Browsing "Generator"
Jul 24, 2013 -

Generator Exhaust Repair

L and I went into Assiniboia today to try to find some flexible steel tubing to fix my generator exhaust. I also wanted to buy a 20lb propane tank that was on sale at Peavey Mart and L wanted to have a nice meal out.

Charles suggested we try the farm supply places for the tubing. John Deere had nothing. We went to Young’s Equipment where one of my neighbours works and he sent us to NAPA.

NAPA had exactly what we needed. YAY! L thought we were so lucky that I should ask if they might have an air filter, too. YES! We couldn’t believe it!

Feeling jubilant, we went to Peavey Mart and then across the street to the Co-Op to fill the propane tank. There, L and I both had the same notion that the sales discount hadn’t been applied to the tank. It hadn’t. We went back and it turns out the sale wasn’t till Friday. The cashier didn’t bat an eyelash and refunded me the $4 and tax knowing that that was cheaper than loser a customer. Smart girl.

We then went to Nash’s, a Greek restaurant, and had a good lunch. L had ‘New York cut’ steak and I had the chicken pita with homemade tzatziki sauce. We shared baklava for dessert. It was all very yummy and I would like to go back one evening to try their dinner menu.

It was about 3:00 when we got in and L had almost no difficulty in getting the flexible tubing in. And that’s when the flexible tubing on the other side of the muffler gave. CRAP. L looked at the bit and hemmed and hawed and considered MacGyvering it until I could get to an exhaust repair shop. Finally, he decided that the best course of action was to go back to NAPA and get more pipe and more clamps. So we did.

He’s under the rig now getting this new section in.

I can't believe we found a new air filter! The other one was just about black.

I can’t believe we found a new air filter! The other one was just about black.

This is what we replaced.

This is what we replaced.

Shiny new pipe before the muffler.

Shiny new pipe before the muffler.

This section after the muffler snapped while L was working on the other side.

This section after the muffler snapped while L was working on the other side.

Now, I know what y’all are wondering, how expensive has my generator repair been?

Oil: about $4 for a quart of it (a few weeks ago)

NAPA gave us a ‘preferred customer discount’ after L asked for a senior’s discount, so I am putting the full price in brackets after the price paid:

Flex tubing: $3.41/ft ($4.39) x 3 = $10.23
Clamps: $2.10 ($2.26) x 2 = $4.20
U-Bolts (they were out of clamps on the second trip): $1.46 ($1.46) x 2 = $2.92
Air filter: $7.05 ($15.46!!!)

Total before tax at NAPA: $25.86 ($26.84 with tax).

So counting the oil, I’m at just over $30.

The spark plug is good and there is absolutely no reason to replace it.

The only other issue is that the choke isn’t working automatically. I have to manually close it to start the genny and then release the catch so that it will open. Not a biggie.

L suggests that I run the genny regularly until the winter. If I have no issues with it, then I should look at having the brushes replaced. But he doesn’t want me to spend that money now since the genny has sat so long as it would suck for the motor to throw a rod or whatever a month down the road. Smart man.

Oh, and there is the issue of it not starting from the button in the kitchen, which is an electrical and possible electronic issue. I am not going to worry about that at this time since I don’t have an automatic transfer switch. Therefore, I have to go outside anyway to plug the shore power cable into the genny from the inverter or vice versa.

I am going to continue leaving the cable plugged into the inverter as being the default plug in condition. The genny will just be for charging or giving me a boost in grey weather. I look forward to seeing what its gas consumption is compared to the engine.

I’m still reeling from disbelief that my generator is working.

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Electricity, Generator, Technical    10 Comments
Mar 17, 2013 -

54 Days of Boondocking

I am just under a week shy of completing one solid month of boondocking! I’m doing one night on FHU and then it’s back off the grid I go.

Boondocking for so long didn’t seem realistic when I first started as I had so many troubles with my electrical setup. But I persevered in my troubleshooting and have been rewarded with a 12V system I now only need to monitor as it is adequate and functioning well for my needs.

