Information about the Chinese manufactured Mindong DADI brand (ChangChai Diesel Engine) Generators
(As of October 27,  2000, not a happy experience)
by Joe Mehaffey
2/22/2006 Rev X

I have experienced twenty five (25)  Engine or Alternator failures in just 180 hours of operation for this ChangChai/DADI Generator system.  Compare this to perhaps 9000 miles on an automobile.  It is about the same as if you had to take your automobile into the garage for repairs every 350 miles!  What looked at first like a well designed and constructed machine has turned into a serious and ongoing reliability problem due mostly to poor workmanship and manufacturing quality control.  I understand that there are literally hundreds of builders of the Chinese 295D model engine and a similar number of AC Generator builders in China.  Some of these may well manufacture a quality product.  However,  potential buyers of similar equipment should be SURE to buy such items from a reputable vendor in your own country who has a long term track record and is large enough to protect you in case of poor product quality.  Get a WRITTEN GUARANTEE that specifies some remedy if you have a multiplicity of ongoing problems such as I have had.  Failure to do this may result in YOU having a story similar to mine.  Please read on.

(Latest on the Rebuild Effort: Can we make a Silk Purse out of a Sow's Ear?)

Need spare parts for a ChangChai 295D engine?  Click HERE

We gave up on the ChangChai engine and bought a Perkins Diesel replacement.. Read about that here.

History of our Adventures with our Mindong DADI/ChangChai Diesel Generator System

Sunland International,  Reseda California  <was> an import company affiliated with a manufacturer of diesel generator systems.  (As of about August 2000,  Sunland has ceased operation.)  The Chinese manufactured systems are available in 4kw, 5kw, 8kw, 10kw, 12kw, 15kw, 20kw, 24kw, 30kw, 40kw, 50kw and above.  Prices vary according to size and the size I purchased was the 12kw model which they sell for under $3000.  This  unit is a 12kw continuous duty rated unit with the water cooled diesel engine rated 15.5kw  output at 1800rpm (60 hz operating speed) and the electric generator itself rated at 12kw continuous duty according to the nameplate.  This unit is generally well made and is of extremely heavy duty construction and weighs in at about 1250 pounds.  Included with the generator is a heavy duty dry charged "truck sized" battery and a small spares kit with one piston ring set and a head gasket.  A spare oil and fuel filter is also in the kit.
See Photos HERE
The generator system is mounted on a steel skid,  and onto this skid is mounted the water cooled diesel engine and the direct drive generator.  A 5.5 gallon fuel tank is mounted to the engine and the engine controls including the oil pressure gauge,  ammeter,  and ignition key are mounted at one end of the tank.  A 15 amp alternator is used to recharge the starting battery.  A generator control panel with voltmeter,  ammeter,   frequency meter and a   50 amp two pole circuit breaker  is mounted on top of the generator.  The rear of the generator box contains a "foreign" 3 prong receptacle outlet and two large spade lug terminals for output.  The user will want to provide either direct connection to the generator circuit breaker or some other form of receptacle meeting USA electrical standards.

The engine on this model is a model 295D diesel engine with  2 cylinders rated 20+ horsepower maximum and  has 15.8kw rated output at 1800 rpm.   The engine is a Chang Chai Diesel Engine manufactured by the Chang Chai Company PRC (LINK only works with Internet Explorer).  Their website states that they are one of the largest diesel engine manufacturers in China having made more than 10 million diesel engines in the last 50 years.  The engine manual mentions tractors at one point and I am guessing that this is the standard use of this engine.  The engine has a normal electric starting system,  but in addition,  has a couple of features not usual in modern USA diesels.  A hand crank and an exhaust valve release are provided in case your battery fails and you want to try and start the engine with the hand crank provided.    A LARGE flywheel is also a standard feature which may in fact make it possible to hand crank the unit in an emergency.   The fuel injector has a hand pump so when you run out of fuel from the 5.5 gallon tank,  it is not a big deal to pump fuel back into the fuel injection system.  At about 8kw output,  the engine uses something on the order of  0.75 gallons of diesel fuel  per hour.   (Note: Mindong DADI is apparently just one of several  generator vendors using Chang Chai engines in their equipment.  The engine seems to be pretty robust except for peripheral equipment:  rubber parts (hoses,  fan belt and such, fuel tank, radiator) and the engine core has been trouble free so far at 60 operating hours.  Oops..  Blown head gasket at about 61 hours.  Head was "out of flat" by 12 thousandths.  Superior quality?)  Oops.. many more problems have developed.  Read on.

