America's Definitive Marine Engine Magazine
Westerbeke is renowned worldwide for its nearly 70-year history of supplying reliable, fuel-efficient gas and diesel marine with marine electrical generators rated from 3.8- all the way up to 95.0-kW.
To put the Mini 13’s electrical output into real world perspective, 12 kW is sufficient juice to power one or two air conditioners, a refrigerator, a freezer, a microwave, a DVD, a TV and a sound system, all at the same time. An electronic governor locks in engine speed so electrical output doesn’t wander up or down, adversely affecting the performance of the boat’s appliances.
No big surprise, given Westerbeke’s legendary attention to detail, full engine instrumentation is a standard item on the Mini 13. So in the unlikely event anything should ever go haywire, a failsafe system will instantly alert you. That means if cooling water temperature climbs into the red zone, oil pressure drops precipitously low, or exhaust gas temperature run too hot, the engine will automatically shut down in order to keep the pistons from melting in their bore. There’s also a redundant oil pressure switch that can be wired for remote control at the helm station or below decks. Similarly, a 15-pin connector allows installing a remote control panel in a convenient location inside living quarters.
Conveniently located on the front of the diesel crankshaft snout we find a power take off interface (PTO with electric clutch). That means means a hydraulic pump can be installed in order to power a bow andstern thruster, and/or an air compressor and winches. Personally, I liked the 50-amp battery-charger output that can be hardwired to top off the house bank of batteries. In other words, you don’t have to invest in and install a separate battery charger that would most likely be running off the GenSet anyway.
You probably already know that diesel generators are significantly more fuel-efficient than their gasoline counterparts. Mini 13’s diesel engine is a green machine that meets all existing EPA and CARB emissions requirements. The engine is freshwater cooled. That means the engine’s internal cooling passages flow a 50/50 mixture of anti-freeze and freshwater. A heat exchanger transfers engine heat from the antifreeze mix to seawater. The seawater pump is positioned on the front of the engine where it’s very easy to get to and service.
This brings up a salient point. One particularly nice aspect of doing business with Westerbeke is how easy it is to get parts. For example, the company offers two different classes of spare parts kits for its generator sets: Namely, The Onboard Kit and the Extended Cruising Kit. Predictably the latter includes a more complete list of spares. Depending on which of the two kits you decide on, components will include anti-corrosionzinc pencils, gaskets or a full gasket set, drive belts, fuel and oil filters,a 180-degree thermostat, either a water pump impeller or acomplete water pump kit. There’s even a handy storage box to organize and protect all the goodies. Parts kits make sense for a number of reasons. First, the price of all the parts together is less expensive than if you bought them individually. Secondly, with the parts onboard, downtime is reduced.
The company website directs you to a distributor in your area, wherever that may happen to be in the world. That knowledge comes in handy when cruising far from homeport, allowing you to more easily find the nearest parts place. Besides spare parts, Westerbeke distributors also handle service and warranty issues.
Befitting its name, the Mini 13 qualifies as one of the smallest GenSets per kilowatt-hour rating. Its footprint is about the same as existing 8 kW units. Even better than its size is its quiet voice. That said Mini 13 can be made even quieter with the optional Westerbeke sound guard. Essentially this is an enclosure that significantly reduces noise levels by way of strategically controlling air flow and state of the are sound-deadening materials. That’s an important consideration when sleeping on board with the air conditioners cranked up full bore. Sound guards lower dB enough to where the thrumming becomes background noise.
Sound guards are easy to install (or retrofit for that matter). Once the generator is mounted on the sound guard base plate, popping the side panels into place takes mere seconds. There are no nuts and bolts. Instead, latches lock and unlock individual panels. Single panels can be removed for scheduled maintenance, things like oil and fuel filter changes. I like the setup for the simple reason no tools are required and therefore there are no fasteners to slip out of your fingers and plummet into the bilge to be lost forever. Finally, Westerbeke backs its diesel generators with a five-year limited warranty. Parts and service are available in 65 countries around the world.
Author Timothy Banse has published articles in Popular Mechanics, All Chevy, Pickup Van & 4-Wheel Drive, Mecanica Popular, Motor Boating, Yachting, Mar y Vela and many other magazines and newspapers from around the world. He writes about cars, trucks and tow vehicles and marine-engine technology.