My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

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Saltlife68
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My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by Saltlife68 » Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:49 pm

Hello all and thanks for such a great source of information! I wanted first to say hello and then ask a few questions of the community.

I bought my first boat and have officially fulfilled a dream. I've wanted a vessel since I was 18 and finally have one! I guess turning 50 kicks something into gear, right?!

Anyway, I bought a 1997 Trojan 390 Express (some pics attached for anyone who is interested). If I understand correctly, Carver Yachts purchased Trojan in 1992 and continued to manufacture the 390 Express through 1997 until it subsequently transitioned to the 400. Some would say of course mine isn't a 'true' Trojan but rather a Carver while Carver enthusiasts would say it's not a Carver, it's a Trojan! So now, you can see how I'm caught between 2 worlds. Fortunately, all of the original manuals were left intact with the vessel so generally information, schematics and part numbers are readily available for reference. I hope that when it comes to actually locating replacement parts, I find the same to be true. Either way you look at it, she's a great vessel and I'm excited to have begun this journey.

A couple of questions for all of you seasoned experts if I may?

The original ProMariner 3-bank automatic batter charger is on board. I've read conflicting opinions about the operational quality of this charger and hoped to get some insightful perspectives. First, upon inspection, the previous owners had all 4 batteries (2 starter/house, emergency/back-up and generator) seriously undersized and I have since replaced all four. This charger has 3 banks and all 4 batteries are connected (starting batteries banked (?), emergency battery and the generator battery). The charger seems to struggle to charge both starting/house batteries equally and wonder if each should occupy a bank individually? It seems as though when one of these 2 reaches full charge, the juice stops flowing and I wonder if the charger 'thinks' that battery is good to go (when really it's 2 but reading only one). Had anyone had any experience with this? Any particular reason/necessity that the generator battery should occupy a bank? As long as the generator is started routinely allowing that battery to charge, wouldn't that be sufficient? There is a battery selector switch including the 'both' or parallel option. Given this, shouldn't it be up to the selector switch to draw on both (or parallel) the batteries should one or the other need an extra boost to start an engine?

I'm sure I have LOTS more questions to come but the other for now is wondering if anyone has any specs with actual dimensions of the cushions for the mid-cabin seating area? Mine are long gone as a previous owner has more or less permanently made this into a cabin by removing the cushions and adding a mattress. It works/looks great but I think I would much prefer the seating with the option for sleeping. Also, gaining access to storage, transmissions, pumps, etc., with this set-up is at best challenging.

Thanks in advance for any insights on the battery management question.

Looking forward to getting to know you and following as you all discover your dreams (and challenges) too!
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Drink a beer, sing a song, Make a friend, can't we all get along"

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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by prowlersfish » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:27 pm

I really know little about the carver built Trojans ( they are nice ) And all my info is on the Pre carver boats . But I will try and help on the charger issues . But first What size batteries did you go with . Also are the same type as before ? ( wet or gel or ? ) and what exact model is the charger as the have different amp ratings .
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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by RWS » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:26 pm

Carver bought the "name" and log and produced a line of high quality "Trojan Express Yachts" in the Carver Pulaski WI factory.

These boats have held up well over time and have a good reputation for quality build.

The molds from Lancaster were destroyed, and the Carver Trojans share nothing with the Lancaster built vessels.

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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by WayWeGo » Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:21 am

Welcome!

ProMariner chargers are generally good and their current ProNautic line is reliable and a good value. Like prowlersfish said, it all depends on which batteries you have, how they are wired, and exactly which charger you have.

You are not likely to get much specific info on your cushions here. If you are handy, you can get foam from somewhere like www.thefoamfactory.com and fabric from www.sailrite.com, and then sew your own cushions. Sailrite has a lot of great info and videos on just how to do that.

We would love to see photos of your boat and the specific areas you are asking for advice on!
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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by rickalan35 » Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:48 pm

Dear Saltlife68

Hi and a warm weIcome to this Forum.

I own the same boat you do. Mine is a 1994 370, so although a couple of minor design adjustments were made for the sake of change and a name change to 390, they are essentially the same boats.

I believe that I may have the dimensions for your cushions. I think that they may have been included in the original manuals which are currently at the boat 20 miles away. I will hopefully get them tomorrow.

Regarding the batteries. I have the same charger and I believe it runs well.

My batteries are installed exactly as described in your manuals. In other words Carver saw fit to wire the boat this way. It has never made any sense to me.

