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 ridiculously low 14.2 ish Volts and large battery bank just not getting charged properly (taking time to reach even 14.0+V). Theoretical 240 Amps always unobtainable through narrow 6pk belt and solid (non freewheeling) alternator pulley. 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 14.6V regulator and smoother & quieter running engine. 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 and 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 volatages. New 600AH bank of Trojan batteries fitted.
Before and after photos. Before 3KW Victron Multiplus drawing from one end of bank. Batteries rearranged in the tray to limit cable runs and fit a Victron BMV700 Monitor. If you look carefully they’re now properly balanced. Used 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.
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.
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.
Called out to a 2010 narrowboat in Penkridge with battery problems on an Isuzu 42 engine. For the 12 months of ownership there’s always been a problem with fridge cutting out in morning. New set of batteries recently fitted at boatyard but problems still persist. Poor output from alternator. I fit this 120amp alternator:
With a 60mm pulley and Gates Quadpower belt.
Also fit a Victron BMV700 battery monitor and rewire/balance the battery bank. The new alternator keeps up with the Zanussi washing machine. At the same time resolved problem with solar install. Customer delighted.
The most popular alternator upgrade job that I do – I’ve fitted this kit to ~ 200 Barrus Shire engines all over the canal network.
It replaces the original factory fitted 80 amp alternator which is expensive, unreliable and has poor performance providing nowhere the rated 80 amps. The kit I fit is far better in every respect. Charging performance is transformed with tickover output significantly improved.
The shims and a high speed pulley have been made for this specific job and this marine alternator fits perfectly. I use a longer Gates Quadpower belt which increases wrap around the pulley and brings the alternator further away from the exhaust manifold.
Cable sizes should suit the 90 amp output. Notice in the photo with the original alternator the cable size is 10mm. I upgraded the charge circuit to 35mm including the battery link leads and earth.
Have to be careful with the fixings for the terminals – with heat the insulating washer on the B+ terminal shrinks and can cause the nuts to loosen off which can destroy the alternator. I fit spring washers and locking nuts to prevent this. Also the insulated return negative terminal is only M5 and with the original nuts sustained high current can be too much for the contact – fitting good quality copper tube terminals and extra nuts helps this.
Charging has been totally transformed and customer very happy with the job.
The boat has an Alde Compact gas boiler fitted from new. My liveaboard customer doesn’t want to be reliant on expensive and inconvenient gas. I installed a Webasto Thermotop C diesel boiler into the Semi Trad engine bay. All my installations are done to the very highest standards. It’s very hard to hear the heater running from inside the boat.
Originally customer was expecting to remove the Alde boiler but we retained it and the 2 systems work perfectly alongside each other with no compromise. Also fitted the latest Webasto Thermocall module and the heater can be remotely controlled using the Webasto smartphone app.
Customer delighted with the work.
It’s very important the fuel supply and central heating circuit inside the boat are installed to Webasto’s specifications to ensure that the heater performs efficiently and is reliable long term. These are points and basic standards which you might assume every Webasto fitter installs to. Many engineers, boatyards and even main dealers don’t install to these fundamental standards. Above the basic requirements my installs are always neat and tidy and well thought out. The standard looms shortened, clipped and supported properly. Exhaust systems are supported and installed neatly and where necessary extra lagging is used – the lagging sock supplied by Webasto are not great. Fuel pipe is properly fixed and supported. I pay great attention to refinement and add extra features so the heater runs quietly. Sometimes the heater can be mounted on a welded steel upstand on the swim. This is a neat way to install, keeps fuel pipe lengths short, and helps maximise refinement inside the cabin.
Trojan T105 batteries have become much more popular in the last 3/4 years. They are high quality, have a capacity closer to what they are advertised at, are good value and have a long life if looked after.
Typically 4* Trojans will replace 3* standard 110AH leisure batteries.
On this job 3* Crown 155AH batteries were replaced with 4* Trojan T105’s. 50mm link leads. All loads taken across the bank (which is sometimes hard with the standard short studs with less room for the terminals). Crown batteries are excellent quality but have only lasted 3 seasons of light use which is pretty poor. I think this is partly down to the original fitment of a Beta Alternator controller (on Beta 43). I removed this and fitted a standard Iskra regulator which gives higher charging voltage over a longer time.
Smartgauge also installed – simple to fit and use, and relatively accurate battery monitor.
I had to completely replace the loom after what I assume must have been the ignition feed to optional 110amp alternator shorted out on the engine bearer. Completely destroyed the wiring loom and could have caused a fire.
