Zach Says, Our Standby Generator is AOK, it ran for 50 hours last year, and now with my Sister Ava, it’s nice to know we can make a few KW to run the fan in the gas furnace, run the lights an more if we need to.
Zach’s house has a small diesel gen set that sits outside in it’s own dog house. The fuel tank is topped off so the tank can’t breathe and condense water into the fuel, the lube oil level has been checked, the start battery is fully charged, and Dad or Mom only need visit the remote start panel next to the transfer switch to make the lights come on.
As I think about preparedness, that call from rancher and friend in Montana this week rings in my head. Now is the time to think of what can go wrong and be prepared. Keith has an 85kw KatoLite PTO generator that is not making the right voltage, it dips far below ANSI standards for Voltage.
There are no non DIYer Ranchers, or at least I’ve never met one, and I never met a Rancher that woke up even one morning exclaiming he was bored or didn’t have something to do. With most Ranchers, it’s normally a list of things to do far longer than he has time to accomplish, and there are times he thinks he may have messed up on his priority list.. it’s the norm!
Keith has a Katolite 85KW PTO generator that has given him good service for a dozen years. but now, here we are at a time of year where it can get cold and dangerous in the back country of Montana, and we have this little problem.
Calling a generator man in Billings (a LONG drive) he doesn’t have a tractor there to test drive the Gen set, so Keith is considering putting the tractor and PTO on a trailer and heading off to Billings, we note, if the Gen man isn’t able to fix it pretty much on the spot, Keith may be best off spending the night there, or making a second trip with trailer to pick it up when it’s ready, and risking no coverage back at the ranch.. The cost of hours away, fuel, and inconvenience adds up.
The majority of Generator troubles look easy to fix once you find them! Learning how simple a rotating machine is, and how it works is key in fixing it in the field, and most of the time you can. Here’s some advice.
There’s generally no banging and clanging, no smoke, no smell of burnt components or plastic, and you don’t need much advice when these things happen. What frustrates a man is a problem like this one where it almost works.
What every rancher should know is how to measure the excitation power from where it’s made, where it’s rectified, and how it’s delivered to that rotating field normally found in your generator. A cheap multimeter is NEVER a good investment, you need something you trust when you have a problem. Especially when you’re measuring field resistance, and that cheap meter can’t make up it’s mind.
My advice is this, the time to negotiate for a service manual, is at the time of sale, and simply letting the salesman know that you need that in your operation, and want it to be part of the sale is a good move.
But now, there’s that one other step that so few of us take, and later we might wish we did. Go through that manual, and learn where those parts are that fail, that simple and normally inexpensive rectifier, they do fail, and you could stock a spare on site. You can learn to measure what is supposed to be on the AC side, and what it looks like on the DC side. When all is working, you get to see what the reading looks like when it is working 🙂
If it’s a brushless design, you can know about that little access door found in a lot of machines where you can check a diode, and know how to do it.
Make a decision as to what spares you will stock on site. It’s a lot harder to fix something when the lights are out, your wife is cold and impatient, and the kids are watching the snow drift across the road, erasing it’s every sign.
Ninety Five percent of what stops a generator looks like an easy and fast repair when you know your machine well and have the part to fix it. Consider learning about the field excitation, and stocking the cheaper parts involved as a first step in being prepared. It may save you a lot of time, and make you look like a hero when your family sees the lights back on so quickly..
Zach’s Sister Ava wakes from a nightmare.. the generator didn’t work!
Thank Goodness it was only a bad dream 🙂
Zach Shares how to wire a home Transfer switch: https://www.utterpower.com/installing-a-generator-transfer-switch-at-zachs-house-21211/