Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Broken Alternator Support Strap

The Alternator Support Strap broke.

We had a great weekend on the water to celebrate our sailing club's Change of Command.

Yes, it really was windy!

Part of the COC Ceremony was the changing of the flags, here's me hoisting the Vice Commodore's Flag after the boat next to me took over the position of Rear Commodore (Thanks Ross!)

Despite the weather, it turned into a great weekend, plenty of spontaneous fun, food, drinks, and tall stories.

On Sunday, most of the club boats left the lake heading home, Commotion and Eximius were the last too boats.

We left and headed around the lake towards Camino Real Bridge. As we approached Marker 65, Peggy, at the helm, called out that the engine was overheating.

Suspecting that we had a blockage in the raw water thru hull, step 1, the simplest, was to check that the water strainer was clear. It was. 2nd step was to check the thru hull. I keep a short steel snake on hand, so it was just a couple of minutes before the raw water hose was disconnected from the thru hull and then I was able to quickly clear the waterway. Hose reconnected, restart the engine, water was pumping out of the exhaust pipe, we should see cooling pretty quickly, but didn't!

Peggy said that the Tach was not working either. Hmmmm! Tach output comes from the Alternator, Engine Coolant pump is driven by the same belt as the Alternator - has the belt broken?

Removing the cabin entrance top set of step and raising the engine's top cover, restart the engine, and NO! the belt is not rotating!

Removed the lower steps to get a clear view of the front of the engine - Found it! The Alternator Support arm (Strap) is boken. 

Time to call Tow Boat US - glad I have the unlimited towing option!
Yes, this is the 3rd time we have used the towing service. 

I must admit, Tow Boat US is a great service, they advised it would take 45 - 60 minutes to arrive at the scene, and we could see them as they approached the Camino Real Bridge from the South. Cap't Noah arrived within 45 minuets.

While waiting for the Tow Boat, I realized I could possibly fix the broken strap by drilling a hole (X marks the spot) but my Cordless drill batteries were both flat, I probably could have charged a battery and tried the fix, but it would take at least a couple of hours, and that would delay us to head home on Monday, with a bunch of additional issues for the journey.

Due to our boat draft and the skinny water at the entrance to the canal where our dock is located, we have to enter the canal within 2 hours of High Tide, that meant not entering the canal until 1900 Sunday night.
We advised Cap't Noah at the outset, he kept his speed set to arrive within the time restraint. 

We were transferred to another Tow Boat after passing Sunrise Blvd Bridge, the Skipper was given the same info: 2 hours either side of High tide, and he did a great job, we got to the dock just before 1900 and 7' of water at the canal entrance (Full Moon!)

After quickly unloading the boat and headed towards home. We called Manino's Pizza and ordered a pickup, it was ready when we pulled in to park and were on our way home, just about a mile from our house. 

Home, Pizza, Feed the Cat (he came home the same time as us), a shower, and a glass or two of wine, an hour of TV (Silent Witness) and then a night of deep sleep (ok, until 04:00 when the cat decided he wanted out).

This morning I went to the boat and removed the broken 'strap' marked it where it should be drilled and asked buddies on line for solutions.

The best potential option was to install a HEIM Adjustable Stainless Steel Strap. I was about to order one from Amazon, but measured twice and realized that the 'Straight' HEIM unit would interfere with the Drive Belt. That's a no go.

I checked with Catalina Direct, they had the part but only as part of the Kit to upgrade the Alternator support, which was already upgraded on Eximius, and they advised I might try getting it from Westerbeke.  Catalina Direct is a great resource for Catalina Owners. They have come through for us many times over the past 15 years that we have owned Catalina Yachts.

I found the part number on Westerbeke.com as well as downloading their searchable parts manual. Within Minutes, I had placed an order, with 2nd day air shipping. I ordered 2, this is one of those things that it's obvious, with 20/20 hind sight, good to have as a spare.

Total cost: $82.28 which includes Taxes and 2nd Day Air Shipping for two!

Shipping was $12 for regular, or $32 for 2nd Day air. Peggy ok'd the extra 😁

So, the new Strap should arrive Wednesday, I'll install it on Thursday when we load the boat for St. Patrick's day cruise with HISC.

Here's a pic showing the Alternator hanging off it's top attachment - no damage done to the hose or Oil Filter close to the left (Stbd) side of the Alt. 

The 5 bolt holes in the lower attachment point are 
1. Spare - Threaded
2. -VE Power connection
3. The current Strap Connection bolt - Threaded
4. Spare
5. Spare - Threaded

Here's a Photo-shopped image with the strap shown in it's original position (Bolt #3)

Note how it clears the face of the Alternator and just clears the Drive belt (not shown) 

The X on the strap shows the rough position of the #5 bolt hole.
That's where I'll drill a new hole in the strap.

Here's Photo-shopped image with the strap after drilling a new hole and ready to attach to the #5 bolt hole.

I'll have this modified strap ready in case the 2nd Day Air doesn't arrive on time, just so that we can take the boat out again this coming weekend.

I'll post a new pic of the new Strap and Installed view when it arrives.

See you on the Water.

Sorry about the fuzzy. My phone battery was low and I took this pic with my Tablet, all the pics from yesterday when I replaced the arm were fuzzy.

It took about 10 minutes to fit the new arm and tension the belt to 1/2" on the longest (Alt to Drive Shaft) belt run.

Once the belt was tensioned, I opened the Raw Water filter, and started the engine. Confirmed the belt was not slipping.
Now had Tach and water pumping out of the rear, good so far.
Left the engine running for 10 minutes, stayed below 140ºF and humming along nicely.

Shut down, stowed tools and cleaned up.

Knowing that the traffic on I95 would still be heavy with the evening rush hour, I set to on another project.

The USB dual outlet on the Electric Panel broke sometime ago, it's intermittent due to the socket not allowing a USB plug to be fully inserted in one of the two USB outlets.

 New item purchased from Amazon arrived today, along with the Alternator Support Arm (Strap)

This dual outlet is better than the old one, it has USB 3.0, the outlets are illuminated and it has an on/off switch.

I did not install the cover flap, I fear that is what broke the previous unit, the tabs could have damaged the outlet.

Wiring was identical, just had to disconnect the old connectors and attach them to the new. Took all of 10 minutes. Quick test (to start charging my phone battery) and it worked just fine.

I also purchased a 12v to 5v 5amp converter, plan is to use this for our EarTek headset battery charger, rather than occupy one of the USB outlets. 5Amps is enough to power that charger and the replacement Weather station that is in my Amazon cart, just waiting for the February payment to clear so that we don't have to much on the Amazon card.

That converter is another project on the list.

Again, See you on the Water.


Update: Luckily I did not toss out the old USB outlet. Inspected it today and found that it was a Cover Tab, that had broken off and prevented a USB plug being inserted. Looks like I'm about to add a 2nd USB outlet to the boat :) Now, where shall I mount it?

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