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  1. Westerbeke Generator Problem

    During a recent 5 day cruise on my 41DC, I was awakened by the sound of my 7kw Westerbeke gas generator shutting down at about 4am. My first thought was it ran out of gas as that side was showing low on fuel. After refueling later that morning, the generator proved very hard to start. I checked the fuel water seperating filter, and it was full of fuel. Oil and coolant levels were fine. Then I played with the stop switch on the remote panel, and it started, ran for about 5 seconds, and then shut itself down. I found that if I continued to flip the stop button up and down, it would keep running, but seemed to be overspeeding. While it was running, I loaded it, and it came down to the proper rpm and showed proper voltage. It ran fine all day while we were crusing. Then we pulled in to a marina for an overnight stay. The next morning, I fired it again, same problem. However, this time when I tried the same routine as before with the stop switch, the generator oversped, smoked my DVD, and kicked the circuit breaker on the panel a the generator. After resetting the breaker, it would still fire up, run 5 seconds, and then die. I know there are shutdown sensors for speed, temp, and oil. One of these sensors or a faulty stop switch is shutting the engine down. Anybody have any ideas on where to start in troubleshooting this problem?
    1974 58TC "Freebird", 1965 41DC "Nancy Cay", For Sale - Click HERE for info - sosectn@aol.com
    Randy Register - Kingston, Tennessee - aka Freeebird aka Sparky1
    www.forumlychallengedboaters.com

  2. #2

    Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

    RPM doesn't affect just voltage but also Frequency.... never bring a genset on line if you feel the RPM is off. If you dont have a frequency meter, get one... I have a Shurite which i keep plugged in the saloon on an outlet that's easy to see.

    https://www.alliedelec.com/Search/Pr...T&DESC=9016LFT

    you need to look at the wiring diagram. safety switches need to be bypassed either by holding a run switch and immediately after start or by a timer. My norpro 18 uses a 10 second timer... it failed once and the clue was that the genset would shutdown like clockwork after 10 seconds. since it's activated by a starter key, there was no way to reset it while running.

    other wstbk owners may be able to tell you how it's set up, or check the wstbk website for diagrams.

    a few years a go, I coudlnt' start a stbk gas 7.5. from the remote panel. turned out the stop switch on the genset was sticking....

    if you have sensor problem (possible, I've had to replace 2 oil press sensor on my norpro in 3 years), you can troubleshoot by temporarily disconnecting or grounding, depends on design, the sensors one at a time.. obviously, dont let it run like that without a good watch on the gauges, esp. temp.
    Pascal
    Miami, FL
    1970 53 MY
    2014 26' gaff rigged sloop
    2007 Sandbarhopper 13
    12' Westphal Cat boat
    Hobie 16

  3. Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

    Thanks for the reply. Things are really tight in the bilge on this genny, so I'm hoping to avoid a full test scenario of each shutdown sensor. Hoping another Westerbeke owner will have experienced the same problem and have the magic answer.
    1974 58TC "Freebird", 1965 41DC "Nancy Cay", For Sale - Click HERE for info - sosectn@aol.com
    Randy Register - Kingston, Tennessee - aka Freeebird aka Sparky1
    www.forumlychallengedboaters.com

  4. #4

    Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

    Randy- I don't mean to scold you, but I was alarmed to read in your post that you gen set woke you up in the middle of the night. Do you go to bed with the gen set running? That's a NO NO NO NO! It can kill you and every one else on the boat. The culprit Carbon monoxide. It is odorless and deadly. Please shut it down before you go to sleep. Even with a factional alarm system aboard, I would shut it down.

    CapetaniosG
    Hatteras 53MY

  5. #5

    Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

    diesels do not present the same CO risk as gas gensets, thousands of owners run them at nightm i've yet to hear of a single accident.

    that said, i added 3 CO detector in my boat after i got it...

    if it's well maintained, in good shape, etc...no risks.
    Pascal
    Miami, FL
    1970 53 MY
    2014 26' gaff rigged sloop
    2007 Sandbarhopper 13
    12' Westphal Cat boat
    Hobie 16

  6. #6

    Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

    Pascal- With all due respect I can't agree with you on this one. You're dead wrong regardless how well you maintain your Gen set. There are documented cases were people died due to carbon monoxide from a gen set left on at night while people slept on the boat.

