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  #1  
Old 06-12-2008, 04:22 PM
truckbuddy truckbuddy is offline
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Default TriPac APU System

I've had my TriPac about a year and a half and I've made modifications regarding the alternator and process control.

The 65 amp alternator Thermo King uses in their reefers, is the one they install in the TriPac. That alternator is designed to charge a battery. Trucks need at least 3, and if you're power hungry like me, the Thermo King alternators will smell of varnish and fry.

I burned so many alternators within my first year warranty period, the Thermo King people refused to continue replacing them. They refused to offer any solutions other than lighten the load. They would not recommend an alternator that would work for me; there were rumors of a 85 amp alternator, but I never saw one. I was on my own.

It's difficult to find information regarding the TriPac's engine. Thermo King wants to call it their engine, but it's a 2 cylinder 7.5 horsepower Yanmar. I did the calculations, based upon the information I was able to discover: Say the compressor needs 5 hp, so what remains is 2.5 hp for the alternator; 2.5 hp = 160 amps at 14 volts. A typical truck alternator!

Then I saw a stack of alternators on sale at a dealer for $150. I pulled the Thermo King unit out and sized it up with the Delco Remy units they had. Seemed it might fit, although it was about twice as large and heavier. I took one out to my truck, and mounted upside down, it fit well. I bought a steel pully because the plastic pulley that Thermo King installs with the TriPac was egg shaped.

Early in my modifications, I completly removed the lower shroud so I could experiment with different alternators. It was then that I discoverd the muffler to be routed closely to the alternator, not allowing the unit to cool itself. So the first thing I did was go to a muffler shop to have the exhaust routed away. This didn't seem to help - my power needs are enormous - I have 8 batteries and a 3,000 watt inverter.

I've waited until now to blog on this, to prove to myself that the alternator I found, to replace the Thermo King unit would solve my problems; and indeed the evidence makes a blog worthwhile. It's June. I'm in western Oklahoma and it's pushing 100 out there, my TriPac is working well for me. The air conditioner is on high, I'm running several fans to circulate air in my truck. My 33 inch HDTV wide screen I use for a computer monitor is on, my desktop computer, 400 watt stereo and XM radio. My batteries charge as well, because I shut my TriPac off at night. Fans on low, keep it comfortable as long as it's not too warm outside, powered from my batteries and they remain charged until morning.

Just a few more things I'd say about it: The drive belt tends to squeal under this heavier load until the batteries get a charge and I'll be looking for a wider replacement. Due to the fact I'm running my Yanmar engine at higher horsepower, I change my TriPac's oil and filter at 500 hours and check it every 50 hours or so and keep it to the full mark. The fuel and air filters are good for 1,000 hours or more.

Last edited by truckbuddy; 06-21-2008 at 10:02 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-12-2008, 10:10 PM
icantinaturner icantinaturner is offline
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Default Re: TriPac APU System

Quote:
Originally Posted by truckbuddy View Post
I've had my TriPac about a year and a half. It's mine, so I can do what I want with it and I've modified it regarding the alternator.

The 65 amp Thermo King alternator they use in their reefers, is the one they install in the TriPac. That alternator is designed to charge a battery. Trucks need at least 3, and if you're power hungry like me, the Thermo King alternators will smell of varnish and fry.

I burned so many alternators within my first year warranty period, the Thermo King people refused to continue replacing them. And who can blame them? However they cannot see beyond their alternator and when they refused to offer any solutions, like recommending an alternator that will work for me, I was on my own.

I did the calculations, based upon the 7.5 horsepower of the TriPac's Yanmar engine: Say the compressor needs 5 hp, that leaves 2.5 hp for the alternator. So, 2.5 hp. equals 160 amps at 14 volts - a typical truck alternator!

Then I saw a stack of alternators on sale at a dealer for $150. I pulled the Thermo King unit out and sized it up with the Delco Remy units they had. Seemed it might fit, so I took one out to my truck, and although I had to mount it upside down, it fit well. I bought a steel pully because the plastic pulley that Thermo King installs with the TriPac was egg shaped.

