Saturday, 28 May 2016

Can We Fix It? (No, We Can't!)

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

(Very retrospective post for Saturday 28th May 2016)

The brief version of the first part of this story is as follows, (the actual story far more convoluted, but readers of the blog are fortunately spared most of it!).....

1) We knew that the batteries were being charged at far too high a voltage.
2) Flamingo has a very elderly, but also very robust and substantial "AC5R" alternator, but in order to extract maximum charging capacity from it, a previous owner has wired it into a Kestrel external alternator controller, (an add on box remote to the alternator itself).
3) Both the above items are well obsolete, and the Kestrel controller has long been de-supported by its suppliers.  (The available documentation looks like a 6th form students A-level project - the world has moved on!)
4) It was very hard to ascertain where the fault was, in the alternator, or in the external controller.  In the end we decided to completely remove the latter from playing any active part.  The batteries continued to be getting to much charge, thus eliminating the Kestrel as a possible cause.
5) Normally in these cases it would point to a fault on the regulator on the alternator itself.  Although the alternator is obsolete, these are obtainable as a third party item.  Someone had one that they were prepared to gift to me, (thank you Jerry!)
6) Eventually the new regulator arrived, and David and I fitted it, also sorting out some of the associated wiring that looked a bit suspect.  In particular we replaced wires with crimped joins in the middle with new continuous wires.
7) The alternator now appeared not to be charging at over voltage, (if anything we thought it was maybe not charging enough), and we naively thought we had solved the problem, and were OK to carry on with our journey.

At this stage we thought we had fixed it!
So some 4 days after we had arrived in Berkhamsted, Cath and I loaded up the boat with provisions and dogs, and we set off again.

After a couple of locks, I ducked into the engine room with a volt meter to check all was OK, and it seemed to be, however having got up all the locks to Cow Roast, and set off across Tring summit, I checked again, and was very upset to find that once again we were cooking the batteries.  We disabled the alternator, and limped on again to the moorings at Bulbourne.  A son was summoned with a car, and we loaded everything back off the boat, and went home to contemplate our next move.

Berkhamsted to Bulbourne 
Miles: 5.4, Locks:7
Total Trip Miles: 85.0, Locks: 106

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