New generation

I picked up my new generator yesterday but it needed some 10/30 oil and a new male plug. What I did not expect was it to have a socket on the side which is the 2 pin European TUV type socket. Luckily I had an adaptor, but I lacked a 3 pin male to make a fly lead so I had to wait til today to go to B & Q to get one. It also needs 10/30 oil although I could not find any anywhere. I decided to settle for some 10/40 as I’m unlikely to face dramatically cold temperatures anytime soon. £15 friggin’ quid for a litre of the oil! Seriously, they’re having  a piggin’ laugh though! Greedy robbing bastards! but you see they know, if you want it, and need it, you will pay for it. And so works our great capitalist system.

Generator
Generator

But I digress: I got an old plastic carton and filled it with .4 of a litre of water as that is the generator’s stated oil capacity. I marked the level with a Sharpie, then emptied and dried it and filled it with oil to that level. I used the supplied funnel to fill the generator and it was precise. The oil just reached the very base of the threads that the dipstick screwed into: very neat.
I’d filled up with petrol the night before and although they say don’t brim it because of expansion, I’m a true rebel so I squeezed exactly 4 litres in instead of the recommended 3.80 litres. Blargh.

Filled with oil…Check!
Filled with petrol…Check!
Open air vent on petrol filler cap…check!
Choke out…Check!
Engine switch on…Check!
Economy mode switch on…Check!
Pulled the handle…nothing. That’s fine, petrol needs to get through. So I shoved the choke back in and gave it another pull and it started on the third pull. The green power light flashes for a few seconds then steadies and then you can plug stuff in.

I’d made the new fly lead so I plugged it in and instantly my Sterling charger came to life and after it’s internal start up check was complete it started charging. The 2 x 220 ahr batteries are down to about 12.1 volts, effectively flat, so I knew the charger would pull on the generator in order to bash a high charge out and sure enough it did.
Out of curiosity I switched economy mode off and of course the engine note got louder but still was not as loud as my old SDMO before it departed for the gennie heaven. On economy mode it was quieter still and yet powering the charger with no problem at all. One thing I noted was that to plug the fly lead in, the socket is almost at the base of the generator body so you have to bend right over and in fact it’s easier to tilt the generator back over to get the plug in. Poor design there.

Anyway. well see how long it lasts on 4 litres of petrol: my SDMO lasted 11-12 hours on 7 litres but had no economy mode. As I sit here about 2 hours after starting it I can hear it outside and it is definitely much quieter, and a sound meter app on my phone says 54db at about 7 metres. However it is ‘missing a beat’ constantly, as if it is about to start being starved of fuel or air. It’s not affecting the charging at all and my SDMO used to do this, but only once or twice per use. This is doing it every few minutes and it could be simply the engine running in, I’ll wait and see.
It fits in front of the front seat but only just, but it is lighter when filled with petrol than my SDMO was when empty. Champion state 25kg but it really doesn’t feel anywhere near that.

So, as long as it runs without any problem, and uses roughly the same amount of petrol for each battery cycle, then for £369.99 I am very happy indeed. I’ll keep you updated of course 🙂

**Quick update: it’s been running now since 19:30, that’s almost 8.5 hours and the charging routine is about where you’d expect it to be. However for the last couple of hours the engine is running almost permanently as if it’s about to cut out, faltering for a beat every few seconds. Although it’s a very quiet engine, that ‘stuttering’ is incredibly irritating. It only does it in economy mode at low power draw, so my guess would be that the economy mode  setting is too low. I could use a teeny bit of choke and see if that helps, or simply set it to run faster, there must be an adjustment on the carb. I’ll wait and see how long it gets out fo one tank of fuel first then adjust it and try again later, to compare fuel consumption.

For the techies here’s the spec from Champion:

Manufacturer: Champion
Product Code: 72001I
Continuous KVA: 0.00 KVA
Maximum KVA: 0.00 KVA
Continuous KW: 1.60 KW
Maximum KW: 2.00 KW
Sockets: 1 x 230v 13amp
Fuel Type: Petrol
Run Time: 9.50 hours
Noise Level: 53 dba @ 7m
Weight: 25.00kg
Width: 335mm
Height: 415mm
Length: 490mm
Fuel Capacity: 3.80L
Starting Method: Recoil
Frequency: 50Hz
AVR: Yes
ATS: No

A clutch of good news

Following on from getting my van back with a lovely new rear end, I decided that if I was to go abroad this year I should really get the clutch done first.

What I’ve noticed more and more is that when driving, the rev counter suddenly goes up by maybe 500 rpm’s without altering the speed, then drops back down again. I think that’s the clutch slipping. It is a 3 ton van so perhaps I could not expect the same life out of this clutch as I could from a car. 11 years and 110,000 miles is probably not that bad when you think about it.

I had been asking around as Robins and Day wanted a wallet scaring £800 to fit a new clutch. I finally got quoted £166 by Hoddy’s in Gateshead who are Vosa approved so I’ve booked the van in for Monday morning and we’ll see how they do.

I also ordered a new wing mirror. £138 from Wingmirrorman. Now when you stack a wing mirror against a new clutch to be fitted and there’s only £28 difference, what’s that all about!

I had spent some time shopping around for a new generator too and was becoming bogged down by so many makes. Finally a Welsh company stepped up with some advice and they narrowed my choices down to two: a Yamaha and a new American import called Champion. As the Champion was much cheaper at only £370 I decided to go for that one. I should get it tomorrow so hopefully it will live up to all the hype.

