GL1100 generator?


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GL1100 generator?

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:54 pm



I have a spare GL1100 engine in the corner of my garage. I got it when I got my GL1100 all those years ago, thinking "I'll scavenge this engine for parts when I need to."

I've never touched it to scavenge any parts - I've never needed to, and I've come to realize that I likely never will.

So I've thought about re-purposing it for a back-up generator, something capable of running my whole house (100 amp, 240 VAC service). I figured I could purchase, say a 20KW generator head, and hook it up to the driveshaft output of the engine. I could use the existing clutch to decouple the engine from the generator during startup and shutdown, and leave it in second gear - that would turn the generator head at its required 1,800 rpm with the engine turning at 3,000 rpm - well within its power band. At full load, a 20KW generator head needs about 40 HP to drive it, which the GL1100 engine could put out at 3,000 rpm without even breathing hard. I suppose I could even gear it higher - in third or fourth - to save fuel, and still have it easily put out enough torque.

The one main thing I'd have to design is a governor of some sort, to hold the engine RPM precisely at the correct speed under varying loads, in order to maintain the correct 60 Hz power frequency.

Anyone have any comments, or perhaps done this sort of thing before?



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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby HALBUDD » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:29 pm

Well I was thinking about the same idea and made this (hillbilly) set up . Hal
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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby shadew » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:10 pm

You might try a locking throttle cable available at any commercial vehicle parts dealer, or on ebay. Get a good one with the twist fine adjust, and you can get it close by pulling it out, and then dial it in on your hertz gauge or tachometer. I use one on my carpet cleaning van and it has been flawless for 10 years and is very precise. Just a thought for under $50.

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby WingAdmin » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:10 pm

shadew wrote:You might try a locking throttle cable available at any commercial vehicle parts dealer, or on ebay. Get a good one with the twist fine adjust, and you can get it close by pulling it out, and then dial it in on your hertz gauge or tachometer. I use one on my carpet cleaning van and it has been flawless for 10 years and is very precise. Just a thought for under $50.


The problem is that the load will change every time something electrical gets turned on or off - so the throttle needs to be adjusted continuously, kind of like what you have to do to maintain the same speed as you go up and down hills. So it has to have some sort of feedback loop that monitors the engine RPM, and adjusts the throttle to maintain that RPM, regardless of the load applied. Normally that's a governor - there are simple ones built into lawn mowers. I was thinking more along the lines of a frequency analyzer, controller and stepper motor. :)

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby shadew » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:11 am

Sorry, I misunderstood. I was assuming the motor would be overpowered enough that even at a 40hp load, any fluctuation would be negligible. A 20Kw should handle 80 amps of service within a safety factor, without overworking it. If you are not running a water well it's hard to get to 80 amps, you can test it at the breaker panel what your nominal and max loads run at. Would there be any torque amplification advantage by running in second gear? Will you be running the exhaust outside the garage, making an enclosure outside, converting it to propane or natural gas? You asked for any thoughts, you can tell me to quit thinking anytime.

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby virgilmobile » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:23 am

Well it would be close,however as suggested,a load change will require a slight throttle adjustment.Kind of like cruising on the road and needing a little more throttle to keep the speed up when going over the overpass and backing off it on the downhill.

A aftermarket Tac controlled cruise control might fit the bill.

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby shadew » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:56 pm

I spoke with a Master Electrician today on your behalf, and long story short, there are more variables to the equation than I could write down. He said more than anything, you don't want a voltage spike, at all. If you are dead set on it, an alternator or electric motor specialist would be a good source to confer with. You will also want a transfer switch to get the whole process going before energizing the house. Also he said a 20kw is rated for 83 amps of service, so you might avoid using the toaster and the hair dryer at the same time during a power outage. I will leave it alone so you can get input from other users. Good luck, and make sure and post if you get it done.

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby shadew » Mon Sep 19, 2011 8:59 pm

Have you made any headway on the throttle control? It is such a good idea, my curiousity just won't leave it alone.

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby WA9FWT » Mon Sep 19, 2011 9:17 pm

Your getting into a real project here for sure. With No govenor to maintain RPM, it will walk all over the place.If it would be only lights you want for a load, that would be the easiest part for the set up.

I keep going back to govern that engine......How ?
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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby WA9FWT » Mon Sep 19, 2011 9:36 pm

HALBUDD wrote:Well I was thinking about the same idea and made this (hillbilly) set up . Hal


Now that Briggs engine I can see working, it has a Mechanical govenor.
Phil WA9FWT

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby WingAdmin » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:06 am

WA9FWT wrote:Your getting into a real project here for sure. With No govenor to maintain RPM, it will walk all over the place.If it would be only lights you want for a load, that would be the easiest part for the set up.

I keep going back to govern that engine......How ?
Phil WA9FWT


Well there may be a very simple existing bolt-on type system available on the market that I don't know of (I haven't looked around much yet). But what I had thought up was something like this:

Run a connection from one of the coil primaries, through a blocking capacitor and whatever other insulating components that would be required, into the input of a frequency-to-voltage converter IC or circuit. This will watch the RPM of the engine, and output a voltage - lower voltage for lower RPM, and higher voltage for higher RPM. This voltage could then be run into the A/D input of an Arduino one-chip processor. Or, I could skip the frequency-to-voltage converter and analog step altogether, and interface the pulsed coil signal directly into a digital input on the Arduino, and have it measure the time between pulses, to derive the RPM directly.

