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Author Topic: Alternator Not Charging?  (Read 7845 times)

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Mike McDonald

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Alternator Not Charging?
« on: May 29, 2012, 06:13:02 PM »

I'm sure there are many articles on this, so if you can point me in the right direction I would appreciate it.  I bought this boat knowing about this problem, but am finally getting around to troubleshooting it.  The surveyor didn't know if it was an alternator problem, wiring problem, or regulator.  
Right now, the gauge goes to 12 volts when the ignition key is turned on, and that's where it stays when the engine is running.  I don't see any brand identification on the alternator.  It is white with blue cooling fins.  The regulator is a Balmar Marine Multi Stage Regulator ARS-4.  
There is a component mounted on the side bulkhead below the alternator that has 4 connection points and what appears to be a large resistor with a purple wire running to the cockpit.  There is a yellow wire connected to the bottom terminal of this component and the other end is marked with tape saying "+Alt". It's just hanging there.  I don't have any wiring diagrams for this system.  Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
Mike.....
Additional question.  How long can I motor the boat without an alternator charging the batteries.  I have 2 new house batteries and a good starting battery.  All fully charged at the dock.  I need to move the boat and if I have to motor, it could be up to 5 hours.  Do you think it will make it?  Thanks.
Mike...
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 06:17:11 PM by Mike McDonald »
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Mike McDonald
1987 / #0396  / M25xp
"Irish Diplomacy"
Pultneyville Yacht Club
Lake Ontario

Stu Jackson

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 06:35:34 PM »

Mike, you can run the boat forever without the alternator charging anything, since the engine only needs electricity to start, not to keep running.

What you'll need to do is figure out what you have and compare it to what you should have.  Without being there and tracing wires, it's hard to help, even given your good description.  Pictures would help to try to understand the "component" you mentioned.  It could be an isolator or other electrical charging gizmo, but odd for it to be in the engine compartment.

Wiring from the ARS-4 is pretty straightforward.  Start at www.balmar.net an download the manual which includes good wiring information.  Your description of the white alternator makes it sound like a Balmar, but that's pretty immaterial at this point.

You should also trace where the AO (alternator output - v+) goes.  It could either go to the 1-2-B switch, or preferably to your house bank.

You can make your trip without hassle but try some more research on your wiring and let us know what you find.
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Mike McDonald

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2012, 05:48:49 AM »

Stu,
Thanks for the quick reply.  I apologize for the sketchy description.  I'll try to post some pictures on my next follow-up on this topic.  Since it won't hurt to motor without the alternator, I think I'll just concentrate on getting the boat to it's home port this week and then get back on the charging problem later. Hopefully I can sail most of the way, but that depends on the weather.  As always, I appreciate your help.
Mike....
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Mike McDonald
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Pultneyville Yacht Club
Lake Ontario

Footloose

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2012, 06:05:09 AM »

Mike

The only limit you will have without the alternator is how long the fuel pump will run.  In the C34 the fuel tank is above the engine; it has been reported
 that with a full tank you can go quite a while without the pump.  About down to half a tank if I recall.  Below that the pressure head drops and the pump is needed. 
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Dave G.
"Footloose"
Hull# 608  1988 Tall Rig/Fin Keel
Malletts Bay, VT- Lake Champlain

Mike McDonald

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2012, 05:41:02 PM »

Thanks Dave. I appreciate the input.  I think I'll be fine tomorrow. 
Mike.....
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Mike McDonald
1987 / #0396  / M25xp
"Irish Diplomacy"
Pultneyville Yacht Club
Lake Ontario

Ron Hill

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2012, 05:44:40 PM »

Mike : If the batteries are fully charged at the dock and you keep the fridge OFF - with a full full fuel tank I'd guess that you can easily motor about 24 - 36 hours!!  

The VHF/depth/ wind/knot draw only about 1 amp per hr at most !!  

Take it home and have an alternator/starter repair shop spin the alternator as that or the wiring is probably your problem.  
Call Balmar - they are very helpfull and will trouble shoot over the phone (360)435-6100  Pacific time.

Good luck !!
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Mike McDonald

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2012, 07:07:13 AM »

Getting back to my alternator charging issue, I've added some photos of the "component" I'm trying to identify.  Any thoughts as to what it is?  I'm also trying to identify the model of Alternator.  I believe I've found the ID plate on the Alternator, so I'm taking a mirror to the boat to try and get the model number off the plate which is tight against the engine, underneath. 
Thanks,
Mike.....
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Mike McDonald
1987 / #0396  / M25xp
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Pultneyville Yacht Club
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2012, 07:37:06 AM »

Mike, it's a solenoid.  It could be a glow plug solenoid.  See: http://www.c34.org/wiki/index.php?title=Faster%2C_More_Efficient_Glow_Plug_Heating_with_a_Solenoid  Until you tell us where the wires are connected, there's not much more we can do to help you.
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Ed Shankle

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2012, 11:35:13 AM »

Alternator looks like a Balmar. I've got that and it looks the same. Mine's a 75 amp.

