Do You Have A China Diesel Generator? This Should Concern You : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This appeared on another forum a day or so ago.


Hi Will,

I noticed your post about hearing from someone who has had a china diesel for at least a year and I thought I would send you a note.

I'm not sure how to post on your discussion site, as the reply button is gone. I briefly read some info about being a member, but I'm not sure you would want me to stick my nose in after my reaction to the JM scenario. So I thought I would send this to you and you can post it if you feel it is worth it.

We purchased an 8 kw china diesel in the spring of 96. It was to be our backup power supply for charging our batteries and such. We are not on the grid, and rely on our solar panels, battery bank and diesel generator for power.

As freelancer mentioned ours also came as a big "mechano kit" to be assembled. We were having our home built at the time and since there was two electricians on site I had them put it together.

Intially it fired up great and worked even better. The first thing we noticed was that it leaked oil from almost every bolt on the unit.

Rule #1: Tighten every single bolt and nut on the engine, with a good socket set and keep it handy as you will have to retighten them about every 2-4 months.

Second thing we noticed was that the starting got harder and harder.

Rule#2: Keep a battery charger handy and hook it up to the battery you are using to start the engine at least every 5-7 days. There is no battery charging unit on these gensets and that means that it constantly drains the battery while it is running.

The next item of interest was the very critical nature of the "air bubble in the fuel line scenario".

Rulr#3: Always keep the proper sized wrenches on hand to drain the fuel lines. If you get the slightest bit of air in the system the fuel pump will not push it through. You need to drain fuel at one or more of 4 different locations. Starting just outside the fuel pump and working back up towards the tank. Also keep lots of paper towel on hand as there is no way to catch this fuel and you will have to wipe it up each time.

Another item we noticed was the noise.

Rule#4: Always keep sufficient hearing protection on hand for as many people you might show this genset to at one time. This thing has a snap that will curl the hair on the back of your neck. I've had a variety if responces from long time diesel mechanics, some of which were an extreme widening of the eye lids, and a retracting of the head away from the sound. Others were a burst of laughter and shaking of the head, but the most interesting was the quick dash for the kill switch as they knew we had damaged the enging. No I would say, thats how it always sounds.


Rule#5: You got to anchor this puppy like you've never anchored anything before. The piston on this 8kw unit runs horizontally, not vertically. Therefore it does not have to fight gravity and the weight of the engine to move around. And baby does it move around. We would have never known as it was anchored into the cement floor with 4, 1/2 inch grade 8 bolts through concrete anchors. Until that is one of the last two remaining bolts sheared off, allowing it to pivot wildly on the remaining one. Fortunately my son was in the room at the time and hit the kill switch just as it smacked into the wall, and was headed back the other way.

Rule#6: Have ample room to install multiple anchors in the floor as you will have to every 5-7 months, and a good quantity of grade 8 bolts and concrete anchors.

Next item of concern was the automatic start function. We had a Trace 4024 inverter, to give us state of the art hands off operation, HAHAHA HAHAHAHAHA, were we in for a surprise!

Rule#7: Do not think that you will be able to hook this up to an automated system to run by itself! Oh it will start it ok, It just can't shut it off!! This unit has a large fly wheel, and when the inverter sends the kill signal which cuts off the fuel, the engine begins to slow down. BUT the fly wheel continues almost forever, and once the kill cycle ends the engine is still developing enough compression to fire it back up again, and the cycle starts all over!

The only way to shut this off is manually, so walk out and do it! Oh another little glitch which might be attributed to just our system is when the inverter tries to go through the cycle again, of course the engine is already running, and the flywheel is going faster that the cogs on the starter. Hence you have a deffening sound of grinding metal and flying sparks, every 60 seconds, until it recognizes this puppy is already on. Also if you (and you will)grind down the teeth on the starter, China diesel doesn't have replacement cogs(for about $30.00), but they will offer to ship you an entirely new starter for $ shipping of course.

So were in business, all things considered, we atleast have a reliable power source, once you get used to spending about 1-3 hours a week on maintenance. This unit comes with a 6 month warranty. Guess what folks and I'm not stringing you BS here, It seized six months and 3 days after we put it into operation!

To the companies credit they said they would look at the damage first and extend the waranty if it was defective parts. I hav a diesel mechanic pull it apart using their instructipon manuel , which is very comprehensive(it needs to be). As it turned out the sleve around the piston had broke in half, and fallen down below the piston and stopped it dead. It took abpout 2 weeks to get all the parts sent up. Had to come through customs. In a mere 30 days from the incident we were back up and running again, as before. An interesting point was that where the piston sleeve was broken, it was already rusted! Now this couldn't have happened in the 2 days that passed before we opened it up as all those parts were covered with oil. Me suspects defective parts, what do you think!

China diesel also thought so although they didn't say it but I told them I had taken pictures of the parts before I sent them to them for evaluation.

I told them I was very unhappy with this unit, and I was going to pass on my problems to the company who sold me the solar system, so they were aware. At this point I said I wanted to purchase another piston,sleeve, rings, and gaskets incase this happened again. They took my order and I never heared from them again. I ordered these parts 3 times and still never got them! I guess they don't like bad press.

So big deal you say, 30 days won't kill you will it?

It seized on Jan 3/97, temperature outside was -38'c. I was fortunate enough to have known a diesel mechanic 20 miles away who also had a gas generator I could use as a backup. It was a hand crank only though and meant only I and my oldest son could start it, and it was a real gut buster. Cost us $500.00 to get the China Diesel fixed, but hey thats Canadian money, so only about $350.00 US.

It ran for another year, shearing off more floor anchors , standing in a pool of oil and diesel fuel, until the summer of 98 when it ran out of water and for some reason the "Murphy switch" that came with the unit didn't shut it down from high temp and we cooked it's rings so it had no compression.