The (original)  generator appeared to be a robustly made unit directly driven by the engine.  The generator has roller bearings and the manual says to clean and refill the bearing reservoirs every 1500 operating hours.  While the generating system seems well made,  there is a design deficiency in that the generator is pretty cantankerous about coming up to voltage upon engine start.  It can take maybe 2 or 3 minutes at times for the voltage to slowly find its way up to 240 volts at no load.   Most of the time,  it is necessary to "flash" the armature of the generator in order to get the voltage to come up <see more on this below>.   Note:  The generator manual says that the voltage will come up faster if some load is applied to the generator.  However,   I  have a voltage sensor  on the generator output that will not allow the generator to feed through the changeover relay until the generator voltage gets up to at least 210vac rms.  I am concerned that some equipment might be damaged if the line  voltage  comes up too slowly on my electrical equipment.  This same sensor shuts off the generator connection to the house if the generator voltage goes below 190vac RMS for more than a couple of  seconds.   This all seems to work just as expected with this generator.  Even starting a 4hp air conditioning compressor motor does not drop the voltage below 190vac  long enough to cause a dropout.

Once the voltage achieves the setpoint voltage,  it is quite stable and reliable.  The generator system uses a non-electronic voltage regulating system involving the use of a "harmonic exciter winding" and a bridge rectifier.  The voltage output of this special exciter winding goes UP as the generator output current goes UP.  The voltage regulation of this scheme turns out to be surprisingly good for this kind of setup.  From no load to 10kw,  the voltage droop (from 240vac nominal)  is only about 3 to 5 volts.  The frequency drops about 1 hz from 61 at no load to 60 at 10kw which I consider very good.  The engine speed change is likely the cause of most of the voltage droop.  At 10kw continuous output the generator case barely gets warm to the touch and the engine is not anywhere near full throttle.  The generator manufacturer  and system assembler is Mindong DADI  and they do not appear to have a website.


Unfortunately,  SunLand Company is now (August 2000) out of business.  As long as they were around,  they were helpful with the spare parts I needed.   Mindong DADI Company has been a problem.  Due to the grossly unreliable performance of the machine I bought,  they agreed in July 2000 to send a replacement generator and skid assembly.  Despite the fact that a) Sunland/DADI offered a one year warranty on my generator,  DADI proposed that either Sunland or I pay for shipping charges for the replacement equipment from China.   Sunland agreed to pay the charges,  BUT Sunland is now out of business and DADI does not answer my eMail inquiries.  This despite the fact that the ONE YEAR warranty is supposed to run until February 2001.  While I have patched the system together and it is serviceable at the moment,  I have great confidence based on past history that this particular machine is a "lemon" and cannot be brought up to "reliable" without replacement of the agreed upon parts.    I am extremely disappointed that a <supposedly> large manufacturer of equipment (in China or anywhere) would admit responsibility for manufacturing a defective equipment and then fail to follow through and replace the defective equipment as promised.   At this point,  I could NOT give a favorable recommendation on any Mindong DADI manufactured equipment solely as a result of their failure to act as they have promised on my warranty claim.    As far as I can determine,  Mindong DADI has no USA representation.

While many of the repair parts I have needed so far are locally available,  I could be in serious trouble if I have problems with internal diesel engine parts since the importer is "gone" and Mindong DADI Company offers no support or spare parts in the absence of the dealer.  Note: As of March 2001,  I have discovered that Hardy Diesel stocks spare parts for the ChangChai Diesel engine here in the USA.  They have also furnished a replacement alternator from MECC ALTE that has proved to be of much higher quality and performance than the Mindong DADI manufactured unit.  With the (Hardy Diesel) furnished bell housing and flywheel assembly,  the new alternator bolts directly to the 295D engine and uses a flexible plate coupling arrangement which will completely eliminate the bushing wear out problem noted below.

