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The Norfolk Broads Forum / Broads Boat Owners Q & A / Red Ignition Warning Light
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Posted By Discussion Topic: Red Ignition Warning Light

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dannyb1
Oct-26-2009 @ 5:39 PM                           Permalink
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I have a problem (i think!) with my charging system.

The engine starts fine on my boat, and the red ignition light goes straight out after starting when the alternator and voltage kicks in, but after a while of running the red light comes back on dim and will go brighter the more you increase the engine revs. The volt meter on the boat stays at around 14volts and the ammeter showing +80 when this happens

I have checked the batteries with a multi meter and the seem to be charging at around 13.8 volts but up to over 14volts if you put the charge to each bank individually by using the changeover switch.  All 3 batteries also give a good reading without the engine running with each over 12volts.  

I have noticed that the wiring for a the red light goes through a Lucus 6RA relay, could this be the problem or is it the alternator?

Any help or advice will be greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks
Danny

gallopinhairpin
Oct-27-2009 @ 9:33 AM                           Permalink
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Hi Danny,

From your description I would say the 4TR regulator is the source of the problem. It sounds like the alternator output is much higher than it should be after a period of running. If you  need a replacement I can recommend Wood Auto Supplies.

If your warning lamp connects to the field relay it should be a 16RA. As far as I know the 6RA was used in conjunction with a 3AW charge indicator unit.

Regards,

Mike.

dannyb1
Oct-27-2009 @ 10:02 AM                           Permalink
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thanks for you advice,

I have looked at my wiring and cant see anything that might look like a 4TR regulator, underneath my dash is definatley a 6RA unit and another blue relay that looks quite modern.  I have also noticed that if you turn the battery changeover switch to the off position when running the dash voltmeter goes over 16volts.  On the back of my alternator there are 3 connections, one small spade connector which I think is for the warning light and 2 big spade connectors, 1 is used and 1 is vacant??  Should the big connector be connected to any one of these of can it go on either? very confused!!!

thanks
danny

gallopinhairpin
Oct-27-2009 @ 10:09 AM                           Permalink
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Hi Danny,

I don't recognise your description of the alternator connections so I guess it's not the original Lucas 11AC unit. In fact, thinking about it, it couldn't be as you said you were getting 80 Amps and the output of the 11AC is 45 Amps maximum. It's obviously been changed for a newer, higher output unit with an internal regulator. That being the case I don't think I can be of any help. Hopefully someone else on here might be able to assist.

Regards,

Mike.

This message was edited by gallopinhairpin on Oct-27-09 @ 11:12 AM

kfurbank
Oct-27-2009 @ 10:30 AM                           Permalink
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Dannyb1,

The charge warning light for an alternator is normally connected to your 12V supply somewhere and the output of the alternator. When the alternator is not spinning or producing an output there will be a difference of 12V across the bulb and it will light up to warn you. Once the alternator is spinning and producing an output the bulb should have 12V at either end and therefore it will go out. If for some reason the alternator output was too high, then there will be a difference on one end of the bulb, when compared to the battery supply, which will cause the bulb to glow. So if the warning light comes on when the engine is running it is more normally because of no alternator output, but also could be because of high alternator output.

The fact that the voltage guage reads 16V when the battery is disconnected would seem to indicate that the alternator is giving a high output and that the regulator is faulty. However with out checking all the wiring for the alternator it could be that the alternator is wired up to sense the battery voltage and alter it's output depending on the state of your battery. Disconnecting the battery whilst the alternator is running may be fooling it into thinking the battery is very flat and therefore causing it to raise the output. On balence it is more than likely a faulty regulator. If the rgulator is faulty, you will be overcharging the batteries to an amount that is likely to cause damage to the batteries and a possible risk of explosion. I would remove the alternator and take it to somewhere that can check and if required replace the regulator or recondition it for you. Certainly if there is a chance of overcharging the batteries, do not run it for extended periods, get it sorted sooner rather than later.

Keith

dannyb1
Oct-27-2009 @ 11:12 AM                           Permalink
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Thanks again for your advice, what you are saying makes sense, I have just rung Panks auto electricians in Norwich and they can test and repair it for me so am on my way up to take it off this afternoon.

cheers
Danny

kfurbank
Oct-27-2009 @ 11:25 AM                           Permalink
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No problem Danny, be interested in how you get on.



Keith

Ellaboat
Oct-27-2009 @ 12:00 PM                           Permalink
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Danny,

It should be noted that completely disconnecting an alternator from it's load (the battery) whilst it is charging is risking damage to the rectifier diodes inside the alternator and also possibly thr regulator itself.
This is due to a momentary surge in output from the alternator when it loses it's load.
In the best case, you will get away with it.
In the worst case you will destroy one or more of the rectifier diodes and/or damage the regulator.
In a middle case, you could have stored up trouble for the future by partially damaging a rectifier diode.

Sorry to worry you with this, but due to the above it's worth remembering never to disconnect BOTH batteries whilst the alternator is under load.

There is a reference to this under the paragraph "the surge quench diode" here:-

http://www.tb-training.co.uk/MarineE08.html#CHARGING SYSTEM – ALTERNATOR

For ref, you probably don't have a surge quench diode fitted.

All the best,
Steve

p.s. Solely with regard to the above, it's better wiring practice to prevent the alternator from being totally disconnected from it's load without physically unbolting wires (i.e. not just by switching switches).
The diodes in the commonly fitted charge splitters (for charging more than one battery bank) give some degree of circuit isolation at rest, as do the rectifier diodes in the alternator itself.

This message was edited by Ellaboat on Oct-27-09 @ 1:27 PM

dannyb1
Oct-27-2009 @ 1:16 PM                           Permalink
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I have removed the alternator and found the voltage regulator and brushes are are combined unit (Bosch Part) and can be purchased for easy replacement so have decided to try this first as it costs less than a tenner!  

Cheers

Danny

dannyb1
Oct-27-2009 @ 5:27 PM                           Permalink
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Not sure what to make off all that steve, other than the only time I have ever turned both batteries off whilst running is when this problem raised its ugly head in the first place.  There isn't much I can do about the battery selector switch (ie not worth getting rid of it) so will keep in mind what you have said for the future!

Anyway..I changed the voltage regualtor and plugged it all back in, first of all it did the same thing and was quite hot to the touch, however there seems to be 2 B+ terminals so I tried it on the other one and it seems fine???  Alternator cool not hot and charging at 14 volts according to the dash voltmeter with no red light on and after a little run up the river it seems ok.  Lets hope it wont throw up anymore bother but I am a little concerned as to why it would work on one terminal and not the other! (unless they both do different things?) Or is something messed up?  The alternator has two big spade connectors with a smaller spade connector above and another small spade connector further away from the main 3 with nothing connected to it??  Would that be for a rev counter signal or something like that? O

cheers

Danny


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