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Old 07-12-2020, 02:32 PM   #1
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Alternators, voltage regulators and other fun

Hi all

New to the site and as a Grand Banks 32 owner I'm a castaway from the old owners forum.
Question on alternator set up for my old Lehman 120. Seems I'm not getting a good charge back into battery bank while running, In fact one of the engine switches ( oil pressure switch) on panel opened while cruising and wouldn't close. Shortly after other electronics and panel gauges started to fade. Get back to dock, batteries are flat.

Recharged batteries. Got 12.7 v , then started engine, batteries fell to 12.4 an didn't move. So assume it in the alternator area. Its an older Delco Remy. On inspection the back of the alternator has a small POT looking device wired to the case and to the main terminal ( photo below ) , would this be the voltage regulator ( an external one)? Its corroded and old. Should i look for a replacement for this part if its the regulator or just get a new alternator.

.

Chris
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Old 07-12-2020, 02:51 PM   #2
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Welcome!

Castaway? Maybe refugee! Whatever it is, you're welcome here, but I can't help with your engine question.

Greg.
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Old 07-12-2020, 02:56 PM   #3
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You need a new externally regulated alternator with a Balmar 614 to regulate the output. What you have is pretty much useless.
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Old 07-12-2020, 04:59 PM   #4
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Refugee might be right! There was some good resources on that site
but I am looking forward to this one. Thanks Greg
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Old 07-12-2020, 05:02 PM   #5
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Hi Catalina Jack,

So, that set up is spurious? Is that black pot looking thing the voltage reg? Any thoughts on similar set up? you say Balmar 614?
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Old 07-12-2020, 05:53 PM   #6
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The black thing is an electrlytic capacitor used to quiet electronic noise.
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Old 07-12-2020, 06:23 PM   #7
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Hi Seafair,

As High Wire states, that's a capacitor, installed to reduce AC noise on electronic circuits.

Catalinajack-Whoa, big fella. Not necessarily true, nor particularly good advice these days.
Quote:
You need a new externally regulated alternator with a Balmar 614 to regulate the output. What you have is pretty much useless.
Seafair, you have no idea at this point if your alternator has failed, or your (probably internal) voltage regulator has failed, or the State of Health (SOH) of your batteries, or if some other artifact of age and/or poor wiring practices are causing your gremlins.

If you want to DIY this issue, I suggest you start with Nigel Calder's book "Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4/E", available from Amazon. It's a bit out of date these days, but it's a good basic electrical primer.

Next, if you decide to pursue the DIY route, I suggest you take a deep dive into Rod Collin's URL (https://marinehowto.com/). He'll answer many of your alternator/regulator/battery questions in a really fine manner. And then take a gander at Ben Ellison's Panbo.com website, and particularly at this article: (https://www.panbo.com/how-wakespeeds...-new-approach/)

And no, the Balmar 614 isn't looking like the brightest penny in the pile these days. Pay close attention to the Wakespeed WS500 when and if you decide it's really an external regulator you need to solve your issue(s).

And lastly, as a lesson well learned by going down your path personally, I HIGHLY recommend a few hours aboard in the company of an ABYC-certified marine electrician. It will be money VERY well spent. Hopefully, they're not scarce as hen's teeth in your neck of the woods.

Regards,

Pete
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Old 07-12-2020, 08:06 PM   #8
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So, educate me. Why is an externally regulated alternator not a good idea these days? And, yes, there has been some buzz lately about the Wakespeed product but the Balmar 614 is a proven, reliable product as well. Using one would not likely be a mistake.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungpeter View Post
Hi Seafair,

As High Wire states, that's a capacitor, installed to reduce AC noise on electronic circuits.

Catalinajack-Whoa, big fella. Not necessarily true, nor particularly good advice these days.


Seafair, you have no idea at this point if your alternator has failed, or your (probably internal) voltage regulator has failed, or the State of Health (SOH) of your batteries, or if some other artifact of age and/or poor wiring practices are causing your gremlins.

If you want to DIY this issue, I suggest you start with Nigel Calder's book "Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4/E", available from Amazon. It's a bit out of date these days, but it's a good basic electrical primer.

Next, if you decide to pursue the DIY route, I suggest you take a deep dive into Rod Collin's URL (https://marinehowto.com/). He'll answer many of your alternator/regulator/battery questions in a really fine manner. And then take a gander at Ben Ellison's Panbo.com website, and particularly at this article: (https://www.panbo.com/how-wakespeeds...-new-approach/)

And no, the Balmar 614 isn't looking like the brightest penny in the pile these days. Pay close attention to the Wakespeed WS500 when and if you decide it's really an external regulator you need to solve your issue(s).

And lastly, as a lesson well learned by going down your path personally, I HIGHLY recommend a few hours aboard in the company of an ABYC-certified marine electrician. It will be money VERY well spent. Hopefully, they're not scarce as hen's teeth in your neck of the woods.

Regards,

Pete
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:34 PM   #9
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The original question has not been answered except for the capacitor.

As far as the alternator goes one of three things have happened.
--The INTERNAL regulator has failed
--or the external regulator has failed
-- OR the brushes are stuck or worn out.

With stuck brushes sometime a quick whack with a screwdriver will jar them loose so the alt. works. It won't last though. That means it is pull it off the engine and get it rebuilt.

As for testing us a DMM or voltmeter with the pos. meter lead attache to the alt. output terminal, big heavy red wire, and the neg. meter lead connected to a ground point on the engine. THere will be a voltage, battery voltage but once the engine is started raise the revs to about 1,000 and the voltage should rise above the battery voltage. If not then you do indeed need to repair the system.

