Generator error

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Generator error

Postby prisk » Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:38 pm

Today the generator (a Kohler) wouldn't start. No cranking, no clicking. Nothing. Nada. Not a peep. The panel displayed an error message: "engine fault. 13.6". That was a fairly vague error in the manual. We looked at all the fuses, rechecked the connections, followed the reset instructions. Nothing worked. Finally, after a half hour of screwing around with it, I used the little dial to the right of the control display and rotated it. It went through what looked like the logs of the generator. Then I hit the start button the genny and it stated right up. Went to the circuit panel and tried turning it on and off. Worked fine. Any ideas what this might have been?
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Re: Generator error

Postby PowerOfTwo » Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:06 am

hard to say without knowing what model of genset you have installed...
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Re: Generator error

Postby prisk » Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:26 am

It's a Kohler 10EKD/8EFKD-Low CO genset and has an Advanced Digital Controller II.
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Re: Generator error

Postby PowerOfTwo » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:03 pm

strange - according to the docs, "engine fault .13.6" is not a message it can display - My advice if it happens again, take a picture.

http://www.tawinc.com/LinkClick.aspx?fi ... &tabid=141
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Re: Generator error

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:57 pm

I assume that its a 5EKD unit, not a 10EKD. The 10KW unit is way to big for the 35SC. You could never load the generator enough to stay within Kohler's Specs of minimum load values.

My guess is that it powered up incorrectly when it came out of sleep mode, or if it shut down incorrectly. Also could be a fuel issue, maybe fuel valve not fully in the correct position or sucking some air from the tank if that tank was a bit low.

You must clear the fault on the generator. Just rotate the wheel until it states "clear fault" and the press the knob, and rotate to "YES" and then press the knob again. It will then display the engine hours if it all cleared.

Just keep in mind that if it doesn't start on the 1st or 2nd crank to close the seacock as well until it does. Because the raw water pump will continue to turn when the engine is cranking you need to stop the flow of water while you are trying to get them started. This is because the lift exhaust will fill with water and there isn't any exhaust back pressure to lift the water out of the boat. The exhaust will fill up with water and hydro-lock the engine at some point. This is just a generic warning to anyone with a lift exhaust system when they are having starting issues. This can apply to inboard engines as well with lift exhaust systems.
Thanks, Chris

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Re: Generator error

Postby prisk » Sun Jul 06, 2014 5:58 pm

Chris_in_Texas wrote:I assume that its a 5EKD unit, not a 10EKD. The 10KW unit is way to big for the 35SC. You could never load the generator enough to stay within Kohler's Specs of minimum load values.

They told me it was an 11 kW generator. Not sure which model it is - wasn't immediately obvious looking at it. Will have to take a closer look.

Chris_in_Texas wrote:My guess is that it powered up incorrectly when it came out of sleep mode, or if it shut down incorrectly. Also could be a fuel issue, maybe fuel valve not fully in the correct position or sucking some air from the tank if that tank was a bit low.

That's exactly what happened. We were taking her to the fuel dock in a nearby harbor and the generator stopped due to low fuel in the tanks (just like you said - the genny intake is 3/4 of the way down the tank).

Chris_in_Texas wrote:You must clear the fault on the generator. Just rotate the wheel until it states "clear fault" and the press the knob, and rotate to "YES" and then press the knob again. It will then display the engine hours if it all cleared.

That's what I did. Mostly by accident, but once I figured out the dial was to scroll through errors, logs and other info.

Chris_in_Texas wrote: Just keep in mind that if it doesn't start on the 1st or 2nd crank to close the seacock as well until it does. Because the raw water pump will continue to turn when the engine is cranking you need to stop the flow of water while you are trying to get them started. This is because the lift exhaust will fill with water and there isn't any exhaust back pressure to lift the water out of the boat. The exhaust will fill up with water and hydro-lock the engine at some point. This is just a generic warning to anyone with a lift exhaust system when they are having starting issues. This can apply to inboard engines as well with lift exhaust systems.

With this error the genny didn't crank. It didn't do a thing. Had to clear the error before it tried to start, then it started right up. Lesson learned (quite a few lessons this season, and I'm sure many more to come). Thanks for your help.
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Re: Generator error

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:34 pm

Paul,

Doubt its a 11KW, as they only put a 9KW on the 46SC and a 12KW on the new 53SC (15KW if you get the gyro stabilization option in it as well). There isn't any way you can use 11KW on your boat, as you only have a total of 60A of input power (10KW is 83A). The 5KW (Kohler 5EKD) is rated at 41.7A, which is more than enough to run just about everything except both AC's, the water heater and both burners on the stove at the same time.

With generators and any engine for that matter, either gas or diesel, you don't want to run them for extended periods at low loading. Kohler states in the manual that you need to run it at least 50% load with a recommended minimum load of 70%. This will prevent carbon build up.

On my friends trawler we normally cruise at about 20% of full power (continuous duty rating) on the twin 11L diesels. The manufacture recommends because of the light load that he runs them at full throttle for at least 15 mins each 24 hour period. This helps clean out the build up and heats the exhaust stacks and burn off the carbon. Its always fun to watch the wake at 11KTS, at full power! :geek: Same holds true for his generators, he has a 9KW, 21.5KW and 32KW on board and we switch back and forth depending on the load to keep them in the 70-80% range during the trips. With 14KW worth of inverters on the boat, other than the AC's it doesn't really interfere with anything to keep switching them. We try to use the smallest one for the load, which usually was the 21.5KW. But that was due to large AC load due to being in Central America with the heat and humidity.