Most engine mariners fit a fuse at the starter motor to protect the ignition/engine loom but for this engine they didn’t. Well worth checking yours if you have an Isuzu fitted.
A revisit to a previous job after I was asked to look into fitting a kill switch for peace of mind while disabled wife is maneuvering through locks.
I took the opportunity to take some photos of the previous job.
This was a charging upgrade to a standard liverpool boat with Isuzu 42 engine.
Start battery relocated to welded in steel tray. Fit 3* 12V Trojan Batteries. Upgrade to 90amp Alternator, 60mm pulley & Quadpower belt and fit Adverc regulator adjusted to 14.8V for the Trojans. Fit Victron Battery Monitor. Alternator works very hard generating 60+ amps at tickover. Massive improvement on the original setup.
System has worked perfectly for 4-5 months of Summer cruising every year. Trojan batteries still in excellent shape after 3.5 years.
Customer delighted with the system.
On this job I did the bits the customer couldn’t do and combined 2* 90amp Prestolite alternators with an Adverc twin system. 2* 160 amp split charge diodes. 50mm charge leads. 60mm pulley for alternator driven off the small crank pulley and 65mm pulley for alternator driven off large crank pulley and Gates XPA Quadpower Belts. 700AH Rolls AGM Batteries, Victron monitor.
Adverc Voltage adjusted for the batteries. System works well achieving 180amps just off tickover and customer happy.
Original engineer had told the customer the Travel Power unit needed to be sent away for repair when actually there was no belt fitted! On this version of cocooned Beta 43 there is an idler pulley mounted on a swinging bracket which acts as the adjusting mechanism and it can be a pain. The idler pulleys bearings had worn into the steel causing the pulley to twist and damage the belt. Rather than replace the pulley we made up a different type of adjusting mechanism.
Heavy and agricultural Idler pulleys are frequently fitted to engines with Travel Power such as Beta 1903 and most Barrus and Nanni. It’s normally best to remove the pulley and fit a freewheeling pulley to the Travel Power which will increase the grip the belt can generate. If an idler pulley is also used to tension the belt then an adjusting arm like this can sometimes be used instead.
On this engine it wasn’t possible to fit the freewheeling pulley as alternator is mounted backwards and runs CCW.
This is part of the process in a typical rebuild on the Bosch Travel Power alternator. A new slipring is epoxied and then soldered on. An engineering firm turns the slipring down so it’s perfectly straight. New bearings are fitted and the rotor is re-magnetised. I have rotors rebuilt to this stage so a generator can be turned around more quickly. It’s not always necessary to replace a slipring – some tend to wear more than others. Only high quality parts are used.
It’s important a travel power alternator is serviced from time to time as it’s possible bearing failure can destroy an alternator. The rear bearings tend to fail more frequently than the front. If there’s any play or roughness bearings should be changed.
The earlier Bosch alternator is a re worked low voltage unit popular in the 70’s and 80’s and was never designed to run a poly-V belt system. It’s very easy for owners and engineers to over tension the belt which can lead to premature failure.
Beta Marine fitted soft aluminum alternator pulleys and often these wear and loose their poly v profile leading to belt slip and over tensioning. I have smaller 50mm freewheeling pulleys which run dramatically smoother than a fixed pulley, increase belt grip and lower the level of belt tension required.
I finished off the job after the original fitter fell out with the customer. The photo illustrates the adjusting arm used. I carry theses alternator adjusting arms with me in kit form with turn buckles, left and right hand stainless steel threaded bar, nuts, shims etc.. and good quality rod end bearings.
Called out to battery problems in Stone on a recently purchased narrowboat. Lucas A127 55amp alternator output poor and doing very little at tickover. Adverc ok. Tidy but badly installed system by well known and reputable boatyard (not in Stone) : cable sizes poor and Adverc battery sense fitted to common post of 1-2-both switch however long cable run (6mm cable/yellow crimps to domestic batteries) after the switch. Alternator pulley large. Fit a 90 amp marine alternator modified for Adverc. New long span laser cut curved adjusting arm, longer bolts, shims and 60mm custom XPA pulley. Gates Quadpower belt. All cable sizes including earth increased to 35mm and re-routed to shorter runs. Transformed alternator performance quickly jumping to 14.4V at low engine speeds.
The ST drives alternator at 1/2 speed off cam shaft alternator output is often poor at lower engine speeds. ST’s can often be improved relatively easily as the cam pulley is normally a reasonable size. I’ve fitted this alternator to 5 ST’s now with great results.