Now for a list of the problems I have had to repair on this machine.  I have had a significant number of "individually" minor problems that were fairly easy (but time consuming) for me to solve.  The sheer NUMBER of problems along with the type of problems indicates that Mindong DADI Generator Company needs a new quality control manager.  If you are not generally familiar with engines and unless you ARE  willing to "get your hands dirty" with  maintenance,  then this is not the unit for you.  Diesels are always high vibration machines and the system designers need to plan for this.  I ran the generator for an initial six hours in two sessions and had the below listed  problems a)  through e).  Other problems occurred approximately at hours indicated.

a)  More than a dozen bolts,  nuts,  and screws scattered over the machine became very loose and had to be tightened.  A bottle of LockTite  and a set of wrenches are  essential accessories for this machine.   NOTE:  After this initial "tightening up" of nuts,  bolts and screws at about 6 hours of operating time,  as of 30 operating hours,  I have had no further problems of this nature.
b)  As mentioned above,  the generator was extremely sluggish in getting "up to rated voltage".  Sometimes it will not come "up to rated voltage" at all without "flashing the armature".  I fixed this by grounding the negative side of the armature (at the minus terminal of the bridge rectifier) and connecting one side of a spring loaded toggle switch to +12vdc and the other side of the switch in series with 5 amp 400 volt diode and a 3 amp fuse.  Cathode of diode going to the PLUS side of the bridge rectifier.  I can now press the switch and  "flash" the field  with the 12vdc battery power and get things going in just a second or two.  This problem  is a real design defect that DADI should never have let through production without a proper fix.  The problem is mentioned in the generator manual so DADI  knew about it.
c)  When it is below about 40 degrees F (about 12C),  the engine is difficult or impossible to start as shipped.  I discovered that the wire from the "preheat" position of the ignition switch to the air inlet pre-heater/burner had been left off at the factory.  Once installed,  the heater/burner  works and the engine starts fine down to about 32F (0 C).  Note:  Below 32F,  I have recently found that starting is difficult if not impossible without "help".    I also discovered that a lighted propane torch directed down the throat of the air inlet does "magic" things even without the preheater and the engine starts just fine even at temperatures around 20F.  Using  a one second squirt of "diesel starting fluid"  down the throat of the air intake manifold also worked on one occasion,  but I am told that this is hard on diesel engines so I am not recommending that technique.
d) The radiator was leaking and Sunland allowed me to have it fixed locally under warranty.  (This particular radiator had previously been on another machine as it had  circular "fan blade marks" on the inside fins,  but my fan blade shows no signs of ever hitting anything.)
e) The four generator connection studs used for external power connections are approximately 1/4" studs but with an unusual thread.  The nuts which came (from the factory) on the studs are slightly oversized.  When you tighten the studs "about tight as you would think proper",  the threads on the nuts strip.  This had already happened at the factory and rather than fix the problem,  a stack of washers was put on the stud and then the nuts were not tightened securely.    (See large green wires and large black wire in generator junction box photos.)  I replaced the studs with locally available 1/4x24x2" brass screws and nuts and all is now fine.
f) The lower radiator hose  was leaking after the radiator was replaced.  It turned out that the lower radiator hose had begun to "dry rot" and when replaced,  the leak stopped.  The other two hoses showed no sign of dry rot.
g) A seam in the fuel tank started leaking at about 12 hours running time.  Sunland allowed me to have it brazed locally under warranty.
h) The water drain cock  (a high quality brass unit)  in the engine block had no thread sealant and started leaking at about 10 hours.  A little teflon tape fixed this.
i) One of the spot welds on one of the two steel straps holding the fuel tank to the engine broke at about 14 hours running time and had to be repaired.
j) The rubber grommet protecting the wires to the generator as they exited the bottom of the generator control box was about 3/8" smaller than the hole that the grommet was supposed to be installed in.  The grommet had pulled out of the hole thus inviting long term chafing (and possible damage to the generator).  I replaced the grommet with a grommet of the proper size.
k) At 45 operating hours,  (and ambient temp about 95F, (35C),  the thermal breaker started tripping at currents in the range of 40 to 45 amps.  Replaced breaker with external 50 amp Square D model QO magnetic breaker and all is well again.
