midwesterners, beware of Balmar! - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 15 Old 09-02-2008 Thread Starter
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Unhappy midwesterners, beware of Balmar!

It appears that most vendors of sailboat equipment believe Balmar to be the best choice in alternators. Unfortunately, in the St Louis area no one outside of West Marine ever heard of them. Because my Balmar 110 amp alternator seems to have sufferred blown diodes, I have been trying for three weeks to purchase the rectifier bridge from Balmar. (My unit was purchased from Jack Rabbit, who declared bankruptcy about a month ago.) Their "Tech specialist" implies that I am stupid, insists there is something else wrong, and will not give me a price, or even tell me if he will sell them to me, insisting I should take it to a local repair facility. In this area all I get from the local shops is "Who is Balmar? I never heard of them!"
Does anyone out there know of a repair facility to whom I can ship this alternator, or (preferably) who will sell me the diodes? I am sure there are several on each coast, possibly also on the Great Lakes. In view of Rich's attitude, I will NOT send it to Balmar. Thanks for your help!
Don / SV Ragtime

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post #2 of 15 Old 09-02-2008
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Start Rite, 3616 Texoma Pkwy, Sherman, TX

Telephone is 903-892-6022. Ask for JR.

THey do all the stuff for Valiant and have done some work for me. They should be able to help. I do not know if they will ship diodes directly - ask JR for that. However, their rates are reasonable and work is pretty good.

- CD

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post #3 of 15 Old 09-02-2008
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WAI - Alternator and Starter Products

These folks may be able to tell you what part you really need, they are national wholesalers.

Why does Balmar insist something else must be wrong? How did you test the diodes?
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post #4 of 15 Old 09-02-2008
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Balmar...

Balmar IMHO is NOT all they are cracked up to be. I've had two ARS-4 regulators fail and one ARS-5. Each failure was just barely out of warranty and Balmar would do nothing accept they did tell me to return it to West Marine cause "they take anything back".

I'm not the only one to have experienced these regulator failures and they have had problems yet still refuse to work with customers on these issues. I personally know two other Mainers who have had the identical failures I had and one of them has had two failures and I three.

On another note, one cold booring day in mid winter, I dismantled a small case Balmar and the identical frame/case size Leece-Neville alternator. I even measured wire diameters internally, bearings and shaft size and as far as I could tell the ONLY difference between the MUCH, MUCH less expensive Leece-Neville and the Balmar was the color of the paint and the fact that the Leece-Neville ships with a "dumb" regulator..

I agree, buyer beware with Balmar!!

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-Maine Sail / CS-36T


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post #5 of 15 Old 09-03-2008 Thread Starter
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halekai--- who else makes a smart regulator? Or is the dumb one adequate? I would guess that you don't feel it is, or you would not have replaced your failed ARS4's. After the ARS5 failed, with what did you replace it? Thanks Don

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post #6 of 15 Old 09-03-2008
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I am beginning to suspect Balmar is 9/10ths marketing as well. In my application, sheer number of amps will take a back seat to proper regulation, as it's a "motor sailer", and if the engine goes on, it would tend to stay on long enough for a 75-100 amp alternator to charge the bank, the opposite of most short-haul recreational sailors, who want to make a load of amps quickly to keep that night's beer cold.

So ideally, I would have a spare alt. stored, and a "smart alt" of relatively modest output running several hours at a stretch as backup to the solar and the wind.

Suggestions are appreciated. My battery bank will be in the 800-850 Ah range.
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post #7 of 15 Old 09-03-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAGTIMEDON View Post
Does anyone out there know of a repair facility to whom I can ship this alternator, or (preferably) who will sell me the diodes?
Have you tried bringing it to a local auto electric shop? Balmar doesn't make diodes. They buy them from the same suppliers other alternator makers do. An auto electric guy shouldn't have any trouble pulling out the right replacement diodes for you.

Good luck,

Tim
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-03-2008 Thread Starter
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Gramp - When I took it to a "diesel-electric" repair shop he said "Who the hell is Balmar? Never heard of them. I probably can't get parts - take it somewhere else!" Then I called the two largest boat repair shops in the area - both of them use that "Diesel-electric" shop! I called all of the alternator repair shops in the area, none of them had ever heard of Balmar! Doesn't really give one a feeling of confidence! I called three auto repair shops, including the one I take my own cars to. They don't repair alternators; Auto alternators are cheap enough they throw them away and buy new ones! I guess I should take it apart and see if Radio Shack can supply similar diodes!

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post #9 of 15 Old 09-03-2008
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My Powerline has crapped out twice in 20 years and all I did was take it to an automotive alternator repair shop. Any alternator repair shop should be able to fix it. They don't care what brand it is, an alternator is an alternator, some bigger than others.

Rick I
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post #10 of 15 Old 09-03-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAGTIMEDON View Post
Gramp - When I took it to a "diesel-electric" repair shop he said "Who the hell is Balmar? Never heard of them. I probably can't get parts - take it somewhere else!" Then I called the two largest boat repair shops in the area - both of them use that "Diesel-electric" shop! I called all of the alternator repair shops in the area, none of them had ever heard of Balmar! Doesn't really give one a feeling of confidence! I called three auto repair shops, including the one I take my own cars to. They don't repair alternators; Auto alternators are cheap enough they throw them away and buy new ones! I guess I should take it apart and see if Radio Shack can supply similar diodes!
Your local shops have never heard of the Balmar brand, but as halekai36 said, Balmar uses Leece-Neville alternator parts. (I've also heard some of their older models were Delco alternators.) Balmar paints them parts pretty colors and markets the heck out of them, but they're still Leece-Neville alternators under the paint.

Physically bring it in to an auto electric shop, lay it on the counter and the auto electric guy will tell you exactly what it is under the paint. I'll bet the guy will reach into a bin and hand you the right rectifier module for it without having to look it up.

Unless you've got a 200+ amp alternator a diesel electric shop just won't deal with anything that small. Since the guy you took yours to didn't recognize it, either it's smaller than what they deal with, or you talked to a counter-jumper that doesn't know anything about alternators. Either way, try an auto electric shop.

Tim
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