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  1. #1
    Sharpshooter

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    Mistakes I've Made

    1. Expensive and hard to keep running gasoline powered tools.
    While my chain saw is the exception, most of the gas powered tools are total crap.
    Weed eaters, post hold drills, large drills, etc. that have PLASTIC carbs that degrade from fuel exposure, fuel lines that degrade from fuel exposure, etc.

    My 'Fix', I just don't buy gas powered tools anymore.

    2. Battery powered tools.
    While battery powered tools aren't entirely useless, they have MAJOR issues, mostly chargers & batteries.
    There is no 'Universal' battery, every brand and sometimes type of tool has a different battery.
    The old batteries didn't last long in use, then wouldn't take a charge at all....

    My 'Fix' was to gut the batteries, solder a cord to the terminals, and use full size batteries.
    My Jeep has an extra battery on a quick connect so it comes out easily, I just take that battery to the job.
    This made the pile of battery powered tools laying around here useful again since every tool from 8 volts to 18 volts will do fine running off a 12 volt vehicle battery.
    This is especially handy when working out in the pasture/farm ground/around the homestead jobs.
    Keep in mind there are MILLIONS of tools with dead batteries for little to nothing at yard sales, thrift stores, auctions, etc...

    3. Storing liquid fuel, kerosine, gasoline, diesel.
    It draws moisture, it's crazy unsafe to store indoors, it's subject to climate contamination outdoors, and it degrades over time.
    It's also a target for thieves.

    Since I had gasoline powered vehicles, gasoline & diesel powered generators, propane stove, water heater, cloths dryer & home heat...

    The 'Fix'.
    Generators are normally 'Fixed' and can be run off small LPG (propane) tanks when they move,
    Propane never goes 'Bad', long term storage (and buying when the cost is low) isn't a problem.
    Any gasoline or diesel engine will run fine on propane,
    Converting a gasoline or diesel engine to propane often gives you dual fuel options, I converted my combustion engines to propane.

    One advantage is the combustion engines run a lot cleaner, reducing consumption of lubrication oil & filters, the engines live longer.

    This also gives me 'Stealth', underground propane tanks are not visible...

    4. Storing Bleach...
    First off, liquid bleach has a shelf life, it looses potency over time.
    Bleach degrades containers over time, nothing like opening the door to the pantry and seeing a bleach bottle cracked, bleach all over the floor!
    I need bleach for the wells from time to time (well water), and the normal everyday uses around a homestead/farm.

    Every 'Prepper' should consider bleach as a way to treat water simply because it's stupid easy and extremely effective, no biological can survive bleach treatment, and leaving water in an open container, or pouring water back & forth between two containers will remove most of the bleach (and chemical smell/taste).

    The 'Fix'.
    Dry sodium hypochlorite from the pool store or farm store.
    Liquid 'Bleach' is *Usually* a 5.25% solution of sodium hypochlorite in water.
    I just don't buy the water... Extremely less expensive this way...

    5. Batteries.
    This came about from batteries in my equipment being stolen, and when I installed serious solar power.

    I use industral connectors, name brand Anderson. (Look up 'Anderson Connector' on eBay)
    This allows me to pull the extra battery from my Jeep and plug it directly into the farm equipment in about 30 seconds, and I take the battery with me when I park the equipment.
    No more stolen batteries and damaged cables, no more batteries being damaged from being undercharged from disuse.
    With common Lead-Acid battery prices skyrocketing, and they are also easy to damage, this was a real money saver for me.

    Keep in mind a second battery in a vehicle gives you redundancy, if the alternator fails, you can go a LONG WAY on just battery power.
    Two 12 volt vehicle batteries in series will weld steel!
    For the 'Bug Out Vehicle', it's redundancy/reliability, it's a winch, it's a welder, it's camp power, the list goes on...

    6. 'Utility Vehicle'.
    You NEED an 'Off Highway' (not 'Off Road') vehicle for work & transportation on a farm/homestead/'Bug Out'...
    I see people buying all kinds of 'Sport' vehicles, and I used my little old (simple) Jeep for years.
    While trying to find some 6 volt deep cycle batteries for my expanding solar power, I got a tip on a golf cart...
    Battery powered, suspension, roof over the passengers, the guy had troubles and bought a new cart,
    To get the new batteries in the old cart I had to haul off the cart...

