Kohler 45R82

40 kW Kohler Genset, 1965 (?)

As a certified cheapskate, I was completely unwilling to pay the going rate for a genset that could handle the entire 225 A/240 V service to the house, for backup power. (We have electric heat, the furnace alone draws 28 kW.) I'd been watching GSA auctions for months, but everything was either too far away or ended up costing too much. (Converting the house to propane is possible, but would end up costing a fair amount too. Without a doubt the lowest-cost path was to find a surplus (cheap) genset large enough to do the job and with enough life left in it to serve.)

Finally one came up nearby, and my bid won it! For $404 I was the new owner of a 40 kW propane-fired genset located in Cheney, about an hour away. It is old, circa 1965, but looks substantial. 6-cylinder Hercules engine, Kohler 3-phase generator. The one unusual thing about it is that there is no starter motor. The 24 V DC exciter for the generator field is very stout, and serves as the starter motor as well. A heavy Lucas electric starter had been sitting on the generator for some time and I guess everybody assumed it went with it (it certainly followed me home). But it doesn't belong, there isn't even a ring gear for it to bite, and why would Kohler (USA) have put a British starter on the Hercules (USA) motor anyway?

Supposedly it had run two owners ago, and while the previous owner (a wildlife refuge) had never used it it had been stored in a shed under a tarp. Well, there is a reason it was for sale. It was frozen and wouldn't turn over (by hand). So I took the head off and found three very rusty cylinders. In a shed under a tarp? I don't think so.

I was starting to think that an engine transplant was in the works. But it's not like that is particularly easy to do, either, given that the rear main bearing of the engine serves as the front bearing of the generator.

After learning about a very helpful tip on electric rust removal, I was able to remove the accessible rust from the three cylinders, exposing the cracked block that was the source of the water for one of them. (The other two looked like rainwater had gotten in.)

A local shop that knows about Hercules engines says it can sleeve the cracked cylinder for $100 or so, and a standard head job is about $250. But the remainder of the parts for a cheap rebuild are not cheap, and the whole job was estimated out (using mostly my labor I might add) around $2000! I'm still looking at my alternatives.

Pictures (in progress):

Pictures (finished):

This was a lot of work, and significant expense. And assuming it all works, I've got a slightly-too-small generator that runs on the 'wrong' fuel, and is three-phase instead of one. All far from ideal. On the other hand, it's an extremely solid unit, and one that I've seen selling for $5,000–6,000!

(In fact it could be exactly the right size—if the house were completely re-wired for 3-phase! The various heating elements, especially the furnace, draw less power at 208 V than they do at 240 V, and there are enough individual elements within the electric furnace to spread them around the phases. A system could probably be worked out using a giant knife switch on the furnace and some seriously custom cabling, but the trouble and expense hardly seem worth it. Heating with wood during power outages has so far been entirely satisfactory.)

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Message from GSA:
06/30 08210085 PM CDT A1FBPI04099329 You bought 1 lot at 404 USD per lot.


...Here follows some random recollections, I wasn't keeping good records at that time.

???, 2004

Went to the wildlife refuge with the car trailer at lunchtime, they loaded it onto my trailer with their shop's traveling crane and I chained it down. The guys at work were less fascinated by the interesting piece of machinery than I thought they would be. OK, it is pretty homely!

???, 2004

Used the Mog's crane to unload the genset and swing it over next to the house. I didn't put down the stabilizer pods, which was a mistake, the Mog almost fell over. Only that I as a rule don't lift things higher than I need to kept this from being any worse than mildly embarassing. The Mog's a lot more tippy on its suspension than you think. I released the load with the crane, put the pods down, and then lifted it and finished putting it into position. That genset is heavy!

???, 2004

The engine would not turn over. Disgusted, I pulled off the manifolds and then the head. Three rusty cylinders. Very rusty. The head was also pretty sad looking, too. I slathered penetrant all over the place, but nothing doing, it still wouldn't turn over.

???, 2004

I got a scrap piece of new cutoff muffler pipe that filled a cylinder fairly well, sticking out the top, and turned a piece of plywood for a base/spacer so that it could sit down on the piston and not slide over and contact the block. (Not really necessary, but nice. Any insulator would have done.) With the wood sitting on the piston and the pipe sitting on that, sticking out the top, I then filled the cylinder with warm water that had a spoonful of washing soda (sodium carbonate) dissolved in it. I then clipped the battery charger negative lead to the block and the positive to the muffler pipe and turned it on. I could see some circulation and bubbles start forming in the water, so I left it on overnight. When I turned it off and pulled out the stuff the next day the water was extremely gross, and the muffler pipe was very rusty. I mopped out the water, and wiped the exposed sides of the cylinder. They were now glass smooth, with no sign of the rust. Miraculous! I repeated this on the other two rusty cylinders, with the same results.

However, there is a big crack in one of the cylinders. That's the water in it. The other two look more like rain, or at least condensation, got in. They were probably the ones that had open exhaust valves.

???, 2004

The engine still will not turn over. Disgusted, I pulled off the generator end. That was not easy, since the engine couldn't rotate to pass the flywheel bolts by the access holes. I could reach a lot of them, but some I could see but not reach. I bought a sacrificial 12-point box-end wrench at the pawn shop and used the smoke wrench to bend it into an extremely custom hook shape that could reach around the cooling fins to get to them. I had just enough travel that I could run the wrench one notch at a time. Took a long time to get all the flywheel bolts out. Once they were out I could remove the housing bolts, and then crane the engine off the frame.

???, 2004

I disassembled the motor, exposing the crank. I could get the three good pistons out normally, but the other three... I disconnected all the connecting rods and then the crank would turn. Even with only one piston hooked up at a time I couldn't break them loose with torque. I did what de-rusting I could from the bottom, but that didn't help.

???, 2004

Using Kroil penetrant, and a big square steel drift on the heavy boss on the bottom of each piston, and a BFH, I was able to pound the pistons out of the engine. Very scary! Had to be careful not to pound too hard, I didn't want to crack the aluminum. It felt like I was right on the edge. The rings were all solidly frozen to the piston. Rust! The pistons themselves look fine.

???, 2004

Before deciding on whether or not to attempt a rebuild I decided to try to spin/test the generator. To do this I connected 12 V to the 24 V exciter/starter, and the generator started spinning. Slowly, which was good since the generator was cantilevered from only one end bearing as the engine had been removed. There was some wobble, but nothing too bad.

After checking that the field was getting voltage I checked the outputs and found a low AC voltage there, at maybe 20 Hz. I connected a car headlamp to each winding in turn, and when spun up the filament lit up (modestly), and throbbed at the low frequency. This proved that the magnetics were working, at least enough to risk an engine rebuild.

???, 2005

I took the engine to a local machine shop [RAM Engine, now defunct] that knew about Hercules engines, and they were able to sleeve the one cracked cylinder. ($100) They honed the other five and rebuilt the head (which badly needed a valve job as it turned out, due to the water rusting the seats). ($250)

In keeping with my stated intent of minimizing the cost for a rebuild good enough for backup power purposes, they thought that the bearings were all reusable, but strongly advised against attempting to re-use the rings even though it was apparent that the engine had low hours on it. They said they'd never re-seat and seal, and not to waste my time.

It is up to me to find a ring kit, and a gasket kit. And to put it all back together. Assuming I can remember how.

???, 2005

I did get the generator and frame into dry storage in the garage near where the machined block/head were stored. (It had been tarped outside for a considerable time.) Using the Mog's crane, this was fairly straightforward. I think I'll still attach some heavy casters to the bottom of the frame (skid) to allow for easier mobility. When finally installed into place, the skid will probably be up on timbers or something anyway. The casters can be left there in case.


Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Found some bed rails in the weeds (my scrap pile), and bought six medium-weight rubber-tired iron wheel casters from Harbor Freight when they were on sale. I welded up a rollaround frame for the generator, which will greatly ease reassembly and general messing around. I decided on a separate frame rather than welding the casters to the generator's skid. It should be solid enough, though the bed rails are a bit lightweight compared to the 1/8" angle iron I had in mind. Still, if it doesn't collapse under use it'll be good enough, and the price was sure right.

I had to use a floor jack to lift up the heavy (generator) end to get the frame underneath. A chain fall from the ceiling rafters lifted up the light (missing engine) end. For actually putting the engine back I think I'll hang the chain fall from the skyhook (Mog crane).

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Took the rod off one of the pistons (#1, the wet one due to the cracked block), and removed the rings. Very dirty stuff, it'll take a lot of cleaning. I broke one of the wrist pin keepers, it was very brittle. I'll have to get more of these, my brother (the mechanic) says I should replace them all.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Reassembly begins. I put the crankshaft in, the cam followers, and the camshaft (the cam and crank gears are nicely match-marked). Much easier said than done, but the bulk of the time was spent cleaning. (I haven't yet torqued down the bearing caps.) So much for the easy part, now it gets a bit tricky since I only vaguely remember how it all goes together, and I'll have to start making gaskets soon.

WD-40 and a rag was used for cleaning, and white lithium assembly grease was used on all the bearings. Some wet-and-dry sandpaper (and WD-40) was used to remove the odd bits of surface corrosion on bearing surfaces.

Friday, September 2, 2005

More cleaning. I got the timing vault and cover cleaned up, which took a bunch of scrubbing. (First I had to fix the parts washer delivery tube, which cracked a plastic fitting yesterday.) I got the old front main seal out using a hammer and a large 50mm socket to drive it out.

I also cleaned up the one piston I'd taken apart.

In the afternoon I went shopping. NAPA didn't have a front main seal, but I did pick up a roll of gasket paper and a tube of black RTV gasket maker, the good stuff. The local bearing supply house was able to supply a seal. But, they didn't have any wrist pin keepers (one of which I've broken). A driveline supply house also didn't have anything suitable. The engine rebuilding house I used for the machining had one used one they gave me, but I think it might be too thin. They said to call Tuesday if I wanted new ones and they'd talk to their Hercules guy to see what he could come up with.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

I scraped off the timing vault gasket surfaces with a razor blade, and laid out a new gasket for the back side. That was time-consuming, but not too difficult. A pencil, utility knife, tin snips, hammer, and hole punches all were useful.

I managed to knock two screws down into the block, and I had to pull the camshaft in order to fish them back out. It had to come out anyway to put the timing vault in place.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Made the timing cover and governor paper gaskets.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Torqued down the main bolts (80 ft-lbs), and the crank still rotated freely. Installed the left-right oil delivery bridge pipe and the pressure relief valve. Cleaned the distributor. I set the engine at TDC (1), more-or-less, and slipped the oil pump in. (It can only go in one way due to a shaved part of its gear, the only question is where the cam should be set when you put the pump in. There's only two likely possibilities: TDC #1, or having the two matchmarks on the gears at their closest-together position, and these two positions are actually pretty close to each other.) With this done, the distributor fit into its slot (on top the oil pump gear, and offset so it can only go on one way) with the rotor pointing roughly to #1, so the timing is all plausible. (Good thing I'd scratched a "1" on the side of the cap before original disassembly.) I was on the way to closing up the timing vault when I was interrupted.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Closed up the timing vault, and had it all torqued down and ready to put the front main seal and governor in. Panicked, and thought one of my new gaskets was severely displaced, so I loosened the timing vault to have a closer look. Nope, it's just much larger in that area than necessary, I guess I forgot to trim off the extra after the first rough penciled-in path of that area. Setback: I broke off one of the cam retaining bolts while putting it all back together (I'd thought they'd started to feel like they were 'giving'), and had to take the timing vault and cam completely off the engine in order to liberate the stub. I procured two new bolts at the store, with any luck I'll be a little less ham-handed when putting them in.

While I was out, I stopped by the engine rebuilding place to get them started on looking for wrist pin retainer clips.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Put in the camshaft and new bolts, and the oil pump. Installed the new front main seal, using a 50mm 3/4" socket as a seal driver. (Much stouter than the POS plastic Harbor Freight seal driver kit I'd bought a long time ago, and which I've never actually used instead of a socket.) The seal wouldn't go in, but after several minutes of heating the seal area of the timing cover with a propane torch (which only brought the temperature up to around body temperature) the seal went in nicely. I drove the seal in so that its lips rode on a new area of the shaft. Then I closed up the timing vault and torqued it down. With this all done, I then cleaned off the governor (filthy!) and installed it. The front of the engine is now done, it looks like pistons need to be about the next thing on the list. I don't think there's much else I can do right now, except maybe put on the pulley.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Cleaned and put in the aluminum 'bridges' that span the end main bearings, to which seal the front/rear castings and the oil pan. It's unclear to me whether or not these bridges had gaskets under their feet or not. I'm assuming not, partly because I don't see how their presence will make the thing more oil-tight.

The front pulley was very rusty, especially where the belt had been trapping water, which of course needs to be smooth! So I've placed the pulley in a bucket and am employing the electric rust-removal trick, using a sacrificial anode wire bent to encircle the pulley's groove.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Removed the front pulley from the bucket-o-death, and brushed it off. The rust came off nicely, a light sanding was all that was required to return the belt path to a nice smoothness. I then used a tap to clean out the two bolt holes on the front, used for a bolt puller for pulley removal. Drove the pulley onto the shaft using a BFH and another big socket. Put the (rusty) nut into the derusting bucket for its turn.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I went to a clearance sale at the local welding supply shop, and picked up a 10-gallon liquid-feed horizontal propane tank with fuel gauge, originally destined for a forklift. $50, and mostly full too. They had another one, I'm wondering if I shouldn't have picked it up too. Kind of small for this generator, but easy enough to transport by hand. If you could get at least a day's use out of one, having two would be very useful during an outage, if not entirely convenient. The eventual plan (assuming we keep this generator) would involve a large household-sized tank, for the generator and a hot tub (and anything else we might want to hook to it).

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Removed the nut from the bucket-o-death, and brushed it off under running hot water. Looks good, the rust was completely gone. Sprayed it with WD-40 to eliminate the water and put it (and the lockwasher) on the motor, using a piece of 2×2 to block the crankshaft. At this point I'm mostly just killing time until I can get the pistons ready to put back in. (Wristpin retainers is the issue.)

Out shopping today I dropped off a good wristpin retaining clip at the engine rebuilding place, so that they can try to locate equivalents. I also bought that other 10 gallon LP tank. $40 for this one (it's less full). Though getting more than a couple of hours out of one is unlikely, they've still got other uses, such as refilling small tanks (courtesy of the liquid feed). And I have one in particular I'm interested in keeping going: a small 2-gallon one that I use on the weed burner. Non-OPD, refill places now won't touch it. And as an odd size, a new one is not cheap. (Heck, it wasn't all that cheap in the first place.) I'd spend as much on a new baby tank as I did on the forklift tank I'll use to fill the old one.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The engine rebuilding house called, and a set of 12 new wrist pin retainer clips would be $55, plus shipping! I need more thought here...

I scanned my deteriorated generator schematic (it was pasted inside the control housing) and began re-creating it using Illustrator. (I put the 52 MB scan file in as a semi-transparent tracing layer.) Wow, this is tedious! My intent is to recreate it as accurately as is reasonably possible. (Partly as a test vehicle for learning Illustrator, but mostly because I have a suspicion that I'm really going to need it. I had located a faxed copy of the original drawing, but fax duplication is far too coarse to show all the necessary detail. It's nearly useless, but using it I was able to piece together the stuff from the missing parts of my original schematic.)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Illustrator. Got the schematic side of the drawing done.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Illustrator. Got the wiring diagram side (the remainder) of the drawing done. That was a tedious process, but went fairly smoothly. The results are also very nice. (The schematic and wiring diagrams are themselves a bit of a mess, but I managed to recreate the original mess fairly well. If you don't like the format, complain to Kohler! Re-engineering the diagrams would have taken significantly more work, and been more error-prone.)