l) At 47 operating hours,  noticed loud "CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG as the engine came to a stop.   Investigation revealed that all six of the rubber bushings which are part of the engine flywheel-to-generator coupling system had totally disintegrated.   See photo of failed "pin and bushing" coupling HERE.  (The six steel pins are supposed to have rubber bushings on them that fit the larger mating holes in the flywheel coupling.)  This coupling failure is thought to have been caused  by excessive angular misalignment between the generator coupling and the engine flywheel.   The misalignment when the generator coupling was repaired and recoupled was such that (prior to re-alignment) the TOP of the "pin and bushing" coupling flange was out 2.5mm more than the bottom of the flange (as measured from the face of the engine flywheel).  This would cause the bushing to have to slide in and out 2.5mm on each revolution of the flywheel.  Naturally,  this would cause the rapid wear that is evident by the disintegration of the original bushings.  The cause of the misalignment is that the generator support members were apparently not welded in the correct position and this misalignment error was not found by factory quality control.   I made repairs and precision realigned the engine and generator,  I  welded horizontal  alignment guides into place to prevent any future horizontal or vertical misalignment.  I feel these alignment guides should have been a part of the factory manufacturing process since the bolts holding the generator in position are inadequate to maintain a precision alignment.  There is no mention of this potential problem in the generator/engine manuals.  (Note:  I had some special coupling bushings extruded from Dur 80 high density  polyurethane and it should last MUCH longer than the uncured soft rubber bushings which were there in the first place.   Despite four email requests to the DADI factory and to Sunland,  I was never able to get any instructions as to how to properly realign the motor and generator after I replaced the bushings. 
m) As a part of the repair in l) above,  I noticed that the weld holding one end of the innermost generator support member to the skid had broken.  (Note:  I now know of seven other DADI generator owners who have had the coupling bushings fail at low operating hours.  I have been able to furnish urethane bushings to replace the poor quality rubber originals,  but I am out of bushings now. )
DADI has decided that my generator system needs their new design generator,  engine coupling, and mounting skid so as to bring system reliability up to a reasonable level.  As of July 22,  2000,  this replacement equipment <was supposedly> being shipped from China by SEA and Motor Freight.    (Late Note:  Despite promises,  the replacement generator  parts have not appeared and DADI is not responding to my email inquiries as to "what's happening?".  When Sunland went out of business in August,  2000,  DADI quit responding to my eMail.  For this specific reason coupled with grossly unreliable performance,  I cannot recommend Mindong DADI Generating company as a reputable manufacturer.)  I finally abandoned the idea of getting a replacement alternator from DADI and purchased a new 16kw model from MECC ALTE.  This alternator is a much higher QUALITY unit and works extremely well, has electronic regulator and direct to flywheel spring disk type coupling (no rubber bushings!).
m) At 60 operating hours,  the ChangChai 295D engine blew a head gasket which was replaced.  Also replaced dry rotted thermostat bypass hose.
n) At 70 operating hours,  the engine starter developed a "dead spot".  This turned out to be a workmanship problem in the starter motor (see more below) which damaged the armature.
o) At 72 operating hours,  a steady drip-drip-drip of engine oil on the pavement under the engine was noted.  This was found to be coming from the oil pressure sending unit.  I procured a new sending unit and matching oil pressure meter from a local jobber and changed it all out and we are up and running again.
p) At 75 operating hours,  the STOP switch would not shut off the engine.  I found that the accordion rubber boot which holds the plunger of the shut off solenoid inside the core had separated into two parts.  The allowed the solenoid plunger to pull so far out of the core that it stuck and would not pull in and shut off the engine.  I believe this is the last rubber part on the outside of the engine that has not been replaced.
q) Warm oil pressure noticed to be above 80psi on new meter.  It has always "pegged" the old meter at 72psi  when  cold and down to about 60psi when hot  which I had assumed was normal.  The new meter reads out to 100psi when engine is cold.  Manual shows provision for oil pressure adjustment.  Checked oil pressure with standard gauge and found new meter to be accurate.  Lowered pressure to about 60psi  when hot per specifications.
r) At 76 operating hours,  the fan belt broke in two.  (Last inspection at 70 hours showed belt in apparent good condition.)  Engine ran hot for several minutes before my wife noticed the steam coming out of overflow tube and shut it off.  (Just lucky this time.)  I can hardly believe that a brand new belt could fail in about 2 years and 76 operating hours.  Pulley alignment was OK.  The new replacement  GATES belt expected lifetime is supposed to be about 2500 operating hours.
s) The oil reservoir in the engine injector pump/governor is supposed to be checked at 100 hour intervals according to the manual.  When I checked it at 78 hours,  it was empty.  I refilled reservoir and there are no apparent problems with the governor or fuel pump at this time.  I have noticed since that the pump is close to out of oil at about 35 hours.  Check Regularly!
t)  At 130 hours of operation,  the 12 volt DC alternator regulator failed.  I replaced it with a 60 amp rated rebuilt Delco unit which (I predict) will last longer than 130 hours.
u)  Well.. as of 19 January 2006, I have finally GIVEN UP.  It is a small thing, but during the last month when we had to run the generator for a total of 28 hours during to outages, the ChangChai 295D started making "chuffing" noises that indicate a broken valve spring.  The engine still runs but this was just the straw that finished me off.  I have ordered a 30HP 4 cylinder Perkins Diesel to replace the ChangChai.  ANYONE NEED A 295D engine for spare parts?  My new engine will be delivered in Feb 2006 and then (at long last) I expect to have a reliable emergency generator set!

