In July 2017, Parts & Power continued their 25+ year old Apprenticeship Program by partnering with the Ministry of Education and Culture’s Youth Empowerment Service. Hassard Edwards and Omari Martin joined them as an Apprentice Service Engineer and Warehouse Apprentice respectively.
It was a trial by fire for the young men.
On August 7th, Tortola experienced one of the worst floods in the Territory’s history. One month later, the Territory suffered a direct hit by a Category 5 Hurricane Irma, the worst Atlantic Hurricane in recorded history. Irma caused another flood. Then 2 weeks later, Cat 5 Hurricane Maria passed close to the south. In the rains following Maria, the Port Purcell suffered its 3rd flood in less than 2 months.
In what seemed to be perpetual clean ups, it was hard for all Parts & Power’s employees. But, as new hires, it must have been even harder on the 2 new Apprentices. Both maintained a positive attitude and contributed to the recovery of both the Company and their Customers. One year later, both Apprentices are still with the Company & thriving.
Parts & Power began their Apprenticeship Program in 1990. Over the years, they have run over 30 youth through the Program. Many stayed on to work for a number of years. Indeed 2 of our early Apprentices are still with us, over 20 years later, as key employees.
Parts & Power were happy to partner with the YES Program in 2017. The Youth Employment Service is an initiative that was launched by the Ministry of Education and Culture, under the direction of Hon. Myron V. Walwyn in December 2011. YES’ core objectives are to prepare our youth with the skills needed to perform on the job.
Hassard Edwards alongside a JCB 30D Teletruk he recently serviced.
Omari Martin merchandising a Northern Lights sea water pump.
Photos compliments Dorian Hodge, Video and Audio Productions
They met with the Product Support team including Michele Curtis and Mark Voorhees, the Sales team including Christopher Perez and Nick Leitze, and Parts Manager, Rob Ekenstam. They also met with Tad Petrie and Ed Renno. The latter two are now assigned to other Territories, but have been a great support in the past for Caribbean Perkins customers and their dealer network.
Tom & Barb were given a factory tour, where Perkins is now assembling the 2000 series engines in the state of the art facility. Although some sub-assemblies such as cylinder heads are made by computers, the engines are still largely assembled by hand. Because each engine is built to the customer’s order, the assembly of engines are continually changing.
Having all their factory staff trained to do multiple jobs allows them to be able to move to different areas of the plant to do different jobs, depending on demand. This not only makes the factory more efficient, changing staff assignments throughout the day keeps them from becoming bored and less prone to making mistakes due to repetitive tasks.
Engines are now tested at various stages of assembly to be sure that everything was assembled correctly and all the components are in working order before it reaches the test cell. Every engine is still hot tested, under load, in the test cell before the final components, ordered by the customer, are installed and the engine is painted. Perkins offers multiple color options to customers, depending on their requests.
The Gerkers learned that the old reliable 1000 series has been discontinued. The 1100 series has been around long enough that its reliability and reputation is well established. Demand for the 1000 series had fallen off so much that there was no reason to keep it in production. The new 1200 series is latest version of the engines that date back to the 4.236 & 6.354 engines first launched in the late 1960’s. They are still built to fit the footprint of the old engines, but are now 1.2 liters per cylinder, resulting in a 4.8 and 7.2-liter engine in the same package that was launched in the 1960’s. The 1300 series engine has now been replaced by the 1500 series engine that is being manufactured in Seguin.
The entire team that met with the Gerkers were committed to Parts & Power’s goal of making Perkins engines the best serviced engine in the Caribbean. Having dealers in every country and on most islands in the Eastern Caribbean means that an engineer is not far away. Not having unreasonable demands put on the dealers to purchase and pay annual license fees for Perkins Electronic Tools, allows them to remain Perkins dealers. Other manufacturers cannot make the same claim. They require such exorbitant costs for training, purchase and licensing of their tools that many dealers in the Caribbean cannot afford to own it. That results in having to fly in technicians from the US, at great cost, every time there is a problem with the competitor’s engines.
They also discussed the upcoming 2016 Hurricane Preparation Campaign that makes it easier and less expensive for Perkins customers to do their Annual Maintenance.
On 8 November Parts & Power and Marine Maintenance Service, in cooperation with Northern Lights Inc and Volvo Penta, sponsored the 11th Annual Charter Yacht Society Annual General Meeting and Crew Party at Peg Landing Restaurant at Nanny Cay Marina. The Annual Event kicked off the 34th Annual BVI Charter Yacht Show. Over 125 members of the Charter Yacht Society (CYS) were in attendance.
