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Old 29-07-2020, 09:34   #1
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Weird charging setup.

Hi all.

I’m new to the forum as a contributor but have been mining it for inspiration for my boats for years.

I just had a very weird thing discovered about the charging on my boat and I just wondered if this was normal.

Na Mara is a Regina 43 with a true pilot house with interior hydraulic helm and fully doubled engine controls. About a week ago it was a bit narly and we were headed right into it on the engine so I started the engine at the internal helm and watched the world go by in true slippers sailing fashion with the autopilot on until the engine died three hours later. That never happens!!!! After the shock wore off we sailed back into harbour and got the pros out.

The problem was identified as being that the alternator was failing to charge the batteries. It turns out that the fuel pump is run off the starter battery and it takes a bout 3 hours of running to run down the starter battery enough for the pump to fail and the engine to die. The pros checked everything and basically came to the conclusion that it must be the alternator. A week later we got hold of a new one and fitted it. Still no charging! The very embarrassed pro then spends the next hour in deep head scratching until he finally strikes upon the idea of starting the engine at the external helm. Lo we have charging!

Upon further inspection it turns out that 25 years ago the boat was delivered with two engine panels from which you can start and monitor the engine, only one of which activates the alternator for charging.

The pro and I have never heard the like before.

1. Why fit an engine panel that, if you use it, runs down your starter battery?

2. Has anybody else had this sort of issue before?

3 Why has this fault not been corrected in the boat’s 25 year history? Others must have discovered it in a similar fashion to us.

Best from Na Mara
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Old 29-07-2020, 10:04   #2
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Have sort of seen something similar for a remote engine start panel in the engine room of a Cheoy Lee 41.
The PO had done the install and what was different than yours, the cockpit was the master and the engine room panel a secondary. In this setup the ignition needed to be "on" for the secondary to be functional. With the key on, the alternator would properly function when started from either panel.

Yours is an odd setup, but should be easily remedied.
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Old 29-07-2020, 10:24   #3
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Likely in earlier execution there was no key there but only a plain push button start.



I have seen such setups before.


Odd that you have not noticed this simple fact before - how often do you look up the voltage gauge under way? Is the boat a new buy?



Nobody fixed it before you, because there is nothing that needs fixing - once you know it is there ...


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Old 29-07-2020, 10:33   #4
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Did you check the old alternator to see if it still worked or were the diodes blown?
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Old 29-07-2020, 11:51   #5
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Re barnakiel, she is newish to us and this was obviously the first time we had run the engine for any length of time after starting it at the internal helm. I have to admit that I didn’t keep a weather eye on the volt gauge. When the engine died it was sitting around 12 v and the charge light was red on the panel.

The interior panel is identical to the exterior and original to the boat. The boat seemingly was designed to be helmed from inside ( the windlass, horn, bowthruster and everything is duplicated). The interior helm is no affectation.

Re Billo, both the original and the new alternators are reading true and the new one works fine when you start the boat at the exterior helm. Our setup (if you can call it that) allows the engine to be entirely controlled from the internal helm. You don’t need to do anything at the exterior helm to start, stop or rev the engine. If the meant it just to be a Secondary rev counter why duplicate the ignition and stop button?
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Old 29-07-2020, 12:08   #6
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Well that's good both alternators work fine, now you have a spare.

I think you need to change your description that the 2 helm controls are almost identical due to the fact the internal helm can't initiate the alternator. Is there a keyed ignition switch in the outside helm?

Would think that would be a simple fix for the inside helm to initiate the alternator, then you would truly have duplicate helms.
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Old 29-07-2020, 13:19   #7
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Re Billo,

Keyed ignitions on both which I probably should have been clearer about. The yard guy says it’s a very easy fix to get both to initiate the alternator which begs the question of why it wasn’t done in the first place. It’s on the off season work sheet.
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Old 29-07-2020, 15:34   #8
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Once upon a time, I was asked to help solve a problem where the alternators were trying to charge the starting battery at +16+ volts. Two engines. Same problem. Somebody, months before, on an island far away, had replaced bad alternators. To make a long story short, the original alternators had voltage sense wires connected to the batteries. The new alternators didnít. They measured the voltage coming in from the ignition switch. But the instrument clusters were powered by the HOUSE bank. Obviously been that way since the boat was built.
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Old 29-07-2020, 16:27   #9
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Na Mara View Post
Re barnakiel, she is newish to us and this was obviously the first time we had run the engine for any length of time after starting it at the internal helm. I have to admit that I didnít keep a weather eye on the volt gauge. When the engine died it was sitting around 12 v and the charge light was red on the panel.

