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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

Nuts over terminals

by Nigel Calder, Posted November 24, 2008
"I am curious why electrical connections that hold a terminal on a threaded post use a stainless-steel post, a nut, and a washer. If you assume that the post can’t be changed—because it comes with the equipment—wouldn’t it be better to use a bronze or brass nut and a copper washer? I’m asking because stainless steel is less conductive than bronze, brass, or copper. If there is room to do so, why

Curious Zincs

by Nigel Calder, Posted September 22, 2008
"I’ve had my boat, which has a Volvo Penta saildrive engine, for eight years. For the first six years, when I hauled the boat for annual maintenance I found the zinc anode on the saildrive was slightly eroded but was still firmly attached. I changed the zinc annually.However, when I hauled the boat two years ago, I found the anode was loose and the erosion had occurred primarily around the

Charge It Up

by Nigel Calder, Posted August 18, 2008
Gray R. Riddick of Chocowinity, North Carolina, asks:"I know you have discussed using a multimeter to check a battery’s voltage. What does the reading mean? Will it tell me whether or not a battery should be replaced? My two house batteries, for example, read 12.82 and 12.36 volts."Nigel Calder replies: A specific voltage reading won’t tell

Sulfation surprise

by Nigel Calder, Posted June 23, 2008
"The two group 27 batteries on my boat are both four years old. After charging, all cells have a specific-gravity reading of 1.225 +/- 0.005 and about a 75 percent charge. Hoping to improve the readings, I have been charging at 16 volts and 1 amp. After several days, the cells read 1.260 +/- 0.005. Is this a sign of sulfation?"-- Roger A. Karmes, North East,

Start and stop

by Nigel Calder, Posted June 6, 2008
"The 20-horsepower Yanmar in my Orion 27 has low hours, but last summer it began to stop about a minute after it started. When I tried a restart, it was clear to me that it was being starved for fuel. I bled the fuel line, and, when I saw air bubbles coming out at the secondary filter, I thought I’d fixed the problem. But when I let the engine sit unused for a couple of days, the start/stop
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