Kelly Soares is the voice many in the Caribbean Northern Light family are familiar with.  She has been Service Administrator for Parts & Power for over 4 years.  She has shepherded a line of Service Managers at Parts & Power including Dan Durbin, David Romasco and recently Stewart Dovey.  She also manages to keep order among the Service Staff at Parts & Power.  She has, for many years now, trained dealers on the process of how to submit Northern Lights warranty claims, issued warranty authorizations and liaised with the factory on the status of warranty claims for dealers and customers.

On 1 July she left for maternity leave to prepare for the arrival of her third child.  Kelly is of fairly small stature.  She struggles to achieve 5 feet in height.  Normally of very slim build, her recent pregnancy seemed to have made her as wide as she was tall.   It is hard to look and be tough with Service Engineers when your belly is so large that it would seem to only take a pin prick to pop.  But she managed to do it over the last 3 or 4 months.
On 13 July, she gave birth to her third boy, who was 7 lbs, 8 oz.  His name is Kehzai Elijah.

The entire Parts & Power family welcomes Kehzai.  We expect him to be typically healthy, happy and good looking.  And we look forward to Kelly’s return in October!



Tom & Barb Gerker visited Northern Lights Seattle factory on 7 & 8 July 2014.  They met with Executive Vice President & General Manager, Larry Repman to discuss Northern Lights issues and products, and how they affect customers and dealers in the Caribbean.  Larry brought the Gerkers up to date on the new IMO emissions regulations and how they are and will affect product up through 2021.  He showed them the Glen Fitch Memorial Test Cel.  Glen’s last NL trip was to the Antigua Charter Yacht meeting in December 2014.  His talents and good humor is sorely missed by the entire Northern Lights family.
They discussed a growing number of Fleet Operators who are using Northern Lights generators exclusively and how to better serve those customers.  Customers such as Voyage Yacht Charters, Marine Max and, increasingly, Tui Marine and the Moorings are loyal Northern Lights Customers.
Tom & Barb met with Bill Faldalen, who was recently promoted to Materials Manager and is now in charge of Purchasing, as well as inventory.  Bill is working with UPS to try and get better shipping rates for dealers in the Caribbean.  They also met with Scott Vansteenvort, who has now been promoted to Parts Manager.
They met with Scott Dyball, who is the new Customer Service Manager.  Scott has taken over the position from John Baisch who recently retired.  Scott comes from the Service Department, so has a deep background in troubleshooting and repairing Northern Lights generators.  His experience with the product should prove to be a big help to Northern Lights dealers in the Caribbean.
Tom & Barb met with Paul Leask and Diane Paulson, from Northern Lights warranty and Service.  They discussed service issues and warranty processing.


A highlight of their visit was meeting Jennifer Dowling, who is responsible for the website.  They had discussions about how to improve the website and keep it relevant to Northern Lights dealers and customers.  They also met with her boss, Scott Putnicki.  They discussed upcoming shows in the Caribbean, including BVI and Antigua Charter Yacht Shows.  
On Wednesday, 9 July, they met with Dick Gee.  Dick was responsible for designing the principles and products for the Northern Lights generator and propulsion engine line.  He retired a few years ago as Vice President of Engineering.  He shared stories of how he started with Harold Johnson in the 1960’s in Alaska, and the founding days of the then Alaska Diesel Electric.  Dick took Tom & Barb on a tour of the Boeing “double aisle” production facility in Everett, WA where they build the 747, 777 and 787 Dreamliner.
The weather was perfect during their entire visit.




From now through the end of May, Northern Lights Caribbean Dealers can take an additional 5% off your regular cost of a 5 or 6 kw Northern Lights sets, and an additional10% off your regular cost of a 9 – 38 kw Northern Lights marine generator set.
We are pleased to announce the Northern Lights Caribbean Dealers’ Spring Repower Sale. Big discounts are available on units purchased between now and the 31st of May 2014. Eligible generators are the M673LD3 (5Kw @ 60 hz, 4 kw@ 50 hz) through to the M944T (38Kw @ 60 hz, 32 kw @ 50 hz).
Caribbean dealers will receive the additional discount off of their net price for the unit only. All options will remain at the regular pricing.
Don’t forget to ask about our Special Pricing on the Technicold brand of Marine Air Conditioning!
For quotations on units please contact your nearest Northern Lights dealer or:
Drew Bremner ( ),  Greig Warner ( ) or call 284-494-2830.




