Panbo

Gizmo's alternator, tune-up & upgrade

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 13, 2011
Leece-Neville_alternator_rebuilt_n_ready_for_new_regulator.jpg

Boat juice -- the 12 volt kind -- will be a big subject on Gizmo this season, and hence on Panbo. Designing and installing a solar panel system and experiments with various battery monitoring and distributed power technologies are all on the list, but step one is getting the Prestolite Leece-Neville 140 amp alternator that charges the main bank up to snuff. Last summer I needed help from Panbo readers to figure out that this alternator was actually working pretty well despite the large (and erroneous) amperage deficit shown on the Link 1000. But it began behaving badly toward the end of the season, sometimes refusing to charge, and besides I'd been persuaded that a more sophisticated regulator would be a good investment...

So this morning I went to The Starter Shop down in nearby Warren to pick up what you see in the photo above: The alternator rebuilt with new bearings and brushes, and set up for an external regulator, though I'll keep the old build-in one as it could be reinstalled in a jam. My friend and new "systems guy" Alden Cole -- seen on Panbo last year -- set up this job and told me that proprieter Arthur Anderson is not only a first rate technician but also a wealth of information. I took my notebook and camera.
   Of course it was great to hear Anderson describe my Leece-Neville as a real work horse and easy to find parts for. He says he's even successfully resuscitated ones that had been submerged in salt water, though ocean air along with engine hours are what mainly determine when rebuilds are necessary. In fact, 70% of Anderson's business is marine, and some fishermen have their alternator checked out every winter. Then there are odd jobs like a Studebaker starter for a classic boat in Bar Harbor, or the antique tractor alternator for someone in Pennsylvania; apparently Anderson has the skills and part sources.
   I also learned that he's a fan of Electrodyne brushless alternators, which are made in Maine (though I hadn't heard of them). Anderson says they have all the brushless advantages -- high performance, durability, and easy repairs with no sparks or EMI -- but are less expensive than much of the competition, though quite well made. Nor did I know that some of these high-output alternators, like the Zena line, can be used for welding, which might be handy on a steel boat.
   Anderson, incidentally, likes external regulators from Hehr Powerline and Balmar, and Gizmo will soon be getting the latter's MC-614H. And, finally, if you need the services of The Starter Shop, don't fret about that AK 47 sitting in back. Arthur seemed like a nice, even-tempered fellow, and, besides, it's a fake (he says).

Artie_Anderson_at_The_Starter_Shop_cPanbo.jpg

Comments


Also look at these regulators:

Regulator V3 by AmplePower:
http://www.amplepower.com/products/sarv3/index.html

Posted by: Cattledog at May 13, 2011 4:27 PM | Reply

Two thumbs up on your choice of alternator and regulator! Pay attention to wire sizing, drive belt arrangement, and the voltage sense connection to the regulator.

I've always had great results with the Balmar 600-series regulators. The Ample Power regulators are also good (often seen rebadged as Charles). I had repeated failures of Powerline regulators on a 24-volt system (now using an Ample).

Posted by: Mark at May 13, 2011 9:45 PM | Reply

This could be a busy year for those people in the alternator industry, both rebuilds and new sales, if any of the new battery products introduced over the last two years are adopted by even 1% of boaters.

The ability of these new batteries to take everything the alternator can put out, almost right up to the point of being fully charged, is going to make them run harder and hotter.

Keeping a spare alternator while testing new power components is a very good idea!

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at May 14, 2011 7:24 AM | Reply

Ben, after seeing charge voltage of 16 as we put the SallyW in the slings last fall I've gone with a new Balmar ARS-5. Its in but not fully wired but I will tomorrow. I think you've got the new model, darn for me. We can compare programming notes this summer. I think Balmar is a great brand and they are very helpful on the phone. A real place.

Posted by: Allan Seymour at May 14, 2011 9:44 AM | Reply

Ben-Great setup!

Some suggestions:
1. Install the battery temperature monitor to ensure temperature compensation for your battery bank. This even improves the service life of flooded lead acid batteries.
2. Install the alternator temperature monitor, especially for AGM batteries. As pointed out in a post above, AGMs, thin plate pure lead (TPPL) AGMs and the lithium batteries "look" almost like a short circuit to the alternator an it will get hot, not warm, but hot! The temperature sensor will reduce the output of the alternator and allow it to cool off before applying field current to continue the charge cycle.
3. Look at the wiring of the built in regulator on the data sheet for the Balmar 6 Series alternators http://www.balmar.net/alternators.html. You could easily include this get home capability with the legacy regulator that your shop removed.
4. The MC614 regulator has a lot of programming capability built into it to match your alternator to your bank and to really optimize your system. Talk to someone with real world experience on programming the regulator to truly exploit all of its capabilities.

