Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Generator Problems

While living aboard our trawler in Brunswick, Georgia I bought a generator from a cruising friend.  He had it shipped here from Great Britain.  Its a cheap Chinese made generator with no identifying markings.  No manufacturer's name, no model number, no serial number.  Nothing.  But I got a good deal on it.  $1,000 for a large generator with less than one hour on it's Yanmar diesel engine.

I brought it north and stuck it at the end of our storage trailer.  I used it last year and it ran flawlessly.  I fired it up this year to power a drill to predrill holes for nailing a deck together.  After an hour, it stopped generating electricity.  The Yanmar kept running fine, but no power.  After some experimentation, I figure that its heat related.  It will generate power for a few minutes when started cold, and then it stops.

Yesterday, I decided to look inside.  This is the control panel.

This is the inside of the control panel.

Yep.  Look at all them wires...

I have a hunch that the circuit breaker may be the problem.  Why?  Because I googled it, and on the third page it was referenced as a "thermal trip" circuit breaker.

I had a hard time finding a place to buy a replacement.  I finally went to my old standby, eBay.  Are you ready for this?  $8.96 and free shipping from Hong Kong.  Free shipping?  Yep.

The U.S. Postal Service has initiated a new service with Hong Kong Post that is structured to foster growth in e-commerce. The new ePacket service expands the array of options offered to e-commerce merchants in Hong Kong seeking to reach consumer markets in the United States.

Can you believe this?  Is it any wonder that the US is flooding with cheap Chinese crap, like lousy tools at Harbor Freight, crummy merchandise at Walmart, and defective non-labeled generators?


  1. Can you increase the RPM to raise the HZ. up to 60 hz. from 50hz.

    Bill Kelleher

    1. I think so, Bill. If not, I can get a frequency converter to get to 60Hz. I haven't worried too much about it yet because I'm only powering things like power drills and a bench grinder.

      I'm going to order a frequency meter off of Amazon for $12.90 to make sure I get it right.

    2. Some digital volt meters also have Hz scale.

      Bill Kelleher

  2. Yep. I've occasionally bought discrete radio parts from China via email. If I need a certain kind of capacitor, U.S. vendors will make me buy say 100 for $25.00 plus shipping. I can buy ONE, including shipping, for about $3.00 from China. Go figure. Seriously. The age of Globalization is truly here and most people don't even know it. I've bought some great stuff via PayPal from individuals in Italy, Spain and Brazil. PayPal shows me the dollar conversion and the stuff arrives in no time in perfect condition.