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Old 11-19-2019, 03:44 PM   #1
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Panda Fischer Generator

My generator let go; its raw water cooled and is getting water in the oil. Its 18 years old. Worked great for the last two years since I bought the boat, and 16 years for the previous owner . Would love to replace it with the fresh water cooled version, which they did make. My unit is the 4000SC or 4200SC. I believe the FWC version is the 4200FC or "plus". I probably can't swing buying a replacement anytime soon, but wondering if anyone has any leads on a used one, or any other suggestions. Space is a factor, its a Blue Seas 31. I would be open to other brands that would fit, but an exact replacement (FWC) would be an easier install. Recreational use; I just use it to make hot water and charge the batts for an hour or two a day when I'm on the hook.
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Old 11-19-2019, 03:53 PM   #2
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I will repeat my comments posted on downeastboatforum a few minutes ago:

************************************************** **
The Fischer Panda generator has been vilified by many in the boating industry. Tony Athens called it an over engineered POS (or something like that). So don't replace it with another expensive POS.

The NextGen is a very simple single cylinder 3.5 KW generator that will work well for your needs and will probably fit in the available space. It's generator end is belt driven so that the engine runs at 2,800 rpm rather than the 3,600 of the F-P. It uses a Kubota engine and a Markon generator end, two very solid systems.

I had one in a Mainship Pilot 34 and used it exactly as you describe. Worked great and is half the cost of a F-P, about $6,000.

************************************************** ***
To expand a bit on my dislike for F-Ps, a neighbor had one on his boat that was totally destroyed by a leaking raw water pump seal. It sprayed sea water throughout the whole genset and when he finally discovered it, he was out $12,000 to replace it. Seals fail in other generators, but they don't spray water everywhere when they do.

David
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Old 11-19-2019, 05:06 PM   #3
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Swapping brands shouldn't be much problem. Maybe change a fuel line, a water line and exhaust then just splice it in.

If you can possibly fit it in, go with at least a two cylinder. SOO much quieter and smoother.

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Old 11-19-2019, 05:10 PM   #4
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Sorry, forgot to add this..

Don't let anyone talk you into a air cooled Honda for the aft deck or swim platform. They are a hassle with he cords, are louder than you think they are and you won't make any friends at close anchorages. For the cost of one of them you can get a nice used water cooled unit.

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Old 11-19-2019, 07:01 PM   #5
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Last year when I was deciding on equipment for my refit, I needed a replacement generator for my ancient single-lung Yanmar contraption. I found a "low-hours FP 6KW" from https://www.intermarinepower.com/. After much research, I decided the FP, in my opinion, was not reliable long term. Because a replacement would require removal of my engine, and I plan to cruise long term, I decided to go with a Northern Lights 6kw. Cost of install is the same, so only delta in cost is the equipment itself. The NL6kw was about $9300.

I also looked at the NextGen which is tiny. It's a 2700 RPM generator and I know of one install where the owner is happy, but in the end, given all the other work I am doing, I was hesitant to save $5k given the proven dependability and reliability of Northern Lights. For me, best I could hope for was almost-as-good (maybe). The NL, for me, is really the gold standard. Had I not had room (and it was close), might have made a different decision ---- maybe. Probably would have found a different location.
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:23 PM   #6
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I agree the NL is the gold standard of marine generators. If the OP was going to use it a lot, put a lot of hours on it, running an A/C 24/7, then I would recommend the NL.


But for his purposes, running the genset for an hour morning and night for hot water and battery charging, the NextGen does a great job. Both use solid and simple components, no over engineered stuff.


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Old 11-19-2019, 07:30 PM   #7
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I would love to see some real data that NL gensets are really that much better.

