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Fuelmaker C3 restoration

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  • Fuelmaker C3 restoration

    Hi everyone,

    still pretty new at your forum, glad I found somewhere I can contribute. Have always been interested in alternative fuels and have been given the opportunity to have a play so to speak with some interesting equipment. The biggest problem is cost. To buy a new compressor I need thousands of dollars. I was lucky to buy a fuelmaker c3 for 200 dollars used. It has not done much work and was used as a display unit about 15 years ago when the previous government looked at promoting alternative fuels.

    It has a few problems to note. It was missing the filling hose which I bought off a seller in Canada on ebay.

    Problem 1- As soon as the gas supply is turned on, the unit leaks gas from the vent port constantly. Its not a large leak but it is leaking and can feel a light gas pressure build up when you cover the port with your finger. So I opened up the top cover of the pulsation damper and checked the components for leaks with soapy water. none found. I also replaced all the o-ring seals to ensure aging and contrasction due to lack of use did not play a role. This has not solved the problem.

    Problem 2- The unit refuses to start. I pulled codes out of the unit and found 011 logged, a state not ready code caused by insufficient inlet pressure or fault in the control module. I checked all the voltages to the relevant components. The high pressure piezo sensor is receiving a 24v reference voltage and ground and outputing a signal. Checked the inlet pressure sensor, found it was not activating due to insufficient inlet pressure. Adjusted the screw until the supply pressure I gave was adequate to switch on and enable the module to fire the motor. The module still wont start.

    Problem 3- Found a rubber grommet floating around inside the top section of the pulsation damper and am not sure where it goes. (Possible cause of gas leak)

    I have also read in a safety recall of this unit there may be a burst disc located somewhere in the system to protect from over pressurisation of drum particularly when the check valve fails on the tank filler port.

    At this point I have diagnosed a internal fault in the main control board. A the unit is getting old and am having trouble finding parts I intend to utilise audrino components to make a replacement controller. It will include wifi capability, a digital lcd display to show fill level and power supply. I will post the build as it comes to pass.

    At this stage I am looking at fixing the gas leak first as I see no good reason to get the thing going if it leaks as its a safety hazard. Have ben incontact with Bob Hatton a regulr member but he has not responded to my in depth response so I think I am on my own on this one considering there is no one in Australia that deals in or works with these units.

    All help appreciated guys.

  • #2
    Today I have determined the controll bpard has failed and needs replacing. Have mapped out the relevant pins that are wired to the board and the next step is to order an auduino board, relay board, power supply and lcd display and wire it in. It will require pogramming which I intend to learn throughyoutube videos and relevant forums but look forward to upgrading the outdated analogue problematic circuitry. As I am unable to obtain a chematic diagram from anywhere it has left me no choice but the retrofit the unit to get it going again. I hard wired the ,motor to mains today and rand the compressor to fill one of my tanks with air for half an hour. System behaved as it should. No leaks found, pressure roase to 200 psi after 1 hour of run time. Have posted the video on youtube and thought would share with you guys....


    • #3
      Just find a used FMQ , FM2 on e bay. they are a fraction of the prices of 10 years ago. Dont know haw hard to import, but I would not put much $ into a c3,


      • nickyp00
        nickyp00 commented
        Editing a comment
        I appreciate the advice but after import duties, freight and change over rates, I am up for thousands of dollars. I have one thing on my side with the c3, it is a working unit except for the board. I have ordered all the arduino parts I neeed to get the c3 working. They cost 175 dollars. With some hard work i know i can get the unit going again. Was looking at another c3 in operating condition from canada.

        Here is an operational fuelmaker from canada for sale :

        Thats 1800 us, translates to $2 528,80 and then I have to pay freight at 500 bucks. The fuel maker will owe me around 500 bucks by the time it is finished. And then have a reliable unit that will be an entry level.

        Here is another fuelmaker $3900 US:

        Here is an fmq for about 2500 us...

        Here is a new one...7950us that translates to about 11000 dollars australian plus freight and any import tarriffs :

        Unfortunately there is no cheap alternative for home refuelling options in Australia. Everything cost a fortune here. I have been quoted from bauer compressoren in Sydney between 7000 and 16000 dollars installed depending on the cfm rating compressor I chose. This is the problem. If the outlay is too much, the project becomes un-economical to do and simply unafordable but that ends up killing the industry. I intend to build a bio digester to produce some of my natural gas from organic waste i collect from my garden. When i have added that gas then I will top up the extra ammount with town gas to my property making it cheaper again to run. I am finding it so frustrating and difficult to do what I have set out to do so far but I am verry stuborn and will find a way to do this, if it kills me or not I WILL complete this project and that includes wether anyone helps or not along the way.
        Last edited by nickyp00; 03-18-2019, 02:35 AM. Reason: Forgot to include another link to another compressor for pricing.

    • #4
      Yesterday i ordered the auduino components I will need to use to replace the controll board.

      This is the board with the inputs and outputs i need to replace the original fuelmaker board :

      This is the relay controll board the controller will fire to controll the motor and purge solenoid as well as interlock devices:

      This is the addon ambient air temp sensor module I am going to use to monitor the air temp in the fuel maker :

      I am gonna jazz the controll panel up with this funky display that will display critical info like filling, full, percent full, possibly pressure and ambient air temp. may even get excited and show run time too....

      This add on should make things a little more high tech, its a ethernet controll module which once confiigured should allow me to remote start, stop and monitor the fuelmaker from my local network. Was thinking wifi but prefer the higher security of my hard wired network at home.

