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Topics - 2ndwish

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This weekend, during a long cruise, a friend of mine radioed that he was having concerns about his engine (Universal M35B) and something didn't smell right. When I arrived he was running his engine and there was a clear burning smell. We removed the engine cover and found sparks flying from the alternator output. He shut down the engine, turned off the "perko" and another friend joined us in the diagnosis.

The battery bank is about 400 AH and I believe the alt was more than 80A with an external Balmar regulator (equipped for alt temp sensing but not installed). What happened was that the alternator output nut had worked loose (diesels are known to vibrate) and the joint had become resistive. That joint, driven by alternator and in part by the external alt regulator, got so hot that it melted nearby wires and the alternator output stud isolating standoff. The stud in turn, able to move, was intermittently shorting to the case. A post mortem revealed that the stud was white with oxidation suggesting it was red hot at some point. Furthermore, since the battery cable system was not fused at the battery (per Mainesail and ABYC recommendations), the short took out the "Perko" switch and melted adjacent wires. It was fortunate that our other friend has an awesome spares kit (and some fantastic wiring and diagnostic skills to boot) and actually had a switch that fit the panel. This was all caused by a wire in a high capacity alternator system that had worked loose. We disconnected the alternator, he got his batteries charged with a generator and he made it safely home without incident.

The cautionary message: check your connections regularly on a high current system and fuse your batteries. Our friend was very fortunate to not have a fire on-board. Hope this information helps the next person.

Main Message Board / Moving on...
« on: February 04, 2015, 06:05:18 PM »
Hi Everyone- Anyone checking the for sale page might notice that 2nd Wish has been sold. Our boat partner Len Hirsch passed away last year and my wife and I decided to move up. Like so many C34 owners we have purchased a Catalina 380 (1997) and are currently trying to get her into as good shape as our C34. I told the new owner about the Association and C34 web page and I hope he has as much fun with her as we did. I'll still be lurking around here though-no better place in the world for sailboat advice!
Thanks for the help through the years.

Catalina 34s for Sale / 1987 C34, Long Beach, CA for sale (Sold)
« on: October 04, 2014, 09:24:03 AM »
2nd Wish is for sale, a 1987 MK-1 in very good condition. The boat has been well maintained and has had $10,000 in upgrades in the past 5 years, including windlass/bow roller (2011), Bimini (2012), new sails (2014), new sail cover (2014). For more information go to:

The price is $45,000, send a PM or e-mail if you're interested

Main Message Board / Interesting leak- water tank
« on: February 09, 2014, 09:43:06 AM »
We try very hard to keep our bilge dry and are usually successful. Yesterday I was cleaning the interior of the boat (yes spring comes early in SoCal) , stem to stern. When I got to the galley I noticed the water tank valves. Remembering that we had been operating on the rear tank, thought it might be time to drain down the forward tank and opened that valve. Later in the afternoon, I went to a friend's boat for glass of wine, came back and there was 3 inches of water in the bilge, in fact the pump came on. Grabbed a flashlight and quickly determined there was a steady stream of water coming from the forward water tank.

We had known that the cap on the top of the forward tank (1987 model) was prone to leaking. We usually underfill a little bit accordingly. What happened yesterday was that with both valves opened, the rear tank was filling the forward tank- all the way to the top and a little more. This was discussed in a previous thread..,2909.0.html

So if you have a mysterious leak and both valves are opened, it is worth a look. It is also a good reason to operate on one tank at a time. Now to fix that cap...

Main Message Board / Battery Mystery
« on: December 09, 2013, 08:34:27 AM »
We purchased a pair of Group 27 Lead Acids ( Ever Start Marine)from Walmart over the summer. The batteries are rated to 105 AH and 750 MCA. For a house bank we don't really care about MCA. About a month ago we were out for a daysail, switched the fridge on and two hours later the batteries were reading 12.3 V. I had not had the AH meter set up, ut even with 5 A for 2 hours, we should have used 10 AH on a 210 AH bank...hard to imagine them getting drawn down to 12.3 V.

I suspected the charger, but checked back at the dock and our charger is fine. Pulled the batteries and took them back to Walmart expecting to get a replacement under the 1 year warranty. They put the batteries on their (Midtronics?) tester which showed 700 MCA still on the battery. MCA or CCA is apparently their criterion for "good" or "bad". They then put them on a rapid charger and retested on a different machine. This time they got 850 MCA, but I noticed on the printout, the fully charged battery was only at 12.4 V (the second was at 12.48). I tried to explain to them that 12.4 V is very low for a fully charged battery and they would have none of it . I left rather annoyed and returned to the boat.