Until the end of September 2014, Northern Lights are offering a full 5% Discount on all Marine Generators from 5 through 20 kW (models M673LD3 – M844LW3)!

In addition, they are offering a full 10% Discount on Industrial Generators from 5, 6, 8, 9 &12 kW!  This applies to the Generators only.

All Accessories and Options will be at Normal Discounts and Pricing.

This Sale Pricing is only available through Caribbean Northern Lights Dealers listed on the website.  Please contact your nearest dealer for a quote on a Quality Northern Lights Marine or Industrial generator today.  Hurry, as this Sale only applies to Generators shipped before 30 September 2014.  Sale is subject to availability.  Act soon before Inventory runs out!

Don’t forget to ask about our Special Pricing on the Technicold brand of Marine Air Conditioning!

For quotations on units please contact your nearest Northern Lights dealer or:
Drew Bremner ( ),  Greig Warner (, Tom Gerker ( or call 284-494-2830.


On Tuesday and Wednesday 20 & 21 August, Dealer Principles and Representatives met in Deerfield Beach, FL for their semi-annual Caribbean Dealer Conference.  Dealerships from the USVI to Trinidad were in attendance.  A wide range of issues were discussed, and factory representatives were updated on issues arising from Dealers’ Territories.  The Caribbean is a prime cruising area for owners’ of Northern Lights Products and the factory encourages these meetings to get feedback from their customers and monitor the level of service their Caribbean Dealership is able to provide.
New products were discussed, including the new generator pan and sound enclosure designs.  The combination has resulted in reductions of overall package designs by nearly 30%.  Product changes initiated by suggestions from previous meetings, such as cast stainless steel exhaust elbows and attachment bolts, were shown. New generator models up to 500 kw, currently under development were unveiled.
A general discussion on what freight methods from the US to the Caribbean were discussed, with particular emphasis on the fastest method of shipping to each country.  Ideas were also generated on how they could reduce the cost of shipping, to improve customer satisfaction.  Although some countries are able to import items on a duty free basis for Yachts in Transit, all countries impose some costs, such as Brokerage Fees and Government surcharges.  There is no solution for these charges and so parts prices suffer the unavoidable additional costs.
Comparison of the Northern Lights products vs other Marine Generators was discussed.  It was generally felt that the NL product required less maintenance, used far fewer parts, was easier to repair, had far more parts redundancy, and ran longer than anything else on the Market today.  The competition, with more than 30 ways to shut down, was generally felt to be less reliable.  A major differentiator was the factory support that is offered by Northern Lights.  Although most of the dealers attending are dealers for at least one other Marine Generator manufacturer, none had the level of support they experience with NL with any other manufacturer.  The 3 levels of service and parts support they got from Parts & Power, the factory branch in Deerfield Beach, and the factory in Seattle allowed them to get assistance as late as 2100 local time for both technical and parts assistance.  No other manufacturer even comes close to this support.  The overall cost of ownership with Northern Lights was felt to be significantly less than any competitor, despite the fact that the NL product was slightly more expensive up front. All of these factors make the NL product uniquely qualified for customers in the Caribbean, as they put far more hours on their generators than most pleasure craft owners.  Dealers reported that their customers routinely put between 1,000 and 4,000 hours per year, as opposed to less than 500 for the average pleasure craft owner.
The website was discussed and ways to make it more attractive and user friendly were suggested.  Parts Specials are being advertised on the website currently.
Warranty policy and claim procedures were discussed. With a 1 year parts and labor, second year parts and limited 5 year policy, the NL warranty is the best in the Industry. Means of submitting warranty claims on line was demonstrated.  It was revealed that warranty on the NL product was less than 1%, which is the lowest in the Industry.
The Technicold brand of Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Load Banks was discussed.  Northern Lights design criteria were used in designing the products.  Robust 316 s/s is used throughout the constructions.  Off the shelf, non-proprietary, controls assure that the products can be repaired anywhere in the world.  Automatic load banks are freshwater cooled and far outlive the competition.  In fact, NL has never sold a heating element replacement part in their long history of providing the load banks. Several Dealers expressed interest in becoming Technicold dealers after seeing the features and benefits of the product line. The robust construction and reliability are important to their customers.
The subject matter was interesting enough that all the participants remained on at the Conference well after the planned ending time of noon on Wed.