Ed
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Ed Shankle
Tail Wind #866 1989
Salem, MA

Ron Hill

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2012, 02:32:35 PM »

Mike : I agree with Ed and Stu.  

The unknown item in your pictures is a solenoid most probably for the glow plugs.  There should be a wire from the lug on the starter solenoid to the input side of the unknown and a wire on the output side that connects to the aft most glow plug - check it out.

White case with a blue fan are the Balmar colors.  If the ARS 4 plugs in to that alternator then it definitely is a Balmar.  On the bottom side of your Balmar there is a gray plastic holder that connects a blue (Field wire) and a white (Tach wire) to the alternator - check it out.

A few thoughts
« Last Edit: June 07, 2012, 02:41:59 PM by Ron Hill »
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dgill

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2012, 07:50:41 AM »

You might check to see how your house and start batteries are being used to "start" your engine.  Do you turn the (Perko) switch to the start battery?  If so the voltage gauge in the cockpit will be measuring just this batteries voltage (particularly if this gauge is connected to just this battery).  On my boat the house bank and start battery are on separate switches so the start battery voltage is measured at the gauge in the cockpit while the house batteries are monitored by a Link 10.

I have a MaxCharge Regulator and it has what is called a "soft ramp up", which means that the Balmar Alternator does not put a load on the engine right away.  The Tach therefore also does not "work" immediately either.

Another thing to think about is moving your ARS-4 Regulator out of the engine room.  The heat from the engine room is definitely not good for this sensitive item.  I moved the regulator out of the engine room after one failed there.  Have not a problem since.

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Mike McDonald

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2012, 02:50:42 PM »

Thanks again for all the great feedback.  I have determined the alternator is a Balmar 91-75 D.  It took a mirror and a magnifying glass to see it.  I'll try to finish tracing the wires this week, for the alternator, the ARS-4 Regulator and the Solenoid.  The yellow dangling wire on the solenoid has "+ Alt" written on it.  I'm not sure why it was disconnected.  I also found a couple of different manuals for the alternator, I'll see which one seems best and go through the wiring and troubleshooting info.  I'll follow up when I have more information.  Thanks again everyone.
Mike.....
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Mike McDonald
1987 / #0396  / M25xp
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Pultneyville Yacht Club
Lake Ontario

Ron Hill

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2012, 03:25:26 PM »

Mike : I also have a model 91-75D.  It means you have a 75 amp & a Dual Output alternator.

It sounds like the yellow dangling wire maybe one of the alternator outputs that is not being used.  If you look in the most recent Mainsheet tech notes (May 2012) there is a wiring diagram for a duel output alternator!!
I have one lead to #1 battery bank and the second lead to battery bank #2 - wired direct and not to the battery selector switch.

Read the article and if you have any questions let me know.  I love my duel output I installed back around 1991!!

A few thoughts

 
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 12:44:14 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2012, 03:28:27 PM »

Mike, another reason it could be labeled "Alt+" is because it took the power from the C post on the 1-2-B switch to energize the glow plugs.  If you look at the wiring sketch in the Glow Plug Solenoid wiki topic I linked to earlier, my handwritten sketch shows the power coming from the "starter solenoid."

On my boat, there were two #4 wires coming from the 1-2-B switch to the engine:  one went to the solenoid, the other came from the alternator.  This is kinda unique for my boat.

Many, if not all boats, only had ONE wire from the C post to the engine.  How and why is discussed here:  

OEM 1-2-B Switch Wiring History  http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,4949.msg30101.html#msg30101

If that wire has been disconnected, either of two things are going on:  1) you're not getting any power to the glow plugs or; 2) the PO may have found the solenoid failed and just rewired it back to the OEM conditions (also shown on my sketch).

Check where the wiring goes, you should be able to figure it out.  You can also test the solenoid, by connecting it properly to ground and hitting it with current on the poles.  I forget the details, but a DVM or light, and a Google search on "checking solenoid operation" or wikipedia, should give you the answers.

Ron posted while I was typing this, but a dual output alternator shouldn't affect the solenoid wiring other than determining which post to tap from on the back of the alternator.  In your case, you have two options!  :D

*************
*************

PS - I agree that it would be wise, and cost effective, to immediately relocate that ARS-4 out of the engine compartment.  Many have reported premature failures due to the environment, including Maine Sail, one of our resident electrical gurus.  There should be plenty of harness length.  I put mine under the head sink, others have put them in the aft cabin.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 12:45:12 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Ron Hill

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Re: Alternator Not Charging?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2012, 03:48:55 PM »

Mike : What I suggest you is to read the latest Mainsheet Tech Notes and look at the differant wiring diagrams.  Then you need to trace the wiring that you have on the boat to understand what you really have.

Then you have to decide what you want your alternator wiring to be.

BTW, I mounted my glow plug solenoid in the rear of the engine on the bracket that hold the HX bracket.

A few thoughts and as Stu says "it's your boat".   
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