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Old 15-08-2012, 08:40   #1
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Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

I am the proud new owner of a Catalina 350 / 2004 model. The boat was never used by the P.O and the boat engine only had 82 hours on it and the 4W (4200 SC) genset had 20 hours when purchased 6 weeks ago. I know it is hard to imagine that nobody would actually use a boat this beautiful !

I have proceeded to put 18 hours on the genset and then all of a sudden it stopped making power. The generator engine runs perfectly but it just wont make power from the unit. Everything else checks out .. capacitors etc. There is absolutely no indication of water intrusion. Heck you could eat off the thing it is so clean.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this with their FP.

I called FP and they walked throught the check list with a local mechanic here ( I am no where close to a service center for sure) and determined that back end needed to be rewound or you could by a new one for about $3800.00 USD not including labor to pull the until out and fix it. FP is of course NOT willing to do anything since it is 8 years old regardless of how many hours are on it.

I fundamentally have a problem with the fact that these things are designed and built to run for 1000's of hours and after 38 hours of running it just stops and for no apparent obvious reason. Even FP says it is strange but too bad.

So if this is so obscure it would seem reasonable that FP should stand behind their product as it appears to be one of those strange product defect or failures.

If I can't get any relief from FP I will have to decide what to replace the unit with as it WON'T be a FP for sure.

Which Genset manufactures have a good history of standing behind their product and does anyone have a recommendation on units with historically long lifespans and good product quality and of course a quite and compact on at that ?

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks Captain LuLu
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Old 15-08-2012, 09:19   #2
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

I vowed at one time to never defend fischer panda.........but in this case I'll have to. This is a machine, that has densely wound copper coils in an enclosed area. In a high humidity environment moisture settles on things and, if not removed by use, begins it's attack. In this case I can guess that the stator being infrequently used attracted moisture and the insulation was finally compromised. This is (and it pains me to say it....) no fault of Panda's but rather the PO for not using the machine. Use would have kept the winding dry and happy. Any make of generator would have been lucky to work in similar circumstances.
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Old 15-08-2012, 09:30   #3
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

Agree with everything SailMonkey said. Fisher Panda makes a really wonderful generator but very complex design and seem prone to many problems. But in this case probably not their fault.

If you want to gamble they seem to be lighweight, quite and efficient but some owners have reported giant headaches trying to keep them running right. Some owners love them.

At $3800 plus labor to repair the old one I would think about going with a smaller Northern Lights. Onan also might be a good choice. Not much more than repair cost on the FP.
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Old 15-08-2012, 10:41   #4
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

Problems with a Fischer-Panda genset?? No way! Really??

Sorry, maybe tasteless humor under the circumstances . . .

I think it's well documented that gensets from this maker have an unusually high frequency of problems. Perhaps something or another is elegant about their design concept -- and indeed they are light and compact for their output -- but I just could never see how anything good could come out of locking up a tiny one-lunger in a soundproof box screaming its lungs out at redline trying to make three or four kilowatts of power . . . And with very complex electro-mechanical controls locked up in the same box . . . Not all of them are one-lungers of course, but the approach is everywhere the Rube Goldberg same . . .

Like many others here, I prefer 1500/1800rpm dead simple low speed gensets -- if you can afford the space and weight of course.

All that being said, I do agree with everyone else that your particular problem is not actually FP's fault. And I agree that if I had inherited such a unit from a PO and was facing an expensive repair, I would be very inclined to write it off and install that new very compact Northern Lights I think 5kW genset. It runs at 1800rpm and has a 3-cylinder Lugger diesel. Oooh, that's a sweet bit of kit. Here it is: Northern Lights, Inc. M673LD3
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Old 15-08-2012, 12:42   #5
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

The Northern Lights is a rock solid unit, but weighs twice as much as the F-P and takes up twice the volume. And it will be more than double the cost of the $3,800 generator end.

Having said that, I would cut my losses and replace it with a N-L. You won't regret it, like you may with your rebuilt F-P.

David
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Old 15-08-2012, 12:57   #6
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

While I am a fan of Northern Lights and the other 1800 RPM generators, sometimes they just wont fit. Other manufacturers build small power plants that may prove more economical than the panda over the long run. CumminsOnan makes a 5kw unit that is only slightly larger than the panda and runs at 2900rpm instead of 3600. There are a lot of choices out there, but all will cost more than replacing the stator.
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Old 15-08-2012, 13:38   #7
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

Quote:
Originally Posted by lulu View Post
I am the proud new owner of a Catalina 350 / 2004 model. The boat was never used by the P.O and the boat engine only had 82 hours on it and the 4W (4200 SC) genset had 20 hours when purchased 6 weeks ago. I know it is hard to imagine that nobody would actually use a boat this beautiful !

I have proceeded to put 18 hours on the genset and then all of a sudden it stopped making power. The generator engine runs perfectly but it just wont make power from the unit. Everything else checks out .. capacitors etc. There is absolutely no indication of water intrusion. Heck you could eat off the thing it is so clean.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this with their FP.