The one problem I had (other than Illustrator's learning curve) was that the Mac kept crashing, but only when it got heavily loaded. I theorized that one of its three memory modules (256 MB, 64 MB, and 32 MB) was bad, so I started removing and reinstalling modules. With only the 256 MB installed, the system worked fine (yay!) but was a little boggy. (With anything less than 256 MB it's doubtful that the system would be usable for any serious work.) With the 64 MB added to the mix, it still would crash. Substituting the 32 MB for the 64 MB resulted in a less boggy session, and no crashing. It appears that the 64 MB module is bad, and needs to be replaced. Preferably by something bigger. As Jill's iMac also has only 256 MB, and she's the one that's really going to stress her computer, we'll need to get more memory for it too.

I spoke to my brother, and given the high price of new wrist pin clips, he thinks that reusing any that are determined to be sound is reasonable. So I plan to remove all the clips to see how many break, and then order replacements plus a couple of extras. (I've already broken one.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Removed the remainder of the wrist pin clips, and broke two more. (The broken ones all had some rust on them.) Bouncing them all off the concrete floor results in nice ringing sounds from the intact ones, so they're probably good. With three broken clips, I plan to order four of them in order to have one spare. As they're $4.50 each, I don't want to purchase any more of them than I need to.

...The engine rebuilding shop said that while their original vendor wasn't interested in selling partial sets, they'd found another place that would sell the entire set for $21. That's about what I was going to pay for the four clips I needed, so I told them to go ahead. Unfortunately it'll be awhile before they get in.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The long-awaited pallet-load (two, actually) of GSA surplus transfer switches is finally in my possesion. This lot had been won ($60) on the first of the month, but due to paying with a cashier's check and not having a fax machine I never did get my copy of the paperwork. (The process for the generator itself had been quite snappy.) And as a trip to Yakima (their former home at the Bureau of Reclamation) had been scheduled for some time, I was starting to worry that I wouldn't be able to pick them up today. Fortunately they didn't seem to be too worried about the disposition of this load of junk, they just wanted it to go away!

We had been scheduled to pick up a piece of hierloom furniture from our relatives as well as my modest load of six items. I'd thought about bringing the car trailer as well as the empty pickup, but because the dog run we had also wanted had already been claimed by another relative, I figured the truck alone would hold everything we were bringing home. Once I got there, the worry started. These things were big. Very big. And heavy. Eventually they got both pallets loaded using their forklift, but we had to leave the tailgate down, and one of the original pallets wouldn't fit into the truck. We had to transfer the one big Zenith switch to another smaller pallet. (I did bring home the original pallet, which was very stout and made of 2×6 lumber. Stacked on edge along the side.) We then drove over to the relatives' house for our visit, and for me to think things over.

All items but the one big switch were small enough to be manhandled by one guy, and light enough to be carried by two. One was even light enough for easy carrying by myself. So I spent an hour rearranging the truck to try to make room for the shift. The big Zenith switch was too heavy for me to shift. I made some headway, but it looked iffy to me. The furniture was buried in the corner of the garage, so I didn't get a real good look at it anyway.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

My father-in-law showed up, and together he and I got out that china hutch and found that indeed it wouldn't fit in the hole I'd been able to make for it amongst the heavy metal. However, he and I were able to unload the truck and then tip the big switch up to stand it on edge, which made more room. We tied it down, and then put in the furniture, padded with blankets and pillows, tied it forward, and then the rest of the metal boxes, tied towards the back of the truck. It all fit nicely, even the three pallets. (Big one on the bottom, the others stacked vertically on the sides.)

To save money, I'd arranged for this trip to be an economy run. On one memorable occasion before I'd managed in excess of 26 MPG in the truck, the secret apparently being to go slowly and on its original (narrower) tires. So earlier in the week I'd removed the big wide wheels and tires I'd put on for stability when hauling the camper, put back the stock ones, and told my wife to prepare herself, and her rampant impatience, for a slow trip. On the way down I'd set the cruise control so that the tachometer read 1800 RPM, a figure I'd heard was the efficiency peak of the Cummins. About 58 MPH, we were passed by everybody. (Just like the last time I remembered.)

Because the fuel gauge sender is flakey (a well-known weakness in Dodge trucks of this vintage: for example as we came down the hill into Yakima the reading fluctuated slowly between 1/8 and greater than 1/2 of a tank) we were unable to reliably tell how we were doing fuel-wise, but it looked good to me. I find that the gauge always reads low when it's lying, I've never had it read higher than seemed plausible. Besides, the truck has a 35-gallon tank, and I've never yet needed to put more than about 20 gallons in it.

The slow trip home was uneventful, though the low fuel light did come on at times. (And then it went up to 1/4 of a tank.) Unlike the Mercedes fuel sender, which uses a separate contact for the light for some semi-independence, the truck just measures the voltage out of the sender to trip the light. Since the sender lies, so does the light.

We went directly to my favorite fueling stop, and when my wife had finished the logging (about 475 miles, and 18.5 gallons) and I'd asked her how we did, she looked sheepish and mumbled "25.7". Score! She'd been griping about the slowness of the trip the whole way, but I think she appreciated the fact that this trip cost us nearly half what it might have.

I attribute the slightly lesser mileage (than the all-time best) to the fact that this time there was an extra trip home included (my record run was a fillup on the way out to a fillup on the way back, so the entire record trip was warm freeway miles), four stops in the middle (including the overnighter), two sessions of stop-and-go in Yakima, the fact that the AC was on for about a quarter of the trip, and the weight and bulk of the load in back. Still a pretty good result, IMHO.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Unloading day. The result of all this procurement activity? Six big boxes:
  1. A big 3-pole 400 A Westinghouse safety (service disconnect) switch. (Throw the switch, Igor!) Weathered, but looks very usable. I'm hoping to eventually use this between the meter and my transfer switchery.
  2. An ASCO 30 A three-phase automatic transfer switch, designed to switch a load from one supply (line) to another (backup power). Looks to be in perfectly usable condition, but it's too small for any use I have at the moment.
  3. An older (mid-60's) Onan LTD-200 200 A automatic transfer switch, apparently for controlling a backup generator. This one looks like a real contender for use. Contains over- and under-voltage sensing relays, a frequency-sensing relay, startup and shutdown timers, and a weekly exercise time clock. Plus an intact schematic (Dwg #616C6080) pasted inside the lid. Even if none of the automatic stuff is functional or can be made to work, the big switches look good and can probably be manually triggered with a toggle switch. That's all we really require, as I don't think we want fully automatic backup power. At least not until we secure a much larger fuel tank!
  4. A not-quite-so-old Onan OT Power Sentry OTUDD225 225 A automatic transfer switch, also apparently for controlling a backup generator. This one looks perhaps even better for my initial purposes, as it's 225 A (same as our service) and has nice big operating handles inside for manual switching. Much of the control electronics in this switch are (were) on plug-in modules, and are missing.
  5. A same-vintage Onan Power Sentry ATUEC60 60 A 3-phase automatic transfer switch, also apparently for controlling a backup generator. The transfer switch relay on this one is partially taken apart, and there are Onan parts boxes inside the cabinet. Not a good sign. Much of the control electronics in this switch are (were) on plug-in modules, and most are still there. Perhaps this one could supply modules for the other one, if I were tempted to restore it to full operation. (Unlikely, I think.)
  6. The big kahuna, a 300 A Zenith transfer switch, circa 1970. It's large, some 4×5×1 feet, and made out of 1/8" sheet metal. Quite heavy. Internally it's similar to the Onan LTD-200 in its control path, though of course much differently constructed. This one also looks like it could be made to work (or at least serve as the heart of a new design), and does contain an intact schematic. Of interest is that it's entirely open, laid out on a large phenolic board. Nothing is buried inside boxes, including the big switch contacts. All the wiring is point-to-point along the surface of the board. This makes this unit particularly attractive if a new control unit were to be designed for it, the existing solenoids and driver relays could be preserved. New electronics (PIC or something like that) could replace the relay ladder logic, voltage and frequency sensors, and the timers.

Out of this I expect to use the disconnect switch, and one of the 200 A transfer switches. I don't expect its automatic features to work, I'll be more than happy if the switchover is a manual process (whether big handle or toggle switch). But you can't touch this stuff new for $60, I'll tell you that! According to the guy loading the stuff, it wasn't dead or anything, just old and superseded. But stored out in the weather for awhile.

The rest will be scrap, or spare parts or something. The big boxes might be nice, with a little paint.

For the time being, I've taped up the holes in the boxes (to keep the weather and bees out, etc.) and have stacked them on their pallets out of the way.

Friday, October 7, 2005

The new wrist pin clips came in. Unfortunately they're 0.014" thinner than the old ones! This is very disappointing, I paid plenty for these because they were supposed to be exactly what I needed, but they won't fit as snugly in the grooves as they ought to. I could have shopped in the bins at NAPA to get ones that were almost right. I'm not sure what to do, I'm going to get some expert opinions.

When asked, the guy at the engine place asked "How much you going to drive it?" That's not a good sign!

Monday, October 17, 2005

At the liquidation store, I bought several rattle-cans of John Deere green paint for painting this thing after it's all back together. It's not the battleship gray that it was before, but it's not like that's a particularly attractive color anyway.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Tried to reinstall the wrist pin that I'd removed back in August, using the old clips, and found that the pin is tight on the connecting rod and loose in the piston! Only after messing with this did I read a Haynes book on Mercedes engine repair, shopping for generic opinion on engine rebuilding, where they caution against removing the wrist pin unless you have a machine shop do it. Great, I think I just made a mistake. We'll see what expert opinion says.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

I talked to my brother, and he didn't have much to suggest other than trying to put the offending assembly into the oven at 200 °F to see if it changed things. (It's nice to have the old kitchen oven out in the garage, much less contentious than trying to bake oily parts in my wife's cookie factory!) That or take it to a machine shop if a gentle honing didn't cure it. I messed around with it a bit, and the oven treatment seemed to loosen the piston bores more than the connecting rod bore, though when the rod was heated and the wrist pin was not, it slipped in easily. So, though it's out of whack it isn't really that bad.

Some of the other pistons, untouched by me, showed that all three bores are of approximately the same looseness. So, I think in the worst case a gentle honing of the one connecting rod bearing will do the trick. We'll see. It seems clear to me now that this engine doesn't have any weird restrictions about disassembly. This is what I would expect from an old, low-tech industrial engine.

I also removed the rings from three of the pistons. This doesn't sound like much but believe me it's a real treat! #1 had already been done, so I did #'s 2–4 today. #2 came apart no problem, but 3 & 4 were the rusty ones, and they were a real chore. Most came out with careful scraping, digging, and tapping with a hammer and a small screwdriver, but one had to be pried out in a lot of little pieces. These two pistons are now sitting in the solvent tank. #2 went through the whole cleaning process (scrub brush) and got new rings. I cut a section of metal banding (from a lumber delivery) to use as a ring compressor, and put #2 into its bore. (Just using the strap of springy metal with 90° bends in it [ears for clamping on], some oil, and a pair of vice-grips. I'd successfully used this technique earlier on a tiller motor. It took three compressions [easy] to get a piston in. Once for the bottom ring [of four], once for the next two up, and once for the top ring. The only trick is that the top ring has to be installed in the piston after the piston's mostly in place as the band is a little too narrow to clamp the top three rings all at once, and the top ring, if in place, will prevent the piston from going in the bore when doing the middle two rings.) The piston's home, but the bolts are not torqued yet.

I reused the original wrist pin clips, the ones that had not broken upon removal (the rusty ones) seemed perfectly fine: they're solid and at least fit correctly. I'm not sure what to do for the three broken ones, one option is to reuse them anyway as it's only the removal ears that are broken off. They'd be a bugger to get into place, they certainly were to get out! Another is to put in the new ones that are too thin, but glue (green Loctite) them in place (the suggestion of the engine place).

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Cleaned pistons 3 & 4, those that had been exposed to rain. They were very gunky indeed, but cleaned up using warm solvent, a bristle brush, and the remains of broken old rings. Fine wet-and-dry sandpaper was used in the solvent tank in order to remove the carbon and goo from the piston areas above the rings. Put new rings ($15/set) in, and installed the piston assemblies into the engine. (That metal banding worked well as a ring compressor I must say.) I used the new slightly-too-thin retaining clips to replace the broken ones (which had come off these pistons). I just used them as-is, I don't really think they're going to wiggle around any and hog out their holes. They will just allow the wrist pin itself to walk back and forth in its bore a slight amount farther than before, should they be so inclined.

Removed old rings from, cleaned, put new rings on, and installed pistons 5 & 6; they were no problem. Neither even needed the ring grooves scraped out since these weren't the 'wet' cylinders. Just a gentle scrubbing in the solvent tank and they were nearly as clean as new ones would be. I remain convinced that this was a low-hours engine that had merely been neglected.

#1, the problem piston with its tight rod bearing, was last. I examined it carefully and decided that the real problem was that I'd somehow managed to raise a slight ridge inside it, as the wrist pin would slide in from either side to a point where you could see a faint line. So I used a piece of that worn wet-and-dry sandpaper, wet with oil, wrapped around a socket as a hone. I was able to take down the slight high spot enough that the wrist pin slipped easily through. Afterwards, this piston felt like all the rest so I had no fear that it was going to be an ongoing problem.

I then screwed in the four head studs that the machine shop had removed when sleeving #1. I used a pipe wrench.

Finally I torqued down the rod bearing caps and called it a day. The engine turns over nicely using a wrench on the pulley nut.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Placed the head on the block. Heavy! I'd looked at putting on the oil pan first, but that can't be done until the bell housing is installed, and that can't be done until the engine is removed from the engine stand. That'll be fun!

Torquing down the head was somewhat difficult as it's done in three stages, with the last one being 175 lb-ft: a real pull! My good (beam) torque wrench only goes to 100 lb-ft, but I had another cheaper beam wrench that went to 140, with enough unmarked travel off the end of the scale to get to 160+. So I used it and guessed. You really have to put your back into it. It was like rowing: feet on the engine stand, both hands on the wrench, and body at something like a 45° angle, all while craning your neck to try to read the wrench's scale! Add to this the fear that the wrench will slip off and you'll launch yourself backwards onto a car or pile of junk, or that the engine will break off the cheap Chinese engine stand and crush your legs...

Of course, there was no problem, and it went smoothly, but I am wishing now that I'd bought the heavier engine stand, this one is groaning under the strain of the heavy Hercules.

Putting on the rocker arms was difficult, as the holes in the thing didn't want to line up with the studs (concentric with head nuts). Not to mention that the rocker bar is in two pieces and you really need about six hands to manage everything. But with enough fiddling around and tapping with the brass hammer it eventually went together. Still a royal PITA, due to all the springs and separate pieces.

