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 Post subject: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sat 04, 2021 7:28 pm 
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Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
With the advent of hurricane Ida, and the subsequent power outage, I set out to put my gennie back into service.
It has not been used since Katrina or Gustov. I built it with a Chinese ST 30kw generator head and a 250 CI inline six Chevvy engine. It is a gas hog. Electricity is way cheaper than gasoline.

The machine flooded in May 2021.

First, the starter was inoperative. Cleaning and lubing got it working, but the engine was stuck. Pulling the plugs and soaking the cylinders with Kroil, I was able to bar the motor over until the starter would spin it. I got sprayed with kroil from the plug holes. Only one hole had compression. Pulling the valve cover revealed at least five stuck valves. Kroil to the rescue. With all cylinders now pumping, I installed fresh spark plugs and changed the oil.. The fuel pump was failed. I purchased a 12v electric pump and hooked it up. New pump no good, I removed a stuck check valve from it and got it working. The carburator was dirty and stuck, cleaned and lubed it. Trying to fire the engine, kickback indicated the timing way to far advanced. The distributor was stuck, so moving the timing enough was not possible at first, I moved the plug wires one notch retarded and fired the engine. For two days I was able to run the gennie for six hours at a time to provide us with air conditioning, cooking, and laundry. Each morning I would wake before dawn and leave on a gasoline hunt (I pumped gas directly from my work truck tank and that is another story in itself). Something went wrong during the third run and I failed to investigate it.

On the third day, I went to start the gennie and the governeror belt had come off. The engine fired and ran, revved up and slung the exciter windings on the rotor into the stator. Now it needs a complete rewind. The worst part is that I had an overspeed switch installed, but never hooked up. Well now it looks as if I will be doing a DIY rewind on the ST head and fixing a poorly seating exhaust valve (been that way since I acquired the engine) and retrofitting the engine for natural gas.

The bright spots in this story are the power was restored today, after only minor suffering for two days in the heat. and I no longer need to waste my time and money chasing gasoline! :D

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sat 04, 2021 8:13 pm 
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Location: S. Dartmouth MA 02748-1225 USA
Mark, How long was the motor/generator wet? With all that damage it sounds like it was wet for a long time...

I wonder if the rings have become frozen too?

Any way to raise the generator set up above a 1000 year flood level? Or put it in a waterproof "tub"? chas

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sat 04, 2021 11:36 pm 
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Location: Gretna, Nebraska
Standby power is only as good as the testing and maintenance it gets.

Although not practical for a homeowner gen set, we had our backup generators at remote tower sites set up on time clocks to exercise under load every other week. If the generators didn't run on schedule, someone got dispatched to find out the reason why.

It is way too easy to forget about standby power when the weather is fine. :cry:

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 1:09 am 
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Location: S. Dartmouth MA 02748-1225 USA
After tying to demonstrate my antique standby generator this past Sunday and experienced my second stale gasoline failure. I had to clean plugs, drain all the dead gas and make a decision how to proceed to avoid future dead gas issues in the future.

So, I decided to get just 4 gallons of High test instead of regular and a new container of Sta-Bil Storage for that gas and dosed it liberally.

I MAY, buy some of that boutique gas from ACE hardware if a severe storm alert comes about. So now I will have only what I need for a two day emergency not a 10 day.

I will have to make a trip to the Hazardous Waste depot for the semi-Annual disposal day to get rid of this dead gas as well as old shellac and old Sta-bil. I will scout around for the next few weeks looking for other never used or expired paints, oils and fuels... chas

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 1:30 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: 13 Critchley Avenue, PO Box 36, Monteith Ont, P0K 1P0
Chas wrote:

So, I decided to get just 4 gallons of High test instead of regular and a new container of Sta-Bil Storage for that gas and dosed it liberally.

I MAY, buy some of that boutique gas from ACE hardware if a severe storm alert comes about. So now I will have only what I need for a two day emergency not a 10 day.

I hate to say this, but ..... this above ^^^ is exactly backwards. When you're running your equimpment regularly you don't need the canned fuel. Because your equipment is running and using fuel regularly, there's no reason for using a fuel that has a super long shelf life. There's also no reason for putting stabiliser in fuel that will be run out within a few days. Pump fuel, even high test with stabiliser in it has a very short shelf life compared to canned fuel.

