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aquahot

Think horses, not zebras
#1
Hopefully you will read this as an entertaining tale about yet another Richard folly. 

The expression is, when you hear hoofbeats think horses first, not zebras.

Starting a year ago, my aquahot began to exhibit some strange behavior. It would almost always light when turned on, but occasionally during the cycle, or when restarting to reheat the tank, the controller would fault. In another worlds for no clear reason the red light would go out. Flip the switch, and almost always it would ignite. 

I am going to give away the punch line, but I know the Rudy would advise to service the unit and replace the nozzle. Well I did, sort of. But I used the old nozzle because it had less than 10 hours on it. 

Being convinced this was some sort of sporadic gremlin, I bought a data acquistion device and hacked into all the control wires to allow the device to see what the voltages were doing for the pump, ignition, flame detector, and ON light. Since the data device could discern events as small as a gnat's eyelash, I was certain it would allow me to capture the sequence of shutdown events and go right to the source of the problem. After all throwing parts at an Aquahot is not a cheap exercise. And I'm cheap. 

But alas, the data acquistion device consumes a ton of storage to give that level of detail. More storage than my poor laptop has. And the malfunction being sproradic, and the AH not heating that often in the tepid Florida winters, meant I never captured the event. I would run out of storage. I, and my computer became weary of the exercise. 

But, not to be deterred, I bought a little microcomputer and wrote the code to have it monitor the same things as the data acquisition device, the only real difference being that I wrote the code so that it cleared the useless data from memory frequently so that the data bank would be open to capture the failure. By the way I learned this data clearing technique from my self. These days I am always clearing my own data bank but I haven't figured out just how to keep the useful stuff yet. 

Anyhoo, hook this new toy up, and cycle the unit. Three days and no faults. Oh well, must have fixed itself. Yeah right, that happens a lot in my world. 

Get ready to leave for the 2018 tour, remove all the extra wiring from the AH, and away we go. First time we tried to use the diesel function on the AH, it's back to it's old tricks. Arrrrrggggggghhhhh. 

To prepare my self for an embarassing phone call to Rudy, I went ahead and cleaned the unit and installed a NEW nozzle. Not one single fault since then. 

So, when you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras.
Richard and Rhonda Entrekin
99 Newell, 512
Subaru Outback Toad
Inverness, FL (when we're home Cool )
#2
Smile 
:-)

Clarke and Elaine Hockwald
1982 Newell Classic, 36', 6V92 TA
2001 VW Beetle Turbo
Cannondale Tandem
Cannondale Bad Boy
Haibike SDURO MTB
http://whatsnewell.blogspot.com
#3
Just like Google, Rudy is your friend!!!
Steve Magown
Calhoun, LA
2001 Prevost H3 Vantare
formerly Newell #458
#4
Richard brings good advice!

While we were at the rally, Rudy talked me through doing service on my AH. I felt grateful for his guidance and finished with the feeling that I was no longer intimidated by this gadget. That lasted about 4 hours until I realized that the the AH was now cutting off and when it did run, I was getting smoke. Hmmmm. Rudy came back down to my spot and pulled the burner. His trained eye saw that my ignitor posts were mis-aligned.
(There is a little gauge mounted to the side of the burner that tells you the proper alignment). I had bumped them out of alignment when I re-installed the burner.

Once the ignitor posts were aligned the AH returned to proper operation.

Here is why I did not figure it out on my own. If it was an ignitor post problem.....why would it cut off after it lit. Wouldn't the flame carry on and the ignitor turn off? Rudy will correct me but my mental image is that ignitor and the fuel spray have to remain on and consistent for the duration of the burn. In my mind something had gone terribly awry with my unit. I was imagining the little metal box controller had lost its mind.

Lessons Learned: 1) Horses instead of Zebras....in other words look for the simplest thing that could possibly cause the fault. 2) Annual maintenance on the AH is easy and inexpensive and you should do it ....er..... annually.
Bill Johnson
Birmingham, Alabama
#5
How do I get the zebras out of my head, they are stuck in there just silently galloping around, looks like they are laughing.
Jon Kabbe
1993 coach 337 with Civic towed
#6
Yeah I got a whole herd of them. Seriously I think that I am guilty of only posting on some of
The more tricky issues I have encountered. Until this years rally I had lost site that there is a large group of new owners. Those owners are seeking the basics from the experienced gurus before we delve
into which way the electrons spin in dilithium crystals.
Richard and Rhonda Entrekin
99 Newell, 512
Subaru Outback Toad
Inverness, FL (when we're home Cool )
#7
Oh well. Back to chasing zebras.
Aqua hot is up to old tricks of shutting down mid cycle. Time to install data acquisition device
Richard and Rhonda Entrekin
99 Newell, 512
Subaru Outback Toad
Inverness, FL (when we're home Cool )
#8
I finally got around to installing the data acq software to see what the AH was doing. The photocell was acting all squirrely during the run cycle. Lot's of erratic voltages. So I thought bad or loose connection. Soldered the crimped connections at the photocell, covered them with shrink fit and it seems to be fine.

But this is still a horses, not zebras thread. When firing up the AH during the test runs, I had tug boat quality black smoke. That usually indicates partially burned fuel, or not enough air. Did the usual of checking the seating of the Webasto, changed the nozzle, and checked all the rubber grommets at the wire and fuel penetrations. No dice. Still black smoke. I was about to tear into the unit, all the time telling myself, think horses not zebras. Duh huh. During all the fiddling with the Webasto, the air shutter on the bottom of the unit had moved into an almost closed position. Opened the air shutter and the black smoke magically disappeared.
Richard and Rhonda Entrekin
99 Newell, 512
Subaru Outback Toad
Inverness, FL (when we're home Cool )
#9
Very good catch there Richard. The phillips screw that secures the air shudder should be pointing straight out the side of the burner. Bet you never miss that again. Been there, done that, you see.

Bravo to you again, Sir.
Rudy Legett
2001 Foretravel U320 4220
ISM11 450 hp Allison 4000R
Factory Authorized Aqua Hot Repair Center
Southeast Texas Area


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