Systems+Engines

ASK SAIL
Our experts answer your questions,
SUBMIT A QUESTION BELOW

Comments are subject to the rules set forth in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Groundless Fears

by Nigel Calder, Posted July 22, 2011
Bill Schultz of Bay City, Michigan, asks:"I am installing a 24-volt battery bank in the bow of my 40-foot sailboat to power a bow thruster. Do I need to run a grounding wire to my engine block? Or can I use an alternative grounding site? What size wire do I need?"Nigel Calder replies:Technically, if the bow thruster has a case ground
Bill Reilly of San Francisco, California, asks:"To increase energy efficiency onboard I am wondering if I could plumb my water heater into my generator’s cooling system so that it shares the circuit from the main engine coolant loop that heats the hot water. It seems that a couple of sturdy Y-valves and brass one-way valves would adequately isolate these two systems, which

Fuel Cell Dreams

by Nigel Calder, Posted May 22, 2011
Pete Econ of Columbia, Maryland, asks:"How long before we see fuel cells replacing generators on sailboats? They make a lot of sense in that they are smaller, lighter and quieter than generators. I see one yacht manufacturer is already installing SFC methanol fuel cells, and I know the military is using fuel cells to replace and supplement batteries."Nigel
Ed Douglass of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, asks:"My Westerbeke/Universal M-35 diesel engine came equipped with a Mando 51-amp alternator. From its appearance, I would say it is an automotive-type alternator. It puts out a constant 14.6 volts, which not surprisingly causes my wet-cell batteries to boil. It does this even after I have charged the batteries to capacity with my

A Reluctant Engine

by Nigel Calder, Posted March 8, 2011
Ted Klastorin of Seattle, Washington, asks:"I have a Universal XP25 diesel engine with approximately 2,200 hours on it. The engine runs well, but is difficult to start after it sits idle for a few days. To get it started, I have to bleed air out of the fuel system for several minutes. Once started, however, it runs smoothly.I have checked and replaced both fuel

Fridge Burnout Mystery

by Nigel Calder, Posted January 25, 2011
Lewis K. Redmond of Plainfield, Illinois, asks:"We have an Adler/Barbour cold machine refrigerator, which is air-cooled with a small vertical evaporator. The ground wire and its retaining screw on the PCB board somehow were burned black. The technician’s guess was that something must have been thrown across the terminals to have caused this burnout. What measures would you

Mystery of the Alternator

by Nigel Calder, Posted January 25, 2011
Frank Hague of Jersey City, New Jersey, asks:"I repowered my boat last year with a new Westerbeke engine that came with a 100-amp alternator with an external regulator. I also have a solar array and an Air Breeze wind turbine feeding juice to my house batteries. When the house batteries are full and I am feeding them power from the alternator, my tach needle will suddenly

Propeller Puzzles

by Nigel Calder, Posted December 14, 2010
Steve Hiss of North Kingston, Rhode Island, asks:"I’ve installed a rebuilt M3-20 Universal diesel on my 29-foot Ericson, and I’m wondering whether the new three-blade prop, which looks a bit too big, is correctly sized. When I put the engine in gear just above idle speed the boat moves forward quietly, but any increase in rpm produces a pulsing vibration under the back of

All Amped Up

by Nigel Calder, Posted December 13, 2010
Mike Keller of Arlington, Virginia, asks:"I recently upgraded the two lead-acid batteries on my Catalina to 79Ah Group 24 AGMs, and I’m thinking about wiring them in parallel to double my available power supply at anchor. I’d also add a small PWC battery for use as a starting battery. We don’t have refrigeration, but we do have lots of other gizmos that use power.My

Tank Trouble

by Nigel Calder, Posted October 21, 2010
Larry Barth of Columbia, South Carolina, asks:"For some reason the metal fuel tank feeding the Fischer Panda genset on my Hunter 41 now contains some water and other debris. How should I clean the tank? Would I be better off replacing the fuel tank with one made of plastic? Also, there is still about 10 gallons of diesel in the tank. How do I filter the fuel so I can use
  • facebook
  • twitter