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Generators & Electric Motors General Discussion

Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware


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  #1  
Old 03-07-2017, 09:42:12 PM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Got a call to come out and look at a genset where the "engine was making awful noises". Found fiberglass ties, washers and screws in the alternator cooling fan area.

Couple of months later they dropped it off here. Split the engine and generator and this is what I found. Less than 2000 hours and a year or 1.5 years on machine.

1. The cheapest thinnest plumber tape possible to hold up this harness.
2. Apparently a third screw was too expensive so they wrapped the relay pack in electrical tape instead. One relay previously failed with very light load. 12V relays and such do not belong in the high voltage compartment anyway.
3. AS440 regulator with no brand name broken off the mounts. Hour meter completely destroyed from vibration.
4. Output wiring method.
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  #2  
Old 03-07-2017, 09:47:02 PM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

5. Scotchlocks have no place in permanent wiring.
6. Root cause of failure: 1 bolt missing, 1 broken, 2 loose, 2 "tight"
7. Kablooie.

The alternator looks like a 6 sided Stamford but the plate has been replaced with the final assembler's own plate. I think it is a Chinese knockoff.

I will be replacing it with a Marelli, and improving the wiring harness where possible.

People love to rag on engineers for designs that don't work, but machines constructed without engineering support can be just as bad, or worse.
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  #3  
Old 03-07-2017, 10:02:21 PM
Vanman Vanman is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Looks like a very good example of 21st century "craftsmanship" to me!
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Old 03-07-2017, 10:15:13 PM
Steve Dawkins Steve Dawkins is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

In post 1, photo 2, what is the device that has the red and brown wires that appear to be tapped off the main output terminals?

I've never seen one output lead leave the connection box on the opposite side from the other hot lead and neutral. NICE!!!!

I've never been a big fan of Scotchloks, but they hold up ok in static wiring. Just like solid wires, they should never be used in applications that are subject to vibration.
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Old 03-07-2017, 11:11:08 PM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Dawkins View Post
In post 1, photo 2, what is the device that has the red and brown wires that appear to be tapped off the main output terminals?
Hour meter that died from vibration before 1000 hours had gone by. Now you can just watch all the digits roll by when it runs.

Quote:
I've never been a big fan of Scotchloks, but they hold up ok in static wiring. Just like solid wires, they should never be used in applications that are subject to vibration.
This 4 cylinder engine vibrates pretty good but nothing like a 3 cylinder would. Nevertheless vibration can be easily mitigated through good wiring practices.

Another thing to note. I see a lot of these crimps done with a tool that punches a pin down into the terminal. Those are OK in a pinch and much better than the cheapos that just squash it. However if you are charging customers thousands for a new machine then you need to step it up a bit. Use the racheting kind that really apply force without damaging the plastic. Or better yet use the wing-style connectors like Onan always did. Or even better get a third party to make a custom wiring harness with factory tooling and don't have your shop guys do it all by hand.

Also, about 50% of the wire on this thing is THHN from the electrical supply house instead of proper MTW.
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  #6  
Old 03-08-2017, 12:18:44 AM
Steve Dawkins Steve Dawkins is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Crimpers that have a nest and tooth are generally used on non-insulated crimp terminals. Regardless of whether they are used on insulated or non-insulated terminals, the tooth crimp should always be on the bottom of the terminal. When the terminal is manufactured, it is punched out flat, and then the wire barrel is rolled upward and the seam is soldered. If the tooth crimp is on the top, it can weaken or split the seam.
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  #7  
Old 03-08-2017, 12:31:53 AM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Correct. I would not use a non-insulated single crimp on anything like this, though. The wire insulation needs to be supported. Either a wing style crimp with a second crimp to support the insulation, or an insulated crimp with an extra sleeve that crimps around the insulation, or last choice an insulated crimp where the plastic itself provides the support.

If there is no support, as in this picture, it is a matter of time until the wire breaks. With 50 or 100 crimps you will end up having what seems like a broken wire a week.