I next set the valve lash to 0.016", cold (very). They were initially very tight, what with all the mucking around. (Valve job, new head gasket, etc.) I wire-brushed off the valve cover, and gave it a first coat of rattle-can green. I'm planning to reuse its cork gasket, which is intact and looks decent, though I may need to use a bit of sealer on it. I won't seal it until after the engine runs in enough to check the valve lash again.

I then drove the rear main seal out of the bell housing, and rounded up one of the rusty spark plugs. Time for a trip to town!

...No problems in town, a new seal was $27 at the local bearing supply house, and spark plugs were about $9 at NAPA.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It's not easy being green.

I scrubbed off the greasy bell housing with TSP, and then wire brushed it. I blew it off and put it in my shop oven to dry. (I am so glad I didn't let my wife get rid of the old kitchen oven.) It hung out the door quite a ways, and was almost heavy enough to collapse the racks! I then got out a radiant shop heater that I'd bought but never set up and put it and the spare propane tank out in the greenhouse, and then humped the now-dry (and rather hot) bell housing out there. The greenhouse is bright (at least during the day), spacious (since it's winter), and (with the heater) warm. Not a bad place to do some painting, and there's no risk of overspray getting onto one of the cars. It's too cold to paint directly outside, my usual practice, not even considering that it's snowing today. I'm painting the engine side of the bell housing, since once it's attached it would be difficult to paint that side cleanly. More rattle-can John Deere green.

I also wire-brushed the rust off of the old spark plugs, they went into the holes for when I paint the engine. The intake manifold also got wire-brushed, and then I put the valve cover on and painted the manifold and head, along with the ends of the engine block.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More painting on the intake manifold. I also wire-brushed the exhaust manifold and heat shield, and rattle-canned the manifold with black high-temperature BBQ paint and the heat shield with the green.

To put the bell housing on, the engine needs to come off the stand. I put two long scrap 2×8's on edge in the rafters of the garage, near the side and spanning four of the rafters, and nailed up a couple of scraps of wood to keep them on edge. I then hung the chain fall from this and attached the as-yet-unused load leveler I bought awhile ago to the chain. The engine's head had four nice big tapped holes on the ends, perfect for screwing the leveler's four chains to. I attached the chains (temporarily using the bell housing bolts until I can purchase some for the purpose) and lifted the whole assembly, engine stand and all! It came right up off the ground, and was even nicely level. This will work out fine. While I still plan to use the Mog's crane to install the engine, I can't really use that to hold the engine up in the air while I work on it over time. For starters that would have to be outside, and the crane leaks down when left alone for awhile. Both are bad characteristics for the job.

In the evening I went to town and bought four more bolts for lifting the engine with.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I hung the engine from the new bolts and removed the engine stand. Then I did a bunch of wire brushing, scraping, and TSP washing, and rattle-canned a coat of green on the block. I scraped off the gasket material and paint overspray from where the bell housing attaches, and cleaned off the rear main seal's shaft area.

I next cleaned off the gasket area of the bell housing, and cut a new gasket for it. I put the bell housing into the oven again to warm it up, and then installed the (cold) new rear main seal. Then I bolted the bell housing to the engine block.

Finally I did some touching up with the green paint. The engine looks mighty nice hanging there. Big problem: how am I going to put the engine back on the stand so I can turn it over to work on the oil pan? The engine stand arms won't reach all the bell housing bolt holes, and they're awfully small anyway. I've left the manifolds and flywheel off to keep the engine weight down, but hanging this mass of iron from only four of twelve small bolts is a frightening prospect.

In the evening I went to town and bought four spindly little Grade-8 bolts: 3/8" × 3". We'll see if this will work out. I'm still thinking about it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I went out and tackled hooking the engine back to the stand. The arms from the stand won't span enough to get more than two of them into the holes in the bell housing, but I scrounged around in my scrap metal pile and found two trailer hitch tongues. You know the type, about a foot long with a profile like "----\__", out of 1/2" metal and drilled to take a tow ball. Parts of Class 1 hitches, in other words. (I've been accumulating such hitch pieces preparatory to making some hitches for the front and back of the Unimog.) Anyway, they were about the right (extra) length, and already drilled. As it turns out, with extensive fiddling around I was able to flange together these things and get the engine attached to the stand, with no cutting, drilling, or welding! You don't get luckier than that.

Of course, this still leaves the engine attached to the stand via only four Grade-8 3/8" bolts, which is a bit disconcerting. However, I theorized that they're more than strong enough, if it weren't for the stress caused by the engine being cantilevered off the end of the stand. I did carefully lower the engine's weight onto the stand, and it didn't collapse. So, to alleviate the stress I looped an old 27" bicycle tire (a would-be tug-of-war dog toy, except that the dog won't have anything to do with it) around the shaft of the pulley and hung it from the chain fall's hook, and then lifted that end of the engine until it was level again. That makes most stress on those four bolts be shear stress, which should greatly eliminate any chance of disaster.

I then rolled the engine over so that I can work on the oil pan, and set the pan on it to keep out dust. Then it seemed like a good time for a break.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I did a bunch of wire brushing and scraping, and then a wash series of TSP/rinse/solvent/TSP/rinse on the oil pan, dried it, and finally rattle-canned a coat of green on it. (The first TSP wash was to get the big greasy chunks out of it so it wouldn't pollute my solvent tank unnecessarily.)

In the afternoon, a second coat of paint.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I solvent tanked and wire-brushed all 28 oil pan bolts and cleaned the pan mating surfaces. Then I ran a bead of high-temperature RTV gasket material around the oil pan, making it especially thick over the two aluminum bridges spanning the ends, and bolted her down. I no longer remember what the original gasket treatment for those bridges was, the gaps to fill with RTV are quite large. We'll see if this works! I then rattle-canned the bolt heads, and a few thin spots in the paint that I could see from the bottom.

Using the rafter hoist, I rolled the engine back over, hanging it from the head again, and removed the engine stand. Then I cleaned up and put on the flywheel, torqued it down, and threaded the (new) retaining wire through all the bolt heads.

Next was to install the exhaust and intake manifolds. I reused the exhaust gaskets, and used the RTV for intake gaskets. The exhaust studs got anti-sieze compound. One boo-boo: I initially installed the intake manifold upside down. I'd forgotten that the carburetor hangs from the bottom rather than sits on top. Three of the manifold nuts are missing, I'll have to find some more. The last step was to install the distributor heat shield.

This puppy is nearly ready to attach to the generator now. It's bee-youteeful hanging there on the hook. Still plenty of work to do, though.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

This morning I cleaned and painted the oil filter canister, and the air filter bracket. I also cleaned off the water pipe that screws into the oil drain fitting (for topside oil drain and fill). The painted parts are sitting in the oven drying, I'm trying a new thing there!

I then dragged the rest of the generator system out of the corner to prepare it for painting, and found that the solid wheel tires under the heavy end have developed flat spots. Bummer. I also found the old oil-pan end seals, tucked into a crevice in the frame. Those would have been nice to have earlier! I'm toying with the idea of popping off the oil pan and redoing it using these seals, there's no way I want to risk a pan leak given how much more difficult it would be to repair once the engine is installed.

Anyway, in the afternoon session I cleaned and then painted (first coat) the empty engine-end of the skid.

Today's shopping trip netted me three more manifold nuts, and another tube of goop.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

This morning I woke up and decided that I simply had to redo the oil pan, using the old fiber end seals. So I took it off, cleaned it up, and put it back on using the new tube of goo (as the old one was mostly gone, trying to fill the huge gaps over the bridges really soaked it up last time). This all sounds a lot quicker than it is! I had to reattach the engine to the stand so that it could be rolled over. That's time-consuming.

I also pulled off the intake manifold. I was not happy with the way it sealed down before as two (of five) of the gaskets had somehow gotten lost along the way, so I'm going to make some gaskets for it out of the gasket paper.

I also put another coat of green onto the half of the skid that I've been painting.

After breakfast I went back out and cut out the two new intake manifold paper gaskets I needed. Then I put the manifold back on. (And again managed to start putting it on upside-down. Sheesh!)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

This morning I reattached the oil filter canister. There was some question as to how everything oriented, but I think I got it back on right. The pressurized oil goes to the outside of the filter element, right?

Because I'm planning to install the engine today I also began cleaning the screen that goes over the generator fan. It was very gunky and caked with greasy dirt, and was easy to slip off the end of the generator while the engine was still removed. Much easier to clean separately rather than in-place.

...OK, I'm thankful I have a crane! I dragged the engine outside on its stand, and the rest out on its dolly. I then hung the engine from the skyhook (the Mog's crane), and lowered her in, using a chain fall, the load leveling bar, and a hydraulic jack on the tail of the generator to get all the angles right. Then I crept them together by lowering the chain fall and dragging the dolly into position. The worst part was getting the oil drain/fill pipe through the hole in the side of the skid, I ended up having to remove one of the motor mounts on the generator so I could pivot the whole assembly around the one remaining mount. (Maybe getting out the pipe wrenches would have been easier.) Anyway, with enough fiddling and trial-and-error, I got the thing in place and fastened the 8 flywheel bolts and the 12 bell housing bolts. Then I lowered the whole assembly onto the motor mounts. The engine turns over nicely with the wrench.

I'd even remembered to put the (painted) screen back on first. (Hey, this turkey's just about done.) It would have been harder to put in place after mating the two big parts.

Putting the thing away (so that I could deep-fry the bird) was a pain, the assembly is too heavy to roll on the dolly. The yard tractor just spun its wheels trying to drag it, so I extended the Mog's crane arm all the way out so that it hung beyond the generator, attached the chain and dragged it with the Mog. Dragged, even though the Mog was on the push side of the thing: the crane's boom extended over the generator to pull from the other side. This kept it from spinning around, which is what happened in my first attempt when I was just pushing against a plank wedged against the pulley. Dragging got it most of the way into place, but the crane is too tall to go all the way into the garage. I took another run at it by pushing with the crane against the plank to get the last foot or two. What a pain!

Friday, November 25, 2005

This morning I went to try to spin it on the starter and found my junk batteries dead. They're on the charger now, but I don't hold out much hope for them. I waited too long to use them! (The original plan was to avoid buying new batteries until after the thing was known to work.) I had to replace the positive battery cable with a junker I'd laid in since the clamp got yanked off the original one along the way.

I tanked the carburetor and cleaned off all the gunk, then installed it. Now I can see all the cast markings for the various adjustments. The throttle link rod now has one coat of green paint on it. I attached the air filter bracket to the head, and cleaned and painted the oil-bath air filter housing black (and which is drying in the oven). I've begun to clean off the water pump, which was very rusty, and to attach some of the water fittings to the block. One pipe nipple had broken off inside its fitting (before I got it), and I'm going to have to drill and tap it out. Attempts to file and chisel it out failed. I'll probably need some more tools for that.

...At Harbor Freight I bought a set of large twist drills and a pipe tap and die set. That ought to do it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I tried to spin it on the starter again, and found that the ensemble draws a lot of current immediately upon connecting the battery, and sucks my feeble battery dry. Not good, I've obviously got some electrical work to do next. The thing should draw negligible current when off (as it was). Good thing I've now got a schematic.

The drills and tap actually worked, the water fitting was restored to goodness. It didn't hurt that the broken-off nipple was brass. I then painted the fitting, cut out a gasket for it, and put it on the head. Then the whole area was painted again, which picked up the gasket edge and the bolt heads. I also attached the now-painted air filter housing, and cleaned and painted (black) the washable element, part of which shows. I put another coat of paint on the throttle rod. I also duct-taped the ratty intake air hose, and installed it. Not beautiful, but it will serve for now. I think I'm going to have to make a big purchase at the hose shop sometime, most of this stuff looks pretty tired.

After breakfast I went back out and cleaned up the remaining piece of the throttle linkage (a pivot block and spring). That was a pain due to lots of little crevices, the Dremel was part of the treatment. I painted it and put it in the oven to dry. I next did the drill/tap thing to get the other end of the broken nipple out of its T fitting, and then brushed and painted that fitting assembly. (It's for the block heater.) I then cleaned up the thermostat housing, made a new gasket, and installed the thermostat. The housing got painted, too. The air bleed hole in the thermostat housing was plugged, so I made sure to clean that out. The thermostat itself has a slit in its flange which perhaps serves the same purpose, so I also made sure to point it upwards.

My wife brought me a new brass nipple from the store when she went out. It may be too short, we'll see.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The "close" pipe nipple worked fine, no need to exchange it for a longer one. I installed its associated water fitting, and then began cleaning up the water pump assembly. Very rusty, it looked like it had never been painted. I got it all brushed off (and out, one of the large passages was half-occluded with crusty residue), put a coat of paint on it and bunged it into the oven (at 200 °F) to dry.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Somewhat surprised by a snowstorm, I didn't get much done on this today as it turned out to be snow tire day. But I did get another coat of paint on the water pump.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I cut out the two water pump gaskets, and installed the pump, the housing for the radiator fitting, and the throttle linkage block. Then I cleaned off and painted the fan pulley and the fan. They're now drying in the oven.

... I managed a second coat of paint before I went to bed. Should be ready for use in the morning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I installed the fan this morning. The belt (old, and will need to be replaced soon) was a joy to put on. There's no belt tension adjustment mechanism, I just rolled (crunched) the belt on using a wrench on the crankshaft. I just hate doing that.

Then I wire brushed the radiator housing and its shell, and rattle-canned a first coat of paint on it. It's three rather large pieces (not including the inside wire fan shroud), and is going to take some handling to finish.

...Later I put another coat on things, and stood the radiator up in its place. It's actually easier to paint most of it that way.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

More paint. I wire-brushed and put a first coat of paint on the inside fan shroud. It's a wire basket, and was a real pain to get all the rust off. I also installed one of the front shrouds on the radiator, and painted over the light spots. I straightened the few fins that were bent, and put some black paint over the spots where the original fin paint had failed.

Friday, December 2, 2005

I attached all the radiator pieces, and put on the wire basket shroud. Touch-up paint followed. This is the last of the green engine pieces. There's a little bit of fuel system to restore, and the coolant system plumbing.

And then on to the generator end and trying to get this thing to run.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

I had a look at the IMPCO fuel vaporizer, and I can't really see how this stuff attached to the frame. What's there for attachment looks kind of hokey, and it looks like there was no support for the fuel cutoff solenoid, it seems to have just been hanging from the fuel outlet pipe. (Didn't get much chance to play with this, instead I was fooling with getting the snowblower running again.)

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Looked at the starter solenoid, and found that when I replaced the positive battery cable I put the assymetrical lug on wrong way around such that it shorts to the mounting bracket, and hence to the frame and ground. That should be easy to remedy! (Otherwise I wasted the day on the snowblower.)

Monday, December 5, 2005

Remounted the positive battery cable to eliminate the short to ground, then hooked up the battery bank and tried flipping the start switch. Nothing. I jumpered the start terminal on the solenoid and it clanked nicely, but there was no sign of engine turnover. I didn't have any more time to mess with it today as I spent most of the day working on the snowblower. (Again.) I don't even know if it was drawing any starting current, nor whether the feeble battery bank was capable of driving anything more than the solenoid.