    This is between 36 & 48 volts of high amperage DC power that is self mobile.
    No 'Fuel', no oil/filters, no coolant/radiator, no transmission lube.
    I mounted two high production solar panels on the roof, added the capability to plug the cart into the battery bank for the home, unplug it when I needed power & transportation in the field.

    I added reels for extension cord, welding leads & air hose.
    A DC air compressor & reserve tank provide air power,
    A DC to AC inverter provides power to common power tools,
    The battery power is more than enough to weld with, and field welding on a farm is a gift from the self-sufficiency gods!

    It won't pull a plow, but it will pull a lawn tractor utility trailer full of rock (or supplies), the deer you put down in the 'back 40', several fence posts, it's SUPER quiet, and it will charge itself anytime the sun is out !
    This is a CRAP LOAD of power in a small, quiet, light weight package, and by far the handiest 'Utility' vehicle I've ever seen...
    When I took it away from home, knowing full well it would be used in the camp for days, I took along a little Honda generator and only ran the generator to charge the cart, keeping run time on the generator to a minimum and still having plenty of power for the camp.

    In about 12 years the ONLY mechanical work I've had to do is a battery change, wheel bearings, tires & a couple solenoids.
    It's ugly, a little slow, but it's stupid functional & easy to maintain.

    7. 'Latest & Greatest'...
    This particularly applies to vehicles & tools/equipment...

    An example is the 'Farm Truck', or in the case of the 'Prepper', it's the 'Bug Out' vehicle...
    Over the last 15 years or so the guys I hang out with have constantly updated their vehicles, "Newer & Better", and we all do off road/trail riding exercises for training & entertainment. Hunting & fishing 'Stay-cations'.

    I have a little old (73 CJ5) Jeep that will simply go nearly anywhere...
    It has two batteries, it has two fuel pumps, it has two ignitions, it has two engine cooling fans,
    It runs happily sitting in water on top of the hood,
    It has manual steering, manual brakes, manual shift, manual transfer case, manual hub lockouts, etc.
    The spare tire carrier is a complete front spindle assembly, snout, bearings, rotor, lockout in case any of that fails.
    Both right & left front axle shaft assemblies with U joints are in a PVC tube mounted underbody on a frame rail.
    An ammo can mounted on the frame rail has all the specialized tools needed for an old Jeep, spindle puller, flange puller, wheel bearing socket, etc.

    The farm jack has a handle of thick wall tubing with a 1/2" drive adapter welded to it.
    Rear wheel flanges take up to 500 ft.lb. of torque, and you aren't going to do that with common breaker bar.
    The tubing can be cut off to slip over and repair broken tie rods, and two batteries let's me stick weld axle flanges to the axle in the rear when they strip, or to weld in the handle tubing to the tie rod when it snags/breaks.
    The jack handle is thick enough walled to use as a land anchor for winching, it's strong enough to make a long arm if a spring mount breaks, and it's one heck of a pry bar!

    I have an 86 Grand Wagon that is set up for expedition, about the same way...
    It's large enough I can sleep in it, it's big/heavy enough I can tow another vehicle with it on the highway, and it's lockable, watertight tool & equipment storage.

    The point is,
    This wasn't done overnight, and while I don't have 20 speaker radio, bun warmers, power seats, tampon dispensers, etc. there is very little that can go wrong, the parts/tools are there to fix what normally goes wrong, and I'm not loosing all my work/modifications every 3 to 5 years...
    Pre-computer, redundancy in all the engine support systems (fuel, ignition, cooling), and it has capabilities that even military vehicles don't have...

    The neighbors down the road bought a new small farm tractor...
    That thing need a Wi-Fi connection to self diagnose/update, and virtually nothing on it is user serviceable, it has to go back to the dealership for almost EVERYTHING...
    Nothing about the operation is easy, everything is symbols instead of simply stating what the knob or lever is for, and there are so many interlocks & safeties you can't get much done, it's like a combination lock you don't have the combination for, and the manual reads like stereo instructions in Korean...

    Buy quality, buy what you need (and no more!), buy as common as possible, and take care of your equipment.
    KISS: Keep It Stupid Simple!
    There is a reason the 30s and 40s farm tractor are still around and being used everyday...
    A hammer or anvil only needs to be just 'So' complicated, and the rest is just 'Style' over substance.

