Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Onan Genset Blues / 2812 Hours

Fault Code 41 - It's a slow blues in E, with a fat bass line and lots of open space between the notes.....those open spaces represent the quiet times when the generator doesn't work.  OK, so I'm really really cynical..... but the music stopped at 2812 hours, as you can see on the meter reading at left.

Onan MDK-AU Installed
10 years ago we bought a shiny new Onan generator, model MDK-AU, and (stupidly) paid to have someone else install it in the boat.  Whilst the installation problems were sorted out eventually, the inherent defects in the generator were beyond repair.  Just twelve months later the good folks at Cummins Power Generation (who had recently purchased Onan worldwide) agreed that we had a lemon and gave us a new unit !  To their enduring credit they paid for everything - berthing, labour, cranes, technicians etc.  So, nine years ago we started again with a new unit .... the only problem was this unit had most of the same problems the old unit did.  Last month it finally stopped producing power, again.  The great Kubota engine is willing, the alternator is willing, but the Onan control board is faulty.  Should we spend over A$2000.00 on a new control board ?  No way.  We decided it was time to say goodbye.

Lifting With The Dinghy Tackles
Over those nine years this little generator has required unbelievable amounts of maintenance input.  Easily ten times more than the Cummins main engine on board.  This thing has consumed drive belts, pump belts, belt tensioners, numerous hoses, a starter motor, pumps, impellers, flexible couplings, sensors, control boards, injection elbows, even a dipstick ! Every 100 hours we would service it and replace the seawater impeller, purely because we knew it would fail soon and it was better to replace it when we could, rather than have it die unexpectedly !  I do believe the later model MDK-BH is a far better unit.

Those times are now over for us, as we stripped the unit two days ago in preparation for moving it OUT of the boat.  Once the hoses and cables were disconnected we slowly moved it over to the aft hatch using the multi-part tackles that normally serve as our dinghy falls.  Many small moves, an inch at a time, and three hours later it was sitting under the aft hatch, ready for the big lift tomorrow.

Sliding Towards The Hatch
Whilst this was going on we looked for a buyer for the unit - someone must want it - and within 24 hours it was sold.  That was followed by a stock take on our Onan spare parts, which are now also being sold off.  Yesterday we sold the water lift muffler, the exhaust gas separator and the remote control panel (you can check the "Buy / Sell / Swap" tab at the top of this page to see what else is available).

Tomorrow we hope to lift the unit out onto the dock, to be collected by the new owners.  As the "primary care giver", I for one won't be shedding any tears.

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