Monday, December 12, 2005

With holiday parties temporarily put to bed I was able to look at the genset again. Armed with a couple sheets of enlarged schematics, two as-charged-as-they'll-ever-be crap batteries and the Fluke I went out into the cold. With the battery bank hooked up, I was able to find that +24 V was not making it to the Start/Stop switch, yet did make it to the emergency stop switch. According to the schematic the most likely offending party was the overspeed switch, or if not installed, Jumper #1. I looked at the terminal block where the switch would have been hooked up, and found a jumper. OK; what I did not find were two screws hooking the jumper to the block: I only found one. So I raided the junkbox to find a suitable screw and hooked it back up properly. With that done, the Start switch now had power to it, so I flipped it on. CHUNK! The starter relay fired. A second or so later, it was CHUNKA-CHUNKA-CHUNKA... The feeble battery bank was dying, causing rapid cycling of the solenoid. One of the two 12 V batteries reads 0V during this condition. The motor never did turn over, but according to the Fluke I only was getting 100A or so at the peak of current draw. Hardly enough, I'd think. I'm going to need some real battery power to proceed much further. I put the feebs back on the charger anyway.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I cleaned up and resoldered the ruined positive battery clamp back to its cable. (Acetylene sure makes this kind of heavy heating a snap.) I hope this will end up being part of the inter-battery tie cable. Interestingly enough, the clamp is brass, not the more common lead.

I pulled the spark plugs and tried 'starting' it again. No joy, so I put a wrench on the tail of the exciter and twisted at the same time. It didn't take much of a twist and the set started turning, about a half second before the batteries died again. I really need new batteries!

...I went out and bought two used batteries at the U-Pull. $26, I hope that this will cure the problems for now. When I got home, I put them on the charger for tomorrow. I bought the two biggest batteries they had. Not matched in size, c'est la vie.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I hooked up the 'new' batteries, and hit the start button. WOOKA-WOOKA-WOOKA-WOOKA... Hooray! The thing spun over easily, at a pretty good clip. I put the spark (paint!) plugs back in, and tried again. WOOKA-WOOKA-WOOKA-WOOKA... Cool, this thing is going to work! It draws more than 350 A initial starting current, this drops off pretty good once it's spinning. I notice no sparking or any other evilness on the exciter/starter, so that's OK. The shop rag over the exhaust port bellies up nicely when it's spinning.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

At the store today I bought new bolts for mounting the fan shroud. (I'd lost some, and I didn't like flat screwdriver heads anyway.) I also nabbed a nice red panel-mount LED from the liquidator's (not sure what I'll use that for, but I'm sure I'll think of something.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

I installed the ignition coil, the oil pressure sender(s), and connected the wiring to these and the water temperature sender(s). (One each gauge and safety shutdown sender on both oil and water. Installation also included cleaning and painting.) I also put on the fan cage with the new bolts, and painted the bolts. I then used the multimeter to try to check the sender wiring, but readings were inconclusive.

So, I then disconnected the starter solenoid and hit the Start switch. (I didn't want the engine spinning and sucking major juice during this testing.) The oil and water gauges jumped to their zero marks, a good sign. I also was getting power to the ignition coil and the fuel solenoid. Good! After some time 'CLICK' and it all shut off. Even the start timeout relay was working, and resetting it (by hand) brought things back to life. Excellent. (This same time-delay relay [1TS in the schematic] is tripped by cranking, by low oil pressure, and by high water temperature.)

I then reconnected the starter solenoid and hit Start again, while holding the coil lead near ground. No spark. I tried to use the meter during cranking to see if the points were working, but it didn't really act like it. (It's hard to tell when using only a general-purpose DMM.) So I shut it down with the points block in the flat of the cam and measured the resistance of the points, which was infinite. Even pushing the points together yielded nothing. So I got out the point file and gave it a few swipes. This restored the points to normal operation, and cranking the motor again resulted in a nice fat spark jumping to the block. I put the cap on (temporarily—no rotor) and figured out the routing of the plug wires based on the #1 I'd scratched in the side of the cap, the natural bends of the wires, their lengths, and the firing order (1-5-3-6-2-4). We're getting closer!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Plug day! I gapped (0.034" based upon a reasonable average of the old plugs I pulled out) and installed the new spark plugs, using a dab of anti-sieze on the threads. I routed and plugged in the wires too. Then I popped off the distributor cap and greased the cam using white lithium grease, then cleaned the old rotor contacts and installed that too. Then I buttoned it all up and dug out the timing light. It flashes when cranking, but I couldn't see any marks through the 1" hole in the bell housing that I believe is there for timing purposes. I'm going to have to do some more research there. There's certainly no guarantee that I've gotten the ignition timing anywhere even close at this point. I need to get this straightened out before I feed it any fuel!

I then got out a bright light and a test light and tried to time (statically) the ignition. I found the 1800 RPM timing mark (handily labeled "1800", as opposed to the "1200" mark), and lined it up with the mark on the bell housing and tried to set the points-opening point for #1 at it, with a little bit of centrifugal advance applied. I don't know how close I came, but it should be close enough to run at least some. Cranking with the timing light doesn't show the mark, but I'm not sure what that might mean. Once the engine is running at speed I should be able to dial in the timing.

...Out shopping today I picked up a case of cheap oil ($0.50/qt on sale including rebate) and a Fram C4-P filter, for break-in. Also some other goodies like a battery disconnect and some heater hose at the liquidator's. (Sadly, 3/4" and not the 5/8" that it looks like it needs, but I can possibly make it work.) And a can of starting ether.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I installed the old oil drain pipe (which I think I might revamp after the first change) and poured in six quarts of oil. I installed the Fram C4-P filter, and put a quart of oil into the air cleaner. I also installed the quick-disconnect for the battery, and arranged the cables so I no longer need the jumpers while cranking (only for charging, since I have to swap the batteries back to parallel for that). Then I let her crank for awhile and noted that the oil filter housing was getting oil pumped into it. I don't know if the oil gauge sender works right as even with extensive cranking it didn't register much, but so long as at least some oil is being pumped I'm not too worried.

Hmm, what's left? Not much! I started it cranking, grabbed the can of ether, and gave it a few snorts. B-DDDD-AAAA-PPPP, it fired! This is a very heartening sign. I still need to rig up the fuel and cooling systems. Both promise to be a bit messy.

The spongy (needs replacing!) fuel delivery hose to the carburetor is 3/4", so that wrong-sized heater hose will have at least some utility on this project. The extra available length will come in handy for mounting the vaporizer in a little more secure position than it was originally.

...Out shopping today I picked up two replacement 2×24" corrugated coolant hoses, I was unable to find molded hoses that would fit. $25 each at NAPA, and that was with the AAA discount! But they're exactly what was there before, right down to the manufacturer: Gates. (OK, so the stripe is now yellow and not green, big deal.) Also procured was 8' of 5/8" heater hose for the fuel vaporizer and block heater plumbing. I was unable to get a molded 1×5/8" water pump bypass hose, that is going to take some doing. It's still intact but is getting kind of soft; it definitely needs replacing. The two different end sizes are the problem, it's a greater size spread than most of the hoses in the catalog. One option is to find a 1" hose that's molded right and use a collar of heater hose to shim the small end. Another would be to use hard pipe to do the routing, and just use short straight rubber bits to do the hookup.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I dug out a put-away and winterized garden hose and flushed the radiator. (I hate doing this, because afterwards I have to drain and blow out the hose again.) The procedure was to cork the bottom and fill it to overflowing, then yank the cork. This was complicated by doing it inside the garage, and trying not to get everything too wet. A fair amount of rusty scum came out, I'm sure this radiator would benefit from a trip to the radiator shop, but I'm not going to do that now. I then put on its two new big radiator hoses. After that I started brushing and painting the Kim Hotstart block heater junk (and the surrounding frame area) prior to mounting it and hooking up its plumbing.

...I got the Hotstart all painted and reattached, and I used new heater hose to plumb it in. Looks nice. (It's not wired up, I'm not sure that I would be using it anyway. It's a fairly high-powered item and thus not something I'd want to run all the time, yet when I'd need the generator there wouldn't be power [nor time] to run it. If it can crank over when it's really cold I'll probably just rely on ether if it has troubles getting going. Another consideration is that there's a nice block plug on the other side of the engine for a screw-in heating element, and those usually use half the power for the same effect as one plumbed into the heater loop like the Kim. On the other hand, the Kim is already there [paid-for!], and sometimes getting those block plugs out is a severe trial.)

Next up: the fuel system. I don't like the way the vaporizer was put in, and it looks to be upside down (not that this probably matters much). I'm going too see if I can rectify this, but all the plumbing will be severely disrupted if I do.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I cleaned the IMPCO Model EP fuel vaporizer using brushes and running warm solvent in the tank. This removed a lot of slime and grime. Because it was mounted upside down, it was in fact pretty full of motor oil. I don't know if this somehow worked its way in from the air cleaner, or whether there was some kind of incident, but I doubt it should be there. It seems to work properly in that it has a one-way action when I suck and blow into the vapor outlet, and you can hear the diaphragms moving when you do so. Blowing into the fuel inlet results in no flow unless you depress the priming button on the front, which is tied to the diaphragms that are moving inside. I'm fairly sure it works right, anyway. I'll be able to prove this out when I get the thing plumbed together. As I understand it there should be no flow until there is a mild vacuum on the vapor port, unless the priming button is depressed. (And normally the priming button should not ever need to be depressed.)

I read on-line that the IMPCO converter should be mounted right-side-up in order that trace impurities in the propane supply don't collect inside it. Ideally it's mounted above the carburetor so that said impurities run down into it and are consumed in the engine. That wouldn't be convenient here, but I can at least get it mounted right-side-up so it doesn't fill with crap, and the uphill hose to the carburetor could be opened and drained occasionally if there were a problem with impurities collecting. That's got to be easier than dismounting the entire vaporizer in order to turn it over and dump it out. I don't expect much in the way of accumulation in a backup generator, but at least what there is won't sit inside the guts of the vaporizer where it can perhaps do harm.

To actually turn it over will require removing a pipe nipple that's in the exit side. (The two water fittings seem to be symmetrical.) This nipple is the mount for the separate water thermostat for the vaporizer, which has to be on the exit side.

This particular vaporizer has an embedded solenoid that doesn't appear to have been hooked up in this application. I wonder if this is a priming solenoid. Current IMPCO documentation on the Model E vaporizer doesn't show any such thing. One on-line source (with a photo that looks like mine) called this an 'electric choke', but also implied that it enables a small unregulated propane flow. Prime? Choke? Whatever.

I also cleaned off the Century combination filter/fuel shutoff. (Sure was a lot of grunge on this generator.) I think I will mount it solidly to the genset's frame next to the vaporizer. Mounted 'properly', these two items will need longer hoses and pipes than they had before, but I think I'll be happier with them that way rather than hanging off the carburetor by a hose and tethered to the frame with a rickety network of scrap metal pieces.

I drilled new mounting holes for the vaporizer and fuel cutoff. I only broke one drill bit! (Grrr.) I then ground off the sharp bits and re-painted the metal.

Lastly I hooked up an old throttle spring to hold the throttle butterfly at idle. I don't want this thing to rev up until I'm sure the governor works. Overrevving could destroy the generator, or even the motor. Not something to play around with!

...Out shopping today I picked up mounting bolts for the vaporizer and fuel cutoff, some copper fuel tubing to reach between their new homes, and some pipe fittings to redo the oil drain pipe. I already have some 3/4" heater hose that looks like it'll work nicely for the longer vapor hose between the vaporizer and the carburetor. The existing hose is fabric-covered, but is too short and is all cracked and oily.

Friday, December 30, 2005

I mounted the vaporizer and fuel shutoffs to the bracket on the genset frame, and then connected up (using new heater hoses) the coolant and vapor connections to the vaporizer. I then cut and formed a length of copper fuel tubing and got out the flaring tool, flared the ends, and hooked up the liquid fuel line between the two items. (It's always nice to remember to slide the nuts on before doing the flares!) Next I wired the cutoff solenoid. (I should probably shorten its wire a bit now that it's in a different place than before.) It all looks pretty nice right now.

Then I unhooked the R12 filter/drier that was on the end of the LP hose and cleaned out the junk that had gotten jammed into the open end. I could replace this, but I think that if I heat it and put it under vacuum I can restore it to usability. We'll see.

I dug out the oil pan heater bar. I need to clean and paint its bracket and install it. I don't expect to need/use it, but I do like everything to be complete. It's the last piece off the thing to go back on.

Finally I got out one of the two forklift tanks and removed its exit fitting. I'll take it into town to see what I can come up with in the way of a mate to it, and maybe a couple of dust caps (one for each tank). I'm taking the flare fitting from the end of the LP hose also, as that is to be the other end of whatever I come up with. I'll take this junk, along with my one unreplaced molded heater hose, to House of Hose to see what they can do for me.

I'm getting close!

...Out shopping today I got a mating fitting (ACME) to the propane tanks, though it doesn't go on the fitting I took to the shop because it has a ding in it that I need to remove first. (Or so the clerk said. Supposedly there's nothing else that looks like that fitting except a BBQ tank, and this is not supposed to be a BBQ fitting.) I bought new sealing O-rings for the tanks because the one in the fitting I brought was nicked. The clerk said they seemed old and hard, so two new ones were appropriate. House of Hose has nothing in the way of molded coolant hoses, so I also picked up a sort-of-will-fit 1" molded coolant hose at NAPA. I should be able to stretch it into place and shim it (down to 5/8" on one end) to fit using heater hose. If not, I'll return it and think of something else. Goodwill also sourced an old pressure cooker that I hope to make into a vacuum tank for dessication of the R12 filter/drier (and other vacuum projects in future).

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Stupid clerk. What he sold me is a BBQ fitting. It screwed easily into the BBQ tank I filled yesterday, and in no way can fit into the ACME fitting on the forklift tank. (I removed the handwheel and then could easily see that it wouldn't go into the fitting.) Guess what business is not open on Saturday? My big push to have it run by New Year's is in jeopardy.

Plan B: Use the BBQ tank for fuel. I'll only be running at idle, and not for very long at a time so a vapor (rather than liquid) feed ought to work. So I hooked it all up and started cranking the motor.

Nothing. Though a snort of ether resulted in firing, so it seems that I'm not getting fuel.

Nuts. I then began a round of pulling off fittings to see where/if fuel was getting in. I could get a puff of propane out of the vaporizer, either by sucking on it or by pushing the prime button, but no continuous supply. I then started disassembling backwards towards the tank, looking for restrictions, etc. I even opened up the filter/cutoff (and found no filter element in it). Cracking the tank valve resulted in only a short puff from the straight hose into the filter housing, then nothing. WTF? I removed everything but the fitting, and found that apparently new BBQ fittings also have a flow check valve in them. I pulled it off the tank, and so long as you suck or blow gently on it air will pass, but do it harder and it corks off. CRAP! This fitting is useless, so back it goes for sure.

Plan C: The leftover 1' section of new 5/8" heater hose fits fairly snugly over the flare fitting on the fuel cutoff, and also the stub where the ACME fitting goes on the tank. It's also long enough to reach. So out come two hose clamps and voila: we have a liquid feed to the fuel cutoff. Cracking the tank results in a nice blast of propane into the filter housing. Yeah, baby!

I then put the fuel system back together, checking as I went. The fuel cutoff works, as it happens. With it all back together and the cutoff energized, sucking on the hose from the vaporizer results in propane flow, but nothing comes out otherwise. (Unless you press the prime button in which case a burst comes out then stops.) Looks good!

With the system all put back together I flipped the switch. Pooka-pooka-pooka-pooka-BLATTTT-budda-budda-budda... It runs! A nice idle, even. A bit loud, of course, since there is no muffler. Flip the switch off and it stops. This is great!

