by Nigel Calder

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

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

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

Charging Into the Future

by Nigel Calder, Posted August 22, 2008
For the past 30 years, lead-acid batteries have always been the principal limiting factor in the design of high-capacity DC systems for sailboats. Over the years a number of technologies have been developed that attempt to circumvent this roadblock—NiCad, nickel metal hydride (NiMH), lithium ion (LiI), fuel cells—but none has had sufficient life expectancy at a price affordable enough to be

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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