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Passage Maker - - Troubleshooter -

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about 10 per­cent from one cylin­der to the next. Vari­a­tions greater than 10 per­cent in­di­cate a cylin­der that is not fully com­bust­ing the fuel. It is also pos­si­ble to de­tect a cylin­der that runs at a higher tem­per­a­ture than the oth­ers, though this con­di­tion oc­curs more rarely.

Mov­ing off the en­gine, we can turn our at­ten­tion to a con­ven­tional shaft gland, or stuff­ing box. In an ef­fort to re­duce the drip rate, many cruis­ers over­tighten the ad­just­ing nuts, cre­at­ing ex­ces­sive fric­tion and heat. The in­creased heat and fric­tion will grad­u­ally wear grooves into the shaft, cre­at­ing an area that will never seat prop­erly with the pack­ing even if new pack­ing has been in­stalled.

Wa­ter-in­jected boxes can also over­heat if the cool­ing flow is re­duced for some rea­son. When func­tion­ing prop­erly, the metal hous­ing tem­per­a­ture should not ex­ceed the am­bi­ent sea­wa­ter tem­per­a­ture by more than 20 de­grees. Ad­di­tion­ally, un­der nor­mal con­di­tions, the hous­ing tem­per­a­ture should not ex­ceed 120°F. De­pend­ing on the brand and type of pack­ing ma­te­rial used, higher tem­per­a­tures might melt the tal­low and wax in the ma­te­rial, ren­der­ing the pack­ing ma­te­rial use­less even when new.

The in­frared py­rom­e­ter pro­vides valu­able in­for­ma­tion, eas­ily gath­ered, at a very low cost. Con­sis­tency is the key— per­form the checks un­der com­pa­ra­ble con­di­tions (e.g., same cruis­ing rpm). Some vari­ables, such as sea­wa­ter tem­per­a­ture, can­not be con­trolled and should be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion. In­cor­po­rat­ing reg­u­lar tem­per­a­ture checks into your cruis­ing reg­i­men will help you iden­tify main­te­nance needs to be per­formed dock­side be­fore they be­come re­pair needs un­der way.


I’m look­ing for an add-on prod­uct that in­cludes a num­ber of tem­per­a­ture sen­sors (20 or 30) that can be at­tached in var­i­ous en­gine room lo­ca­tions and that in­cludes an in­tel­li­gent mon­i­tor and dis­play.

With the sys­tem, I want to at­tach tem­per­a­ture sen­sors to crit­i­cal en­gine room items and have the mon­i­tor­ing/ dis­play sys­tem track read­ings from each sen­sor, and based upon his­tor­i­cal av­er­ages and al­low­able de­vi­a­tions, present an alert.

For ex­am­ple, I would like to at­tach sen­sors to the en­gine raw-wa­ter in­let, en­gine cool­ing wa­ter out­let, en­gine wet ex­haust mixer, trans­mis­sion oil, trans­mis­sion heat ex­changer, prop shaft seal and en­gine room am­bi­ent air temp, to name a few. Are there some cost­ef­fec­tive prod­ucts out there?

—Leonard Lan­don 45’ DeFever Pi­lot­house

Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton

Leonard, mon­i­tor­ing tem­per­a­ture will be the eas­ier part of your plan— crunch­ing that in­for­ma­tion against his­tor­i­cal av­er­ages and al­low­able de­vi­a­tions will present the chal­lenge.

Maretron of­fers a sys­tem that will en­able you to mon­i­tor tem­per­a­tures at mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions and to set alerts. They also have a “black box” that will record read­ings over time. You would have to study that data and then es­tab­lish your own alert thresh­olds.—


My ques­tion is in re­gard to the ar­ti­cle, “Shock & Aw­ful” by Nigel Calder in the July/Au­gust 2014 is­sue of Pas­sage­Maker.

A num­ber of times in the ar­ti­cle Mr. Calder states that the state of charge of bat­ter­ies should fre­quently be brought to 100 per­cent. He does not in­di­cate how of­ten he means by “fre­quently” to re­duce sulfation.

In our sit­u­a­tion, we cruise the en­tire sum­mer in the North Chan­nel/ Ge­or­gian Bay area of On­tario, Canada. We pri­mar­ily an­chor out for 8–10 days, only go­ing into mari­nas to pro­vi­sion and pump out. Some­times we do not even stay in the ma­rina overnight.

We use a 5.5kW gen­er­a­tor to charge the house bat­ter­ies to an 80–85-per­cent state of charge. This is done in the morn­ing and evening. Our house bat­ter­ies con­sist of two 8D AGMs. We sel­dom get above 85-per­cent charge un­less we spend a cou­ple of days in a ma­rina. Then we are able to get to a 100-per­cent charge, but this may hap­pen only two to three times dur­ing the sum­mer.

Are we reach­ing 100 per­cent of­ten enough for th­ese bat­ter­ies? Do you have any sug­ges­tions on what we should be do­ing dif­fer­ently?

—Bob D’Al­corn


35’ Nord­havn Coastal Cruiser

Charlevoix, Michi­gan

Bob, as with most things to do with bat­ter­ies, there is no ab­so­lute an­swer to this ques­tion. It de­pends on such things as the depth of dis­charge at each cy­cle (are you go­ing be­low 50-per­cent state of charge?), the level of recharge dur­ing non-full-charge cy­cles (80–85 per­cent in your case), how long in a par­tially dis­charged state (it sounds like it could be weeks at times), and the tem­per­a­ture of the bat­ter­ies (rea­son­ably cool where you are).

My ex­pe­ri­ence with AGM bat­ter­ies in mod­er­ately ag­gres­sive cy­cling ap­pli­ca­tions such as this sug­gests that if a slow de­cline in ca­pac­ity is to be avoided, the bat­ter­ies should be brought to a full state of charge as of­ten as once a week.

How­ever, this would re­quire un­ac­cept­ably long gen­er­a­tor run hours and is ob­vi­ously not oc­cur­ring in your sit­u­a­tion. You may be suf­fer­ing from in­cip­i­ent sulfation at times. In­cip­i­ent sulfation can be re­cov­ered by an ex­tended charge. I sus­pect those times when you stay in a ma­rina at least overnight, and prefer­ably for at least 24 hours and maybe 48 hours, is pro­vid­ing that charge.

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