Admittedly, I've modified my TriPac; it's hardly recognizeable. The bottom shroud is gone, exposing the compressor and belt running it. The Delco Remy alternator is about twice the size of the Thermo King unit. The shroud wouldn't fit anyway. I believe one of the contributing reasons there were so many alternator failures was because the muffler was routed inside the shroud very close to the alternator, not allowing the unit to cool itself. However early in my modifications, I removed the shroud and went to a muffler shop to have the exhaust routed away. This didn't seem to help - my power needs are enormous - I have 8 batteries and a 3,000 watt inverter. Enough to gag even the most stoic Thermo King tech!

It's June. It's pushing 100 out there, my TriPac is running fine. The air conditioner is on high, I'm running several fans to circulate the air in my truck. My 33 inch HDTV wide screen I use for a computer monitor is on, my desktop computer, 400 watt stereo and XM radio. My batteries charge as well, because I can shut my TriPac off at night so I can play XM Audio Visions. Fans on low keep it comfortable as long as it's not too warm outside, powered from my batteries and they remain charged until morning.

Just a few more things I'd say about it: The drive belt tends to squeal under this heavier load until the batteries get a charge and I'll be looking for a wider replacement. Due to the fact I'm running my Yanmar engine at a higher horsepower, I change my TriPac's oil and filter at 500 hours and check it every 24 hours or so and keep it to the full mark. The fuel and air filters are good for 1,000 hours or more.
That's an interesting (+ well-written) post but I do have a question. When you park and kick on the Tripac, aren't the batteries already charged from a full days running? I'm just curious and not being nit-picky.

Truth be told, if I had all that cool stuff in my truck I probably wouldn't go anywhere. You have more stuff than Best Buy. Here at home, I have a boombox in my trailer house and I watch the neighbor's TV out my window.
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  #3  
Old 06-13-2008, 10:50 AM
truckbuddy truckbuddy is offline
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Default Re: TriPac APU System

One of my goals in this business is to drive less and sit around more. I might sit for days, waiting for a good paying load, or maybe just because I feel like it! I live in my truck and enjoy being places I've never been. I keep my living expenses as low as possible while placing comfort at the highest priority. A comfortable driver, makes a safe driver! Everybody knows that.

I've configured the ignition switch to run my TriPac if I'm in extremly hot weather and the truck air conditioner cannot keep it cool in the cab, or if the truck's air conditioning fails. The Thermo King default is to wire the normal/standby switch to shut the TriPac off when the truck's ingition switch is on. However they will override the default if you ask them. A sweltering driver, is not a safe driver!

I've asked the Thermo King techs to set my TriPacs battery sense voltage to 11 volts, rather than the factory 12 volts: By setting the sense voltage to 11 volts, my 8 batteries will supply overnight power while sensing a low voltage condition. I've added a 4 guage wire to buffer the existing charge wire to lessen the voltage drop from the alternator, supplying more power to the discharged batteries. I like sleeping in a quiet environment, playing some interesting music, away from running engines. By morning I'm reading my battery voltage around 11.4 volts. If I crank my truck engine with the battery voltage this low, it will cause my power inverter to low voltage shut down. To solve this, I've discovered the voltage sense wire to the control board, and removed it just to see what would happen. By removing the voltage sense wire from the control board, the APU will start and run continuiously. Very cool! I've moved the sense wire from the output of the alternator to the input of the power inverter and put it on a switch. Now, regardless of battery condition, I can start and run the APU. I have more control over my TriPac's operation.

Last edited by truckbuddy; 06-21-2008 at 08:30 PM.
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  #4  
Old 06-15-2008, 12:22 AM
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swerve swerve is offline
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Default Re: TriPac APU System

WOW truckbuddy -- I'm VERY impressed to read about how YOU turned the little TriPac into (almost) a NUCLEAR REACTOR!!!

I don't power NEAR as much stuff in my truck...

BUT -- I DID buy a tripac 6 weeks ago...

AND -- I have a SMALL problem with it...

