Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Repowering Project Day 12

Fort Pierce, Monday

This morning I studied the engine manuals learning about the hook ups and seeing what I could do about the gel cell problem. You see, I have two new gel cell batteries and they are a problem.

There are three types of storage batteries available: conventional lead acid, gel cells, and absorbent glass mat (AGM). Conventional and AGM batteries charge at 14.5 volts, but gel cells can only tolerate 14.0 volts. On the old engine, I had an external charge controller which could be adjusted for any voltage. The new engine comes with an alternator with a built-in internal voltage regulator. It’s not adjustable.

I called the Beta factory to see what I could do. They said that I should find an auto electronics shop to modify the alternator to bypass the internal regulator and use the external one instead. I asked around and found an alternator and starter shop. The proprietor was Henry. I dismounted the new alternator and my charge controller, put them in a box and went to talk to Henry.

Henry gave me a great education about alternators, how they are constructed, what can go wrong, and how the owners mistreat them. After a long talk I decided that it would be illogical to mutilate this new alternator. I decided to buy conventional batteries instead. I’ll try to sell the gel cells somehow. Then I went back and re-mounted the alternator.

One thing I learned is that if you accidentally run down your batteries to nothing, that running the engine to recharge them ASAP can cook your alternator and ruin it. 100 amp alternators can not put out 100 amps continuously. You need to recharge at full amperage for a few minutes, then let the alternator cool off and the batteries recover some on their own. Lower amperage alternators are more robust and not vulnerable to this problem.

I regret having chosen gel cells two years ago. They have caused constant trouble ever since.

In the afternoon I modified the cooling water plumbing to fit the new engine. Libby rolled on the first coat of bottom paint. The new paint is black. It makes Tarwathie hard to recognize. We are so used to her bottom being blue. We use ablative paint and overcoats should have contrasting colors. When the black paint wears enough to see blue, that marks the degree of wear.

Finally, I worked on installing the Morse control cables for the throttle and gear shifter. The gear shift is giving me fits. I’ll have to finish it tomorrow.



Libby Versus The Gulls

I filmed the movie clip last Sunday on the beach near our apartment.

By the way, there are now more than 500 posts on this blog. I love this medium for communicating with family, friends, fellow cruisers and sometimes random strangers. What do you think?

Repowering day 13

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