Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Powder Puff:1, Alternator:4

When you're new at a job like removing and replacing an alternator that you've never done before, take my advice and take copious amounts of photos beforehand. Anticipating that there would be quite a delay between the removal and the reinstall, and considering that my 60-year old brain doesn't remember things quite the way my 20-year old brain did once upon a time, I did just that. Good thing, because even with pictures I had to install the alternator 4, count them - 4, times to get it on. This would be because at one point in Kintala's life, someone decided that it would be a really great idea to install a Balmar 75 alternator to replace the 50 amp unit that came stock. In order to do that, the installer had to cut a slot in the fiberglass pan that the engine sits in so that the adjusting bracket had a place to go. Not only is there a slot that you have to fit a wrench into to tighten a nut, but now the standard alternator belt (of which there were 6 spares on board when we bought the boat) is no longer good. Not only that, but one size is just barely able to fit, and the next size is way too big and exceeds the adjusting arm capability. Guess which one we have.

The Balmar has three mounting bolts. One giant one on the case that goes through an ear on the alternator, one smaller one that goes into the case and then into the adjusting bracket, and the third which goes through the other end of the adjusting bracket and into another ear on the alternator. In order to get the alternator belt on, you have to install two of the three bolts, slip the belt on the pulley, and then install the third bolt. Which two to start with is the mystery.

It's sort of like the whole which-line-do-you-pick-at-the-grocery-store thing. No matter which line you pick, it will be the wrong one. So I put in two bolts, slipped on the belt, and was unable to get the third bolt in. <sigh>. Remove bolts. Attempt #2 with two other bolts. Nope. <curse>. Attempt #3 with yet another arrangement. Maybe. Twist body into contortionist position, use giant pry bar to pry alternator up into position, hold with knee. Carefully arrange washers and bolt in fingers, contort wrist around mount, attempt to start bolt...maybe...maybe...fingers fumble, bolt and washers drop into the 3/4" slot next to the pan where you cannot retrieve them by any means. <loud cursing>. Remove pry bar, try to stand up after being pretzeled into position for 2 hours, look for new bolt. Find new bolt and washers, pretzel into position again, balance pry bar with knee, stick bolt to fingers with butyl tape, start bolt. <yes!>. Wire up all the connections per the photo (see paragraph one), connect up the batteries again, and clean up tools.

After 5 hours the alternator was installed. I did have to wait for Tim to come home with a tool I needed to reach into the slot to tighten the last nut, but the engine was test run and the overhauled alternator seems to have fixed the sporadic tach issue since our tach is fed off the alternator. Two checks off the list. Score.


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Scott said...

Proud of ya, Sis!