Vlog 124: Current Events

When taking the narrowboat to a marina for work on the bilge and also to get the hull blacked, I noticed that the batteries didn’t seem to be holding a charge and also that the alternator was disturbingly warm. The result was that I bought a new alternator and fitted it. This is the (almost “real-time”) recording of my hamfisted work, including several things you shouldn’t do when changing an alternator.

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  1. David, top tip when it comes to belt driven devices on the engine.
    Do not tighten up the bottom bolts before setting the belt tension.
    Snug up the belt tension to where you want it and then lock down the the bolt on the adjustment arm. Then lock the bolts at the bottom.
    In the case of your alternator, locking the lower bolts before setting the tension means you work against yourself.
    Also I would strongly recommend you expand your tool box.
    It seems you have sockets but a set with 1/2 in drive and a set with 3/8 in and a set with 1/4″ is really helpful in tight spaces.
    Same recommendation re spanners. A set of metric and British box end/open end wrenches are great along with a long bar of say 18-24 in to leverage things such as setting alternator belts.

    • Cheers. As far as I recall, I didn’t tighten (fully) the bottom bolt otherwise, as you say, I wouldn’t have been sensibly able to rotate it to set the tension.

  2. As a retired Electrician, when working on things like theis there is one thing I always do and that is NEVER TRUST YOUR MEMORY, draw diagrams and make notes, you never know it may be weeks before you return to replace

  3. Hi David
    A good vlog notwithstanding the top of your head. A couple of comments/questions
    What happened to the single wire that you disconnected from the old alternator? I didn’t see it go back.
    When protecting the lead/connector from the batteries, I would seriously avoid putting gaffer tape on the terminals. Put a heavy duty plastic bag (maybe two) over the connector and keep the gaffer tape on the plastic.
    When sizing up which spacers to use for the pulley wheel, I would compare the new alternator with the old one to get the space/alignment correct. The two alternators looked very similar but we didn’t see them together.
    The ringing sound you got with engine running before you increased the spacing was possibly from the belt just touching the fan. They looked very close.
    Keep making the vlogs. Always a good watch.

    Jeff Hill

    • Hi Jeff. I think you’re spot on pretty much on all of this. The gaffer tape, with hindsight, was a mistake as you suggest. I did compare the old and new but clearly I was a little out. And I think you’re right about the belt/fan because one of the fan blades had become bent through my use of the hammer, so when I whacked it back into place, it was definitely more out of the way of the belt! Cheers

  4. Well I’ve just now seen this vlog. Had my morning tea while watching you. Reminded me of days gone by when I did my own backyard mechanical work. I would say it was a job well done. I must comment on your engine compartment and engine itself. They are very clean. You keep a tidy ship! So yet again you have entertained me quite nicely. Keep up the good work and enjoy your day! Cheers!
    Oh I noticed that someone had a negative feedback? I never got to see it just your and others comments on it in the twitter site. As I am sure you do, just ignore those. Just ppl with they’re own issues trying to make your day crappy! Anyway, carry on carrying on and I will look forward to more vlogs!! ;)

    • Hi. Thank you. Yes, all things considered I don’t get many abusive comments but there are the occasional haters. I don’t let it bother me but I post the odd one up to Twitter hoping it will amuse people. Glad you enjoyed the video, cheers :-)

  5. John Massey (N.B. CYAN)

    Brilliant Flog David, most entertaining,
    A tip for checking the belt tension. Take the longest ‘run’ and twist the belt with your thumb and fore finger. Correctly tension-ed the belt will twist through 90 degs, no more or less.
    Finally when disconnecting multi connectors or complicated assemblies try taking a camera image first to refer too when reconnecting etc. ;)

  6. Are all volgers in uk with Patreon accounts submitting a self assessment tax return each year? £1000 allowance I expect you are with your other work as I don’t think you to be stupid to advertise it as you do. Something to mention when you have you meetups with other canal boat vloggers. Technically you are running it as part of a business. It is income after all. I see you don’t like the mention of it. You did not even like the toilet notice. I thought that was rather fun. you could have just removed the link to the video. It was the church congregation I thought amusing, not the girl and her imitation wind fart sounds. Be sure to go to a reputable optician with Fields Test and eye xray. Specsavers are genuinely not a good choice although they may be better now than in the past. Did you replace the sump gasket when you did the engine bilge! Have a good time up on the North Oxford if still there. A tip. If you are be more cagey with the camera. Have a good year. No more messages, but as they do not go live it not matters. Have a good year. I know you have no time for individuals so I will recline from donating as you could be quite well off if you used that law degree.

  7. I saw you pick up the right socket spanner for the main bolt but you didn’t hear me when I said it was the one to use ! Hmm… Removing the socket from the wrench can be difficult. My wrench has a button arrangement directly behind the square drive. Push in the button and hey presto, (Yes press toe.) the socket comes off.

    Thanks for another entertaining VLOG. With the video running, talking to yourself doesn’t sound strange at all. I really loved how your stream of consciousness merges into stream of frustration and (very) occasionally into stream of frustration.

  8. Tidy engine bay, Cool slippers

  9. Splendid effort David, I felt your pain on the odd occasion in that video , over tightening the belt can cause the bearings to fail on the alternator.
    I found that out to my cost on a mark 3 cortina .

  10. voila…..as ever David an educational gem, entertainingly nail biting, I now know what an alternator looks like in operation, what it does, what goes wrong…..kitchen table servicing, just love these vlogs

  11. It works. That is one of the ultimate tests. The other is whether it causes a premature failure later from improper installation. If neither happens, then congratulations, you did it. That’s how “shade tree” mechanics work.

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