Sunday, 5 August 2012

Generator starts up "randomly" when the power is still on

This was the second time I received this complaint that the generator keeps starting up when the power has not gone out.  Sometimes it just starts up and shuts down after a little while or the resident goes down and shuts it down manually.  The most common cause of this is that hydro coming in is lower than the under-voltage setting of the transfer switch.  One site I went to was in south Vancouver near SW Marine Drive where hydro apparently experiences a lot of brown outs.  The transfer switch was reading that hydro was less than the low voltage setting so it told the generator to kick in and then hydro would come up a couple volts and the generator would shut off.  This time it was a small portable Honda generator at someones house hard wired into a Simson Maxwell transfer switch.  The voltage for this system is 240 volts and the UVS is set to start up the generator when voltage drops below 216vac.  I took a reading of hydro voltage coming in and it was only 210vac.  The fix for this is simple you just adjust the potentiometer for the UVS until the LED is on consistently (not flickering) and then turn it counter clockwise another full turn to prevent the generator from starting unnecessarily.
The 5kw Honda gasoline generator

Simson Maxwell transfer switch/control panel combination with ES52 engine control

The guts of the switch

The strip along the bottoms controls all of the timers for the transfer switch

 You can see the UVS and the small potentiometer (on the gray box below it) as well as the red indicator LED (to the right of the pot)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

MTU (Detroit Diesel) Filters

A little while ago when I was doing all the units for the city of Abbotsford I had to do some "gravy" jobs of going to new sites and filling out a data sheet.  You have to take down all model and serial numbers as well as part numbers for filters, batteries, etc.  You also have to take note of how a load test would be performed on the unit (how much cable, where to set up, where to park, more than one person required....)  It is a very easy and clean job so I was pretty happy.  Plus I knew that since they were all city units and I would have to be escorted to each one by a city worker that visiting a few sites would turn into a full day job.  Oh the joys of working on city worker time!  
I was filling out the data sheets for a new MTU engine and thought I was losing my mind because I could not find the oil filter(s).  I was looking around everywhere thinking they were possibly plumbed remotely or hidden somehow.  It ended up they were right on top of the engine in front of my face.  I already have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Detroit Diesel engines (or MTU same thing).  When I look at the way these filters are mounted I can tell they aren't the easiest to replace.  I love spin on filters and loathe filter cartridges almost passionately!  These filters are upside down on top of the engine to make sure that the largest amount of mess possible is made.  I definitely would change these guys before warming up the engine!  Not only would you have hot black oil spilling everywhere, including the ECU which is the filters next-door-neighbour, but you also have the piping hot exhaust to bash your knee against while you try to climb over the engine to reach the filters.  I realize not everyone is as vertically challenged as I am but I think it would be an inconvenient situation no matter your height.  Oh and on top of that it is a sub base tank mounted unit with the tank sunken into the floor with a big gap around it the perfect size to drop all of your tools down or in my case my body down!  You would have to step over the gap and do a balancing act on the frame while straddling the fuel priming panel and reaching around the exhaust to  pull off the filters.  You would want a telescopic magnet for this one for sure.  The first picture shows where the filters are located so you can get an idea of what I am whining and complaining about and the second shows "the gap". 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Why a proper exhaust system and raincap are necessary

    I was asked to take one of the girls in the office out with me for the day.  The reasoning was so that she could get a better understanding of what the service techs do and how much time to schedule for a job.  I had a fairly easy load test planned so that I could explain things as I went along and not worry about rushing.  Of course with my luck it didn't work out that way... the rad had a major leak and we could not run the engine on or off load.  So we packed up and went to a small Kohler generator for a cell phone tower to do a load test and oil change. 
    When I pulled the dipstick it was milky white and the engine would not even attempt to crank.  I took an "oil" sample and as you can see in the video it was mostly water.  The engine had been filling up with rain water from the exhaust and when it went to do it's automatic weekly start up it became hydraulically locked.  The cause of this was that the rain cap was mounted on a bit of an angle so that the exhaust would blow straight out of the enclosure.  This angle set it up perfectly so that the wind could blow open the cap and the rain could pour.  Also because of the angle the drain holes in the exhaust tubing would not let the water drain unless it was over several millimeters high in the pipe.  The photo of the exhaust pipe and rain cap is a bit hard to see because I had to take it through the grates of the enclosure but you get the idea.
    The part that blows my mind is that with both of these sites the fault could have easily been reported before hand and not wasted so much time.  When I arrived at the first site with the rad leak the onsite said "Oh and by the way a while ago there was a big stream of water coming from the generator"... Oh great!  Maybe you should have given us a call "a while ago"?  For the cell phone tower they have their generators set to run and transfer once a week every week.  The transfer switch showed that it failed to start on it's weekly test.  I wonder how many weekly tests this alarm came up showing it failed to start and who is monitoring it!  So I didn't get to show the service coordinator what a regular preventative maintenance is like but at least she got to see how often we show up to jobs and are unable to complete the work.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

What is wrong with HHO (Water Power)?

