Readers of this blog will remember my slogan that something breaks on a White Pepper every day. Thankfully that saying is not as true as it used to be. However, one day last week while the Honda 1000 generator was chugging along charging the batteries I noticed how the noise changed and the amp meter swung from charging to discharging. The Master Volt battery charger which I had installed 6 years ago in Fort Pierce had failed. If was drawing a larger than usual charge because I had let the batteries run down to 12.2 V. This is not an unusual situation on White Pepper and not usually a problem. This was the first time though I had let the two new “suit case” batteries get this low.
Within 10 minutes of the failure, Lee Haefele, of Alesto 2 was heard on the VHF announcing that he was giving a seminar on electrical problems on Volley Ball Beach. Also he was available to help with some electrical problems. How much more heaven sent can it get? Lee is from Ithaca, NY. He is not an electrician, rather and enthusiastic amateur.
I went to the seminar which was great and put my boat card in the pile on the table. By and by, Lee came to the boat. After some preliminaries it was obvious that the problem was indeed in the black box of the battery charger. The manual for the Master Volt was worthless, and it said not to open the box. Rather we were to take it to the dealer.
The inside of the Master Volt was a large transistor board. Nothing seems burned or amiss. Eventually, Lee spied some fuses which looked good but upon testing with his meter were found bad. They were simple 20 amp car fuses. Lee hopped in the dingy and sped across the road stead to the local hardware store. Within several hours and for less than $4 the unit was fixed and functioning.
This was a huge save for White Pepper. This unit easily charges the batteries up to the 14.5 V. that is needed to knock the sulfate off of the lead plates. The Balmar generator on the engine can also get to 14.5 but only after several hours. Also I am sure that if I had had a marine electrician look at the unit back in Florida he would have announced that the unit was burned out (it was) and needed replacing. The Master Volts typically cost $1500.