  2. #2
    Greyman Apprentice Old Bear's Avatar

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    Excellent post!!!
    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger......except Bears......Bears will KILL you

  3. #3
    Master Alamo's Avatar

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    Good stuff.

  4. #4
    I Care...Really
    churchmouse's Avatar

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    Great post. I really hope you did not do all of that on your phone.....
    AKA..Thor. Odin son. God of thunder.
    But you can call me John.....Force.

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  5. #5
    Sharpshooter

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    The most expensive ($$$) mistake I made was solar power.
    I started small and there is enormous economy in scale when it comes to solar power.

    I started with 12 volt vehicle batteries, the first mistake.
    These are STARTING batteries, lots of power all at once and designed/built to last 5 years, but ONLY if constantly charged.
    The USEABLE capacity of a starting battery is 20% or less, so 80% of 'Potential' power never gets tapped, and if you do use that power, it actually damages the battery.

    There are 'Marine Deep Cycle' batteries, still automotive, and neither a true deep cycle or a true starting battery.

    Both the above are 'Consumer' grade batteries, NOT built for rough service or deep, prolonged discharge.

    The most economical battery commonly available are 'Golf Cart' batteries.
    They are more of a 'Commercial' grade battery,
    Plates 'Captured' both top & bottom so the plates so often break loose,
    There is a 'Mud Tray', a space below plates for accumulated crud to collect without shorting out the plates,
    There is extra room for electrolyte at the top of the plates so they go longer between maintenance (adding water),
    And they are more of a 'Deep Cycle' than boat batteries.

    The draw back is they are 6 volts, so you need two for 12 Volts, 4 for 24 Volts, 8 for 48 volts...

    My best 'Stumble Into' was steel case fork truck batteries, actual INDUSTRAL batteries...
    I found some being sold for scrap weight that had a damaged cell, I simply jumped the cell and used them for about 9-10 years before they finally died, and since scrap weight price had went up, I actually made a little money.
    These are true deep cycle and they have HUGE amp/hr rating.

    I bought those little 'Battery Maintaining' solar panels like the ones sold at Horror Freight...
    What a total waste of time & money!
    Constant problems with moisture, terminals that corroded, 'Glass' that darkened...

    The large, high output panels from name brand manufacturers, particularly European ( not China!) Manufacturers have done the best job over the last 15-18 years, many still doing the rated output all these years later, and virtually trouble free.

    Cheap inverters cost me a bunch, first square wave fried sensitive electronics, modified sine wave is hard on power adapters, some motors & sensitive electronics,
    A REBUILDABLE, PURE SINE WAVE inverter isn't cheap, but it runs EVERYTHING without issues.
    It's REALLY very difficult to buy 'Too Big' of an inverter, but it's really easy to get one that's too small!

    Then came the little annoying stuff, premade cables are all crap.
    I finally bought a roll of welding cable, good insulation, pure (virgin) copper with no alloy mixed in, and I learned to use heavy crimpers (mechanical connection), then use ELECTRICAL silver bearing solder (electrical connection), then use the industral heat shrink tubing with glue to seal up the copper, keep battery corrosion away from my expensive copper.
    Welding cable is fine strands, both easier to work with and it's carries more amperage than a similar gauge of 'Battery' cable.

    What made life SO MUCH more simple...
    Putting battery strings on push carts!
    This sounds simple, but it makes life so much more simple!
    The batteries aren't on the floor, so no standing on your head trying to service them!
    Since they are mobile, switching positions of strings in the battery bank is stupid simple.
    Anderson connectors make moving batteries in the bank easier, and it makes for the cheapest, most positive DISCONNECTS you will ever do, disconnects being absolutely necessary for safety, and a requirement for any code.

    The connectors are idiot proof, you can't hook them up backwards,
    The connectors are color coded, one color won't plug into another color,
    There are reasonable priced, and dirt simple/foolproof attachments for the disconnect of the circuit.
    Manual is good, while simple/foolproof is great!

    This is a mistake I made with an inverter...
    I used common (amperage) circuit breakers in the home breaker box, then I pinched a cord shorting it out.
    (I know people that have driven screws & nails through lines, cut lines with a saw, etc. with the same results).
    While common home AC breakers trip on amperage overload, this will KILL an inverter!
    I had a couple hundred dollars in Square D, QC, visible trip indicator breakers (really good grid AC breakers),
    What I needed to keep the inverter alive was CURRENT overload breakers.