The Arduino is a one-chip computer, that you can write and install software onto. It could have software on it that would control a servomotor. This servomotor would then be connected to the throttle, so that the computer would drive the throttle directly, and adjust it based upon the RPM it was measuring.

If I really wanted to get fancy, I could have the Arduino drive the choke and starter, measure coolant temperature, and engage the clutch. That way it could be a "one button start" - you press the button, it turns the choke on, declutches, and starts the engine. It holds the engine at 1,800 RPM for a few seconds and then turns the choke off. It then watches the coolant temperature, when it is "in the green" it engages the clutch, which starts turning the generator head, all the while holding it at 1,800 RPM.

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby WA9FWT » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:06 pm

WingAdmin wrote:
WA9FWT wrote:Your getting into a real project here for sure. With No govenor to maintain RPM, it will walk all over the place.If it would be only lights you want for a load, that would be the easiest part for the set up.

I keep going back to govern that engine......How ?
Phil WA9FWT


Well there may be a very simple existing bolt-on type system available on the market that I don't know of (I haven't looked around much yet). But what I had thought up was something like this:

Run a connection from one of the coil primaries, through a blocking capacitor and whatever other insulating components that would be required, into the input of a frequency-to-voltage converter IC or circuit. This will watch the RPM of the engine, and output a voltage - lower voltage for lower RPM, and higher voltage for higher RPM. This voltage could then be run into the A/D input of an Arduino one-chip processor. Or, I could skip the frequency-to-voltage converter and analog step altogether, and interface the pulsed coil signal directly into a digital input on the Arduino, and have it measure the time between pulses, to derive the RPM directly.

The Arduino is a one-chip computer, that you can write and install software onto. It could have software on it that would control a servomotor. This servomotor would then be connected to the throttle, so that the computer would drive the throttle directly, and adjust it based upon the RPM it was measuring.

If I really wanted to get fancy, I could have the Arduino drive the choke and starter, measure coolant temperature, and engage the clutch. That way it could be a "one button start" - you press the button, it turns the choke on, declutches, and starts the engine. It holds the engine at 1,800 RPM for a few seconds and then turns the choke off. It then watches the coolant temperature, when it is "in the green" it engages the clutch, which starts turning the generator head, all the while holding it at 1,800 RPM.


All well and good.....but but if it would be that easy, generator maufactures would use a system like that insted of the mechanical systems to govern a engine.The cheaper one's that is.. Of coarse cost enters into the the equation !
I think by the time you round up $$$parts, I would sell the engine and purchase a governed engine,but thats me, and I know you like a challenge.

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby WingAdmin » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:29 pm

WA9FWT wrote:All well and good.....but but if it would be that easy, generator maufactures would use a system like that insted of the mechanical systems to govern a engine.The cheaper one's that is.. Of coarse cost enters into the the equation !
I think by the time you round up $$$parts, I would sell the engine and purchase a governed engine,but thats me, and I know you like a challenge.


Very true - a processor-controlled governor is definitely more expensive to manufacture in mass production than a simple mechanical governor. However, for a one-off, and in particular one that would need a fair bit of tweaking, the processor-controlled device would be far more flexible and easy to work with. Maybe. :)

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby littlebeaver » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:03 pm

I want to see you build it...You have an idea and we all want to see it happen.. :D

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby shadew » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:14 pm

That's right, I am not being critical at all. I am excited that someone smarter than me can even spell Chromium Transfunctionator and the like. Any help or encouragement I can offer to assist in the undertaking, I am happy to provide. How cool is it that a Goldwing is still being productive from the grave!

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby virgilmobile » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:45 pm

Many years ago,my brother added a cruse control system that had a magnet attached to the driveshaft and a pulse pickup coil near it.It monitored the shaft speed and controlled the throttle from that.I think he got it from JC Whitney.I don't know if the actuator was electric or vacuum.
If it was vacuum,a synthetic vacuum source can be made with 4 check valves and a reserve tank attached to each of the 4 vacuum ports.

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby shadew » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:21 pm

Any updates to report on the generator project?

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby littlebeaver » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:31 pm

Yeh, what give's, you didn't give up on this project did ya... :D

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:05 pm

It's still in the plans...but other more pressing projects are in line first...winter maintenance on the bikes, mainly. I have resolved this year not to finish up the last 80% of my winter maintenance in April like I usually do. :)

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby shadew » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:24 pm

I just thought I would give you a hard time.

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby WA9FWT » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:26 pm

littlebeaver wrote:Yeh, what give's, you didn't give up on this project did ya... :D


I just figured it out Beaver, why you want the WingAdmin to finish that generator so you can get the plans so
you can finish that boat to Hawaii.

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Re: GL1100 generator?

Postby littlebeaver » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:14 am

WA9FWT wrote:
littlebeaver wrote:Yeh, what give's, you didn't give up on this project did ya... :D


I just figured it out Beaver, why you want the WingAdmin to finish that generator so you can get the plans so
you can finish that boat to Hawaii.

Hardy Hardy harr- Harley har- hardy hardy hardy harr ... Man what are you talking about...??? :lol:




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