The canned fuel should be used and NOT diluted with pump fuel when the storage duration is going to be long. If you don't plan to use your generator for a long time (several months up to a couple of years), either run it dry and drain it or blow it all out dry, or use the canned fuel for the storage period. Once it's running again, don't burn canned fuel for regular service. Save it for storage and burn pump fuel during regular service.

BTW ..... stabiliser degrades the performance of fuel. Adding too much stabiliser will keep it from burning. Every fall I have to replace the fuel in a couple of snowblowers that customers have added stabiliser to where they have reasoned that "if a bit is good, then lots is better", and then they couldn't start their blowers. If you're going to go with stabiliser, read the instructions and MEASURE it out properly.


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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 1:58 am 
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John Bartley wrote:
Chas wrote:
So, I decided to get just 4 gallons of High test instead of regular and a new container of Sta-Bil Storage for that gas and dosed it liberally. I MAY, buy some of that boutique gas from ACE hardware if a severe storm alert comes about. So now I will have only what I need for a two day emergency not a 10 day.

I hate to say this, but ..... this above ^^^ is exactly backwards. When you're running your equipment regularly you don't need the canned fuel. Because your equipment is running and using fuel regularly, there's no reason for using a fuel that has a super long shelf life. There's also no reason for putting stabilizer in fuel that will be run out within a few days. Pump fuel, even high test with stabilizer in it has a very short shelf life compared to canned fuel.

The canned fuel should be used and NOT diluted with pump fuel when the storage duration is going to be long. If you don't plan to use your generator for a long time (several months up to a couple of years), either run it dry and drain it or blow it all out dry, or use the canned fuel for the storage period. Once it's running again, don't burn canned fuel for regular service. Save it for storage and burn pump fuel during regular service.

BTW ..... stabilizer degrades the performance of fuel. Adding too much stabilizer will keep it from burning. Every fall I have to replace the fuel in a couple of snowblowers that customers have added stabilizer to where they have reasoned that "if a bit is good, then lots is better", and then they couldn't start their blowers. If you're going to go with stabilizer, read the instructions and MEASURE it out properly.
Points taken.

It is rather easy to run the generator dry...
I only run it when I remember which apparently is not often enough...

Snow blower too, I use a turkey baster to extract from the tank and press the bowl drain to finish the job. There is a tablespoon of gas left in the inline filter but surely this will mix away... The snow blower is dry at the moment, it still had remnants of winters stabilized gas which had gone flat as of last week.

I will likely burn up the 4 gallons in the next 5 months until the snow flies and follow a more closely guarded schedule. This ethanol gas is ruinous to cabs, eats slowly, neoprene and separates, corrodes brass floats and sticks the float needle... I tried to get ethanol free gas but apparently the local Yacht club sells fuel but they treat with Sta-bil as sold. Something I could do and did... Keeping larger amounts of fuel had been helpful in the past as power outages were frequent and often lengthy. A winter outage some 5 years ago meant running the generator for 12 hours on, then off all night for a 3 day schedule, in February, no day above 10 degrees. Eversouce, the power provider, has been doing up grades as well as extensive tree maintenance much to the disappointment to the scenic appearance of the town roads...

Having been a owner of a small engine shop in the 60's I had seen this all the time but did not experience it in our own shop as gas was always burning or flowing out the door, then again it was pre-ethanol era.

Right, I can manage the fuel issue better. May even cut down to 2-1/2 gallons next fill-up, keep the generator and snow-blower empty until needed.

Thanks

Reminds me, canned fuel, I have 2 gallons of Coleman lamp fuel, got to be at least 15 years old. I'm sure it is bad. I do have a Coleman lamp that I got for free, it was lit once and put away with fuel, (not by me) it is tight with varnish and will need to be soaked when I get time.

Two more gallons for the Hazardous Waste collection :roll:

Chas

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 5:53 am 
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Do you have any pictures of your 6 cyl homemade generator. I would love to see it.

