Author Topic: Backup generator maintenance  (Read 758 times)

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Offline Chieftain

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Backup generator maintenance
« on: January 25, 2014, 01:22:52 PM »
Like many others, one of my biggest purchases for our preparedness was a decent emergency backup generator.  Mine is 5000 watts with 6500 watts peak power, which translates into about 50 Amps of 110VAC current available.  Mine has a five gallon gas tank on top with a shutoff valve to the engine.  I keep it filled with premium unleaded gas treated with 2 oz of Staybil.  That way the gasoline is good for several years.

However it has been about three years since I last ran the generator and changed the gas, and this month is a good month to do it because winter blend gasoline has added benzine to help with cold weather starting and is a much better blend to store than the summer time blend of gas.

So, I set up a five gallon gas can next to the generator (outside in the driveway well away from the house...) and proceeded to safely drain all of the old gas out of the generator tank.  Since it is still perfectly good (just old) gasoline, I put all of it in the tank of my car and will just use it that way.  I then went down and got five gallons of new Premium (High Test) gasoline, and added 2 oz. of fresh Stabil to it, then refilled the tank on the generator. 

I opened the fuel valve, switched on the ignition and gave it full choke, and the engine fired halfway through the first pull (Briggs and Stratton engine....).  I let it run until it was smooth and warm, then shut off the fuel valve and let the engine use all of the gas in the carb until it died.  I already dusted it off and swept out the cubbyhole it lives in under the counter in the garage, so when I put it away again it is good to go for another year.

I am going to look at Home Depot next time I go and find a cover for it.  They cannot be that expensive and it would help tremendously to keep it dust free...


Online EC

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Re: Backup generator maintenance
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014, 01:49:08 PM »
How effective is Staybil? I have heard both good and bad about using it - the bad is fouled plugs mainly. Not a giant problem in a car, but something of a hassle in a generator with it's lower power and inability to burn off deposits. I use Jiahua (a gallon or so may have accidentally fallen into the kit bag at one time or another  :whistle: ) but am getting low again.

As far as covers go, my instinct would be don't. Our gennie is out in the shed. It slides neatly into a box made of 8 ply marine grade, joints sealed with silicone and the whole given a good treatment inside and out with marine grade latex paint. The open end is double, with weatherstripping to give a good seal when the front goes on and has two 15mm vent holes with a double layer of mosquito net glued and siliconed on the inside of it to prevent vapour build up on hot days. The tail end has the same, but about 6 inches from the base, to allow good cross ventilation.
The baseboard itself extends out beyond the box and is beveled to allow the gennie to easily be removed or put back. A small box attached to the left hand exterior side holds spare plugs, points, two regulators, a spark plug wrench, small wire brush, feeler guage, two screwdrivers and the allen wrench you need to get the cover off! Those are all vacuum sealed in heavy grade plastic, to prevent rust.
There was some room between the generator and the top of the box, so a spare copy of the manual was laminated and is in a custom pocket there, where it is handy.

No dust. No bugs nesting and causing havoc. Total cost - one sheet of marine ply, and paint and silicone you already have in the tool shed.

Need the gennie? Pull it out of the box (remind me to put some wheels on it, not getting any younger), hook it up to a line leading to the house (which also runs the external freezer and shed light, it's just swap the plug from one socket to another) and fire it up. The shed is well ventilated, since we dry hams and salami in there, but there is a monoxide alarm, just in case.
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: Backup generator maintenance
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2014, 08:43:32 PM »
I've never had any problem with Stabil EC.  The gas I removed still looked nice and clear and was not stale, and runs in the car perfectly well.  To avoid problems with goo in the carb and on the plugs, I always use high test gasoline and never store the machine with the carb full of gas.  That is the quickest way to gunk up the works and is pretty simple to avoid.  I think the higher octane gas tends to keep the carb cleaner as it flows through.

I like your idea of a castered base for the generator.  I have to stow it sideways and it is a bit awkward to get in or out.  It does need some kind of dust cover though.  With the garage door open and closed daily and the normal detrius that blows in on the wind, the machine does pick up quite a bit of crud on all horizontal surfaces.

Our generator is mainly meant to keep the refrigerator and freezer cold long enough for us to do something to preserve the food that is in both.  I have a good meat grinder, a decent jerky extruder and an Excaliber food dehydrator.  Anything in the freezer would get eaten or converted to jerky before it could spoil and running both freezer and outside fridge were the criteria I used to pick the generator.

If need be I can hook the generator up to the power panel out in my shop and power it up if need be.  50 amps is a useful amount of power capacity and if you can distribute it properly you have half the battle won. 

 :beer:

Online Elderberry

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Re: Backup generator maintenance
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2016, 10:01:15 PM »
I had an old Onan 2.5KW 1800 rpm generator that I had converted to run on propane when Hurricane Rita took out my power for 2 weeks.  I had a 100lb propane bottle and when I had run it down about half way, I went on a quest for propane. I had to drive about 20 miles to find propane, where I purchased a 60lb bottle.  Shortly after that I connected the generator to the natural gas hook-up for my grill. Once I retuned it for natural gas, that's what it ran on for the rest of the outage.  Finding gasoline can be a real problem in an extended outage. If you have natural gas I would highly recommend that you convert it to run on natural gas. You won't regret it.
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Online Weird Tolkienish Figure

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Re: Backup generator maintenance
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2016, 11:01:54 AM »
Imagine this is similar for a Snowblower? End of every season I run my snowblower until it peters out. Need to find a better way, either use Stabil or drain the gas.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2016, 11:03:35 AM by Weird Tolkienish Figure »
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Online EC

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Re: Backup generator maintenance
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2016, 11:38:41 AM »
Slightly different. You know you are not going to need a snowblower (or lawnmower, or leaf blower, or chainsaw) for a fixed period of time, so it's better to "winterize" them properly.

Drain the fuel. Try not to run it dry, but if you have to, you have to. Pull the sparkplug, and store it in a jar of kerosine or something, after cleaning and re-gapping it. Put an old/dead spark plug in the hole (if you don't have one, your local garage will gladly give you one with the right thread, just ask them), just a couple turns with your fingers, don't bother tightening it down fast. It's just to keep dust and spiders out. Points, if your machine is old enough, I pop the cover, stick in one of those little silica gel sachets, then grease the cover where it meets the body and put it back on.
The fastest way to a man's heart? Inch to the right of the breastbone, between the fourth and fifth rib.

Every time I start to feel boring, I remember there is a monthly magazine devoted to elevators.

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I've got a website now: Smoke and Ink


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