Generator Replacement

This Onan 30OEK propane-powered generator has been in service for 39 years at a transmitter site where the power goes out often. It has a lot of hours on it. The hour meter stopped working about 15 years ago, but the hours back then were 1097.

In addition, the main shaft seal started leaking oil about 10 years ago, creating an oily blowback mess every time the generator ran for more than a few hours. The block heater went bad, the battery charger overcharged then exploded the battery splashing sulfuric acid all over the housing and engine block.

The last power outage was the final one. It ran for a few hours then faulted. When the local engineer tried to restart it, it was never able to get to speed and was misfiring badly. Below appeared a large and spreading puddle of engine oil.

As this station is one of the major money makers for the owner, a replacement generator was obtained.

Cummins RS50 50 KW Propane powered generator

This is larger than the old generator. The good news; now the AC can be put on the generator to keep the room cool. In the past, the backup cooling fan was used when on generator power, which sucked dirt, bugs, and pollen into the room.

It will also have considerable headroom for any additional loads that may be installed in the future.

The generator in place and leveled

We had to enlarge the opening for the radiator and put in some steel angle for the lintels.

Exhaust piped outside with the radiator air

The first start run and load test went well. I ran it for about 30 minutes under full load, enough time to burn the paint off the exhaust manifold. Seems like a pretty solid unit. With the power conditions at this site, it will get a lot of use.

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4 thoughts on “Generator Replacement”

  1. Had to replace a 39 year old “working” 175 kw Katolite as parts were unobtainium. The Cummins 175 kw set was so much smaller size wise! It does like the DX-50’s MDCL on though. Only issues have been with added accessories such as the make-up oiler that was installed wrong and an oil recovery system was draining the crankcase low. Both installer issues. They also switched to an above ground tank. They’ve fighting leaks, loss of pump prime, and failed pumps.

  2. AST, automatic crankcase oiler… sounds like a FEMA installation. We also had the loss of daytank pump prime issue at a new installation. Turns out there was a backflow preventer on the main tank which had a spring with too much tension in it (if that makes sense). The daytank pump is still a little wonky but it has not lost prime again.

  3. We had an Onan once. To combat the leaking oil (on any engine) issue you should be using high mileage oil. It has an additive that causes seals to swell and seal the leak. This additive is required (by federal law, I think) for all brake fluid sold in the United States.

  4. Good deal, being able to run the prime HVAC off the new generator. Pollen and dirt…I remember reading about a site down near Corpus Christi that had a problem with crop duster spray ingestion from late summer/early fall dusting operations. Seems they had to go to an electrostatic filter setup!

    Is the old genset the same Onan you wrote about long ago with the propane feed issues?

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