RareMechanical Challenge

With Pendanas work/jobs list standing at a big fat zero, I knew it wouldnt be long until something came up to keep me occupied, frustrated, overly focused and some may actually say, a little irritable. Unfortunately for me and those around me, I suffer from a rare mental condition I call, the E-Syndrome. This condition doesnt allow me to rest until everything is perfect and as such, can cause a lot of wasted energy when things dont go the right way.  If my computer crashes, I am the sort of guy who will stay up all night rebuilding the darn thing until its working perfectly and everything is restored.  If there is an electrical fault somewhere, then I will pay whatever is required to get someone out to fix it, no matter what the time of the day and if something mechanical fails, scary thought as it may well be, I will attempt to fix it myself.  This is truly saying something as I come from a long ancestry line more akin to pushing a pen than lifting a spanner.  In fact, my father, God bless him  would celebrate loudly on successfully backwashing the family swimming pool without breaking something!

Recently, and without warning, my much loved port generator decided to put me to the test.  The generator would run for a few minutes then blow the CB2 breaker and promptly stop.  As I am particular fond of both my port and starboard generators I was aghast at the situation I was presented with, and, as such, went about diagnosing the problem with my new found mechanical skills and fix it. 

For those with more mechanical skills than I, this would have been a simple job, but for me, slightly more challenged in the area of mechanical ability than most, it lasted several hours across a number of days and involved changing a total of seven parts, which I felt were the cause of the problem.

Firstly, with a spring in my step I decided to check my generator parts manual which is a great source of information that includes all part numbers and almost childlike drawings explaining where all the parts actually go and importantly what they called. This gives a novice, such as myself, a great deal of confidence to get the job done.

Here is an example of what I am talking about
My first thought as to why my generator was not running was that it must be a failure in the thermostat so promptly went about replacing that part with Claires help. NOPE THAT DIDNT WORK.

Thermostat inside this white tube thing
Next, I decided to replace the high water temperature switch and the corresponding temperature sender. NOPE THAT DIDNT WORK. Hells bells!

Thats it, the thing sticking out of the side of the white tube.  The other part is in picture above, again sticking out
Next, I replaced the oil pressure switch and oil pressure sender thinking that must be it. NOPE THAT DIDNT WORK.  Well, at least I know now what these things actually are!

Both the new switch and sender in place
Righto, it must be the fuel pump I thought and went about replacing it.  This action was promptly met with yet another poor result. You guessed it, IT DIDNT WORK. 

New fuel pump about to go in
Aha, by George, Ive got itIt must be the stop solenoid. After replacing the stop solenoid I fired up by beautiful Onan 21.5Kva generator only to hear it come to life for two minutes, then die, what was becoming, a very familiar death! 

New stop solenoid in place
Note the colour electrical tape here.  Well, thats so that idiots like me know where to put the wires once the old unit is removed
I then decided that it must be an electrical fault and undid the bolts to the control box.  Huh, there was no way I was even going to attempt to put my brand new, mint condition Fluke multimeter (after seven years of ownership) in there.  With the control box cover firmly back in place I thought I was destined to have to call someone at Cummins to come and take a look,  With the sad resignation of complete failure looming large, a little like my fishing skills, I decided I  would check the fuel bleed screw thingy ma-bob and make sure it was tight.  Low and behold to my surprise it wasnt! 

The fuel bleed screw thingy ma-bob
I quickly tightened the bleed thingy ma-bob screw and fired her up once again.  As the two minute mark approached, I was expecting to hear the generator die once again, but this time she kept on going.  She kept on making her reassuring sound of authority that I for one, had grown to love. With her signalling to me she was fixed I left the engine room and went and applied some electrical load for her to carry for a few hours to see what would happen.  I am pleased to report that she ran and handled her job with her usual aplomb.

The next day, thrilled with my achievement from the day before, I decided, once again run the generator to test all was well.  To my utter disbelief once the one-two minute mark came around she died the usual death yet again. It has to be said that at this point I had officially given up and went upstairs to find the Cummins service number here in LA.  It would appear, I am destined to have no success with mechanical things, try as I might.

Before ringing Cummins I had a thought.. change the fuel filter.  As ridiculous as that idea sounded to me as the filter had only been on the generator for 47 hours I went and  changed it anyway.  With a hopeful spring in my step, back to my spare parts I went and grabbed a new fuel filter and headed back to the engine room along a well-trodden path once again.  With fuel filter changed I fired up the generator and this time she purred like a kitten and ran perfectly. One minute, two, three, twenty, fifty minutes later and she was still purring away.

Not wanting to celebrate my brilliance too early, after being somewhat embarrassed at my last effort, I decided to leave her alone for six hours and repeat the test.  Six, hours later she once again purred like a kitten and kept running through the dreaded two minute mark.  As, I had suffered a few false celebratory starts I decided to leave it overnight to see if I had really fixed the problem. The next day, true to form she once again failed and stopped dead at the one minute mark.