DADI Generator System Reliability for my unit
As of January 2005, and looking at this from a MTBF (mean time between failures) standpoint,  this generator system has enjoyed LESS THAN 8 hours MTBF for its running  life.  I estimate that I have now spent about 1.12 hours in maintenance for every running hour.  (Note:  Mel at Sunland said  my experience  is by far the worst reliability experience they have had with these generators.  I have since learned that my experience is FAR from unique.  See just ONE of the eMails I have received from other DADI users: HERE)

Spare parts are a problem and are extremely expensive.  One rocker arm cost me $28 and fiber manifold gaskets cost about $10 each.  I guess I should be happy to get parts at all.  :)     Note:  I have found three  USA dealers a) Hardy Diesel b) Diamond Northern , and Masters Farm Supply Parts, Altha Fl, 32421, Ph.  850-762-3221 (No Webpage) who stock parts for ChangChai engines.  (Question for readers: Hardy Diesel sells another brand of 295/395 diesel engines connected to the MECC/ALTE alternator.  I am told that this combination is  reliable and long lived.  Late Note:  Hardy Diesel tells me that their "new brand" of 295 China Diesels turned out to be UNreliable as well and now they have stopped selling them also.    Diamond Northern sells the later version of my 12KW generator from DADI.  This unit has the generator directly connected to the engine bell housing and so should eliminate the alignment problems I had.  Has anybody bought this unit?   If it is more reliable than the old version,  I would like to say so in this product review.)

Other user's reliability reports on Mindong DADI generator systems.


Any diesel engine is noisy.  The diesel on this machine is no exception but originally had a very poor muffler.  I purchased a muffler designed for a Volkswagen Diesel  car and had an exhaust pipe bent to fit.  See more information in MODIFICATIONS DONE below.


The engine/generator system  with the OLD alternator was quite voltage stable as compared with any of the gasoline generators I have used previously.  The voltage at no load was adjusted to 240vac.  At 10kw,  the voltage dropped to about 231 vac.  At 13.75kw  output (generator rating 12kw), the output voltage was 224vac.  I consider this very satisfactory performance.    If I set the no load frequency at 61hz (engine RPM=1830rpm),  the frequency drops to about 60hz (engine RPM=1800) at 10kw and to about 59hz at 12kw.   If your load is fairly constant,  you can set the RPM to 1800 at your normal load so as to provide approximately 60hz output at your normal load setting.  This is easy to do by using the included power frequency meter on the control panel.  Frequency meter accuracy is better than 0.4hz for my system.

