Sugar Shack has four alternators on board, two for each engine. The small alternator charges the starter battery and the large one charges the house batteries. One of our large, 130 amp Mastervolt alternators has “issues” and it was time to fix it. Matt had already taken it a part, cleaned the brushes, and tweaked things, but it still wasn’t working. He suspected it needed new diodes which we did not have on board. He found a place called “Marlon’s Garage” in Aruba that had good reviews for rebuilding alternators.
Matt pulled the big boy out of the engine, placed it in a plastic bag and we hefted it to Marlon’s Garage. When I say “we” I mean “he” by the way. We scouted the location earlier so we didn’t have to walk around carrying a 40 lb bag. The garage was nice, clean, and stocked with a variety of vehicles in 15-20 bays. All of the employees had really nice embroidered shirts with “Marlon’s Garage” on the back and their names on the front. Surprising since these are mechanics working around dirty cars and parts wearing these expensive shirts – but good branding!
The garage was filled with lots of treasures. The owner, a lifelong car enthusiast, had a few Ferrari’s, a porche, couple of corvettes, classic mustang, and old caddy. We later discovered that he has over 50 cars in total and he is still collecting.
We walked in and they immediately took the alternator in to be tested. They determined that we needed new diodes and possibly a new rectifier but they could easily do the repair. They asked us to check back just before 12 to see when we could pick it up. We left an $80 deposit and went on our way.
We met our friends Dave and Tanya on “Dea Latis” and headed to Price Smart to load up with some groceries. Half way through our shopping, I realized it was almost 12 so I went outside to try to call. After several failed attempts I went back inside and finished shopping. Matt kept trying but it was a bad connection. However, Matt was able to determine that our alternator would be ready before closing. We returned our fresh groceries to the boat and decided to explore the town while we waited for the repair to be completed.
Around 5p we headed back to Marlon’s Garage to pick up our alternator. All three diodes were replaced. The shop did not have a rectifier so they actually fabricated a new one for us. All for the low price of $130.
We loaded her back up into her plastic and headed back toward the dinghy dock. It was hot, with little to no breeze and we were both exhausted. A cold beverage would perk us up! We stopped in on a local bar to regroup. After we addressed our more pressing needs by cooling down and resting, we realized we were famished. We left after two rounds and stopped at a Cuban place by the marina. It was really lovely, with a band, nice ambiance, and super tasty food. 28k steps later, we crashed hard!
Matt installed the rebuilt alternator the next day and was pleasantly surprised to find that it charged at 30-40 amps while the engines were in idle. The other alternator charges at 10-15 amps at idle. Then he pushed the engine to 1500 RPM it charged at 100 amps. Whereas the other one charges at 30-40 amps at 1500 RPM. Wow, this is amazing!
He was so excited that he took the other 130 amp alternator off and said let’s go have this one checked too. We huffed back to Marlon’s, had them check it and they said it was fine. They suggested that the regulator might need to be tweaked. Humf…Matt had checked that it was still not putting out the same amps as the rebuilt one, but it was still charging the house batteries.