Although Parts & Power had been sponsoring the Boat Show Crew party for well over 15 years, the format changed 11 years ago when CYS Executive Director, Janet Oliver, approached them with a novel idea. The CYS is comprised of members, who by the nature of their business, are transient. It was challenging to get a majority of members together to attend an AGM. So Janet proposed combining the AGM with the Annual Crew Party. The format proved to be very successful.
After welcoming remarks by CYS Chairperson, Ruth Ross, & Parts & Power MD, Tom Gerker, a financial appeal was made to membership by Phil Aspinall of VI Search and Rescue (VISAR). Following that, a buffet dinner was put on Peg Leg’s and the AGM was held. Among other issues discussed was the important role the CYS plays in promoting the Charter Yacht Industry with Government, and lobbying to prevent an increase in fees for their members.
The Charter Yacht Industry contributes over $50 million to the local economy. Being comprised, in large part, by small single charter boat businesses, it is difficult for the owners or crew of those Charter Yacht Businesses to have their voices heard by Government. The Charter Yacht Society does an outstanding job of representing them.
Following the AGM, Tim Dabbs of Marine Maintenance Services and Tony Tucket of Parts & Power, held an entertaining Trivia Challenge for the CYS members. Winners were awarded promotional items supplied by Northern Lights Inc and Volvo Penta. Peg Leg’s Restaurant and Manager Luis Samuel did an impressive job of providing ample hospitality and refreshments in a beautiful, nicely set, facility. A good time was had by all.
On Monday, 9 Nov, the Boat Show began. The maximum capacity of 78 yachts were in attendance. Of those, there were 5 Monohulls, 6 Motor Yachts and 67 sailing catamarans, reflecting the changing nature of the Charter Yacht Industry. There were 135 brokers which is 30% more than the previous high. With more demanding qualifications to be a broker, and a nominal charge by the CYS, this is a significant comment on how important the BVI Boat Show has become.
Parts & Power, Marine Maintenance Services, Northern Lights and Volvo Penta were proud to be able to support such an important organization as the BVI Charter Yacht Society, and such a successful event.
On 7, 14 & 21 September, Parts & Power Ltd, of Tortola British Virgin Islands, conducted JCB Teletruk (TLT) training for JCB TLT owners in the BVI. The first day of training was on Forklift Basics, Operation and Safety.
On the 14th, Trainer and Technical Director, Dan Durbin instructed on the JCB TLT specifically. He explained the concept of the machine, how to operate and maintain the machine from an Operator’s perspective. This included both classroom and hands on training. The cab was tilted forward (a major JCB TLT beneficial feature) so the engine, hydraulics and electrical systems were exposed and easily examined and serviced.
The last day of training included, not only Dan, but Parts Manager Tony Tuckett and Service Manager Andrew Ball. They demonstrated the uses, advantages, features and benefits of the JCB TLT. The TLT owned by Road Town Wholesale, which has an extra lift attachment on it, was brought over to demonstrate the custom modifications that were made in order to make the TLT fit the specific needs of the customer. The ability to quickly (less than 60 seconds) change attachments on the JCB were also demonstrated.
The class ended with a photo of the class inside the Remotely Operated Man Basket on the JCB 540-170 Loadall above 2 JCB Teletruks. The feedback from the Operators was overwhelmingly positive.
When I set out to write this blog piece I thought it would be a simple matter of writing about sound enclosures, construction materials and noise reduction. However, when I started researching these areas I quickly realized there is too much material for a single blog to be meaningful. This is therefore the first in a series of blogs on the topic of noise reduction for generators.
Part 1 – Noise
With the continued and expanding use of diesel generator sets there has come an increased focus on controlling the noise these generators create. Whether generator sets are located in enclosures outside a facility or home, inside, on the roof or even on a yacht, designers are making more efforts to control generator set noise and vibration in order to reduce the effects on neighbours and building occupants alike. Whether generator sets run continuously in prime-power applications, intermittently in demand response applications, or occasionally in emergency standby situations or testing, their operating sound levels nearly always require remediation due to market requirements.
In order to understand the solutions to reducing noise from generators, it is first necessary to understand noise. Therefore this blog provides a simple summary of noise and its characteristics, and the sources of noise created by generators.
What is Noise?
