Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pass me a couple of dozen AA’s….

We’d have been better off this week!

Since we came out of Barton Marina we’ve had problems with battery power. It’s almost as if each of the four in the domestic bank has, over the last three months, lost ¾ of it’s capacity. The bank charges up quickly, but then discharges at an alarming rate. If I run the engine for 2 hours ‘till 7 PM, the batteries are flat again by half-past ten.

Four 110 amp hour domestic batteries, so much scrap plastic and lead.SAM_4663

There’re all the same, throughout the week I’ve worked through isolating each in turn to see if I could identify an individual faulty battery, to no avail. I’ve swapped alternators around to see if it’s a fault on the charging circuit, nope, no problem there.

I’ve a Sterling A to B battery charge manager fitted, and I took that out of the circuit, connecting the alternators directly, but that made no difference. Still no TV and dim lights by bedtime. And that accusing winking red light on the fridge can be quite intimidating. Feed me!, it seems to shout.

I even enlisted the aid of the local garage man, who came equipped with a drop tester and experience, but even he shook his head in frustration. The thing is, the batteries are only 15 months old…. Now I’ve always accepted that they are consumables, and have had to replace as required, but all four were changed a year last January. I expected to get at least 2 years, maybe 3.

Finally I decided I’ll have to bite the bullet and replace them, so we’ll be heading for Streethay Wharf tomorrow (through the gales and blizzards) to collect four that have my name on. At least if they don’t solve the problem I’ll know to look elsewhere. Expensive way to find out though, eh.
This is why we’re round the corner from Fradley Junction, on the Coventry Canal, for our little detour.

We’d stayed just outside of Alrewas all week as I worked through my diagnostics (good word, that), but come Friday things were looking a little full on the loo tanks front, so we had to follow Terry and Pam on The Rooster’s Rest up to Fradley. I’d given them a hand up the locks on Wednesday.

The Rooster’s Rest heading for Keeper’s Lock on Wednesday morningDSC_0073
The winter work at Woodend Lock, due to finish on Friday, was put back a day, meaning Fradley was pretty full with waiting boats when we arrived on Saturday afternoon.

Summer crowds on a March SaturdaySAM_4661
The red boat with the brollies is The Candy Boat, selling all kinds of mouth-watering fudge. Not good for the waist-line, though.

Opposite the visitor moorings, where once stood dilapidated short mooring pontoons for cruisers, now lies a smart linear mooring, but alas, for permit holders only.

 New Fradley mooringsSAM_4659


Not many takers as yet…. As well as customers I think they’re waiting for proper signs.

Terry had kindly come down to meet us and set the locks up to the junction, then Pam had swung the footbridge across the end of the Coventry for us, so it was an easy trip up. Mags still insisted on doing her thing on the tiller, though.

Even on the Coventry Canal section of moorings there was no space, but a bit more consideration would have allowed more boats on the armco piling. As it was we finished up “in the rough”, counter stuck 4 feet out and the baseplate on the bottom for the night. Still, it didn’t affect the good evening we had with Pam and Terry when they came round for a drink or two. They did leave before our lights went out, though.
Winking smile

With a mass exodus this morning, we were able to reverse a hundred yards to a better spot.

We were looking forward to seeing Sue and Vic (NB No Problem) as they headed this way, and I got a text saying they’d be at Woodend Lock (now opened) at around 11:45 this morning.
They were already in the lock when Meg and I arrived, and I shadowed them down the rest of the locks to below the junction, where they moored.

NB No Problem below Woodend Lock

I’m glad I took Meg up with me rather than going on John Sage. Watching the dogs play and chase was a joy, and the very muddy towpath would have left me considerably splattered off my bike wheels. As it was I was only lightly splattered by passing dogs...

Getting reacquainted, Penny in the lead, my Meg following and NP Meg bringing up the rear.DSC_0077
They enjoyed themselves immensely, judging by the amount of mud I washed off Meg when we got back…

It’s not been the doom and gloom forecasted for today, although it’s been cold and windy there’s not been much more than a few flakes of snow blowing about. 

Sue and Vic are coming round in a bit. Vic is very partial to Mag’s ginger cake, so she’s been busy this morning…..

Locks 4, miles 1¾


Tom and Jan said...

Hi Geoff
I assume you were on shore power whilst in the marina. Did you "equalize" the batteries during that time?

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Tom
We run a Mastervolt Combi with a four stage charger so I'm assuming the unit would equalise when on float mode. There's no facility (as far as I'm aware) to do this manually, even if I knew how...
(reply copied to

No Direction said...

There's been a boat on the 14 day mooring at Fradley since before Christmas !.

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Geoff,
I don't know which model Mastervolt combi you have (we have a Victron) but I looked at the user manual for the Mastervolt and on page 33 I believe you will find you need to manually change DIP switch B to get the combi into Equalizing mode. You can only equalize flooded wet cell batteries (not sealed or AGM). Moreover, depending upon the make of battery there will likely be a different voltage for each manufacturer. Out Rolls batteries have to be equalised at 15.8 - 16.04V but our Victron will only reach 15.2V. So the Victron will never reach the required voltage! The Roll have to be equalized every 6 months. I'm looking at purchasing a CTek charger (£50) which has both the equalizing and pulse stages. I'd use it every 6 months when on shore power or with a generator.

All this is a long winded way of asking whether your batteries can actually be equalized and if your Mastervolt can reach the required battery voltage? I suspect you've never manually switched it to enable equalizing (user manual page 33 [part 6])

Of course I could be completely off track..... :-)


Anonymous said...

Geoff at Rugeley banner batteries right by the canal cheaper than s/hay and 3 year warranty. TONY nb timewarp PS i wonder what boat at fradley ffor so long could he be paying like i use to