Wednesday, 20 April 2016

No wonder our batteries never charged properly! and encountering a 108 year-old car

Before Jubilee was lifted back into the water this morning I managed to do all the black touching up of the gunnels (the vertical bit above the rubbing strake). I had hoped to repaint the red tunnel band but when I opened the tin - which came with the boat) I found that it had gone off. I need some International Fire Red.

I had mentioned to the boatyard that I had some charging problems, telling them about the Sterling AB12210 alternator to battery charger which I didn't think was working. So Jim came and had a look and went to consult Steve, the boss. Steve reckoned that the Sterling device was not designed to be able to combine the outputs of the engine and domestic alternators, which is what I was led to believe was supposed to happen. I have been convinced for some time that the device wasn't working anyway, so I requested that it be taken out of the loop altogether and that the engine alternator charge solely the starter battery and the domestic alternator charge the domestic batteries. This was a job which I could and should have done myself, but having had the "experts" in I let them get on with it - with my assistance. It was a fairly straightforward matter to configure the engine/starter side of things, but the domestic alternator proved trickier.

As well as having no faith in the Sterling ABC, I was not convinced that the (new) domestic alternator was working either. This was confirmed when we finished the wiring and started up. No output at all from the alternator. The alternator was fitted in January but had had only a couple of weeks' use since then. It had been wired up using the existing external Transpo regulator. We decided to dispense with this and rely purely on the alternator's own internal regulator, assuming that it hadn't been damaged by either the Sterling or the Transpo. After getting advice from the supplier of the alternator as to how it should be connected, we wired it up and it worked. I was very pleased to see my ammeter registering over 100A at one point! It had never shown any more than 40A before - current which I believe was being supplied by the engine alternator. There was one small issue: with the + terminal connected directly to the B+ terminal the alternator made a high-pitched whining noise at rest, i.e. when the engine was completely switched off. To solve this I connected a red lead coming from the control panel, which had gone to the Transpo regulator but was now apparently redundant, to the + terminal in place of the direct connection from the batteries. This seemed to do the trick.

With the cabin bilge water vacuumed out (and the bill paid!) we were now free to go. I'm really hoping now that our domestic batteries will get properly charged up while we're cruising - and that the 14.7V from the alternator won't overcook the sealed lead-acids. A project for the future: concoct a circuit which will detect overvolts and reduce the alternator output accordingly.

To celebrate all this we cruised to Foxton Junction, tied up and walked through a field of cows to the Bell Inn at Gumley where we participated in their steak night.

Here's Jubilee reflecting the sun at the junction.

At the pub we were astounded and delighted to see an amazing 1908 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost in fantastic condition.

It was certainly the weather to have the top down, having been wall-to-wall sunshine. The Sainsbury's bag of shopping in the back struck me as slightly incongruous.

Unfortunately we were ordering our food at the bar when it drove off.

Tomorrow we are expecting a visit from Ally and Josiah; I expect we'll cruise to Market Harborough and back. Then we can get our own shopping (but not in quite so much style as the owner of the car above!)

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