That said, I’m not sure I would still be here on the beach had I not been able to borrow that generator at the beginning of February or if L and B hadn’t installed a new continuous duty solenoid in the motorhome engine compartment. It really does take the proverbial village…

I’ve got my power usage down to a routine now. I charge my computer in the morning and leave it plugged in for the entire afternoon. It still consumes a few amps at full charge, but it’s a fraction of what it needs to charge, so I’m able to charge the house batteries fully by dinner time, and I have a fully charged computer for the evening.

I don’t leave the computer plugged in in the evening because of the enormous voltage drop due to undersized wiring that I still need to correct. If I leave it plugged in, I don’t have enough voltage to even run an LED light without it flickering.

Now that I know that the wiring is undersized, I can manage my 12V use so that the system doesn’t get over loaded and the DC charger doesn’t get hot, so there are no fire concerns. I am eager to beef up the wiring, but it’s going to be a costly job and there are other upgrades in line first.

If it’s sunny out, I can use 120V items, like the printer and vacuum cleaner without a second thought. If like yesterday, it is overcast, then I need to shut some things down (usually unplugging the computer is enough) or run the engine to get the added voltage boost.

As for plumbing, the holding tanks haven’t been a problem. I could likely go a couple more weeks.

I am sorely missing having water in my on board tank, but have conceded that my 10-gallon water heater means that having instant hot water while boondocking is a wasteful luxury. Having a navy shower is no better than bathing in a basin. So, really, hauling and heating water is always going to be in my boondocking future when I am not somewhere that I can fill up regularly.

I do so desperately miss my long hot evening showers as they were my transition time to bedtime. I need to find access to showers the next time I’m off the grid this long. When I had my house and the plumbing was off in the dead of winter, I’d just go to the gym. I need to find an equally suitable setup on the road. The RV park where I am going does have showers, but I’d have to pay an extra $5 per day to access them. Much as I love my showers, they are not worth that much!

When I started reading about RVing back in 2008, I thought of all the things I would have to give up, and the first that came to mind was my daily shower. I can’t even remember the rest, but the showers hold true. That’s really the only concession I make when off the grid. Otherwise, I am living a more electrically-mindful version of my normal routine and I don’t feel deprived in the least.

Finally, boondocking is infinitely superior to staying in an RV park with all its restrictions!

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Black Tank, Boondocking/Dry camping, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Electricity, Fresh Water Tank, Generator, Grey Tank, Indoor Shower, Inverter, Plumbing, Solar Panels, Technical, Toilet, Travel    6 Comments
Feb 24, 2013 -

Xantrex LinkPro Charging Amps Discrepancy

Caroline and her hubby are exercising their generator tonight by letting me plug in. I thought, woohoo! I’ll have a fully charged house battery bank tonight AND a fully charged computer!

Reality according to my LinkPro has been somewhat… disappointing.

Since yesterday, when I actually hit full charging amps from my solar panel for a bit, I’ve noticed that my LinkPro is only showing half the amps going in that my solar charger claims is going. And, yes, this reading is taken with everything off.

I’m getting the same deal from my dedicated battery charger! I’m on the 15A setting and only getting a measly 7.5A in. If I plug in the computer, I only get 2A. 7.5A is barely worth running the genny for and 2A is a waste of gas.

Who do I trust? The solar array monitor and battery charger or the LinkPro, which has been 100% accurate in recording the amp hours going out?

Xantrex hasn’t been any help regarding this and I’m not finding any anecdotal evidence about it. I’m convinced (ie. hopeful) that I’m wired correctly since I’m getting an accurate record of amps going out.

The only thing I can fathom with the current situation, being on the genny, is that the charger realises that I’m above 80% and is only doing the tapering charge. That would make sense when I’m on solar, too, I guess, but if that’s the case, then there’s no sense getting another panel because I wouldn’t squeeze any more juice out of it than I already am.

Do any of my experts want to give their theories on yet another mystery?

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Electricity, Generator, Solar Panels, Technical    3 Comments