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geoffschultz 12-15-2001 04:28 AM

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..

DuaneIsing 12-15-2001 07:24 AM

A Precautionary Note on Fischer Panda Generators
 
Sorry to hear of your genset woes. Sounds like you gave them every opportunity to put things right.

I don''t know why some companies never understand that negative word-of-mouth advertising (like yours) will cost them much more than the price of fixing the problem right the first time.

Good luck.

Duane

EASTERN POINT 12-18-2001 06:07 AM

A Precautionary Note on Fischer Panda Generators
 
THANKS FOR THE INFO. I HAD BEEN CONSIDERING A FISCHER PANDA FOR MY GULFSTAR 50 (EASTERN POINT)

Jeff_H 12-18-2001 09:11 AM

A Precautionary Note on Fischer Panda Generators
 
Actually, it really does not sound like a problem with Fischer Panda perse. This genset was dropped at the boatyard. That is the responsibility of the yard that dropped it and not Fischer Panda. Mr. Schultz has been posting this all over the internet in an effort to have Fischer Panda correct a problem not of their making. In other discussions it has been disclosed that Fischer Panda has gotten in touch with Mr. Schultz in the past few days but according to Mr. Schultz (on another BB) he is only going after Fischer Panda because they are an international company. To me I think the problem here is that Mr. Schultz did not hold the boatyard responsible for providing a new genset when the original incident happened and is now taking this out on Fischer Panda because they have the percieved deeper pockets.

Respectfully
Jeff

geoffschultz 12-18-2001 01:38 PM

A Precautionary Note on Fischer Panda Generators
 
Jeff H has decided that it was the responsibility of the boatyard to supply a new generator. I disagree. They sent the unit back to Fischer Panda to have it serviced and Fischer Panda sent it back having been repaired. If it couldn''t be repaired, then FP should have said so. But that isn''t what occurred. One can conjecture that the problems that I''ve been having have been the result of it being dropped, but no one can prove that. I can''t.

It''s also been suggested that I''m going after FP because they''ve got deep pockets. False. I''m going after the company who manufactured the generator. The boat is in Curacao. They''re an international company who has the means to resolve this issue as opposed to a boat yard in Rhode Island.

This is a matter of picking which battle to fight. Perhaps you would have done it differently, but I suggest that if you had spent as much time considering the options as I have, that you might have come up with the same strategy as I did.

I will admit to posting this in about 6 different boating related forums. I will also admit to e-mailing every dealer that I could find as well as their German parent company. As a result I believe that someone finally took notice and I''m not ashamed of this at all!

I did however forget to update this forum with the following post that I placed in other forums:

I am happy to report that the president of Fischer Panda, USA, just called me to discuss my problem. He was very apologetic for dropping the ball. We had a very constructive conversation and we agreed that:

1) Fischer Panda will ship a new Farryman engine to Curacao.
2) I will ship my old unit back to them.
3) They will determine what the cause of the problem is
4) If it is determined that this isn''t a Fischer Panda problem, I''ll pay for the new engine.

This was actually my proposal. You might think that I''m crazy for agreeing to point 4, but I was about to buy a new engine from a distributor anyhow. I believe that FP will be fair in their analysis, and with all of the pressure coming from other organizations within FP (I e-mail blanketed the US and German parent site), I think that they''ll see things my way. Or at least I hope that they will. I want to show them that I''m very willing to work with them, and hopefully they''ll respond in kind.

Things are looking up right now. I''ll keep you posted.

-- Geoff

geoffschultz 12-19-2001 06:50 PM

A Precautionary Note on Fischer Panda Generators
 
There has been significant (60+ posts) regarding my issue in the news rec.boats.cruising news group. One very interesting post was brought up regarding the Fischer Panda warranty. I''ll just quote it. If you''re interested, please read the news group or use http://www.deja.com/ and search for "Fischer Panda" under rec.boats.cruising for the entire thread.

>BTW, I have their sales brochure here in front of me. They claim
>their warranty is "unlike any other generators". Well, ok. They
>warranty the rotor indefinitely. They warranty the generator back
>end for five years.