It’s always an anxious time spending this amount of money on anything, especially with a company you haven’t used before. I’m thinking positively though, the generator simply has to work as well as my old one and I will be content.

I’ve been really busy copying all of my 2000+ DVD’s to hard drive so I’ll try and get round to adding some photos to the last few posts when I get the chance.

Generator finally dies

As the van will be going in for repair on Thursday, I decided to run the generator to make sure the batteries are topped up to fully 100% charge before it’s left, as leaving batteries discharged even partially affects their life span greatly.

Half way through I noticed a fluctuation from the charger and I could hear the gennie stuttering as if it was running out of fuel. I went out to have a look and the vent in front of the electronics was blowing out sparks! Also I pulled the plug out of the generator itself and found the industrial rubber plug I’d put onto the fly lead had melted. The whole socket assembly was also melted and sparks were flying everywhere. Luckily the cut off switch worked and I shut it down as the engine was hammering along happily still despite the heat and sparks.

I’ve not even bothered to open it up yet, I may not bother at all because I doubt I’d be able to figure out why this happened, I’ll just presume a component failed. I do need to have one despite the solar panels, so there’s at least £500 I’ll have to spend that I didn’t want to.
The generator is an SDMO Booster 2kw and is about 7 years old and for most of those years it has been run every 3 days for 11-12 hours. I have no idea at all if that is good or bad, but I know places like markets and burger vans run their’s all day every day. Never mind, the Hyundai’s come highly recommended and they won’t break the bank so I’ll just do a little more overtime to pay for a new one *sigh*

New solar panel

As the solar panels I fitted last August have proven so reliable I’ve decided to order another one. My controller can handle about handle 390 watts which in all likelihood is more than I will get from my 4 x 100 watt panels as they’re never likely to work at 100% efficiency.
There’s space on the roof too for one more and then that’s it. So what the heck, judging by performance so far I’d say all 4 and all of the gear to fit them will have been paid for by the end of spring if not before, by not having to run the generator.
These are the panels I have:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Biard-Monocrystalline-Solar-Approved-Charging/dp/B008MZKKVE/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1427513391&sr=8-4&keywords=biard+100+watt

If anyone wild camps I’d suggest this is a way to go if you have space on your roof and some capital to spare for a few months.

Solar panels are ‘wow’

I installed my solar panels 17 weeks ago today. 3 x 100 watt Biard panels on the roof.
Normally I’d recharge batteries with the gennie once every 3 days and it costs a tenner in petrol for the gennie each time.
So, 17 weeks is 119 days, that’s 40 times I’d have charged the batteries in that period, meaning, £400 of petrol.
However with having the panels, I’ve only had to charge the batteries using the gennie 5 times in that period, that’s £50. So I’ve saved £350 in petrol in that time.
The panels and all the associated bits cost just under £700, so in that 17 weeks I’ve already saved half the cost of them.
Wow is all I can say.

Booster needs a Boost

Last year the pull cord on my SDMO Booster generator snapped and I replaced it with some tough para cord I found in B and Q.  Everything was fine although it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever taken apart.  I didn’t mind really as it’s lasted about 6 years before needing replacing.

However some time after that I noticed that when I started it up, after a minute or 3 the engine would cut out. I just started it again and it was fine. After some months, it cut out twice and each time I had to start it again. When I had changed the pull cord some oil had leaked from the sump into the air filter as I had it on it’s side. (Duh at me) So I put it in for a full service which cost me £60.  New filter, things cleaned, plug done, oil changed etc so when it started doing the same thing again I was bothered. I went back to the place that serviced it and explained and they shrugged and said they could do nothing as it must be the electrics. I can find nowhere that seems to repair generators which is odd.

Lately, it takes much longer to start. This morning I had to restart it 8 times before it ran. Each time it runs for about a minute, then about 10 seconds each time I restart, until it finally runs. It’s getting  a major drag now so I think it’s time I stripped it down and see what I can do. I can’t really make it much worse, and Clarke’s do a 2Kw suitcase gennie now for £450 so it’s not going to cost me the earth if I have to replace it. Obviously I don’t want to have to, but I want to see if I can fix something as it’s driving me bonkers.

I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

Got my new generator

I finally bought a new generator. I chose the SDMO 2kw suitcase model shown below.  It was only £550, which for a generator of it’s power is quite a decent price. The nearest to it was the Honda 2kw which was over £1,500.

Picture of a suitcase type generator
SDMO Booster 2000

It uses the same engine as the Honda, and since trying it I’ve found it lasts about 11-12 hours on one tank of petrol which is about 7 litres, which is phenomenal.  It’s not quite as quiet as the Honda, but it’s quiet enough that if you’re in a noisy place, or 30 feet from anyone it will just sound like an engine running.

Running the van engine was very costly in diesel, and I was told that HDI engines weren’t designed to idle for long, so running it for hours to charge the batteries was going to damage the engine eventually. So far I’m very happy with it and it’s going to save me some cash too.

New generation!

Elecsol carbon fibre batteryRight, I’ve looked at generators and the Honda suitcase seems to be the very best you can get.

The only problem is I don’t have Honda money. So instead I’ve sourced an SDMO Booster which uses a Honda engine, but costs a quarter of the Honda at only £550

I’ll be getting one of those then.