Zen and the Art of Generator Maintenance

I have had an excellent opportunity to practice what I learned in the great book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance with my gen ailments. These are opportunities to learn and grow I keep telling myself, hahaha.

The gen started running a bit warm, it has gobbled impellors since new at an amazing rate. I had the water pump changed, a catch valve installed and a double handful of rubber bits removed. This seemed to cure the problem. Then while filling dive tanks the gen started to run rough and belch black smoke, not a good sign. It would run fine with a light load but when loaded it protested profusely. The local mechanic and Northern Lights rep, Graham diagnosed injector problems, a logical conclusion. The injectors redone and no improvements and the compression checked out perfect so the engine had not gone south, whew!

I sent off a panicked cry for help to my good friends at Northern Lights in Seattle and a chorus of “it’s the exhaust elbo” came back. Turns out running a gen under light loads—guilty, in warm water, guilty again, will clog the exhaust. The local NL dealer had the part in stock, as well as the Seattle boys who jumped to help—hence I now have a spare. This fits into my, “if it broke it will break again, buy two plan.

this black hole should be clean and open..

The new elbow installed and life rocks, temp is back to normal and she hums with a full load, a load I will use now, need it or not.

So how does a 40 year old hippy icon book become the guide in such endeavors? The Zen approach takes away the anxiety and blame—both I am good at when things break. The book lays out a process for making a hypothesis on the cause of the problem and proving it right or wrong starting at the upstream source. In this case we went down the whole frickin’ river to find the source but we did.

The great book also gives a way to work on motors, be calm, plan, if you get frustrated or angry take a break. These are all good things to remember. When pissed off, tired or sore from being stuck in some “engine room hot yoga” pose is when I break things. Also know when to call for help. I can diagnose most problems and fix many but I have learned to call for help when I can do more harm than good.

We also learned to go around a problem, i was able to cruise for a couple of days without much gen time or load and we had a great time until the parts were located and work scheduled.

So under palm trees and 88 degree weather the work was done, reminding me of the definition of cruising; working on your boat in exotic places!