...

Which Genset manufactures have a good history of standing behind their product and does anyone have a recommendation on units with historically long lifespans and good product quality and of course a quite and compact on at that ?

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks Captain LuLu
You indicate that the unit operated normally for 18 hours but then failed to generate power. You further indicate that a "local mechanic" was "walked through" the system checks. You did not indicate whether such system checks included attempting to restore the residual magnitism of the rotor (without which you won't be generating any power). This can happen if the generator is switched off while under load.

The residual magnitism of the rotor can be restored fairly simply with a 9 volt battery following the procedure outlined on Section C.4.1 on Page 90 of the owners manual (click on FischerPanda Manual ).

FischerPanda has sold upwards of 30,000 of its units with few problems, particularly in the last several years. Before getting hyper about replacing the unit or spending $3,800 on a replacement part, it might be wise to discuss your situation with either Jeff Till or Bob Grubert at FP's Ft. Lauderdale headquarters.

Lastly, had you purchased an 8 year old used car that was driven for all of 20 hours before being parked and left to sit for 7+ years in a harsh environment, would you really expect the manufacturer or dealer that originally sold the car eight years ago to make a major repair at no cost to you? Really?

You have no relationship with the maker. If anything, your issue is with the person that originally sold you the boat. However, I suspect you were fully informed that the boat had laid fallow since 2004 (some sellers actually think that "it was barely used" is a desirable attribute. It isn't). Moreover, I suspect the sale was on a were-is/as-is basis.

I sympathise with your misfortune but that is not the fault of FP. The units, when used and maintained as required, are excellant, reliable, machines.

FWIW...
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Old 15-08-2012, 14:15   #8
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
FischerPanda has sold upwards of 30,000 of its units with few problems, particularly in the last several years. Before getting hyper about replacing the unit or spending $3,800 on a replacement part, it might be wise to discuss your situation with either Jeff Till or Bob Grubert at FP's Ft. Lauderdale headquarters.
I have spoken to Jeff Till at FP in Ft Lauderdale and in my experience he was friendly, accessible and very anxious to offer any assistance and advice he could on their products.

I would certainly give him a call before making any final decision on your generator.
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Old 15-08-2012, 15:17   #9
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

NextGen makes a 3.5kw that is small and costs approximately what the FP replacement head costs.

Mark
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Old 15-08-2012, 16:19   #10
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

The NextGen is a good, but not great generator. Sort of a meat and potatoes approach to genset design as opposed to F-P's over engineered German tour de force. It does use a 1 cylinder Kubota engine that is far superior to F-P's Farryman.

But it will cost a lot more than $3,800. Something like $6k with sound enclosure.

If you have the room and can tolerate the weight, you can't beat a Northern Lights. It too is a meat and potatoes design, with plenty of meat. But a new 5kw is going to cost nealyr $10k with sound enclosure.

David
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Old 15-08-2012, 16:39   #11
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

Quote:
Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
The NextGen is a good, but not great generator. Sort of a meat and potatoes approach to genset design as opposed to F-P's over engineered German tour de force. It does use a 1 cylinder Kubota engine that is far superior to F-P's Farryman.

But it will cost a lot more than $3,800. Something like $6k with sound enclosure.
Yes, for the 5.5kw. I mentioned the 3.5kW, which should be considerably cheaper than 6K. We bought a 5.5kW with sound enclosure for $6k two years ago. At the time, the 3.5kw was less than 4k. But prices are probably extremely fluid depending on location, timing, etc, so maybe it isn't cheaper than 6k.

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Old 15-08-2012, 16:45   #12
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Try getting a quote from a local motor rewind shop, they'll always be a less than the manufacturer.
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Old 15-08-2012, 17:11   #13
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

Yes they did try to flash it several times but hey I may go try it again myself just to make sure.

Thanks for all of the responses. What is glaringly obvious from those who have posted so far is that most would not go back with a FP if they had a choice. This is certainly good information to consider.

To answer one question that was posted. I probably would not buy a car that had been sitting out in the harsh elements for 8 years but I might buy one that had been sitting in a garage, covered up and started every now and maintained properly. My situation is more of one like the old lady who drives her well kept car once a week about 2 miles to the beauty shop as opposed to the car that sat out back and never got used.

But hey.. we are are not talking about a cheap 8 year old used car purchase where the 200.00 alternator went out are we... so I am not in agreement with the analogy or if the comment was even relavent REALLY !


Thanks all and i will call FP back again before making any drastic decisions.
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Old 15-08-2012, 18:04   #14
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

After close to 30 years delivering a variety of boats north and south, the most trouble free gen sets I've ever encountered were the Northern Lights in 5kw up to 50 kw. They seem to be bullet proof and if they do go bad (unlikely), are easily repaired from a parts availability standpoint all the way from Alaska to Panama. Capt Phil
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Old 27-09-2012, 13:41   #15
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Re: Problem with Fisher Panda 4200SC

my fischer panda 4200m wont start after crusing ??? any ideas
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