Winter! Is upon us….

What better time to take the gondola to K-1? None, none at all.  We do work for the two radio stations that are on the peak of Mount Killington, near Rutland, Vermont.  In the summer, usually we can drive up there in a four wheel drive truck.  In the winter, the gondola is the way to go.  On this day, there was a 48-56 inch base, light north winds and air temperature around 10° F (-12° C) .

This is not my video, I did not have enough memory on my SIM card to film a video and I didn’t bring my expensive camera. However, this is a good example of the ride:

Not a bad way to get to a transmitter site, all things considered.

Ride up to Killington Peak
Ride up to Killington Peak
View from Killington Peak
View from Killington Peak
View from Killington Peak
Transmitter buildings on Killington Peak
View from Killington Peak
View from Killington Peak
View from Killington Peak
Tower from Killington Peak
Killington STL dishes
Killington STL dishes
ERI antenna, WZRT/WJJR Killington VT
ERI antenna, WZRT/WJJR Killington VT

The reason for the trip today; repair work on the Nautel VS2.5 transmitter. All three power supplies and the power supply summing board needed to be replaced.

Cleaning up

We removed this old Harris BC5HA transmitter recently:

Harris BC5HA, WROW Albany, NY
Harris BC5HA, WROW Albany, NY

It was installed new in 1974, when the station moved to this site from another one a few miles up the road. It functioned as a main transmitter until the BE AM5E was installed in late 2001. The BE transmitter, other than a power supply issue, has been a solid, reliable unit. Truth be told, the last time the BC5HA ran was in 2006. After that, the unit refused to run, a bad modulation transformer was suspected. It was deemed not worth it to repair, thus, out the door it goes. We ended up giving it to a local contractor who scrapped the metal in lieu of payment for his labor.  The only thing he could not take was the aforementioned modulation transformer, which is full of PCB’s.  That will have to be hauled away by a licensed disposal company.

Broadcast Electronics AM5E, WROW Albany, NY
Broadcast Electronics AM5E, WROW Albany, NY

We may be getting a second hand Nautel transmitter from another station as a backup transmitter.  If that comes to fruition, then a couple of racks can be added to the end of the Phasor/transmitter/transmitter row and the wiring for the remote control and STL can be simplified and neatened up.

Dog Days of Summer

That saying originates from Greek and Roman times, when Sirius, the Dog Star, aligned with the Sun during July and August and was though to bring extra heat to the earth.  The Dog Days are evil times; seas boil, wine turns sour, dogs grow mad, and all other creatures become languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.

Bad news, indeed.  Add to that; air conditioners fail, general managers become cranky, transmitters overheat causing damage to sensitive control circuits, which is even worse.

We shall be busy dealing with things like this:

AC condenser frozen dryer and piping
AC condenser frozen dryer and piping

Air conditioning condenser with low refrigerant. This unit either has a leak or was not charged properly. I would hazard the former.

AC condenser broken fan
AC condenser broken fan

Fan blade on condenser coil failed due to metal fatigue. I have seen this in more than one place.

Bard 5 ton wall mount AC unit
Bard 5 ton wall mount AC unit

These wall mount Bard AC units are pretty reliable, however, even they fail from time to time. The best course of action is to have a maintenance plan, a backup plan and the number of the best HVAC contractor that can be found.

Overhaul of the Onan 12JC4R generator

I was fortunate enough to acquire this generator last fall.  It was new in 1969 and has unknown hours on it, but it appears in decent shape.  I am going to do a level two overhaul and install it as backup power for my house/shop.  The first order of business is a complete inspection.  I discovered a few problems; the starter didn’t crank, the distributor was loose, and the carburetor had some burned out chunk of metal attached to it.

Onan 12JC4R generator
Onan 12JC4R generator

First, the starter:  These units use a Prestolite MEO3006 starter, which is common to several Chrysler products from the late ’60s and early ’70s.  This is obviously a replacement unit, as it is not “Onan Green.”  When I hooked a battery up and tried to turn the motor over, the start relay clicked but nothing else happened.  I dismounted the starter and removed the starter solenoid.  The interior of the starter motor looked in good condition, which points the solenoid.  Sure enough, I removed the back of that unit and found two wires burned through and a large blackened area.  While I had the starter off, I hooked it up to a 12 volt battery and it worked fine.  A new starter costs $469.00, a new solenoid cost $59.00.  I opted for the solenoid.

Onan 12JC4R burned out generator starter solenoid
Onan 12JC4R burned out generator starter solenoid

The next thing is the distributor.  I was checking the points and contemplating replacing the breaker points with an electronic ignition when I discovered the distributor could turn 1/8 of a turn in each direction, as when making timing adjustments.

Onan 12JC 4R distributor clamp
Onan 12JC 4R distributor clamp

I used a 3/8 box wrench and tighten up the clamp holding the distributor shaft.  It took several turns and makes me wonder why it was loose.  I will have to check the timing with a light once I get it running.  This also could be why the generator was not running when we took it out of service.

Onan 12JC 4R rotor and breaker points
Onan 12JC 4R rotor and breaker points

As for the points, they look brand new, as does the rotor and distributor cap.

Onan 12JC 4R generator spark plug, champion H8C
Onan 12JC 4R generator spark plug, champion H8C

The spark plugs look well used and the plug wires look original.

Finally, there was an electric choke mechanism on the carburetor which is completely unnecessary for a propane fueled unit.  The choke plate itself was wired open.  The electric choke was was burned open, so I removed the assembly.  I then spent some time at the local NAPA cross referencing parts.  Here is a tune up list:

Nomenclature Onan part (old) Onan part (new) Napa Part Alternate
Oil Filter 122A185 122-0193 1084 Fram PH16
Points* 166P245 166-0245 CS709
Rotor 166P234 166-0234 AL58/AL52
Distributor cap 166B307 166-0235 AL91
Condenser* 166P310 166-0310 AL38
Ignition Coil** 166B310 166-0859-02 701002 PRX 405011
Plug wire #1 167A1410 167-1602 701064
Plug wire 2,3,4 167A1409 167-1602 701063
Spark Plug 167-4 167- Champ H8C***
Air Filter 140B640 140-1907 7-02241
Starter 191C324 191-0324 Prestolite MEO3006
Solenoid N/A 191-0433A ST103
*Electronic ignition set N/A 166-0825 Pertronics 1545**
**Ignition coil W/PRX 1545 PRX 405011

*Condenser and breaker points can be substituted for electronic ignition kit, either Onan 166-0825 or Pertronics 1545 with Pertronics PRX 405011 coil.
**Pertronics electronic ignition must be used with Pertronics coil
***Champion RH8C plugs should be used with replacement wires without noise suppression plug boots.

This is for an Onan 12JC generator circa 1969 with a Studebaker engine. Other models/years may vary.  The other issue with this unit is there is no supervisory monitoring and control.  There is no oil pressure loss, overheat or overcrank faults.  This is why the starter solenoid failed.  To remedy that situation, I started to design a better control circuit.  Then I looked around on the inner tubes and found somebody had already done this.  DynaGen makes the GSC400p which has can monitor oil pressure, engine temperature, frequency, engine RPM, hours, voltage and current.  It can fault for any out of tolerance condition, as programmed by the user.

Retrofit generator controller
Retrofit generator controller

I plan to install this in the original control box, leaving the original control circuit intact by using the remote start/stop connections.  I keep the original remote/start/stop switch and hand crank switch in place for use if the fancy controller fails.