I tested the OLD generator system at full load with the following results:  60 amps one side,  40 amps other side of the line.  The output voltage was about 240vac and the frequency dropped to just above 59hz.  I then went back to 10kw and started a 4hp air conditioning condensing unit and the load (compressor and fan) started "immediately" with no sign of engine overload.  The line current was 70 amps on one side and 40 amps on the other.  In this slightly overloaded condition (12.5kw),  the engine was not at full throttle,  output voltage was 224vac,  and the frequency had dropped to 59hz.  I would class this as excellent performance for a generator rated for 12kw continuous duty.  Fuel consumption is slightly higher but  quite in line with the manufacturer's estimate of 0.086 gallons per hour per KW of load.

 I am very impressed that starting a 2 HP electric centrifugal pump by the generator was a "non event" as compared with the strain and groan of  my prior 8kw Dana WinCo generator.  When I press the "engage generator" switch to bring my house on line,  the surge current on the DADI generator goes to over 60 amps on one side of the line and to about 45 amps on the other.  The generator handles this starting load without the output voltage going below about 225 volts.  The frequency does not drop below about 59.5 hz (no load setting about  60.5hz).  I am sure the large engine flywheel on the diesel helps this motor starting effort quite a bit.  I have noticed no "hunting" of the engine speed at any load setting.

The generator voltage waveform is roughly sinusoidal (no harmonic distortion measurement equipment is available).  At 10KW output, on an oscilloscope you can see the diode bridge switching points and the peak voltage is maybe 5% higher than if the waveform were a perfect sinusoid,  but all in all,  it is quite acceptable for use by modern electronic equipment.  I would always recommend a large  transient voltage suppressor be installed in any electrical system fed by a small generator as voltage transients as a result of the shutdown of large electric motors can be substantial depending on the overall load and generator regulator characteristics.  Due to the voltage regulation circuit design in the Mindong DADI generator,  the resulting output waveform causes a noticeable amount of  of "shimmering" of fluorescent  light from fixtures with standard transformer ballasts,  but fixtures with electronic ballasts do not exhibit this effect.

SUMMARY..  (As of 2006) Would I buy this generator again?

Actually,  NO.  Not even with YOUR money!   The extremely poor mechanical reliability,  poor workmanship and the  failure of DADI,  and Sunland to provide promised replacement generator and skid assembly to arrive coupled with Sunland's apparent ceasing operations and DADI  and ChangChai not responding to my eMail requests for assistance is unacceptable.   Couple this to the large number of failures and I can now say that I am not a happy customer.  Since I got the new main Mecc-Alte generator, I have had zero problems on that end of the system.  However,   I have always been afraid to operate the engine  more than an hour a month for testing as engine reliability has proved TERRIBLE.    I have discovered that Hardy Diesel and Diamond National can supply ENGINE repair parts.  American Express assisted me under their buyer protection plan to purchase a replacement Alternator after my unit developed problems.  I <do> appreciate this warranty assistance!   During the gathering of data for AMEX,  I discovered that apparently our Sunland friends were never registered as a bonafide business in the State of California where they operated from.

