B.O.A.T. Many of us boaters know the acronym for "break out another thousand." For a while now, Allen has been a little concerned that our tachometer would not start working until the engine was warmed up. This has been going on for quite a while, but he decided to do a little more troubleshooting.
The tachometer is connected to our alternator, and Allen found that during these periods when it does not work, the battery is not being charged either. This has not been a problem, but last week we noticed some fluction in the tach reading while the engine was steady. We only saw that one time. Allen figured it might be a good idea to replace our old alternator. It is not the original, but we don't think it was new when we got the boat 11 years ago.
We were on a mooring in Carolina Beach and planning to head up the Cape Fear River to Wilmington for a little side trip. Allen did his online research and looked at the range of alternators we could select from. Many sites had "compatible" models for as low as $120, the stock OEM model at about $800 and some high-output alternators for $1200 or so.
We don't really need a high-output model. The battery charges fairly quickly with the stock 60 Amp alternator. More of an issue is the long, low current, absorption charge phase that our AGM (or any lead-acid) battery needs. A high-output alternator would not help with that. To make sure everything fits and is appropriate, Allen decided to look for a stock unit made by the manufacturer, Volvo. Allen called Specialized Marine Services in Wilmington to see if they had one in stock. They didn't but they could get one overnighted. Allen also ordered a new belt, pully and mounting bolts. Some of these items were back-ordered so Allen said do not order anything that would delay the overnight delivery. Unfortunately, one of the items on back-order was the pully, meaning we would need to remove the existing pully with an impact driver. Ours is in Seattle, of course. Cost of the order with shipping: $997.
We arrived in Wilmington, NC, on Thursday morning. Wilmington is a fun port town started as a big railroad town. More on that in a later blog. Lee from Specialized hand delivered the alternator to us at the marina, Allen removed the old one that night, and cleaned up those mounting bolts and nuts which were needed to reuse due to unavailability. The next morning Allen walked a half mile to Prestige Auto Services and the owner used his impact driver to swap the pully. He refused to take payment, Great Guy. A couple hours later, Allen had the new alternator installed and tested.