Northern Lights and Caribbean Distributor, Parts & Power, are holding a Caribbean Dealer Conference on 20 & 21 August. Representatives from Dockyard Electric in Trinidad, Grenada Marine and Palm Tree Marine in Grenada, Marintek in St. Lucia, Dominica Marine Center in Dominica, Seagull Services and Marine Power Service in Antigua, Electec in St. Maarten, All Points Marine and Plan B in St. Thomas, and Parts & Power in Tortola will be in attendance.
The two day Conference is an opportunity for the Caribbean Northern Lights dealers to get together and discuss how they can improve customer satisfaction with Northern Lights generators, Lugger propulsion engines and Technicold Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Load Bank products.  New products that are being launched currently, and in the near future, will be unveiled.  Feedback from customers’ experience in the field will be discussed, and conveyed to Design and Engineering Teams.  It will be a unique opportunity to translate information on customers’ comments and suggestions into modifications and changes in the Product lines.  EPA and European emissions law changes, future regulations, and how those will force changes to the products in next few years, will be discussed.  Service topics will be shared from the Factory to Dealers and Dealers back to the Factory.
The constantly evolving Technicold Product Line will be introduced to many of the Caribbean dealers in attendance.  Technicold’s high quality stainless steel Air Conditioning products will be displayed and demonstrated with particular attention paid to the features and benefits of the product.  Dealers will also be introduced to Technicold s/s Refrigeration products and the Automatic Load Banks.  Technicold Load Banks are fresh water cooled, designed to utilize a small footprint for installations, are standard with Digital controllers, and are offered with PLC full color LCD screen as an option. These systems allow the vessel to manage loading of generators to ensure better engine performance.
We will be introducing the new Northern Lights HybriGen system. HybriGen is the result of the collaboration between Northern Lights and BAE systems, a worldwide leader defence technologies, electronics and military equipment. HybriGen is the first truly variable speed power generation system which can be used for ships service AC power, and as an AC propulsion system simultaneously. HybriGen  is a completely load dependent system so the engine only runs at the speed required to make the power that the vessel needs and, when used in conjunction with a battery storage system the engine will shut down once the batteries are charged allowing the vessel to run quietly and cleanly on batteries only. 
Unlike others in the market, the HybriGen system is the only one on the market which is a completely engineered, tested and commercially fielded system in the world with over 4000 operating in major city busses worldwide every day.
Previous Caribbean Dealer Meetings have produced changes such as changes to s/w pumps from lip to mechanical ceramic seals and hex head as well as slotted screws on cover plates; introduction of stainless steel exhaust elbows to replace cast iron ones; addition of coolant recovery bottles, reduction in overall package size, the change to all s/s bolts and screws on the generator set and many others.  Customer feedback and dealer ideas on how to make the Products more customer-friendly, more reliable, and longer lived will, once again, be translated into product improvements and changes.
Stay tuned for updates on the ideas and developments coming from the Conference.


A little over a year ago I had spinal surgery.  It was not something I wanted to do and, indeed, did everything I could to avoid it.  In the process, I saw 13 different health professionals.  Of those 13, only 2 agreed on what was wrong and what action to take.  They were both wrong.  Of the other 11, not only did they disagree with the other 10 opinions, but they said that the previous advice was the worst thing I could possibly do.

This gave me a greater appreciation of what I’ve devoted the last 35 years in dealing with: diesel engines.  Although there are a variety of opinions on diagnosis and treatment of diesel maladies, they should not differ that much.

Unlike the human body, diesel engines are very simple devices.  All they need is Air, Compression and Fuel.  If they have that, they will run.  They may not run all that well, but they will run.  Getting them to run well may take a bit of finesse, but they will run.

