1990 Canadian Sailcraft CS34 Shoal Draft
Sail #8268

1982 Catalina 22 Fin Keel
Sail #10506

1994 MUMM 36 ACE
Sail # 29206

Monday, August 10, 2015

CS34 Alternator

At the start of our vacation I noticed that the alternator was not charging the batteries.

Still Time has three batteries:

One isolated 12V engine starting battery.

Two 130 amp hour 12V house batteries.

Still Time also has a Balmar 90 series 75 amp alternator.  This is a high end unit.  Normal OEM units output 25 amps.  With three times the current, I can recharge the house batteries very quickly.  With a house bank of 130 amp hours, the Balmar could theoretically recharge a depleted house bank in a couple of hours (vs 5+ hours with the OEM alternator).

The fridge and lights used when anchoring mean that the house batteries can run for 3 to 4 days before needing a recharge.  However, using the electric windlass draws 40 to 60 amps of current from the house batteries.  So to pull up 60 ft of chain and another 60 ft of rode, you can go through the charge the house batteries very easily.  This is why we ALWAYS have the motor on when using the windlass.

Without a working alternator, we could not anchor.

Having an isolated starting battery is great because you can always start your motor even is you run the house batteries down.

We were going to use Still Time as a crew boat anchored in the harbour in Sodus Bay NY for LYRA, and use the dinghy to ferry folks back and forth.  Once we got to Sodus Bay, we had to take a slip in Katelyn Marina which is located about a 15 min walk or 5 min dingy ride to the Sodus Bay Yacht Club.  They has a special for LYRA participant at $1 per ft per night.  Good deal really.

I had a mechanic from Katelyn Marine look at the alternator, and he said it was toast.
A replacement OEM is about $200US, while replacement Balmar is $700US
However we would have to wait several days for the replacement to come in.

We decided to not anchor out the rest of the trip and use marinas/yacht clubs to charge the batteries as we went around the lake.

Now that I am back in Whitby, I took the alternator to a rebuild shop, and they estimate $125 for a complete re-build.  The guy tested it in front of me an confirmed it is toast.

May have it re-built for tomorrow!


The stator/windings were completely fried; replacements coming in today.
New bearings and brushes and she will be as good as new.

Good service from http://www.globalrebuilders.com/

Picked up the alternator after work.

Old stator windings

Stator winding were fried.  Dude says that this is caused by overheating or excessive vibration.
The windings were also covered in belt dust, which could have contributed to overheating

$160 cash

New bearings and brushes installed also.

Took about an hour to install.

Installed and running
In the above picture you can see the slight coolant leak.  The maybe quarter cup of antifreeze was after cruising around the lake for over two weeks.  Don't see where the leak is, but in the off season, I am going to replace all the coollant hoses to hopefully solve the leak.

Here is YouTube video of the motor just after starting:


It is interesting the load that gets put on the motor between 4 and 5 seconds in the video.  This is done by the voltage regulator.  It has a 30 second delay after startup to engage the alternator so the engine has an opportunity to get up to operating speed.

The Electromaxx serpentine kits is working great.  It allowed me to remove the current restriction on the voltage regulator.  I had dialed it back to around 30 amps in an attempt to not chew through 3/8" alternator belts; to no avail.  This adjustment is done with by turning a pot with a screwdriver on the voltage regulator.

Using the battery monitor, I could see the alternator putting 60 amp of current to the house batteries and whatever to the starting battery.

Wish I had discovered the problem with the alternator before vacation.

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