So today I wondered how best to sort the problems. Firstly the air lock, I got out the manual for the water heater and after reading it, I realised it’s either plumbed in incorrectly, or I don’t understand the system very well. This has nothing to do with the air lock, and this wasn’t mentioned anyway. However after reading the engine manual, it does say to open a certain valve before filling with water to avoid air locks. Duh!! RTFM Paul. So I did that and it helped, but didn’t completely solve the problem. I ran the engine for an hour and the temperature stayed constant, so I think it’s ok. Anyway, I’m going to be replacing the hoses shortly so can go through the whole process again then.
Yesterday I traced all the wires for the solar and wind generators to make sure I understood how they are wired in. then last night I turned off the charger before bed, and just left on the equipment we would run on a normal night passage, mast head light, AIS, radio, fridge etc to see how much power we consumed. The charger said 25Ah over about 8 hours, which seems very reasonable. Once up I put the solar back on, and we were fully charged within a few hours, thats with my rubbish solar panels that only generate 200W in total, and then only in very bright sunshine. Typically they put out about 5 amps total. The big thing is the wind gen, this is wired into the main battery without any switch, or even a voltage regulator. It’s hard to know what it’s doing, it can generate up to 30A of charge at 14V, it’s basically a car alternator with windmill sails. It has been quite breezy the last few days.
I’m looking into the whole battery charging business thing, as this will be important when we head off, many cruisers spend an hour or two running the engine each day, this is a very bad idea as it costs a lot, is noisy, makes heat and doesn’t do the engine any good. The problem is that boat batteries are very complicated to charge, you have to work within very tight restraints to get the charged fully but without damaging them. Generally you spend most days discharging to 50% then recharging to 80%, however you need to get a full charge in every so often to stop them degrading. On top of that they should be equalised once in a while to stop sulphation. As I see it connecting 3 or 4 generators of power, via individual intelligent regulators that measure current flow and voltage, before determining what voltage to try to generate or current to supply, is asking for trouble. Also I have two banks of batteries, 4 for the house and 1 for cranking, both banks are never going to be in the same state.
Still I’m enjoying learning about these subjects. Ask me any question you like about lead cell construction 😉
So off to town to buy the bits I need, I was very pleased to buy a relay and associated cable from a garage on the edge of town, without speaking any Malay, and him not speaking English.
From the garage I bought a litre of acrylic paint for the boat, this should be good for 6 years apparently, the blue paint I put on the side in May has faded on the side of the boat that gets most sunshine. It wasn’t a fancy paint, but I have been assured that normal acrylic paint is by far the best to go with. Very cheap too.
I also picked up 8 metres of radiator hose for the water heater, this should leave me with 3 metres spare I can take for a trip around the world before throwing it away. I picked up a strip of 12V LEDS that I plan to install in the cockpit so we have a bit more light for dinner, but yet to work out where or how to install them.
Finally, back to the mast problem, I mentioned how I’m putting 12V into the cable at the bottom of the mast but getting nowt out at the top, well I had an idea, if I swapped the positive/negative of the wires around at the base, and use the mast as a ground I could work out which wire had the break in. Sure enough, it was the positive wire, because by sending +12v up the old negative wire, and using the mast as the negative, I could light up the lamp. Of course I don’t think I can use the mast as a return, sending an Amp or more through the rigging might cause some corrosion. But I’m thinking I could drop a wire down to the spreader lights and use that as the negative return. It’s not often I have both lights on anyway. The cable that has failed is the expensive Ancor pre-tinned ‘Marine’ cable !
The rigging hasn’t shipped from Florida yet, so I expect we are here for another 5-7 days min. So on Thursday we’re going to leave our berth here and head to an anchorage called “The hole in the wall” for an overnighter, then onto Rebak Marina for the weekend, or longer, until the rigging arrives, when we will drop down to Telaga Marina where the rigger is based. Hopefully the rigging will be fitted in one day, and early next week we will be off to Thailand.