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One of the many benefits of my job is I'm constantly learning. Being an on-call 24/7 365 service technician means I often deal with all sorts of machinery. Recently I was asked by a new maintenance crew to service two generators at their facility and help them develop weekly/monthly/yearly maintenance and inspection forms so they can keep tract of these assets.

They have a fairly new 150KW Generac that I provided and installed a few years ago. That one is no problem. The second is a Kohler that was original to the construction of the building in 1976 and located in the main electrical vault in the basement. That one is a bit tricky since we have little documentation on it. So I lifted the numbers off of the unit as a whole, the controller, the engine, and the generator. Then I called Kohler.

I was on the phone with Kohler technical folks when they asked for the serial number. I gave it to them. That's not it, has to be longer. No ma'am that is all. Can't be she said. Yep, it can. I replied 'it is a gold painted unit'. Oh, my she said, you do have an old unit. I'm afraid we may no longer have those manuals available. I'm gonna give you a phone number she said. You call this guy. He will tell you everything. He was our top man on these old units. He is retired so call after 8 am.

Man, I hate to do that. This poor guy retired and all. Now they bug him at home. I pondered the whole thing. I have other resources and I may go that route. But later I called. I was floored. I made this old guys day. He asked for the model number and as I got about to the forth number he finished it. Told me all about that unit and what the numbers meant. He asked about the hours and general shape of the power plant. Under 400 hours I said and located indoors. Wow. It was like he found his lost dog. He asked about the source of fuel which is natural gas. Okay he said, use J8 plugs instead of J6 because they will give you the performance you want and told me what to gap the points and plugs at. Get this additive to the coolant. Use this, do that. I could hardly right it down fast enough and did not think I was going to get him off the phone.

A few days later, in a unused office in basement we found all the books on the Kohler unit. I took them to a imagining shop and had them put in a disk so I now have them in digital form. Everything he said was right on. Wow. That man knew those units and he loved what he did and boy does it show. If he lived closer I would have offered to buy his lunch and cleared my afternoon and took a new pad of paper with me.

I hope when I retire I too can offer what I learned and pass it along with such enthusiasm. With passion and real world results that the digital books will not have available.

isaac
 

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GTT's Pilot in Command (PIC)
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8,558 Posts
Amazing! I'll bet he would be great to buy lunch and spend an afternoon with. A great mind, that had a passion for his work. :good2:
 

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Great story! Many times when I call manufacturers of machines I need parts for that were built in the forties and fifties when you give them the serial # the laughing begins.
 

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Corndog Hater
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Thanks for sharing a great story. As s surveyor I meet all kinds of folks while out in the field. I often come home with stories for my wife and kids. Sounds like the same for you
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Haha, ya been there Jeff! I laugh now too.

I once called about a boiler controller. This unit controlled the operation of four boilers. It would rotate which one was lead each day and would bring on the others as needed. It opened louvers etc. It was a nice unit. Wasn't sure if it was functioning correctly. Now this thing was not that old. Maybe 80's. When I called the manufacture, they was glad I called with that particular unit. They claimed that the guy who invented and was the lead engineer for it dropped dead of a heart attack right there in his office. Six months later they had a fire and the offices was a total loss. No records for that unit remained. They would send me a brand new model free of charge and a return label to send the one I had back so they could remake the diagrams for it. Wow. Sure, I did. Customer has a new unit with full warranty and documentation at no cost to them besides my time to swap it out and box it up. The factory was able to get a working unit so they could be able to provide support for it in the future.

isaac
 
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