Work on bespoke Narrowboat ‘Ploddinon’ to improve the charging system. Spec of this new Barrus 50 engine looks impressive on paper with a 240 amp domestic alternator. In reality the owner has found the factory setup not up to modern live-aboard demands.
Charging voltage & current low. Belt squeak and squealing under high load on initial startup or running equipment off the inverter. Alternator’s non adjustable regulator set at low 14.2 ish Volts and large battery bank just not getting charged properly (taking time to reach even 14.0+V). The theoretical 240 amps is unobtainable due to low regulator voltage setting. And the solid alternator (non freewheeling) with narrow 6pk alternator pulley can’t reliably transmit more than around 100-130 amps at 12V. I bring it up to the same spec of a Beta Marine 43/50 engine fitting a quality 175amp Iskra Alternator with a freewheeling pulley. Now ~120 Amp+ at tickover with standard 14.6V regulator and the engine runs noticeably quieter and smoother. Install Adverc system adjusted to 14.8V (sensed at batteries ) to suit the Trojan battery bank. Engine charging system totally transformed and customer happy.
Went out to charging/battery problems on a Stoke-on-Trent boat with Beta 43 and unusual Delco Remy 12V 150A alternator. Main negative lead from batteries taken to engine bearer so engine/alternator earthing through just exhaust/hull. An Adverc has been fitted but since the earth senses at alternator and postive at batteries it doesn’t compensate for any voltage drops on neagtive charge lead – charging voltage approx 0.5V down at 60 amps. Been like that since built in 2003 but problems develop as new owner is a livaboard. Moving earth to alternator casing solves poor charging voltages. New 600AH bank of Trojan batteries fitted with Adverc adjusted to suit.
Before and after photos. Before 3KW Victron Multiplus drawing from one end of bank. Also fit a Victron BMV700 Monitor. If you look carefully I’ve switched start battery location in the tray to make fitting the Victron BMV Shunt neater and limit cable runs – using the negative start battery terminal to take most negative cables to. This is a useful way to minimise the number of terminals fitted to the Victron Shunt. They’re now properly balanced. Use the best quality copper tube terminals with 50mm tinned cable.
Fit a solar power system for a livaboard continuous cruiser in Sheffield Basin.
Panels are neatly mounted flat with my custom made stainless steel brackets. Wired in series through a Victron SmartSolar 100/50 controller so the system can be monitored using the Victron Connect App.
Also fit a Nasa battery monitor and neat & efficient Victron 800W inverter and bring all associated wiring up to spec to suit all the new gear.
Ultimate charging upgrade for an Isuzu 42 with standard V pulleys. 120 amp domestic and 90 amp start alternators with custom pulleys/quadpower belts twinned with Victron Cyrix combiner. ***As of April 2020 I now have a 175A Poly V with Freewheeling pulley drive available for these Isuzu engines.***
1300 watt Candy 100f fitted from new but the original 70amp alternator doesn’t keep up at any engine speed and batteries take a hammering which always happens on the Aqualine boats of this era.
Now generates 1.1kw at 800rpm tickover and excess power just off tickover.
Swapped out the original faulty 1960’s Lucas alternator for a modern equivalent. No heavy demands but the boat has 3 battery banks with a dedicated battery to supply the bilge pump in the hold. An Adverc is also fitted to compensate for the voltage drop with the split charge diode and all the battery, starter and alternator cables are replaced at the same time. The original alternator had a battery sense connection which the Adverc replaces.
Winter work, 2018. Swap out the original 20 year old Perkins for a Beta 43. Beatrice is a popular and much loved trip boat on the Caldon Canal run by a great group of people and out pretty much everyday from April – October.
Old engine out. All the work was done at Park Lane Services on the Caldon. I’m well setup to do this type of work on the towpath with cordless power tools, genset welder, lifting tackle etc..
Tapering engine bearers modified and profile cut steelwork welded in ready for the much smaller Beta.
New engine partially stripped down to fit under the rear hand rail. Light as a feather compared to the Perkins.