Hope this helps.
Charlie

Posted by: Charlie J. at May 14, 2011 12:42 PM | Reply

Happy to report that Alden is already planning to install battery and alternator temp sensors, and I suspect that he's going to do an extra careful install as he knows that I won't be the only one looking over his shoulder ;-)

Posted by: Ben at May 15, 2011 10:13 AM | Reply

I've always been a fan of Ample Power, having used one of their 130A x 24V alts and the SAR-V3 for my two circumnavigations.

However in recent experience with lithium systems have run into some odd probs with the regs cycling the alt field from off to full in 10 to 20 second intervals.

On a client's boat in Panama right now, just installed 250A x 12V American Power alts (one on each engine...this is a catamaran). Since the battery system is a Genasun lithium, switched from the SAR-V3's to the Genasun AR2 alt regs (set for lithium).

The reg and alternator combo works great, getting 400+A when running both engine...:-) A few tweeks coming (refine pulley ratios, and current-limited voltage sensing relays from the start to the house banks to allow using the "stock" alts output for the house bank), so soon should have 500+A charging for minimal fuel consumption.

Anyone want a deal on a couple AP SAR-V3's?

Posted by: Oceanplanet at May 15, 2011 10:28 PM | Reply

Hi Ben,

Speaking of alternators here's an interesting source of Hi-Amp hardware. http://www.alternatorparts.com/Extreme%20Duty%20Dual%20Rectifier%20CS-144%20type.htm
I've been using one of these 12 diode 140 amp alternators on a home built 12V genset with a one cylinder Kubota diesel (eBay purchase) that puts out about 6 or 7 hp. It charges my sailboat's 500 amp hr. AGM battery bank in an hour. It's regulated by a Balmar ARS-5. So far so good. This set-up cranks out more amps than my 110VAC shore-power charger and consumes 1 1/2 pints of diesel per hour. Currently waiting in Bermuda to start a passage to the Azores, this little genset is the beating heart of our boat.

Posted by: Reed Erskine at May 19, 2011 1:11 PM | Reply

Hi Ben,

Speaking of alternators here's an interesting source of Hi-Amp hardware. http://www.alternatorparts.com/Extreme%20Duty%20Dual%20Rectifier%20CS-144%20type.htm
I've been using one of these 12 diode 140 amp alternators on a home built 12V genset with a one cylinder Kubota diesel (eBay purchase) that puts out about 6 or 7 hp. It charges my sailboat's 500 amp hr. AGM battery bank in an hour. It's regulated by a Balmar ARS-5. So far so good. This set-up cranks out more amps than my 110VAC shore-power charger and consumes 1 1/2 pints of diesel per hour. Currently waiting in Bermuda to start a passage to the Azores, this little genset is the beating heart of our boat.

Posted by: Reed Erskine at May 19, 2011 1:13 PM | Reply

Thanks, Reed! But I guess your news means no excellent rum drinks aboard "Cayenne" in Camden Harbor, unless -- like my friend Tom Amory -- you're just going to the Azores for a look see and then coming back again? Look for his J35 "Flash of Beauty": http://goo.gl/7ZMe7

Posted by: Ben at May 19, 2011 1:20 PM | Reply

Do yourself and your readers a serious benefit by getting and testing a Zena alternator and charge controller. Simply the BEST out there.

http://www.zena.net/htdocs/alternators/mar_alt.shtml

Tony Blazina is the proprietor and is top notch.

I bought two of his 24v 80A alternators two slave and one master controller to put on my new BetaMarine to charge my 6 Odyssey PC 2250s.

Posted by: bosunj at May 25, 2012 8:54 PM | Reply

Bosunj,

Why would you use such low-power alts to charge that approx. 250Ah x 24V Odyssey bank? The Odysseys have a very high CAR (Charge Acceptance Rate)...for the bulk charge phase as 3C(!).

I would have used dual APS 42i-180-28's like I've set up for the Volvo 70's Telefonica & Camper, etc. With both alts turned on they can charge at over 300A x 28V continuously which gets the job done in a hurry...;-)

Bruce

Posted by: Bruce Schwab in reply to bosunj at May 26, 2012 5:44 AM | Reply

Bruce,

Great question. I have a 20hp engine. Each alternator will use roughly 7 hp so to run them at the top of the engine's power curve I'll be loading the engine almost to its maximum.

bosunj

Posted by: bosunj in reply to Bruce Schwab at May 26, 2012 9:11 AM | Reply

Ah, good point. The APS alts draw 9-10hp each at full pop so two of them would be too much for that engine.

Cheers,
B

Posted by: Bruce Schwab in reply to bosunj at May 26, 2012 1:05 PM | Reply

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