Though I have tried, I have failed to attract a technician who would tackle the task of redesigning and implementing a better solution. I think both of us are probably stuck. The best advice I seem to be able to get is "Run your generator more often." My Marina insists they're too busy to take a look. :)

Bottom line, each engine has it's own Starter Battery.

But the interior and exterior lights, both fridges, plus the head, stereo, windlass and helm controls are also all tied to these two Starter Batteries. Someone up at Carver was either insane or hated the Trojan name.

The deep cell Reserve Battery mentioned in the Owners Manual (I just replaced mine) is NOT the HOUSE battery but rather just sits there idle ALL the time. It ONLY COMES INTO SERVICE ONLY WHEN YOU PHYSICALLY PARALLEL the power to both Starter Batteries which have been speedily run down by the above mentioned list of boat systems.

In my boat, the Generator's Starting Battery is NOT hooked up to the battery charger. So, I charge the Generator's battery with my portable car charger at the beginning of each season and then I always run the generator for the first ten minutes after leaving the marina to keep it charged.

These are really great boats. Quality in the build. Carver did something right. You will love it. What motors?? Most people have the 454 Mercruisers. By the way, the hull is NOT cored below the rub rail which makes these boats heavier than average but also eliminates the problems that accompany that style of manufacture.

It's nice to have another Carver/Trojan boat in the Forum.

Cheers

Rick
Trojan 1994 370 Express, 502 Bluewaters

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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by Saltlife68 » Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:44 pm

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Hi everyone, thanks so much for such a nice welcome!

First, I totally goofed and didn't attach pics as intended (I think I got it this time so see below). @Rickalan35 - You asked about the engines. I'm fortunate to have MerCruiser 8.2L 502s - yikes! They purr like kittens too. If you have the dimensions of the cushions, that would be great. If not no worries. Seems that's the one thing not in the manual - shapes/drawings but not dimensions. @WayWeGo - Thanks for the information, I'll check it out.

@Prowlersfish and others - Here's some additional information regarding the batteries / charger situation.

I too have the original ProMariner charger. After purchase, I replaced all 4 batteries with AGM. 2- Bank 27 (Gen and Emergency) and 2 Bank 31 (Starter / House). Previous owners had all 4 undersized with Bank 24's. This I learned put a lot of stress on the engine starters - I kept wondering why the salesman and others would parallel every time they started the engines - not right! Replaced the starters and they kick it over like nothing!

Like Rickalan35, I just don't get why the Gen is hooked to the charger but I guess I can remedy that situation.

You can see from the pics below that there's an error on the charger - not all the time, but just so happened to be in this pic.

Here's some more janky things...

Seems the port side battery (#1) is the 'horse' and seems to have just about everything wired to it including bilge pumps, stereo and subwoofer, etc. Boyfriend and I have implemented a system to use battery #1 on odd days and #2 on even days to allow a somewhat equal level of discharge/recharge on the batteries. But, it seems that the #1 never catches up....even after running the engines for quite some time. It's like the charger says 'you've got a full charge on starboard side, I'm done'. Also, I just replaced the forward bilge as it seemed like it was struggling to move water (we'll check the discharge hose again for airlock and to make sure there's not a check valve or something) but it seems like it just can't get enough juice to move the water. Not critical - the boat is pretty dry - but when you need it you need it!

I do know that if #1 battery gets even the slightest bit low, the stereo shuts off or won't come on at all in the first place and can only assume the sub is drawing way too many amps. I may consider trying to isolate that to it's own breaker.

Also, the 3 wipers don't work at all. No power/lights on the control panel or helm station so not sure if that's a breaker, power or fuse situation.

Anyway, none of this seem critical as she's up and running and loves to cruise. But there is definitely something amiss with the charger/wiring/batteries that I think may be fairly simple to straighten out. Just want to get to it before it becomes a big problem.
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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by prowlersfish » Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:53 pm

Since you have gone to AGM batteries your charger needs to be set for them .
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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by Saltlife68 » Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:59 pm

Well, that seems simple enough! Setting the charger right... Duh.

Learning SO much with this boat and fulfilling a dream 😉🛥️⚓

Thank you all so much and I'll take any more nuggets of wisdom you may want to share.
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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by rickalan35 » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:13 pm

There are any number of very experienced Trojan owners on this Forum with heads literally stuffed full of both Trojan and Boating knowledge. They will be extremely helpful to you as any question or problem that pops up here seems to have someone who can usually answer/solve it.