If I'm going to run it for more than a few seconds at a time I need to fill it with coolant. I tried to fit the new hose, and it just won't reach. Great, I have to return it and figure out something else. I installed the old hose so that I could fill it. I got a bucket and put in a measured two gallons. Yum, more please. (Oops, left the drain fitting open on the block. Easily closed, and I only lost a cup or two.) Another two gallons.... and two more. The last pint of the six gallons doesn't quite fit. Man, that's a lot of coolant capacity. I did it this way for three reasons: if there's a leak I want it to be water and not antifreeze, I'll need to replace the old hose and I'll probably make a mess doing so, and I need to know the total coolant capacity so that I can know how much to put in for a 50% mixture. Later I'll drain off three gallons and put in antifreeze. (I only bought two gallons for this thing, so I'll have to get another.)

No sign of big leaks, so I fire the generator up again. It idles for awhile, and I even run the throttle up a little. Seems smooth enough. (The fan on the generator blew out some pine needles at the higher speed.) The oil pressure gauge reads 40 PSI. Everything is going well, then it dies. I look, and find that the thermal cutoff switch (the overcrank/overtemp/underpressure breaker) has popped. I'll have to dig in to find out why it did. Possibly one of the temperature or pressure safety senders has failed.

Still, this is a very good sign! I've got a lot to do yet, but we're on the way. Time for breakfast.

...Out shopping today I returned the molded hose and bought some 1" straight heater hose and some copper water pipe and fittings. We'll see if I can fabricate a new coolant pipe out of hard pipe with two short rubber hoses for hookup. No place that sold propane junk was open today so I have to stick with my hose clamp fuel supply. I was also unable to find my two gallons of antifreeze, so I bought three more.

Looking at it this evening it is apparent that the LPG is attacking the heater hose, it's seeping through at the band clamps. So, this will not be a good solution even for the weekend. But we'll get by somehow. I released the pressure and removed it so that I can put it back on for demonstration purposes later. But it's obviously not to be trusted unattended.

There also might be a slight coolant leak at the middle of the intake manifold. I suppose it could be the head gasket, but I'm wondering if the middle section of the manifold, the carburetor perch, is heated by a coolant passage? It has holes into the head, and somehow I'd thought it was exhaust gas, but it could well be water instead. I didn't do a real stellar job on the intake manifold gasketing, and it would be easy to pop that off and try again. I'll keep an eye on it for now.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

I checked the water and oil shutdown safety sensors and they were OK. So, the motor's being shut off due to the overcrank system. I popped the relay compartment cover off for the first time and found mud dauber nests gumming up the 3CR and 1CR relays. Ugh. I chipped out all the mud and made sure the relays all moved easily. That still didn't fix the problem, though. I'm going to have to analyze the circuit and whip up a Theory of Operation in order to diagnose this thing.

Theory of Operation

Switch energizes CR, the primary crank/run relay. (CR is on so long as the switch is in the RUN position.) CR in turn supplies current to Terminal 26, and thence (through 2CR's NC contacts) to C, the starting contactor. Terminal 26 also energizes one end of 1TS, the (thermal) shutdown breaker. The other end of 1TS is grounded by the low oil pressure and overtemperature senders, or by overcranking as detected by 2CR not being energized. CR also supplies power to the ignition and fuel supply systems on Terminal 28 (and also 7), and energizes 1CR through TD's NC contacts.
Rectified power from one of the generator's auxiliary windings energizes 3CR. 3CR in turn supplies power from Terminal 26 (fed by CR) to 2CR. 2CR, when energized, then connects this generator winding (rectified) to the battery for charging purposes. It also, when energized, de-energizes C, the starting contactor.
When the Switch de-energizes CR it no longer supplies power to the ignition and fuel supply systems on Terminal 28, but 1CR continues to do so. CR being de-energized supplies power to TD (the 120-second shutdown thermal relay) from 1CR's feed. When TD finally opens it de-energizes 1CR, which cuts power and everything grinds to a stop.
1TS, when energized for sufficient time (many seconds) will trip and cut power to everything, stopping the engine. If oil pressure is too low or the head temperature is too high for this time 1TS will trip. Also, during the Starting phase if 2CR is not energized, presumably due to the engine not running fast enough to generate power (i.e. cranking), 1TS will trip after its time expires. Of some interest is that these safeties are disabled during the Stopping phase when CR is turned off by the switch, as 1TS is no longer getting power. Battery charging is also disabled during this time because 2CR is also de-energized.

Component Function

Cranking contactor. On by CR, off by 2CR.
Crank/run power, energized by Start/Stop switch.
Cooldown power, held on by TD.
Running. Turns off C & turns on charger. Turns off 1TS.
Energized by charging winding, enables 2CR.
Cooldown timer, energized when CR is off.
Safety shutoff timer, kills CR & 1CR.
Hmm. Based upon this it seems clear that the thing shuts down because 3CR is not energized. It could be that something's broken but it's just as likely, if not more so, that the charging winding doesn't generate enough power at idle in order to keep itself on.

So I fired it up again and measured the voltage across 3CR's coil, and it was only something like 5 V. When I revved up the motor some I could see 3CR and 2CR's armatures pull in, and the voltage leapt up to something pretty close to 24 V. Once these relays have actuated, the Start/Stop switch no longer stops the motor immediately, but instead uses the TD timer relay to induce a two-minute shutdown delay. Cool, everything seems OK so far but I'm going to have to hook up the governor if I want things to behave normally. I traced the coil wiring from 3CR, and what is there does not correspond exactly with the schematic I have. Great.

I next hooked up a tachometer so I could keep an eye on the RPM. The thing was idling at something like 600 RPM and I could tug on the throttle to run it up to 1800 or thereabouts. When I did this I could see the governor lever move back and forth so it seems like I did get it back together correctly. With great trepidation I put the throttle rod back on in place of the spring and fired it up again, this time with my finger on the emergency shutoff and my eye on the tachometer. With a roar it fired and shot up to 1800 RPM and leveled off. No problem whatsoever, it runs very steady at speed.

At speed I could measure about a 13 A charging current to the batteries, dropping off gradually with time. So that part was working correctly too. Battery voltage was about 27 V at that time.

Next I paint-marked the 1800 RPM timing mark on the flywheel and hooked up the timing light. With the motor running I adjusted the distributor to center the mark in the window in the bell housing. It wasn't all that far off to begin with, the static timing process must have worked.

I then hooked the Fluke to the AC terminals that are inside the control box. (For the panel outlets, hour meter, etc.) There was power there which was good, and it measured 61.5 Hz so the motor is running a hair fast; no big deal it can be adjusted later. Much more disturbing was that it was in excess of 300 V! I don't think the regulator is working, which is no surprise given that the regulator's C & D terminals aren't hooked up. (Cut wires, big ones.) There is no Regulator rheostat, which the schematic and wiring diagram imply ought to be there. I also measured 300+ V on two of the main output terminals in the wiring box.

More disturbing than this is that the head gasket very definitely is leaking. Water is seeping out on both sides. Sigh. The head was torqued down to 175#-ft in three stages, over a new dry gasket. I wonder what is wrong? Useful reading found on the internet was this link from Babcox.

Monday, January 2, 2006

Consensus is that the head must come off for examination of the situation. Crap. There is a slim chance that the head gasket can be reused, so I'm going to aim for that. It's another $80 (?) that I don't want to spend, that's for sure!

So I drained the coolant and removed the head. (Easier said than done! Before I pulled it off I checked the torque on the nuts and all were OK.) I left the manifolds on and used a chain fall from the rafters to lift it off the block, it's just too heavy to handle by myself without risking damaging it on the studs, etc. The head gasket picked right off, it wasn't stuck very much (yet). No obvious smoking guns, though #'s 1–5 had signs of rust on the head in the combustion chamber areas, I'm guessing this is a sign of water leakage getting into things. Or maybe this is normal and #6 just wasn't firing?


I ran a razor blade over all of the block and the head, and didn't see any sign of stuck-on chunks of old head gasket. There were some signs of paint wicking at the edges of the head gasket in the same areas I detected water leaks. That sort of implies a large-scale lack of head clamping force.

...Out shopping today I found out that the wretched House of Hose is closed today. Grrr. Though I did manage to pick up some more rattle-can green paint and some head gasket sealer (copper spray paint type) at the liquidator's, so the trip wasn't a total loss.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

I found my 18" Starrett rule and my feeler gauges. I wiped down the head and block and went looking for warpage. Using the 0.004" gauge (limit is supposedly 0.006") I walked all over the head, both directions, and nowhere did the feeler even begin to come close to fitting under the rule. Ditto the block.

I next calipered the head gasket, which is 0.068" thick. The old gasket is about 0.070" thick, less of a difference than I thought based upon handling them.

Next I placed the head on the block sans gasket. I had some real trouble getting it to sit flat, it looked like there was some interference from the locating dowel pins. I was able to use three head nuts to pull it down on that (away from the pushrods) side, then I removed the nuts. It then looked pretty good by eye, and probing all around it with my 0.004" gauge it only wanted to nose in a bit in some places, and only just slipped in at one corner of #1, which is not one of the places I was seeing leaks.

Looking at all the studs I found no place where there were insufficient threads protruding. So that's not it.

So, from yesterday's list I'm only left with surface roughness as a potential culprit, and that seems unlikely to be responsible for such widespread leaking, especially as the gasket is a rubberized (?) one. It seems pretty grippy, unlike the old 2-layer metal one.

Sigh, no real smoking guns. I suppose it is possible that the business with the dowel pins could have been responsible. If the head got started clamping down while it was not seated flat to begin with it could have gotten 'trapped' at a bad angle and leaked, even though it looked OK by eye.

The current plan is to put it back on again but this time paying more attention to getting it flat before I start torquing the nuts down. If it leaks again the plan is to remove the head and use that spray-on copper gasket sealant I bought yesterday. If that doesn't work I'm not sure what I will do.

...Out shopping today I finally found the wretched propane fitting I was after. House of Hose didn't even carry it, and I had to go to four different candidates before I found it: at a forklift place. Go figure. They also didn't have the 2-3/8" air hose, only 2-1/4" and 2-1/2". (Later I measured the hard pipe at 2.325", but I suppose 2-3/8" [2.375"] is the right stuff.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Today I cleaned the head and block off, using brake cleaner, a rag, and a razor blade. I also mopped off the head gasket. I took the small points file to the two locating dowels, gently, so that I was just deburring it. After all this I lowered the head onto the block, stopping with it an inch or two above position and again checking for trapped gunk or lint. Then I lowered it into position. It dropped right on flat without any of the difficulty I'd had before. I suspect that deburring the locating pins was a good thing to do. I then gently snugged all the head nuts, then backed them off so that it was sitting flat but with no clamping tension on it.

Then I torqued it down again, this time in four stages, using my spiral pattern. First at 40#, then the given-to-me 75#, 125#, and 175#. I also oiled the studs first. The head seemed to go on easier than the last time, and the torquing was much smoother due to the oil. High hopes!

After I put the rockers back on I had to set the valve lash again, they were all too tight. This implies that the head went on closer to the block this time, which is a good sign.

Anyway, with the engine all reassembled I put the new propane fittings on and hooked up the tank. The motor fired right up, which was good.

Unfortunately, the head is still leaking in the middle of the exhaust manifold side. Sigh. I suppose the next step is to pull the head again and use the spray copper gasket goo. This is really getting old.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

I called the machine shop that did the engine work, and they checked their records. The head was surfaced as part of their standard head job, but not (of course) the block, which got a sleeve, a mild hone, and a bath. They were as puzzled as I was about the leakage, but suggested that using the copper goo, though not recommended on that type of gasket, had solved some of their 'problem children' before. So I'm not entirely on the wrong track. They also use a product called 'Irontite', a coolant additive, which seems to be similar to the K&W sealer (sodium silicate) that I've heard of before. They suggested that after pulling the head and inspecting everything (particularly the gasket) and trying the copper coat, that if it still leaked to try the block sealer. OK, we may do that! There were several cans of K&W at the liquidator's, and I'm always up for 1/2 price.

So, off comes the head again. Hey, I'm getting pretty quick at this! I washed off the block and the head with brake cleaner, and the gasket too. The gasket still looked to be in decent shape, and I really didn't see any problems with the head and block. I got out the rattle-can of copper gasket sealer and put many light coats onto the gasket. Enough that the black of the gasket was obscured. I also put a couple of light coats onto both metal surfaces, then I put it back together.

Because one row of studs is more 'centered' than the other, and it leaks on that side, I snugged down that one side of the studs first, before beginning the (recommended by the machine shop too) spiral torquing sequence. The theory there is that maybe the other side was holding the head on a little cocked by virtue of being closer to the edge, thus encouraging a leak on the other side. Who knows? I also waited a half-hour after torquing it down and then came back and checked the torque again. Not too much change, so that's good. Man, torquing all fourteen nuts down to 175# over several passes is sure hard work!

When I put the rockers back on they were still fairly close to being at the right clearance. (A little bit tight, but not too much.) In the interest of saving time I didn't adjust them again. I'll do that a bit later if it doesn't leak.

Anyway, what with all the practice it actually went back together fairly quickly. So I was able to fire it up a little after noon. It started normally, without any difficulty. That's good, and it didn't squirt me in the eye, either. After running long enough to start coming up to temperature I didn't see any signs of outside leaking. Finally! I'll be running it off and on again over the next few days to see if it behaves itself. This has really been an irritant, I'll tell you that.

Friday, January 6, 2006

I started it at idle (removed throttle rod and put the spring on in its place) and noticed quite a bit of water blowing out of the exhaust manifold, complete with hissing and other scary behavior. Also drips from the manifold nuts. I was a bit concerned, as I've no idea how much initial condensation water is supposed to blow out of an engine like this. I don't really have that much experience with big iron. So I pulled off the exhaust manifold and fired it up again. (I have to manually push in the 3CR relay armature in order to prevent the auto-shutdown circuitry from kicking in. The battery is barely being charged at idle.)

Hmm, #6 is blowing cold air, not warm. I'd wondered about that based on the condition of the cylinder head when I pulled it. Also, the engine didn't run as smoothly as it seems to me an I6 should have. I pulled the #6 wire and there was no spark. I stopped the engine and removed the wire (which is a replacement and unlike the others) and found it to be open. I removed the distributor-end vampire clip and that end seemed to be OK. I noticed that the other end was torn some at the metal clip, it's possible that it was yanked on or something. I pulled the clip off and jammed the ohmmeter probe into the neck: no continuity. So I cut off about 1/2" and tried again. I had to cut off a little over an inch in 1/4" bites before I got continuity. Fortunately there was enough slack in the wire to still reach. With the wire somewhat reassembled the engine ran much smoother. (It also runs at a faster-enough idle to hold in 3CR by itself once you manually pull it in. Before it would drop out after some number of seconds, engaging the shutdown cycle.)

After #6 was firing, it also blew warm air and water out of it like the others. I let the engine idle long enough to warm up quite a bit, and all the water stopped coming out. Just condensation? Seems like it might be, and I really hope so!

