Monday, 30 May 2016

Lots of money spent at Crick

The last day of the 2016 Crick Boat Show. It's been very good in terms of the number of people met for the first time and others met up with again. The BCF/Waterways Chaplains stand (we shared the space) was busy throughout. Jan and I weren't on the stand all the time; other Boaters' Christian Fellowship members took their turn. Wandering round the site (again) I saw "James Brindley" still talking about his part in the revolutionary transport system to carry goods by boat on inland waterways.

In the Waterways World "VIP" marquee/vintage tea room two sisters going under the name of "My Favourite Things" started to perform while we had coffee/hot chocolate (to try to warm up). They sang old songs to a backing track with synchronised movements.

They were rather good.

Here is the BCF stand in action - that's Jan partially hidden by someone finding out about us.

I don't know if this is what other people do, but I find I think of something I need at Crick, then don't actually buy it until the very last minute. We had been about to buy a 12V fridge with an ice box, but decided this morning that we would go for a larder fridge instead. Our present mains fridge is that type, i.e. without a freezer compartment.

We plumped for the Shoreline RL5010W, which claims to use an average of 0.8Ah per hour, i.e. 0.8A. That's if you never open the door! I committed to the purchase at 1600, just one hour before the show closed. After asking Crick Marina if we could pick the fridge up from the wharfside the Shoreline man wheeled the fridge to the service point, then I went to get the boat and pick it up. I managed to get it onto the well deck on my own, then I moved the boat to a more convenient mooring. I was itching to connect it up and see how it performed, so I emptied the contents of the old fridge into cool bag/other bags and with Jan's help got it relatively out of the way. Manoeuvering the new fridge into the galley went without too much difficulty, then all I had to do was switch it on.

Well, no, actually. I discovered that, although nice fat cables had been left for a 12V fridge, they weren't long enough. I didn't have anything of the right size, so I paralleled up a few pieces of mains cable and used "chocolate blocks" to join it all up. The extra bit added in is only a couple of feet so it won't introduce any significant voltage drop. And it works! The compressor is nice and quiet, the food is all in, and the inverter doesn't have to be on - hooray!

Much of the wiring up was done while entertaining Mark Andy and Vicky from Selwyn who popped in for a post prandial drink and chat after their meal in The Moorings.

The inverter is actually on at the moment to keep the phone charged so I can write this. The fridge cabling was previously being used to feed a small 200W inverter which will charge phones etc; now I will have to connect it somewhere else.

So that was one big chunk of money; the other major expense was a new set of batteries. I am so convinced that the old set - only 13 months old - is on its last legs that I have ordered four more sealed lead acid batteries from Midland Chandlers at the show price of £70 each. Before installing them I have to do something permanent about regulating the alternator. Although it now works, and charges up the batteries, it allows the voltage to rise to 14.7V which is not good for sealed lead acids. They prefer no more than 14.4V so as to avoid gassing. I believe the existing batteries have suffered because they were never getting fully charged, owing to the previous alternator dying and the dubious way the Sterling ABC was installed, but I don't want the new batteries to suffer from overcharging. A grabbed conversation with Mark Langley, Waterways World's technical editor, pointed me towards an Adverc external regulator, so I shall have to look into that.

For now, though, it's time to recharge my own batteries and get some sleep.

edited to correct a name and remove typos


Martin said...

Chris Gibbons suggests on the SmartGauge website that external regulators simply shouldn't be necessary with modern alternators – that their attached regulators are perfectly adequate. We bought our Sterling ABC partly because it combined the output from the domestic and starter battery alternators – and in addition the claims it made about its charging regime seemed to be substantiated elsewhere. So I was surprised to find you dissatisfied with yours (though I don't remember what model it was or exactly what the issue was) and surprised again that you should need to be considering yet another external regulator, if regulation is all it has to do. BOAT strikes again!

Halfie said...

Martin, that's all very well about the alternator's internal regulator, but it allows the voltage to rise to 14.7V which is too high for my sealed lead-acid batteries. Therefore I believe it needs some form of external regulation to limit it to 14.4V max.

I disconnected our Sterling (ABC 12210 which, decoded, is 12V 210A) because the output of the engine alternator was simply connected to the output of the domestic alternator at one terminal of the Sterling device; also I believe the device has suffered water ingress and has failed internally. Certainly the cooling fans haven't worked for a long time.

I rather hope that any external regulator will cost only a small fraction of £1000!

stevecarter said...

I have an Adverc external regulator and it limits the voltage nicely, as you have found out. However, it does require the alternator to have the necessary external sense wire available. Do check that yours does.
I have always found the Adverc helpline to be very helpful and would advise giving them a ring. They are only in Wolverhampton.
HOpe this helps.

Martin said...

I think I agree with your conclusions about maximum voltages, except: Gibbo's page talks about these higher voltages but implies that the attached regulator on modern alternators understands pretty much what's going on at the battery and adapts. Of course what he wanted was to sell you a SmartBank!

Our Sterling is an AB12160, which I think is the same range as yours. The outputs from the two 70A alternators are both connected to the one input on the Sterling, as you describe. The Sterling then has two outputs, one for the domestic bank and one for the starter battery. So your original wiring sounds correct to me, but no fans plus water ingress sounds terminal!

Whatever you decide, I hope it works out well

Halfie said...

Steve, looking at the diagrams on the Adverc website I'm not sure that my alternator does have the necessary connections. I would have to contact them, as you suggest. But, as I have explained on my latest post, I really want something a lot simpler (and cheaper!)