Maintenance in long runs (generator)
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    Maintenance in long runs (generator)

    So we lost our power a couple days ago and we have a large PTO generator for our farm. I know the generator can run indefinitely but what should I check when running a tractor this long without a break at the same RPM. Maybe it doesn't matter and I'm pretty sure it doesn't but I thought I would ask. Thanks!

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    Pedals2Paddles's Avatar
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    Well, you'll hit your every 200 hour service interval pretty soon, and then every 8 days thereafter.

    • Change engine oil and filter.
    • Change transmission oil and filter.
    • Clean transmission suction screen and internal magnets.
    • Check and service air filter elements. Check and service air filter elements when restriction indicator is red (1025R).
    • Clean radiator and oil cooler fins.
    • Inspect alternator belt.
    • Check wheel bolt torque.


    Then you have your every 400 hour service interval.

    • Replace air filter elements.
    • Replace fuel filters.


    If it were me, I'd be shutting it down to check the engine oil, hydraulic oil, air filters, radiator screen, and coolant levels every few days. And every time I refuel it, I would be eyeballing the coolant, radiator, and battery voltage. The continuous operation is probably less stressful than normal operation, but it's now critical infrastructure. A breakdown has much bigger implications than the grass growing too tall.

    Out of curiosity, how high do you have to have the throttle to meet your electrical load? What are you burning in fuel per hour?
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    Captain Hook Kennyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedals2Paddles View Post
    Out of curiosity, how high do you have to have the throttle to meet your electrical load?
    PTO gensets have to run at 540 RPM so the frequency output is 60hz, so the tractor has to run at whatever RPM the 540 speed equates too.
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    Keeper of the GTT Cookies dieselshadow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kennyd View Post
    PTO gensets have to run at 540 RPM so the frequency output is 60hz, so the tractor has to run at whatever RPM the 540 speed equates too.
    Just to expand a bit.... The governor within the engine will try to maintain the RPM as the load increases. It will back off the fueling when the load drops.

    Tractors typically donít have the tightest governors like generator sets do. Gen sets have governors a lot more sensitive to RPMs. Most tractors will vary the RPM enough to have small fluctuations in frequency. But they are no worse than portable type generators.
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    Captain Hook Kennyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieselshadow View Post
    Just to expand a bit.... The governor within the engine will try to maintain the RPM as the load increases. It will back off the fueling when the load drops.

    Tractors typically donít have the tightest governors like generator sets do. Gen sets have governors a lot more sensitive to RPMs. Most tractors will vary the RPM enough to have small fluctuations in frequency. But they are no worse than portable type generators.
    I'll even expand a bit more....

    It doesn't matter if you're running a night light or a heater, in other words a light or heavy load, you still ned to run at 540 to painted the correct voltage and frequency, this is especially tru with motors and electronics.


    But we are getting a bit off topic here. I would be checking the tractors fluids about every 4 hours or so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedals2Paddles View Post
    Well, you'll hit your every 200 hour service interval pretty soon, and then every 8 days thereafter.

    • Change engine oil and filter.
    • Change transmission oil and filter.
    • Clean transmission suction screen and internal magnets.
    • Check and service air filter elements. Check and service air filter elements when restriction indicator is red (1025R).
    • Clean radiator and oil cooler fins.
    • Inspect alternator belt.
    • Check wheel bolt torque.


    Then you have your every 400 hour service interval.

    • Replace air filter elements.
    • Replace fuel filters.


    If it were me, I'd be shutting it down to check the engine oil, hydraulic oil, air filters, radiator screen, and coolant levels every few days. And every time I refuel it, I would be eyeballing the coolant, radiator, and battery voltage. The continuous operation is probably less stressful than normal operation, but it's now critical infrastructure. A breakdown has much bigger implications than the grass growing too tall.

    Out of curiosity, how high do you have to have the throttle to meet your electrical load? What are you burning in fuel per hour?
    This says everything you need to do. You need to maintain your regular service intervals for the equipment. I've operated many a diesel genset both in continuous and intermittent duty cycles. The service intervals never really change it's all a matter of how quickly you get to them.

    Typically in smaller gensets with simple engine governors the no load RPM is set so that the generator outputs around 61-62Hz. At around 50% load the output frequency falls to around 60Hz. As you need max output the frequency falls to 59-58Hz.

    Above 62 and below 58 you really start to risk damage long term. Any time you are on backup power its always advisable to keep and eye on the frequency output of the generator. You can also infer engine load based of frequency if you don't have a watt meter.
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    Pedals2Paddles's Avatar
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    Oh, I forgot to say... the hourly service I posted is from a 1-series. So adjust based on whatever machine you're using. But I can't imagine it being much different. Concept is the same I would thing. What tractor are you using for this?
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    It's a 5083EN and I have been watching fluids and engine temps. It's running at.. 1600 I think for economy PTO. Very stable output and nice generator. Thanks for the information!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow_storm56 View Post
    So we lost our power a couple days ago and we have a large PTO generator for our farm. I know the generator can run indefinitely but what should I check when running a tractor this long without a break at the same RPM. Maybe it doesn't matter and I'm pretty sure it doesn't but I thought I would ask. Thanks!
    This is probably the best argument for NOT using a tractor for long term emergency power. One year during a hurricane I powered my house for 4 days from my portable generator and didn't think twice about it.

    Having my tractor sitting out in the rain and wind for 4 days with the engine screaming wide open to maintain 540 RPM on the PTO doesn't sound like the best approach. :-)

    As for maintenance, is your tractor really going to be running THAT long? I mean, even if you go over the recommended hours for the maintenance interval it isn't going to blow up. And if per chance you find it just HAS to have an oil change during the outage, disconnect the load, shut down the tractor and service it. The fridge and freezer will be fine.
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    What are you powering?

    Quote Originally Posted by jgayman View Post
    This is probably the best argument for NOT using a tractor for long term emergency power. One year during a hurricane I powered my house for 4 days from my portable generator and didn't think twice about it.

    Having my tractor sitting out in the rain and wind for 4 days with the engine screaming wide open to maintain 540 RPM on the PTO doesn't sound like the best approach. :-)

    As for maintenance, is your tractor really going to be running THAT long? I mean, even if you go over the recommended hours for the maintenance interval it isn't going to blow up. And if per chance you find it just HAS to have an oil change during the outage, disconnect the load, shut down the tractor and service it. The fridge and freezer will be fine.
    We've had some very long runs without power- 10-14 days with ice storms and hurricanes. It's the product of being at the tail end of the power line with no alternative feed. After the second time we went through that fun, I bought a whole house generator but even with that it gets shut down at night. So max run is about 18 hours/day for household use. I check the oil before restarting it in the mornings. With the portable generators, I changed the oil after a couple days of running.

    But if you are powering a dairy, or ventilation fans for confined animal facilities you don't have that luxury. In those cases, I'd check fluids every time I had to refuel. An extra couple of minutes won't matter but it could keep you from a serious issue.

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