I have had more than one reliable source say they have a better reputation than a reality. One specializes in gensets.
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
But for his purposes, running the genset for an hour morning and night for hot water and battery charging, the NextGen does a great job. Both use solid and simple components, no over engineered stuff
Sensible approach. For the research I did, the FP moved to the bottom of my list - just too many negative comments (the OP's statement that it lasted 18-years in his/her boat is encouraging). From what I could figure out, given the choice between NextGen and Fisher Panda, I would go with NextGen. It is tiny, quiet, and runs at mid-range RPM (2700 RPM). Fewer reviews than FP, but given the large number of issues I found with FP, I'd take my chances with NextGen.
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:53 PM   #9
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I would love to see some real data that NL gensets are really that much better.

I have had more than one reliable source say they have a better reputation than a reality. One specializes in gensets.
Interesting. What are you recommending and why? Anecdotally, I've heard of more issues with Onan than NL, though they have changed a lot since Cummins plugged in. Onan run at 2900 RPM. What are you thinking do a better job than NL in the 6kw-9kw size range? Westerbeke is one of the few I can think of that run at 1800 rpm (60hz), but not sure the parts availability is a good given the volume of NL. Not really a price differential either. Others?
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:00 PM   #10
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I am just saying that I have heard that while NLs are good, they are not so much better to command their reputation or prices.


Like many things in life...so few own them but buy into the hype and pass it along that the reputation outgrows the reality...


It would be nice to see FACTS, not opinions on just why they are so much better.
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:03 PM   #11
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Yea, the nextgen/kubota is a good machine for smaller boats. It is a bit rough and noisy, but it beats sweating like crazy all night. The FP is nice because it is so light you can tip it into the dumpster single-handed.

The NL 5-6kW is a good unit, but it is not that good. I have fixed a lot of them and seen the weak spots. No valve seats?? WTF. Salt water creaping in from HX boots?? Same thing. Cheesy wiring in control box?? Really? But if you can fit the 3cyl in your boat it is better than most. And the NL 5kW is what is in my boat, over 6000hrs so far. But it has not been flawless. Still pretty good, though.

To the OP, the 1cyl nextgen is wide and flat, so mounting dimensions are going to be different. If you can fit it, good. Use a larger than recommended water lift muffler to cut down the exhaust noise. The NL 5/6kW is nice but probably bigger than you need, and that is not good if oversized.
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:19 PM   #12
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I have never heard of anyone bragging about Fisher Panda.
I have heard people complain about the reliable of their Fisher Panda.
In fact, I had not heard anything about the Fisher Panda in over 10 years. I thought they went out of business.
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:43 PM   #13
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Consider parts availability. next-Gen wins unquestionably. 2 OTC belts, 2 Bosch relays, 1 fuel pump and fuel shut off , 1 capicator, every part available from EBay, Tractor supply , Amazon. You can buy every part from your phone overnight. In addition the factory answers the phone and has every part in stock. They have also returns my call on a Sunday when I had a stuck customer .
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:52 PM   #14
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Interesting discussion. Touch wood, my old Kubota powered Onan MDKD,@1800rpm I think, seems reliable. While we see NL, Kohler, and others, like Pagano and even FP, here Onan tends to be the standard with its EQD model.
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
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It would be nice to see FACTS, not opinions on just why they are so much better.
Would be nice. In 1997-1998, Practical Sailor tested five different brands - that is the most recent objective data I could find. As an aside, a shame that Practical Sailor is a shell of its former self - no one is providing this objective data anymore, likely a victim of Amazon reviews.

-----------BELOW IS PARAPHRASED FROM 1998 PRACTICAL SAILOR----
(NOTE - they tested for load and noise, not durability and reliability):

INTRODUCTION:
Included in our bench tests were Fischer Panda, Kilo-Pak, Kohler, Mase and Northern Lights. After initially declining to participate, Westerbeke offered a session at their own test facility in Massachusetts, with the testing set up to specifications like those used in the Practical Sailor bench test. Another big manufacturer, Onan, also declined. Instead, they offered to supply us with their own test data, but despite several reminders, it was never received.

