Thursday, August 01, 2013

Our week (or so) in St Albans

Back at the house, we were straight down to various jobs that needed to be done. The Saturday wedding of Gemma and Tom was a great occasion, and the promised rain even held off for them.

After that, doctor's appointments, dental checks, hygienist visits and having the car's aircon recharged with coolant (which process failed because they discovered that the pump is "lazy", and not doing its job properly. They only wanted £1600 to replace it for me. I declined.

More bad news came in an email from Sam Matts of Foxton Services, about the 240v generator on Kantara - that's right, the one that blew up.

He wrote...

As you are aware I have removed the belt driven 240V generator, complete with control box and loom, from your vessel 'Kantara' Index N°504459 and sent it for investigation into the reason for its further breakdown. I now have the results back and they have shown the following:-
The controlbox failure has been caused by either an excessive load being drawn from the unit and/or insufficient engine rpm to deliver the load being requested of it. Although an increase in engine rpm will help, it will not be a cure unless the power requested from the generator is not dramatically changed. 
There is no easy solution for this as, due to the age of the unit and the fact that it is now obsolete, the repair will not only be costly but unless changes are made to the usage, then further breakdown is inevitable. I have looked into replacing it with a similar modern unit, however, this type of engine belt driven generator would still not supply enough power for the same application that you have been using. Therefore the only feasible solution is to either place the generator with a much more powerful model or ensure that no more than 3,500 watts are being drawn from the unit at any one time. 
The generator unit has failed due to the ingress of oil mist. Due to its age and the hours run, this is most likely to have come from the engine breather tube. The  tube on this engine is not only open to all of the engine compartment but it is fairly close to the generating unit itself. It is not possible to divert this tube to the air intake, as the modern engines now do, but if the pipe can be either extended or contained to restrict the oil mist from the engine compartment, then this will reduce the amount of oil that is exposed to the generator. 
The cost of repair to the control box is quoted at £585 plus vat.
The cost of repair to the generator is quoted at £270 plus vat.
The cost of changes to the oil breather pipe will depend on your decision. 
As a gesture of good will I am willing to refit both of these units at no further cost to you, however, I would like to re literate that unless changes are made to the usage, then the same problems will arise again in the future. Serious consideration will need to undertaken to prevent further failure and costs to yourself.
I have tried to explain the reasons behind the failure to the best of my ability, however as my role was only to remove and re-fit the unit,  then I feel you may benefit from speaking with the repairers directly should you wish to seek any further information. The managing directer, Ken Cox, has been dealing with his on your behalf and can be contacted on 01827 712097. He will happy to speak with you should you choose.
I would appreciate if you could let me know which option you decide in order that we can move forward and resolve this issue for you once and for all.
Needless to say, I was unimpressed. I wrote back...
In view of the apparent facts, we've decided not to have these units reinstalled. Thank you for your offer of free reinstallation, though.
I am amazed at the report you have given me. On the occasion when the unit failed, the status lights on the control unit all indicated green - I looked at them frequently. That it then broke down - after the washing machine had finished its cycle, not while it was drawing current - because of insufficient input from the generator is beyond belief.
That the generator itself was damaged by oil mist is equally amazing. It had only been installed for 13 months since a "complete overhaul", and we've only done a few months cruising since then.
However, I realise that I am in a no-win position with it now, and I'll have to write off the hundreds of pounds it cost me to "put right" last year. I cannot afford to go any further with it. I would, however, appreciate you returning the units to me the next time Sam is in the vicinity of Yelvertoft.
I am not in any way holding Foxton Boat Services responsible for this serious failure, but I have to say that the company who have dealt with our equipment have left me feeling poorly served at very high cost.
In my first week of ownership of Kantara, a fellow moorer told me that BOAT stands for "Bring Out Another Thousand". Hmmmmph!

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