No corner left uncut I have heard it said.
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Old 03-08-2017, 01:57:11 AM
Seafarer12 Seafarer12 is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Everything is so cheap now. I just got done messing with a field coil in a almost 50 year old hobart welder and at least they wrapped the windings. It was labeled as a medium duty welder. It weighed 750 lbs and is running strong after some freshening after almost 50 years. Good luck getting that out of a new welder.

It also depends on the application. I have a Kubota gen set out of a light tower with 18k hours and still running strong. It has a wisp of blow by but I cant blame it after that many hours.
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Old 03-08-2017, 06:35:06 AM
Arkie Arkie is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Scotchloks should be completely banned. (but built in insurance for service calls) When I see someone using them I know immediately that they do not know what in the hell they are doing or how to correctly make a tap connection.

I've also seen several electricians that do not know how to even properly use and crimp a crimp connecter using the tooth and nest crimper. Crimping with the tooth on the wrong side is asking for failure of the connection, but not instant failure, poor erratic connection later, especially around vibrating type eq such as generators.


Steve Dawkins wrote:

Crimpers that have a nest and tooth are generally used on non-insulated crimp terminals. Regardless of whether they are used on insulated or non-insulated terminals, the tooth crimp should always be on the bottom of the terminal. When the terminal is manufactured, it is punched out flat, and then the wire barrel is rolled upward and the seam is soldered. If the tooth crimp is on the top, it can weaken or split the seam.
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  #10  
Old 03-13-2017, 04:21:36 PM
turtmaster turtmaster is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

i spy a monicon gtr-17 auto-start controller.
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  #11  
Old 03-13-2017, 05:34:47 PM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Quote:
Originally Posted by turtmaster View Post
i spy a monicon gtr-17 auto-start controller.
Correct you are, they spared no opportunity to be cheap
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Old 05-12-2017, 03:43:07 PM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

A little bit of digging turned up the manufacturer of the failed part...$450 for a 25/30 kW generator end, nice.

https://wxfalande.en.alibaba.com/pro...generator.html
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Old 05-12-2017, 06:37:53 PM
Frank DeWitt Frank DeWitt is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

This thread reminds me why I buy quality used.
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Old 05-12-2017, 10:30:55 PM
uglyblue66 uglyblue66 is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

450? How does this connect to a engine? that is alot of watts for a reasonable price. Shipping would be the killer I suppose.
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Old 05-12-2017, 11:20:32 PM
Steve Dawkins Steve Dawkins is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Quote:
Originally Posted by uglyblue66 View Post
450? that is a lot of watts for a reasonable price.
Too reasonable. As the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for." It sure does resemble the Stamford/Newage end on my genset.

In post #2, photo 5, is the device in the middle of the photo with sta-kons on both ends a diode? I have seen them used in Cummins gensets, but cannot find them in semi-conductor catalogs.

Since this thread pertains to quality, I thought you might appreciate these photos from a "quality" installation of a Kohler 100 kW unit that is being replaced. Each 1/0 phase conductor has its own entry into the breaker enclosure with a $0.50 Romex connector. The neutral is attached to the skid. In all fairness, the data plate on the gen says "480" not "277/480" volts. There wasn't a factory neutral in the breaker enclosure, so maybe the system is delta, and the EC didn't have anywhere to connect the field neutral, so they landed it on the skid.
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Last edited by Steve Dawkins; 05-13-2017 at 12:07:42 AM.
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Old 05-13-2017, 01:04:29 AM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

That is a Kohler diode, the common part used everywhere. Cummins wants about twice as much for theirs. I keep a handful on the truck.