    In the time it took for the amperage breaker to heat up and trip, the inverter was cooked!
    Big inverters with all the goodies aren't cheap, $1,500 to $3,500 commonly, so this wasn't good.
    This is where I learned about breakers, since the inverter I was using WAS NOT re-buildable.

    Maintenance of batteries is a learning curve, and everything on the internet is either not stressed enough, or lies/myth.
    I actually visited three different battery manufacturers to get reliable, and overlapping PROVABLE information...
    NEVER DOs...
    Never drain a battery & add new electrolyte.
    Never turn a battery on it's side.
    Never add anything to a battery other than room temp DISTILLED water.
    Never mix different size, type or aged batteries together in a string.
    Never allow a battery to freeze, ideally keeping the battery above 35*F. And below 100*F.

    Adding electrolyte to batteries (that didn't come dry with a bottle/bag of electrolyte for that specific battery) will screw up the electrolyte balance and seriously damage the battery life.
    Electrolyte is sulfuric acid, the sulfur binds to plates, adding MORE sulfuric acid will damage the plates.

    Turning a battery in it's side shifts plates, and can bend/break the delicate connections.
    Turning a battery on it's side can allow the 'Mud' in the bottom to short out plates.

    Anything but DISTILLED water will carry chemicals and solids into the battery.
    This one isn't negotiable, city 'Tap' water is full of chemicals, iron from rusty pipes, dissolved solids (like lime) that will coat plates and neutralize the acid electrolyte.

    Different types, sizes, ages of batteries require different charge rates...
    While an older battery is demanding more charge, the newer battery is getting OVER CHARGED and damaged (cooked).
    Larger batteries in a string will discharge less (% of total) than smaller ones for any given draw on them, so again, charge requirement differences.

    Common lead/acid batteries work best around 80*F.
    A battery will live longest between 55*F and 70-75*F.
    Above 100*F and you are reaching the point most thermoplastic cases become soft, and can very well shift allowing plates to shift or breaking seals between cells.
    At 32*F a battery will take 4 to 5 times longer to convert chemical stored energy to electrical current, reducing the charge capacity & output capacity by 75-80%.
    At 0*F the battery is down to about 10% or less of normal capacity.
    When a battery freezes, you are guaranteed damage to the plates, cells, connections & bridges.

    Since batteries generate their own heat when charging or discharging, and when they are in a tray or cart, you simply leave an air gap between batteries so they can shed heat (cool) in the summer,
    And that gap gets filled with foam insulation board in the winter to increase productivity.
    (Since mine are on a cart, I store insulation under the top tray with a bungie cord, and I keep the batteries in a foam board insulated room)

    The MOST SIGNIFICANT things you can do for batteries,
    ONLY use distilled water!

    When batteries charge, or discharge, the batteries will split the electrolyte into component parts (electro-chemical process, side effect of converting electrical current into chemical energy, than back into an electrical current).
    Batteries will 'Off Gas' hydrogen sulfide, and oxygen, this is a corrosive, explosive gas.
    (Vents are a requirement so gas doesn't build up)

    Sulfur will stick to the plates in a sold form, this scale is called 'Sulfidation' and it will eventually choke off the electrolyte from reaching the plates, and it can build up to the point it bends/warps and shorts out plates.

    There is an electrical gadget you connect to the charging source line called a 'De-Sulfidator', they are cheap, easy to install and you simply run a de-sulfidation cycle on the battery, that will knock the sulfur back into suspension in the electrolyte/added water.
    I'm not kidding or exaggerating here, routine de-sulfidation will DOUBLE the life of the larger batteries, add about an extra 1/4 or 1/3 to smaller batteries.

    Some of the larger batteries have this feature installed in them from the factory and do the job automatically.
    I run several battery strings (different age, size or types in strings, I don't replace an entire battery bank at the same time) so I run a de-sulfidation unit on each string in the battery bank.
    (I like 'Stand Alone' or 'Modular' components since I built the system from scratch and can replace any part as needed)

    There is a learning curve for everything, and the more you have, the more you need to learn...

  6. #6
    Expert Itchytriggerfinger's Avatar

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    Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your knowledge.

