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Belt issues, alternator issues, power issues, help me please

Old 09-21-2016, 09:21 AM
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Default Belt issues, alternator issues, power issues, help me please

I had an extremely loud screeching noise coming from my engine half way through this season. I narrowed it down to a belt issue. At first the noise would come and go as the engine warmed up but with time the noise would take longer to go away and I could see the VDC gauge indicating that the alternator was starving for power. I could also see the difference in power once the noise went away. Eventually the belt on the alternator snapped. I put a new belt on and the noise was still there. I made the mistake of not investigating enough and assumed it was the bearings in the alternator so I replaced the alternator with a new one. Noise was still present so I replaced the water pump and power steering pump to cover the other belt driven devices with a possible issue. The noise was still present. I noticed that the belt was smoking specifically at the pulley on the alternator. I changed the belt on the alternator to a different one and tightened the belt. The noise went away. All was good. Went out for a few trips and the noise started to come back when the motor was first started. After a few seconds to a minute, the noise would go away. I figured it was the belt breaking in.

In the middle of this, I am having a harder time than normal starting the motor when warm. Takes turning it over a lot. Sometimes I need to go through the un-flood procedure (open throttle all the way and turn it over) to get it to start. I have checked the choke which is operating correctly.

Was out fishing last night and was idling around for a good hour or so. We put the boat into neutral for a few minutes and then when I went to put the boat back into gear, it stalled out. I had a real hard time starting it again. It was not over heated. Temp gauge was right where I would expect it to be. Batteries were nice and charged. Just wouldn't catch. I was able to get it to start after letting it sit for a few minutes and then throttling up when starting it. It started but the belt nose was back, loud and was not going away this time. So we shut it down and tightened the alternator belt again. Started it back up (hard starting again) and the noise was gone. Started to make our way home and after about 15 minutes the power on the boat spiked. Blew a navigation bulb and noticed the VDC gauge reading 16+. I brought the throttle down to idle just in gear to keep the voltage lower and still be able to limp home. I was just a mile from my mooring. The VDC was bouncing between 14.5 and 15.5. After a half mile, the main breaker popped and the boat shut off. We took the opportunity to try to loosen the Alternator belt again. Were able to start the motor (hard starting again) and the voltage leveled out. Doesn't seem to be at 13.5 anymore like it was so am not sure if the belt is too loose or if the voltage regulator blew.

One last thing to note is intermittently when I use the power trim the motor bogs down as the trim steals power from the distributor. I am going to check the grounds to rule this out. I was contributing it to the older alternator for a bit and then the loose belt issue since when the belt was loose the power trim would make the belt squeal as the power trim called for more power from the alternator.

Any ideas on how I can solve this damn annoying issue? I cant figure it out. The alternator belt is either too loose or too tight. Never can get it just right. And how can I confirm if the voltage regulator is toast or not? Since its not over charging now. All ideas and comments welcomed. Thanks in advance.

Boat: 1992 Four Winns Vista
Engine: OMC King Cobra 351 Windsor Ford
Old 09-21-2016, 11:15 AM
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You have a short somewhere in the system,that will cause a draw on the amps and overwork the alternator.Surprised you haven't burnt wires yet.An intermittant ground or loose connection could also be the culprit.
Old 09-21-2016, 11:47 AM
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Your problem is that you have an I/O, and not an outboard!
Old 09-21-2016, 03:11 PM
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Ha! an outboard indeed may solve all of these issues. Unfortunately I will not be making that switch anytime soon.

I will check for loose wires and grounds.
Old 09-21-2016, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by thejtdude View Post
Ha! an outboard indeed may solve all of these issues. Unfortunately I will not be making that switch anytime soon.

I will check for loose wires and grounds.
Remove and clean your battery connections and starter solenoid connections, not just look at them. Emery cloth or better yet a dremel with a wire wheel. I am guessing you have vbelts and not serpentine? Did you use the old pulley on the new alternator? A worn sheave or pulley will cause noise, drag, excessive wear and a prematurely loose belt due to break in and wear damage. See picture .

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A is worn out, check it with a small straight edge and look for a gap. B is the wrong size belt and C is how it should be.

If your belt was hot I am guessing your pulley is worn out and killing the belt. Have your battery tested at a auto parts store.
Old 09-21-2016, 08:55 PM
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Something is causing the alt to constantly put out max amps, which could explain the belt squeal and smoking. Id check all battery cables, terminals and grounds. It boats of this age the voltmeter can be inaccurate due to resistance in the instrument wiring which causes them to read low. It would have been interesting to put a digital voltmeter on the battery to see how high it got. This overcharging can damage the battery and cause slow cranking and low voltage to the ignition sys. If the cables are original replace them with Marine quality cables and crimped on clamps not wingnuts!! If the terminsls on the solenoid are rusty replace the solenoid . Use a belt tension gauge to tighten the belt (75 lbs). Put a digital voltmeter on the batt and start the engine . If the volts are between 13.75-14.2 it's good, if over 15 no good. On some OMCs what can happen is that excessive resistance can develop in the circuit for the sense terminal on the alt. The resistance fools the regulator into thinking it has to put out more Amps because the voltage signal input is low. The cure is to disconnect and tape up the sense wire at the alt. Then make up a jumper wire from the B+ output terminal to the sense terminal . This will give the Alt a more accurate reading of batt voltage and your max charging volts should be about 14.2. I got this from Arco Marine when I replaced my alt a few years ago. Before re wiring my volts at the batt was 15.5v. After it was 14.2.

One last thing put a straight edge across the pulley for the crank pulley and the alt pulley. If they are not aligned find out why. Could be a bent alt mount or a worn harmonic balancer on the crank pulley. Does the crank pulley wobble with the engine running?
Old 12-12-2016, 10:17 AM
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I sort of lost track of this post since I got busy towards the end of the season and then the season came to an end. Wanted to provide an update though. I replaced the alternator with a new one following the experience I had where the voltage regulator appeared to stop working. I replaced the alternator the same day I drove the boat 1 mile down the coast to the ramp to pull it out of the water for the season. After the alternator change, everything was running well when on the mooring. It did start to make the squeal again though. I left the mooring and headed to the ramp and the squeal got louder but then went away. As I got close to the ramp, I began to loose power at lower RPM's so bumped the throttle up and came in hot into the ramp just before stalling it out when trying to lower the throttle. Once tied up at the dock, I discovered I had snapped another belt! During the winterization process when pulling the batteries I ran across my crappy job of cutting corners and not using the correct ring terminal when attaching a solar panel to the batteries to act as a float charge when prepping the boat in the spring. I am wondering if this was a cause of a bad connection to the batteries. I am going to fix this issue next spring and most likely replace both batteries since I may have cooked them with the bad alternator voltage regulator. I also may run a new ground to the alternator as well. Thanks for all the info and help!
Old 05-25-2017, 10:55 AM
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So the conclusion to this story ended up being that I am really good at wasting my time and money on everything except the simple stuff. Turns out the belts I was using were not the proper size. After lots of research, I found that the correct belt is wider than the ones I was using. This caused the belt to sit higher on the pulley and not further into the v gap. Replaced the belt and the noise is gone! also more engine power. Ended up with a new alternator, water pump, batteries and a swapped out power steering pump all over a wrong belt being installed. Oh well lesson learned.
Old 05-25-2017, 01:53 PM
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Just call the rest "preventative maintenance " and enjoy your next foray.

Hope you kept the replaced items as spares,,, except the old belts.

Good helpful post by Dacman.
Old 05-25-2017, 04:05 PM
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Dacman for the win!
Old 05-27-2017, 09:49 AM
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Glad you got it fixed.

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