The gen set is much happier now
During the process of troubleshooting our recent inverter/charger issues, we had a new friend named Chris take a look at our generator to check the electrical output. While he was in the locker, he pointed out the obvious salt buildup on the backside of the generator. To be honest, I had noticed that salt myself but was not aware of the cause, nor how serious it could be. Chris explained that if the rubber boot on the output of the heat exchanger goes bad, or the exhaust elbow itself, the super hot salt water exiting the heat exchanger can leak out, leaving behind the deposits that we were seeing. He also explained that if this salt water sprays onto the back end of the generator, it can cause a lot of very expensive damage. That was all I needed to hear. So began a serious repair job.
While I wasn’t before I tackled this job, I am now intimately familiar with this assembly!
We moved One Love around to Compass Point Marina, our typical charter staging area. It’s not only convenient to be on the dock for big repairs, All Points Marine, the local Northern Lights generator dealer, just happens to be located in the Compass Point Marina complex. I had called ahead to All Points to ask if they had the replacement boots and exhaust elbow that we wanted in stock and while they didn’t, Tracy, the manager there, ordered them right away so that they would be delivered on the ferry later that same day. When I went to pick up the parts, the guys in the shop actually laughed when I said that I was going to tackle the job myself. They knew how hard it was going to be. Believe me though, I had no illusions that it was going to be easy!
When I began cleaning away the salt deposits on the generator, I found that two of the hose clamps holding the rubber boot on the output of the heat exchanger had broken in half. Could it have been leaking because they broke or did they break because the boot was leaking salt water? Regardless of which came first, we decided to go ahead and strip everything down, replacing the rubber boots and the exhaust elbow, just in case.
Was the heat exchanger leaking because these clamps broke,
or did they break because the boot was leaking salt water?
The old boots and exhaust elbow. I had to cut one of the boots off.
While the process in theory is simple enough, wrestling with the hoses, clamps, and the almost impossible-to-access bolts was anything but simple. As Tracy had warned us, there was a lot of swearing going on. And grunting. And sweating. Did I mention swearing?
While it likely took me far more time than it would have taken a pro with experience, I am happy to report that we ultimately did get the repair completed. No, the guys at All Points didn’t think that we would, and actually shared that with Michael when he stopped into their shop. I will admit it was a tough job, and not one that I’m eager to repeat. The leaking water has stopped though, and the water output at the exhaust has noticeably increased, leading me to believe that the generator is much happier now that we’ve fixed everything.
The core of the heat exchanger is now exposed.
I found these broken bits of impeller stuck at the core input. They are not from the current impeller and thus have likely been there since we took possession of the boat.
The guys at All Points cleaned the core for us by soaking it in Muriatic Acid.
Starting the reassembly with all new parts.
The old exhaust elbow. It was suggested that we use oven cleaner to try to clean it out.