I checked the control-panel AC output voltage, and at idle it's about 80 V at 30 Hz. As it warms (and speeds) up it goes up to over 100 V, at about 32 Hz. I started playing with the open voltage regulator connection, and when I completed the circuit across the missing regulator rheostat the voltage jumped up to 120 V. But then it wandered back down again, and it didn't regulate when I sped up the engine. Something is definitely odd here. Attempting to ground out the (not there) field rheostat to set the voltage manually also yielded anomalous results. I'm going to have to put some dummy load on this thing, and do some more involved experimentation.

I started tracing the wiring in the winding box (where the the current feedback transformer lives), and it appears that the machine's windings are connected in low-voltage wye. (What I'd want, except that it is three-phase.) More investigation will probably prove this out. It may be that I end up rewiring it to low-voltage zig-zag, which will give me single-phase output except at about half power. (20 kW, which is still 4× what the rope-pull generator can put out.) This all assumes that I can get the regulator under control.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

I installed a 120 V outlet into the control panel in the knockouts for it. I plugged in a 500 W work light, and at its idle voltage in the 80–100 V range the light reacted as you'd expect. So the magnetics are capable of putting out some current. Memo to self: Do not use the outlet for anything important for awhile!

I then hooked up a real dummy load consisting of a 4 kW 240 V space heater between L1 and L3. (It has a hefty spade plug that I've never been able to plug into anything before, so as I haven't been using it I decided that if the generator killed it, oh well. I got it free at a yard sale anyway.) I wanted to make sure to use L3 because that's the lead the current feedback transformer is connected to. Under the tender ministrations of the generator at idle I could see the fan spin and I could feel heat coming out of it. The heater should be much more robust than a fragile light bulb in case of difficulty. Also, since L0 isn't currently hooked to anything there's no 120 V anywhere and a dummy load needs to be rated at 240 V.

Anyway, I shorted out the leads that should have been going to the regulator rheostat, and with the dummy load hooked up I started revving the engine up by hand. With the meter reading 60 Hz the generator was putting out about 188 V, versus the 208 V nominal for a three-phase wye generator measured across the legs of the wye. Even when I then down-revved to about 53 Hz the voltage stayed pretty constant, so it appears that the regulation isn't completely dead after all.

I'm guessing (hoping!) that adding resistance to the regulator rheostat should increase the output voltage, so I'm curious to do some experimentation there. I need to find out (or somehow deduce) the ratings of the missing rheostat.

I also measured the resistance of the two field windings, which ought to help me understand the parameters of the regulation system better. The exciter (shunt) field is about 50 ohms, and the alternator (rotor) field is about 8 ohms. Assuming an approximately 24 V excitation system (not necessarily a good assumption!) that translates to about 1/2 A of current in the shunt field and through the regulator. That's a pretty manageable value. Even at 50 V it's only an amp. Finding a manual field rheostat that can handle this ought to be a straightforward task, assuming I want to equip it with manual mode.

Surfing the internet yielded a copy of the Regohm manual. Handy!

Sunday, January 8, 2006

As an experiment I hooked up a 1/2 Ohm power resistor to the regulator in place of the missing rheostat, with a bypass switch so I could see the effect. Nothing. So I put in the 200 Ohm General Radio rheostat from my parts collection instead, and it works! Dialing in about 100 Ohms resulted in about 208 V (ideal) to the space heater. Zero ohms is about 180 V, 200 Ohms about 240 V, and open circuit is in excess of 300 V. The rheostat didn't get more than slightly warm after sustained operation, which was a relief as I didn't want to fry it. It appears that I need to find/purchase a rheostat in the 200–300 Ohm range. I need one that doesn't have a 'hot' shaft, if I can find such. (The Genrad one was hot. Scary.)

For whatever reason the engine was running faster than the last time I checked, it was 70 Hz. So I lengthened the throttle rod a few threads worth and got it back down to about 60 Hz. Turning on and off the heater results in a couple of Hertz difference, the governor's response is not really ideal. Probably normal for this kind of machine. Similarly, the voltage changed several volts too.

The front-panel 120 V outlet is also at 208 V. I'm going to want to do a bit of rewiring before this generator gets deployed.

The fuel gauge is noticeably lower after this morning's running. This thing is a hungry beast! The two small tanks I have won't be very satisfactory for very long.

The generator currently sits in a garage bay and the Frankenheap is parked outside in front of it. It was snowing this morning and the car's windshield was covered. The running generator blew its radiator air rather strongly at the front of the car, and when I was done the car's windshield was completely clear.

...Later I did some Illustration, and started making Wye and Zig-Zag generator wiring diagrams. It appears that the generator can be a 40 kW 120/208V Wye three-phase generator (as it is now) or a 26 kW 120/240 V single-phase generator by the use of only a hefty SPDT switch and adjusting the output voltage. (These ratings are at 0.8 power factor, for 1.0 PF the ratings are 50/33 kW respectively.) As I have been unsuccessful in finding big throw-the-switch-Igor knife switches, it may be possible to adapt the guts of my Onan 60 A three-phase automatic transfer switch (consisting of two interlocked 3PST 60 A relays) to do the job. (The 30 A ASCO is nicer and is 3PDT, but is really too small. I should have about 150 A of switching capacity.) It would be nice to be able to use the full output of the generator if necessary (not that it's particularly portable or anything). I've thought it might be good to have three-phase power available in the shop, so having the generator also usable that way would be good. There is sometimes a lot of cool machinery available cheap because it requires three-phase power.

Monday, January 9, 2006

I tore open the L0 (center of the wye) wiring knot and found that all six leads bear metal tags with the TX labels I got from a Marathon 12-lead generator schematic. (T4, T5, T6, T10, T11, & T12.) Some kind of standard nomenclature? Seems so. I also found that the front panel outlet is not hooked to the (120 V) wires intended for such, Terminals 8 & 11, but instead goes to the voltage regulator (208 V) feedback terminals (2 & 9). I don't see why I shouldn't correct this while I'm in there. The only difference is that the frequency meter is currently getting high voltage rather than low. As it's actually mounted in the stator winding closet (facing forward towards the engine) it could be moved back to high voltage if it turned out to be necessary for it to read.

Another idea for the 1P/3P switchover is to use a large welding plug and two mating sockets. That's practically as easy to switch over and is fairly small. Should be about the cheapest 'switch' I can get if surplus doesn't yield anything and it comes to that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The 11A and 16 terminals were identified as taps to existing windings by using the ohmmeter. To figure out where these taps were within a winding I put a household light bulb in series with the winding and feed it wall power to excite it in order to find out where the tap is. By using AC the windings act as transformers and voltages can be measured in order to identify roughly where the taps are. (See schematic.)

Out shopping today I purchased several feet of #2 welding cable and some in-line welding connectors. (And some spade lugs.) These will be the means by which the generator may be easily switched between 1- and 3-phase operation. #2 cable is rated at 250 A so there should be some margin in operation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I hooked up the welding connectors to allow switching from one- to three-phase. That was tedious! It involved tearing the knots of old friction and electrical tape apart, and manhandling some very stiff wires. The welding connectors got nice big bold ring labels that say "P", "1Z" and "3Y" for documentation purposes. I also moved the voltage regulator connection to work with the new switchable nature of the generator (to T1 instead of T9), and temporarily tied in a 50 A range plug. (In male-pins-of-death mode, of course!) Then I corrected the internal wiring in the control box so that the front-panel plug is a 120 V outlet and fired her up.

It worked. The space heater (hooked up to the pins-o'-death with alligator clips) worked, and the 500 W work lamp plugged into the front panel also lit up well. Nothing blew up. The frequency meter was working even though it was only getting 110 V. The 200 Ohm rheostat can only get the voltage up to about 220 V, not 240 V, so it appears that 300 Ohms or a bit more are necessary for it.

As of today, if the power went out we could actually use this generator to power the house. At least 50 A worth anyway as there is sufficient cabling around here to get that range plug hooked into the wall. Wahoo! Still a lot to do, of course.

I also measured the voltages on the mid-winding 11A and 16 terminals so that the schematic can be labeled properly. (This gave better results than the AC resistance probing I did earlier.) Knowing where the taps are in the windings helps to understand under what conditions you should be using them. They are obviously for use when the main generator is putting out higher-than-normal (per-winding) voltages.

Generator 3-phase connection diagram: Illustrator PostScript PDF GIF.
Generator 1-phase connection diagram: Illustrator PostScript PDF GIF.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Paint! So easy to say, so time-consuming to do. The only 'fun' was that one can I was using had a serious leak problem and put more paint on my hand and the ground than on the generator. Sometimes it is easy being green!

Friday, January 13, 2006

More paint. Today was the front panel, just about the last of it. I removed everything from the panel first. I put the protective shrouds back on the rotating magnetics, and painted and reinstalled the oil pan heating bar. (Probably will never be used.) I also painted the access cover to the wiring closet. That should be all the painting, except for touch-up and the very bottom of the generator and skid, which I can't get to unless/until I lift the entire thing up bodily. Next time it's on the crane, perhaps. I've still got a can or two of paint left, so that's OK.

...Out shopping today I picked up a 50 A range outlet to use as a place to safely park the pins-o'-death and as another power tap, and enough junk to (I hope) get it hooked up.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Wired in the two 50 A connections (range plug and socket, intended to mate for safe storage). Broke the stinking 6-32 tap three times just tapping the sheet metal wall of the wiring closet for the socket's four cover screws. (I kept grinding it off flat and tapering it for re-use.) What a pain. Still, it's all together and looking pretty good. The two 50 A connections can both be hooked to, for 100 A of output. This is a semi-permanent configuration, until/unless I build a generator hut and put in the transfer switch out by the power pole. If it's going to live in the garage it doesn't need any better wiring than this, because I couldn't use it anyway.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Pasted wiring diagram inside the wiring closet lid. Reassembled the control panel and fired up the generator for another test run. Worked fine. Looks great, and if you didn't know better you'd think it was done.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Knocked out the panel plug and installed the $2 thrift-shop Stewart Warner battery ammeter. It's a perfect match. Installation was made difficult because the insulating nylon shoulder washers were missing from the gauge's mounting bracket, so I had to flange up something using rubber tubing and flat fiber washers. Compared to this the wiring was easy, and I even guessed right as to the polarity. I did burn the tip off my meter probe when I slipped and shorted the +24 V battery side to ground. Grrr.

Generator still works fine, and you can see minuscule (on a 60 A scale!) charging current shut off when you flip the switch to Stop. (Charging stops during the cooldown cycle. Generation does not, however.)

I measured the maximum (?) field resistance of the voltage regulator (by removing the plug-in relay module) at 200 Ohms. This should give us a value for the Manual field rheostat. I also put an additional 100 Ohms in series with the 200 Ohm Regulator rheostat and was able to dial-in 120 V with a little left to spare. A 350 Ohm rheostat ought to be just about right. I played with using my 200 Ohm rheostat in place of the voltage regulator (as a field rheostat), and as a supplement as shown in the schematic. Wow, that thing is really spastic. There's a lot of magnetic amplification inside this machine, small changes in resistance resulted in large slow changes in output voltage. It was nearly useless without the voltage regulator in there, it was incredibly easy to overshoot: I saw ranges of 30 to 200 volts (on the 120 V outlet) with relatively small adjustments of the rheostat and over a span of several seconds. Better results were had using the rheostat as a supplement to the regulator, as per the schematic. Imagine that!

Time to order parts! I'm ordering two rheostats, a 350 Ohm (regulator) and a 160 Ohm (field), an hour meter, and an AC voltmeter. I may or may not get a DC voltmeter out of the deal and a way to flange up an AC ammeter using a DC milliammeter as a readout, as the AC voltmeter I'm ordering is part of some kind of a power control panel. All for $122, which is not really a bargain but this stuff is somewhat hard to come by. (I'm not willing to wait an indefinite period of time in order to collect parts cheaper, I've already been doing so and only came up with a battery ammeter.) A real AC ammeter is a bit too expensive, especially given the necessity of not one but three current transformers and a special shorting selector switch. I'm hoping to make this work relatively well and relatively cheaply, the current plan is to reverse-engineer one of my cheap Harbor Freight clamp-on AC ammeters to duplicate its circuit, trusting that the clamp-on magnetic part is fairly easy to replicate. (It doesn't need to clamp on, after all.)

In the evening I did a bunch of internet surfing and I found an interesting circuit for measuring AC power consumption. I can't find the original reference article, so I don't know if it's really measuring power or just current, I only found a derivative project that measures power consumption. It says power, but to my eye it looks more like just current. But the designer is a tricky cuss, and it could well be power that it measures. Anyway, it's built around a series resistor of minuscule value, basically just a measured length of lower-gauge wire. If it works, though, it ought to be fairly cheap to build and should work with the DC milliammeter that's in the panel meter set I ordered.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I adjusted the valves now that they've run in a bit. This is much easier to do with the exhaust manifold off, as it is right now. Some were a bit tight, which is what I expected.

The original rubber oil drain hose was destined for replacement because it was open to atmosphere at the top and was extremely long and flopped around. Because I plan to use my oil sucker for changes I replaced the long rubber hose with a 1' section of hard pipe. This length is so that oil doesn't well out before the suction starts, the top of the pipe is above the oil level. I put a cheap gate valve and a pipe cap at the top to keep out dirt. (I'm no longer sure why I thought I needed a gate valve, I guess it was because I wanted the pipe cap finger tight and was worried that it might seep oil, so the valve was to tightly shut off the oil's escape path.) The plan is that for oil draining I'll just unscrew the cap and open the valve and stick the sucker hose down in there. The sucker would have worked just fine through the generous oil fill/dipstick hole, but because the plumbing was already there to the bottom of the oil pan I wanted to use it instead. This should be less troublesome than snaking the suck hose from above past the baffles down into the true bottom of the oil pan.

As the engine was full of oil replacing the rubber hose could have been messy. What I did was stick the shop vacuum hose over the oil filler. That sucked enough air up through the drain hole that it stayed dry while I worked on it.

Next I fabricated the new 'molded' hose between the water pump and the head. The original rubber one was getting soft, and I couldn't find a replacement. So I soldered together copper water pipe and elbow fittings to get from here to there, and used short rubber hose pieces as collars to join the ensemble to the engine's water fittings. It doesn't look as elegant as before and takes two more hose clamps, but it should work well enough. The propane torch wasn't getting hot enough to do the soldering so I broke out my little bottle of MAPP gas. I didn't feel like getting out the acetylene torch. The MAPP was hotter than the propane but not hugely so, it still took a fair amount of time to heat up the copper.

The forklift tank was getting pretty empty, so I flanged up a fill hose and put the rest of its contents into a BBQ tank. I then took the two empty forklift tanks to town and got them filled. I also went to the propane and propane accessories store and purchased a longer liquid propane hose and some more fittings so that a large 100# BBQ tank can be used on the generator as well. (For the necessary liquid feed it would have to be upturned, or the valve replaced with one that had a dip tube. I'm planning to just overturn it for use.) I really think that these small forklift tanks will not work out well because they're too small, they'll empty too fast to be of much use. (They sure are nice, though.) I also bought a cheap bathroom scale at the thrift shop, intended for use as a crude fuel gauge for the 100# tank(s).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I put together my dessication/oiling tank, which is an old Mirro pressure cooker (from the thrift store) with a fitting for my AC vacuum pump screwed into the hole on top instead of its wobble pressure valve. (I also had to disable the pressure safety valve because it leaks vacuum. Must remember never to try to use it as a pressure cooker!) I had tried another old cooker, but it had a much narrower lid seal that wouldn't hold vacuum. The Mirro has a wide seal that fits better. Anyway, into this tank I put the fuel filter/drier and put a vacuum on it. I also set it on a stove burner on a low setting to drive up the temperature (by radiation, not convection!) inside. I figured a few hours under hot vacuum should revive some of the drier's dessication abilities.

