Our new generator has finally arrived in St. Augustine, and we are as excited as kids on Christmas morning! Today (Wednesday 16 May 2007) we began the installation of this new technology on LAMP’s research vessel, the Island Fever. Manhandling a 300-lb generator into a tiny space below deck is easier said than done, as we would find out . . .

First, a little background info: several weeks ago, we got a call from a friend of LAMP and an avid wreck diver named Mike Potter, who runs a marine business called Noah’s Ark Repair Services in Cocoa (south of St. Augustine, near Cape Canaveral).
Mike’s company installs marine generators, and he was calling with an offer we couldn’t refuse. Kohler Global Power Group, a company long renowned for their reliable and powerful marine generators, was willing to give LAMP a brand new, top of the line, environmentally friendly generator for our research vessel. They wanted to install it on a gasoline-powered working vessel that would really put it through its paces—and Mike immediately thought of us. This new model reduces carbon monoxide emissions by 99%, which means that it will not only be safer for the environment but will eliminate the chance of contaminating our divers’ breathing air when running a compressor on the boat.
Kohler got into the generator business shortly after WWI, and by 1920 was recognized as the leader in this nascent industry. Kohler also has a long history of supporting scientific exploration. In 1929 Kohler donated five generators for Admiral Byrd’s expedition to Antarctica. These generators successfully provided heat, light, and communication to the team of explorers, and after lying dormant for five years were used again during the second Antarctic expedition in 1934. We are proud to acknowledge that Kohler maintains their commitment to exploration in the twenty-first century by sponsoring our search for and excavation of historic shipwrecks associated with America’s oldest port.
This morning we met Carley, a technician with Noah’s Ark Repair Services, at our boat at our marina by the famous Bridge of Lions. Carley is a great guy who really knows his stuff. In this picture he’s cutting a hose for the generator’s exhaust system.
Getting the generator in place inside the engine compartment was no easy task. First, before Carley even arrived, our regular boat mechanic, Stefan of First Coast Marine here in St. Augustine, had to remove the starboard engine outboard exhaust manifold, seen here. Then we had to pull out the two large batteries that had replaced the boat’s original generator, which was broken beyond repair when we bought Island Fever last year. After removing many of the fittings from the generator, we figured it would be a tight fit, but we’d manage to slide it into place.
We were wrong. Stefan had to come back and pull the head off the engine, to make even more room. It was still difficult to fit the generator in place, and as it weighs 300 pounds, it took both Sam and I, our boat captain Dick Orsini, Carley, and the Lighthouse’s new education guys, Jeff and Andy, to carefully lower it into place. We don’t have any pictures of this tedious process, unfortunately, because we were all involved with the heaving, straining, sliding, and maneuvering!
But once it was finally in place, more than a few of us let out a cheer!
The worst part is now over. But Carley still has to install the muffler (onto a custom-built platform), fit hoses for water intake and exhaust, drill a new exhaust outlet in the stern of the vessel, run the wiring from the generator to the control panel, re-install the batteries somewhere, and plenty of other minor tasks.
In the meantime, we have a variety of other things that need to be worked on as well. Here our volunteer boat captain Dick Orsini (at left) is preparing to replace a broken antenna, while Sam inspects the bimini attachment hardware. Dick is retired from a 30 year stint with the National Park Service, where he ran the tour boat to and from Fort Matanzas, south of St. Augustine. Sam, of course, is the Director of Archaeology for LAMP.
Our forward bimini was damaged during severe winds several weeks ago, and we’ve just had it repaired. This is actually a pretty important safety feature as the sun can be brutal here in the summer, and heat exhaustion and dehydration are real concerns. Here Dick and Sam are reattaching the canvas to its stainless steel framework. As soon as I put down the camera I lend a hand as well, fixing the straps into place and zipping the fabric in position around the framework. Of course we get it backwards the first time, and have to disassemble the whole thing and start from scratch. But we finally get it right and re-install it above the helm, giving some much appreciated shade for Carley working in the engine compartment below.
By this time Carley has the electrical panel above the engine compartment opened, exposing a jumbled mass of spaghetti-like wiring. Good luck figuring that out!
After all this work Dick heads home and Sam takes a quick water break. Soon afterwards Sam and I head back to the LAMP office, leaving Carley to finish things up for today. He expects to be finished by tomorrow evening. We can’t wait to try out our new toy!
Our berth at the marina affords us a great view of the downtown historic landscape, and the Bridge of Lions (right side) which is currently being renovated. Not a bad place to work, even with the cranes in the background.
I’m providing a link to Kohler for any readers interested in their generators:
Kohler also has a cool interactive player that gives you the lowdown on low carbon monoxide generators:
And for those of you who are engineers or tech-heads, here’s a link to the technical drawings of our model, the 5ECD 60 Hz low CO marine generator:
I don’t have a link for Noah’s Ark Repair Services in Cocoa, Florida, but we definitely recommend them if you are in the area and need marine or RV work done–their specialty is generators, air conditioners, electrical systems, refrigeration, and engine work. Give them a ring at 321-639-8070 if you are in the Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, or Cape Canaveral area.
And finally, if you are in the St. Augustine area and Cocoa is too far to travel to fix your boat, we also recommend Stefan and his crew at First Coast Marine. When you need your boat’s engine fixed FAST, they’re the team for you. Give them a call at 904-823-3323.