by Nigel Calder

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

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

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
My brother was hanging upside down, peering through a 9-inch square cutout in a bulkhead at the raw-water pump housing on his 3-cylinder Yanmar marine diesel. “How the heck do you get the impeller out of there?” he asked me.This is a very good question. Removing an impeller is something that should be done on a regular basis; Yanmar recommends replacing the impeller on this particular

Evolution, not Revolution

by Nigel Calder, Posted November 12, 2008
October’s Annapolis Boat Show opened as Wall Street experienced one of the biggest sell-offs in history. With the scary economic news, it was easy to think that many people would put off investing in a new boat. That idea went out the window as VIP Thursday appeared to be more crowded than ever. Instead of panicking, sailors seemed to be turning to sailing, much as they did after 9/11—as a
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