I checked the batteries back at the boat with my voltmeter and they were 12.4 V as the printout said. I also checked my starting battery which is charged off of the same charger and it was sitting (after being off for several hours) at 13.1 V. Reinstalled the batteries and the ammeter confirmed that they were indeed fully charged. Assuming that the batteries were bad and had little remaining capacity, I set out to prove it. Reset the AH meter and left the boat on house bank for 24 hours running the fridge and some other things . Within a few minutes the voltage dropped to 12.3. The next morning 12.2V (28 AH used) and 24 hours 12.18 (55 AH used). If I were to extend this curve, I believe the available AH might be about 105 per battery (assuming 11.7 V is >50% drawn down).

I have not heard of a battery which sits low like that. It might be consistent with a bad cell, but it seems unlikely (but not impossible) that both batteries in the bank have a bad cell (both topped out at <12.5V when independently charged). Also, the behavior seems different than when we installed the batteries. During a cruise over summer, they never dropped below 12.3 V with much more usage. Could temperature be a factor? Also, if they are bad, how does one get the vendor to accept they are bad when the symptom does not cause a failing grade in MCA, which is what they evaluate (this is really a problem for boaters since deep cycle batteries are not particularly concerned with cranking amps.)? 

Sorry for the long-winded post, but I can't stand an unsolved mystery.     

Main Message Board / Edson Engine Control levers
« on: August 11, 2013, 10:03:28 PM »
For those who have not completed the critical upgrade of the plastic shift/throttle handles you can buy the handles for $17.98 each at Installed them this week and they are great. The biggest problem was getting old handles off since the screws were quite frozen. The throttle lever came off after using Blaster for a week and then an impact driver. Not as lucky with the gear shift lever. Had to cut off the plastic handle and heat the screw with a torch, then use an vise-grip and luckily the screw did not shear.  

Had to bend the gear shift handle a little to clear the stainless guard rail. Ron described this process earlier using a vise- I did the same. Laid it down between two pieces of hardwood in the vise, measured the depth of the bend in the handle and started cranking to reduce the bend. I needed to go about 1/2 inch to get good clearance on the guard rail. The controls look great and work great and my wife is thrilled that she can look down and see which lever is the shift and which is the throttle. Red and black was not particularly informative.

Apologies to Ken...

How many times have you hit your head on this:

a) Never
b) Fool me once...
3) huh?

added to title for searching purposes - Stu

Main Message Board / Alternator Trouble?
« on: April 29, 2013, 08:00:20 AM »
Spent the weekend at Catalina Is which gave us a chance to evaluate some things. We had noticed last year that the house bank would run down quickly (~5 hours) and our rule o'thumb of an hour of engine in the morning and evening was not keeping up. We had the batteries checked at the end of the season and they were fine. The voltage at the battery with the engine on is 13.7 V which seemed fine. I installed a battery monitor for this trip to see what was going on (Found a pretty good V, A, AH meter with a shunt made in China, cheap ~$40, on Ebay).
Our alternator is an 8MR2049 (50 amp?). When the engine started and the house batteries very low, it charged that bank at 7.5A, but within a few minutes dropped to 2A. The alternator was only seeing the house batteries at the time. This does not seem like normal behavior, but it does explain what we've been seeing on our cruises. Any ideas?

As an aside, we also purchased a 120W solar panel and PWM charge controller ($150). That worked great. It put out a steady 5-6.5 A with just a couple of adjustments during the day. It was enough to run the fridge all day with a couple of amps excess to the batteries. 

Main Message Board / Thru Hull fitting material
« on: November 30, 2012, 08:00:30 PM »
We are getting ready to haul for paint and figured I'd inspect all the thru-hulls in case thy need replacement. The seacocks are all marelon, but I don't know what the thru hull fitting material is. It is a kind of whitish plastic and may be marelon. Does anyone know what the OEM fittings are?

Main Message Board / Dedicated starting battery location
« on: November 27, 2012, 11:25:35 PM »
We are thinking about adding a dedicated starting battery and were considering mounting it on the small generally useless shelf in the aft cabin- the one right over the transmission. We'd put it in a battery box and build a decorative box around it for fuse/buss bars and echo charger etc. The advantages of the location are easy access, location above the waterline and a very short run to the starter. Has anyone else considered or used this location? Also, can anyone recommend a good location on the engine for the starter ground wire? I was thinking about the HX mounting plate bolts, which are easily accessible.

