Round 2 – Bill Wright Completes Hydro Repairs at El Sembrador, Honduras

El Sembrador, Catacamas, Honduras Update December, 2013 While Ken Thomas, Roger King...

El Sembrador, Catacamas, Honduras

Update December, 2013

While Ken Thomas, Roger King and I were at El Sembrador, Honduras, I looked at the plaque in the hydro plant building. I saw the installation date as 1991 meaning the hydro plant I helped install has been running for 22 years. It has not been without doing the proper maintenance such as replacing the generator main bearing several times. About 1 ½ years ago, Roger and I changed out all of the rubber inserts in the couplings, replaced a bearing seal in the gearbox (speed increaser) and did a general recalibration of the hydraulic governor system. At that time, we did notice the hydraulic governor system had some problems such as leaking seals and the solenoid on the large cell was not working. I encouraged the management to replace the hydraulic governor system as replacement parts for the worn out pieces were no longer available.

The hydro plant provides electricity to the school and farm operations of El Sembrador and saves them thousands of dollars of avoided electrical expenses plus numerous power events and outages for the national utility.

On this trip, our task was to replace the hydraulic governor on the hydro plant with a new unit from Ossberger. The replacement task was not without glitches in the documentation and match up of replacement parts. The calibration of the guide vane actuators took about a day along with calibrating the speed sensor once we had water to operate the plant.

We were also able to install a new electrical power monitoring meter for both the hydro plant and diesel generator set. In addition, I developed a circuit to relocate the well pump controls and we fixed the exiting wiring to one of the pumps. It was a busy week.

Bill Wright with hydro-driven generator and control panel.

Bill Wright with hydro-driven generator and control panel.

Replacing hydraulic governor.

Replacing hydraulic governor.


May, 2012

El Sembrador (the sower) is an academic school with a Christian world view for both indigenous boys and girls along with a large farm operation with over 200 acres of land and 1200 head of cattle along with 200 hogs. The farming operation is the financial basis of running the school. In 1991, I was part of a team of engineers and construction specialists that installed a 150 KW hydro electrical power plant for the facility. The hydro plant has served well over the years but has had some technical problems. One of the largest problems is the main bearing in the generator as it needs to support a 1000 pound flywheel. This bearing needs to be changed in a 5 year interval. Along with changing the bearing the machines must be very precisely realigned. The shaft seal in the speed increaser gearbox was also leaking and we took part to replace that shaft seal. Roger King, a machinist and I travelled to EL Sembrador to do general maintenance and replace the main bearing in the generator. I wanted to do a ”TUNE UP” on the control system for the governor. The work went well and the hydro plant is running efficiently again and producing power for the facility apart from the national utility.