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Old 01-18-20, 09:26 PM   #1
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Default Got 2 free generators - Neither worked

A few months ago, a neighbor moving out down the street pushed a garage kept Coleman Powermate 5kW gas generator to the curb for the scrap folks or the garbage men. I picked it up in hopes that it would have a simple carburetor issue, and that I would be able to gift it along to my sister to keep in her garage for hurricane season. I noted as I was wheeling it back to my house, that it had never-flat tires, and a partial tank of gas? A few days after getting it home, I managed to find time to tinker with it for a few hours. I found much to my surprise that the Subaru engine on this beauty actually ran, and the fuel in the tank did NOT smell as if it had been sitting for months (or years). Unfortunately, what I didn't notice initially were the strands of copper windings falling out of the fan blade end of the generator head. This beautiful looking generator with a nearly new looking Subaru engine had a cooked generator armature... Ugh, I dismantled it enough to determine that it would disassemble if I could locate a reasonably priced generator head to mate to the running motor. Looking online, new generator heads were as much or more than a whole used generator locally?? So, I parked it in hopes something would come along.

This past week, coming home from work one evening, I noticed another neighbor tossing out a Coleman Powermate with a 6250 designation on the badges. I managed to get this one home (this one has plastic wheels, a Briggs & Stratton engine and an empty gas tank). However, the air cleaner and one of the sheet metal side panels was already removed so I know where the last mechanic was going when it wouldn't run... Unfortunately, when I picked up the second generator, I left side panel that I thought I didn't need at the time. In retrospect, should have grabbed that off the garbage pile. Turns out that piece held up the other side of the fuel tank and the heat shield for the muffler.

Today, I started two projects: 1.) See if the second (partially dismantled) generator with Briggs engine will run. 2.) Since I don't have all the parts, swap the generator head over to the Subaru engine chassis since it was in immaculate shape and had all the parts.

Project #1:
When I removed the Briggs carburetor, one of the two screws that holds the bowl on was already out and gone. The other screw was mangled to the point a screw driver would not engage the screw head. When I turned the carb upside down to look at the screws, nasty smelly dark yellow gasoline poured out (fortunately, I had it over a shallow plastic pail). I managed to get the mangled screw out by cutting the slotted screw driver slot deeper with a hack saw, then backing the screw out with a large slotted screwdriver.

Here's how the inside looked:

As you can see, portions of the internals are plastic. The main fuel pickup tube in the bottom of the carburetor bowl was 100% blocked with varnish. I used the fine wire inside a twist-tie to poke through various passages to be sure they were open. I blew the passages out with air as well.

After some work with a wire brush, and some acetone in the bowl, this was the result:

To clean the float, I simply wiped the plastic float quickly with a rag dipped in acetone. Replacement carbs like this one are $13-$15 on eBay. I just wanted to know if the engine ran?

Once I reassembled the carburetor, I test fit the fuel tank containing fuel, and the Briggs & Stratton engine ran, spinning up the generator to 122V and 60hz (according to my Kill-A-Watt).

Unfortunately, I didn't have all the pieces to just reassemble this generator and use it as it. The PCV hose off the OHV was also cracked, so I will probably gift that engine to someone. Project #1 was a success, the engine ran!

Now, on to project #2:
I disassembled both units and swapped the generator head from the missing parts chassis to the garage kept frame after making the tools necessary to remove the armature from the tapered engine shaft. I had to tap (with a thread die) the shaft of the armature to accept a bolt to press the armature off the engine.

After reassembly on the Subaru engine chassis, and some minor adjustments to the governor, this is the result while running a 1,200W load (space heater):
119.9 Volts AC
60.0 Hz

And that's how I took two free dead generators my neighbors tossed out and built one for my sister and her family. Special thanks to my adult mentors when I was a teen who taught me how to work on small engines, and to my father who gifted me with a set of Craftsman tools when I graduated from high school 30+ years ago.

(before anyone asks, a friend already has dibs on that Briggs engine that also runs).

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