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#568144 - 06/13/17 06:02 PM Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi  
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jec6 Offline
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Hi All,

I haven't posted in a little while, but I still stop in here often and read up on boating wisdom.

I had my 2008 Regal 1900 out this weekend and after a few minutes of idling around teaching my wife how to pull up to docks, we had a low voltage warning. When I shut the boat down, it wouldn't restart. I picked up a new battery and installed it. Everything started up fine, but the Voltmeter gauge was showing about 12 1/2 volts. I grabbed my multimeter and read the battery terminal voltage with the boat off - 12.4 volts. I started it up and got 12.4 volts. I checked the terminals at the back of the alternator and got 12.8v, not the 13.9 - 14.2 that I'd expect. With the engine running, I swtiched off the battery kill switch and it kept idling fine. I *assume* this suggests the alternator is failing but not completely dead. Engine is a Volvo Penta 4.3Fi (Gxi)

I have a few questions:
1. Am I missing anything? Is there anything else I should check before replacing the alternator?

2. Is there a DIY procedure for properly tensioning the auxiliary belt that anyone is familiar with? The alternator is mounted on top of the engine and looks dead simple from a DIY perspective, I just want to be sure I get the belt properly tensioned when I am buttoning everything back up.

3. Should I go OEM Valeo a +$180 over aftermarket? If you've had luck w/ aftermarket what brand do you recommend?

Thanks in advance.

Josh

Last edited by jec6; 06/13/17 06:22 PM.
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#568148 - 06/13/17 07:48 PM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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Jack T Offline
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Jack T  Offline
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Can't give too much advice except to remind you that marine alternators have special spark arrestors to reduce ignition of vapors in the engine compartment.


Have a great day of boating
2012 Monterey 224 FS,
300 HP Volvo Penta with catalytic converters

#568150 - 06/13/17 10:48 PM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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kdl Offline
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If I'm not mistaken, disconnecting the battery from a running engine is a bad idea.
Good luck on the repair. Let us know how you make out.


2005 Cobalt 246 8.1 Gi
"Paradise..."

2001 Key Largo 190 CC
"After Five"
#568152 - 06/13/17 10:55 PM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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Lowrider78 Offline
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A circuit breaker someplace near the back of the engine that is in the alternator lead to charge the battery.

Disconnecting the + battery cable is a long-time "quick and dirty" test to see if the alternator is putting out voltage.

Today, as cheap as Voltmeters are (and some are simply "plug into power outlet/cigarette lighter") there is little use to test that way.

If charging voltage (battery voltage with the engine running) is below 13 volts, the alternator is not charging.

If it is over 14 volts, it is overcharging and can wreck a battery in short order (literally boil it dry).


That streak that howled by? That was me. Did ya like the roostertail? Big Blocks and Jets Forever
1978 Hawiian 20' Bowrider, 454, Dominator pump
1990 Magnum Mach 1 24' Cuddy Cabin Cruiser, 454, Bravo 1 drive.
1993 Suburban 454 tows the Mach 1 to water.
2001 Blazer 4x4 4.3L gets the Hawaiian wet.
#568154 - 06/14/17 12:40 AM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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captkevin Offline
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Might want to see if you could find a local alternator shop that could repair existing unit.


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#568155 - 06/14/17 12:46 AM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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casualboater Offline
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I have a 'self exciting' alternator, I think that's what it's called. Anyway, doesn't kick in the volts until the RPM's go up a bit, after that it's good to go. I almost always rev it a bit in neutral to see the volt meter kick up before I put it in gear, especially if I've got a no-wake zone in front of me.

If that's not your deal, I second the reman shop. They usually don't take that long and it's a fair bit cheaper then a new one. Place I took mine had one ready to go and took mine as a core and sold me the new one at the rebuild price.


1989 Larson DC 190
2007 Saab 9-7x
#568157 - 06/14/17 10:19 AM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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captkevin Offline
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Would think you would end up with better quality at a local shop.


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2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#568161 - 06/14/17 11:27 AM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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Dave R Offline
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Assuming the alternator is indeed faulty, do not replace it unless you have no choice. Just replace the brushes in it. They are the only true wear item in an alternator and they are usually very cheap and very easy to swap. You may have to do a little investigation to figure out who made the alternator (probably a Valeo) and what model it is, but once you know, you can probably get a set of brushes for less than 35 bucks.

Here's a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVvPzwtxdrM


"Mischief Managed"
2000 Regal 2550 LSC
7.4 MPI Bravo 3
#568166 - 06/14/17 07:33 PM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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jec6 Offline
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South East PA / Keuka Lake
Thanks for the info.

When I did the multimeter check, I did not understand why I'd see 12.8 at the Alternator with some +/- voltage fluctuation compared to the 12.4 on the newly installed battery. I expected that if the alternator was truly failed it would show 12.4 or less since the battery was the sole power source and some system resistance would show a minor voltage drop at the alternator poles. I did rev the engine to see if there was a voltage increase above 2k rpm, but there was not (there was some minor voltage fluctuation up and down but nothing steady state).

That is why I (wrongly in hindsight) switched off the battery switch, I wanted to see if the Alternator was indeed providing power to keep the engine running. I (wrongly) assumed if the alternator wasn't providing power, the engine would stall out when I switched off the battery kill switch.

Live and learn, hopefully without too much $$$ lost.

