Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A BATTERY SNAFU!

I order four new 8A4D MK batteries and waited a week as they made their way up from Sanford Florida. They were additionally delayed by the fourth of July holiday weekend. I received a call from the shipping company that unless I had a fork lift I would have to come and pick up the batteries at their warehouse. OK no big deal and I could then drive right down to the boatyard and begin to install them.
  I drove the half hour to the warehouse and two employees bought the batteries out on a pallet with a fork lift. The four batteries were loosely wrapped in plastic but, they still  had cardboard boxes covering them.

The cardboard was a little beat up and I did check one of the batteries to make sure they had the right terminals. In my rush to get them loaded into the car I did not check the other batteries. I signed the delivery form and off I went to the boatyard with five hundred pounds of battery in the back. When I got there I started to unload the batteries it was then I saw this:


Two of the batteries had bent terminals! One had a misshaped case too.While they tested fine I was not about to take any chances with them especially on a boat. I really should have inspected each of the batteries more closely when I picked them up.  Obviously the shipping company had mishandled the shipment and caused the damage. I contacted ALT-ESTORE customer service from whom I had ordered the batteries who then worked with MK BATTERY and they arranged for two new batteries to be shipped to me. Capt Mike gives a tip of the hat to both companies for their excellent customer service.  One thing for sure is  next time I need new batteries for BIANKA's electric propulsion system I'll be checking the batteries before I sign off on the delivery.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

MY BATTERY REPLACEMENT CHOICE


A new set of batteries should be arriving today to replace the original eight year old 8A4D batteries on board BIANKA. Due to the failure of one of the batteries I thought it best to replace the whole lot. While the remaining batteries seemed to be in good enough shape they would only degrade the new battery.  This would require me to do another whole swap in a few years anyway. I looked into Lithium Ion replacements and the economics just did not quite make sense yet because of the increased price and other add on items I would have to buy like a new charger. I found a 48 volt 200 amp hour Lithium Ion battery for around $5000. For the same amount of money I could replace all my AGM's two times and still have a sizable chunk of cash for other boat needs. The AGM's should last me a minimum of sixteen years based on my experience with the first bank. If Lithium prices come down as they have been predicting I will revisit the issue but, for now I'm going with what has worked for me the past eight years.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

THE PAIN OF RECYCLING

Since my analysis has confirmed at least one bad battery in my 48 volt string I thought at least let's get that off the boat and recycled ASAP. Though the boat is on land I thought I'd be able to remove it.  Even though my Nova Lift hoist does not have enough line to place the battery on the ground there is part of a dock flotation pad close under the hoist area where I could drop the battery on it and then lift it to the ground where I could use my hand truck to take it to the car. Sounds like a plan!


I was able to easily remove the bad battery from out of the hold with the hoist and drop it down onto the flotation pad. The problem occurred when I tried to lift the 134 pound battery onto the ground. As I lifted it part of it grabbed onto a basket of fishing line also sitting on the flotation pad. As I moved about trying to get the battery to release from the basket I heard a pop in my thigh followed by a sharp pain.  Though in pain I was finally able to get the battery onto the ground and into the car. After consulting Dr. Google my painful symptoms pointed to a pulled Ham String muscle. Treatment includes rest and ice. Climbing the ladder to get onto the boat was rather painful so further battery removal and boat work will be put on hold for a few days while my leg recovers. It's been a two steps forward one step back kind of day.

TO BE CONTINUED

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

BATTERY ANOMALY: Part Three: Additional Testing

After another day of charging I did some more tests of the suspect battery using the Centech Meter. This time the battery resistance reading had dropped to 9 milliohms. A big improvement from the 194 reading but,  still three times what I had measured back in 2012. In addition the meter said I only had 335 Cold Cranking Amps available from the battery. Manufacturing spec says it should be 1100. So even though after several charging attempts the battery is really not up to snuff and will need to be replaced.

I then decided to some quick tests of the other batteries in the string using the CenTech meter. Starting with the first (most positive battery in the string:

As the above photo shows this battery had 1404 Cold Cranking Amps available. So at least with this test seems good. Next I checked Battery Two:
   

As the readings above show the results are not as good as the first battery. In fact it only shows 884 Cold Cranking Amps available. Not as bad as the suspect battery but, under the spec of 1100 CCA.
Battery three was tested next:


This tested better than battery two but, not as good as battery one. At 1150 Cold Cranking Amps it was just over the battery specifications but, not by much.

After doing these tests and thinking about the age of the batteries I came to the conclusion that it would be better to change out all of the batteries in the 48 volt string. In addition after doing these test in the confines of the under the cockpit space I decided I would position the batteries differently to make access for future testing easier. The next question is do I go for Lithium Ion batteries or stick with the AGM's?

