Sometimes nothing feels really right, you know. I bet you’d had days like that too. When everything is just.. meh. This was one of those days.
But even so I got some done, I’ve been attacking my helm station backingplate with a flappy disc and the grinder. And it got reasonably good. It is done. It is perfect! I did put some more of that alchemy fluid on it in a last feeble attempt to get the last of the corrosion off. Tomorrow I will add some primer to it. Because I got a delivery today! From Cork, none the less. I thought it would come by post, but they came and delivered it with their own van, really nice. And it was delivered in a plastic crate, you know, one of those gray ones they use in picking warehouses. I got it, for free. Nice! What I didn’t get for free was thinner, primer, a brush (a somewhat tiny one that I actually could have bought locally, ah well), some dry lube for getting things to glide more easily and some grease for where it needs a little more and is allowed to be sticky. All in all, a good delivery.
I also spent like three hours lying on the cockpit sole in a numerous weird positions, scraping off sealant from it, underneath the helm station. With a dull knife (didn’t want to scratch the gelcote). Murderous. So boring, but still so rewarding when done. And it is! Yay! Do you see those razed squares on the sole in the picture? It’s anti-slip, and it is actually really great. And, yeah, it really makes it super hard to get the sealant off. Can’t really scrape, so I have to do one row at a time, and then one column, like in a grid.
Trying to film all of it (not the scraping, it is just tedious) doesn’t make it go any faster either, but I just have to accept that since it is quite fun to do it, and to have some sort of more visual documentation of what is going on.
I also spent the day continuing to fit all the systems together around my LiFePO4 battery bank. The one thing that I didn’t think about when I was sketching up the system in my head was the alternator. I’ve had some mails exchanged with Wakespeed, who makes and sells the WS500, on how to integrate it. But I just couldn’t go that route, because of several reasons. The main reason is that they require me to alter the alternator so that the WS500 is in full control of the field charge. The technical solution is not bad, I think it is actually the best way to go and it is a simple modification, but I don’t want to have an alternator that is modified, since it can lead to issues down the road. One is that it has been reported from people doing this in other settings that the engine control system sometimes doesn’t like to see the field charge to drop out of spec, or even turned off entirely. It signals that there is something wrong with the alternator. And having error signals that isn’t errors will eventually mean that when there are errors they get ignored. Also, not having a stock alternator means that if it would break down, in an untimely fashion, it will require that alternation if it gets replaced.
Another option is of course to get a different alternator, a stronger one as was suggested by Wakespeed, but buying a new alternator just to fit their design was way too much for me. A Balmer alternator would be in the neighborhood of €1500, which is an extra cost that I don’t feel like taking. The engine should hopefully not run that often anyway as soon as I got my solar up and can charge the batteries more or less daily. The bank is large enough to sustain my energy needs for probably a week or so without charging at all.
So, what is my plans then? I’m hoping that the VRC-200 from Nordkyn will be available soon, the messages I get from the producer seems to indicate that. If that is the case, I’ll order one. Otherwise… Back to the drawing board. I did take a closer look at the Swedish alternative that a person approached me with, but I just couldn’t see that it was complete enough. It was a BMS with an integrated VRC-200 pretty much, which fools the alternator to turn on or off by sending faux volt levels to the alternator controller. It’s a hack in its own way, but it is cleaner. But the system wasn’t ready for what I want. I want it simple and automated as much as possible. This unit had a diode that would be blinking if the battery bank was going low and that I had to be monitoring, and the alternator had to be turned on or off manually. It isn’t the system I am looking for. But this hack with simulating a battery voltage level is interesting, it can probably be done with an arduino and some buck converter. Not sure if going full DIY on this would be the way to go though, after dismissing simple modifications to the alternator. Anyway…
Just one of those days.
I’m guessing it is the weather that has gotten me today. I mean, it is June. It was starting to finally be warm and the shorts and t-shirts were lined up. Then the temperature just plummeted, yesterday morning it was 14 degrees, today was thirteen. I checked the forecast and it will even drop below ten some nights to come. I was so cold when I had my breakfast, and today I actually looked forward to put on the overall, to get one more layer of clothes. It worked, in combination with not sitting still in a boat that was 13 degrees and getting out and do some physical work.
I was really done with having the heater fan running all night just to keep a decent temperature in the boat, making it at least livable even if it was a smidge from comfortable at times.
Queue heating fan.