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Old 10-06-2011, 04:12   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Fiji
Boat: Westsail - CC - 42
Posts: 337
Looking for the Cause....

Interesting experience on the genset today. So make sure all your wires running around a motor are encased in a wire conduit! The first part is what I thought immediately happened and the bottom part is after a few beers, resigning to head to a marina from the San Blas Islands and serious thought.

This am. Our DC generator was working well and after about 45 minutes we smelled somthing. I checked the idiot light on the watermaker and looked in the engine room where the generator is and didn't notice anything. then 5 minutes later the watermaker shut down. I tried to restart the water maker and had a horrible metalic grinding sound. Immediately shut it back down. Then went to investigate and saw sparks around the genset. Never a good thing. Tried to shut the generator down and she (generator) wanted to keep running! I could sense it was getting hot. Shut off the fuel, stuffed a towel in the exhaust intake and she; the generator still ran! Threw the decomprsssion lever and she ran faster! The rpms I would have estimated at may 100. But she kept going. Ended up stuffing a towel between the flywheel and the starter and finally she slowed enough to stop but she kept wanting to go. This took say 5 minutes or more. Time is weird in these situations. Not sure exactly why.

After shutting the generator down my wife discovered that we had lost power to the entire boat. Then I disconnected everything to the generator and began to trouble shoot. An hour later I discovered the 300 amp fuse from the house bank to the panel had blown. Replaced it, now the solar is working again and the fans! and hopefully we'd be back in business. The key switch now doesn't seem to work as I slowly put wires back on. With the key switch off and the power to the switch wire that runs from the selinoid I was getting power to the TDS meter (panel). I shouldn' have any power at the panel with the key switch off. I was by passing the alternator figuring I've blown it. At this point I decided to call Aquamarine and spoke to the owner Dan. No roads in and out of here but there is a cell tower near by! Praise to the saints! Dan said to by pass everything except the fuel pump and the water pumps, then use my remote switch on the selinoid to start it. I did that and went to crank it and she turns ever so slowly. So now I'm without the generator.

I'll recharge the DC refrigeration tomorrow am and we'll motor to Porvenir to check out. That will put the cold back in, I'll run the DC, but I have to basically run the big engine now to keep things from spoiling. Needless to say we're heading to Shelter Bay Marina.

There I'll have to pull the starter and get it rebuilt, have the alternator looked at and rebuilt if necessary, and then make sure no wires comes close to the engine and rubs on it. BTW the wire in the harness was the kind with only copper and the thin shielding. Not an ANCOR wire or not even a boat wire. The wire seemed sort of tight but it was the wire the manufacture had installed and I left it. Dummy me. I don't know if that caused the short as there were two areas that had bare wire that maybe chaffed or maybe I melted when I tried to shove a towel in between the flywheel and the SS unit that holds the idler.

OK, later in the day thinking about it....

Now I know more. Wendy and I were talking. Seems that it wasn't a run away diesel eating it's oil, it was a run away starter! As I've mulled it over, I think the starter was running (thus it's now burned out) and engaged thus running the engine. I had a towel in the intake, I had shut the fuel off to the engine at the primary filter, and when I opened up the compression valve ... "THE GENERATOR SPEED UP!' That's the key to me. it sped up. It shouldn't have done speed up if it was eating it's own oil and trying to fire. Somehow the wire connected to the key switch shorted out and there I think maybe the key switch went bad and engaged the alternator. There was smoke! Not a fun experience on the boat and the towel I shoved in to the flywheel also pushed the wire firmer into the starter making a better connection.

The good news is that Dan of Aquagen will assist as much as he can. I love that support. Don't like that the wire IMHO was a little too tight but I remember I once stuck my hand in a dorade on a million dollar boat at a boat show and brought it out with a cut.

Now a little history. The generator has a 1,000 hours on it. In the last say 200 or so when we would hold the key switch on the starter would engage and then sometimes disengage and re engage like we had let off the key switch. Wondering if this was a warning of the problem. I had thought it was the wife wasn't holding the key over all the way and then I too had the problem. Had to eat some crow there too.

But I would like to know the original culprit so I can avoid a similar situation in the future. Don't want to be in the middle of the Pacific with that kind of issue. Here in the San Blas was bad enough, but alas a civilization is only a couple days away. I' can check this in the internet once ever day so if have any qst and want clarification please don't expect an immediate response.

Thanks ahead of time for all the thoughts.
Fair Winds
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