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Old 23-04-2009, 14:46   #1
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Dead Volvo Hour Meter

The LCD display for both of my engine panel hour meters are now dead. I have 1999 or 2000 model year MD2030C engines and the tachometer with the LCD hour meter window in the middle of the RPM dial.

I have externally regulated alternators and yes the tach drops to zero when the batteries are full and the alternator output is shut down. This has not in the past affected the hour meters however.

Anything I should check or is this bad (meaning expensive) news?
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Old 23-04-2009, 15:15   #2
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Hi Mark,

Welcome to the dead Volvo hour meter club. Ours are also dead, but once in a while they kick back in. Sometimes they just display garbage. It isn't related to the external regulator because ours are stock alternators and others on other makes of boats have this problem also. I have tried cleaning all electrical contacts, checking wires for impedance, etc, to no avail. It is a Volvo design problem that can be fixed only with $$$ by buying new tachs. And even then, you will run into the problem again down the road, because Volvo has not redesigned them.

However, the only non-esthetic purpose of the meters is to keep track of the engine hours over longish periods of time for maintenance reasons. So why not simply install dedicated hour meters across the alternator outputs and leave them in the engine compartment? I got a nice, small digital hour meter at Graingers for $25 that I use to monitor the reefer run times. When we get back to the States, I plan to install these on our engines.

Hope you are enjoying your boat,
Mark
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Old 24-04-2009, 05:09   #3
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The output of the alternator is connected to the batts so it would be reading 12v or thereabouts all the time (higher when charging). Perhaps connecting the meter to the field terminal which is only seeing 12v when the regulator is energized????
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Old 24-04-2009, 08:15   #4
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Originally Posted by defjef View Post
The output of the alternator is connected to the batts so it would be reading 12v or thereabouts all the time (higher when charging). Perhaps connecting the meter to the field terminal which is only seeing 12v when the regulator is energized????
Yes that's exactly the issue I've seen discussed in other places. The Balmar regulator is supposed to have a tach connection and checking that is on my work list.

Still a different issue than the hour meters though.... I will either have to keep better logs or find some el-cheapos to mount in the engine rooms as Mark has suggested.
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Old 24-04-2009, 08:25   #5
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Mark,
Most (all?) engine control panels have a key or button switch that you turn on when starting the engine. One of the things that this switch will do, either directly or via a relay, is provide 12 V to the regulator, which then sends it on to the field in the alternator. This is where most hour meters get the signal that they should start counting the minutes. I bet that if you have a look at your wiring diagram you can find this connection, and this is where you should connect your aftermarket hour meter. We've had to do this on two engines (BMW and Nanni) and have had no probs.

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Old 24-04-2009, 14:31   #6
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Why not just connect the hour meter across the switch? When the switch is on, the meter runs. Unless you have a reason to have the key on without the engine running it should serve the purpose just fine.

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Old 24-04-2009, 14:43   #7
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Yanmar panels have exactly the same problem. We had our 2 panels changed under warranty and the new ones started to misbehave after just a few months. They go off at random, sometimes display garbage, sometimes even the rpm needle gets stuck at max value.
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Old 24-04-2009, 17:58   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markpj23 View Post
The LCD display for both of my engine panel hour meters are now dead.
This is a common problem for the lcd display in tachometer dials if the panel is not inside the boat or if it is inside, the boat is damp.

Don't know if that is the case for yours but if damp is the cause then removing the tachometers and putting them in a warm dry place for a week or so may restore them but the root cause needs to be fixed if the problem is not to reoccur.

Engine panels are always best inside the boat - in our own case we were able to put the panel in a dry enclosed space above the engine and conveniently close to the companionway so it gets warmed every time the engine is run.
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Old 24-04-2009, 18:02   #9
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If you want engine hours you need to connect the hr counter to the run position of the key switch. There are several terminals on the key switch such as one which turns the instruments on but the engine is not running. If you want real hrs you want to find the terminal which is hot ONLY when the engine is running.

That works.
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Old 25-04-2009, 05:03   #10
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The Volvo switches have only 3 terminals. LIVE wire in. ON which turns on instruments and/or other accessories. START which excites starter solenoids and is live only when the key is turned to start position.

Again, unless you have a reason to leave the key on when engines are not running, an hour meter hooked to the ON position is accurate enough.

Otherwise, you do need to hook it to the alternator which activates only when the engine is running.

George
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Old 25-04-2009, 07:58   #11
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I thought the goal was to see who could run the hour meter up to the highest number?

Thanks for the replies - I know that they must be connected to a circuit that is hot only when th ignition key is in the 'ON' position.

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