Information about the Chinese manufactured
Mindong DADI brand (ChangChai Diesel Engine) Generators
(As of October 27, 2000, not a happy
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.
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
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.
WHAT ABOUT RELIABILITY, MAINTENANCE, and CUSTOMER SUPPORT from Sunland and DADI?
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
patched the system together and it is serviceable at the moment,
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
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
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
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
a reputable manufacturer.) I finally abandoned the idea of
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
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
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
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.)
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
VOLTAGE REGULATION, FREQUENCY STABILITY, and WAVEFORM
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,
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
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"
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
another expensive and time consuming failure of the Chang Chai Diesel
2/27/2002> 72 operating hours, Noticed puddle of oil
under the engine after running. This was found to be a leak in
oil pressure sending unit. Procured a new oil pressure sending
unit and matching meter from a local jobber and we're up and running
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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