 Latest Information:  (A chronicle of "If anything can go wrong it will".)
6/3/2000> Machine now has about 31 hours running time on it and no problems since 15 hours running time.
7/1/2000> Machine now has about 47 hours running time with new problems k) and l) above this week.
9/1/2000> Repaired coupling and other problems and system is now operational but reliability is questionable.
10/27/2000> Sunland apparently out of business and DADI has not sent promised replacement generator assembly.
2/1/2001> Mindong DADI has not shipped the agreed upon repair parts and is unresponsive to email.
5/15/2001> Gave up on DADI and ordered a MECC ALTE Alternator..  A great Unit.  16kw rated, direct to engine mounting system.  No rubber couplings to wear out,  Works Well,  good waveform,  superb regulation,  240VAC  (+/-1%) out from 1600 to 1900 rpm at load!  We are now back in service at 50 hours and running fine.
10/12/2001> 60 operating hours,  ChangChai Engine blew head gasket ,  replaced and ground head.  Head was "out of flat" by 0.012 inches.   Engine internals appear in generally good condition.  During repair,  I noted that: a) oil starvation was damaging two valve lifters.  Found:  oil gallery in rocker support was blocked on valve 4 and partial block on valve 3 with gummy deposit.  b) Oil gallery from head to rocker support was almost blocked by misalignment of hole in head with corresponding hole in rocker foot.  I chamfered the hole in the foot slightly so as to increase oil flow.  Cleaned rocker assembly oil passages.  Oil was changed at 40 hours and at 60 hours still looked good.  Changed oil at repair again anyway.   Maybe "crud" resulting from the blown head gasket caused the oil gallery blockage??
2/3/2002> At 70 total hours of running time on the ChangChai Engine,  the electric starter motor has developed a "dead spot".  If the starter happens to stop on this commutator position,  you must MANUALLY rotate the starter off this spot to make it work.   The Starter Motor failure turned out to be another workmanship/quality problem.  The bushing plate behind the starter Bendix gear inside of the starter motor assembly is held into a recess with two screws.  Both screws had backed out.  One screw had backed out entirely and the other was only in by a few threads.  The "metal bits" from the screws had chewed up the wires sticking out of the front end of the armature.  One drop of LockTite on each screw or perhaps even a couple of lockwashers (there were none)  at the factory would have eliminated the cause of still another expensive and time consuming failure of the Chang Chai Diesel Engine.
2/27/2002>  72 operating hours,  Noticed puddle of oil under the engine after running.  This was found to be a leak in the oil pressure sending unit.  Procured a new oil pressure sending unit and matching meter from a local jobber and we're up and running again.
3/6/2002> 75 hours,   Engine would not shut down using solenoid switch.  Found rubber accordion boot (which keeps plunger mated to solenoid) broken in two pieces.  Plunger had come out of solenoid so far that it stuck and solenoid could not pull it back in.  Diamond National was able to provide replacement rubber boots.
3/7/2002> Excessive  oil pressure noted on new meter (see item (q) above list).  Should be 60psi max.  Checked calibration and Adjusted oil pressure adjustment screw.  Now OK.
3/8/2002> 77 hours,  Fan  belt broke,  Replaced with GATES belt rated for 2500 operating hours.

10/8/2002>  Noticed the new rubber boot replaced on 3/6/2002 has come apart.  Luckily I bought 5 from Diamond National earlier and stored them lubricated with rubber lubricant in a sealed bag.  I wonder how ChangChai manages to make such poor quality rubber parts.
   Every robber hose,washer, bushing on the machine has now been replaced at least once.
11/15/2002> 102 hours, engine temp running at about 205F and that temperature gauge was reading above the 212F max scale.  Replaced engine thermostat that was not opening properly at 160F.  Noticed that vibration has broken the solder holding the brass nipple connection to the upper radiator hose and it was leaking.  Had this leak repaired and remounted the radiator 12 inches from the engine on a fully supported frame bolted to the outer housing.  Installed 16 inch electric radiator fan to radiator and installed resistor to run fan at about half speed whenever the AC generator is up to 120 volts and temp switch in parallel with resistor for full speed when the water temperature exceeds 170F.   Used "accordion" style radiator hoses to minimize forces on radiator from engine vibration.
12/8/2002> Replaced temp gauge and sensor with an improved model and temp now reads about 165F idling to about 175F at full load instead of "greater than 212F" at full load with the defective unit.   Also replaced the cracking radiator overflow tube with new tygon tube.
4/9/2005> I have had a relatively UNeventful two plus years.  The generator now has about 137 (operating my home) hours on it and I have run it only about 35 hours (generating)  in the past two years and about 10 minutes a month  otherwise.   During the 10 minute test this month, I noticed that the 12 volt alternator had failed.  Replaced it with Delco 60 amp unit.   Also noticed that the electric oil pressure meter failed, replaced it as well.  Rubber boot on DADI furnished engine stop electric solenoid fails every six months from dry rot.  Replacements from DADI are no better.  Have had no problems with rubber radiator hoses from US sources.
1/10/2006> We had to operate the system for about 28 hours during two power outages this winter.  Toward the end of this time, I noticed a new  "chuffing" sound coming from the air cleaner when the engine runs. My mechanic says that this usually means a broken intake valve spring..  THE END.  I am getting a new 404C22g Perkins engine to couple to the MECC-ALTE generator.  

