant loads on the battery--autopilot, lights, radar, instruments, radios. If there are other charging sources with regulators like solar, they should cut off when voltage gets high enough. If the towing generator alone is getting the batteries voltage too high, take it out of the water for a while. If my batteries were full when I left on a passage, I might wait till the middle of the first night to deploy the generator.
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Old 17-09-2016, 14:36   #9
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

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You will need to wire it up to the battery through a diode, and I would recommend an ammeter as well.

You are the external regulator. You can't use anything like an MPPT, PWM regulator. The only thing that would work is a dump regulator, but it isn't really needed.

When the towing generator is deployed, you will have significant loads on the battery--autopilot, lights, radar, instruments, radios. If there are other charging sources with regulators like solar, they should cut off when voltage gets high enough. If the towing generator alone is getting the batteries voltage too high, take it out of the water for a while. If my batteries were full when I left on a passage, I might wait till the middle of the first night to deploy the generator.
This is exactly my experience. A voltmeter on the batteries being charged will allow you to determine if you should pull in the prop. In my experience (and that was for a lot of sea miles and years) in a typical cruising scenario, you will not be likely to ever overcharge your batteries.

Don't over think and over worry this issue.

Jim
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Old 17-09-2016, 15:10   #10
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

This is how mine is wired up...top of page 20.. http://www.xylemflowcontrol.com/file...structions.pdf

I don't know what goes on within the regulator but the voltage at which the reg dumps to the resistor is variable. I have it set at about 13.8 and it spends quite a bit of time 'dumping'. The dump resistor is about 12 inches long by 1 inch diameter and is a good heat source.

I also have an discrete ammeter monitoring the input ( my solar is an entirely separate system.. page 20 lower shows how to combine the two inputs ) and a voltmeter on the batts.

Hope this helps...
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Old 17-09-2016, 21:01   #11
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

I have used a tow generator for many thousands of miles. As Don and Jim have mentioned, a good heavy duty diode perhaps one with a heat sink is a must. Wire the diode to the positive feed line.

I never used a regulator and always pulled mine aboard at night lest it run a foul during late night sail drills.

A great tip I have found very useful is to lead the tow line (braided line) through a wide mouth funnel that is loosely tied to the taff rail such that it may be untied at which point the funnel slides down the tow line and encapsulates the "fish" or propeller thus stopping it from rotating as you retrieve it. I have never had an issue with over charging.

When it catches the fish lines or taffrail log, the fun is over.
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Old 18-09-2016, 09:03   #12
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

Great information. I read through the Aerogen manual and it is actually an alternator, so the regulation is much more complicated, and the potential for damage from a loose wire is high. I think I have come to agree with Jim, in that a volt meter and paying attention is the best/simplest regulator. I believe the diode is so that at a speed low enough for the gen output to be less than battery voltage, the battery doesnt start to use power trying to make the gen turn. I still havent figured out what the label saying SECOND WAVE is. I dont know if I have a Hamilton Ferris (am I spelling it right?) or another brand. I doubt it makes much difference as far as operation goes, but I will want to purchase spare bearings, seals and brushes so for that reason it matters. Thanks for all of the info. _____Grant.
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Old 18-09-2016, 09:30   #13
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

If I am not mistaken, the Hamilton Ferris tow and wind generators all utilized permanent magnet motors not alternators. In the 80s we used 2nd-hand computer rewind motors which were very similar.

Here is a great article on these devices from practical sailor:

http://www.practical-sailor.com/issues/29_4/features/Towed-Water-Generator_4784-1.html
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Old 18-09-2016, 09:49   #14
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

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Great information. I read through the Aerogen manual and it is actually an alternator, so the regulation is much more complicated, and the potential for damage from a loose wire is high. I think I have come to agree with Jim, in that a volt meter and paying attention is the best/simplest regulator. I believe the diode is so that at a speed low enough for the gen output to be less than battery voltage, the battery doesnt start to use power trying to make the gen turn. I still havent figured out what the label saying SECOND WAVE is. I dont know if I have a Hamilton Ferris (am I spelling it right?) or another brand. I doubt it makes much difference as far as operation goes, but I will want to purchase spare bearings, seals and brushes so for that reason it matters. Thanks for all of the info. _____Grant.
Just a wag but here in Seattle we used to have a secondhand chandelery called second wave. May have been a resellers tag you are reading
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Old 18-09-2016, 10:27   #15
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Re: Just bought a towing generator!

I just ran across the Practical Sailor article from Feb, 2003. Lots of good information and from the photos I am pretty sure it is a Hamilton Ferris. Interesting to note that it should be mounted on the port side, since the line tends to run to port when towing. Even though this unit looks un-used, It didnt come with the panel that contains an amp-meter, fuse, diode and momentary stop button. The stop button is for when using as a wind generator. I cant image the mess it would make of the tow line if you used the stop button on the water generator. Making up a panel will be pretty easy and I have no plans to use it as a wind generator, so I wont bother with the stop button. I still dont know why the label says SECOND WAVE, but at this point I think I have enough info that it doesnt matter. Thanks for all of the help! _____Grant.
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