I'm NOT trying to steer the thread into an entirely different direction -- BUT -- since you know so much more about this kind of thing (and to all the OTHER guys on the website that know WAY MORE THAN ME about the "mechanics" of trucking) -- I thought I'd "throw it out there"...

I'm having a PROBLEM with the TriPac and my fuel cross over valve...

WHENEVER I run the Tripac (normal running -- cuts on and off) for MORE than 24 hours -- the crossover to my drivers side tank CLOSES!!!

I'm kind of thinking that it is creating a VACUUM or something on the passenger side tank (where it feeds) and pulling the valve closed...

BUT -- I'm not really THAT familiar with how these things work...

I brought the truck BACK to the ThermoKing dealer I had it installed at -- AND -- OF COURSE -- they said it's a "TRUCK PROBLEM" -- EVEN THOUGH I've NEVER had the crossover close by itself before -- EVER...

I suppose I could check the vents on the tank -- BUT -- they WORK when the truck is running...

Any IDEAS???
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  #5  
Old 06-15-2008, 02:30 PM
brooklyngene brooklyngene is offline
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Default Re: TriPac APU System

Can't be for sure, but sounds like it's draining/pulling the fuel out of the drivers side feed, and since the truck isn't running it wont keep it self primed. Gravity may have some thing to do with it, might look into having the point where the Tri-Pac feed taps in moved lower/closer to the passenger side tank so it won't drain the the driver side line. As a former gas engine mechanic I know some guys will take the easy way/short cut, instead of taking the time to do it right, not bad mouthing any one, I'm just saying. Some thing to look into!
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:45 PM
truckbuddy truckbuddy is offline
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Default Re: TriPac APU System

Regarding that, I really have no idea.
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  #7  
Old 06-19-2008, 10:29 AM
truckbuddy truckbuddy is offline
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Default Re: TriPac APU System

If you want more power from your TriPac, Thermo King will smugly put you on your own and call you names behind your back. What I've posted are my findings. The point being, that if anyone is interested in getting more from their TriPac, can know the Yanmar engine is capable.

The Thermo King people will only parrot what they are told: Keep a charge on your batteries, provide air conditioning and heat from the TriPac System. They say the Tri Pac can supply power for a 1800 watt inverter. I say their 65 amp alternator will struggle with that: P=VA = 12*65 = 780 watts. Do the calculation for a 160 amp alternator and you're pushing 2,000 watts!

At any rate, they will keep you pigeonholed. If you are burning up their alternator, they will tell you that you must lighten the load. It's your fault for wanting more and charge you a lot of money for your ignorance. Last summer I payed $450 for their alternator before I realized that if I were to use my TriPac the way I needed, I'd have to apply wrench to nut, and I'm still feeling pretty raw about it. I cannot for the life of me understand why they could not design in a more powerful alternator.

I posted this to my Yahoo 360 blog last summer, at: http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-mzmSRfkmerQWGT0UTrp2lewC

Scroll down to see a picture of my modification and to the next page to see a picture of the TriPac underside with the shroud removed; showing the (small in comparison) original alternator in close proximity of the exhaust.

Last edited by truckbuddy; 06-22-2008 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 11-19-2008, 12:05 PM
mountain65 mountain65 is offline
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Default Re: TriPac APU System

Quote:
Originally Posted by truckbuddy View Post
I've had my TriPac about a year and a half and I've made modifications regarding the alternator and process control.

The 65 amp alternator Thermo King uses in their reefers, is the one they install in the TriPac. That alternator is designed to charge a battery. Trucks need at least 3, and if you're power hungry like me, the Thermo King alternators will smell of varnish and fry.

I burned so many alternators within my first year warranty period, the Thermo King people refused to continue replacing them. They refused to offer any solutions other than lighten the load. They would not recommend an alternator that would work for me; there were rumors of a 85 amp alternator, but I never saw one. I was on my own.