Sal

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 6:04 am 
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Duplicate post

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 9:04 am 
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In case of fuel pump failure at a critical time, you can try gravity-feeding, which has worked each I needed to do so.
Onan RV type generators often suffer fuel pump failures after periods of non-use due to the push-pull valve diaphragms in the pump drying out and breaking. When it happened to our generator, I ran a length of tyvex tubing from an auxillary fuel tank made for small boat service, elevated at a foot above the gen set. The tubing ran into the carb's fuel inlet barb.
The tiny float chamber and engine didn't care how it got its fuel supplied. Power was restored while the spendy Onan parts were ordered and eventually received.

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 1:12 pm 
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Location: Fernandina Beach, FL
Living in Florida, I anticipated power outages. I bought a generator (not big enough for the AC but I only care about the fridge). I run it at least every other month and keep a manila tag on it with dates run, as I do with all gasoline powered equipment. When the fuel is a year old, it gets drained and used in the car. No problems with using it in the car. And I use ethanol free pump gas and a stabilizer, measured exactly as the directions say. Touch wood, no problems with this schedule. I have seen way too many issues with old gas.

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 1:20 pm 
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Location: 13 Critchley Avenue, PO Box 36, Monteith Ont, P0K 1P0
Don Cavey wrote:
Living in Florida, I anticipated power outages. I bought a generator (not big enough for the AC but I only care about the fridge). I run it at least every other month and keep a manila tag on it with dates run, as I do with all gasoline powered equipment. When the fuel is a year old, it gets drained and used in the car. No problems with using it in the car. And I use ethanol free pump gas and a stabilizer, measured exactly as the directions say. Touch wood, no problems with this schedule. I have seen way too many issues with old gas.


This is the classic "good maintenance" way to look after gasoline powered equipment.

Only one other note I'd add .... fuel goes bad because it evaporates. Fuel need air (oxygen) to evaporate. To reduce evaporation, get rid of the air in the tank by keeping it full to the top and then keep doing what you're doing. Doing this also reduces the opportunity for condensation to form in the tank.


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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 1:34 pm 
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John Bartley wrote:
...

Only one other note I'd add .... fuel goes bad because it evaporates. Fuel need air (oxygen) to evaporate. To reduce evaporation, get rid of the air in the tank by keeping it full to the top and then keep doing what you're doing. Doing this also reduces the opportunity for condensation to form in the tank.

Exactly. And that is the reason we were always instructed to fuel the aircraft when we returned to the airport.

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 1:38 pm 
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Location: 13 Critchley Avenue, PO Box 36, Monteith Ont, P0K 1P0
Don Cavey wrote:
John Bartley wrote:
...

Only one other note I'd add .... fuel goes bad because it evaporates. Fuel need air (oxygen) to evaporate. To reduce evaporation, get rid of the air in the tank by keeping it full to the top and then keep doing what you're doing. Doing this also reduces the opportunity for condensation to form in the tank.

Exactly. And that is the reason we were always instructed to fuel the aircraft when we returned to the airport.


Good idea for the aircraft. We were told not to, and we always filled when we rented as part of the preflight check-over, prior to getting in the plane. Different clubs ... different rules I guess.


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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 1:52 pm 
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John Bartley wrote:
Don Cavey wrote:
John Bartley wrote:
...

Only one other note I'd add .... fuel goes bad because it evaporates. Fuel need air (oxygen) to evaporate. To reduce evaporation, get rid of the air in the tank by keeping it full to the top and then keep doing what you're doing. Doing this also reduces the opportunity for condensation to form in the tank.

Exactly. And that is the reason we were always instructed to fuel the aircraft when we returned to the airport.


Good idea for the aircraft. We were told not to, and we always filled when we rented as part of the preflight check-over, prior to getting in the plane. Different clubs ... different rules I guess.

Good point, but when renting our planes, their take was the same as yours (as was ground school). I must admit that we don't fuel our plane until it's needed. But it stays in the hangar and of course, the tank gets sumped as part of the preflight. Different rules for sure...

But even though I work on my "stuff", I have left stale gas in things occasionally in the past. No excuse, either lazy or forgetful. Now, since I only have a few gasoline items, I am more careful. Reminds me, time to go start the generator and the pressure washer and the....

