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Old 08-10-2013
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"Voltage" light stays on

The boat is a 1983 Cal 27. The engine is a Yanmar 1GM. I think the alternator is a replacement. I can't find a model number but it does say "Hitachi" on the back.

On the instrument panel there is, among others, a Voltage light. That light is not going out when the engine is running. However, the brightness of the light goes up and down in direct relation to engine RPM.

My assumption was that being lit that light would tell me that the alternator is not charging. However, having the light get brighter as engine RPM comes up tells me that it is.

Does anyone have any idea what's wrong here?

Thanks,

Matt
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Old 08-10-2013
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Re: "Voltage" light stays on

Check the voltage across the battery terminals with the engine off and then with it running. With the engine off, and the batteries charged, it should be 12.6V or 12.7V; with the engine running (above idle) it should be between 13.7 and 14.2V (depending on the charge state of the batteries). If you don't get at least 13.7V at idle, and/or the voltage doesn't increase as the RPMs of the engine are increased, you probably have a problem with the alternator or the regulator.
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Old 08-10-2013
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Re: "Voltage" light stays on

Check belt for proper adjustment and wear.......... 1/4" deflection, no shinny spots and that it still has teeth
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Old 08-10-2013
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Re: "Voltage" light stays on

Quote:
Originally Posted by mwrohde View Post
The boat is a 1983 Cal 27. The engine is a Yanmar 1GM. I think the alternator is a replacement. I can't find a model number but it does say "Hitachi" on the backMany Yanmars were equipped with Hitachi alternators.

On the instrument panel there is, among others, a Voltage light. That light is not going out when the engine is runningIf you have the standard Yanmar "B" panel that light is wired between the excitation lead to the alternator and the B+ coming from the battery through the ON/OFF switch. Any time excitation current is flowing that light should be on.. However, the brightness of the light goes up and down in direct relation to engine RPM That's because the exciter current goes up when the engine RPM go up.

My assumption was that being lit that light would tell me that the alternator is not charging. However, having the light get brighter as engine RPM comes up tells me that it is.

Does anyone have any idea what's wrong here?

Thanks,

Matt
I don't think anything is wrong. I think you are seeing normal operation of your panel. Check your battery voltage under charge and with engine off as suggested. If your voltage is as stated above your system is fine. If the voltages are not as indicated and the belt is fine then pull the alternator and take it to an alternator shop. The shop test only takes a couple of minutes and will reveal if the alternator is performing normally and also if a problem is in the regulator or the diodes.
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Old 08-11-2013
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Re: "Voltage" light stays on

Excellent suggestions. Thank you.

I know the alternator is a replacement. Or, at least, a rebuild. I doubt that actually matters, though.

The alternator belt was probably tight enough, but I had more than 1/4" play. So, I tightened it up. It's not a toothy belt. It's the old style v belt. It's pretty new, so I don't think the belt itself is a problem.

Two batteries. Engine off, one of them shows 12.7 volts, the other 11.9. Engine on they both show "more", but I don't recall what it was. RPMs up they both show more still, and both are at 13.3.

Voltage light remained on through out. Where do I stand? Pull the alternator and have it tested?

Edit: Oh, I do have the "B" panel.
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Old 08-11-2013
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Re: "Voltage" light stays on

Quote:
Originally Posted by mwrohde View Post
Two batteries. Engine off, one of them shows 12.7 volts, the other 11.9. Engine on they both show "more", but I don't recall what it was. RPMs up they both show more still, and both are at 13.3.

Edit: Oh, I do have the "B" panel.
Are you starting and running your engine with your battery selector switch on "BOTH"? Not a recommended practice. This forum has a lot of info on battery selection and maintenance and use - including switching recommendations - and I recommend you search for them and read them.

11.9V is an uncharged battery...or a faulty battery if it has been under charge for adequate time with adequate current.

I would fully charge the battery that is 11.9V and then check cell specific gravity (and battery temperature). Each fully charged cell should be 1.265 at 80 degrees F (add .004 for each 10F above 80 and subtract .004 for each 10F below 80).

If you don't have a hydrometer but intend to keep flooded cell batteries the small investment to buy one will pay you back many times over.
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Last edited by fryewe; 08-11-2013 at 08:25 PM.
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Re: "Voltage" light stays on

Quote:
Originally Posted by fryewe View Post
Are you starting and running your engine with your battery selector switch on "BOTH"?
I am. I'll search and read.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fryewe View Post
11.9V is an uncharged battery...or a faulty battery if it has been under charge for adequate time with adequate current.
That battery is older than the one with a full charge. It might have a bad cell. I'll buy a hydrometer. I appreciate the info with the appropriate specs. Had I known them before I might already own a hydrometer.

What about the alternator?
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Re: "Voltage" light stays on

can you get your hands on a load tester?, sounds like #one batt is a goner
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Re: "Voltage" light stays on

Quote:
Originally Posted by mwrohde View Post
What about the alternator?
I think what I would do at this point (knowing what I know now and absent a battery monitoring system) is start the engine on the good battery then shift the battery selector (through the BOTH position - not through OFF or you could damage your voltage regulator) to the lower voltage battery and bring the engine up to mid-range rpm. Wait a couple of minutes then begin checking voltage at the alternator output. The charging rate out of the alternator should be quite high to get that battery up to voltage so the alternator output should be at 14.4V (normal). If it is the alternator and the voltage regulator are working normally.

Also I would observe the charging lamp on the instrument panel after starting the engine on the good battery. If that battery is still at 12.7V (basically fully charged) it will draw very little charging current following a routine starting of your engine and the lamp should be very dim or out. If all goes as expected and the lamp is out you have resolved your questions and problem except perhaps replacing that bad battery if it can't be restored to normal charge condition. Also check the lamp when the alternator is charging only the low voltage battery. It should be a bright light.
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