Thursday, 18 April 2013

What’s that ‘ticking’ sound?

Jan informs me that two days ago she told me about a loud ticking noise coming from the back of Waiouru when the engine was running.  I never heard any unusual noises, which probably isn’t surprising as I’m slightly deaf.

Today I started the engine to warm up the oil so it could be changed.  After 30 minutes I raised the engine board which is when the loud(ish) ticking noise could be heard.  My assumption was it was a tappet or valve out of adjustment.  Another job for the engineer, when we can find one!  However whilst pumping the old oil out of the engine I noticed a pile of black plastic cable tie ends in the bilge below the cabin bulkhead immediately in front of the engine pulleys and alternator belts.  Nick, the engineer, was very tidy and it surprised me he hadn’t removed them after completing the wiring.  Then I noticed the black residue on the white bulkhead.  A nagging thought made me feel the multi-rib belt for the 175A alternator.  Yes…..  all those lengths of black cable tie were actually the ribs off the alternator belt. 

Better to work to a plan so the oil change was completed before I attempted to do something about the belt.  It’s painfully (apt word) obvious I’m no longer as flexible as I was at 25 because everything in the engine bay seems to be just out of reach!  Eventually I removed the belt only to discover some of the ‘ribs’ had heat or friction welded themselves in the ‘V’ grooves on the pulley.  I dare not leave this residue in the grooves or it might damage the new belt.  The Beta 43 must think I am very passionate  the way I cuddle and wrap my arms around it.  The pieces of black rubber ribbing were picked out of the grooves using a small flat tipped screwdriver.  <Note to myself to buy a wire brush>

Jan arrived back from her shopping trip to be informed we must conserve electricity as the engine can’t be started until I can buy a new alternator belt.  We had lunch and then I decided to walk to the marina where I was hoping to buy a two replacement belts.  On the way I was thinking it was going to be an interesting night without hot water for a shower and what energy was left in the batteries needed to be conserved for the water pump, toilet, fridge and freezer.  Then it struck me what a ‘dolt’ I was!   We have another sources of power that can recharge the batteries…… The new Kipor generator.  Moreover, once it has charged the batteries we can use it to heat the water in the calorifier using the 240v immersion heater.

The marina didn’t have the alternator belts in stock and I therefore ordered a couple.  We will be alright provided the Kipor doesn’t fail.  The next task is to establish why the belt failed after only 300 hours.  Was it too loose or too tight?  Pulleys out of alignment or just a bad belt?

Our last package had also been delivered by the postman.  It has come all the way from China via eBay.

The DC to DC converter.  It will convert the 12V on the boat to 19.2V for the laptop.  It just needs a trip to Maplin for a suitable plastic box and a plug for the laptop.  Once it’s been made up there will no longer be a requirement to run the inverter to charge any of our camera and photo batteries, etc.


Elsie said...

We had that problem with the same engine and alternator, bolt not in enough on alternator so not aligned properly and stripped the v's off the belt. Hope you fix it!, Elsie & Eric

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Eric & Elsie,
That is one potential cause on our "to check" list. I need to find a steel straight edge so I can check the alignment of the faces on both pulleys.

Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

Car spares shops are usually a much cheaper source of belts. Just quote the number to them and they can usually match it.

Make sure you have all the belt numbers written down before they shred themselves.

It's worth noting how much adjustment there is in each direction so if the spares shop says they have one 5mm longer or one 5mm shorter you know which will fit.

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Paul,

Good advice. We already have the numbers recorded and the replacement belt (arrived this afternoon) is 2mm shorter.

Paul and Elaine said...

Re Belt breakage, either misalignment, which I would think unusual on a motor that has been now going for a lot of years, more likely belt too slack causing it too overheat and disintegrate. As you know its most important to adjust the belts during their running in period.

Bruce in Sanity said...


Certainly sounds like alignment to me. Beta owe you for a new belt, if so, unless BH had fiddled with it. The engine should have been delivered properly set up.

If the tension is too loose you'll know about it; deaf or not, the squeal of a slipping belt is unmistakable. If it's too tight, it's the backing rather than the ribs that fails.

Best of luck setting it up again.



Carol Palin said...

Hi Tom, we had an ongoing alignment problem with our Beta 43. Ours kept chucking a belt off and in consequence, that belt caught the other two and ripped them to shreds. After some heated exchanges over a period of six months Beta finally decided that we had a problem. In short, they sent Jake out to us (he builds the engines into the required configurations), our spring loaded belt tensioner was slightly misaligned. He removed it completely, which just left us with one manual belt tensioner and he put an ‘extra service’ green belt on it. The green belt has substantial strength and does not stretch. This cured the problem.
I have since obtained standard belts from a motor factors in Rugeley, they cost £15 each, you fit them, then, in a week or so, you retention them. Advice from Jake at Beta says that the belts should be changed at 750hrs to avoid a possible catastrophic failure. I have done this and have not had a failure since. If you need to chat, give me a ring, you have my number. Regards, George