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Fairbanks Morse ZC-52 Light Plant

forney00c

Registered
I recently bought a Fairbanks Morse ZC-52 engine that came with a generator setup with a condenser that mounts to the hopper. I've seen a video of one, but don't see much else on them as most of the generators I've found from research mount to and extended sub base along with the engine. I'd like to see if anyone has any literature on the hopper mounted setup.

This is my first antique generator/light plant and I could use a little guidance on where to start with working on the generator head and what things to check. I don't have any worries about the engine as it is complete and appears to be in relatively good shape. If anyone has information they could pass along about this style of generator, I would really appreciate it. Thanks!
 

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Jeff Taylor

Registered
This is the Fairbanks Model A light plant 1500 watt version. They also made a 750 watt based on the ZD. The engine is still a 3hp Z style C. The ZC-52 is a 1941 designation.
The 3hp ZC came out in 1928 with the Fairbanks type R mag, which yours has. RV and J mags came later. What is the serial number on the back of the hopper?

The pictures I have attached are from a sales brochure that I have. Top left corner says oct 1. 1929, 3rd page is what you have.. Sorry I don't have more.

Hit N miss ent has a bunch of parts for these engines. As long as the pot metal gear bracket is not cracked you should be ok. As for the gen, spin it and see if it makes any power. It probably has ball bearings that need little attention. Check the bushes and see how clean the commutator is. Commutator can be cleaned up with some 320-400 git sand paper.
 

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forney00c

Registered
Thanks for the brochure pictures, Jeff! I can't make out what the serial number is as it is very hard to read. Maybe I could make it out if I sanded the boss. I have found a wiring diagram that I believe to be correct for this light plant, but I appear to be missing a fuse and fuse holder inside the control box. Any idea how many amps the fuse would be rated at?
 

Andrew Mackey

Moderator
Last Subscription Date
05/14/2017
I had a F/M 3 home lite plant - 3 HP special electric ZA type engine.(open crankcase), rated at 425RPM 32 VDC. The 'radiator' was mounted on the engine hopper. it was actualy a condenser. My light plant had a 40 amp cartridge fuse - about 1/2" OD by about 21/2" long
 

Vanman

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
06/10/2020
I would caution against sand paper or any other grit based material for cleaning commutators and collector rings. The grrit dislodges, becomes embedded in the soft copper, then eats up the brushes. Instead, Scotchbrite pads are perfect for this.

I would also keep sand paper away from the stamped numbers and *especially* nameplates! I have seen more ruined this way than I can count. Instead use a light oil such as P'blaster and a rag and maybe a soft tooth brush.

Keith
 

forney00c

Registered
Thank you for the replies, Andrew and Vanman. I'll keep the scotchbrite pads in mind for the commutator. Now that it is warmer, maybe I'll have a chance to pull the unit out, hook up a couple batteries and see if it will spin over when I push the start button. I have a feeling the engine will be a decent sized project in itself as about the only things it has going for it are the facts that it is complete and loose. Other than that, no compression, no spark and something rattles inside when I turn it over.
 

AngrySailor

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/31/2020
Could you post pics of the generator? I don’t see it in the bed of your truck. I’ve never worked on a ZC, I’ve got an older 3hp Z open crankcase. It’s been a while since I worked on it and I’m not sure it’s all that similar design, but my problem was the camshaft had come out of time when the key on the crankshaft vibrated out. No compression is probably just crud under the valves.
 

forney00c

Registered
Angry Sailor, I can take a couple more pictures today after work. In the pictures above, the generator is between the ZC and the LB. You can mostly see the control panel and condenser, the generator itself is close to the LB.
 

forney00c

Registered
So I removed the backplane from the controller box far enough to trace the wiring and figure out which of the 3 leads out the top were battery positive, battery negative and Line positive. I cleaned the contact points of the start switch, used jumper cables to connect a 12 volt lawn/garden battery and hit the switch. The generator spun over!

I'm planning on giving it a good cleaning and probably see about doing some insulation testing on the rotor and field windings with a megohmeter before actually using it, but that is a ways down the road.

The engine has no compression, no spark, and something inside rattles around, making a sound like the Wheel of Fortune when I spin the flywheels over. Getting compression back is pretty self explanatory, but I've never worked on a FBM R magneto, so it will be a new adventure there!
 

Duey C

Subscriber
Age
56
Last Subscription Date
12/08/2019
They say the R can be a good mag but I'm not yet a fan.
Perhaps clean him up, replace the condenser/capacitor and see.
Like The C series engines, don't have any yet but like 'em!
Nice update!
:)
 

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