Vibrating objects induce pressure waves that travel through the air, reaching our ears as sound. Noise, by definition, is simply undesirable sound. When the amplitude of the pressure waves becomes too high, the amount of sound becomes uncomfortable. In addition to being annoying, excessive sound can cause permanent hearing damage. The following diagram explains the physiology of what happens when sound reaches the human ear.
The human ear has such a wide dynamic range that the logarithmic decibel scale (dB) was devised to express sound levels in a convenient way. The ratio between the softest sound the ear can hear and the loudest sound it can experience without damage is approximately a million to one. By using a base-10 logarithmic scale, the whole range of human hearing can be described by a more convenient number that ranges from 0 dB (threshold of normal hearing) to 140 dB (the threshold of pain).
There are two dB scales used to describe sound: A and L.
- The dB(L) scale is linear and treats all audible frequencies as having equal value. However, the human ear does not experience all frequencies the same way. Our ears are particularly sensitive to frequencies in the range of 1,000 to 4,000 Hz, and they are less sensitive to sounds in lower or higher frequencies. (This is why dogs often start barking for reasons humans don’t understand – dogs have the ability to hear sounds of a much higher frequency than humans)
- To adjust the sound pressure levels to more accurately reflect what the human ear perceives, the frequency-weighted dB(A) scale has been adopted as the official regulated sound level unit.
It is also worth noting that the db(A) scale represents an “absolute” value. For example, stating that a generator produces 98 db(A) of noise isn’t particularly meaningful – remember by definition it can only be noise if it is undesirable to the recipient. Standing alongside a generator generating 98 db(A) of noise is completely different to standing 500 meters away (where it probably couldn’t be heard).
More useful therefore is to state at what distance from the generator the noise level is experienced. As a result most generator manufacturers state sound levels in terms of db(A) @ x meters, for example 85 db(A) at 1 meter. This in turn presents challenges in terms of measurement, but that is a topic for a later blog.
Sound produced by generator sets
The principal sources of noise from generators are described below.
1 Engine mechanical noise
With the advent of high-pressure common rail fuel injection, advanced turbocharging and better combustion control, manufacturers have significantly reduced overall mechanical noise from diesel engines. The amount of sound varies with the size of the engine and its load, and can be as high as 110 dB(A) measured at one meter. Engines with more cylinders have more power strokes per revolution and therefore deliver a smoother flow of power with less vibration. Smaller engines tend to be harsher in operation and produce more noise and vibration for their size.
2 Exhaust noise
Engine exhaust is a major contributor to overall sound levels. When measured without an exhaust silencer noise can be 120 dB(A) or more depending on the size of the engine. The sound level can be reduced by up to 40 dB(A) depending on the silencer employed.
3 Cooling fan noise
Sound emanates from turbulent air as the cooling fan moves air across the engine and through the radiator. The amount of sound varies with the speed and volume of air being moved as well as with the design and distortion of the fan blades. The amount of sound can be as high as 95 dB(A) at one meter.
4 Alternator noise
The alternator has an internal cooling fan, and the combination of cooling air movement and brush friction produces noise. However, the sound level is always small compared to the driving engine.
5 Induction noise
Current fluctuations in the alternator windings create mechanical noises that add to total noise when load demand changes.
6 Structural/mechanical noise
This is caused by mechanical vibration of various structural parts and components that is radiated as sound. Isolators between the engine, alternator, controls and other components help to reduce the amount of vibration that gets converted to noise. Anti-vibration mounts can also be employed to reduce noise propagation through the ground or hull where the generator is located.
In this first blog we have introduced the definition of noise, described its impact on human beings and highlighted the sources of noise from generators. In the next blog we will discuss methods for attenuating these noise levels.
Images courtesy of http://conocimientosamplifiersfr.blogspot.com.
I was helping a customer the other day who requested a heat exchanger tube stack for an M753K. This is a 10 year old generator, but I was still shocked that he needed a heat exchanger. In our experience, the only thing that can cause a heat exchanger tube stack failure on a 5-20 kw generator is very poor maintenance. When I looked up the part number for the tube stack I noticed that we had sold 3 in the last 12 months.
There are, conservatively 300-400 of these generators in operation in the Caribbean, so that works out to less than a 0.75% failure rate. Most of our competitors would be envious of such a low failure rate, but we still feel that is too high. The only reason that these tube stacks are failing is because of poor maintenance practices, or using the wrong coolant.