Thanks in advance

Main Message Board / #$!* Kelp- Tips for clearing prop
« on: October 07, 2012, 10:25:53 AM »
For some reason this summer there has been a large amount of kelp off of So Cal. We have fouled our prop at least 4 times this year (including yesterday). The first sign is A LOT of engine vibration when putting the boat in gear. When this happens, we throttle down, shift into reverse and throttle up, throttle down, go back into forward, the vibration is gone, and there is usually a salad of chopped kelp floating behind the boat.

This reinforces the idea that you should run your engine in gear, every time you use it,  before you need it.

We had this happen at Catalina a few weeks ago and when I dove on the boat afterwards, there was still kelp wrapped around the shaft, even though the vibration was gone. Presumably the reversing action served to cut away just the right parts to leave it mostly balanced. So when it happens, it is worth a look afterwards.

Main Message Board / Standard Horizon Matrix GX2100
« on: May 06, 2012, 07:50:26 AM »
This isn't really a C34 question, but has anyone had experience with the Standard Horizon Matrix GX2100 DSC/AIS VHF? We're considering replacing our tired 1980's  VHF to something built this century. Two questions in particular- Is the AIS screen practical ? How would it be wired with a GPS which is already connected to a Raymarine ST 6000 autopilot system(through the auxiliary NMEA port on the autopilot computer?)?


Main Message Board / Rule pump switch wires
« on: April 27, 2012, 07:51:26 AM »
Found 2 inches of water in the bilge last week. While drying it out, I tested automatic pump float switch and nothing...
I used the manual override to test that the pump worked (it did). I pulled the Rule switch, tested it with an ohmmeter and found the resistance was really high. The wires are very corroded at the connection points. I stripped back the wires and the corrosion kept going- all the way to the switch. On the original switch, the wire is untinned- kind of shocking for a wire intended to be submerged. I bought a replacement switch from Rule, which looks tinned, but upon stripping the wires back 1/4 inch- bare copper- only the ends are tinned. It seems sort of ironic that marine wire is supposed to be tinned, yet the one piece of marine equipment which is needed to keep your unattended boat afloat has untinned leads.
Anyway- the moral is test your switch regularly and try to seal the interconnection as best you can.

Main Message Board / Black Crud (Sliding Hatch Drainage)
« on: August 27, 2011, 07:16:45 AM »
So we went for an afternoon sail yesterday. There was >20 knots of wind and a pretty good fetch. As a result the deck (and the cockpit occupants) got pretty wet. When we returned we noticed black dirt/crud on the cabintop roof on the starboard side, aft of the hatch behind the mast. No one on the boat remembered seeing it before the sail. As we washed down the boat, we noticed the emergence of more crud coming from under the wood trim as we sprayed the companionway hood area, forward end/starboard side. I assume that some sealant broke loose and released years of dirt trapped between the wood trim and the hood. Has anyone else seen this? As an aside, the sail was amazing, double reefed main, reefed (partially furled to ~100%) jib, and we were still moving between 6 and 7 knots.  

Disclaimer for noworrries:  added to topic title to reflect actual subject -- Stu

Main Message Board / Raymarine Autopilot install
« on: August 15, 2011, 10:05:28 PM »
We recently added a Raymarine  autopilot system.  The computer, rudder sensor and fluxgate compass were all installed in a fashion similar to what has been posted. We couldn't bear to part with >$200 for a rail mounted Navpod, so we came up with a DIY solution. A box was fashioned from 1/4" Starboard. Instead of mounting the box on the rail, we mounted it in the Starboard drink holder on the pedestal guard rail. A 3 -1/2 " pvc reducer pipe was attached to the bottom of the box and is inserted into the large cup holder opening, making a firm but yet movable swivel for the head. Since we didn't always need the autopilot, the install allows the controller to be removed and stored securely below. The ST6002 only requires power, return and serial digital data connections (SeaTalk, 3 wires). The standard Seatalk connection is completely unsuitable for repeated connections, so we used a shielded USB extension cable to make the connection. USB connectors have gold plated pins and rhodium or nickel plated shrouds and might withstand the marine environment. We cut the cable and a ST cable, splicing the male USB connector to the short ST cable. The other end of the cable was connected to the course computer. The cable was routed through the rail guard using a fish tape from the aft cabin. I'm still uncertain how the rail guard is supposed to be sealed at the cockpit floor.  The connection is made by mating the USB male to female- a quick easy mating. The system works fine and the total cost of the box and wires was less than $50. Pictures attached.  The edges of the box are still a little rough and when I get an 1/8 round router tool. I'll clean it up.


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