In this case one the cheap Chinese Bosch style relays that the builder used gave up like a year before, the one that energizes the alternator so it was getting dead batteries. I think I had used my last Bosch relay, so that diode was what I had on the truck, so I used it to provide energization to the alternator from the engine run circuit, problem solved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by uglyblue66 View Post
450? How does this connect to a engine? that is a lot of watts for a reasonable price. Shipping would be the killer I suppose.
This is a standard SAE generator. 450 bucks plus shipping from China. But read back, the point of this thread is how the bolts came out and the thing ate itself alive. That is not so reasonable.
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Old 05-13-2017, 04:05:22 AM
Thaumaturge Thaumaturge is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

What is an off brand? Anything besides an Onan or Kohler? I just bought a new "SPORTSMAN 2000". Talk about bold faced lies! Specs say it is good for 1400W continuous or 2000 peak. But right on front panel is an 8.5 Amp breaker on AC outlet and an 8 Amp breaker on 12V DC outlet. That calculates to 1020 AC and 96 DC for total of 1116 Watts before both breakers pop....

Do I care? Nope. I only need about 300 continuous in mid summer (to run RV fridge) and less than 150 the rest of the time. Unit cost me $159 shipped to my door. Will run all night on 1.2gal tank. When it dies I will buy another and rebuild it as a spare. Only real bitch is can't find a high altitude jet for it so will have to make my own (5100').
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Old 05-13-2017, 08:22:28 AM
Wayne 440 Wayne 440 is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
What is an off brand? Anything besides an Onan or Kohler?...
There is a reason that the reference to the "big three" in generator manufacturers exists. For new sets above about about 20kw- to me, anything that doesn't say Kohler, Cummins/Onan or CAT on it is an "off brand". Meaning that some part of the quality, service, performance, price equation is less than average. Some brands are more "off" than others- for instance, a Northern Lights or PowerTech set is far ahead of a set made by Weifang Guanghui Agricultural Machinery Co. or some other Chinese scrap metal beater.

In the small portables, (regrettably) if it doesn't say Honda or Yamaha on it, you are getting close to, if not into "off brand" territory.
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Old 05-13-2017, 10:06:02 AM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
What is an off brand? Anything besides an Onan or Kohler?

Do I care? Nope. I only need about 300 continuous in mid summer (to run RV fridge) and less than 150 the rest of the time. Unit cost me $159 shipped to my door.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne 440 View Post
There is a reason that the reference to the "big three" in generator manufacturers exists. For new sets above about about 20kw- to me, anything that doesn't say Kohler, Cummins/Onan or CAT on it is an "off brand". Meaning that some part of the quality, service, performance, price equation is less than average. Some brands are more "off" than others- for instance, a Northern Lights or PowerTech set is far ahead of a set made by Weifang Guanghui Agricultural Machinery Co. or some other Chinese scrap metal beater.

In the small portables, (regrettably) if it doesn't say Honda or Yamaha on it, you are getting close to, if not into "off brand" territory.
My thoughts on these thoughts. I'll try to put them in order listed above.

I can't stand these big box special/online units. The people call me with such frequency about thrown rods, etc. and I try to just gently tell them it was a piece of junk to begin with. It may work for an RV but break at the most inopportune time.

I have crossed Cummins off my list. I have some customers out there with some of the latest products and they are all real turkeys. From the turbo diesels on down to the home standbys. There seem to be major flaws causing reliability far below expectation in all of them. A generator is a stack of components, controller, peripherals, engine, generator end and all of them have to work perfectly, unattended, or the thing is worthless, and Cummins seems to have lost sight of that. And with their recent vertical integration their only answer is to have a distributor tech come out at extreme expense.

Kohler has been good to me so far. Cat has been very good supporting strange one-off FG Wilson sets they used to sell, etc.

There are a few third parties selling products that are quite worthwhile with name brand engine, controller, and generator.

But there are far more third parties like the unit referenced above that look good on the surface but the parts may be clones and the implementation terrible.

As for portables, cross Yamaha off my list. I have not been impressed by Yamaha portables at all. Honda or nothing for me.
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Old 05-13-2017, 12:18:08 PM
Wayne 440 Wayne 440 is offline
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Default Re: Off Brand Generator Sets-Buyer Beware

I agree with your thoughts regarding Cummins, they are on a path to pricing themselves out of the market by making service and parts far too expensive. If they don't change that soon, the "big three" may become Kohler, CAT and you-know-who. (I can't bring myself to type the "G" word)
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