Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Why a proper exhaust system and raincap are necessary

    I was asked to take one of the girls in the office out with me for the day.  The reasoning was so that she could get a better understanding of what the service techs do and how much time to schedule for a job.  I had a fairly easy load test planned so that I could explain things as I went along and not worry about rushing.  Of course with my luck it didn't work out that way... the rad had a major leak and we could not run the engine on or off load.  So we packed up and went to a small Kohler generator for a cell phone tower to do a load test and oil change. 
video
    When I pulled the dipstick it was milky white and the engine would not even attempt to crank.  I took an "oil" sample and as you can see in the video it was mostly water.  The engine had been filling up with rain water from the exhaust and when it went to do it's automatic weekly start up it became hydraulically locked.  The cause of this was that the rain cap was mounted on a bit of an angle so that the exhaust would blow straight out of the enclosure.  This angle set it up perfectly so that the wind could blow open the cap and the rain could pour.  Also because of the angle the drain holes in the exhaust tubing would not let the water drain unless it was over several millimeters high in the pipe.  The photo of the exhaust pipe and rain cap is a bit hard to see because I had to take it through the grates of the enclosure but you get the idea.
    The part that blows my mind is that with both of these sites the fault could have easily been reported before hand and not wasted so much time.  When I arrived at the first site with the rad leak the onsite said "Oh and by the way a while ago there was a big stream of water coming from the generator"... Oh great!  Maybe you should have given us a call "a while ago"?  For the cell phone tower they have their generators set to run and transfer once a week every week.  The transfer switch showed that it failed to start on it's weekly test.  I wonder how many weekly tests this alarm came up showing it failed to start and who is monitoring it!  So I didn't get to show the service coordinator what a regular preventative maintenance is like but at least she got to see how often we show up to jobs and are unable to complete the work.