Got my 2 MEP-831a's today - got one started - smoked a lot, now won't start

calsdad

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UPS Freight finally delivered the two MEP-831a's I got from GovLiquidation a couple of weeks ago. They're both resets by the North Virginia National Guard with 2 hours on the clock (and new clocks)

First thing I did was open both up and check everything out. Both had batteries installed - one with the leads hooked up - the other one the leads were disconnected. Both batteries showed about 13 volts on my volt meter.

I checked the oil in both, and it was filled and clean in both, checked the fuel tanks in both and they were empty so I added about 2 gallons of road diesel and poured in a little Diesel 911. I spent the last couple of nights reading some of the MEP-831 threads here so I did a quick go-over of both of them, opened the gauge panel and checked to make sure there were no obviously loose wiring, missing pieces - etc.

So I figured I'd try to get one of them started. Since the battery was only 13V or so - I did the manual start procedure. The thing started up - initially seemed to run up to it's normal speed - and then the rpms' started going up and down. Right from the get go - it was also putting out a decent amount of smoke. I left the thing to run on it's own - hoping that it would clear out and at one point it seemed to be running up at it's normal operating speed . I noticed that when the rpms went down - the voltage output gauge would go dead as would the other gauges on the dash. Then it would speed up - and the gauges would be back to working again.

I had a Skilsaw right there so I plugged it into the 120V outlet and got it to run for about 30 seconds or so before the rpms dipped down and the voltage output went away.

Then the engine quit. I was able to get it started - but it just wouldn't run full speed, and quit again. I got it started a couple more times but it only would run for a brief period of time (and not at full speed) - and then it would quit. The experiment ended when I tried to pull start it - and I think I broke the pull start. I heard something snap and the cord now spins free.

On the plus side - it appears that the unit will put out 120V, the gauges on the dash all appear to work - and the 24V charger also appears to work because the battery voltage even from that short period of running went from 13V up to 16V or so.

I originally posted this over in the MEP-831a opinions thread - and AfghanVeteran suggested starting a new thread - and disconnecting the battery. Will the battery cause the unit to run funky if it's not fully charged? AfghanVeteran suggested disconnecting the battery entirely - I've also got a 24V charger coming in a couple of days so I can try charging the battery fully and see if that makes a difference.

I'll have to take the pull start mechanism off and see what's gone wrong there. Sounds like something broke.
 

AfghanVeteran2010

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"I noticed that when the rpms went down - the voltage output gauge would go dead as would the other gauges on the dash. Then it would speed up - and the gauges would be back to working again."

The reasoning behind me recommending that you disconnect the battery was to prevent any issues the dead battery can cause; Too much draw on charging system, possible battery shorts. Sounds like you lost the DC power on set when it idled down, with insufficient power your fuel pump may have been off. That causing it to die from lack of fuel.

If it were me I would try repairing the pull start, if external power is not available. If power is available remove the pull starting mechanism and its cover, To prevent damage.

After that I would allow fuel system to prime, not sure if this can be done with out 24 volts on the set.

Hopeful this helps you out. If I think of anything that might help you ill post it here.
 
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kloppk

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If the battery is discharged it will cause issues when running since the battery charger will be struggling to bring the battery voltage up. If there is inadequate voltage the Governor Controller, fuel pump and Fault logic will operate erratically until they get adequate DC voltage.
Re-try running the set(s) with the batteries disconnected and manually starting them (once you repair the pull start mechanism)

The batteries may need a restoration done to them if they've been sitting too long and have become partially sulphated.
A normal battery charger isn't capable of restoring a AGM battery, even the Noco 7200.
If your need your RG24 batteries restored, just let me know. I have the equipment here to restore them.
I'm just a couple of towns to the west of you in Pepperell.
PM me if you need help.
 

calsdad

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Thanks for the responses. The explanations make sense based on the way I saw the thing behaving. It seemed to run ok during the brief periods when the rpms were up enough that I got power out of the 120V outlet. I'll try disconnecting the battery and see if it runs correctly. I'll have to take the pull start off first and see if I can figure out what happened to that. At the moment I don't have an external source for 24V power.

I just ordered a Noco Genius 15000 (needed another battery charger anyway and it seemed to be the best choice for a 24v charger) - the description claims it will desulphate batteries - doesn't say anything specific about 24v batteries. Does say it has a "progressive repair mode" for heavily sulphated 12V batteries.