I made up the new longer fuel hose using the new bare hose and used reusable hose ends I got yesterday.

The bent short piece of flared copper tubing that was used to couple the filter/drier to the tank coupler has been replaced by the old short fuel hose (which is still in pretty decent condition). Having this be flexible rather than hard reduces stress on things by eliminating leverage, and is much less likely to cause problems than that long hard-pipe assembly that was there originally.

There was some weeping of water around the makeshift molded hose, the copper elbow that mates to the 1" hose piece is just a bit too small in diameter for the hose clamp to do the job. I drained the radiator and pulled off the copper pipes, and then slipped a collar of bicycle inner tube over the offending piece, then slipped it back together again. I had some trouble preventing the tube from scrunching up rather than staying where it belonged. What I did was to pull the hose off the water pump too and then leave too much tube over the copper end. Then when I pushed on the hose over the copper the tube rode on with it, ending up in the right place. This was only do-able off the engine where you could look inside the hose end to see the state of things, otherwise there'd be too much or too little inner tube inside the joint. With that taken care of I again filled the radiator with water. Once all the cooling system issues are addressed, and I hope they all are right now, I'll drain the radiator one more time and put in the 3 gallons of antifreeze, then top it off with water.

...After lunch I removed the now-hot (and dry?) filter/drier from the vacuum pot and installed it. As a test I hooked up, using my new adapter fittings, the old POV-less BBQ tank (a reasonable facsimile of a new 100# tank) into which I'd put the remainder of the propane from the forklift tank. I inverted it and started the generator. Success! This pretty much finishes off the fuel supply part of the project. Procuring enough tankage to run for an interesting amount of time can be left for later, it's just an exercise in retail purchasing. No sign of leaking water, either.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I took the exhaust manifold to town looking for mating hardware. Success! The back half of the catalytic converter of a mid-90's Chevy S10 Blazer mates to the manifold and to 3" exhaust pipe. The muffler shop guy found a cutoff fitting that he gave to me. He also quoted $110 for a big-block Chevy motorhome welded muffler (quiet, and large) and $45 for a 7' stick of 3" exhaust pipe with some cuts and bends thrown in for the price. He said that the longer the better so far as quiet mufflers went.

With the Chevy keyword, NAPA had a gasket for the exhaust manifold fitting, about $7. Their price for a similar muffler was less, but their price for bent 3" exhaust pipe pieces worked out higher.

ACE hardware supplied 3 1/2" bolts and lock washers. Now I need to start figuring out exactly what I need in the way of geometry to put this thing together.

The local university library (Gonzaga) had a copy of the old Electronic Design issue with the original power-measuring circuit in it. It is power it measures, not current. Maybe I'll just live with that then.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I've been thinking about the metering system for the generator. The 50 V meter I've got on order would make a nice 50 kW readout, provided I can tap its internal resistor to turn it into around a 12 V meter. I think I can even sum up the wattage supplied by all three phases, so that can be measured too. Right now I can envision switch selections of W1, W2, W3, W, and BatV for that meter. There may be a way I can also get A as well, involving using a regulated voltage to feed the wattmeter circuit as a reference voltage. That would measure average amperes, which is probably close enough to RMS for the purpose. All these measurements (except Battery Voltage) would be adjustable via trim potentiometers to get the scales to work out right. (The A selections could be ×3 for 150 A full-scale.) LM339 comparitors could be used to have 3 LED's light up for phase overload. This works out to enough circuitry that maybe a PCB would be justified, I don't know. An LM2907 (see also AN-167) could be used to drive a frequency meter.

Out shopping today I bought an exhaust system. $150 at the muffler shop for the big-block Chevy motorhome muffler and four 3" pipe elbows. Using small-diameter muffler pipe for a support bracket was too expensive (another $60), so I went to St. Vinnie's and bought an armload of bed rails for $15. I should be able to weld up something out of all that.

The panel meter set I ordered was sold out, so I substituted two on-sale 50 VDC meters instead. I may be able to re-scale one of them to be my ammeter. For the voltmeter I'll just steal the Weston that I already have in a piece of homemade test equipment I acquired many years ago. Too bad, because the panel meter set had some switches and lights that also would have been useful for this project.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Welding day! Before I could even begin I had to ream out the mounting holes of the flange as the 1/2" bolts wouldn't quite go through. Next I rough-fit the exhaust pieces I bought yesterday and propped it all up with sticks, etc. Looking at it I decided it was a bit too generous in dimension and cut off three short straight pieces (the muffler guy had left them a bit long so that I could do this) to tighten up the layout. With it all hanging together I walked around it for a good eyeballing and decided that it was satisfactory, so I tack-welded all the joints. Then I fired it up and it was indeed much quieter, though by no means could it be called quiet. There is quite a bit of fan roar. Of course, none of the joints were gas-tight yet but I think this puppy will be a bit on the noisy side anyway.

I carefully removed the exhaust system and welded all the joints. I put it back on the engine (with exhaust gasket this time) and it was still as it should be, so I fired it up. Quieter! The fan roar is still quite loud. There were no perceptible gas leaks from the welds.

Next I used the bed frame rails to fabricate a scaffold over the top of the muffler that bolts to the radiator support. (It's held on with vise-grips right now.) I bent (using the oxy-acetylene torch) the crib slider rods that I also got into hangers with hooks on them for rubber exhaust donuts, which I then welded to each end of the muffler, and I welded a mating set to the scaffold. I only have one of the four required donuts, so I'll get some more later. This scaffold is intended to relieve the exhaust manifold of some of the weight of the exhaust system to prevent (?) cracking due to weight and vibration.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Drilled the six mounting holes in the scaffold and welded nuts to it to make captive nuts for ease of assembly. (Much easier said than done.) Painted the scaffold. (Ditto.)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Mounted the scaffold. Then I pulled the whole thing outside and lifted it with the crane, exposing the bottom which I then painted. I also drained the radiator.

While the rollaround cart was freed up, I cut off the solid rubber tires with the portable bandsaw. What a pain. The tires had developed flat spots due to the weight and the axle supports had also sagged a bit so that the tires rubbed on the top of the brackets as well. The poor thing basically couldn't roll anymore. I guess 6 330# wheels aren't enough for the weight of the generator. Without the tires to flatten and with a lot more space above the wheel it should roll again, at least easier than it did, though the metal wheels that remain are rough castings rather than smooth round wheels. I also painted the cart. Gray this time, I'm just about out of JD green.

Once the paint was dry(ish) I lowered the generator back onto the roller frame and towed it into the garage, again using the hook on the end of the extended crane as the tow point. That was a royal PITA, because it still doesn't roll very easily. Better than it did, though, and I was able to jockey it the rest of the way into place (in the aisle between the cars) by hand.

I then put the three gallons of antifreeze into it and fired it up to mix the coolant.

Finally I spent several hours cleaning up the garage bay so that I could put the 450 SL back away. Such a mess I made! The poor car won't be able to stay inside too long, because next I'm going to put the 190D in there for its tranny swap. But I rolled its windows down so that it could dry out at least (much condensation), and put the battery charger on it. The car did start instantly even though it has sat outside for nearly two months.

...Out shopping today I bought four new rubber exhaust hanger donuts at NAPA, and when I got home I installed them. There, all done except for enhancements. It's ready to use.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I dug into my pile of saved-up 24 V SMPS wall warts that I'd gathered for this purpose, and found one that is a lump in the line rather than a proper wall wart. (Uses a line cord, in other words. Made for HP, probably for an inkjet printer.) This has long-enough cordage that it could reach the nearest outlet from the generator's current home. I measured the voltage of one of the Harbor Freight battery tenders that I use here, and found that it maintains at 13.8 V. OK, double that for a 24 V system, and I need to have this one put out 27.6 V (it's rated for 1/2 A current). Also, it leaked 5 mA when off so I needed to put a blocking diode in there and up the voltage enough to compensate for that too. When I dug into the circuit looking for the resistor to tweak to set the voltage, I couldn't find one that would affect the output voltage sensibly. While probing around, I killed the supply. Rats! Some sleuthing found a blown signal diode (1N3381) in the output circuit. I replaced it with one from the junk box, which turned out to be a 6 V zener and didn't work right. Replaced with another that was a regular diode and it was working again. Finally noticed that unlike most of these SMPS warts I'd seen before, this one was Zener-regulated and did not use a resistor divider to set the voltage. (The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from!) Not having a 3.5 V Zener diode laying around to put in series with the two 12 V diodes that were already there I put in a string of six signal diodes instead (the finding of so many in the junk box was a real pain) to get there the hard way. During all of this I managed to kill that first diode again. Twice. I used hot glue to hold that fragile string of diodes together so nothing would short out. The thing outputs 27.8 V, close enough!

(While poking around with my test equipment I found that my POS 2336 Tek scope has lost focus. Last time it broke [and it doesn't get used that much] it lost HV, which was a big pain and a not-insignificant expense to repair. I used to be happy that I had this little scope.)

With this thing built I put it out on the generator's batteries, temporarily using alligator clips until I can get a proper wall-wart power connector. Ideally it'll jack into the side of the control box.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Out shopping today I picked up a scrap shallow wire basket from a freezer or some such, to use as a protective shield for the radiator. (I have a vision of a shovel or something falling over in the garage and going right through the radiator.) I also tried to pick up a power connector, but I think I got one that is too small (part of a Sony Web-TV). I got the mate too, though, so I may just splice it on. $4 at St. Vinny's for this stuff.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The wire basket is nearly a perfect fit inside the existing radiator shroud. I bent the basket's corner mounting ears outwards so that they will be trapped between the radiator shroud and its mounting flange, the flange is what will absorb the force of something falling against the basket. Then I painted it green to match and installed it. Looks nice!

Next I took apart the Web TV box and cut the PCB apart giving me a DC power plug hooked to a bit of PCB with a mounting hole in it. Then I cut a piece of walnut (strong, insulating, and easy to work) to serve as a mounting bracket and mounted the socket so it was visible through a 1/2" hole in the side of the control box. Then I spliced the mating plug into the power supply (which incidentally made the cord longer though I didn't need it longer at the moment) and soldered two ring terminals on a hank of the same zip-cord wire that was in turn soldered to the PCB fragment for hookup to the batteries. I put this connection on the fused side of the +24 V bus, and to case ground. This will let the internal fuse protect this additional exposed wiring if something should damage and short out the external wiring.

Now the generator has a nicely-attached battery tender, so I can dispense with the alligator clips to the battery.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The UPS man came today, and brought me a box full of surplus (though not particularly cheap!) meters and rheostats. I disassembled the 50 VDC meter (of which I bought two on sale) enough to find out that the internal resistor can be bypassed easily, and that a new paper scale could easily be pasted over the scale that is there. So it can be rescaled (in both senses) easily. I had to disregard the embossed "Sealed Do Not Open". Ain't the first time!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I knocked out one of the meter holes and installed the new hour meter. I also installed the 350 Ohm regulator rheostat. The 160 Ohm manual field rheostat is screwed into place, but is not (yet) connected.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Started playing with Illustrator to make some labels/legends for the genset's control panel.

Monday, January 30, 2006

More Illustrator. Was able to duplicate the 0–50 (V/kW) meter's scale, and added 0–20 (kW) and 55–65 (Hz) scales as well. Major approach was to use the Polar Grid tool to make a guide and then duplicating pieces of it using the Offset Path (of zero) tool for cutting down and placing in a visible layer. Textual labels were added along a circular path, using tab stops to place them (visually).

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More Illustrator. Made a 0–150 scale for these surplus meters. For Volt- and Ammeters. Gets a lot easier with practice!

OK, here's the meter fantasy: 3-position phase selector switch that moves the main volt- and ammeters. 4-position auxiliary meter switch that switches the third meter among: phase wattage, total wattage, battery voltage, and line frequency. Can all this be done?

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Did some surfing to find PCB layout software for Mac. Came up with Osmond, and that's all. (Except for an X package or two that can probably be coerced to run.) Don't need more than one, though, if it'll do the job!

The Mac crashed hard today, it never came back up after a scheduled power outage. Even though my wife shut it down correctly. Weird, it's survived a lot worse! There will be a short delay while I reinstall everything...

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Picked up three green king-sized bed sheets at the thrift store (it was half-price green tag day). I want to make a dust cover for the generator. Things that live in the garage get very dusty, and I'd hate to see my nice shiny restored generator get all dull and dirty.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cold outside, so I decided to do a bit of inside work. I cut out and glued a meter scale in one of the surplus 50 V meters. The first time I spray-glued (3M Super 77) both the paper scale and the back side of the original metal meter face, but the glue bled through the paper and it looked bad. So I cut out another copy and then only glued the metal, and that looks much better. I also measured the full-scale current through the meter movement at 1 mA, so electrical rescaling can now be calculated to match the legends. I have removed and bypassed the meter's internal series resistor, so now it's a raw movement.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I thought it was cold outside yesterday, today it's 4 °F! Time for more inside work. I flanged up a bridge rectifier and a capacitor, and by experimentation convinced myself that the meter movement reacts linearly to this drive. A 50 kOhm resistor just about halved the meter reading, which is what I would expect. With about 66 kOhm in series it roughly matched an AC voltmeter's reading of the bridge drive voltage, and acts fairly linear. Looks like I have my main AC voltmeter all figured out. (If only the ammeter would be so easy!) I'll put a small adjustment pot in the circuit to dial it in when it's all finished. I think some 1N4005 600 V diodes will make a nice bridge for the final circuit. They're cheap, it doesn't need to be small, and integrated bridges are too delicate and fussy.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I tried to come up with an elegant representation of the wattmeter circuit. Described as a "Double bridge" by the author, it's kind of hard to draw it so that's what it looks like. I may have a candidate...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

All morning spent on putting the wattmeter bridge circuit into Illustrator. Painful! It worked, and the configuration is OK but I'm not too happy with the results. I may start over.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Started over, new results are superior. Unfortunately while checking the circuit against the original representation I find that the circuit, though beautiful, is pure crap. My original pencil sketch was seriously flawed, and I have spent much time polishing a turd. Back to the drawing board!

I picked up another bathroom scale (fuel gauge) at the thrift shop. This one is superior in that it has a moving pointer rather than the more common moving scale, and even has four movable plastic arrow markers that I can set as Full/Empty marks for the two BBQ tank sizes I anticipate using. (20# and 100#.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Have several versions of a correct schematic to choose from. Need to decide which is the most understandable, have sent copies to a couple of friends to look at.

...One vote came back matching mine, and another was for the traditional bridge form (the corrected variation of what I started making). I picked the variation of the original representation (by the designer) that I made which I believe to be the clearest. I then began laying out the full circuit diagram. I still need to design the shunt-based ammeter function, and the frequency meter. It's looking like it'll be a pretty tight page if I want it all on one A-sized sheet.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Spent all morning trying to come up with an ammeter variation of the wattmeter circuit. Not easy! It's likely that there's a better way.

