MEP 802a/803a reliability in the field

cbisson

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Question for those of you who worked with and on the 802/803 sets when they were current issue. (looking in your direction Guyfang)

How reliable were these sets for the troops in the field? What types of issues took them out of service? Were there any weak spots or common problems? Were there problems caused by poor design, unreliable components, poor maintenance, (seems unlikely) etc?

I was lucky enough to acquire a NOS 802a with the help of Light in the Dark and it fits my long term needs perfectly. It runs quiet and the voltage regulation when picking up and dropping heavy loads is the best I've seen.

I have been making an effort to stash away spare parts so if/when something fails I'll have the parts on hand that may become unavailable down the road.

Thanks to this forum I'm aware of the well nut issue, the leaking fuel return line, the fuse mod, etc.

The spares I have on hand so far are as follows,

2 new main start switches (electroswitch)
2 spare fuel pumps (still looking for the Airtex G-17 filters that attach directly)
Oil filters / fuel filters / water separator / air filter (expect these to remain available for a long time)
Spare upper and lower radiator hoses
Spare fan/alt belt
Spare fuses for the fuse mod

Is there anything else I should add to the stash? Including items that are not totally necessary for operation (volt /Hz gauges for example) but are necessary to keep it 100% functional as designed?

Sincere thanks to you all for the wealth of information and free flowing advice.

-Craig
 

Coug

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Only one that had an issue in my unit was an MEP-804 15kw unit. It managed to crack the radiator.
We also had a paralleling box between a pair of 802's that came back from reset not working properly and would drop power output (running from a single generator) every 8-12 hours. I lived next to that thing for a week out in the field, my only job was to keep the power on.

Not that either of those really helps with what you are asking, but I thought I'd share anyway.
 

Guyfang

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Some gen sets run for months on end. No problem. So can not make it 10 hours without going belly up. It helps if you take good care of the set, but like I said, some set run months on end, without anything but fuel, and checking the oil every now and then. If I had a 5 or 10 KW, and it had a plastic S1, I would find a MK3 switch, to keep on hand. All the parts you have extra are good to have. I am a hoarder. Given a supply system like the Army's, I could afford to be. I had one of everything. Or two. Or three.....

If your pockets are deep, you can do that. When you might go to war, one is never enough. Keep in mind, my view of things is shaped by that thought. And I spent 10.5 years on a HAWK missile site, operating 24/7, 365 days a year. You do not have that problem. I think you have about the right stuff. Take care of your set, and you should have no problem. The major bugs have been worked out of these things. They were a nightmare when they first hit the system.

Would I tell you to get something else? Well, yes. But go back to the paragraph above. If you listen to me, you may need to collect some more empty coke bottles.

Balance your wallet with your NEED, not perceived notions. Whats the longest you ever ran on TAC Power?
 

cbisson

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Some gen sets run for months on end. No problem. So can not make it 10 hours without going belly up. It helps if you take good care of the set, but like I said, some set run months on end, without anything but fuel, and checking the oil every now and then. If I had a 5 or 10 KW, and it had a plastic S1, I would find a MK3 switch, to keep on hand. All the parts you have extra are good to have. I am a hoarder. Given a supply system like the Army's, I could afford to be. I had one of everything. Or two. Or three.....

If your pockets are deep, you can do that. When you might go to war, one is never enough. Keep in mind, my view of things is shaped by that thought. And I spent 10.5 years on a HAWK missile site, operating 24/7, 365 days a year. You do not have that problem. I think you have about the right stuff. Take care of your set, and you should have no problem. The major bugs have been worked out of these things. They were a nightmare when they first hit the system.

Would I tell you to get something else? Well, yes. But go back to the paragraph above. If you listen to me, you may need to collect some more empty coke bottles.

Balance your wallet with your NEED, not perceived notions. Whats the longest you ever ran on TAC Power?
The longest I've run on TAC (I assume this means Gen power) is 6 days. I would however shut down the generator at around midnight and fire up again around 6am. This was with a 3 cylinder Perkins diesel with a 7.5kw Marathon head. Which I still have and it's 100% maintained and ready. I just don't want my MEP to become a paper weight 10 years from now because of some part that I could get easily now becoming unobtainable for any price.

Let's say for fun that the wallet is a non-issue. What would your recommendation be? An entire extra set maintained and ready?

Thanks, I appreciate your perspective and I think we share some opinions on redundancy.

