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Green Machine

by Nigel Calder, Posted September 21, 2010
David Kampenga of Houston, Texas, asks:"I’m thinking about converting my Hunter to an electric motor propulsion system, which would involve installing a 6kW 48VDC motor. I would like to keep the fixed two-blade prop that’s on the boat. I would also like to retain the existing gear reduction, which is 2.14:1. I don’t quite understand the reduction gearing and am curious how

Solar Switches

by Nigel Calder, Posted August 21, 2010
Jack Fyfe of Westerly, Rhode Island, asks:"I‘ve really enjoyed reading about Nigel Calder’s solar projects, because I am getting two 24-volt Sanyo 205 watt panels and two Morningstar MPPT controllers. I’m using AWG 2/10 wire for the 25–foot run from the dodger where the panels are located to the battery switch. I wonder whether connecting the charge controllers to the

Sizzling Summer Zincs

by Nigel Calder, Posted July 20, 2010
Stuart Goldman of Shelter Island, New York, asks:"For the last two years the zincs on the shaft and MaxProp on my Hinckley SW 42 have started to really dissolve in early July—after the boat has been in the water for about a month. The boat is on a mooring that’s at least 500 yards away from any other boat except a 50ft powerboat, which is also on a mooring about 50 yards

Out of Breath

by Nigel Calder, Posted July 20, 2010
Terry McCoy of Gainesville, Florida, asks:"After running perfectly for years, the diesel engine on our Beneteau 331 stopped running when we were backing out of the slip. It started right up, but then stopped again—and again. I changed the fuel filters and the engine ran without a hitch until one day we were returning to the marina and suddenly it quit again. Although it

Bronze Bondshells

by Nigel Calder, Posted June 19, 2010
Jim Fischer of Ellicott City, Maryland, asks:"All the bronze seacocks aboard my 1979 fiberglass 34ft sloop are connected to a keelbolt, along with the boat's lightning ground system, which is also connected to a keelbolt. Is this still the recommended arrangement, or do you think all the seacocks should be isolated from each other and not connected to a keelbolt? Can I

Twin Pipes

by Nigel Calder, Posted March 19, 2010
Stan Stockdale of Palm Coast, Florida, asks:"I am installing a generator on my Morgan 416. Space is at a premium in the engine room, and I’m curious to know whether you approve of combining the generator’s exhaust with the existing Perkins 4.154 exhaust line, perhaps by fabricating a Y-type device and putting an anti-siphon valve connector immediately in front of the

Power Outage

by Nigel Calder, Posted February 19, 2010
Bill Schoenherr of Midland, Michigan, asks:"My gelcell batteries are 8 years old and although they are showing no signs of age, I have abused them by discharging them below 50 percent of their capacity. I’m considering replacing them because we cruise the Great Lakes in the North Channel area and I would hate to have them fail up there. Are TPPL batteries (Odyssey) still

Silent Solenoid

by Nigel Calder, Posted January 19, 2010
Dave Smith of East Aurora, New York, asks:"When I hit the starter button to crank the engine on my 1984 C&C 35, I can hear the solenoid clicking, but it doesn’t normally activate the starter. Once in a while the engine will start on the first try. But usually I have to push the button a number of times before the starter engages. I did remove the starter and had it checked

In the Zincerator

by Nigel Calder, Posted November 20, 2009
Allen Judy of Whortonsville, North Carolina, asks:"My boatyard technician tells me that there is such a thing as being “over-zinc’d” and that there is an optimum amount of zinc anode to install on any a given boat. He says this has something to do with an electrical field imbalance and that it is best is to have just enough imbalance to sacrifice the zinc that is in place.

Sparkling Spars

by Nigel Calder, Posted October 20, 2009
Janet Hartman of Beaufort, North Carolina, asks:"Recently I contacted the National Ocean Survey (NOS) to ask whether the authorized clearances for overhead cables shown on their charts include the extra distance needed to avoid arcing. I received an email from nautical.charting@noaa.gov stating 'The ‘authorized clearance’ for an overhead power cable does not include the
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