It's clear that the combined schematic will be two A-sized sheets, if the eventual ammeter circuit bears any resemblance to the wattmeter circuit.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Received a link to another Mac board-layout program. Eagle, which I think I have heard mention of. Sounds fairly nice, though it is an X11-based package rather than native Mac. I don't have X on this Mac, and installation could be something of a pain. It'll probably happen, but not real soon. I expect I'll try starting out using Osmond.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Worked on the metering schematic.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ditto. Need to find a good source for 3P3T and 2P4T wafer switches (for the metering). I'm not sure my junkbox has anything suitable in it.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Gave it a little run as a demonstration and for some exercise. Sadly, I think the head is still seeping water.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I found a link for a parts supplier for old Kohler gear. Here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

As I do periodically I went and flipped the starter switch (with the fuel still shut off) as a test of the starting system and to keep things from freezing into place, and nothing. Not even a click. I got out the meters and found that one of the two crap batteries (the smaller one with the corrosion fuzz on the positive terminal) is dead-dead-dead. Won't take any charging current, either. Not only that, but the 24 V (27.8 V) wall-wart battery tender is no longer putting out voltage. Either it's too cold for it, or when the battery died it somehow took it out. Or perhaps it died quietly and the marginal (leaky?) battery followed suit. Regardless, it looks like I get to spend some money. I think I should get two matching batteries for it. And fix (or replace) the tender.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Power went out at about 9:30 in the morning. It's an ice storm of sorts, I wonder if this will be the event that deploys this generator?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Power's still out, we've been making do with the rope-pull generator. But I wanted a hot shower, so I deployed the water pump's rope-pull generator too. (That was a fiasco, I had to use Daniel's snow saucer to drag it down there, then the pump control piping was frozen since the pumphouse heat was off so I had to hold the pump switch in the run position but I couldn't tell that I was actually making pressure. Too much it turns out, around 100 PSI when the ice plug finally melted, but I think no harm was done.)

Anyway, I stole the crap battery from the 190D, for which I had bought a replacement anyway, and put it on to replace the deader. I opened the propane valve and flipped the ON switch. After a couple of seconds of cranking it fired right up. I then got out the big cable extension cord, turned off both generators, and made the switch. Then I fired the big one up again. Success! I had lights, so I went in and turned on all the 220 V breakers. (Especially the hot water heater.) The voltage was low, about 90 V, so I turned up the adjustment pot to get 120 V. No problem. The RPM wanders slowly, the frequency gauge will walk across its full range (about 6 Hz), but that's a minor issue. Nothing we have will really care much about that.

This is the first 'shot fired in anger' with this generator, I'm glad to see that it seems to be working fine. I can't wait for my shower!

...I got my shower. But we've had some voltage and frequency issues as the load changes, I heard the fireplace fan speed up dramatically and the UPS even took the computers off the generator. I think it happened when the water heater shut off. I got the voltage dialed back down, and later it looked like the frequency was back on track. I will need to look into it. When I shut it down to go to work (extremely late) the hour meter read 2, and the fuel gauge indicated that about 5 gallons had been consumed. Thirsty!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When I ran the generator this morning I paid more attention to the voltage and frequency. I put the main UPS on to use some of the surplus available power to top off its battery bank. It would complain and go offline if the frequency got out of hand, which it would do as the load shifted. I was able to flip on and off banks of lights in the garage to keep the RPM in the tolerable range, but the speed control is definitely not right. The voltage droop wasn't too bad, really, and most of it may be due to the frequency change.

Another hot shower today! But the morning 1.5+ hour or so run sucked the tank dry, it pooped out just as I was finishing breakfast. Let's do the math. The hour meter is currently at 3.6 hours. Assuming the newly-installed hour meter on the generator was at about 0.2 hours, the forklift tank (which I filled today, 9.2 gallons) ran the thing two mornings for a total of 3.4 hours. (Plus a few short test runs and whatever minuscule storage leakage there is.) That's nearly 3 gallons per hour. Propane was $2.25/gallon today, so my showers were about $10 each! Steep. The generator wasn't even particularly heavily loaded, I can't imagine how hungry it must get when taxed to its limit. (Jill did get a shower for herself and a dishwasher run too, so the cost is somewhat amortized.) Not particularly economical, nor good for an isolated existence if you have to fill a tank every other morning. This is obviously not the right generator for our needs, but the price was sure right! We really need to plan our use of it to get the maximal value out of the fuel. I must figure out a way to replace it with something more suitable for our needs, then I can sell it. It's worth more than a few sheckels 'on the hoof'.

The power came back on at noon, so Jill switched things back over to normal. A relief, certainly, though I was kind of looking forward to being the generator hero for a few more days.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The power went off again this morning while I was digging out my truck. We got nearly another foot of snow! I fired up the rope-pull generators, had my shower on residual hot water, and toddled off to work. The power came on briefly mid-day, for just long enough to sucker Jill into shutting down the generators and switching back to the grid. She left it to me when I got home to put them back on-line. (I had to fill them both first.) We had another power-off party with the neighbors, during which at some time the power came back on. Fun. I'll need to replenish the depleted gasoline supply tomorrow, the main rope-pull used about half a tank to run the four hours we were entertaining. At least I won't need to turn on the big guzzler in the morning to get my shower.

I put the main UPS on charge this evening. I tried charging it earlier off the rope-pull with the idea of trying to use it to coast through the night, but something about that power didn't please it: it would only operate from its battery. I'll need to look into that sometime, it may be set too sensitive to voltage or frequency for our needs.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I opened up the dead battery tender. Its regulator IC is cratered, so it's game-over time for it. I dug out the other HP 24 V wall-wart (made by Delta) that I had laid in. It worked, so naturally I cut it open with a hacksaw. It also appears to use the same kind of series Zener diode circuit as the original to set the output voltage. I need to turn it up to the 27.6–27.8 V range, and put in a blocking diode so that it won't drain the battery when the power is off. (I checked, and there is significant back-leakage. The diode's probably a good idea in general, as it will also protect the wart from the genset's own battery charger.) This tender is less desirable than the first in that it's a wall-wart, which has to plug in on the ceiling, and it's not a universal (100–240 V) supply: 100–120 V only. Not a big deal.

I moved the extra diode string (for setting the voltage higher), the series blocking diode, and the output cable to the new wall-wart. (The wart's cable was too short and had the wrong connector on it.) I also removed the overvoltage crowbar Zener diode, as the increased output voltage would trip it and short out the power supply. (It's not needed, this thing is no longer feeding sensitive electronics.) I plugged the modified supply in and it worked, sending the new, higher voltage out the connector. I used two tie-wraps to hold the shell back together and took it out to the generator and installed it. The battery measured greater than resting voltage with it on, so I'm going to call the operation a success. I'll check back later after things have had a chance to stabilize.

I should probably procure another 24 V HP wall-wart the next time I run across one at the thrift store, it looks like these things don't last forever. There should be more than a few of them out there, inkjet printers are a very disposable commodity these days.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Now that the battery tender has reached equilibrium with the battery I measured a resting voltage of 27.3 V, trickle charge current was 14 mA. Satisfactory.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I was at the liquidator's today and they had a 15 kW two-cylinder gasoline powered generator there. (It has a 50 A range plug on it, just like the Kohler!) It has a 16-gallon tank, and was rated to run ten hours at half load. If this can be believed that's only half the consumption of the Kohler, which is not a figure to be too proud of. Something that size would run the house handily, of course, but if this is representative of that class of machine then the fuel consumption keeps my interest in such things low.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I found a good Battery FAQ that contains much information of interest. Some extractions are available here. According to it, I may have the starting battery float charge set a little high. I aimed at a target voltage of 27.8 V, the FAQ indicates that for optimum life 26.8 V (or a bit less) would be better. I measured it this morning at 27.4 V, but I did crank the thing over for some exercise yesterday. Still, that correlates with the earlier measurement on February 11.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I bought another C4-P oil filter at the liquidator's today. For whenever I do change the break-in oil. (Three-plus hours isn't really long enough yet.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I worked on the metering circuit a little bit. I first spent some time refamiliarizing myself with what I'd done before, then I added some part numbers and worked on the overload LED circuitry. I think I'm going to have to put the sense resistors in the high side wiring, but I recall that I had some tricky idea in mind when I drew it this way with the sense resistors in the low side. (Probably using 14-gauge copper wiring in the neutral knot as the sense resistors.) Will need considerably more thought. Keeping the sense resistors on the low side (near ground potential) is a safety issue, but can it actually be done?

I'm also wondering if kVA (and by extension, Power Factor) meter reading(s) can be derived? The kVA is probably possible by using the multiplying wattage circuit but feeding it the averaged voltage (for the voltmeter) instead of the instantaneous line voltage. Power Factor is just W – kVA, subtraction is easy in the analog domain. Worth some thinking about, but the switching and meter faces could get complicated, and this board is starting to get large already.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A couple of days ago I went out to look at the transfer and cutoff switches, and found that the taped-over holes on the big transfer switch had fallen open and there were a lot of bee nests and environmental crud in it. Not good. Today I picked up a discarded plastic sheet from the lumber yard and draped it over the top of the transfer switch. It's pinned down with lumber, but later I'll probably tie it on.

(We're adding onto the house, and unfortunately the power feed to the house has to move. Since we've got to re-do the feed anyway now's the time to look at moving the meter and installing a cutoff switch.)

I am also reminded that power factor is not W – kVA, but W/kVA, which is a whole 'nother kettle of (bad-smelling) fish. (How embarassing.) Oh well, it's a dumb idea anyway, that board design is getting way out of hand already. Power factor is only of real use where long transmission lines are involved and resistive losses are to be controlled. With a local genset, the only thing you're really after is making sure the windings aren't overloaded, which is the kVA reading. If I really care about power factor I can just tether a calculator (or slipstick) to it!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I bought another 10-gallon propane forklift tank today. Craigslist, $50. It's dirty and green and from 1969, but looked OK and should be re-certifiable. It sloshes and the guy said there was propane in it, but the gauge was on Empty and cracking the bleeder valve resulted in nothing. Water? Residual oil? Will have to look. If it turns out to be unusable I'm not going to be happy.

Since I was in the area I finally remembered to stop by the propane shop and get a 2' length of reinforced 5/8" fuel line to replace the temporary heater hose between the carburetor and the evaporator. $6. However, now that I check my records it looks like maybe I do need 3/4" hose, which the guy had suggested as being what I'd probably need for an engine of that size. Oops! It was a calculated risk, and I'll know for sure when I get out and actually measure what's there now. He did say that the only danger of using heater hose is that it would get soft and suck flat, and that courtesy of the way the fuel vaporizer works it wouldn't leak propane. That's good, I've been a bit worried about it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

No, the sloshy stuff in the new tank is apparently water. When I removed the tank from the car's trunk, on this 28 °F morning, it no longer sloshed. Let's hope it hasn't rusted the interior of the tank to death. I removed the bleeder valve, turned the tank over, and built a shelter around it with a space heater inside.

Also, the propane hose I needed for the carburetor was definitely 3/4", not the 5/8" I bought yesterday. Oh well. Batting .500 since I got the length right? Hah!

However, even after being well heated up nothing came out of the tank, and there was no more sloshing. Perhaps it was propane, but it leaked out since yesterday? Oh well, onwards. I took the top handle/guard off and straightened it a bit with the hammer. I then wire-brushed everything and got off all the dirt, then masked the fittings and sprayed on a coat of primer. Looks a lot better.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I managed to forget about the propane tank until now due to the construction of the West Wing. But today I noticed the tank, and I sprayed on a coat of enamel. We'll get there, there's no real rush.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More paint. Starting to look pretty good.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I was in the area again and I remembered to stop by the propane shop to get a 2' length of reinforced 3/4" fuel line to replace the temporary heater hose between the carburetor and the evaporator. It was $14, not the $6 of the wrong stuff. (It was a different guy, and he may have been using a different price list.) I also picked up a few disposable popoff valve plugs, to keep the dust out of them on the tanks.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

At the auction today I got a heavy-duty rollaround cart that looks like it might hold up to Big Bertha better than the thing I made. Six 2-inch face solid steel wheels, with casters on the four end wheels. $15. They had a 75 (?) gallon propane tank that looked interesting, until I figured out that it was still only something like a 24-hour supply!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I tried turning over the genset today and it wouldn't. (I do this periodically.) Dead battery (or batteries), apparently. Time for more I guess.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Yesterday I finally (!) bought a replacement used battery at the U-Pull. About $19, plus $7 core charge. Today I installed it, and gave the genset a good cranking over. (No fuel.) The battery tender is doing its job, I checked.

...At lunchtime I returned the core battery.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Regarding the relatively poor frequency regulation, Dan Penoff suggests:
Your unit has a mechanical flyweight governor that is either belt or gear driven. It's probably a Hoof, Pierce, or something comparable.

You can use the Google to get more information on the Hoof governors, as the operation is pretty common amongst all mechanical governors.

You'll have a speed control screw or adjustment and a sensitivity adjustment. The sensitivity adjustment usually consists of a lever or bolt with the end attached to a spring. By lengthening or shortening this bolt, you change the sensitivity or gain of the governor. This determines how sensitive the governor is to changes in engine speed.

In your case, I suspect your governor sensitivity is too high, meaning that even small changes in engine speed will cause the governor to react. As a result, the engine speed is unstable or oscillates for a while after the change takes place. It's possible you have fuel system problems, but absent that, the governor is the most likely culprit.

There are some really detailed instructions on the following web site:


If you put the term "governor" in the search box on their home page the first hit will be "Tech tip #182: Foley Universal Governor Installation Guide".

Rumor has it that you set the generator to about 63 Hz at no-load, and it'll drop to about 60 Hz at full load. That is 'normal' for this class of machine.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Power's been out for a couple of days, and the rope-pulls are sucking. One of the starting batteries was dead on this, and I bought another used one today at Pull-and-Save. $44! They've gone up since last time. A lot. Anyway, I also replaced the fuel vapor input hose with the good armored stuff I'd bought some time ago, cleared it off and hooked up the fuel tank, and flipped the switch.

It ran! No muss, no fuss. The frequency was a little high, 64Hz, and as a temporary expedient I wedged a bit of paper into the mechanism to shim the throttle rod length a bit, and got it to 60 Hz. That made the UPS's much happier.

The 1/2 full tank ran the hour meter from 3.6 to 5.4, before it ran out. I put the other full tank on. We were heating water, doing laundry, bathing...

The hour meter ended at 8.6 hours. We used 1.5 tanks of propane to run just about 5 hours. Sigh.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I took all three forklift tanks in to fill them. $62, no problems getting the 'new' (old) tank purged and refilled. Unfortunately when I went to use it I find it leaks at the valve handle when it's opened, it needs new packing or something. I put it partly outside to let it vent away harmlessly while we use it. It won't be leaking for long!

The tank ran the hour meter to 11.4. 8.3 gallons of propane, 2.8 hours. Still right at 3 GPH. Sheesh.

Friday, January 13, 2023

The starting batteries had cooked off this summer, and did not recover under my tender ministrations, so I replaced them with new ones from Costco. About $230. Used batteries are now up to $50 or so, nearly half the price of new with a warrantee. No. Just... No.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

My back-ordered Battery MINDer chargers came. I disconnected the inter-battery tie, and connected two of the chargers to these new batteries. My homebrew constant-voltage 24V trickle chargers have not worked out well, and batteries are simply too expensive now to risk.

Firing up is now slightly more complex, you just have to remove the two chargers and put the batteries back in series, then go.

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