    What happens if you have a runaway gen set while you're sleeping?
    What about a fire? What about a defective exhaust system or a failed exhaut hose? Think about it.

    CapetaniosG
    Hatteras 53 MY

  7. Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

    I do have two separate alarms onboard (110v w/9v dc back-up), and I guess it could be argued that I trust them with my life. However, I feel the risk is minmal as long as proper maintenance is done on the genny and the exhaust system is inspected regularly. Quite frankly, I wouldn't own a boat without a generator and air, and I wouldn't be able to sleep on one where I didn't have the air conditioning running. I've spent many a night on the hook with the genny running as I'm not much of a marina person. There are too many pretty anchorages out there, and I like my privacy. The only time I ever had a problem was when I was tied along side a buddy, and his genny set off my alarm. I immediately went to check on him because he was the adventurous type and didn't have an alarm! Turned out he was okay, and we turned his boat 180 degrees so we would both be discharging out exhaust to the outside. Thanks for your concern, but this old boy can't handle sleeping on sweat soaked sheets!
    1974 58TC "Freebird", 1965 41DC "Nancy Cay", For Sale - Click HERE for info - sosectn@aol.com
    Randy Register - Kingston, Tennessee - aka Freeebird aka Sparky1
    www.forumlychallengedboaters.com

  8. #8

    Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

    bottom line is that sleeping on the hook in florida (and many other places) in summer without AC is simply not an option.

    Yes there has been accidents BUT :

    - none with diesels, afaik
    - mutiple CO detectors eliminate the risk
    - most accidents involved boats tied up with stern anchors in lakes with no wind or boats that were rafted up or rivers with the stern upwind. Not single boats on a single anchor.

    as far as major malfunction, I've always woken up for the slightest noise when on the hook... not worried. Fire, etc ? automatic fire extinguisher....
    Pascal
    Miami, FL
    1970 53 MY
    2014 26' gaff rigged sloop
    2007 Sandbarhopper 13
    12' Westphal Cat boat
    Hobie 16

  9. Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

    A big ole' amen on that one. To me shutting down the genny at night would be the same as killing the power at home to prevent electrical fires while I was sleeping. Life is a gamble, go for it! Besides, if you don't keep your genny running, your beer is going to get hot! I don't know about you guys, but to date, aside from the little lights on the electrical panel of my 58TC, I have found only one dc light on the whole damn boat. It's over the dinette in the galley. Were there more that are now gone, or did Hatteras just assume their boats would always be hooked to either shorepower or have a generator running?
    Last edited by RREGISTER; 07-31-2006 at 08:42 AM. Reason: clarification on which boat I was referring to
    1974 58TC "Freebird", 1965 41DC "Nancy Cay", For Sale - Click HERE for info - sosectn@aol.com
    Randy Register - Kingston, Tennessee - aka Freeebird aka Sparky1
    www.forumlychallengedboaters.com

  10. #10

    Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

    I have never heard of anyone experiencing a runaway generator. At least not on boats our size. On a Detroit Diesel a runaway can happen, because the blower seals can fail, leaking lube oil into the air intake. This is sucked into the cylinders and burns along with the injected fuel oil. RPM zooms and the engine can explode. But the smaller generators don't need this much power and are mostly naturally aspirated, without these two-cycle blowers. Of course, on a boat there is always SOMETHING waiting to happen, and I can conceive of how this could happen. But this is one I have not heard related, in many hours of discussing various boat malfunctions.

    If I am not at a dock my generator is almost always on. In part this is because I have gotten water backflowing from the waterlift muffler into the generator cylinders when rolling in very rough seas. I quickily learned it was cheaper to run the genny than to rebuild it!

    With a Diesel generator the amount of CO is far less than with gasoline. Always remember that the boat next to you can also kill you. Therefore, on Fanfare every stateroom (3) has a 9v CO detector as well as a separate smoke detector for fire which is wired into the ship's burglar alarm system. I'm not entirely happy with the CO detectors I have as I do not believe they have an Underwriter's Labs marine certification, but I did not find any with this. I do think I will add an every 30 day inspection of my generator exhaust line and fittings to my "to do" list. I will pay particular attention to the junction of exhaust and the place where salt water is injected into this line because this is the hottest and most corrosive place of all, and therefore most likely to fail.
    Jim Grove, Fanfare 1966 50MY

    "LIFE IS JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER." Frank Ward O'Malley, journalist, playwright 1875-1932

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