Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gremlins

Green Cove Springs, FL

The other day, Libby and I watched the movie Gremlins on board.  Perhaps we shouldn't have done that because the following day, we were besieged with electrical gremlins.  I'll explain.


  1. When we returned to Tarwathie, the batteries seemed to be in fine condition.  But when I checked the water levels, I could see the plates exposed.  It took 3 liters of water to. top them off.  After that, the batteries performed poorly.  The voltage dropped to 11.8 volts in the morning, but when 5 amps charging current was applied, they charged to 14.2 volts in only 30 minutes.  That is a sign of bad batteries.

    I fear that leaving the boat for 5 months with the solar panel controller set to run an equalize cycle every 30 days, used too much battery water.  My bad.
  2. To verify, I hooked up the shore power.  But that did nothing.  "Oh yes," I had forgotten that our shore power charger failed just before arrival in Green Cove Springs last spring.  I am very unhappy with that charger.  I bought it for $400 reconditioned.  It had three banks.  Every two years, the bank in use failed.  This year the last bank failed.
  3. I ordered a new charger.  It is a small simple Genius Charger, that cost only $59 new. (More on that in a future blog.).  The picture above shows the old charger next to the new one.

  4. The day after watching the movie, I set out to remove the old charger and install the new one.   Of course things are never as simple as they seem.  The lengths and the types of connectors for the new charger were totally different.  I couldn't just swap chargers.  I had to rewire.
  5. So I did install the new charger and I did rewire.  When I first turned it on, the LED lit, but I got no charging current according to our Link 10 battery monitor.  What the heck?  It seemed unlikely that the brand new charger was defective.
  6. I hooked up a manual automobile battery charger that was laying around.  No charging current?   What the heck?
  7. I started the engine.  Plenty of charging current showed.  What the heck?
  8. I disconnected the automobile  charger and put the Genius charger back.  This time not even the LED light turned on.  What the heck?  Things seemed to be going downhill.  As I stood there scratching my head, I overheard a snatch of someone else's conversation.  He said, "Do you have power?"  "Aha," I thought, the whole pier is blacked out, "I hope I was not the cause."   Next I got in the car to go to the grocery store.  I was shocked to see that all of Green Cove Springs and the whole region up to 7 miles north of us was blacked out.  "Thank goodness," I thought, "I didn't cause all of that."
  9. I reasoned that I must have made a wiring error. So I shut everything up and resolved to revisit it in the morning.
  10. During the night, I abruptly sat up in bed with the answer.  I had connected the new charger directly to the batteries, but that bypasses the shunt that the Link 10 uses to sense current.  The next morning, I woke and rewired once again.  Everything works now.
Whew.  Darn gremlins.

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