We wish to emphasize that the only proper coolant is Distilled Water, or a 50/50 premix ethylene glycol mix. If operators wish to use 100% ethylene glycol, they need to dilute it with 50% Distilled Water. Most of the water we get in the Caribbean comes from Reverse Osmosis, and that often leaves too high a mineral (including salt) content. Even with proper coolant, sludge, scale and corrosion build up over a period of time. So we recommend that our customers drain, flush and refill their cooling system every year as part of their annual maintenance.
If customers wish to extend the coolant change interval, we recommend purchasing a pack of coolant test strips (part number 20-00005) and testing coolant every 6 months past the 1 year anniversary of the last coolant change.
In addition to the tube stack failing, poor coolant quality can cause water pump failure, and the core plugs (water jackets) to corrode from the inside out. Made of a thinner, less corrosion resistant material, the core plugs can often be the “canary in the coal mine”. If they start to leak, the operator knows he has a problem. A bigger problem is that some of these core plugs can be very hard to get to in order to change them.
In summary, it is a very good investment to change your coolant every year – your local dealer can take care of this for you. It can save a lot of money down the road.
Northern Lights and Caribbean Distributor, Parts & Power Ltd of Tortola, will be hosting Service Training for Caribbean Dealers from 14-16 July in Road Town. 12 Caribbean dealers from 10 countries will participate in the training.
The training will be put on by Parts & Power Director of Technical Services, Dan Durbin, and Northern Lights SE Regional Service Manager, James Newball. Dan has over 40 years’ experience in Diesel Electric Service training, having taught for such companies and Cummins Engine Co, Ford Lehman and Northern Lights. Dan served as Northern Lights International Service Manager and Service trainer prior to joining Parts & Power in 1993. He continues to put on factory sponsored Service and Product training in Florida 3-4 times per year.
The focus of the training will be on current Northern Lights generator production, identification and serial number understanding; Northern Lights and CaribbeanNorthernLights.com website navigation; Engine troubleshooting & repair; DC theory, troubleshooting & repair; AC theory, troubleshooting & repair; Stand maintenance practices; Warranty training and processing; Marine exhaust systems; and a discussion of common and recent Service Issues.
The purpose of the training is to make sure that all Caribbean Northern Lights dealer technicians have the most up to date training so they can better service Northern Light customers in the Caribbean. To that end, all dealers participating in the training will receive the prestigious “Golden Wrench” next to their name in the Northern Lights Dealer Directory. This indicates that dealer has undergone the most recent training procedures offered by Northern Lights.
Summer time is the off season for many in the Caribbean, whether you are a cruiser sitting out Hurricane Season or a Charter vessel taking a well-deserved break. Before you put the boat up on the hard, or leave it at the dock for the summer, do your diesel engines a favor. Before you leave your hard working Northern Lights generator for the summer, be sure to change the oil. The oil is the life blood of your engine. It holds all the dirt, acids, soot and by products of combustion in suspension. That contaminated oil sits on all the surfaces serviced by your oil and expedite corrosion if left for prolonged periods. In addition, oil oxides when left exposed to the air, reducing its effectiveness at lubricating your engine and holding contaminants.
So do your engine a favor and change the oil before you put it in storage. While you’re at it, why not do your Annual Maintenance?
Annual Maintenance? What is Annual Maintenance?
If you look at your Operator’s Manual, you will notice a section that says “Every 12 Months”. Everything in there is due every year. Generally this includes: Oil Change, Valve Adjustment, Air Filter replacement, Fuel filter replacement and Injector Testing. Check your manual to see if there is anything else included, but the above are fairly common with most diesel engines and Northern Lights generators.
We discussed the oil change. Even if you don’t have the 200 or 250 hours dictated by the oil change interval, remember that oil oxidizes even if not being used. So changing oil makes sense, but why check the valves? Besides making sure that your engine is “breathing” properly in terms or air in and exhaust gases out, it also can pick up signs or engine wear. If the valve clearances are narrow, that can mean that the valve in question is wearing the valve seat. This may be a sign that your engine is getting ready for a top end overhaul. If caught early, this is fairly routine. If caught too late, the repair could be far more costly. You could be looking at a new cylinder head, or a “dropped valve” which can be catastrophic.
You might think that, because your engine is clean, you don’t need to change your air filter. Many Northern Lights generators have foam air filters which, not only filter the air, but aid in noise dampening. These filters deteriorate with heat and over time. If not changed, they will start to turn into powder and fall apart. The foam will not hurt the engine but we have seen cases where large pieces of the air filter were sucked into the intake valves. In such a case, the engine loses compression (because the intake valve will not close completely) and will not start or run. This is not only difficult to troubleshoot, but requires the removal of the cylinder head. So the $20 spent on a new air filter is a very good and wise investment.
