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Old 26-07-2012, 05:06   #1
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Balmar the only choice?

My 160AMP Balmar alternator just fried after only 450 hours on the engine. Balmar is a bit slow in telling me if they will help me with this (replacement, discount, etc.) and I'd like to check my options.

I have two on my engine (the second being the stock 65AMP alternator on the Yanmar 75hp Turbo-Diesel) so I have some time to make a decision. I had a 160AMP Balmar alternator attached to an MC612 regulator charging a bank of 4 8D AGM Lifeline batteries. I also have a bow thruster (Sidepower 125) that might factor in here. My starting batteries are isolated and are group 31 AGM. I have a Panda 8KW generator and a PROSINE 2.0 inverter charter that do a fine job of generating AC and charging the batteries when at the dock or running the gen set.

So... are there alternatives to Balmar I should be looking at?

Rick
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Portsmouth, RI
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Old 26-07-2012, 05:27   #2
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

Absolutely.

Balmar do not manufacture any alternator. Look at a Leece-Neville .

Michel
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Old 26-07-2012, 05:34   #3
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Diamond View Post
My 160AMP Balmar alternator just fried after only 450 hours on the engine. Balmar is a bit slow in telling me if they will help me with this (replacement, discount, etc.) and I'd like to check my options.

I have two on my engine (the second being the stock 65AMP alternator on the Yanmar 75hp Turbo-Diesel) so I have some time to make a decision. I had a 160AMP Balmar alternator attached to an MC612 regulator charging a bank of 4 8D AGM Lifeline batteries. I also have a bow thruster (Sidepower 125) that might factor in here. My starting batteries are isolated and are group 31 AGM. I have a Panda 8KW generator and a PROSINE 2.0 inverter charter that do a fine job of generating AC and charging the batteries when at the dock or running the gen set.

So... are there alternatives to Balmar I should be looking at?

Rick
Hylas 49-057 "Black Diamond"
Portsmouth, RI

I don't see any mention that you were using the alternator temp sensor? That is a critical piece with a large AGM bank. No matter what alt you use in that application you may fry it without an alt temp sensor..

There are plenty of good alternator companies out there but Balmar is a very good one. Get yours re-built, add a temp sensor if you don't have one, and continue on. Your alt can be re-built locally for a couple hundred at best.. Any good auto electric shop can do that re-build..

You may also want to add some cooling duct work to the alt. That bank can work that alt very, very hard...
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Old 26-07-2012, 05:38   #4
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

Like Maine Sail said, get the Balmar rebuilt. Any decent automotive alternator shop should be able to do it.
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Old 26-07-2012, 09:56   #5
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

Ample has good high output alternators for marine applications. You hear of a lot of failed Balmars in the cruising community. One reason is that they have sold a lot -- good marketing. I think they overspec them. If you current limit them using the regulator, they seem to last a lot longer.
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Old 26-07-2012, 10:10   #6
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

A lot depends also depends on your cruising area, choose an alternator manufacturer who has good representation on the ground, ie fitted to popular trucks, plant etc and you will be pretty sure a local guy will have spares and be able to rebuild at a keen cost. I had a Prestolite and when it broke down found it very costly and difficult to get spares. I fitted a Bosch and can now get spares in any sizeable town.
Good Luck.
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Old 29-07-2012, 05:30   #7
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

The alternator has already been looked at for a rebuild. It was determined that rebuilding it would cost as much as a new one. I have a temp sensor on the battery bank and the MC612 controls the alternator (to my knowledge).

If I switch brands then I might need to rebuild the belt drive and other components (not sure about the MC612 regulator). I'd like to stay with Balmar but they are not moving very fast or being very helpful on this so far.

Heat may have been the symptom but I don't think it was the cause. The alternator was beginning to vibrate and make noise (bearings?) right before it died. At 450 hours on the engine, this surprised me.

Rick

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Old 29-07-2012, 06:02   #8
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

I found a large frama leece neville on ebay cheap, worth a look
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Old 29-07-2012, 06:07   #9
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

The Balmar Alternators are between the best High Output Alternators on the market.

If you use it to get a constant high output, always monitor the Alternators temp. with an additional Alternator Temperature Sensor connected to the regulator to prevent from over heating and destroying the Alternator.

This way you will have a long lasting source for high amp. charging.