-Craig
 

Guyfang

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One time I was to be inspected, by the Brigade IG. Inspector General. One of the big no, no's is "Excess". It took two trips with an M35 truck to haul off all my "Nice to have" stuff.

1 ea. A1 Volt reg
1 ea. Plastic relay
1 ea. 24 volt alternator
1 ea. K4
1 ea. K1
1 ea. K2
1 ea. K8
1 ea. S14
1 ea. A9
Diodes for the main gen
1 ea. LOP
1 ea. Engine over temp switch
1 ea. MPU
1 ea. Water pump and gaskets
1 ea. set of injector pumps and injectors
1 ea. Starter
1 ea. E1 and E2 fuel pump
1 ea. package of both fuses needed.
And what you already have. If I looked long enough at this screen, the list would grow. Some things I did not add, as anyone who is a competent mechanic, should be able to hay seed fix. Like the throttle cable, or defective S17. Things like that.
 

cbisson

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In a chart provided by Green Mountain Generators, they list a MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) of 486 hr @ 80% LCL.
That's good to know but MTBF covers the entire system and the likely hood that any one of the many components will fail in that period of time. What I'm looking for is what are the parts that have proven over time, and a large sample size, to be the ones that will most likely fail.

If you asked me what will likely fail on an e46 BMW I'd tell you that anything can fail of course but with this particular series you can count on window regulators, front control arm bushings, rear trailing arm bushings and you damn well better replace the water pump, thermostat, and expansion tank at around 100k miles cause one of them is gonna fail and these engines do NOT like to be overheated. I know this because I've owned several, and been aware of many more, over a long period of time. My MEP is the only one I've ever owned and for only a month or so. Fortunately for us on this forum there are people that have worked on and/or operated many of them over a long period of time.......gold mine!!

Thanks LITD....it's all your fault anyway!:p(y)
 

Guyfang

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In a chart provided by Green Mountain Generators, they list a MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) of 486 hr @ 80% LCL.
This is THE most importent document to look at when thinking about such questions. There is also a MTBF chart in the reset document, or some other TB. But they leave out the important facts. WHAT failed, how often. Thats whats importent. I once saw a document telling us that all the "boxes", electrial componets, on the MEP-006A should be on hand in the Battalion supply system. Hog wash! The LMU, Load Measuring Unit, never one time failed in my 10.5 years of HAWK power generation time. There were other things also listed. S2 start switch. Hog wash. And on and on. We did a real MTBF in Patriot, and Improved HAWK. EVERY failure, no matter how small, no matter what piece of system equipment, or SUPPORTING equipment, was logged in. Everyone hated the so called "Hawk Tags". PITA. Long and short of it. But an incredibly important document. A living document. The Gov has that kind of info, but you will never find it.
 

Light in the Dark

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That's good to know but MTBF covers the entire system and the likely hood that any one of the many components will fail in that period of time. What I'm looking for is what are the parts that have proven over time, and a large sample size, to be the ones that will most likely fail.

If you asked me what will likely fail on an e46 BMW I'd tell you that anything can fail of course but with this particular series you can count on window regulators, front control arm bushings, rear trailing arm bushings and you damn well better replace the water pump, thermostat, and expansion tank at around 100k miles cause one of them is gonna fail and these engines do NOT like to be overheated. I know this because I've owned several, and been aware of many more, over a long period of time. My MEP is the only one I've ever owned and for only a month or so. Fortunately for us on this forum there are people that have worked on and/or operated many of them over a long period of time.......gold mine!!

Thanks LITD....it's all your fault anyway!:p(y)
Yes, there is no direct correlation to the details you are looking for, but still a good bit of information to have considering how many units were actually fielded. In a worst case scenario, anything with voltage in it could be put up, all depends on how crazy you want to get. Thats the benefit of having redundant machines too, not only is it a parts source if need be, but its also something that could be put to use, giving you the time you require for proper diagnosis of the initial failure. To me, thats why power plants are so appealing, though total overkill for most homeowners.
 

rtrask

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I probably should keep my mouth shut because this is second hand information, but I have a lot of respect for the source. My friend is a diesel generator mechanic for Cummins. I asked his opinion of the Fermont generators. He said that when the engines hit 2000 hours start to leak a lot of oil, but the engines are tough. When I asked which seals he said "The brush tube seals, valve cover, front main, gear housing, and oil pan gasket." I would be curious if that matches any of youall's experience?
 