Desirable Modifications Made:

1) The engine is shut off by means of a fuel shutoff lever (now fitted with a shut off electric solenoid) as is common with diesel engines.   I sometimes forgot to turn the "ignition" switch back to OFF from the running position OPERATE when shutting off the engine with the fuel shutoff lever.  This left the alternator and temperature/oil pressure meters plus the external alternator voltage regulator connected and ran down the battery.  I installed a 220 vac relay so that whenever the AC output goes to zero,  the  DC circuit to the alternator is disconnected so as to prevent running down the battery if the switch is left in the wrong position.
2) As shipped,  the ignition switch could be accidentally left in the HEATER ON position,  the air inlet heater stays turned ON leading to burnout of the air inlet heater and/or to running down the battery.  I removed the alternator connections to the ignition switch and installed a spring return toggle switch for the air inlet HEATER.  UP is PreHeat and DOWN is engine STOP on the toggle switch.  The key switch now has as its only function the START motor actuation.  The above changes now make it impossible to accidentally run down the battery -or- to accidentally set the ignition switch to OFF (instead of the OPERATE position) and thus run the engine with the battery charging circuit disabled.
3) A Volkswagen diesel automobile muffler was fitted to replace the "glass pack" muffler furnished.  This made the exhaust noise go well below the noise of the diesel engine noise which is still "normal diesel loud".  If I were in a housing development,  the noise level would not be acceptable,  but on my 30 acres and in a brick surrounded equipment "pad" the engine is just a "murmur" from inside the house.
4) Installed a 100 gallon surplus  aluminum "long haul truck" cylindrical fuel tank and connected it to the generator with copper tubing.  I also draw fuel for my diesel tractor from this same supply.  Note:  I am told that diesel fuel kept more than 6 months needs "fuel stabilizer" added to prevent deterioration.
5) Installed automatic float charger on battery to maintain battery at 13.6volts between running times to increase battery life and reliability.
6) Replaced Failed (at 130 hours of operation) 15 amp 12volt alternator with 60 amp GM Delco model.  The wide pulley for the existing belt cost an extra $5 above the $40 cost for the rebuilt Delco 60 amp alternator.
7) Moved Radiator mount off the engine to the enclosure structure, removed fan blade from water pump and substituted an electric radiator fan.  Radiator no longer tears itself apart from vibration and the electric fan actually takes less energy than the engine driven fan.

A key question comes to mind:
Is is POSSIBLE that all ChangChai Engines and Mindong DADI generators are as of poor quality as the ones I know about?  Twenty five (25) significant  engine/generator failures in just 180 hours of operation is a ridiculous failure rate in ANY kind of industrial machine.  This is less than 8 hours of operation between breakdowns and component failures on the average.  Couple this with near zero support from ChangChai and/or DADI in making good on this defective equipment and we have a bad situation for the customer.  But..  We have learned a LOT about diesel engines!

Soon,  my ChangChai Engine/DADI Generator will be just like George Washington's original Axe.  You know,  the one that is the original one he used to cut down the cherry tree.  The handle has been replaced three times and the head twice.  But of course,  Washington's original Axe is 250 years old.  The transformation will be complete in February 2006 when I remove the ChangChai Engine and replace it with a Perkins Diesel. Goodbye Chinese Diesels!  Never again for me.  But..  It is fair to say that when you buy cheap machinery, you are likely to get cheap machinery.  

Joe Mehaffey

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