Another Broken Generator

A little frosty this morning at Walden Puddle. This morning the reading at our thermometer was -27c which was only one degree colder that what was being reported in town. I have noticed that we can vary by as much as 3 degrees from the reading in town (14km) away.
Yesterday was a day of mixed fortune, the snow removal went pretty good. Our winding 900ft driveway is decently cleared, the yard is largely done except for a few corners and work areas that I will tend to as time allows. The road from our approach to the first corner has a goat trail done. I don’t want to spend too much time on that section, as it might give the RM snowplow driver an excuse to pass us by. A new challenge got tossed onto the pile when E went to harvest some firewood. The small generator we have for that purpose kicked back while starting, eating the starter cord and giving E a sore hand in the process. Since this machine is also our emergency backup to the main generator, getting it working again is top priority. I stripped it down last night and it does not look too bad. The cord had jumped off it’s spool and wrapped around the shaft. There was some minor damage to the cooling fins, but I am hoping that all we need is a piece of suitable cord. I had one in my spares box, but it turned out to be too thick. So its off to town as soon as I can get the truck started. The battery in the truck is on it’s last legs, so starting in the cold is a challenge. As soon as E left for work, I laid out our longest extension cord and got the block heater plugged in. I suspect that it will also take the battery charger to get it to turn over. The pickup was parked about 75 feet away from the power source because of the shuffling that comes with snow removal. After today, it will be tucked up close to the generator shack at least until after the new battery arrives.

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5 Responses to Another Broken Generator

  1. Analog Man says:

    It hasnt been quite as cold here but very overcast, so like you I am running the gennie but for charging…You dont say the type of model you have but I thought I had seen a pic of a yellow one, so I am quessing Champion? Cold weather and gennies are often a time of agrevation but I have with the Champion ones (engines less than 200 cc’s), found that if I remove the end bell cover, I can chuck up a socket in my electric drill (cordless)and put it over the nut holding the end bell on and (with it in reverse) spin the gennie up no problems, beats pulling on the cord at – 30, or this can get you going if you break a cord….if its a Champion you will break the cord….soon.
    You can also do the same thing at the other end if you remove the pull cord assy. Its actully better to do it it at this end as there is no chance of spining the nut off at this end, as you are tightening it. I also take a propane torch and warm the bowl up to get the gas to vaporise. the bowl is metal on these and I move the flame back and forth at the bottom, near the bottom…I have been known to, after getting it warm hold the flame on one spot near the bottom just until I hear a “pop”. Just some of the things I do to get going…ofcourse just having a small gennie that can be carried inside the house in winter I have found to be the best answer to cold weather.Stay warm.

  2. Hey Analog Man, Good to hear from you. We have had our adventures with the generators. We started out with an older Champion 4000watt and a new Powerfist (Princess Auto) of about the same size. The Champion is on the sideline at the moment with a broken starter cord and a undetermined engine problem. The Powerfist was a P.O.S. from day one and after numerous breakdowns was scrapped. Those were replaced by a larger 6500watt Champion with electric start, and a small (2500 watt) Hausemann . That combination has been working better. The big Champion is housed in a shack for some shelter. More improvements there should help cold weather starting. The small Hausemann is housed in the workshop and is used for emergency backup, running E’s small electric chainsaw and on the very cold mornings, it can be dragged out to power an electric heater to assist the main generator in starting.
    Your suggestion about using the cordless drill as a starter, is both a good idea and very timely. A few days ago, the starter rope on the Hausemann broke. When I took it apart, I found that the rope had jumped the spool and wrapped around the shaft. The shock of that collision destroyed the plastic parts holding the return spring and gave E a sore hand in the process. Even after cutting a new stay in the plastic holder, I was not able to get the spring return to work properly. My short term solution was to rob the entire starter assembly off my spare Champion engine on the shelf. (bless standardization) At some point, I may price the parts through Champion, but am not optimistic that it will be worthwhile. My present strategy to improve the reliability of generator power, is to repair the old Champion (time allowing) and to improve the insulation in the generator shack. Additional work will be required to work out a system of doors, vents and openings to provide and regulate cooling in all conditions. Thanks for checking in, I always value your input. Have you completed any new projects on your homestead this year?

  3. Analog Man says:

    After I posted I scrolled back through your posts and seen the powerfist gennies, I just cringed, I swear they are making those engines on worn out tooling, the design is ok the manufacture is crap.
    I have one of the Champion gennies you have, the engine is ok, but I hate the alternator, I will be pulling the alternator off and mounting a different one to it, the AVR in that one just doesnt like some of the loads I want to use, it cant source fast current spikes and folds back on me with some equipment.
    I think the 198cc engine (or is it 196) in yours is the same as the koller 208 cc engine, I know I have swaped parts around on the two.

    One thing you should check is the 1500/1200 watt champion gennie, and the 1200/ 1000 watt champion gennie, The first goes on sale around 199 to 249, the second 150 to 199 in the month of Dec. these “may” have the same pull cord assy as the 198cc engine thats on yours, you could buy one of these and use the pull cord off it to put on yours and get a spare gennie at the same time for just a little more…just a thought.
    I am time poor project wise….I am working on building a efficient 3 phase alt to mount on one of those 80cc champion engines..I am trying to build a very fuel efficient charging system for battery banks its looking very promising…getting run times of 12 hrs on 5.5liters of fuel right now the way I charge, but I really think I can do better when I finish this project.

    • Analog Man says:

      I just went and checked and I was wrong the pull cord assy from the smaller 80cc engines doesnt fit the other large champion unit, it may be the same but the mounting holes are different

    • I tried your suggestion and rigged up a power starter by putting a 3/8″ punch in my 18v cordless drill. The butt end of the punch fits into a 3/8″ drive 19mm deep socket. It spins these small engines over easily. Not tempted to buy parts as I run 6 of these engines, Honda and Honda clone so have lots of opportunity to swap and Frankenstein parts.
      I will be interested in how you make out on the high efficiency alternator project.
      Cheers and stay warm.
      Mark.

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