Never did Melissa think she would be so happy to hear the sound of the generator. Dave is plumb wore out. But he fixed it. Those following this saga will know that when we got back to the boat the generator ran for a couple of hours and then died. The next day, Dave spent most of the day diagnosing the issue. It became clear that there was not enough voltage coming out of the generator to keep the generator circuitry running. After the generator is started, in addition to producing AC power to the boat, one of the circuits inside the generator is used to power the generator itself. Dave could see that the voltage regulator didn't have enough voltage coming out of it and according to all the diagnostic tests in the user manual, it appeared that the voltage regulator had gone bad. Some web research also confirmed that a voltage regulator failure is relatively common. So we placed an order for a new voltage regulator ($600). The Kohler dealer promised us 5 to 7 business days, but delivered it yesterday in only 3 business days. So last night Dave plugged in the new voltage regulator, but no dice. This was seriously a not good thing as the only diagnostics remaining to be done inside the generator itself. This is foreign territory for MacGyver who knows engines like the back of his hand, but had never torn a generator apart. Knows the theory alright, but never actually had to service one. Out came the service manuals and schematics. (Oh the humiliation of having to read the manual!)
Dave opens up the generator and promptly finds a broken wire. Broken clean off.
Ok, that's gotta be it, right? So he solders the wire back on. And... no dice. Runs for a few seconds then dies. Ok, so maybe its over temping because the out-hull is plugged? The generator automatically shuts down when it gets hot. And while we were gone, lots of creatures made their home in the small thru holes for the generator and engine cooling systems. In fact, on Wanuskewin there were fish that had obviously made their home in these holes. So Dave goes out in the dingy and cleans out the thru hulls - which were somewhat clogged. Still no dice.
Ok, so then, maybe its the rectifier board. The rectifier board converts AC to DC power to power the main field. (Have we lost you yet? At this point Melissa is just typing what Dave tells her to type in the blog.) Here's Dave testing the diodes on the rectifier circuit board.
Alas, that wasn't it either. The only other thing it can be (gulp!) is the windings themselves inside the generator. This is way bad as to fix windings you actually have to pull the whole generator out, and that's going to involve pulleys, hoists and pullers. At this point, Mike has shown up with his portable generator to give us some power as we are dying because its cloudy and the solar cells arn't keeping up. Mike reads off to Dave which pins should have connectivity through the windings of the starter circuit. Sure enough, they find a winding that is broken inside the generator. Crap. This is way bad. But wait. Dave notices that the test for the voltage regulator does not actually use this winding. Hmmmm. Maybe he can rewire the voltage regulator into a different winding and take the bad winding out. He wires it up. He and Mike have a conversation about where the fire extinguisher is should they need it. Then they start 'er up. Ta da! It worked!!!! Mike promptly heads over to Wanuskewin and brings back cold beers for everyone! Whew!
Oh, and just for grins, Dave put back in the old voltage regulator and, low and behold, it works just fine. So if the dealer won't take the part back, we will have spare in stores.
Oh, and that broken wire that Dave fixed? Turns out that at some point, probably before we bought the boat, that wire broke and as a result another of the windings wasn't functioning. Fixing that wire means the generator now has increased power output. Gotta love that.
In the end, we don't know why the winding failed. Probably a mechanical issue - boats vibrate and the generator itself vibrates like crazy. So we will be fine using Dave's hot-wiring unless another winding inside the generator dies - in which case its going to be a multi-day job with tool rentals and multiple guys helping to get it fixed. Fingers crossed that doesn't happen.
Ahhhh. Air conditioning. And as we write this, the fridge is beginning to cool down. Tomorrow we go grocery shopping baby!