by Nigel Calder

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

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

The Price of Power

by Nigel Calder, Posted June 17, 2009
As part of my hybrid propulsion research I have been looking carefully at large-capacity litihum-ion batteries as a possible energy source on modern cruising sailboats. Lithium-ion batteries are common in cell phones and laptops, but they are rarely used in higher capacity applications. This may rapidly change, because the hybrid automotive and electric vehicle markets are in desperate need of

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

Two speed propeller

by Nigel Calder, Posted May 18, 2009
Black clouds bearing cold rain showers are racing across the sky. The VHF radio is broadcasting gale warnings. This is not the day to be testing propellers, but nevertheless we are headed out of a marina near Aarhus, in Denmark, on a Bavaria 42 equipped with a Gori three-bladed folding propeller.The three- and four-bladed Goris are unique in the propeller world. They look much like any

The forgotten details

by Nigel Calder, Posted April 15, 2009
I often hear from people who, after years of preparation, have set out on their first ocean crossing with a high degree of confidence in their boats. Then something really disconcerting happens—say, the propeller shaft disappears out of the back of the boat. It’s quite a confidence shaker. I’ve heard enough of these stories to be able to identify several easily prevented but potentially
"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
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