If the internal regulator has failed same thing, take it to a repair shop as it takes as complete dismantling to replace it.

If the external regulator has failed you will need a new one but also get the alternator gone over, rebuilt. If it is what I think it is it is an OLD reg. The wiring indicates this although the photo is not great.

Old alternators have electromechanical regulators. They are external. They are still around and replacement regs. can be gotten. I see on the back or actually the side that there are several wires which tells me there may be one of these old regulators nearby. Need several more photos. This style external reg. will be a metal covered box about 3" x 4" with, If I remember correctly, about four connections. Trace some of the wires from the alternator to find it.

That may also explain why the capacitor was installed as those old mechanical reg. cause noise. The manner of control is to turn off, turn on, turn off , turn on dozens of times a second which causes static or electrical interference which the Cap. will reduce.

Regardless, the alt. should go to the shop for testing and at least , most likely a brush replacement and new bearings. They will also be able to tell you positively which style regulator you do indeed have.
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:40 PM   #10
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Hi catalinajack,

Quote:
So, educate me.
With all due respect, I'm not a fan of hijacking the original poster's thread, which appears to involve WAY more than the choice of a regulator. If you chose to engage in an open forum discussion of alternator regulation for marine use, I would encourage you to start an independant thread to that effect.

Quote:
Why is an externally regulated alternator not a good idea these days?
Your words, not mine. For what it's worth, I believe independent voltage regulation (and current, and time, and temperature, and SOC, etc.) of marine alternators is very much a good idea.

Quote:
And, yes, there has been some buzz lately about the Wakespeed product but the Balmar 614 is a proven, reliable product as well. Using one would not likely be a mistake.
Again, your words. I never stated nor implied that using a Balmar 614 was a mistake. I DID say (in my opinion, of course) there may be better choices. Your mileage may vary.

Regards,

Pete
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Old 07-13-2020, 06:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jungpeter View Post
Hi catalinajack,



With all due respect, I'm not a fan of hijacking the original poster's thread, which appears to involve WAY more than the choice of a regulator. If you chose to engage in an open forum discussion of alternator regulation for marine use, I would encourage you to start an independant thread to that effect.



Your words, not mine. For what it's worth, I believe independent voltage regulation (and current, and time, and temperature, and SOC, etc.) of marine alternators is very much a good idea.



Again, your words. I never stated nor implied that using a Balmar 614 was a mistake. I DID say (in my opinion, of course) there may be better choices. Your mileage may vary.

Regards,

Pete
Okay, I surrender. Yes, I did paraphrase but, to me, the implications of your statements were clearly suggestive. I was just trying to be helpful. To illustrate your seeming penchant for the passive-aggressive approach, that is, "I am not a fan of hijacking the original poster's thread ...", this is just a sub rosa admonishment for hijacking the thread which I do not think I did. Sure, you did not admonish me with specific words but you fool no one, certainly not me. Forgive me everyone for not being as precise as jungpeter demands. And, no, jungpeter, regardless of anything you may say in response, I will be making no further comments so, moderators, no need to jump in here. And, I apologise to the original poster for having been impolite and hijacking your thread which, certainly, it now has been.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jungpeter View Post
Hi catalinajack,



With all due respect, I'm not a fan of hijacking the original poster's thread, which appears to involve WAY more than the choice of a regulator. If you chose to engage in an open forum discussion of alternator regulation for marine use, I would encourage you to start an independant thread to that effect.



Your words, not mine. For what it's worth, I believe independent voltage regulation (and current, and time, and temperature, and SOC, etc.) of marine alternators is very much a good idea.



Again, your words. I never stated nor implied that using a Balmar 614 was a mistake. I DID say (in my opinion, of course) there may be better choices. Your mileage may vary.

Regards,

Pete
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Old 07-13-2020, 06:45 AM   #12
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Hi all,

Thanks for the input so far (and the informed debate Jungpeter and Catalina jack!).
C lectric, yes I know the tap trick for the alternator and did give it some love. I plan on pulling off the alternator today and bribing for a bench test. Hopefully that;s it. I will post when I get the word.

Again appreciate the responses.

Chris
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Old 07-13-2020, 06:49 AM   #13
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Lads,

Its all good from my side. Appreciate the responses. Will let ya know what I come up with.

Chris
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Old 07-13-2020, 09:25 AM   #14
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Have you checked the specific gravity in each battery cell with a hydrometer? Do that first.

Did the alternator get warm when charging??
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Old 07-15-2020, 07:17 AM   #15
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HI Bayview,

Yes i did top off batteries before boat went in to water. I also checked the SG.

Good point.

Chris
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Old 07-15-2020, 07:18 AM   #16
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HI all,

As an update, I pulled off the alternator and brought it for testing. The shop indicated that the unit was damaged and needed repair. So I hope to remount the unit and test later this week, hopefully that solves the issue. Interesting to note that a previous owner had attached a capacitor of some sort to the back ( small black pot). I've heard that this is done to reduce electronic noise which I assume affects some of the electronics. The lads at the alternator shop weren't impresses and said it was a possibly contributory to the degrading of the alternator.

So lets see what happens.

Chris
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Old 07-15-2020, 07:49 AM   #17
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I don't see a tachometer wire on that alternator. If you replace the alternator make sure you have a tach lead. I kind of wonder if that alt. is an automotive alternator pressed into marine service, in which case you should probably get rid of it.

pete
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