TO BE CONTINUED


BATTERY ANOMALY: Part Three: Additional Testing

After another day of charging I did some more tests of the suspect battery using the Centech Meter. This time the battery resistance reading had dropped to 9 milliohms. A big improvement from the 194 reading but,  still three times what I had measured back in 2012. In addition the meter said I only had 335 Cold Cranking Amps available from the battery. Manufacturing spec says it should be 1100. So even though after several charging attempts the battery is really not up to snuff and will need to be replaced.

I then decided to some quick tests of the other batteries in the string using the CenTech meter. Starting with the first (most positive battery in the string:

As the above photo shows this battery had 1404 Cold Cranking Amps available. So at least with this test seems good. Next I checked Battery Two:
   

As the readings above show the results are not as good as the first battery. In fact it only shows 884 Cold Cranking Amps available. Not as bad as the suspect battery but, under the spec of 1100 CCA.
Battery three was tested next:


This tested better than battery two but, not as good as battery one. At 1150 Cold Cranking Amps it was just over the battery specifications but, not by much.

After doing these tests and thinking about the age of the batteries I came to the conclusion that it would be better to change out all of the batteries in the 48 volt string. In addition after doing these test in the confines of the under the cockpit space I decided I would position the batteries differently to make access for future testing easier. The next question is do I go for Lithium Ion batteries or stick with the AGM's?

TO BE CONTINUED


Monday, June 13, 2016

BATTERY ANOMALY PART TWO: Readings and observations

 I looked to the cause of why Battery 4 of my 48 volt Electric Propulsion bank was not charging properly. Since the terminals for this battery can best be accessed by the starboard  locker hatch I first had to empty out the locker and then squeeze my large frame down into it.

Taking off the protective caps on the negative terminal I had quite a bit of corrosion on it.


 This was because I had become somewhat  complacent in checking and cleaning the terminals. Mostly because up to now the battery charging had been operating normally.  The failure of battery four just happened a few days ago. After cleaning the terminals I used an battery tester to check it:

The readings above show a voltage of 10.87 volts and an internal battery resistance reading of 196.2 milli ohms. Which is a much higher resistance reading than when I last checked it on February 12, 2012.Which was 2.43 milli ohms. So obviously something had changed in this battery.  I will try a few more attempts at charging but, I don't think things will approve much. TO BE CONTINUED.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

UH OH!: A BATTERY ANOMALY

Just when I thought I was ready to splash BIANKA for the season I made a disturbing discovery concerning one of the batteries in the 48 volt propulsion bank. The Dual Pro PS4 battery charger showed battery number four with a blinking green light where as all the others were steady after having been charged.  This was a new development as for the past several weeks all the batteries had been charging normally on my visits. For some reason the charger thinks battery four is not yet fully charged. I disconnected the power from the charger to let the batteries sit overnight and make sure it would not fire up when I plugged the extension cord  back on my return in the morning.

The next morning I went into the cockpit and threw the switch on the helm instrumentation panel that powers the individual battery meters. My suspicions were confirmed. Battery four is not being charged properly:

As you can see the bottom meter which is reading battery four is only 11.1 volts where the other three batteries are much closer to each other in voltage. So it looks like I will have to forget about launching the boat until I can investigate what it is going on with this battery. TO BE CONTINUED.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

NOW THIS IS COOL!


Since I've recently retired I've been taking my time getting BIANKA ready for this years launch. Recent travels in the Keys and Bahamas have pushed things back a bit. The weather has also affected my plans. Speaking of the weather we have had a few days of temperatures in the mid 80 degree Fahrenheit range. Temperatures more common for mid August than late May or early June here on the Isle of Long. Needless to say it could get quite warm while working on the boat before any cooling afternoon sea breezes make it across the island.  Those conditions led me to an impulse buy of the Ergodyne Chill-Its Evaporative Cooling Towel 
 I have to say this item really works well. The special fabric holds water quite well. You run it under some water until it becomes saturated. Ring it out a bit and drape it around neck and as the water evaporates it cools your body down quite nicely. When it  drys out in a few hours just repeat the process.  A simple idea that works on a hot day. I look forward to using it especially on a hot summer day when running with the wind and not having any breeze in the cockpit. It should make things much more comfortable.

Monday, May 30, 2016

AN INSIDE JOB


I've been taking a little time this spring to refinish some of the cabin interior before launching. The left side in the photo has been done the right still needs to be. I'm using  Cetol Natural Teak. Easier to do this kind of stuff with the boat on the hard.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

SQUALL AT ANCHOR 50+ KNOTS

 I've been out traveling for the past few weeks and so have not posted anything in awhile. But, here is a video I took while cruising in the Exumas when a squall came through one morning. It did not last long but, long enough to rip apart the dodger which you can see flapping at the top of the screen in part of the video. The boat behind us also had it's dingy flip over with a brand new outboard attached: