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Old 12-15-2001
geoffschultz geoffschultz is offline
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A Precautionary Note on Fischer Panda Generators

I installed a Fisher Panda 4.2 KW raw water cooled generator in my 40í Freedom sloop named BlueJacket per the recommendation of Freedom. New England Boatworks (NEB) of Portsmouth, Rhode Island (RI) installed it in September of 1999. NEB is an authorized Fischer Panda dealer and installer. While NEB was installing the unit they dropped it. The unit was shipped back to Fischer Panda in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for repair and came back supposedly having been fully repaired.

In October of 1999 The unit was burned-in at the dock and had the 35-hour maintenance performed by NEB. That fall, on a trip from Portsmouth, RI to the BVIs, the generator stopped running and wouldn''t start. At this point it had about 60 hours on it. After many e-mails with tech support I determined that the fuel solenoid valve connector was faulty. This was replaced on January 18, 2000.

On January 25, 2000 the generator suddenly began running too fast, or at least that was my assessment. Many e-mails were exchanged with tech support and many hours were spent on my part trying to diagnose the problem. I finally gave up as this was beyond my level of expertise.

In June of 2000, which is 9 months after having the genset installed, I returned to Rhode Island where NEB looked at the genset. They spent a lot of time and finally gave up and shipped it back to Ft. Lauderdale where it was determined that the some of the governor weights had come loose or off. I was also informed that they had found that the piston rings and cylinder were rusted so they re-bored the engine. Finally in November of 2000 it was re-installed in BlueJacket. Once again it was burned in at the dock and had another "35 hour" maintenance performed on it. This was just in time for a return trip to the BVIs. The unit had less than 100 hours on it, most of those burning it in.

During my trip from Portsmouth, RI to the BVIs the unit began to leak diesel at the fuel solenoid valve. Somehow the solenoid shaft had broken lose from the base. Fischer Panda stated that they had seen this before and replaced the part for me, even though it was "out of warranty", having passed the 1 year mark. This was mid-December, 2000.

From January to April, 2001 the unit ran relatively well. I continued to have problems with the fuel solenoid electrical connector losing connection. In April I put BlueJacket onto the hard in Grenada where was Awl Gripped. Before doing so I ran the system using fresh water at the raw water intake. The genset had 550 hours on it.

When I returned in September of 2001, the genset would not start. A local diesel/genset dealer determined that the reason that it wouldn''t start was due to a lack of compression as evidenced by a large amount of blow-back through the crankcase. I had seen this while I was cruising during the winter, but hadn''t understood the implications. I religiously maintained oil levels and changed oil per schedule.

After a day or so of trying to get the engine to start, it finally started. However, it blows a ton of soot and black smoke when loaded above 15A, whereas itís rated for 34A. I continued to run the generator for a 2.5 month trip from Grenada to Curacao, where the boat is currently sitting. Other than the starter solenoid failing, the unit ran OK, but was limited to 15A.

I determined that Tony Rushton was the president of Fischer Panda in Ft. Lauderdale and he provided me with his e-mail address. Hoping that he would help me resolve these issues, I sent a detailed e-mail to him describing my problems. After a week of not hearing anything, I sent another e-mail. Two weeks later, still nothing. Clearly he has no interest in attempting to resolve my problems.

After it became apparent that Fischer Panda wasn''t going to provide any support I had a diesel mechanic in Curacao pull the genset to determine the root cause of the problem. It turns out that the block is cracked. Now I have no way of determining when, where, or how this occurred, but I would guess that it occurred when the engine was dropped. This certainly explains the rusted cylinder which was found before. How they missed the crack is beyond me. It also explains why it wouldn''t start in Grenada as the rings were rusted again and this time the rust is sufficient to cause the blow-by, lack of compression, and associated soot & black smoke.

All in all my experience with Fischer Panda has been very negative. I could never recommend one of their generators to anyone. Maybe the cause of the problem was the initial drop, but the fact that they didn''t detect the cracked block on any of the two times the unit was back to the factory is inexcusable. And the fact that they are ignoring my e-mails can''t be forgiven.

-- Geoff Schultz
S/V BlueJacket

P.S. I just got the quote for a replacement Ferryman diesel. $3100..
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