Monday, September 17, 2012

RELIABILITY: So much for that!

Reliability can be a double edged sword as I recently found out. I've had a Honda 2000i generator on board for as long as BIANKA has used electric propulsion which is going on five years. It is used for a number of things on board. Because BIANKA no longer has a diesel engine and therefore no alternator the generator comes in useful in assisting the electric windlass in raising the anchor so the 12 volt battery bank is not depleted. It is also useful in charging the 48 volt propulsion bank especially the all important bulk phase for charging before letting the wind and solar take over at anchor or on the mooring. It can also move the boat along nicely at three knots without draining the battery bank as an economical hybrid propulsion system. It also powers some of the 120 volt power tools I sometimes use on board too. For five years the Honda has been a reliable workhorse when needed.

So when I noticed the pull cord was starting to look a little frayed a few weeks ago I bought a replacement. After five years it was to be expected. It was still starting the engine but, I figured it was only a matter of time before I would have to change it. I was about to head out on a two week plus cruise with an extended stay at a dock in New York where I thought I'd replace the pull cord. The boat was fully provisioned up and I motored out to the mooring where I was about use the generator and my electric hookah dive setup to do a quick clean of the hull before catching a favoring current to start the cruise. I grabbed the pull cord and it suddenly broke.

Oh well, I thought no problem I've already got the replacement cord. I had the service manual for the generator which involved taking the covers off and removing the fuel tank to get access to the recoil starter to replace the pull cord. Not too involved I'd just depart a little later than planned or wait until tomorrow. The problem was because the Honda had been so reliable for the past five years I never had any reason to remove the covers before and because it was operating in a marine environment a number of the screws had seized up tightly.

I then spent two days trying to remove them using various methods from PB Blasterscrew extractors  and finally ended up drilling some of them out.

 I also used my Dremel Rotary Tool to  make slots in some of the screws turning some of the phillips head screws into slotted ones:

To make matters worse some of these screws were "special" items according to the service manual. Needless to say I did not start out on that cruise and am currently waiting for parts including some of the "special" screws to arrive.

CAPT. MIKES'S TIP:  If you are using a generator like the Honda 2000 or some other make on board. Take some time when you first get it to coat the cover screws with some of anti corrosion product like Tef-Gel .  It will save a lot of time and aggravation later.  One thing is for sure when I re install the screws each will get a nice coat of Tef-Gel  so in five years when I need to replace the pull cord again it will be a much easier and faster job.


caseymcm said...

Great idea, I'm planning to get one of these nifty generators this year and I already have some Tef-Gel. It might be worth considering this for other equipment kept outside, like outboards. Do you use a cover when it's not in use? You could make up a canvas cover with an elastic bottom, or even just a big enough canvas bag will provide a good bit of sun/salt protection.

Capt. Mike said...


The generator actually does not spend a lot of time on deck. It is usually stowed below. It is mostly used for bulk charging the 48 volt house bank after dropping the anchor. Even so those screws did seize up pretty good. I agree a cover probably would help but, getting to those screws with some type of anti-seize compound will save a lot of time and aggravation in the future.