  7. #7
    Sharpshooter

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    How I screwed up solar panels...

    Being a farm boy, Marine, and generally over building everything (bunker mentality), and I live in Indiana's version of tornado alley...
    I went to the lumber yard and got a bunch of very expensive 6"x6" treated posts, some very expensive large/long stainless bolts, bags of cement and headed home.
    The ground is quite Sandy here, so DEEP holes with 6"x6" set in concrete posts, everything braced & bolted together, strong enough to park a battle tank on!...

    Now, keep in mind the panels themselves & the clamps that hold the panels in place aren't 1/1,000 the strength the rack is, but it sure LOOKS solid...

    Two very big issues popped up in the next 3 months,
    The panels started at the ground, so the rack started at the ground. No way to mow UNDER the panels/rack, and a weed eater around expensive panels is a stupid idea...
    Solar panes are wired in series, the output from one is funneled into the next. If ONE panel is shaded (weeds!) It reduces ALL output.

    The second was, no adjustment!
    No way to track sun across sky, and no way to change inclination for lower winter sun, higher summer sun, and they were inclined since I did this in summer, cutting me real short on charge during the winter...

    (High I.Q. and 'Smart' are two entirely different things...)

    The weeds limited the panels in the summer, the inclination limited the panels in the winter.
    I'm going to need a LOT more panels at this rate....

    ------

    This is how I backed into a fix, burning $100 bills along the way...

    There were the remains of two old office trailers when I purchased the property, one of which I made into a 'Hay Wagon' trailer.
    Cut off the posts, fully intending to raise, build upwards, and bolt the way overbuilt rack on top, correction inclination in the process...

    What actually happened was I cut the rack off the base posts and put it up on the trailer to make it easier when the platform was built.
    I found by simply turning the (free) trailer I could get considerably more production out of the panels as they tracked the sun east to west,
    And the (free) trailer fame was high enough I could simply mow under it when I was mowing the rest of the yard...

    Keep in mind, the panels are in use, they are producing while on the trailer, I'm moving the trailer to make enough power to do the work on the platform.
    I nearly had the extension done before it dawned on me the extension was the same height as the trailer, but the trailer tracked the sun...

    SQUARE ONE AGAIN, and about $2,000 out the window...

    ------

    How do you pivot a trailer to track the sun when you aren't there?
    Take an old big truck axle, set it vertically in concrete, and use the other end wheel bearings to rotate the trailer from the center.
    On wheel bearings intended to move about 20,000 pounds at 75 MPH down the highway, it only took finger pressure to move the entire trailer fame, panels & rack.

    Use the trailer axles/wheels to stablize the ends, and a satellite dish screw jack for power on a timer...

    Hinges at the tops of the panels, a cam plate at the bottom to change inclination for the seasons, and it's the best of both worlds...
    Rotating a cam a few degrees every 3 months isn't what I'd call 'Hard Work'.
    Maximum output from the panels all year around, built from scrap, more solid than the panels themselves, and the ability to rotate the panels out of the wind if necessary...
    I can mow around the edges, and spray weeds that grow under the trailer with no danger to the panels...

    Like I said, MISTAKES!
    Someone has to set a bad example...
    Last edited by JeepHammer; 01-11-2019 at 18:26.

  8. #8
    Sharpshooter

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    No one else has ever made a mistake?

    I'm SHOCKED!
    OR...
    You all are lying!

    ------

    How to screw up a generator (gasoline powered genset)...

    No money, no power, battery powered tools are next to useless,

    So you go gas powered tools, EVEN WORSE IDEA!
    Nothing like those PLASTIC carbs that dissolve in GASOLINE!

    Then you come back around to electric tools, but common corded tools, that takes a genset when your about a mile past nowhere...

    I'm off 70 miles to Horror Freight and buy a genset that's *Supposed* to be "Just Like Craftsman".
    I'm ignorant, so I believe it... Certainly LOOKS like a Briggs motor, but what do I know about small engines?...

    70 miles home...

    About 3 hours in, the diaphram in the gravity feed carb gives up.
    It's 'Pretty Close' but not quite the same as a Briggs...


    Off 70 miles to Horror Freight, no replacement parts available, but I can bring the genset back and exchange for a new one...
    70 miles back home...


