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Old 11-24-2015, 08:23 PM   #1
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Need Source for Alternator for Cat 3208

Hi folks,
My new-to-me Californian has a corroded alternator on the port side engine due to a raw water pump seal issue. The pump has been repaired, but I would like to replace the alternator and have the old one reconditioned. Unfortunately, the boat is in Mexico and I am not. I am looking for a stock replacement of 55amps or maybe a bit more.

Does anyone have a site that they recommend for getting these? The engines are normally aspirated, circa 1979.

Thanks, Bill

"There is simply nothing more worth while than messing around in boats."
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Old 11-24-2015, 08:42 PM   #2
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Have you tried your local CAT dealer or a local alternator repair shop?

Of course there is always Google and then Amazon.

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Old 11-24-2015, 08:50 PM   #3
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Any town of a decent size will have an alternator shop that can set you up. The more pressing matter, is this: you need to replace an alternator, so this is your opportunity to go to a large amperage. a stock 55 amp alt will have an internal regulator, and will effectively charge your start battery ONLY. Seriously, unless you have only the same electrical loads that were on your boat when it was delivered to its first owner, before he added anything at all, you should upgrade to at least 90 amps. You can get a small frame alternator up to 120 amps in the same small frame as your 55 amp alt, so no changes to the damper pulley or to the pullies on the alternator. Then, of course you will need to be sure the regulator is a three stage, "smart" regulator or you are wasting your time.
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Old 11-25-2015, 05:10 AM   #4
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Most of these were auto style Motorola.

Go to the auto parts store and get a unit from a 60's larger car , a Cadillac and it will be the same size and 75A or so.

Be sure to purchase one from an old enough car that the V regulator is external.

Then you will have an EZ time if you decide to charge the house bank, not just the start battery.
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Old 11-25-2015, 07:28 AM   #5
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I found these guys very helpful.
High Output Alternators & High Torque Starters
Dave Frye
Fryedaze, MC 42 (Monk 42') 1989 Overseas Co
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Old 11-25-2015, 08:32 AM   #6
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To avoid any disappointments in fitting an alternator onto your vessel berthed in Mexico, a perfect fit first time seems important. My recommendation would be; with alternator model, sheave information and engine SN, go straight to Seaboard Marine in Oxnard. They should be able to get the larger 90 amp matching unit you need.
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Old 11-26-2015, 05:32 AM   #7
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After you mount whatever , be sure the fan on the alt is set to operate in the right direction.

Wrong cooling fan = DEAD in a short time with a boat V regulator.
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Old 11-26-2015, 09:14 AM   #8
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I'm thinking of doing same but there is a ton of conflicting info around the web. Like Bill, I'm 2500mi from the boat and Sunchaser said it well, a perfect fit is important. Bill may be thinking same as myself in hoping someone here had already been through the ordeal first hand and could give specifics.

I did find this which appears to be a wealth of information but have not had a chance to study it yet. Installing a high power alternator in your boat

One thing that caught my eye in the above link however was the fact that notwithstanding physical size, the existing belt & pulley size limits how many amps you can step up to. As I recall the existing Cat alternator belt driving the 55amp units is delicate to say the least.
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Old 11-26-2015, 06:51 PM   #9
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I have a stock Motorola alternator that was a working take off on one of my 3208 Cats. I'll sell it for $100. If interested PM me. I can send pictures.
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Old 11-26-2015, 09:33 PM   #10
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You definitely need to match the mount for your alternator to work. Also, as Capt Kangeroo alluded to, the belt width is a limiting factor. I can pull 110A on my 1/2 inch belt. If I need more juice, I'd need a larger belt/pulley combo. I have a smart regulator on my stbd 120A Balmar connected to the house bank and a dumb internal regulator on the stock port 55A regulator for the start bank.

Smart regulation is helpful if long engine runs are your regular MO. This allows the system to switch to a more gentle float charge to protect the health of your bank. In my case, I rarely run for more than 5 or 6 hrs before stopping for the day. My overnights are about 50:50 anchoring vs dock with shore power.

When leaving my home slip, I always have a 100% charge, so the smart regulator is a big help in preventing boiling of the house bank. My start battery after a couple of engine starts and sometimes windlass use is ready to accept the 'dumb' charge on departure. I've never had a problem with under- overcharging or boiling the start battery.
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Old 11-27-2015, 01:35 PM   #11
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Just replaced my port side a few months ago for my 3208, 51 amp. Here is the link:

DB Electrical - NEW ALTERNATOR CATERPILLAR ENGINES 3196 3208 3406 3408 3412 3176 3176B
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Old 11-28-2015, 11:35 AM   #12
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Like everything else V belts come in a wide variety of quality .

The best can do wonders for a small alt ,

BUT nothing can help if the alt is not hot rated at very many amps.
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Old 11-28-2015, 01:11 PM   #13
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Bill, is your alternator a Motorola? The alternator on my '79 vintage boat was a Motorola 51 amp with regulator. It failed a few months ago and I took it to a generator/alternator/starter repair shop. It was shot and the shop owner (who has a boat in my marina) sold me a new 75 amp replacement that was identical in appearance to the old one. For my boat, alternator provides engine rpm pulses to the tachometers, so the shop also installed an extra terminal for that wire. This was an easy plug and play fix that delivered an extra 24 amps. Total cost was under $200.

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