We all hate the obvious. The simple. The easy. The blatant answer that practically screams with flashing lights and a howling siren.
“Naww, that can’t be it,” you hear yourself say, “it’s gotta be something else.”
And so you break out your tool kit and go to work. You ignore everything about the obvious answer in the hopes it isn't an elaborate hoax for a more complex issue. But, no matter what you do, you keep getting turned back to the big, simple problem. Exhausting all other possibility, though you've done your due diligence, you finally conclude that the growing fountain of oil on the ground is the reason your machine doesn't work.
Believe it or not, many small problems can and do get caught with the initial patient assessment – the visual inspection.
A visual generator inspection is not an in-depth analysis of each and every system that makes the machine function – that step comes a little later. Instead, what you’re looking for in this initial review are the signs that those systems are fully contained. You’re looking for leaks, cracks, fissures, corrosion, dampness, drips, smells, smoke, clangs and rattles – in short, anything that seems patently wrong in how a machine is functioning. In this process, approach the machine as a doctor would a patient: Observant and open-minded.
A generator will give off noises, smells and sights as signs of the state of its vitality within its chambers. Where those signs generally reveal themselves are the points of contact between systems and parts – where, say, the engine body meets the oil pan, where hoses feed engine coolant, or where wires connect to battery terminals.
As you can tell, a visual inspection is much more than taking a glance at a machine. It is keeping an open mind to the obvious. It is learning to interpret the sensory information a machine can provide - sight, sound and smell - to understand how well the machine is functioning.
In the next post we'll roll up our sleeves and dig into the more important functions of generator maintenance: the Generator Fuel System.