by Nigel Calder

Nigel Calder is an author and expert on boat systems and diesel engines

What Are We Doing Wrong?

by Nigel Calder, Posted March 23, 2011
Dave and Jaja Martin are not your typical couple. In their twenties they spent seven years sailing around the world in a 25-foot boat, during which time Jaja bore three children. In 1995 they upgraded to a 33-foot boat which they cruised (with the children) into the pack ice above the Arctic circle before moving to Maine.In Round Pond, Maine, there is a YMCA summer sailing camp. The

Electric Horses

by Nigel Calder, Posted March 10, 2011
This past summer I tested the latest generation of electric outboard motors from Torqeedo. These are much more efficient than traditional electric outboards, but with this advance comes a quantum leap in sophistication and electronic complexity.I find it intriguing that these outboards have been designed by landlubbers. One of the owners of Torqeedo, Dr. Christoph Balin, bought a house on

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

A Taste of the East

by Nigel Calder, Posted January 4, 2011
You know you are in for a different kind of cruising experience when a) the guide book says: “Do not go ashore onto either of the Koh Liang islands. They are sites for the collection of swallow’s nests to make bird’s nest soup. They are patrolled by local Thais armed with automatic weapons;” and b) the charter base manager (ours was Andy Middleton, who runs the Sunsail base in Langkawi, Malaysia)

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

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
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