Correspondence: Fan Belts First

To the editor:

Regarding Mr. Jim Rogers’ recent letter about the tribulations of his electrical system (Sailor is confirmed purist after Atlantic crossing Issue 130, May/June 2003), I was struck by his description of the alternator belt, singular, not plural. With a 150-amp alternator, he is well into the size that warrants dual belts. Indeed, as his batteries became discharged, the regulator increased the field current, and the single belt could not take the load and started slipping. The regulator runs maxed out, eventually failing.

I’ll bet the problem is really not the high-tech part; it is the low-tech belt(s). High-output alternators are formidable accessories to an engine and need respect. We added a 100-amp alternator to our boat Clairebuoyant’s Westerbeke 58, and 50 hours later, the bolts holding the bracket to the engine failed. Replacement grade-8 bolts are holding up well, and yes, we used dual belts. Incidentally, instead of a $300 dual-sheave water-pump pulley, we had a welder make us a less-expensive one by cannibalizing two old pulleys.

Quentin Kinderman lives near Annapolis and is overhauling a Pearson 424 sloop.

By Ocean Navigator