Yes I could get another set of rings and start over again I know that when I stop hitting my head against the wall, it will feel better!

My son dismantled it and it is sitting in the garage in a pile of junk, probably where it should have been in the first place! But I wanted to save a few bucks, and I'm a real sucker for punishment. We figured out that with all the money we put into it with a variety of parts orders( for little things) mechanics services, generator rental for back up, extra oil( oh by the way these bayies drink it) we paid the same as what it would have cost us to purchase a brand new Kubota 7.5kw diesel genset, 3 cylinder, extremely quiet unit .

But of course we wouldn't have had all that fun then would we!

I've talked to several people who have had these same units and it is all similar and they all say ""NEVER BUY ONE"" unless it is for some one you hate and want to inflict linguring pain and anguish on.

The large 8kw alternator works great though as we have hooked it up to another engine, a single cylinder deutz I bought for $300.00 at an auction. But it is made in Itally, not china!

This is of course only our personal experience, but with whats ahead for all of us I would never want to see anyone rely on a china diesel generator for their power supply. It is your life line when it's -30 or more, and I don't know anyone I would dislike enough to encourage them to even consider one. It would be like encouraging some one to get in the life boat that has a big hole in the bottom!

Please pass this around, it may save a lot of heart ache and grief for your readers.

Freelancer, I wish I had had your wisdom and forsight, to do what you did, I'ld be a happier man today! But oh, far less experienced!!

Spud (


-- LP (, June 09, 1999


wow. i had a china diesel on order and ALMOST let them ship. but a friend/neighbor had looked into it and decided to go with a 3-cyl mitsubishi diesel unit (11kw). it was about $1300 more money, but i decided to purchase this another unit instead. man, am i glad i did.

we're also building a new house and it should be ready for installation the end of july. i have a trace 4048 inverter with 1.8kw of solar pv.

thanks for the tips though. i'm just sorry you had to go thru what you did.

lou/upstate ny

-- lou navarro (, June 09, 1999.

Hey, LP, I got a great deal for you on a 1983 Chrysler "K" car!! Yep, it is a convertible , by golly!! Dont buy any foreign( communist) junk: Harbor freight, china ind., etc, it will let you down. Remember when buying quality you never remember the price and when you buy junk you never forget!!! Also, they will use greenbacks to pay their scientists to aim their American subsidized/stolen technology missile systems our way...

-- lee i.a.kooko (, June 09, 1999.

Not being a expert but I have had to put my life in the hands of diesel engines so here is a couple of comments

Injectors. What a pain to replace. Folks with little experiance with diesel engines should always keep the filters drained and extras around. If anything will kill a deisel it is dirty fuel or water in the fuel. As a fisherman draining the taps (filters) was a daily ritual.

Get a Cat battery to turn over a unit with a starter.

Hand crank - good way to break your wrists if you are not to strong.

Detriot Diesels,,, the way to go. Just take care of them and they LOVE to work :o)

Rebuilt Diesels should only come from the manufacturer.

NEVER let a diesel run out of fuel.

I have worked with diesels alot, forklift 9 yrs, fishing 5 yrs. A good deisel unit is a thing of beauty. Nothing like the roar of the breather at 2000 rpm. But if someone is going to buy one for home use talk to someone that knows them. They are not like gas engines.

Those china diesels sounds like a real waste of money for that gentleman. And would I hate to have to mess with one in -38. Up north (Canada north) they don't even shut the machines down. Just keep them running.


-- Brian (, June 09, 1999.

Boy, is this a timely thread for me! Guess what I did all this afternoon? You guessed it: picked up my brand spanking new 15KW China Diesel from Yellow Freight, and carefully loaded it into my newly constructed generator shed (just two of us, it weighed 1,350 pounds, but you can do wonders with a tractor and chains). A few comments on your post:

o In my case, by the time I finally got around to seriously committing to buy a generator, found that China Diesel was the only game in town. At the time that I placed my order (Feb.), the backlog for equivalent sized Hondas was essentially such that none would be available until something like "Spring 2000"!!! Maybe the situation has changed...

o Stan Pierchoski's excellent video and workbook: "Powerhouse: A Working Example of a Self-Sufficient Homestead" covers a lot of the problems that you have encountered. (Available from Stan at toll-free number: 877-363-9117. It was $149 when I purchased it in April.) Stan, as part of his overall video on alternative energy resources, covers his experiences with his own China Diesel (12KW). Firstly, regardless of the brand of generator that you get, you need to have an appropriately constructed generator shed if you expect to be able to protect your investment. This should allow for things such as routine maintenance, a drain for oil leaks (Stan noted that China Diesels are especially messy), etc. The tendency of China Diesels to "roam" all over the place when running is well covered, and you are advised not to even think of trying to actually bolt the beast in place. Rather, Stan demonstrates his ingenious solution of bolting wooden blocks to the floor that have enough space for the feet of the generator to fit into, but allows it to vibrate all that it wants to, with no actual lateral movement.

o One of the strong points of China Diesel generators is the fact that they use old, simple, well proven technology. This is a real benefit when one considers the implications of Y2K.

All of the above is my theoretical experience to date. My practical experience is just beginning....

-- Jack (, June 09, 1999.

This may have been covered in other threads but I (being new to diesel gensets) have a few questions. The genset I have is a Master 5000w with a Yanmar engine. My questions are:

1) What spare parts should I have on hand/order now?

2) I've been trying to find a 12-volt 45-amp-hour battery. What brand/model number should I be looking for?

3) How much motor oil should I keep on hand and is it OK to use a multigrade (which says it is rated for diesel) such as RotellaT?

Thanks in advance!


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), June 10, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