jamawieb

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Just to give some real life experience. I have a customer running his 802a, approximately 24hours a day, for the past 3 years and just logged 23,000 hours.
Items replaced:
2 alternators
1 water pump
1 overtemp switch (thermostatic switch)
2 batteries because one of the cables rubbed against metal and shorted out. Possible reason for 1 of the alternator failures
Original alternator lasted 13,000 hours
Original water pump lasted 18,000 hours
 

jamawieb

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I probably should keep my mouth shut because this is second hand information, but I have a lot of respect for the source. My friend is a diesel generator mechanic for Cummins. I asked his opinion of the Fermont generators. He said that when the engines hit 2000 hours start to leak a lot of oil, but the engines are tough. When I asked which seals he said "The brush tube seals, valve cover, front main, gear housing, and oil pan gasket." I would be curious if that matches any of youall's experience?
I disagree with leaks. I've never had oil leaks on any units I've worked on. I've worked on everything from 2hrs to 8,000hrswith no sign of leaks. The biggest issue is the return fuel lines that leak. They don't have oil pan's
 

Guyfang

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The only leakers I ever saw that were high hours sets, were sets not taken care of. EVERYTHING was loose. No, if you give your set TLC every now and then, keep clean fuel filters and at least change oil filters and air filters every now and then, you should get a long life on your set.
 

Ray70

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Maybe I missed it somewhere, but everyone's "Spares" stash should include a new well nut for the tank ( unless you did the "Ultimate" replacement already ) and a roll of the 3.5mm fuel return line. Every machine will end up needing both of these and they always let go at the least opportune moment!
I wouldn't be overly concerned with the gaskets, but if you want to be safe, you can get a complete LPW4 gasket set for $66 on the big auction site. That will give you double of everything except head gasket and block side cover , which you can get separately and it's still cheaper than a 2 cyl. set.
 

pjwest03

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The best flexible rubber fuel line replacement is Viton. The price can get scary in larger sizes. 4mm soft Viton is around $4 a foot. It's available from McMaster-Carr among others. It definitely outlasts standard fuel line for diesel.
 

Farmitall

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I'd add a starter to the list of things to have, or ar least starter repair parts.

Can't run the set if you can't crank it over.....and there's no "pull start"
 

Chainbreaker

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I don't have a MEP802 or MEP803 but I do have some thoughts and experience on a "spares strategy"

Your on the right track stocking the "obvious spares". No harm is doing that. But...how far you go in stocking spares is dependent on how badly your immediate needs are for maintaining power and you local Power Company's outage frequency. My local power provider is hit & miss due to so many tall trees next to power lines. Couple that with those of a "Prepper Mentality" of conceivable long term partial or total grid failure (increased potential for massive fires, earthquakes, storms or anything else in the realm of a potential area grid failure) and your talking about having back up redundancy. The "two is one, one is none" mantra is wisely stated when it comes to "mission critical" equipment.

If your situation is mission critical like mine is with wells, pumped septic, freezers, etc. you might also consider taking a "long term view" and start scouting for a spare genset before your model genset becomes harder to find with eventual scarcity of parts and ever increasing prices. If you can take your time now to locate a reasonably priced non-runner that you can repair it will prove to be money well spent. Craigslist worked for me when I started my "spare unit search". The guy I bought my 2nd unit from gave up on repairs and it only took me a day to get it running with no parts required!

I had a genset fail halfway into a week long outage and troubleshooting and repairing late at night in the dark icy cold just wasn't practical. It was really nice to be able to roll in backup genset #2 during a cold stormy night when needed. Even if I had found the problem soon after my genset failed, I wouldn't have had the part I needed to effect repairs even though I had stocked the obvious spares, as a control transformer had failed.

When you are able to roll in a "functioning spare unit" it gives you the time to thoroughly troubleshoot your primary genset. Also I might add, without the added pressure of family incessantly asking how much longer till power is restored. Possibly facing having to go to bed in a cold dark, or hot, house and waking up to an unknown situation & facing a parts sourcing dilemma. Having a backup unit at-the-ready gives you the the time to thoroughly troubleshoot the problem and then locate the exact part you need & order it to effect the right repair(s) as time permits. Once parts are on order you can then go in and watch TV & drink a beer, or whatever your fancy is, and leisurely wait for parts to arrive with no downtime!

I know it sounds like a luxury and too expensive to consider a back-up unit in addition to having a primary unit, however when you need it YOU REALLY NEED IT, and its worth every $ you paid and then some!

However, everyone's situation is different and each of us have to make a call on our best spares strategy.
 
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