Part Four: The New Generator

One of the big problems with the old generator setup was the thoughtless way it was shoved into the bay. Sure, I could change the filters, but maintenance on the radiator, radiator hoses, fan belt, water pump, magneto, exhaust, etc. was impossible. It was also very clear that wholesale removal was going to require major surgery on the outside of the bus and the bay door. So, faced with just that situation, I decided I’d try to do better.
Originally, I wanted the generator on a slide-out tray, but even the lowest profile slides put the unit too high in the bay to clear my A/C lines and other hoses and wiring. That is, to the best of my ability to guesstimate. So I gave up that little convenience. As it turns out, a slide-out tray would actually be of little use as the exhaust, fuel lines, battery cables and other ‘umbilical’s’ would have to be removed before it can slide out anyway which is exactly the same situation I have now with my solution. Some have used the old A/C evaporator bay that is amidships behind this bay for a slide-out, but I had my house battery bank in there and I couldn’t retrofit a slide under the batteries.
I thought a better plan was to mount the generator, radiator, etc. on a single platform of ¾” plywood and then slide the entire unit into the bay. That way, I reasoned, if I ever need to pull it out I can get it all in one take. So that is how I proceeded.
First I cut a piece of plywood the exact dimensions of the bay opening. I figured if I can arrange all of the parts on that platform, it would surely all fit into the bay albeit very tightly. Almost!

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Here’s a shot of the plywood platform with my louver at one end.  In this shot I’m cutting the front opening for the air intake. The generator head will sit immediately above this hole.

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This is another shot of the platform under construction. While it looks simple enough, figuring out where to place the components and cut the holes took many hours of drawing, measuring and simple trial and error.

Now the generator never actually overheated in its old configuration, but it always looked to me that proper ventilation was more like a ‘hope and a prayer’ than anything remotely scientific. The PO relied on a little four blade fan to cool the radiator and generator head! I wanted a bullet-proof design with a dedicated cooling fan to ensure adequate air movement – not just for the radiator, but the generator head as well. I have to Thank! Justin at Wrico International for his generosity of time and expertise. He coached me through my various options and helped me come up with a workable plan. The solution was to mount the radiator flat and attach a large squirrel cage fan atop.

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The radiator sits directly on the louvered vent and I was able to use the original fan shroud as a platform for the electric fan.  The radiator is cushioned in black foam extrusions and mounted such that the front corner is just an inch higher than the back corner. I figured this would make ‘burping’ the system easier.  You can also see in this picture that it is a TIGHT fit to get the generator and the radiator on that plywood!

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The old fan shroud made a perfect mount for the fan and here you can see I used simple aluminum angle for attachment.

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Finally I’ve got something I think will work and in this shot I’ve mocked up the placement of most of the components. I’m ready to put it all back in the bay!  Yeah!  Notice that the generator is sitting flush at the right edge of my plywood platform?  Oops!

The day has arrived and I’ve made arrangements with my friendly Kubota dealer. We load the new generator into the pickup and Wendy heads out for Louisburg, KS. I jump in the bus and off we go. I was really excited and anticipating that moment when a good plan all comes together!

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Randy (right) and his crew get the genset out of the truck and we gently walk it over to the bus.

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After months of hard work, countless hours of planning, measuring, drawing and research the moment has arrived!  Oh #%$&, it doesn’t fit???  How is that possible?  But I thought of everything!  Not. Really, it would not fit. There was nothing to do but load it back into the truck and head for home. Back to the drawing board, as they say. I was disappointed and humiliated at such a major FAIL in front of these professionals. Randy, on the other hand, knew just what to say; “it’s just a minor setback, that’s all”.

It turns out, my mistake was simple enough – I wasn’t thinking in 3 dimensions! The generator feet were mounted flush to the front edge of my platform, but the head of the generator extended another inch beyond!  So, the head was hitting the edge of the bay door and there was no way to ‘fudge’ it an inch.

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Back at the shop and I’ve taken it all apart and moved the generator in inch
rearward towards the radiator. Now things are REALLY tight! In this shot you
can see I had to set the generator an inch back from the edge so the head will
just slip past the bay door frame.

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A few days later and we’re back in Louisburg. A perfect fit!

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This time installation goes without a hitch. Finally! Like I always say, “it’s good to have a plan, but I love it when a plan comes together!”

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Since the exhaust header is on what is the ‘back’ of the engine, the exhaust pipe has to exit through the floor of the bay and in very close proximity of the back wall – all nicely covered in “Sound Down” insulation. So I found a company out east (InFab Refractories Inc.) that would custom make a heat blanket for the exhaust pipe.

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In this shot I’m wrapping the exhaust pipe with the custom made heat blanket – complete with hook and loop closure and some stainless wire to keep it all together. After I get it wrapped and wired it gets bolted to the engine before I put the radiator and fan in place in the bay.

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It took me a couple more days to get it all tucked away, but I think it came out very nicely. The fan is wired directly off the generator output (through a subpanel and breaker). When the generator runs, the fan runs and I’ve got a two-speed switch if the weather is cool.  Best of all – It works!

Final installment coming up: Generator Redux – A Few Final Adjustments

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