Lowrider: Do yuo have any more info on the circuit breaker on the backside of the engine in line with the alternator? I could not find any info in my owners manual about that. Does it exist on all GXi engines and where would I find it?

Input I have received is 100% go with a marine rated alternator. Does anyone have input on brand preference? My current is a Valeo 3884950

So, based on all the feedback, Alternator is highly likely the culprit. Does anyone know of a DIY for replacement (want to get directions on belt tensioning).

One issue is the boat stays on a lift at our lake cottage, and we're only there weekends & holidays. I don't have a lot of spare time to tinker with it. Next time we're there will be 4th of July weekend and I'm going to get a lot of pressure from the family to wake up early, get it fixed and have it ready to float by breakfast time. It looks like I can get a Valeo replacement unit for about $170, which isn't bad. I'll keep the old one and bring it home and check the brushes, etc and keep it as a spare. If I'm missing anything, please let me know.

Thanks,

#568167 - 06/14/17 09:53 PM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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Silverbullet Offline
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Alternator should be about as easy as it gets. Release belt tensioner which should be spring loaded. Remove alternator bolts. Remove wires. Put wires on new alternator lugs. Bolt new alternator in same place. Put belt back on.


James
2002 Cobalt 226 VP 8.1GIDP
2007 Chevy 2500HD Crew Cab Duramax
1988 Suburban 3/4 Ton
2000 Subaru Forester


#568172 - 06/15/17 08:12 AM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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Dave R Offline
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Dave R  Offline
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Originally Posted By: jec6


One issue is the boat stays on a lift at our lake cottage, and we're only there weekends & holidays. I don't have a lot of spare time to tinker with it. Next time we're there will be 4th of July weekend and I'm going to get a lot of pressure from the family to wake up early, get it fixed and have it ready to float by breakfast time. It looks like I can get a Valeo replacement unit for about $170, which isn't bad. I'll keep the old one and bring it home and check the brushes, etc and keep it as a spare. If I'm missing anything, please let me know.

Thanks,


That is exactly what I would do in your situation. The reason you saw something between 12.4 and 14.4 volts was because the brushes don't fail completely all at once, they degrade over time and can't provide all the needed current to excite the rotor coils.


"Mischief Managed"
2000 Regal 2550 LSC
7.4 MPI Bravo 3
#568176 - 06/15/17 11:45 AM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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Just Bob Offline
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Remove the old one and take it to a local Pep Boys. They can test it for you. It'll take about 10 minutes to remove it. If it's bad, get a new one, they're only about $150. 10 minutes and you're back on the water.


"Annabo": 2005 Larson Senza 206 w/5.0L Bravo III
#568177 - 06/15/17 12:32 PM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: Just Bob]  
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Dave R Offline
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Originally Posted By: Just Bob
Remove the old one and take it to a local Pep Boys. They can test it for you. It'll take about 10 minutes to remove it. If it's bad, get a new one, they're only about $150. 10 minutes and you're back on the water.


Just make sure it's a marine alternator. Car alternators are not spark shielded.


"Mischief Managed"
2000 Regal 2550 LSC
7.4 MPI Bravo 3
#568216 - 06/20/17 02:26 AM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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Lowrider78 Offline
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IF you have one, rear top of the engine where there is usually a wiring buss strip, the breaker on one end, same side the alternator is on probably, a push-button type, probably 40 or 50 amps.



It would be in the alternator output wire (8 or 10 gauge red from the alt. to the battery).


Dad's Taylor had one @ 35 amps, when the old alt. was replaced with a newer, larger, 1-wire alternator, if the battery was very low at all, it would trip from the alternator charging the battery for a while. I had to up-size that too.


That streak that howled by? That was me. Did ya like the roostertail? Big Blocks and Jets Forever
1978 Hawiian 20' Bowrider, 454, Dominator pump
1990 Magnum Mach 1 24' Cuddy Cabin Cruiser, 454, Bravo 1 drive.
1993 Suburban 454 tows the Mach 1 to water.
2001 Blazer 4x4 4.3L gets the Hawaiian wet.
#568253 - 06/22/17 04:23 PM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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Frantically Relaxing Offline
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IF you have more than one battery AND a battery isolator or combiner, it could be bad-- had that problem with the Chap..

#568297 - 06/26/17 11:03 AM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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jec6 Offline
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jec6  Offline
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South East PA / Keuka Lake
Just to follow up, I put the new alternator in on Saturday. Once I found the spring loaded belt tensioner, it was a 15 minute job, and the install went very smoothly. I put the new (same part # marine Valeo) alternator in, fired it up and got 14.2 volts. Took it for a test drive and the voltmeter stayed steady throughout the rev range. All the accessory 12 volt systems were fine. Fuses and circuit breakers under the top engine cover were all in good shape. Seems like all is good.

Thanks for everyone's input.

Last edited by jec6; 06/26/17 11:03 AM.
#568298 - 06/26/17 11:23 AM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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captkevin Offline
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Glad to hear it all worked out.


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#568304 - 06/26/17 03:09 PM Re: Alternator question Volvo 4.3fi [Re: jec6]  
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Jack T Offline
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Jack T  Offline
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Southern California
Woo Hoo!


Have a great day of boating
2012 Monterey 224 FS,
300 HP Volvo Penta with catalytic converters


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