The principles of diesel engine operation was best described to me as Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow.  This applies to 4 stroke diesel engines, of which the vast majority of modern diesels are.  The first down stroke happens with the Intake Valve open.  This “sucks” in air.  As the piston starts its second stroke upward the intake valve closes.  This causes the air to compress or “squeeze”.  At or near Top Dead Center, fuel in injected.  The atomized fuel hitting the hot compressed air causes it to ignite or “bang”.  This causes the third stroke downward, or the “power stroke”.  On the upward 4th stroke, the exhaust valve opens and the ignition residue, or “exhaust” is “blown” out, completing the 4 cycles of a diesel engine.

Take one of the 3 elements required away, and the engine will not run.  So let’s review them in order of simplicity to identify.  
Fuel.  To determine if there is fuel, you can loosen the high pressure pipes at the injectors.  You don’t want to completely disconnect it, and you certainly don’t want to get body parts or anything you want to hang onto into the potential spray pattern.  Injection pressures can exceed 20,000 psi on some engines.  By loosening the connectors though, you should be able to see if fuel is coming out.  If there is no fuel, you need to work your way backwards to see where the fuel is being interrupted.  A shortcut to this sometimes tedious process is to determine if it is a “boat” problem, or an “engine” problem.  This can be done by gravity feeding fuel to the low pressure fuel pump.  A simple way is to disconnect the fuel inlet and return lines.  Run both into a gallon jug of known good, clean diesel.  Bleed the air out of the system per the manufacturer’s instructions, then try to start the engine.  If the engine starts, you have a “boat” problem.  If the engine doesn’t start, then you have an “engine” problem.  Now you can troubleshoot with a narrower focus.

Air is the next easiest to determine.  Air not only includes air going into the engine, but exhaust “air” leaving the engine.  So you need to check it from Appetite to Ass…er, Exhaust.  Air In is pretty easy.  If restricted, you usually get warning signals such as black exhaust.  Intake air problems can include a dirty air filter or a plugged after cooler.  Start from the beginning and check everything until you can look inside the intake ports on the head.  If there is nothing in the way, then it is not Air In.  Air Out is more problematic.  We have seen everything from plugged exhausts to collapsed inner liners of the exhaust hose.  We once had a customer who rebuilt his engine three times before he finally looked at his exhaust elbow.  It was plugged with carbon, and its 2” port had narrowed to about ¼”.  Again, start at the beginning and work your way to the end.  It is very common to find the exhaust outlet plugged at the water injection point on the exhaust elbow.  This is especially true of lightly loaded diesels.  Extensive running of a diesel engine to only charge batteries or run a refrigeration compressor spell early death for a diesel engine.

If both Fuel and Air is present, then it only leaves compression.  Compression can only be measured using a “compression tester”.  It requires a gauge, a hose and an adaptor to connect the hose to the cylinder.  A “cannibalized” injector is the most common adaptor.  If you don’t have compression tester, you will need to hire someone who does.

There are no “set” numbers for compression.  The number depends on a lot of variables, including atmospheric conditions (temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure), battery voltage, the volume of space inside the test equipment, and a few other factors.  Diesel engines that have low compression almost never have identical wear on all cylinders.  One cylinder will “fail” first.  It might be a burned or corroded valve, a broken ring, bore wear, bore glazing, or a variety of other problems.  But one, or maybe two, cylinders will fail before the others.  So, when a compression test is done, the examiner is looking for differences in compression between cylinders.  If they are all very close (within 50-60 psi), compression is good.  If all are reading on the low side, a commonly used technique is to squirt oil into the cylinder and do a second test.  If the compression comes up significantly, the problem tends to be rings.  If the compression does not, the problem is most likely valves or, more precisely, the failure of the valves to seat tightly in the head.

So, unlike the human body, diesel engines are pretty straightforward.  If you are getting a lot of different diagnoses and treatment suggestions, you are talking to a lot of the wrong people.  It’s time to seek out someone who has been trained and has experience with your particular engine.   If you can find 2 such people, then get your second opinion.  They ought to be pretty close.  Hopefully they won’t tell you that, what the other guy said, was the worst possible thing you could do.

Supplemental Coolant Additives

All coolants come with an Active Ingredient we generically call Supplemental Coolant Additives, or SCA.  The purpose of this ingredient is to make good quality water less corrosive to your cooling system.  It does not make poor quality water acceptable.  It also cuts down on what is known as “liner pitting” in wet linered engines.

