[C38] Universal 5424 Charging problems

Tom T. tdtron at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 10 09:27:55 EDT 2005

Hello Russ,

I have not heard of a marine alternator having a higher charging rate than
a similar automotive unit but that is an interesting thought though.  Any
alternator that is regulated above about 13.8 volts will percolate the
battery causing loss of electrolyte.  Overcharging will shorten the battery
life, especially if the electrolyte gets below the top of the plates.

I think overcharging is more of a problem than undercharging.  A battery
charged with a "float" charger will charge almost to full charge but the
battery will last much longer and with almost no maintenance.  Some float
chargers will charge to maximum charge but they just won't do it as fast as
a charger having a slightly higher output voltage.

The alternator does need to be voltage matched to the specific type of
battery for optimum charging and most quality "smart chargers" allow the
charging voltage to be adjusted to the type of battery being charged. 
Unless you bypass the built in charger in the alternator and substitute it
with a remote alternator regulator, I would just live with the built in
regulator on the alternator if the output is anywhere near 13.8 volts. 
When is the last time you heard of anyone overcharging or undercharging the
battery in their car by driving?

I think the more critical charger is the shore charger because that charger
will be on-line most of the time. Overcharging at the dock on an unattended
boat can cause more battery damage than running your engine when you use
the boat occasionally, even if the alternator regulator has a high output
voltage.  Anyway, that's my two cents.

Tom Troncalli
The Renata #95
St. Pete, Fla

> [Original Message]
> From: Duff, Russ (R.W.) <rduff at visteon.com>
> To: tdtron at earthlink.net <tdtron at earthlink.net>; Catalina 38 Listserve
<Listserve at catalina38.org>
> Date: 10/10/2005 7:40:11 AM
> Subject: RE: [C38] Universal 5424 Charging problems
> I thought marine alternators had a higher output voltage than automotive
> models to fully charge deep cycle batteries?  
> Sincerely, 
> Russ Duff 
> Catalina 38, Hull #112 
> Lake Erie 
> Grosse Ile, Michigan 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Listserve-bounces at catalina38.org
> [mailto:Listserve-bounces at catalina38.org] On Behalf Of Tom T.
> Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2005 7:50 PM
> To: Catalina 38 Listserve
> Subject: Re: [C38] Universal 5424 Charging problems
> Rob,
> I don't have the specs on the original alternator with me because my boat
> about 500 miles from me and my alternator notes are on the boat.
> Before you give up on your original alternator, first check to see if the
> electrical power is even getting to your battery.  The original wiring
> called for the alternator to feed the cockpit engine control harness
> a couple of wiring plugs in the harness, through a direct feed amp meter,
> and back through the same harness and plugs and finally to the battery
> With the original harness, any of the in-line harness plugs could corrode
> and even the amp meter itself could corrode making an open or high
> resistance circuit.  Because of the long harness length, the original
> harness would lose alternator power even if all wiring plugs and amp meter
> were perfect which is seldom the case.
> An upgrade to the original system, if you have not done so yet, is to run
> the alternator output feed directly to the battery bank and either convert
> the amp meter on the engine control panel to a voltmeter or a shunt
> amp meter which doesn't require the entire output of the alternator to
> through it on the long distance to the control panel and back.  I prefer
> voltmeter because it tells the state of charge.  If a battery shorts, an
> meter will give a false sense of security because it may show a high rate
> charge when all you are doing is cooking a shorted battery which will not
> take a charge.  Neither the modern shunt type ampmeter or voltmeter take
> significant amperage back to the cockpit panel making both a much safer
> more reliable solution.
> An easy way to check if the above original harness is your problem is to
> remove the wire on the alternator output terminal and make a heavy 10 Ga
> larger wire to replace it.  With the new wire go directly from the output
> terminal to the battery bank.  If your battery bank charges with the new
> jumper cable, you are a prime candidate for the upgrade harness and meter
> solution.
> I'm sure I can find a copy of the upgrade information that was posted in
> Mainsheet if you need to make the upgrade.
> If this jumper feed cable doesn't correct your charging problems, you have
> another charging system you can use.  You can charge your new alternator
> Vi$a, Ma$tercard, etc.
> Your original 5424 alternator was probably a Motorola with the Japanese
> mount dimensions and there are many alternators that will fit without
> the ransom price of the Universal replacement as Mark and others
> have correctly reported.   The only problem is that the new alternator
> needs to have a tachometer pickup coil so it will have to be from a diesel
> application.
> Tom Troncalli
> The Renata #95
> St. Pete, Fla
> > [Original Message]
> > From: empty <empty1 at ntlworld.com>
> > To: Catalina 38 Listserve <Listserve at catalina38.org>
> > Date: 10/9/2005 3:58:14 PM
> > Subject: Re: [C38] Universal 5424 Charging problems
> >
> > Rob,
> > The Goose has the original universal diesel, and her alternator was in
> need
> > of replacement in October 2004 after being laid up in St Pete. The one 
> > the boat yard used to replace it is rated at 70amps and cost about 
> > $90. A
> friend
> > has a C&C 40 with a universal deisel. When his alternator failed in
> Michigan
> > he took it to the local NAPA auto part store. The found the equivalent 
> > compatible replacement in their catalogue and delivered it to the boat
> next
> > day. I seem to remember it cost about $100 or so. He then sent away 
> > the failed one for rebuilding, which he now keeps as a spare. If you 
> > have a NAPA or similar nearby, that might be a good starting point. 
> > I'm afraid adding the word 'maritime' to a piece of equipment is a
> notorious
> > way of hiking the price.Volvo in the UK are famous for this. I once 
> > had to replace my alternator- the 'genuine' volvo part was £140. The 
> > local auto parts supplier looked it up and found all the Volvo 
> > alternators were made
> by
> > Bosch and Seimens.He supplied it for £48. In other words I would have 
> > paid £92 for a blue cardboard box with Volvo in white letters written 
> > on it. Look forward to seeing you at end of April when we bring The 
> > Goose up to Solomon's Island. Mark.
> > ----- Original Message ----- 
> > From: "Rob Cornelsen" <robcornelsen at yahoo.com>
> > To: <Listserve at catalina38.org>
> > Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2005 3:39 PM
> > Subject: [C38] Universal 5424 Charging problems
> >
> >
> > Last weekend we decided to use the autopilot to steer
> > as we powered from the far side of the Bay back into Solomon's Island.  
> > As we entered the Patuxent River, we switched on our running lights as 
> > it was getting dark.  By the time, we returned to our slip, the
> > battery was completely drained.
> >
> > Our Catalina 38 has the original universal 5424
> > engine.  I checked the ammeter on the engine panel and
> > the alternator appears to be putting out zero to two
> > amps.  This is well below the 51 amps that it is rated
> > for.
> >
> > I checked on line at Torresen Marine and a new
> > alternator is about $500.00 with freight.   This was
> > quite a shock since auto parts stores sell alternators
> > in the $50.00 price range.
> >
> > Does anyone know if an auto alternator is compatible
> > with the Universal 5424?  In addition, is there
> > anything else that I need to check before replacing
> > the alternator?
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> > Rob Cornelsen
> > Catalina 38 #223
> > 301/717-8324
> >
> >
> >
> >
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