      This is a expander module i will need to be able to run the display :

      This is the realtime clock I intend to use to ensure excess fill times are not exceeded :

      As I have all the operating specifications worked out for wiring, sensor outputs and safety features, this system should more than suffice as a modern retrofit for the fuelmaker and bring it up to the next century soto speak.


      • #5
        If you actually succeed in building your own electronic control module for a Fuelmaker, you're pretty good, but your biggest challenge still lies ahead. Where will you get internal compressor parts? You may be able to find good used hard parts, but what about soft wear parts, such as piston rings & seals? I was able to string my FMQ-2-36 along for about seven years with good used parts, but it all ended with the stage 3 shuttle cup seal. I had several seals custom made over the years, but this particular seal was made in such a way that was not easily duplicated. It came down to having the seal material chemically analyzed to find out what material it was made of. If you did do that, then a seal manufacturer will want to know how many thousand or tens of thousands you want made. No seal manufacturer is going to tool-up to make you up a hand full of seals for a reasonable price.

        As far as trying to make a Fuelmaker work with custom made parts, you picked the right model. The C3 is far better than the FM series.

        Please let us know how it goes in the future.


        • #6
          Internal seals, gaskets and mechanical parts I internd to fabricate what I can, the seals, bob hatton wreckons he has many seal kits for it so am stocking up. I have is purchased a spare compressor module for it second hand that is working ok and pressurizing to 3000psi so will use that when mine fails. The good part of this compressor is it has verry low hours so am hoping will get some time out of it. As for building anothe controll board, don't need to. Have found arduino hardware, if you have not heard of it before, is programable electronic hardware that is adaptable to various applications using varied data inputs and with appropriate programming can provide a solution for my hardware failure problem.I am talking about the board. Do some research on arduino, be suprised what you can do with it. I will post step by step info on how I did it.


          • #7
            Good news, the arduino bits have started turning up this week and have been making some great progress. So far, have managed to configure the display, the buttons for the display, the purge solenoid function, the compressor run function, ahead is the headache of the pressure transducer read to stop the unit when maximum pressure is reached.


            • #8
              We have powered up the arduino uno for the first time and to test it have set up a simple led circuit that causes it to blink depending on the code we programmed into the chip. Success !


              • #9
                Unfortunately due to the amount of inputs and outputs required to operate the fuelmaker c3 safely, the larger arduino mega was ordered. The mega has many more inputs and outputs reducing the chance I will run out of pins.


                • #10
                  The components illustrated show the relay board, real timer and Arduino uno spare board. I intend to use the real timer to have an automatic shut down over time if the compressor runs longer than normal preventing overfilling in the event of pressure sensing malfunction similar to the original oem equipment. The relay board will be used to control the motor, purge solenoid and gas interlock solenoids. We have successfully programmed the arduino to fire the purge solenoid relay for a total of 5 seconds when the stop button is pressed and the motor is shut off via temperature and pressure measured by the pressure transducer. The aim is for this to happen automatically when the machine completes a fill cycle. The Interlok solenoids fitted to tanks must be opened to allow gas to flow in and out of the tanks and is a safety device required to meet Australian standards. This will also be necessary to be programmed in to successfully allow my tanks to be filled and will need extra wiring along side the filler neck to be installed.
                  Last edited by nickyp00; 03-27-2019, 03:00 AM.


                  • #11
                    These images show two displays, one large and one small. The smaller one will be attached to the fuelmaker control panel and will display the compressor status, internal temperture and operating mode, The larger of the two displays I am hoping after learning some more to use on a remote panel that can sit in my lounge room and or bedroom allowing me to remotely monitor the refuelling appliance and with extra programming remotely shut down the machine from a safe distance. I m also aiming with the adition of the network server module to be able to access the fuelmaker from any internat capable device and monitor it via the internet. This feature will bring the device into this century.


                    • #12
                      Thie images below show the compressor temp sensor and display messages. We have figured out how to display a message when a button is pressed along with temperture reading that means something in degrees celcius.


                      • #13
                        The following images show the display of the room temperature and finger temperature, Accurate reading are now displayed.


                        • #14
                          The first image shows the arduino stack that is being used so far. It contains the display, network interface module and the arduino mega module. Also in the interest of being severely anal, my mate mark also figures out what code is necessary to display the degree symbol next to the temperature.


                          • #15
                            Up u till now everything has been running pretty smoothly in the build. The module has been verry simple to adapt preprepared code freely avalable on the internet with slight modofications to allow necessary functionality, howevere have hit a slight snag. The pressure transducer runs a signal output between 1 volt *empty) to 6 volts (full 3000psi). All the current addons and code have been sufficient to run all the devices we have experimented with but the voltage limit on the analog pins is now set to a maximum of 5 volts which to change to allow the 6 volts will require recoding the entire program. To avoid this problem, we are adding another arduino module that came in the learning kit. This modules dedicated job will be to handle the voltage inputs from the pressure sensor transducer, convert it into a pwm signal which can be fed directly into the arduino mega board and alow us to get around the excess voltage input dillema. Will post more info as it arizes. probably be a few weeks as am pretty busy right now. Could also use some information from anyone that knows roughly how long i should be holding the purge solenoid open to purge the gas from the fill hose back into the fuelmaker gas controll module. Have given it 5 seconds, this may be excessive but will see how it goes.