Another thing I noticed was that the 2nd unit (not the one I tried to start) - has no oil filler cap on the valve cover, not that it's missing the cap - there just isn't a oil fill port at all. Just thought that was sort of strange. I'll have to go thru the manual and see what it says about adding oil.

Kloppk : Thanks for the offer to restore the batteries. I might take you up on that. I don't think I'll have the charger here until next week and I'd like to see if I can get at least one of these going sooner rather than later. I'm reasonably familiar with Pepperell.
 

AfghanVeteran2010

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Your rocker cover looks like this? Don't use that port to fill the engine, you might end up blowing smoke till the cows come home.

713240_6462_11920_0001.jpg


Fill your set on this port.

713159_6462_0_0003_LI.jpg
 

calsdad

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Your rocker cover looks like this? Don't use that port to fill the engine, you might end up blowing smoke till the cows come home.

View attachment 720364
Yep - that's what it looks like. One unit has a valve cover like that pic - the other one has a valve cover that has a yellow cap that says "Oil" on it. So I'm guessing it's probably a later engine or something.


Fill your set on this port.

View attachment 720365
That's like the Honda EU2000 I have - trying to fill the oil thru that little port is PITA.
 

gstirling

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mine was about the same when i got it, after following the TM to get the governor dialed in - unsuccessful, i got a new governor from Kloppk (see classified adds) i highly recommend making this upgrade. at worst it eliminates a whole list of possible issues, so you can focus elsewhere, and at best it solves all your problems.
 

dav5

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mine was about the same when i got it, after following the TM to get the governor dialed in - unsuccessful, i got a new governor from Kloppk (see classified adds) i highly recommend making this upgrade. at worst it eliminates a whole list of possible issues, so you can focus elsewhere, and at best it solves all your problems.
So True
 

calsdad

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mine was about the same when i got it, after following the TM to get the governor dialed in - unsuccessful, i got a new governor from Kloppk (see classified adds) i highly recommend making this upgrade. at worst it eliminates a whole list of possible issues, so you can focus elsewhere, and at best it solves all your problems.
Thanks for the reminder on that. When I was researching the MEP-831's - I ran across the info about Kloppk's new governor module and had forgotten about it until your post. I'm going to be seeing Kloppk some time in the next few days as he's generously offered to evaluate my batteries. I think I'll pick up one of his governor modules while I'm there just to rule that out. Especially since the symptoms might be pointing to governor issue.
 

jwinner

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My battery was at 13 volts when I got it, and after a few days on a trickle charger it is holding 25 volts and seems to work good.
 

DieselAddict

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If the battery is discharged it will cause issues when running since the battery charger will be struggling to bring the battery voltage up. If there is inadequate voltage the Governor Controller, fuel pump and Fault logic will operate erratically until they get adequate DC voltage.
Big +1 on this. Disconnect the battery and run it again. The 24v power system has a very limited output. A weak battery can cause lots of problems.

The fact that the battery is dragging down the charging circuit is a good sign that it may be recoverable.
 

calsdad

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Kloppk generously offered to check out the Concorde batteries from the two units I picked up. He found that one was definitely dead - and the other one was able to be recovered up to about 92%. Picked them up this morning from him - Thanks for the help!

Got home - ate lunch - and put the good battery into the unit I had gotten started before and which ran poorly. After hooking the battery up - I used the Start switch and the unit started right up after cranking for maybe 10 seconds or so. Smoked at first - but that cleared up within about a minute or two. I let the thing run for about 5 minutes - watched the gauges - and there's no obvious signs of anything wrong.

So I figured the next thing I wanted to try was to see if the aux fuel pump would work correctly and top off the tank. I had put about 1/2 tank of diesel in it when I did my first go around. I scored an aux fuel hose with a gerry can attachment on Ebay back about a week ago once I knew I was getting these - so I used that - after checking to make sure it was not blocked.

So I turned the aux fuel switch to ON - and after a few seconds the generator died. I tried to restart - no luck - no life. Popped open the gauge panel - no obvious signs of burnage - nothing obviously bad inside the generator itself - closed the gauge panel - and I noticed that the DC circuit breaker had popped.

Bad fuel pump? Does the aux fuel line need to be primed or something? The hose I got is the correct AN-5 fitting to go directly on the male fitting on the generator - it's got a relatively long hose - it might be 6-8 feet - and it's opposite end is submerged in a 5 gallon fuel can.
 

DieselAddict

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You won't have to prime the fuel line. The pumps are self priming within a reasonable height range. As a general FYI make sure your AUX container is below the generator height as to not siphon into the generator tank and overflow. It shouldn't do that but there has been a few reports of it happening.

