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Old 06-11-2017, 06:02 AM   #21
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Arthurc: What are your goals with the boat?
Long term ownership and trips to Alaska as well as a Hawaii crossing at some point. I plan on re-powering her this winter (the sp225 has many design issues and hard to get parts - likely will go with a JD). So bottom line looking for long term solutions that will last over short term savings/etc.
planning on also installing a water maker but may try and have it engine driven when I repower.
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Old 06-11-2017, 06:28 AM   #22
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We owned a Panda. Much of the negative chatter is not worth the time it takes to read. Like any system, so much depends upon a number of factors including installation and use. We all have seen the range of possibilities for either category.
Early Panda's had seawater cooled generator sections that were problematic so people had legitimate complaints there. Beyond that, they remind me of the European autos I spent my life maintaining. They are quiet, capable machines and are capable of very long life.
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Two questions

--Did you install a Panda in your new boat?
--Aren't the Panda's 3600 RPM?
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Old 06-11-2017, 06:46 AM   #23
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The MDL4 is a good machine, but true that some parts are unobtanium. Since you are planning a repower, that would be the time to replace it. See if you can get it running long enough to last til the repower. That will also give you time to figure out what your cruising electrical loads really are.

You likely can size the unit down. But even though the PNW means little aircon load, you might venture south or sell the boat to a southerner. So don't go too small. Do the homework and decide if load management is tolerable or not. A 54' could probably do fine with a 12kW or even a 9, maybe.
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Old 06-11-2017, 07:08 AM   #24
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Two questions

--Did you install a Panda in your new boat?
--Aren't the Panda's 3600 RPM?
Our new boat has a Northern Lights generator. It had issues right out of the box!
Of course there is no support like Northern Lights and it was fixed up in no time. Yes, Panda's are 3600 rpm generators but they are very quiet.
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Old 06-11-2017, 10:20 AM   #25
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Another thing to check, it is only an Onan because of the generator section, its probably a Kubota or similar small diesel and you will want to go to a tractor repair place not a marina to fix it. '88 is not that old.
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Old 06-11-2017, 11:08 AM   #26
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I think it is a Kubota but the parts needed are specific to marine (Coolant Pump
And Raw Water pump), they are available but need to be ordered from the factory and just this service looks like it would cost 4-5k... at that point why not get a right sized genset as I know the 20kw is overkill even with full load.
I'm new to larger boats so am making two assumptions 1) 30 year newer gensets and gotten quieter 2) high quality sets with industrial engines will still last 30+ years if bought new today.
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Old 06-11-2017, 11:31 AM   #27
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I think it is a Kubota but the parts needed are specific to marine (Coolant Pump
And Raw Water pump), they are available but need to be ordered from the factory and just this service looks like it would cost 4-5k... at that point why not get a right sized genset as I know the 20kw is overkill even with full load.
I'm new to larger boats so am making two assumptions 1) 30 year newer gensets and gotten quieter 2) high quality sets with industrial engines will still last 30+ years if bought new today.

That seems high, to me. Maybe get a cost break-down for parts versus labor. Labor is usually impacted by access, too... so if you look at your unit and can tell the coolant pump is way behind, completely inaccessible... than maybe lack of access would be loading more labor hours into the project.

OTOH, if both pumps are reasonably accessible, replacing those with new could maybe turn out to be no big deal.

For example, I could probably change our genset's raw water pump in a couple hours or so... and one of the techs here can usually cut my time in at least half, sometimes thirds (since they have a clue, and I have to learn as I go). But even if it turned out to be 3 hours of tech's labor, that'd only be about $300.

I suspect your assumptions about newer units are OK, but OTOH, I'd expect your current system to still be good for lots o' years too, if the parts issue is not insurmountable.

Is yours in a sound shield? If not, could maybe be that a box could tame noise levels... (at some expense to access, of course).

Don't think it's a bad idea to right-size your genset. Think I'd lean toward that instead of adding another smaller one (another system to maintain). But I also think maybe neither of those is absolutely necessary, pending parts and potentially other methods of sound abatement.

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Old 06-11-2017, 11:47 AM   #28
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There is an ongoing debate over whether to have two identical generators or one larger and one smaller. Both sides have their sound arguments. The argument of one large and one small is that you can match to the requirements at the time. You can run the larger when running A/C or the watermaker and working in the galley and the smaller one when you have minimal use.

