Dresser Waukesha veteran is still going strong

1 February 2010

For more than 25 years, one engine-driven generator set built by Dresser Waukesha has supplied electricity for Porvenir, the remote Chilean town that is the capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego, logging up 200 000 hours of operation over that period.

Juan Carlos Wurth, the maintenance chief for EDELMAG, the Chilean utility that owns and operates the Porvenir power station, underscored the vital role this unit has played in the community for more than two decades when he said, ‘If the engine turned off, the town turned off.’

However, the engine did not turn off. The Waukesha unit has run continuously for more than a quarter century except for regularly scheduled maintenance – including ‘top-end’ overhauls at 22 000-hour intervals and ‘bottom-end’ overhauls at 44 000-hour intervals. In 2002, the unit was upgraded with a new control system, but otherwise has operated as original equipment.

Installed in 1982, the 875 kW VHP7100GSI genset operated for the first 20 years of its life as the sole primary power source for this small town on the southernmost tip of South America, which remains without access to a central power grid. Within the last decade, two VHP9500GSI generator sets have been added to the existing power station to meet growing demand. The addition of the two new units brought the total gas-fuelled electrical output to 3.275 MW. The original engine-driven generator is still in use and recently was the centrepiece of a celebration marking its 200 000 hours of operation.

Putting this accomplishment in perspective, Jon Landes, vice president of marketing for Dresser Waukesha, suggested that operating this stationary engine for 200 000 hours is equivalent to driving a car at 35 mph (56.3 km/h) nonstop for 7 million miles (11.3 million km).

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