Alternators- back to basics

Always check the alternator

What is going on in this picture?

The alternator has been connected to the house bank with a heavy cable. -Okay (Hopefully it is fused on the battery side.)

Original wire from alternator to starter and start battery not removed. (House and start battery are now permanently connected with a small unfused wire.)

Internal regulation is still in place after connecting the alternator to a large house battery bank. (The alternator is  likely to be damaged by overheating the next time the house bank is deeply discharged.)

November 2022

It’s been a good year making electrical repairs and upgrading yacht electrical systems.  With all the excitement over new lithium battery technology, and new more powerful solar charging, it is important to make sure your current system is working optimally before deciding to make big changes. 

Just this year I have tested and repaired four boats that were suffering from failing alternators.  The original call was for me to come and give an estimate to add solar to the boat, and give advice on possibly upgrading to lithium batteries..  When evaluating a boat I look at the whole system of charging and storage, not just at solar or batteries as a stand alone project.  In many cases the batteries were good, but the alternator had failed some time ago, but not completely, so the failure was not obvious.  The owner had a general feeling that their battery system was no longer keeping up with demands the way they would like and knew something needed to be done. 

In all but one case the alternator needed to be upgraded to external regulation as part of the repair to prevent future overheating, and damage from changing a large battery bank. The lesson is: It’s still important to check the basics before moving forward with new solutions.  

One year anniversary for the new work van

Happy Fall

More exciting projects are in the works for this Fall and winter.  Last winter I worked on a Lithium Bank Conversion on a Selene and this year it is going to be a Fleming that gets a new Lithium house bank.

The Selene just got back from spending the whole summer in SE Alaska, and this week I will meet with the owner and find out just how it all went.  The preliminary report is that it worked great, particularly useful was having a Panda DC generator in the system that was able to refill the bank quickly with an output of 200 Amps of DC current.

Also at least three of the boats I work on are already planning to add solar to their charging systems.  It is getting to be more common on larger motor yachts now that the panels are more powerful, and provide more consistent output throughout the day.

And it’s time for a new work van!  As you know since I moved to Sudden Valley I am interested in getting more work in Bellingham.  I have an official license, and key to the docks, for the Port of Bellingham Marinas.  But I need to have a vehicle that will give me a higher profile than working out of my Rav4.  The Rav4 has been fine in Anacortes where I am so well known, but attracting new customers that don’t know me requires a more professional appearance. So I have a Metris Cargo Van on order that should be here sometime in the next couple of weeks.  It’s much smaller than my old NPR Van so it can fit in my garage at home, and not use too much gas when I do have to go to Anacortes. Pictures coming soon! In the meantime here is a picture of the old truck, advertising while I was down in a boat working.

The original NPR work van
The new van finally arrived!