It's difficult to find information regarding the TriPac's engine. Thermo King wants to call it their engine, but it's a 2 cylinder 7.5 horsepower Yanmar. I did the calculations, based upon the information I was able to discover: Say the compressor needs 5 hp, so what remains is 2.5 hp for the alternator; 2.5 hp = 160 amps at 14 volts. A typical truck alternator!

Then I saw a stack of alternators on sale at a dealer for $150. I pulled the Thermo King unit out and sized it up with the Delco Remy units they had. Seemed it might fit, although it was about twice as large and heavier. I took one out to my truck, and mounted upside down, it fit well. I bought a steel pully because the plastic pulley that Thermo King installs with the TriPac was egg shaped.

Early in my modifications, I completly removed the lower shroud so I could experiment with different alternators. It was then that I discoverd the muffler to be routed closely to the alternator, not allowing the unit to cool itself. So the first thing I did was go to a muffler shop to have the exhaust routed away. This didn't seem to help - my power needs are enormous - I have 8 batteries and a 3,000 watt inverter.

I've waited until now to blog on this, to prove to myself that the alternator I found, to replace the Thermo King unit would solve my problems; and indeed the evidence makes a blog worthwhile. It's June. I'm in western Oklahoma and it's pushing 100 out there, my TriPac is working well for me. The air conditioner is on high, I'm running several fans to circulate air in my truck. My 33 inch HDTV wide screen I use for a computer monitor is on, my desktop computer, 400 watt stereo and XM radio. My batteries charge as well, because I shut my TriPac off at night. Fans on low, keep it comfortable as long as it's not too warm outside, powered from my batteries and they remain charged until morning.

Just a few more things I'd say about it: The drive belt tends to squeal under this heavier load until the batteries get a charge and I'll be looking for a wider replacement. Due to the fact I'm running my Yanmar engine at higher horsepower, I change my TriPac's oil and filter at 500 hours and check it every 50 hours or so and keep it to the full mark. The fuel and air filters are good for 1,000 hours or more.
First ,Thermo King does make a 120 amp alternator if you do need that much power, which you shouldn't. The problem with you burning up alternators could have had something to do with the fins on the alternator being wrong. The tripac alt. turns in the opposite direction of a TK truck or trailer unit so the fins are reversed. If they installed a TK unit alt. and did not switch the fan then this would cause the alternator to overheat.
Second, the alternator or tripac does not run the power invertor, the batteries do, so it doesn't matter how much power you are drawing as soon as the battery voltage drops to the start up voltage the tripac will come on and maintain you voltage.
Third, the engine horsepower has no effect on running your alternator. Now if you were killing the engine that would be another thing but you never said anything about the engine dying.
Also, I would like to know how you increased the engine horsepower as you claim.
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  #9  
Old 11-26-2008, 12:21 AM
easeway easeway is offline
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Default Re: TriPac APU System

<<A comfortable driver, makes a safe driver! Everybody knows that.>>

This is the biggest problem I am having with switching back to company driving now from O/O. Companies seem to have really changed on the idle issues now with fuel prices since last time I drove as a company driver back in 1995. Comfort which as we know helps make a fully rested driver & rested is safer seems to have gone out the window.......not sure why these companies aren't using apu's instead of expecting the drivers to forfeit their bonuses. I may just drive company till the economy improves then buy new truck in the future, Like you pointed out a sweaty driver naturally is more fatigued than a well rested comfortable driver. Wonder if these company management/dispatchers are sitting in their office & bedrooms without ac or heat?
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Old 03-07-2009, 03:13 PM
truckbuddy truckbuddy is offline
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Default Re: TriPac APU System

Perhaps saying I'm running my Yanmar engine at higher horsepower is a little misleading. I didn't modify the TriPac's engine. What I mean to say is, I'm demanding more power from my TriPac's Yanmar engine, while the more powerful Delco Remy alternator supplies my needs.

I've returned to this post to update my results regarding the Delco Remy I installed a year ago, which continues to be operating without trouble or indication of being overloaded. The Delco Remy far exceeds the Thermo King alternator in power and durability while costing much less.

Last edited by truckbuddy; 03-07-2009 at 10:13 PM.
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