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Dirty Ground

by Nigel Calder, Posted September 14, 2009
Mark Karwowski of San Francisco, California, asks:"Recently we had trouble starting the diesel engine aboard our Nordic 40. Although all the lights and other electrical equipment aboard worked fine, whenever I touched the starter button, the starter motor hesitated at first then sped up. We checked the batteries and found that they were eight years old, so we decided to

Power Savers

by Nigel Calder, Posted July 20, 2009
Lisa Jawork of Toledo, Ohio, asks:"So far I’ve only used my 24-foot Bristol Corsair for daysailing, but this summer I’m planning to take some weekend cruises. I want to be sure I have enough power, not only for the battery that currently feeds the cabin lights and instruments, but also for a second back-up battery I carry for miscellaneous uses. I’m thinking about getting

Battery Buildup

by Nigel Calder, Posted June 20, 2009
Joseph Strong of Barrington, Rhode Island, asks:"I am repowering my Bristol 35.5 with a Yanmar model 3YM30 diesel engine, but I also want to increase my electrical capacity. Currently I have two 12-volt batteries with a standard three-way battery switch (Bat. 1, Bat. 2, and Both). I would like to add two more 12-volt batteries and align them like the two-bank configuration

Green machines

by Nigel Calder, Posted May 19, 2009
Michel Bouffard, of Sept-Iles, Quebec, Canada, asks:"I’m installing a 75-Watt solar panel and an AirBreeze 200 wind generator on my Hunter Legend 35.5. I have two 12-volt deep-cycle batteries, one starting battery, one combiner and a Perko (Off-1-Both-2) battery switch. I’m planning to use the solar panel and wind generator when I am sailing, but I also want my starting
"I am curious how the Odyssey TPPL AGM batteries are working out on Nigel Calder’s new boat. I am thinking about putting TPPL AGM’s on my boat for all the reasons Calder gives. However, I wonder about how they might affect my charging system. I have a160-amp Balmar alternator and an 80-amp Yanmar. When I’m running the genset I use a Prosine 2.0 charger. Do I have to reconfigure the chargers for

Double Shaft

by Nigel Calder, Posted March 11, 2009
Alan Therrien of Boxford, Massachusetts, asks:"The two zincs on my prop shaft were eroding quickly last summer, so I hung a zinc guppy over the side and attached it to the backstay. I measured the current between the backstay and the guppy with my multimeter, which read between .04 and .07 amp of current with all battery connections removed. Where is this current coming

Strike out

by Nigel Calder, Posted January 12, 2009
Bob Graveline of Bismarck, North Dakota, asks:"Last summer my 34-footer was hit by lightning when it was sitting unattended in my marina slip. The boat was plugged into shore power when it was hit, but it was not drawing power. Do you think that having a boat plugged into shore power increases, decreases, or has no effect on the chance of damage from a

Power packs

by Nigel Calder, Posted December 15, 2008
Jim Taylor, CMR 435, U.S. Army, Germany, asks:"I’ve purchased a 15-year-old Nauticat 38 that is being overhauled in the Caribbean. I have a long list of items I plan to replace and have a specific question about power generation. I need a new 12/110-volt inverter and am considering a Xantrex Prosine 2000 inverter-charger. Is that unit compatible with a wind-powered

Oil and Water

by Nigel Calder, Posted December 3, 2008
Ralph Halstead of Marmet, West Virginia, asks:"My Perkins 4-236 is a great engine and has an external cooling system. Recently I’ve noticed some drops of water on the dipstick after use. What do you think might be causing this condition?"Nigel Calder replies: It could be a number of things. I would first check whether water is siphoning in

Surging Power

by Nigel Calder, Posted December 3, 2008
"I have two 12-volt lead-acid batteries in my boat, a starting battery and a house battery. The positive leads from both batteries are connected to a conventional battery switch with the standard 1, 2, Both, and Off positions. My two negative battery terminals are connected, and the one closest to the battery switch is grounded to the engine. A Guest battery charger is connected to the number 1
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