Those are great photos. I've been a member here for thirteen years and still don't know how to post photos. At one point I did, but that photo service provider disappeared (forget their name)........ and here you are posting photos on your first day. :)

I too have those 502 Bluewaters in my '94. They were an expensive option and we're both fortunate to have inherited them in my view. Unlike your Kohler my boat came with a Westerbeke generator. Your Trojan looks pretty much looks like a low-hour boat to me because of the great shape of the upholstery and interior wall surfaces etc.

I notice that the replacement mattress in the midcabin appears to be sitting upon the stock Trojan "fold-up" sleeping platform (which has steel tabs at each end that fit on the fiberglass seat bases. That platform folds up and fits easily into the mirrored, starboard-side locker just above the midcabin seatee. There are also two special cushions that may still be with the boat (look in that aforementioned locker) which are designed to fit that sleeping platform. Then the actual seat cushions (the ones you list as currently missing) are designed to jig saw together to form the rest of the bed = In other words they will turn into "your usual uncomfortable sleeping experience." :) I don't blame the previous owner for having brought in a replacement mattress, but unfortunately there is no place to store that mattress when not in use.

Does the privacy curtain that divides the mid-cabin from the rest of the boat still function properly?

Regarding the batteries. You will notice that the manual instructs you to cruise with the Battery Selector Switch on either Position 1 or Position 2. Never cruise with it on ALL. The reason for this will probably be better explained by Prowler Fish than me. But that may have something to do with your uneven charging while under way.

An added comment might be to "Be careful raising the hydraulic engine hatch past its detent position." If you do, you will be stuck pulling out the cockpit fridge and getting in behind it where the engine hatch controls are located. Ask me how I know this. :)
Trojan 1994 370 Express, 502 Bluewaters

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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by Saltlife68 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 7:59 am

Hey there Rickalan35, thanks again for the great info!

Got to the boat last night and #1 battery was dead as a doornail. Taking previous advice, I made sure the charger was set properly. But, an external meter showed all kinds of wonky like at first off the charts volts then next reading, nothing. Anyway, decided to grab an external charger and this morning it says we're at 75% charged... I'll keep watching. Meanwhile, we also began the journey of tracing cables and here's where I get highly confused...

We see of course the battery positives coming into the selector switch and then jumpered together for the "both" or all operation. (note I've not been running in this position while underway). All 3 bilge are connected to #1 for automatic operating - okay, get that. Of course with no charge, no bilge pump. Then we see 3 orange lines from the charger coming in to the selector switch then jumpered together and only one orange line coming out... To the generator battery. I'm feeling really "duh" again, but does the current flow back through each batt cable to charge? We're just puzzled how anything other than the generator is charging with the charger. Surely it's not set up to only charge the starting / house batties via engine alternator while underway... What am I missing?

It seems like it should be so simple but it just loses me at some point.

On a much lighter note, I'm going to go ahead and pull out the mattress today and I think until I get some cushions remade I'll probably just use outdoor lounge chair cushions and pillows. It won't be that often that I'll have extra overnight guests. And it will make it so much easier to get to the storage cubbies and that window to open it up to let some air flow through.

You mentioned low hours, each engine has about 1,200 hours so I don't know that I would call that low necessarily but everything is in amazing shape. Very well cared for. I just got to get this battery charging situation straightened out. Makes me wonder what the previous owner did to manage it 🤔

Thanks again everybody I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to engage with such knowledgeable folks. I am definitely on an adventure!
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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by rickalan35 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 2:46 pm

Saltlife68

Just happened to be online and saw your post as it came in. I'm leaving for the boat shortly and will check out those cushion dimensions.

The battery issues are something I have almost given up on.

I will say though that when we go to the boat, we find the batteries completely charged and therefore I assume they must be wired to the ProMariner in the correct manner ...... excepting of course the Generator battery which isn't hooked up to anything. So looks as though my charger is doing the job but yours probably isn't. It's seems as though it is as you say, either the charger is malfunctioning OR it is wired incorrectly.

I am assuming it would be worth asking a boat mechanic to take a look at the "charging" capabilities of that Promariner. His multimeter should answer that question in just a couple of minutes.

If the charger checks out, then this really only leaves your current wiring set-up and at that point if it's not stock you are at the mercy of what changes the previous owner might have made. (Also, don't forget what Prowlerfish mentioned about setting the charger to fit the AGM batteries)

But lets face it, you won't have much fun leaving the dock knowing you're at the mercy of a big "question mark" regarding your batteries.

Here's what I'm still not positive about regarding my boat after five years.

