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  #1  
Old 07-03-2013
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Battery Charging Problems

Help! I am a new owner of a 1984 Catalina. I have one Engine batt which is working fine and seems to be charging when the engine is running. I have two house batterys which only work for a short time and then quickly die after the engine runs for a maybe 15 minutes or so. All batts are in good conditon. I have a Xantrex TrueCharge 20+/40+ Amp mutistage battery charger that is not showing any indicator lights at any time, whether the engine is running or not. I have a West Marine power switch w/ separate house and engine switch. It also has an emergency cross. The engine meter shows approx. 13 volts. The Xantrex meter at the nav station reads approx 13.5. I switch both house and engine on and have also been switching the emergency cross connect on but still nothing and no indicator lights. Any torubleshooting ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 07-03-2013
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

1. Buy "12 volt doctor" or "12 volt bible".
2. Buy $20 multimeter at WalMart or Target. (Home Depot and Radio Shack are overpriced.)

3. Use #2 to perform the tests in #1.

Best way to do it, and fastest.

Last edited by hellosailor; 07-25-2013 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 07-03-2013
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

The situation is so extreme I would start by making sure the house batteries don't have a cable switched. A + on a -.
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Old 07-03-2013
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by csharp56 View Post
Help! I am a new owner of a 1984 Catalina. I have one Engine batt which is working fine and seems to be charging when the engine is running. I have two house batterys which only work for a short time and then quickly die after the engine runs for a maybe 15 minutes or so. All batts are in good conditon. I have a Xantrex TrueCharge 20+/40+ Amp mutistage battery charger that is not showing any indicator lights at any time, whether the engine is running or not. I have a West Marine power switch w/ separate house and engine switch. It also has an emergency cross. The engine meter shows approx. 13 volts. The Xantrex meter at the nav station reads approx 13.5. I switch both house and engine on and have also been switching the emergency cross connect on but still nothing and no indicator lights. Any torubleshooting ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks!
I think you'll find the Xantrex is your 120volt charger. It will only show lights when the boat is connected to shore power.

It appears your house batteries are not in good condition electrically speaking.

Follow Hellosailors advise.
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Old 07-24-2013
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

Help! I am still having Battery problems. I know the quickest way to check to see if my alternator is putting out the correct voltage and amps would be to take it out and bring it to be tested, however the bolts are rusted and I can't get them off. I ran a series of tests with and without the engine running. I ran a cumulative amp draw test from everything off ( except the Link 10 Monitor) which read -1.3 to everything such as all running, anchor, steaming, cabin lights VHF, stereo Gps, 3 Nav instr., and autopilot and it topped out at -4.2 with house water pump added, it topped out at -6.5. With the engine running at 10000 rpms my meter begin with 23amps and running the same test dropped down to 17.9 and with the water pump to 14.8. Before I began the test my 2 house batteries were at 13.1 V. after the test they were both at 12.5V. My engine battery was at 13.2v and after the test it read 12.5V. I put a meter on the alternator and got a reading of 13.7. While the Engine is running and both my house and engine batteries are switched to the on position at my battery terminal switch, I get readings of 13.2 on the engine battery and 13.0 on both my house batteries. After running the engine for approximately 20 minutes to perform the tesets, I shut down the engine. After approximately 10minutes my link 10 meter was reading 13.5 V/1.7 Amps. The problem is after 2-3 engine starts and the returning to the boat 2-3 days later my batteries are drawn to between 12.5(engine) and 11.7 (house) and engine will not turn over. Also I have cleaned all of my terminals and connectors to the batteriers, alternator and the ground to the engine. I have not cleaned as of yet the electrical to the solenoid. Is there another way to test my alternator without taking it out??
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Old 07-25-2013
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

You should take your alternator out. Even to change the belt, the bolts and nuts should work. Although the problem seems to be from the batteries. They look old and need replacing.
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

Your alternator is working with an output of 13.7 volts. The engine battery is good.
The house batteries loose their charge when engine runs.
Skip the study on amperage draw, and retrace each cable.
Try this:
With engine battery charged, shore charger disconnected, and engine running, do the house batteries take a charge? (13.7v or so).
Or this:
The shore charger is suspect. Monday my friend called me over to look at his dysfunctional charging system. Turned out his shore charger had one fuse blown at a house terminal. My Volvo donated a 30 amp fuse to replace the blown 40 amp , and all worked thereafter!

Last edited by sony2000; 07-25-2013 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 07-25-2013
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

My Interstate engine battery is one month old, my WM house is 2011 and my Napa house #2 is 2010. Output reading at the alternator is 13.7v but the readings at the batteries themselves while the engine is running is 13.1v.
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Old 07-25-2013
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

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Originally Posted by csharp56 View Post
My Interstate engine battery is one month old, my WM house is 2011 and my Napa house #2 is 2010. Output reading at the alternator is 13.7v but the readings at the batteries themselves while the engine is running is 13.1v.
Your alt is working but you have severe voltage drop in your charging circuit. It will takes days not hours to charge at 13.1V. Being an older Catalina it is likely you have an ammeter in the charging circuit. You may also have the old and dangerous alternator bracket that needs an upgrade (if it is an M-25). The ammeter needs to go to the scrap heap and the alt output re-wired with MUCH larger wire. You will also want a dedicated alt ground wire run direct to the battery bank neg bus or the bank itself..

Your batteries may also be sulfated and your battery monitor incorrectly wired. What we do know is that you need to eliminate this voltage drop or nothing will get any better. This is a well known chronic problem on many Universal & Westerbeke engines..

P.S. With everything OFF you should have a 0.0A draw except for those short instances when a bilge pump kicks on......
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 07-25-2013 at 09:31 AM.
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

I highly suspect your only charging is from your alternator. 13.1v at battery is expected from a 13.7v alternator.
Your shore battery charger is totally inactive. Probably because one of the many fuses is burnt. If it can't sense continuity between a pos. and the neg. terminals on a battery, it shuts down. Thinking its charge may be, or will go, to a ground.
If it is connected to 3 batteries it may have 6 fuses and one going to the charger from the pos. power bar.
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