We chose to go in all cases with two identical generators. When we'd start sizing the smaller unit we always concluded we could reasonably go down to about 50-60% the size of the larger one. However, we gained very little in terms of less weight or a smaller footprint, and saved far less in cost than we would have thought. We also then had to find a pattern of usage to go to one or the other. We did not want to have to cut the A/C off to use a smaller one as we want it to come on if needed overnight. Similarly we didn't want to have to go switch generators for other reasons during the day. The big advantages to us of two identical were total redundancy, one set of parts, and since we run the generator all the time we're running, spreading the usage equally over two generators.

One thing we observed on boats with two very different sized generators was that one gets used 90% of the time. In our observations on larger boats, it was the large one that got used and the small one became nothing but an emergency backup. I know on some boats it is the other way around, we just found few examples.

We have experience with three brands of generators and we'd recommend those three over other brands. We have used Northern Lights from 25 kw to 99 kw, Kohler from 5 kw to 8 kw and Onan 21.5 kw.

Our experiences. Northern Lights level of service pushes them to the top of the generators in larger sizes. Kohler in the size range we have pleasantly surprised us with quietness and with lack of problems. Then we used Onan for our loop and were very impressed. Often I think people compare generators of different vintages and there are more differences than currently produced generators where all have made improvements. In all cases, our brand of generators was based on the builder who only used that brand, but we find that a good method as the builder and generator manufacturer have experience together and solid working relationships.

Now, to address the question of load. All of our manufacturers have very similar recommendations and that is something like 25-75% load with 50% being ideal. However, the old tale of never running below 50% is refuted by all three manufacturers when it comes to today's units. None of them get concerned until below 25-30% or above 70-75%.

Now there are a lot of boats being build with slightly different sizes such as 20 kw and 28 kw and one or the other is used simply based on the season.

All this just fits our cruising but then a couple of things significant about ours. One is that we nearly always have the A/C or Heat on, they just run as needed. We also normally have a number of people aboard who will be showering at different times, doing laundry, deciding to cook something, so far more to manage than if just two aboard. Then we also have watermakers, washers and dryers, and PTO's for hydraulic thrusters on some boats which both add generator usage.
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Old 06-11-2017, 12:04 PM   #29
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Hi Arthurc.

My previous boat was a 53' Canoe Cove, fitted with two Northern Lights generators. One at 12KW, and the second at 5KW. Both fitted in sound shields. The boat was built here in the PNW, and designed and fitted out as a high-end motor cruiser for this environment. That is, diesel heat, hot water, watermaker, washer/dryer, etc. All the amenities (for it's day, anyway) to enable us to cruise without practicing bleeding before leaving the dock. No AC, as is pretty typical up here.

If I ran the 12KW generator, I could operate the boat, either underway or at anchor, with impunity. That is, run all AC stuff at will, without having to juggle AC loads to prevent inadvertent overload. However, if I chose to run the 5KW generator, I was always manually load-shedding, which was a giant PIA. As this was an 80's vintage boat, all loads were manually controlled, without automatic anything. So load shedding was up to me.

And, I couldn't detect ANY difference in sound level for the generators, either inside the boat, or close aboard outside. Nor any difference in fuel consumption. Given the fairly low usage of my generator(s) per engine hours, fuel consumption was simply lost in the noise. I never could figure out why the boat was equipped with both generators! I'd have been very happy to ditch the 5KW, with it's attendant cost, space, service, and wiring hassles. After 12 years aboard, the 5KW was virtually unused.

My present boat (WAY smaller and simpler!) has one 6KW Northern Lights. Couldn't be happier.

Regards,

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Old 06-11-2017, 12:21 PM   #30
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Hi Arthurc.

My previous boat was a 53' Canoe Cove, fitted with two Northern Lights generators. One at 12KW, and the second at 5KW. Both fitted in sound shields. The boat was built here in the PNW, and designed and fitted out as a high-end motor cruiser for this environment. That is, diesel heat, hot water, watermaker, washer/dryer, etc. All the amenities (for it's day, anyway) to enable us to cruise without practicing bleeding before leaving the dock. No AC, as is pretty typical up here.

If I ran the 12KW generator, I could operate the boat, either underway or at anchor, with impunity. That is, run all AC stuff at will, without having to juggle AC loads to prevent inadvertent overload. However, if I chose to run the 5KW generator, I was always manually load-shedding, which was a giant PIA. As this was an 80's vintage boat, all loads were manually controlled, without automatic anything. So load shedding was up to me.

