moderately OT: Requesting advice on small generators

We had another power outage the other day. It is probable that the power will go out more often, as the power infrastructure aroud here is pretty
well maxed out. I am looking for a target of opportunity in the form of a 3KW or so generator, and like most of us , don't want to spend a lot for something that might be used once a year.
EBAY has a zillion noname "Love You Long Time" generators, and I would expect the quality to be in line with the price- very low.
The next step up appears to be the Coleman/Homelite type. Often used on a worksite, painfully loud. Never seen a manufacturer's claim for operating life.
The generators used as boat and RV APUs appear to me to start to cross the line between marketing and machine.
I have had some experience with the military gensets and would hesitate to buy one surplus; the neighbors might take an extension cord while the power was out, but after listening to the racket for a few hours I might become an interested party in a power cable lynching.
One of the things I have considered- and please talk me out of it- was buying an antique "light plant" and nursing it back to health on the theory that it ran for decades and will probably run for a couple more.
What have been your experiences?
Kevin Gallimore
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axolotl wrote:

I'd be glad to sell you my Delco Light Plant. Keep in mind you'd have to change all your lightbulbs to 32 volts though....
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I have a 27 year old light plant. Onan DJE. While it works, it is expensive to fix if something breaks. Right now it has strange starting problems, which I have not had time to pinpoint (stuck when starting).
http://igor.chudov.com/tmp/onan/Diesel/
I definitely prefer it to the "love you long time" generators, though if I had money to spare, I would buy a newer Kohler or some such with better parts support.
i
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It don't have to be all that antique. Hundreds of perfectly good Onans get retired out of junked RV's every year. Are you good at tinkering? You can find them at RV junkyards, at places like Craig's list and (naturally) on e-bay. They are where you find them. One friend of mine found his on a front end loader just before it was going to be dropped into a dumpster! They cost from $0 to about $500 depending on condition, your luck and your shopping ability.
Mine is 70's vintage, puts out an honest 4 kw all day long, and happily runs on propane or natural gas. Many have gasoline carbs. Since it only runs at 1800 RPM, it puts out a Harley Davidson-type rumble that is easy to tame with a proper housing. We can barely hear ours in the house, and the noise seems to stop at our property line.
There is an excellent Onan forum that has been a great help to me: http://www.smokstak.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=1&page=1&sort=lastpost&order=&ppP&daysprune=-1
Vaughn
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I have a 2kw Kohler Light Plant that gets used once or twice a year- reliable and will pull starting loads that modern gennys won't. Only weighs about 300 pounds.

Be careful with Onan- they offshored engine production few years back (Mexico, IIRC) and the quality went right in the sh*tter. That's why there are lots of them in boneyards- they're broken or about to break.
-Carl
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I was thinking of units from the 70's and 80's when Onan made their own engines. The CCK series is simple, common, bulletproof, and often cheap. Other models are also pretty good.
Vaughn
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Mexico is "off shore" ???? Darn, they rearranged the continents again - when did that happen?

snip
--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com


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On Fri, 3 Aug 2007 20:24:43 -0700, with neither quill nor qualm,

They're off the southern shore of the Rio Grande, Willy. Anywho, our borders are our "shores."
-- All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. --Thomas Paine
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On Sat, 04 Aug 2007 05:28:02 -0700, Larry Jaques

You mean that ditch that someone stole all the water from?
I haven't seen it myself, but I hear that there isn't enough water there to reach the ocean anymore.
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
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That ditch ? you don't mean the Rio Grande - it is a raging bull and will be for some time.
They just rescued some 'wet backs' - real ones! - last week south of El Paso.
Remember the Rio runs from central New Mexico and then to El Paso then to the Gulf of Mexico.
The 'stolen' water is the Colorado River that was tapped for growing stuff. I think to much was taken and not enough dumped. The water shortage in the dam shorted it - but long ago solved. Last time I went over it it was running well.
Martin
Martin H. Eastburn @ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net TSRA, Life; NRA LOH & Endowment Member, Golden Eagle, Patriot's Medal. NRA Second Amendment Task Force Charter Founder IHMSA and NRA Metallic Silhouette maker & member. http://lufkinced.com /
Leon Fisk wrote:

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The stuff I am talking about is bulletproof American iron of the 70's and 80's.
Vaughn
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Work out your power budget FIRST - then you will know what you need to buy. If you want to run the entire house, plus the machine shop as per normal mains connection, then you will need a BIG one - and they cost.
If you want to keep minimal , ie light, the refrigerator and freezer, then one of the Chinese Cheapy 1KW will do for occasional use. At that level, they will be 4 stroke so no premix problems. Here in OZ, under a grand.
IF you just want light, tv, NO HEATING or MOTOR needs, then a $100 Chinese 2 stroke will do it - for occasional use, the disposable nature will not be a worry - and if your power outages are no longer that 4 hours at a time, then refilling the tank wont be a bother.
Regards,
Andrew VK3BFA.
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I'd recommend the Honda EU3000. It's quieter. Mine is good for the furnace and fridge, along with a few other assorted items. It also provides a clean sine wave. I believe there are other manufacturers who've copied this unit.
Wayne D.

--

Wayne D.

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Like air compressors, generators have a number of different levels. Cheapest is the 2 cycle with an all-aluminum engine that has a plated bore. This would probably be one of the loudest, too. Probably would give you a couple of hundred running hours before crapping out. A step up from this would be one with a steel or cast iron sleeve. These units tend to be the lightest to lug around but top out at a couple of kilowatts. Once you get into 4 cycle units, they tend to get heavy in a hurry. Look for one with a large tank and a brand-name engine. If you want to go stationary, look for a set that can be run off propane or natural gas. Saves a lot of messing with keeping fresh fuel on hand and keeping the fuel system degummed. Some of the high- end units use the generator to supply a solid-state inverter to give a lot better voltage and frequency regulation than what can be done mechanically. Just depends on what you want to feed with it and how much you want to spend.
Whatever you do, make sure you get a foolproof transfer switch setup to feed your house wiring. I like the one my b-in-law ended up with, has a twist-lock 220v receptacle to take the generator feed and a big switch arm to do the cutover, all in a nice stainless steel weatherproof housing. His generator is on a wheeled carriage with a hitch for the ATV. The unit stays in the tool shed with the electric start battery on trickle charge. Come The Day(or Night), he can drag it out to the house, hook it up and fire it up. Tank is good for about 16 hours and he can feed it with gas from the ag tank he's got. It's good to fire it up monthly and let it warm up to blow out any condensed water vapor. He's in a semi-rural area where they've had outages as long as a week at times.
Stan
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Thank you, gentlemen. I will wait for a target of opportunity instead of going for the air cooled aluminum models.
The "light plant" would probably be the most fun. I could always follow a low voltage DC model with a UPS to deliver clean power.
The most economical will probably depend on what I can run across.
Kevin Gallimore
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