The interior panel is identical to the exterior and original to the boat. The boat seemingly was designed to be helmed from inside ( the windlass, horn, bowthruster and everything is duplicated). The interior helm is no affectation.

Re Billo, both the original and the new alternators are reading true and the new one works fine when you start the boat at the exterior helm. Our setup (if you can call it that) allows the engine to be entirely controlled from the internal helm. You donít need to do anything at the exterior helm to start, stop or rev the engine. If the meant it just to be a Secondary rev counter why duplicate the ignition and stop button?

A-h!


So there are buttons? Not a key?


In many boats the buttons just start and stop the engine, they do not wake up the alternator....


The outside station, at helm, is it all buttons too?


We here are lucky - because our alternator does not start at engine start. It only starts when the engine gets reved up a bit. Hence I have this very very old habit to check battery voltage some time after we start motoring. Since there is always sort of dramatic change on the engine batt (at least by I think 1 Volt !) then I immediately know the alt has kicked up (or not).



Off course, as the panel on our boat has an ignition lamp, as long as this lamp is ON, I know the alt has not kicked in - because it is the alt output voltage that extinguishes the panel lamp ...



"...the charge light was red on the panel...."


The red lamp on your boat perhaps indicates charge - it may be reading off the house battery, so unless you have separate control per each bank, it may be a rather poor indication of where the starter battery sits.


Whichever way you look, you have a small upgrade project there. Probably something you will do over one rainy weekend.



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Old 29-07-2020, 17:56   #10
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Na Mara View Post
Re Billo,

Keyed ignitions on both which I probably should have been clearer about. The yard guy says itís a very easy fix to get both to initiate the alternator which begs the question of why it wasnít done in the first place. Itís on the off season work sheet.

Pese confirm you have the following:


1. Key switch in both panels.
2. Either key switch will start the engine.
3. One alternator.


Question: If you start the engine from one steering position & during the trip,decide to move to the other steering station,do you leave the key on(engine running) at first position?
Can you then shut the engine down at the second position? Possibly forgetting to turn the key off at the first position?


If you leave a key on & your diesel is stopped by a pull cable(like mine),it is easy to forget & leave key on. The key on feeds 12v to the field of the stopped alternator & this will drain the start battery after a while.
If you had two key switches like you & both were feeding 12V to the one alternator field,it's twice? as possible you could forget & leave the other key on? Maybe that is what the original design was trying to prevent?


Just trying to understand the original logic. Cheers/ Len
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Old 30-07-2020, 02:03   #11
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Re deblen

1 yes key switch in both panels
2 yes either starts the engine (one key to start and I always leave them it the “on” position)
3 yes one alternator

If I switch between helms under engine I leave the key in the panel I used to start the engine. I only remove the key if the engine is off.
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Old 30-07-2020, 02:47   #12
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Re: Weird charging setup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Na Mara View Post
Re deblen

1 yes key switch in both panels
2 yes either starts the engine (one key to start and I always leave them it the ďonĒ position)
3 yes one alternator

If I switch between helms under engine I leave the key in the panel I used to start the engine. I only remove the key if the engine is off.

I believe you need to install another oil pressure switch in your engine. The existing oil pressure switch is called a NC (normally closed) & it closes it's contacts & provides ground to your oil pressure red dash light or guage when there is no engine oil pressure (due to stopped engine or loss of oil pressure)
You need to add a NO(normally open oil pressure switch also,which is designed to open it's contacts,when pressure is lost(stopped engine).

Then you remove the field wire to the key switch & wire the field wire to one side of this oil pressure switch & supply the other side of switch with always on & fused 12V.
Now,any time the engine is running & oil pressure is up,the alternator field will have power.
Your mechanic will know how to do this.


Hope this helps/Len
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