    ----------

    These are 70 miles trips in a 1973 CJ5 Jeep,
    The Navy wore it out,
    Then the state of Indiana tried to junk it before I got it.
    Manual steering, manual brakes, manual shift, the speed/odo broke at 88,000 miles, and it still has the factory steering box, ball joints & tie rod ends, 4:56:1 gear sets, I'm SCREAMING at 55 MPH.

    I don't own a top and you are taking your life into your own hands at 55 MPH!
    Truly terrifying!

    ------

    Load up the genset, 70 miles back to Horror Freight...
    After growling about no box/packing, and I had taken the carb off, they FINALLY exchanged for a new one...
    70 miles back home and about 3 hours into the new one, it quits, crud in the fuel tank plugs the screen filter (looks like melted plastic).

    Another 70 miles trip to Horror Freight to exchange this one (I'm not messing with it this time), and they are out of stock, but they will give me store credit and let me know when a shipment arrives...
    Or,
    I can take the store credit & drive 200 miles to the next nearest store that has one in stock.
    I choose drive because I need it LAST week...

    200 miles in the wrong direction, 270 total, I ask for they genset they said they had 3 hours ago, no genset...
    270 miles home and so mad I could chew tires!!!
    Too tired to kill anyone at this point...

    70 miles back to Horror Freight to exchange my store credit for refund, sorry, once you take store credit we can't give you a refund...
    70 miles back home... CONSIDERING HOMICIDE EVERY INCH OF THE WAY...


    -------

    I see an advertisement for a 4,000 watt Craftsman in the news paper, call the guy and ask how much, then proceed to tell him I have a Horror Freight gift certificate for $XXX amount, and would he be interested...
    He wanted a little utility trailer and would trade a trailer & cash for his generator...

    70 miles to Horror Freight to get the trailer he chose, 68 miles back home a wheel bearing locked up!
    Which wasn't all bad, the hitch wasn't bolted down tight and was coming loose, I noticed that while kicking the trailer & cussing...

    Into the farm store to get bearings, they carry 'China' junk...
    JACKPOT! The only break this whole adventure... $70...

    Get the wheel bearings changed and trade for the Craftsman genset, back home...

    ------

    NOW...
    This is the point where I rebuild the front end of the heap Jeep...
    After about 200 near death experiences, being blown completely off the road by big trucks a couple times, and more involuntarily lane changes than I can count...

    I'm broke and stupid, not SUICIDAL!

    --------

    The Craftsman has a well known defect to everyone but me at that time, the low oil sensor failed and the engine wouldn't run.
    New low oil sensor on a lawnmower motor, how much can that cost? $10, maybe $20?
    $130 and I had to wait until it got there, Sears/Briggs was sold out, no free warranty repair since I wasn't the original owner...

    SCREWED AGAIN!

    Have you ever listened to a lawnmower scream all day for the hour you might actually be using it 30 seconds at a time to run a saw or drill?
    There has GOT to be a better way!

    So...
    Some months later I'm looking at a wrecked motor home in the salvage yard, stove - check, fridge - check, water system/sink/shower - check!
    How do they run this stuff...
    7,500 watt, low RPM, cast iron block, air cooled Onan genset... Low RPM, doesn't scream and rattle your fillings loose, and the 7,500 watts are CONTINUOUS, not 'Peak'.
    $150 bucks out the door and I tested it before I bought it, 16 hours on the meter!

    Then winter came...
    Both gensets in storage for most of the winter.
    The Onan has a fuel pump, so it's gas can sits beside it, the carb dies out over time.
    The Craftsman has the (plastic) fuel tank on top, no shut off valve, carb stays wet all winter (but it does have little plastic wheels & a handle... And those great 'Craftsman' stickers....)

    Spring comes, Onan fires right up, the Craftsman has so much fuel varnish in the bowl the needle won't open, carb rebuild out of the box...

    Summer comes, serious work to be done, the wheels break off the Craftsman, and the plastic fuel fitting on the bottom of the tank starts leaking.
    Seems it doesn't like vibration very much...

    I built a cart for the Onan out of a flat aluminum plate & $10 worth of military surplus store wheels, still working 17 years later.
    With a hose from fuel pump, I can draw from ANY fuel can without pouring or leaks.

    Winter rolls in, I have time to work on the place but need heat to stay alive... (Humans are funny that way...)
    That heat was a propane heater.
    After the creek flooded me in for 3 days, I'm out of gasoline, so with a little messing around, the Onan was running on propane.

