Monday, March 23, 2009

Talkin' 'bout my Generation

Damned generator went out last night, right when I was in the middle of a hot streak. Had to resort to candlelight and handwritten pages. Not that I mind writing with a pen. In some ways, it fuels my work. The sound of the nib scratching on the paper is like nails on a coffin lid. The main problem is that the rest of my damned script was on the computer, so I had to try to remember where I was before the power went out. Now that I have a functioning generator again, I’m going to transcribe the pages I wrote last night and we’ll see how well they integrate.

I’m still perplexed by the generator failing. I’ve had my Generac 7000 for a couple of months now. I nicknamed it “the Mangler” after that Stephen King story. It’s a solid unit and I especially like the 12 1/2 kw surge capability. I had a three pole disconnect panel installed to connect to the house. Made up a 50 foot 10-4 cord set to connect to the outside receptacle to feed the disconnect panel. It’s heavy (240 lbs) and is not all that easy to push around on a soft surface such as grass. Also, I leave the idle-down switch on the off position. When hooked into the house circuits it seems to cause the engine to surge up and down continuously when there is only a light load on it. It is also really loud, but that’s somewhat comforting during the winter when it's 30 below and the coyotes are howling nearby. Just got to remember to keep a couple of jerry-cans of gasoline around.

Last night as it got dark, I booted her up, turned off all the breakers on the disconnect panel, switched the disconnect panel to the generator side and brought the circuits back on one at a time. Everything was going great. I got out the volt meter and checked the readout on each leg. Each had 122 volts... Nice and strong. Then, after the sun went down and I’d been working solid for about an hour, the engine pitch suddenly changed and the lights went out. I took my flashlight outside, checked the output voltage. This time, the reading was 0 volts on both legs.

I shut down everything and took the generator over my workshop and carried out further tests. By this time it was midnight and I was working by flashlight and cursing up a storm. If I had any neighbors, they would have called the cops to complain, I’m sure. I opened the generator up and looked for obvious signs and smells of overheating/burning, loose connections, etc. and found nothing.

This morning, I loaded it into the van and took it in to the nearest Generac repair depot. They told me it would take about two weeks to repair. Two weeks without power? Two weeks without my computer? I couldn’t have it. So I bought another Generac 7000 right then and there. I don’t know what I’m going to do with two of these things, but I suppose it’s better to have one for backup.


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