And, I couldn't detect ANY difference in sound level for the generators, either inside the boat, or close aboard outside. Nor any difference in fuel consumption. Given the fairly low usage of my generator(s) per engine hours, fuel consumption was simply lost in the noise. I never could figure out why the boat was equipped with both generators! I'd have been very happy to ditch the 5KW, with it's attendant cost, space, service, and wiring hassles. After 12 years aboard, the 5KW was virtually unused.

My present boat (WAY smaller and simpler!) has one 6KW Northern Lights. Couldn't be happier.

Regards,

Pete
Exactly what we faced on our latest purchase which came with an Onan 21.5 kw. We wanted a second generator and everyone said, add a 10 or 12 or so. We realized that we'd never be willing to go through the load juggling and it would sit unused unless the larger unit broke. So, it became either add a second 21.5 kw or add nothing. Still don't know the right answer. We added the second 21.5 kw and have alternated uses of the two. We have redundancy but really haven't needed it yet. However, if we ever had a generator to go down for a few days, we'd regret not having the backup unit. We keep the usage almost identical on the two units.
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Old 06-11-2017, 12:22 PM   #31
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Answer this question for me. Since you are traveling inboard on the rivers do you use your water maker on the rivers or just resupply at dock?

Thanks.
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Old 06-11-2017, 12:23 PM   #32
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Onan doesn't make the pumps...I replaced my Onan fuel pump with an electric (generic) pump which runs just fine. Get the manufacturer's name off the pump and if it is Really difficult to get, use an electric pump. It will last longer and may not ever need impeller servicing.
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Old 06-11-2017, 01:18 PM   #33
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BandB

Answer this question for me. Since you are traveling inboard on the rivers do you use your water maker on the rivers or just resupply at dock?

Thanks.
We use it some on rivers. It does require extra filtration and adjustment of pressure. We use a commercial filter and a "plankton" filter which is named such for PNW use but works on the higher bacteria and larger items in fresh water. Without extra filtration, you will clog your filters very quickly on fresh water and reduce the lives of membranes.

Note that every manufacturer of watermakers and each model they build will have different requirements. Some cannot be used for fresh water.
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Old 06-11-2017, 02:01 PM   #34
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Onan doesn't make the pumps...I replaced my Onan fuel pump with an electric (generic) pump which runs just fine. Get the manufacturer's name off the pump and if it is Really difficult to get, use an electric pump. It will last longer and may not ever need impeller servicing.

Or call Depco in Florida. All they do are pumps, and they have a great reputation.
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Old 06-11-2017, 04:21 PM   #35
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That sounds like a real PIA to me. Every time I think about buying a watermaker I find multiple reasons for not buying one.

Thanks for your input.
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Old 06-11-2017, 04:38 PM   #36
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Lots of good thoughts, thanks all.
I think my plan is to see if the current genset can make it through the summer then likely swap it with a newer Onan or NL when I repower her once I also have a chance to spend some time on her and fully understand the draw of the current equipment.
AC
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Old 06-11-2017, 07:11 PM   #37
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I'm wading in here with nothing to contribute but a question. Is there any common case these days where both generators are used simultaneously to accommodate large loads? It seems like integrating AC power sources is more practical now than it used to be, just wondering if it was done in the pleasure boating world.
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Old 06-11-2017, 07:24 PM   #38
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Lots of good thoughts, thanks all.
I think my plan is to see if the current genset can make it through the summer then likely swap it with a newer Onan or NL when I repower her once I also have a chance to spend some time on her and fully understand the draw of the current equipment.
AC
That sure sounds like the best approach if you can pull it off.
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Old 06-11-2017, 08:28 PM   #39
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That sounds like a real PIA to me. Every time I think about buying a watermaker I find multiple reasons for not buying one.

Thanks for your input.
No, it's just getting it set up properly initially. That is one reason we didn't purchase either one offered by the builder but did a local install.
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Old 06-11-2017, 08:29 PM   #40
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I'm wading in here with nothing to contribute but a question. Is there any common case these days where both generators are used simultaneously to accommodate large loads? It seems like integrating AC power sources is more practical now than it used to be, just wondering if it was done in the pleasure boating world.
It's done frequently on larger boats, in the 120' range and up.
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