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Old 06-15-2021, 07:44 AM   #1
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Generator Help

We have been traveling south on ICW for 5 days now, up until yesterday generator has worked flawless, zero issues or complaints.


Yesterday after unhooking shore power, noticed we weren't getting full load out of generator. Runs great engine wise, just not producing enough power, just under 50 volts, see pic (know how yall love pics).


Have checked every fuse I can find, flipped and refliped every breaker multiple times. Part of me feels like it's something stupid, cuz it's worked flawless up until it didn't. Part of me wonders if the power generation part of generator is just old and not getting it done (40 years old) and age got the best of it.


Looking for suggestions on what yall think it could be?
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Old 06-15-2021, 09:05 AM   #2
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Different generators, especially of different vintages, can work very differently in ways that can impact how to diagnose something like this.

When one gets 50v like this, which is very low, but not ~5v low, my first thought is that a load surge took out one of the rotating rectifier diodes and a leg might be missing. If the generator is new, or newly rebuilt, my next thought is that there could be a bad solder joint.

After that, a problem with excitation or something going wrong with voltage regulation come to mind. In some cases there is a regulator board, in other cases, it can be a simple as mostly a capacitor. Capacitors sometimes bite the dust as the result of a load surge and/or age.

But, this all may be gibberish depending upon what generator you've got. If you can post the make and model, I and/or others may be able to see if we can find the schematics for it and offer better guesses.
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Old 06-15-2021, 10:03 AM   #3
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It's a 15KW Westerbeke
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Old 06-15-2021, 10:48 AM   #4
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Sounds like the electrical end has a problem, as mentioned above. If it is something like a rectifier/solder joint, a knowledgeable guy might be able to pop the end off where that item is and get you fixed up. If somebody tells you the windings are bad and the whole electrical end need to come out for rewinding, get a second opinion before going any farther. Good luck, and I hope it turns out to be easier than harder to fix.
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Old 06-15-2021, 11:29 AM   #5
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Is it a 15WMD or a 15BTD? At 40yr old, probably a W, which is a round-ish Winco generator. That one has brushes and I think a square full wave bridge rectifier under the end bell, easy to get to. Check the brushes and test the rectifier. The rectifier is part of the exciting system. No other voltage regulator on these. Field winding is the stator, rotor is volts out, different from most.
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Old 06-15-2021, 12:05 PM   #6
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Verify the panel voltmeter with a DVM or a Kill-A-Watt. Does the voltage return to normal when plugged into shorepower? If that checks out check the output at the generator output breaker and also the input to the output breaker. If low at the breaker input then gen end/voltage regulator problem.
Also the last thing you changed was the swap over from shore power to genny. Makes me suspect the transfer switch might be involved.
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Old 06-15-2021, 01:01 PM   #7
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I have not taken multi-meter out yet, engine room been too hot after running all day to hang out in, but everything goes back to normal on shore power, that why my suspicion is generator.
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Old 06-15-2021, 10:51 PM   #8
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Yeah. That looks old school. If it isn't one of the rectifier diodes or an obvious broken solder joint or connection, you might have to dig in. Maybe a brush wire.

Just for a sanity check, it does it whether loaded or unloaded, right?
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Old 06-16-2021, 07:04 AM   #9
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I thought I knew a few things but reding the answers from people who know geerators is like reading Greek.

Glad we have such experts here.

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Old 06-16-2021, 05:15 PM   #10
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I do not think this is what is going on here, but I once had my 7.5 KW Onan MDJE quit making electricity while the engine ran ok. Come to find out, we reenergized the circuits after having it shut down in a lock with too many items turned on. The overload heated up the major cables in the control box which governed whether the unit produced 120 or 240 volts, and they burned apart where they had been joined in what I think was a less than effective manner many years prior. I rejoined them in a very beefy manner, and all was well. I suppose that if their ends have not burned apart that I would have been getting partial voltage like the OP is getting. It is worth a quick check.
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Old 06-16-2021, 05:47 PM   #11
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I'm open to try anything! I do agree it seems odd, everything worked flawless till it didn't, my gut tells me it's something stupid going on.



We made it to Myrtle Beach, going to park here for a bit. Flying back home tomorrow, will come back in a couple weeks and dig into this more.
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Old 06-16-2021, 08:51 PM   #12
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Since it’s making 50v , I believe the winding would not be shorted. They usually go down to 4-5 v. Slip rings come to mind , brushes, and the back of the brush holders should be inspected.
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Old 06-17-2021, 03:23 AM   #13
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I have a 7.7kw Westerbeke. One day, it popped the 60-amp circuit breaker. I reset it. Twenty minutes later it popped again. This time I happened to touch the metal Square D breaker box. It was almost to hot to touch. Removing the control box lid revealed a truly hokey connection of the two wires leading from the brushes to the one feed wire to the circuit beaker. Ring terminals with a short nut and bolt all taped up. When I removed the tape I found the brush wires to be corroded and brittle from heat. Later inspection found those wires fully compromised all the way back to the brushes. I replaced those wires and ran them to a newly-installed busbar mounted inside the control box. No more fire danger

I am far from an expert on generators so here is a question for the experts. If one of the wires from the brushes is faulty, wouldn't this result in low voltage?
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Old 06-21-2021, 01:40 PM   #14
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years ago we had a similar experience with 4.2 Entec. we had left dock with the air conditioner breaker on. when we started the genset on anchor the ac load blew one of the diodes. i had to pull electric end off and unsolder then resolder in a new diode. we were getting about 100v though.
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Old 06-21-2021, 02:10 PM   #15
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Does the generator sound like it is running at the normal rpm? I know mine must run at 1800 rpm to give the correct voltage.
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Old 06-21-2021, 02:56 PM   #16
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@Russell- Yeah, everything sounds normal, starts normal, runs normal, just not putting out full power.
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Old 06-21-2021, 03:50 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Clifton View Post
Does the generator sound like it is running at the normal rpm? I know mine must run at 1800 rpm to give the correct voltage.
1800 is the common rpm but that governs frequency. To have 60 hz, the rpm must be a multiple of 60. 50 hz, a multiple of 50. Then there are the number of poles, but that gets into a lot of theory....

FYI to all, I just had generator start issues. Would not start, no clicking, anything, even though the battery was good. Thinking it was either the starter or the starter solenoid, I procrastinated (contort self, put arm in position that it should not be in, hope wrench does not slip from hand, etc.) and started tracing wires. The secondary wire from the solenoid ran to a fuse. Instead of checking continuity through the fuse, I checked voltage on each side. One side was lower. Pulled fuse, cleaned it, replaced, and generator started.
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Old 06-21-2021, 04:24 PM   #18
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What Irish Lady said…

As suggested, check the volt meter on the panel. I fixed a similar problem by taping on the face of the meter.
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Old 06-21-2021, 05:06 PM   #19
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Check each leg of the gen unit with a meter and see what it is putting out… if all good then look at the rectifier for issues, or the voltage regulator unit.

I would suspect the latter over everything else first. Sometimes you just need to turn the pots up and down with a screwdriver and readjust to clean the wiper in the pots.
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Old 06-22-2021, 04:23 AM   #20
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Check that you are making full 1800 rpm. Make certain that the fuel run solenoid is completely bottomed out. You can manually pull it in while engine is running.. check the on-engine circuit breaker is fully clicked in. Tiny red button on my 8 kw westerbeke. Check that the secondary fuel filter is not clogged, and restricting rpm. Good luck.
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