Hells bells I know, why not do an oil change etc and replace the racor filter and lube filters while I am at it.. but again the same result.  OK, I am done, time to call Cummins.  To get to point of giving up, I have changed a total of seven parts which, as it happens may be proven to have been completely unnecessary, done a complete oil change including all filters and racor early.

Within a few days a nice chap by the name of Scott from Cummins arrived bright and early to diagnose the issue and fix my generator once and for all.  As I had been working on the problem I gave him my run day – gen runs fine when warm or after a few dud starts but initially it dies around the one minute mark on initial attempts. I also let Scott know that I thoughts it may be a dirty carburettor or exhaust elbow temp thingy.  Being the nice guy he was he nodded politely while no doubt thinking to himself, this guy has no clue and went about diagnosing the issue for himself.

As the minutes passed he was quick to diagnose the issue was with the CB2 breaker itself and he also suggested changing the exhaust temp switch while we were at it!  I promptly agreed and he went back to the office to order the parts.  I must say that I did notice that his Fluke multimeter looked nothing like mine as it showed heavy signs of wear and tear!  Emmm

A few days later a guy named Pablo returned, installed new parts but the same issue persisted.  The long and the short of this saga is, as it is really time to wrap this up, Pablo spent his own time on the weekend going over everything as it was annoying him as much as it was annoying me.  Maybe he suffers from the E-Syndrome as well!  So here is what we believe happened.  When Scott originally came and diagnosed the fault (which was faulty CB2 breaker) when he went to test the breaker a wire inside the control box had accidently moved the 50/60hz rocker switch from the 60Hz position to the 50hz position.  When Pablo came to install the new parts the generator continued to fail because it was set in the wrong Hz position.  Pablo called me in a Sunday night and said that he had given this a great deal of thought and asked me to move the rocker switch to the correct 60Hz position which I promptly did.  I am pleased to report that the port generator is once again operational and purring like a kitten thanks to Pablo and Scott from Cummins LA.  Honestly this type of problem could have taken ages to track down and I am so grateful to Scott and in particular Pablo, who went above the call of duty to deliver the result we were after. 

Scott removing control box cover to get to breaker
50/60Hz rocker switch on a control board behind these wires
As most would know mechanical failure aboard Pendana is an incredibly rare event having only ever suffered two issues in the past in almost eight years of ownership.  The reason for this is that we take a very aggressive approach to maintenance aboard Pendana and replace rather than repair items well before their service interval.  I have no doubt that this is the reason why we have been able to have such a trouble free history.

Three beautiful women as we all head out to dinner to celebrate Biancas birthday
Abi looking as beautiful as ever
Even Mr Seal wanted to join in the celebration fun but alas he was met with some Australian hostility. While we all love looking at seals we do not love having them this close honestly these guys bring a whole new meaning to the term bad breath!
One other job that needed sorting was that my trusty little Robertson AP22 outside unit was showing signs of a mortal condition and increasingly becoming somewhat temperamental and as such, while in LA I decided to replace the unit.  I am pleased to report the diagnosis this time was bang on as I asked the folks back in San Diego to rip the old unit apart for me so I could confirm the diagnosis of corrosion, was in fact the case.  This, they did and agreed completely with me that the unit needed to be replaced and the one I had was beyond repair.  Job done!     

New AP22 unit in place
While at it I decided to complete yet another job not so much a required job more a long term irritation.  As most would know I hate the ancient technology that is the cheap and nasty Chinese made Racor Gauge and, as such, decided to replace all (four) of my gauges with the new, far improved, easy to read, USA manufactured and owned, Dent Marine gauge. If you want read more about these magnificent gauges please go to  Dent Marines website.  If you want to learn more about the guy who is responsible for these magnificent gauges (who is a fellow boater) then click  here..  Consider the consequence of gauge failure at sea, or worse still an incorrect reading and the choice is clear.

I know which gauges are easier to read
For those who missed LAdagio N76s 3D Matterport walkthrough please click the following link as it is truly wonderful. Click  Here.

Speaking of wonderful things , I came across this new power head for our showers. Wow, what a difference! I replaced all of the older Grohe heads with these new power shower heads and there is now no looking back!  Insane water pressure is all I can say and the girls are very happy, as am I.  Click  HERE to learn more.

YOO.MEE High Pressure Handheld Shower Head with Powerful Shower Spray against Low Pressure Water Supply Pipeline
Finally, for those who follow on Facebook please be advised Pendana has left the building.  The primary reason for this decision was, my news feed was filled to the brim with irrelevant posts and promotional material which was not what I signed up for.  So, in the spirit of exercising my right to rid myself from the cannon fodder which is fast becoming Facebook, I did the only thing I could, and hit the deactivate button.  Feeling better already!

Stay Safe


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