    I tried running the Craftsman/Briggs on propane, but learned a lesson about soft valve seats and no lubrication in CNG/Propane.

    The Onan engines are multi-fuel, learned that in the manual, there are gasoline carbs, alcohol carbs & propane diffusers all for exactly the same engine.
    I opted for an aftermarket gas defuser (with safety shut downs) that mounts on the carb, leaving me the option to run it off gasoline if I need to.
    The fuel pump & carb are still there, just dry.

    Craftsman... Gas tank cracked over time, there goes another $175, and I fixed the rubber grommet & plastic fuel outlet, now brass shut off with fuel safe seal.
    Ever try to get a nut on a fitting inside a fuel tank that's offset from the fill opening? I have...
    It has hardened valve seats now, I own a machine shop

    About three years in, and not being used much, the Craftsman generator let out the magic smoke.
    Total loss, no way to rewind it and no replacements available.
    At least it didn't catch the fuel tank on fire and burn the outhouse down! (Silver lining!)

    I used the side pulley motor for a water pump for a while to water the garden, but after I got a fully functioning pressure water system up & running it's been sitting in the back of the shop being scavenged for parts.

    Meanwhile, the Onan has accumulated about 11,000 hours, got a sold state (breaker-less) ignition, and still starts right up and runs smoothly along!
    The propane conversion was $130, the solid state ignition was $30, and I made an air cleaner that takes cheap, round car type filters, two flat plates of aluminum cut in circles and a longer center bolt...

    You just have to love high nickel cast iron blocks, ductile iron sleeves (makes rebuilds a snap!), hardened valve seats & stainless steel valves!

    Since there are MILLIONS off these things in light plants, water pumps, air compressor and all kinds of mining/industral/construction equipment, the aftermarket supports them like crazy, and Onan still to this day, 20 years after manufacture, still lists all parts for it as 'Available' on the web site.

    -------

    How NOT to do a genset, Horror Freight!
    How NOT to have a reliable genset, or a genset that rattles your fillings loose, no lawn mower motors!
    While a ton of Briggs parts are still available, or will work in your applications, you have to find someone that knows what will & won't work,
    Or buy extra parts while they are available under the current part numbers.

    I've had a master rebuild kit for the Onan laying round here for 10 years, sleeves, pistons, rings, bearings, cam, gaskets, etc. The entire deal, just don't know when I'll get to use it, but since I bought it as surplus for $30 it can set here a while longer... Coal mine went out of business and had a few kits...
    I picked up two other engines/generators from light plants at the same auction, spare parts in case my hard parts aren't serviceable (heads, cranks, etc)
    Not like it's going to spoil!

    I DO recommend you buy the FACTORY manual, maintenance, troubleshooting, teardown & rebuild, plus wiring, for about $15.
    On line manuals are great, just remember, when the power goes down you are screwed without printed copies!
    (Nothing breaks when you AREN'T using it!)
    Last edited by JeepHammer; 01-13-2019 at 20:57.

  9. #9
    PATRIOT indyjohn's Avatar

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    This is great reading, all content I am embedded in currently. I am really thankful I've fortunately used your solutions already to avoid learning your lesson myself.

    I needed to find this thread last Saturday morning while I was tucked in watching the snow fall outside.
    "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."
    - Dwight D. Eisenhower

  10. #10
    Sharpshooter

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    I do my best NOT to nail my foot (or any other parts of my anatomy) to the floor, but it's going to happen once in a while...

    The only person that doesn't screw up is the one NOT doing anything!
    Successful people move forward, always forward.

    You save a LOT of time when you take the blame for mistakes.
    Usually people won't try anything new, then when something goes wrong, they spend much more time trying to avoid or FIX the blame than it takes to FIX the problem.

    When you screwed up and took the blame, my grandpa always had three questions,
    1. Were you doing something stupid or trying to work?
    2. Did you learn anything?
    3. Are you going to do it again?

    MUCH to his credit, that has stayed with me.
    Fix the blame or fix the problem, you can't do both at once...
    If someone took the blame, then it's on to fixing the problem IMMEDIATELY.

    He never threw it back in our faces after we answered his questions, move forward, always forward...
    Or his version, "You can't put back in a donkey, move on."

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