CeesH
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Old 29-07-2012, 06:55   #10
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Diamond View Post
The alternator has already been looked at for a rebuild. It was determined that rebuilding it would cost as much as a new one. I have a temp sensor on the battery bank and the MC612 controls the alternator (to my knowledge).

If I switch brands then I might need to rebuild the belt drive and other components (not sure about the MC612 regulator). I'd like to stay with Balmar but they are not moving very fast or being very helpful on this so far.

Heat may have been the symptom but I don't think it was the cause. The alternator was beginning to vibrate and make noise (bearings?) right before it died. At 450 hours on the engine, this surprised me.

Rick

S/V Black Diamond
Portsmouth, RI.
Rick,

Coupla things:

1. Get another estimate for the rebuild. I can't imagine that a rebuild would cost nearly as much as a new one. As Maine said, this is the best option. The Balmars are very well built.

2. A temp sensor on the batteries is not enough protection for the alternator when you have a big AGM bank. You need a temp sensor on the alternator itself.

3. The MC612 is an excellent regulator which, inter alia, allows you to program certain functions. With a large AGM bank, I like to program a derating of the alternator. You can set it to anything you like, but I'd set it to about 80% maximum output, i.e., about 130 amps in your case. This will help ensure that the alternator won't be damaged by long recharges at high output.

4. When you re-mount the alternator, be sure to carefully align the pulleys. This is critical, both to long belt life and to long alternator life.

Bill
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Old 29-07-2012, 08:25   #11
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

I have to go along with Bill. Get another estimate on the rebuild. If it was bearings that should be way, way less than a new Balmar or equivalent. I would think the whole guts of the alternator would have to be melted down to make it too expensive to rebuild.

Where did you get the estimate, boat yard, boat mechanic, Balmar dealer or an auto shop? If any of the first three take it yourself to an auto alternator shop. The bearings and guts on this are standard and you do not need to go to Balmar for parts. Same parts for a fraction of the price from an alternator shop.
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Old 29-07-2012, 08:43   #12
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

Balmar does not make alternators. What you have is most likely a repainted Leece-Neville. Prestolite now owns Leece-Neville.

Marine Alternator | Mercruiser Boat Starters | Elreg LTD

Prestolite - Leece Neville
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Old 29-07-2012, 09:30   #13
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

If any of you guys want to cruise Europe you will find it difficult to get spares at a reasonable price. I found it way cheaper to replace the alternator than get spares for my Prestolite. Either bring spare alternator/plenty of spares, or change it for a Bosch or Valeo. The cheapest alternator rebuild is approx 200 Euro's in an auto shop.
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Old 29-07-2012, 09:39   #14
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Rick,

Coupla things:

1. Get another estimate for the rebuild. I can't imagine that a rebuild would cost nearly as much as a new one. As Maine said, this is the best option. The Balmars are very well built.

2. A temp sensor on the batteries is not enough protection for the alternator when you have a big AGM bank. You need a temp sensor on the alternator itself.

3. The MC612 is an excellent regulator which, inter alia, allows you to program certain functions. With a large AGM bank, I like to program a derating of the alternator. You can set it to anything you like, but I'd set it to about 80% maximum output, i.e., about 130 amps in your case. This will help ensure that the alternator won't be damaged by long recharges at high output.

4. When you re-mount the alternator, be sure to carefully align the pulleys. This is critical, both to long belt life and to long alternator life.

Bill
I don't understand why so many people say Balmars are so good, when you need to dial them way back from the spec they are sold at to stop them from smoking themselves. Either they are way over marketed and over spec'd, or they aren't built to output what they sell them as.
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Old 29-07-2012, 10:17   #15
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Re: Balmar the only choice?

For many years Balmar used Prestolite which were common on a lot of things. Balmar was very good service years ago when they were smaller, I took an old alternator in just to have it checked prior to going cruising, They took it apart while I watched and overhauled it on the spot. Charged me nothing. I'm not sure if their alternators are anything other than a nicely painted stock units or not nowdays. Unless the stator is wiped out, rebuilding an alternator should not be too much money. Maybe look under a motor rewinding shop. Are there any small guys out there anymore that specialize in starter and alternator rebuilding? If you ask a 100 amp alternator to put out 85 amps for very long, most wont last too long. The heat is extreme. Thats a BIG battery bank you have. Ample power Alternators are good, might be no different than Balmar except the paint!
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