Yes most likely it was fuel related to cause that error, as its really telling you that the engine quit unexpectedly. ;) Glad to hear you got them up and going.
Thanks, Chris

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Re: Generator error

Postby prisk » Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:49 pm

Spent some quality time with the genny today and here is what I learned:

Kohler does not put the model of the genny anywhere on the outside. Or inside. Or in the firmware. I'm guessing, as Chris suggested, it is the 5kW model. But I can't tell for sure.
The display panel does show a lot of info. And I was able to decipher the cryptic message from the other day. 13.6 wasn't the error number - it was the hours number - as in, at what hour of service did the error occur. So, "engine fault" "13.6" meant that the engine had a fault at 13.6 hours and it stopped. Checking the log clears the error. You check the log by dialing the dial till it says "press to check log". You press and then you can scroll every start, stop and error of the generator. Kinda cool.
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Re: Generator error

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:33 pm

Its a real pain to see it, however its located inside the front cover. Take off the front cover and set it aside. Then get your head down to the level of the front display and look back. You will see the serial number and model number and specification number in there. The best way to get it is to use your phone to take a few pictures with the flash and then zoom in to see it. If you remove the front display as well its behind there too and much easier to read, however a pain to take apart.

Its laying almost flat so it may take a few close up shots to get all the information off the sticker so you can read it. It did for me. :?

BTW what software/firmware version do you have?
Thanks, Chris

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Re: Generator error

Postby prisk » Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:13 pm

So, still having generator issues.

Took the boat out today and the generator started then stopped after about 1 minute. Did the same thing a few days ago. When I check the controller it says "O2 level error". I clear the error and it starts from the controller and runs ok. An hour later, I shut it off to refuel (the tanks are at 50%) and it does it again. Since I'm at a fuel dock I don't want to hassle with opening the hatch. When I get back to my slip I clear the error and try and restart it and now it gives a high exhaust temp error. Same problem. Starts but then shuts off after only 10 seconds. Did this twice and I gave up. I cleared the error and will try again on Sunday. This is a very fickle piece of equipment. Any suggestions?

Update: On a hunch, I tried something today. Sometimes I start the engines first, sometimes the generator. When I start the engines first, I run the blower for a few minute. When I start the generator first, I just turn it on, and it activates the blower for a few seconds before starting the genny. So today I started the genny first. Started right up and stayed on. shut it off and tried again. Same result. Wondering if possibly running the blower for too long reduces the oxygen in the engine compartment.
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Re: Generator error

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:29 pm

Well I would call the Kohler guys in your area. They will come out and work on it at the boat, or at least they do here. They will be able to assist. Seems that you might have a gremlin somewhere.

I always run the blowers for a while and then start the genny first, that way I can hear it better to make sure everything is ok. Then after its up and going will start the mains.
Thanks, Chris

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Re: Generator error

Postby ChristianOu » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:24 am

Hello dear, maybe you have solved the issues but I still want to share the solutions to others who need.
After using a diesel generator for a long time, some malfunctions may occur that will cause the generator fail to start.
If diesel generators fail to start, you can analyze the causes from fuel system failure, electric starting system failure, insufficient compression pressure in the cylinder and the low ambient temperature and other factors.

Fuel System Failure


1. Air in the fuel system
Solution: Check whether the fuel oil pipe connector is loose or not, and ensure that the air is cleared from the fuel system. Loosen the bleed screw bolt on the diesel filter, and then use the manual oil pump to pump the fuel until the air bubble is gone.

2. Fuel Line Obstruction

Solution: Check whether the pipeline is smooth or not.

3. Fuel Filter Clogging

Solution: Clean the filter or replace the filter element

4. The Handle Position of Fuel Injection Pump Is Not Correct

Solution: The handle position should be pushed to no-load when starting the diesel generator set. Rotation speed is about 700-900r/min.

5. Fuel Injector Problem – Little fuel injection or fuel injection is not atomized

Solution: Remove the fuel injector, connect it to the high pressure oil pump, pry the fuel injection pump plunger spring and observe the spray condition. If necessary, wash the injection pump.

6. Oil Supply Problem – Oil transfer pump doesn’t supply oil or the oil supply is brokenly.

Solution: Check whether the oil inlet pipe is leaked or not and the filter screen on the oil inlet pipe connector is blocked or not.

Electric Starting System Failure


1. Battery Power Shortage

The most common failure for diesel generator is battery failure.

Solution: Use the battery with sufficient power, or increase the battery to use in parallel. Replace the new start-up battery if necessary.

2. Circuit Wiring Error or Poor Contact

Solution: Check whether the wiring is correct and reliable.

The compression pressure in the cylinder is insufficient; fuel injection is normal but does not catch fire; or fuel oil inside the exhaust pipe


1. Excessive wear of piston ring and cylinder liner

Solution: Replace the piston ring, and replace the cylinder liner according to the wear condition.

2. Valve leakage

Solution: Check the valve clearance, vlave spring, as well as the sealing of the valve guide and seat. If the seal is not good, you should make a repair.

3. Combustion chamber volume is too large

Solution: Check whether the piston belongs to the model, if necessary, measure the combustion chamber volume.

Ambient Temperature Is Low

Solution: According to the actual ambient temperature, the corresponding low temperature measures should be adopted.

Find useful solution at this article: http://www.dieselgeneratortech.com/dies ... start.html
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