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The Story of the Wimpy Alternator,


How much fun it can be to get repairs done in Mexico.


We began to notice something amiss with our electrical system on the trip down from Puerto Vallarta to Barra.  It seemed like no matter how long we ran the engine, the house bank (4 “Trojan” golf cart batteries) never really got charged up above negative amp hours.  I began to suspect the emergency alternator rebuild job I had done in Cabo last spring, but wondered about my batteries as well.  I don’t really know how old they are.

So we’re sitting at the dock just after arriving here at Barra, and this guy happens to walk up to the boat.  We began to chat with Dave (last name Eidell) and learn that he is something of an expert on 12 volt electrical systems and has designed high performance alternators.  One thing led to another, and the next thing I know, we have determined my batteries are not at fault, but the alternator isn’t putting out what it should.  I extracted it from the engine, he took it apart, and discovered two blown diodes and a fried capacitor.  In addition, Dave thought there was a much better winding pattern I should have for the stator, and a few other parts that were in less than good shape. 

Then the fun began, getting the parts sent down from California.  The first supplier Dave called absolutely, positively, wouldn’t use DHL, the only shipper that really works in this part of Mexico.  The next place didn’t have a problem with that, but didn’t have all the stuff right on hand, wouldn’t confirm the order via e-mail, and held it up for several days after that for reasons we never understood. 

We had expected the shipment would be held up in Mexican Customs (Aduana) either in Guadalahara or Manzanillo,  and we’d have to go and pick it up, but amazingly enough, DHL actually delivered it direct to the dock about a week after the order went out.  The only unfortunate thing was that the shipper had added shipping to the invoice total, and we ended up paying import duty on that as well as the value of the goods themselves.  Oh well, live and learn, I guess.

The proof of the pudding will come when we go back on the hook and try charging the batteries by running the engine for an hour or two a day.  Dave tells me this new souped up rebuild will shove more amperage at lower RPMs.  Can’t wait to find out if it does!