Not everyone checks injectors every year. If you are not putting a lot of hours on the generator, it starts quickly and is running clean, you might be able to skip this. But the service interval on injectors can be as low as every 700 hours (or once per year). In addition, an injector nozzle that is “squirting” rather than “spraying” can melt a piston in a very short period of time. So if you have a shop that can test the injectors, the process can offer great peace of mind.
Take the time to review your Operator’s Manual or discuss its maintenance with your local dealer. Your generator was an expensive investment. If given reasonable maintenance and operated properly, your Northern Lights generator should give 20,000 hours of operation or more. But we’ve seen improperly maintained units struggle to provide half that life. Doing your Annual Maintenance is a good way of assuring that your generator will give you the reliable life expectancy Northern Lights customers have come to expect from their product.
From 5-11 December members from the Northern Lights family visited customers at the Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting (ACYM). The Charter Yacht Show was very successful with 105 yachts ranging in size from 60 ft to 295 ft. In addition there were another 40-50 yachts in Falmouth Harbour which were not in the Show.
Mike Prado, from Deerfield Beach, Chris Krok, from Seattle, and Tom Gerker from NL Distributor Parts & Power visited vessels on Falmouth Harbour Marina, the Yacht Club Marina, the Dockyard Marina and the Catamaran Marina. They found many of the yachts had Northern Lights products on them, both generators and Lugger propulsion engines. In most cases they received nothing but favorable reports from Engineers and Captains. A few vessels had questions or problems that Chris, Product Development Manager, and Tom were able to address. In many cases they found a recurring theme that they had discovered at previous Shows. Many of the NL customers simply needed advice on how to maintain their Northern Lights equipment, and where to go to get information.
They found that, in some cases, customers were overhauling their generators prematurely. Because they had owned competitor’s products in the past who recommended overhauls at 10, 15 or 20,000 hours, they felt that they had to do the same on their NL product. One customer, who had always done meticulous maintenance, overhauled his 155 kw generator at 20,000 hours. He found so little wear that he was tempted to re-use his main bearings. Chris and Tom recommended using oil analysis and valve adjustment measurements to monitor wear, as many Northern Lights generators run well past 30,000 hours with nothing but routine maintenance.
Northern Lights was the only engine or generator manufacturer who attended the show, and have done so for over 15 years, to meet their customers and get their feedback on the performance of their equipment. Having the Product Development manager at the show allowed him to hear the Voice of the Customer to make changes and improvements to the current product and get an idea of what customers were looking for in future products.
After 4 days of visiting customers, Northern Lights, along with local dealers Seagull Services and Marine Power Service, threw a Crew Party at Temo Sports. The crew were able to relax without brokers and owners present. 115 past, present and future NL customers were in attendance. Master of Ceremnonies, Chris, asked Trivia questions and gave out presents to the participants. It was a great crowd of engineers and other crew who mingled with their counterparts from other yachts. Wonderful fellowship was shared and a good time was had by all. The friendly staff at Temo Sports, as they have for many years, kept the drinks flowing and the crowd happy.
Anyone who lives in the Caribbean and has ever owned or worked on a diesel engine equipped boat or machine knows Perkins Engines. Their legendary reliability and serviceability, combined with readily available spare parts at reasonable prices, has made them the engine of preference among discriminating boat and machine owners for years.
Parts & Power is therefore delighted to offer Extended Service Contracts (ESC) for Perkins engines owners and operators.
Extended Service Contracts
Why not give yourself peace of mind from the unexpected and protect you and your engine from additional costs with a Perkins Extended Service Contract (ESC).
An Extended Service Contract covers the cost of replacing defective engine parts, repair time and labour and the travel time beyond the standard warranty period.
ESC’s are designed to help you minimise the downtime caused by breakdowns and stoppages. We offer you tailor made solutions – You choose the coverage that’s right for you from a range of options. You can register for an ESC at any point during your standard warranty period, and the ESC is fully transferable between users.
There are several coverage options depending on your requirements. These include:
Comprehensive Protection Plan
90% of engine components covered
Excludes certain parts e.g. turbochargers
Total Protection Plan
100% of engine components covered
Additional Protection From:
Excludes engine services
Backed by an unrivaled network of Caribbean Servicing Dealers, with readily available and reasonably priced parts, Perkins Engines remain the best serviced Diesel Engine in the Caribbean. You can be assured that you have someone nearby who can keep your Perkins Engine running at top performance.