 The products have been around for many years and greatly extend engine life in terms of cooling system corrosion.  But the active ingredient in these products dissipates over a period of time.  When that happens, they need to be replenished in your cooling system.  There are many SCA products available: Nalcool, DCA and Racor to name a few.  It is important to consult your Operator’s Manual or local dealer to find out which ones are acceptable in your engine.

The way to determine the level of SCA in your cooling system is to use a test strip designed for the purpose.  It will tell you the level of corrosion protection in your coolant.  When low, you add the appropriate amount of SCA.  This is very useful and, indeed, essential to getting the expected life from your engine.

A simpler way of doing this is to just drain and refill the coolant in your system annually.  If you use a good quality coolant, the SCA is already in there.  Of course, if your engine holds a great deal of coolant, it is more cost effective to replenish the SCA.

If you fail to keep the levels of SCA up, the consequences are corrosion and liner pitting.  Liner pitting is the natural result of the combustion process in wet linered engines.  It manifests itself as 2 vertical rows of pitting 180 degrees opposite from each other on the outside of the liner.  It occurs when vapor bubbles collapse due to the expansion of the liner.  SCA coats the liner and reduces or eliminates the pitting.

Is there the possibility of “too much of a good thing”?  Unfortunately, yes.  The SCA have to stay dissolved in the coolant and held in suspension.  If you get too much in the coolant, certain parts of the mixture will “drop out”.  They crystallize and float around in your cooling system.  They can lodge in water pump seals, causing them to leak, among other things.

Coolant Quality: Corrosion

One of the biggest service issues that have come to plague us in the last 15 years is coolant quality.  It used to be that when the radiator or header tank was low, we would just top it up with fresh water.  In the mid 1990s we started seeing a marked increase in internal corrosion problems.  This may be due to changes in metallurgy, but my suspicion is this is more the influence of the popularity of Reverse Osmosis Water Makers at around that time.

In any event, this has become a most serious and insidious problem.  We have seen it manifest itself in many ways.  We frequently see freeze plugs (commonly known as core plugs and water jackets) rusting out.  Those are designed to be sacrificial and tend to corrode out before the block.  The problem is once one starts leaking, all the others are close behind.  This may mean stripping down a great deal of the engine and removing the cylinder head in some cases.  We recently had a large 6 cylinder wet linered engine (an L6414) in our shop whose liners had literally rusted through and were leaking coolant into the oil pan.  In a dry linered engine, a rust hole in the liner means a new block or, effectively, scrapping the engine.

The shame of all of this is how terribly preventable this situation is.  If we just put acceptable quality coolant in our engines and flush the cooling system annually, it has the potential of saving $1000’s of dollars.  The customer with the L6414 paid nearly $25,000 to overhaul his engine.

What is acceptable quality coolant?  Any “name brand” pre-mix coolant is acceptable for most diesel engines.  Some manufacturers specify their own brand, and in such cases it is a good idea to use theirs.  Most manufacturers use a MIL spec, ASTM, or SAE specification which most quality coolant manufacturers adhere to.  Use a pre-mix, whether 50-50% or 33% (the latter being more than acceptable in the Caribbean).  If unable or unwilling to use a pre-mix, make sure that any water that is added is distilled water only.  The presence of any minerals will accelerate the corrosion practice.

When you flush your cooling system, be sure to use a good quality radiator flush.  We like Loctite 18E because it seems to clean all the rust and scale out of most cooling system with one application.  After following the instructions, keep flushing the cooling system with fresh water (this does not need to be distilled) until it comes out clear and free of debris.  Then fill it up with your pre-mix coolant and you’re good for another year.

In addition to providing corrosion protection, Ethylene Glycol coolants also protect against freezing (luckily not an issue in our Market) and boiling.  A 50% mixture of Ethylene Glycol Coolant (EGC) protects the cooling system from boiling to 226 degrees F (109 degree C).  A 40% mixture protects the cooling system up to 222 degrees F (106 degrees C).  The pressure inside your cooling system raises the boiling point even further, but it is nice insurance to have the ECG mixture in case of a pressure leak in your cooling system.

In the next Service Tip, we’ll discuss Supplemental Coolant Additives, what they are and how to use them.