1. When finished boating and leaving the boat in my slip, plugged in and charging, should I switch the battery selector to BOTH ? (underway, I always alternate daily between 1 and 2 as per instructions in manual)

2. Why can't all my DC accessories be wired to the HOUSE deep cycle battery? (leaving the high cranking output starter batteries for only starting)

Changing the subject..... The gear shifters can be easily jarred slightly ("knocked off neutral) which will prohibit battery power from getting to the starter motor for that particular engine. You'll find yourself pushing the starter button and getting nothing. If that happens, wiggle the lever to make sure that you have neutral properly engaged.

Saltlife, you've probably rejuvenated my interest in getting these battery issues solved once and for all. :) I do believe though, that it's no small job to get the boat re-wired in the manner I have described above.

Best

Rick
Trojan 1994 370 Express, 502 Bluewaters

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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by Saltlife68 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 11:38 pm

Hi Rick,

Well, just as you were likely writing this I did call the mechanic over... It's the charger. Totally no good. We tested it every which way from sideways... Nothing. Sooo, now on to find a new one and the challenge of wiring it correctly. Mechanic did suggest a 2 or 3 bank (generator optional) and wired directly to the batteries not run into the selector switch as it is now. So all in all I feel much better about it all.

Took her out this afternoon and let her cruise... Loved it and that's what it's all about!

Did some exploring when I took the bed out and got a good look at the trannys and bikge/hull. Everything looks great.

Hope you had a good day out there!
Saltlife

(ps: the heater under /behind the captain's seat... Is that solely for the water lines - particularly the ice maker line? Thinking about pulling the ice maker out. Water line has come un-done before and caused a water leak in the mid cabin. Fortunately I actually found it early enough and it was one day when I had the boat out for a sea trial.)
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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by prowlersfish » Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:35 am

Glad you found the issue . Nothing wrong with staying with Promariner . Of course there are other good choices out there like Mastervolt and others .


What area are you boating in ?
TROJAN F36 Conv.
6BTA Cummins diesels
Life is to short for a ugly boat :D
2009 TROJAN RENDEZVOUS
Port Kinsale 2010 & 2011. Solomons get together 2011.

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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by rickalan35 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:02 am

Dear Saltlife68,

Glad you located the charging problem.

I am a little confused by your question about the heater. Did you perhaps mean "under the mid cabin seat"? In my boat, there is an eleven gallon Seaward electric water heater/heat exchanger. It's located under the mid cabin seat (the seat visible in your new photo). Engine coolant runs through it when we're underway thus heating the fresh water in the eleven gallon tank. When plugged in at the marina, the water heater uses AC power to heat the water in the tank.

I see in the photo that your galley wall has been updated with modern wall tiles by the previous owners. Looks very nice.

I had forgotten that you mentioned you were in possession of all the original manuals, so you will already be aware of the fact that they unfortunately don't give the actual dimensions (I was wrong) of the midcabin seat cushions. But on page 5.5-8 there is a draftsman's illustration of them (four horizontal seat cushions and five vertical seat backs). You will have difficulty replicating the two corner-cushions as they are ninety degrees as shown in the diagram. If you ask your upholsterer to simply fix the problem his own way, I'm sure you will be happy with the result.

If you want me to snap a photo of my midcabin seating, or anything else in particular from my boat, please send me a private message (see top of the page, right side, underneath the search box) with an email address or teach me again how to post photos on here. LOL

Off topic, I installed a Rudder Indicator on my boat. We all back into our slips at my marina and in this particular boat it's rather difficult to know if we have the rudders exactly centered. It will back much better with the rudders centered. Also, do not make the mistake of trying to back up with the trim tabs in any position but Full Up............ second off topic point, these are deep draft boats because of the angle at which our shafts exit the hull, so you will need more than 4' 2" of water under your rudders.

Cheers

Rick
Trojan 1994 370 Express, 502 Bluewaters

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Re: My First Boat - 1997 Trojan 390 Express - Caught between 2 worlds

Post by rickalan35 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:15 am

Saltlife68

Re-read your post re: the icemaker. I think you meant the refrigeration mechanism connected to the icemaker. Yes what you referred to as a heater is only connected to the icemaker. I haven't managed to junk my icemaker yet, but it's on my bucket list for sure. Storage space is already limited on these boats compared to my previous boats and I can for sure make better use of the space that the icemaker occupies. On page 4.1-4 of our manual there is a diagram that shows you where the water supply line to the icemaker tees off the main line going back to the fresh water shower on the swim platform.
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