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  #1  
Old 12-15-2001
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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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Old 12-18-2001
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A Precautionary Note on Fischer Panda Generators

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
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Old 12-19-2001
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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
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