Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Power Loss

We all take it for granted when it is always there. Power that is. Run the engine each day and there it is stored in those batteries for use in the evenings. The warning buzzer sounded in the evening. Quick rush to switch off the engine. The red light indicated that the alternator had suddenly failed. That thing on the engine which generates the electrical power. Lifted the board to let smoke out! Run the engine again to see sparks inside the alternator!

Don't like things like that going wrong, it's a threat to our boating life. We felt vulnerable even though we were only 4 miles from the nearest boat yard. Good job we were not in mid ocean! We had caught up with Terry & Myra again and Terry came round for moral support. Myra also came round to keep warm. It was Sunday evening so no point ringing for help. However our son Chris gave some advice on the phone. Terry agreed and also suggested how to charge the batteries using our start battery alternator. Yes, thankfully we have two alternators. There was enough charge in the batteries to last the evening but we had to limit ourselves to one light and no TV to ensure that the fridge kept going! It was a particularly cold night and time slowed down.

The next day after an unsettled night we set about rearranging the battery wiring and removed the drive belt from the dead alternator. This enabled the engine to be run without the sparks! A call for help to Rose Narrow Boats was answered. "Yes we can help, when you get here ask for Wayne." An hour later we were there and the alternator was removed for inspection. Our friends Terry & Myra on 'Juno' had set course for home. Wayne told us that the stator insulation had failed. He rang Beta for a replacement and they agreed to replace it as the alternator was less than 2 years old. Another long night with one light as the electrician had gone home without providing us with land line power.

Woke in the morning to find the fridge still going despite the low charge state of the batteries. We moved the boat back to a power point which was now available. Plugged in and charged the batteries for a few hours. The new alternator arrived and Wayne fitted and tested it. Then gave some valuable advice on how to charge batteries correctly. Its better to run the engine in the morning for at least 3 to 4 hours in order to fully charge the batteries. Then there is no need to run it again in the evening. It is no good running for short periods of time during the day.

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