I’m Not an Electrician
07 July 2023
On our way down Delaware Bay on Monday our engine tachometer quit, initially this was not a concern because it runs off an electric pickup from the alternator. When the needle drops it normally indicates the batteries are fully charged. However, upon further investigation I discovered that in fact the alternator had quit. I really wasn't too concerned since we carry a spare, plus our battery bank can easily keep us going for a couple of days. When we arrived in Lewes Bev was really feeling shitty with a massive Covid headache so we decided we would stay until Wednesday at least to recover. This way I could take my time changing the alternator while trying not to disturb the patient too much.
Bev awoke Tuesday to find her bad headache had eased but she was extremely tired with constantly draining sinuses. After morning coffee I decided it was time to tackle the job. Chris, my good friend who helps with all the electrical work on Dagny can attest to the fact most electrical problems are beyond me. After checking to be sure that there weren't any loose connections I got out my tools and went to work. The actually job of changing the alternator takes 10 minutes however the wiring harness is completely different. Armed with a couple of wiring diagrams from various sources I had things all done in about 30 minutes, all that was left was a test run. Well it didn't take long to prove I didn't know what I was doing, not only was it not charging but after 2 or 3 minutes the engine shut down and the ignition switch was dead. I checked and rechecked things to no avail and figured I would put things back the way they were and see what happens. Zero, zilch, nothing at all, and with Bev trying to sleep I couldn't even resort to my mechanic's vocabulary as I searched for answers. I managed to hot wire the ignition switch and to my relief the engine started so now the search was on for a hidden fuse. After what seemed like an eternity I discovered a little button hidden in the engine compartment that said "push to reset", bingo we were back in business but still with an alternator that wasn't charging.
By Wednesday morning Bev was improving enough that we could get moving. However, rather than go straight to Cuttyhunk which would mean 2 nights at sea we opted to do a 20 hour run to Sandy Hook. This would give Bev a chance to further recover plus keep us closer to shore in case I got sick. We were on our way by 11:00 a.m. and motored all the way in zero wind and flat seas arriving in Sandy Hook at sunrise. Although the nights can be a little long at times I've always enjoyed watching the sunrise signalling the start of a new day. In an effort to stay sharp I reviewed my faulty alternator issue and was hit by a brainstorm. Without getting too long winded, I assumed the alternator was telling the regulator what to do, when in fact it was the reverse. A quick test proved my point as I discovered a faulty fuse holder that was the cause of all my grief.
After a good rest and repairs completed all that was left to do was move to the fuel dock, top up the tanks and make plans for an early Friday morning departure. Our friends on Whitebird are a day ahead of us and we hope to catch them before a weather window opens to Nova Scotia.
Today"s picture is of the fireworks at Lewes.