The 1,800 rpm sets are inherently quieter than the 3,600 rpm sets, or to put it another way, the 3,600 rpm sets require much more intensive sound suppression

KOHLER CONCLUSIONS:
Although a bit noisy, the Kohler is a tough workhorse bred by a company that likes to keep it simple, reliable and easy to service.

NORTHERN LIGHTS CONCLUSIONS:
Proudly dressed in gloss white paint, the Northern Lights genset is a quality piece of Plain Jane equipment, soundly engineered and made of good materials. The testing indicated that it should be rated at 5.5 kW [versus 6kw].

FISHER PANDA CONCLUSIONS:
The Fischer’s performance was impressive. Compact, tight and light, it ran quietly and smoothly. It is an expensive high-tech lightweight that can outlift all but one of the heavyweights.

BOTTOM LINE
Using our test data as the criteria, which of those we tested would we prefer?

If headed around the world with not many stops, Northern Lights might be our choice, especially if electrical demands were not too heavy or sophisticated. Its price is second to the lowest.

If space was tight, weight was critical and we were willing to pay a premium for high-tech, the quiet, hard-working Fischer Panda would be nice to have.

But for something with lots of muscle at a very reasonable initial price, the well-made Kilo-Pak stood out. Of the 1,800 rpm models, it was the only one that, with a full resistive load, picked up and walked away with the added inductive load. A bit noisy, but it’s a workhorse.
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:10 PM   #16
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Ski's comments are good enough for me. If nothing else for casting a bit of doubt on the gold standard myth. But, owner care and maintenance seems to be the key with many 1800 RPM units I'm familiar with.
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:18 PM   #17
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As with many of these "independent" tests....the criterion used to determine certain qualities is thin at best.


I never did trust many including Practical Sailor after getting into the marine business and saw many examples that didn't match their opinions...even Consumers Reports let me down on several occasions were they didn't include things I had purchased in their tests that I found clearly superior to their recommended products.


With the internet today...you can be fed great info or a load of bull pushed by the masses that really don't have the knowledge or experience to nail down real performance but pass along their opinions like they were facts...thus creating myths around certain products totally undeserved.


I have heard the word "bulletproof" used many times here on TF and I am lucky enough to have enough experience with some of the products to know better and classify them as "average" with the hopes of passing along enough info to make people do their own research to become satisfied in their "own" truths.
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:24 PM   #18
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With all due respect, you asked for facts, not opinions. Practical Sailor did independent testing with in depth methodology (which was not included for brevity, but you know they preface their testing with methodology), albeit 20-years ago. And then you brush aside? Is that fact or opinion?
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:46 PM   #19
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Well your tidbit didn't include their methodology but after years of subscribing to it I have an idea.....


So sure...if they have some pertinent FACTs to cruising a genset...I am all ears....then again...an OLD test is just that...in only a few years brands can change dramatically.


It takes decades of staying at the top to keep such a lofty standard as the "gold standard"


I WAS asking for facts and I still don't see any...just an old Practical Sailor "opinion".


OK...update...I just read this test...
Features June 1, 1998 Issue

https://www.practical-sailor.com/iss...es/4327-1.html




It was basically an electrical end test. It didn't include 2 of Northern Lights main competitors nor did it say much if anything about the engine side of things...it definitely didn't address longevity, ease of repair, eyc...etc...
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:09 PM   #20
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Point being there isn't a ton of empirical information outside of anecdotal evidence (opinions such as yours). What little there is such as the PS article and a 2007 Victron White Paper that focused on hybrid systems but as an aside has extensive testing on generators in this class (I'd have to find it again - NL were the quietest in their class and were middle of a tight pack for voltage stability and related metrics), I didn't find much. I can tell you I found a few used FP generators and not a single NL, which to me affirmed my decision that a FP wasn't for me.

Look, I'd be happy to include the entire 1500 word PS review of five different generators. But I don't think it would change your mind one bit. You have your opinion and it's not going to be swayed by anything regardless of the source or the methodology.
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