Centaflex coupling and new smaller propellor fitted to suit the new setup. Rudder has to be dropped out and old prop/shaft pulled out backwards while a short shaft pushed in from the front. All done on the towpath with no need for a dock.
Heat exchanger fitted before the skin tank. This transfers excess heat from the engine cooling system to the existing cabin central heating system. Works really well and ultra reliable heating ideal for a trip boat. On Beatrice it will replace the ancient Webasto system. Hospital silencer also fitted. Blanking plate & bleed fitted replacing the original unreliable pressure cap on the engine as optional remote header tank fitted. Charity is really happy with all the work.
A charging system upgrade I did on this beautiful Dave Harris tug with sweet 30hp Sabb 2JHR engine.
Original alternator was a low output Motorolla. I fitted a 110amp 12V marine alternator with custom 60mm XPA pulley, 50mm cables; Adverc system; Victron BMV700. Replaced 3 * 110ah domestic batteries with 4 * 6 volt Trojan T105’s. Installation has transformed the domestic charging system. Excellent output (50 amps) at tickover.
On this job I fitted a extra small 60mm pulley which I’ve had made. Using a smaller alternator pulley reduces belt contact area and puts more heat into the belt. You have to use Gates XPA Quadpower belts and it’s a compromise between belt life and alternator performance at lower engine speeds. Smallest pulley size you can go down to is 55mm and generally I fit 65mm.
Called out to Pillings lock marina. Webasto playing up – not starting up and for some time has been taking longer to warm up.
Main fault is that water has got inside the power plug and damaged a terminal in the plug and burnt one of the pins. This fault isn’t that uncommon and Webasto dealers would be changing the circuit board and plug (£300+). If the heater timer is left on it’s possible fuel is dumped into the exhaust as heater continually momuntarily switches on and then off as voltage at the pin drops out under glowpin load.
Only proper way to fix is to solder leads directly to the pins – cables properly soldered to the pins, sealed using adhesive lined heat shrink and then silicon which is hard to see in the photo. This is a 100% reliable fix.
The problem with the heater taking longer to warm up than normal is down to fuel supply issue. The original installer had T’d into the engine feed after a pre filter which is most likely partially blocked. This is a really common error and done to save time in the installation.
Best to install the Webasto fuel supply properly with dedicated feed taking diesel from around 6 inches off the bottom of the tank. Heater now runs perfectly.
Customer contacted me after speaking to a boater for whom I fitted a solar power kit previously. They wanted the best quality equipment so I fitted 2* LG335 panels with my mounting bracket kit and Victron 150/45 Smartsolar controller. 6mm cable from panels to controller and 35mm cable to batteries.
A curved Liverpool Boat/Orchard Marine roof which my brackets fit perfectly. Saw 610 Watts and over 40amps at 12V in mid day sun which is very good for April. Also install a Victron BMV700 battery monitor. Customer very pleased with the job.
An engineer had fitted a Webasto Thermo Top Z as a replacement for an Eberspacher D5W. The photo shows how badly the install was done – notice they’d used the original 24mm Eberspacher exhaust (Webasto 22mm), Eberspacher fuel pump (which has different pulse rate to the Webasto and heater running way too cool never getting up to temp), and connected Eberspacher 4mm fuel line to 5mm Webasto burner. Also see the header tank feeds outlet side of heater (not low pressure side of waterpump) and this always is a bad idea and making bleeding v difficult. The Thermo Top Z’s were fitted to Rover 75’s and Land Rover in early 2000’s. People will tell you settings are different – running temp is slightly higher and cut off voltage is higher but this has no affect on how it will run if properly installed in a narrowboat. Only problem with the Thermo Top Z is control units can fail and they’re now nearly 20 yo.
I properly install a Webasto Thermo Top E kit. Steel upstand welded to the swim and heater mounted on rubber mounts. New isolation ball valve and Webasto copper fuel line kit. Hard to see in photos. Customer very happy with the work and noise from the heater through the boat kept and minimum.