Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
Thanked 14 Times in 12 Posts
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Using non-marine grade wire and cheap crimpers and crimp terminals just isn't worth it on a boat. Get the good ratcheting crimping tool, get decent quality crimp terminals, preferably adhesive-lined heat-shrink tubing ones, and decent marine grade wiring...
That burned wire TaylorC had could have easily been a boat fire that left nothing above the waterline.
Originally Posted by TaylorC
I just spent a lot of time trying to figure out a similar problem - it looked like a bad voltage regulator... but the manual said that 90% of charging problems are caused by bad wiring. And that turned out to be true.
First I found a pile of bad crimp joints - the previous owner/installer had used automotive connectors and a cheap crimp tool and everywhere I looked I found loose crimps. Got those all fixed... measured voltages and everything was good, until I would try and use it, and then the battery sense voltage dropped from 12.8 to 6.0. Turned out in my case I had a burned wire way back over by 80amp fuse protecting the run from battery to alternator. This was caused by corrosion in non-tinned automotive cable.
Anyway, my advice is to trace out where your wires go and what they do; measure voltages look for loose connections. Its far more likely in a marine environment that a connection has internal resistance from corrosion, bad crimps, loose nuts and so forth than it is that a part goes bad.
The beauty doing this is you will get know your wiring better than you did before, and that will improve the reliability of the combination of your boat and her skipper.
So, on my external voltage regulator, I had a wire from ground, a voltage sense wire connected to the run from the battery, a key switch wire and a field wire running back to the alternator to control it. I had a tachometer wire running from the alternator. There was a ground wire to the alternator and a heavier positive wire from the alternator back to the battery. There may be a separate fuse for that. In my case I had a dual output alternator and some noise suppression transformers (I had to ask someone what the heck they were). Anyway, now I have a spare voltage regulator that I know works (since tried the replacement approach first) and I have a wiring upgrade project on the todo list. But I'm no longer in fear of my charging system.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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