With the engine not running but with main power ON can you hear the AUX pump start if you click it on and off?
 

calsdad

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You won't have to prime the fuel line. The pumps are self priming within a reasonable height range. As a general FYI make sure your AUX container is below the generator height as to not siphon into the generator tank and overflow. It shouldn't do that but there has been a few reports of it happening.

With the engine not running but with main power ON can you hear the AUX pump start if you click it on and off?
I think I know what is going on. The aux fuel hose I bought is about 15 feet long. I didn't realize how long it was until I uncoiled the darn thing. Then there's a pickup tube that's probably 18 inches long. So all told this thing could be 17 feet long.

I had it inserted into a 5 gallon jug of diesel that was sitting at the same level as the generator - so no gravity feed effect. When I turn on the aux fuel pump - it actually seems like it's "trying" to pull the fuel for a probably 30 seconds or so - and then it finally gives up and pops the DC breaker - then the generator shuts down.

I looked up the specs on the fuel pump - and it's only rated to pull about 36" . So I'm going to take a wild guess that the fuel hose I have is just too darn long for the pump to pull a siphon on. I'm going to have to see if I can find a short hose - or try setting up something that has at least a little bit of gravity feed to get the thing primed.
 

DieselAddict

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That 36" isn't hose length. Its static pressure. Its saying the aux fuel source can't be more than 36" below the pump.

If the pump trips the breaker it for certain has a problem. At this point I would take the it off and see if you can get it working on the bench.
 

Guyfang

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The breaker is there for a reason. If the pump pops the breaker, as DieselAddict said, test it. What kind of pump is it? Old style? Shoot a picture of it. When you bench test it, it should RUN. Non stop, like a bat out of hel*. If it hangs up, you can try and flush it, there may be trash in it. But if thats not the problem, you have a new paper weight.
 

calsdad

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Thanks for the input on the aux fuel pump. I'm going to have to pull that off and test it out. Replacements aren't that expensive if I have to replace it.

Kloppk generously offered to check out the Concorde batteries I had for me. End result: one battery was a goner, the other one he was able to recover and get it up to about 92%.

So I used that one battery to get both of the units started and ran them each for 15-20 minutes just to make sure nothing obvious was wrong. The first one ran fine - I checked the oil - it was topped up and looked clean. I noticed the fuel in the bowl looked a little brown - but cleared up after running the thing for 15 minutes or so. Since I know I'm already down one battery - I picked up a pair of Xtreme AGM 20HL-BS (CTX20L size) batteries from one of the local BatteriesPlus stores. I had already stocked in some 6ga cable and cable ends so I could get the motorcycle style batteries installed - so I had to make up a jumper cable to go from one battery to the other - and I swapped out the ends on the generators power and ground cables so they'd attach to the motorcycle batteries.

I found that the original battery hold down just wasn't going to work with the motorcycle batteries - and after looking around at what the local auto stores were offering for battery hold downs - I ended up bending and welding up my own which just uses the original J-hooks that came with the generator. I'll try to post a pic here if I can get it to work.

Anyway - got all that done - made an extension cord - and ran the 831 for about an hour on 120v at about 2Kw against a bunch of stuff in my barn. I noticed it was smoking a decent amount when I first started - but after it ran for a while it seemed to settle down and the exhaust cleaned up.

Seems like it works!

Good thing - because we're getting another 16-20 inches of snow starting tonite and running into tomorrow night.
 

calsdad

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Forgot to mention in my previous post.

The 2nd 831 has a tag on it saying it is loaded with break in oil - but they must have never changed it. The oil in the thing was nasty and thick as molasses. It just looked sort of strange - like dirty with maybe even some water in it or something. It actually had sort of greyish look on the dipstick. Before running the thing - I drained - or tried to drain all the oil. After about a half hour - I only got maybe about a quarter of the oil out of it. So I topped the thing off with some Mobil 1 10w-30 and then ran it for about 5 minutes to heat it up. That seemed to do the trick - this time it only took me about 5 minutes to get all the oil drained out. I then refilled with Mobil 1 10w-30 and ran it for about 10 minutes. Seemed to run fine.

I tried starting the same unit up today though - and it's leaking oil from around the pressure sensor fitting . The low oil pressure light also came on. I shut it off after that. The oil is still full.

Is Mobil 1 maybe not a good choice ? Too thin ? - should I be using something else?
 
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