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 2:12 pm 
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Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Sal Brisindi wrote:
Do you have any pictures of your 6 cyl homemade generator. I would love to see it.

Sal

I went out and took a few photos for you. As you can see, it has been sitting in the jungle, unmaintained, for a dozen years.
Attachment:
generator.jpg
generator.jpg [ 735.69 KiB | Viewed 664 times ]

Here is a slung coil on the exciter
Attachment:
slung_exciter.jpg
slung_exciter.jpg [ 422.29 KiB | Viewed 664 times ]

And here is some stator damage
Attachment:
stator_damage.jpg
stator_damage.jpg [ 578.16 KiB | Viewed 664 times ]

When the governor belt came off, the engine over speeded the generator causing the winding damage. I suspect there was an overvoltage before blowing, as two GFCI receptacals in my house failed, as well as the little ECM evaporator fan motor in my refrigerator.

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 2:21 pm 
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Location: Peekskill, NY
Older steam engines often have flyball governors, belt-driven. The belt typically has an idler tension pulley, set up so if (when) the belt breaks, the tensioner pulley drops and closes the throttle completely.

Suggestion for PM on home generators - don't just run them periodically, run them under *load* for an exended period - an hour or so. Couple of electric radiator-type space heaters makes a good load.


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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 2:26 pm 
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jim rozen wrote:
Older steam engines often have flyball governors, belt-driven. The belt typically has an idler tension pulley, set up so if (when) the belt breaks, the tensioner pulley drops and closes the throttle completely.

Suggestion for PM on home generators - don't just run them periodically, run them under *load* for an exended period - an hour or so. Couple of electric radiator-type space heaters makes a good load.

When I built the generator I built a load cell for testing it. The load cell consisted of a 55 gallon drum with enough water heater elements to selectively load the machine up to 120%. I switched the elements in and out using contactors and toggle switches, 24 volt control.

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 3:16 pm 
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jim rozen wrote:
...
Suggestion for PM on home generators - don't just run them periodically, run them under *load* for an exended period - an hour or so. Couple of electric radiator-type space heaters makes a good load.
Exactly what I do, Jim. I get out two irons and/or the toaster oven and connect them. I don't run for an hour, but do run until the engine block is almost too hot to touch.

But today is Sunday. I don't make noise outside on Sundays out of respect for those who want quiet or to sleep in. There is always Monday!

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 3:33 pm 
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kc5gym wrote:
With the advent of hurricane Ida, and the subsequent power outage, I set out to put my gennie back into service.
It has not been used since Katrina or Gustov. I built it with a Chinese ST 30kw generator head and a 250 CI inline six Chevvy engine. It is a gas hog
There be overkill here.......1HP is ~750 watts, so 30 kilowatts is only about 40HP, which should be a slow day at the office for a 6-cyl. Chevy engine.

I'm guessing that that engine never runs hot enough to stay clean inside and out........this alone might explain the stuck valves.....

What is the specified RPMffor the generator? (You need to have the 40HP at that speed........possibly meaning that you need to b running things faster........(the typical generator/engine combo has a speed controller to get the output power at the right frequency

As others have noted, it may be OK to simply run with a good load a few times per week.....

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Last edited by pixellany on Sep Sun 05, 2021 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: My Generator Failure
PostPosted: Sep Sun 05, 2021 3:38 pm 
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pixellany wrote:
kc5gym wrote:
With the advent of hurricane Ida, and the subsequent power outage, I set out to put my gennie back into service.
It has not been used since Katrina or Gustov. I built it with a Chinese ST 30kw generator head and a 250 CI inline six Chevvy engine. It is a gas hog
There be overkill here.......1HP is ~750 watts, so 30 kilowatts is only about 40HP, which should be a slow day at the office for a 6-cyl. Chevy engine.

I'm guessing that that engine never runs hot enough to stay clean inside and out........this alone might explain the stuck valves.....

What is the specified RPMffor the generator? (You need to have the 40HP at that speed........

As others have noted, it may be OK to simply run with a good load a few times per week.....

1800 RPM. It is a four pole machine. Yes, slightly over powered, but not by much during full load.

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