>But they warranty the engine only for ONE year.

>Contrast that with the new Kohler 8kw unit that I just had
>installed to replace my failed Onan.

>Five years or 2,000 hours, covering the engine AND electrical end.
>Including labor to pull and replace if necessary
>$100 "per incident" charge in years 3-5, $0 for the first two.

>"The unbeatable Panda warranty"?

>Its not even close by my calculation. Unbeatable HOW? That the
>rotor has a lifetime warranty? That''s nice, but irrelevant if the
>engine blows up after two years!

>(And oh, by the way, that Kohler was $6,600; the best quote I had
>on the Panda of equivalent output was $14,000. I could EAT one of
>the Kohlers ENTIRELY and STILL be ahead!)

>The Entec-West 4200 looks to be powered with a Farymann W18 engine
>from what I have here - same motor that''s in the Panda. Entek
>West''s unit is actually LIGHTER (170 lbs .vs. 233), is smaller (20"
>long .vs. 21, 13" wide .vs. 15, and 18.5" high .vs. 21!) AND is
>heat-exchanger cooled - a big plus for a saltwater boat. With the
>enclosure the Entec-West is an inch or so larger in all dimensions
>than the Panda, still compares well weight wise (they''re a pound
>different) AND their enclosure is stainless steel - not fiberglass.

>Finally, the EW-4200D in the enclosure specs out at 63Dba at one
>meter.

>Panda''s 4200 specs at 66dba @ 1 Meter.

>3dB is SIGNIFICANT.

>The Entec-West is QUITE A BIT quieter in its enclosure.
>(Also, they have designed the unit so it can be hand-started....
>that''s nice, particularly when your battery is completely dead!)

>I''d price the Entec West 4200 before allowing Panda to sell me a
>new engine, but that''s just me.

-- Geoff

Denr 12-20-2001 05:57 AM

A Precautionary Note on Fischer Panda Generators
 
You go girl!

speciald 12-07-2007 09:52 AM

Yes I know this is an old thread. My last boat had a Fisher Panda.The current owner gave up and replaced it this Summer with a Mastervolt. Probably not a good coice as it is also a fast reving genset. She spent over three thousand dollars in two years on the FP and it still overheated. I currently have a mini 12 FP on my boat. Last year it overheated, did not automatically shut down, and warped the head. ~ 3000 dollars later and it still overheats when the load exceeds 40 amps. this is less than 50% load. Haver pickeled the heat exchanger, blown out all lines to r/o blockage, checked both water pumps, checked capacitors, frequency and voltage on the back end to r/o backend overload - all normal. I've had many coversations with FP service in Ft Lauderdale with no resolution of the problem.I'm about to spend 20k on a 9kw Northern Lights that I should have bought the first time. FP has redesigned the cooling system to cool the generator with coolant rather than fresh water but that doesn't seem to be my problem but indicates that they have had a cooling problem on the old design. Any comments on Northern Lights reliability?

Valiente 12-07-2007 01:40 PM

No, but back in the days of Usenet I heard enough bad things about FP to put me off permanently, even if I wanted a genset, which I don't.

It is simply easier for me to adjust to the fact that living aboard is going to involve some compromises regarding the availability of AC power, and to adjust my habits accordingly.

Twenty thousand dollars buys a lot of nights at even expensive slips, where you can grab 30-60 amps from shorepower and run that washer/dryer, the air conditioning and a disco ball, if you wish.

Having said that, I've done a fair bit of research into "off-grid" power generation, because the technologies used for anchored boats and houses in the woods are largely the same, and you might wish to check out WhisperTech's "WhisperGen" line of Stirling engine gensets. They have an intriguing "sell" and although not yet common, seem to have a good rep due to the inherently simple nature of their mechanical operation when compared to IC gensets.

http://www.whispertech.co.nz/main/dc-marine/

But if you've looking for 9 KW, you're in a different league.

SVDistantStar 12-07-2007 03:58 PM

This is why i have an Onan 1400w gas genny. It runs great, never gives an issue and only cost me about $350.


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