Generator stops working

When we left Galapagos the sea temperature was 17-18 degrees C and with cool air temperatures too, so I was allowed to use our small freezer for once. (Cooling from 17 degrees to -20 is easier than from 33 to -20 in power consumption terms). Chloe and I batch cooked and we had 12 dinners all prepared to ease the the cooking burden at the beginning of the passage. Within four days of our Pacific journey the sea temperature had already risen to 23 degrees and with it the air temperatures too. The weather was infuriatingly cloudy yet equatorial hot so we were limited in the solar power we were making. Russell was having to run the generator three times a day to provide enough power to run the freezer and all the instruments, screens and auto helm (self steering). We quickly took the decision to turn off the freezer, move the contents to the fridge and ease the burden on the generator. With all the rolling motion of the boat I’m not sure you’d exactly get laminar flow through the generator. We now only needed to run it once every two days. The best time to run the generator is when the batteries are low so it puts the maximum charge in. This normally means running it in the dead of night. Only this time after starting up it kept just konking out. Climbing into an engine room at night when the boat is pitching and rolling is not for the faint hearted and after an initial exploration we decided to run the main engine for a bit to charge the batteries and explore further in the morning. We were halfway across the Pacific, the furthest point from anything. With no experience of mending or diagnosing generator problems we set too in the morning.

Taking apart the generator

Going through the service kit and spare parts provided showed multiple spare water impellers. So Russell guessed that might be broken and lo and behold he was right. Changing and sorting it in the ever pitching and rolling engine room was another matter and despite getting stuck with cramp whilst balanced precariously in the engine room, all went fine.

Perched in the engine room

The generator purred back into life and stayed on, hurrah. We’ve only used the generator for 200 hours in a year and a half and the service replacement of the impeller is not till 400 hours, but this one had been annihilated. One to watch out for in the future.

New and old impeller

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