The video above shows a man using water to fuel an Onan generator, a welder/cutter, and his car.  It sounds amazing but there are a lot of reasons why it is not as magical as it sounds.  You use the process of electrolysis to break down H2O into HHO allowing the engine to run off of hydrogen.  After dealing with batteries for a few years I definitely don't feel that hydrogen is a "safer" fuel than gasoline or diesel like the video is saying.  Hydrogen is safe while in a tank but can be explosive when exposed to oxygen.  The main issue is that electrolysis requires electricity.  You are using electricity (which may not be generated in a clean way depending on where you live) to convert water to HHO to fuel an engine to turn a motor or transmission etc.  Any time you convert power you experience an energy loss (otherwise we would have perpetual motion).  If you skipped the middle man and just used the electricity to power the motor then you would eliminate a point of energy loss and the need for keeping a hydrogen bomb under your hood.
I still think it is a super cool concept and may be a better fuel source for a welder or cutter. 
Long story short:  It takes a lot more energy to produce the HHO than it actually ends up providing.

Added note:  I feel it's necessary to emphasize how ironic it can be to use (dirty) electricity produced by a coal fired generator in order to avoid burning (cleaner) fuel in your car.  No I am not saying the world should be powered by diesel!  I think there should be more focus on using energy sources that already exist (hydro, wind, solar)  and when you have a sustainable source you don't need to worry so much about energy loss during conversion.  I guess I am lucky to live in an area where the majority of the power is hydro but I am aware that there are still so much reliance on oil and coal.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Where shirts go to die (Part 1)

Do you ever wonder what happened to that ugly shirt your aunt Ruth gave you for your birthday when you were 12? Well chances like most unloved tshirts it got cut up and used as rags. I could make so many puns about them being "washed up" but I'll refrain. Here are some goodies that I destroyed today.

I am very willing to bet that the Halloween pattern was once one of those lightweight turtle necks that every kid wears at some point. Only in Vancouver would someone brag about their poor driving. Apparently the receiver of the Houston shirt did not quite feel the same as the giver.. And the quickie one is hilarious since there is no back to the shirt there is really no context!
Plenty more to come these are just the winners for today :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

John Deere (SDMO) Review

My favorite generators to service are definitely the John Deere powered SDMO. I actually consider it a good day when I realize that I'm going to work on one. Why? Here are the main reasons:
The enclosure. The SDMO enclosures are extremely quiet (around 60 decibels they claim) which makes a big difference when your running the thing on load for two hours!
The filters. The oil filters have a large lip on them with a big gasket so when you pull them off you don't even need a drip tray there is no mess at all. The fuel filter is the style that pops on and then a ring threads on and holds it in place (see the photo). Again nothing leaks out and any day you can avoid getting up to your elbows in diesel is a good one! If they have a racor style fuel/water separator a trick I use is to loosen the bowl before removing the filter so you don't get yourself covered in diesel while fighting with a bowl that someone probably over tightened (my favorite!!)
The drains. I'm a little too familiar with struggling with poorly designed oil or coolant drains for my liking. The drains on these units are all plumbed to the enclosure with a valve which makes it so easy (and clean) to perform the maintenance on and/or get your samples.
Fuel priming. This is a huge one for me! I've had coworkers complain that you have to pump the little thumb primer so many times (if you choose not to prefill the new filters with "dirty" diesel) but I would take a little thumb workout over struggling with a stubborn Detroit diesel fuel system any day!! I have never had an issue with bleeding a John Deere. The plastic bleed screw can be a bit delicate but if you don't reef on it like you do to your filters (grrr) then it should never be a problem:)
Oil fill. This seems like a weird thing to take note of. How hard is it to pour a jug into a fill spout? Very hard when there are wires and fuel tank vents and whatever else mounted directly in front!! I had to pick up a little 12v pump to fill some ridiculous units. The JD units are always right there easy to access.

There are always cons..
The only negatives I can think of would be the placement of the breaker. It's up high by the control panel which is a pain for the vertically challenged like myself. The other would have to be that the foam insulating the enclosure is so soft and squishy that if rodents get inside they chew it all up and make little mouse mansions out of it! The only reason this happens is if someone forgets to put a cap back on an access hole.
Overall they are definitely my personal favorites but I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would disagree with me. Those people are what I like to call "wrong" :)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Challenges for Women in Trades

The major challenges for a female working in a trade are not exactly what you would expect.  Your initial thought is probably physical strength.  Of course that can be an issue sometimes but there are tools out there to make almost any task possible for men and women despite their strength.  Sometimes (all the time) I wish I were a bit taller but that is the fault of my parents and has nothing to do with me being a girl.  Thanks mom and dad for that one;)  I'm sorry to offend anyone who does not believe in evolution but we adjust and evolve.  I have short stubby fingers but I always loved to play the piano.  Measure the stretch on my hand from pinky to thumb and it's comparable to that of a 6'2 man's.  I adjusted in order to play an octave or more on a keyboard the same way some biceps have magically popped up on my once scrawny arms after a couple years of humping cables and oil pails.  So here is MY list of challenges I face working in the trades because I am a girl:
  • WHERE IS THE BATHROOM!?!  I literally have to plan my day around when I can get a chance to use a bathroom.  I couldn't count the number of times I have been craving a coffee but I skipped it just because I was unsure of a certain sites location and proximity to a washroom.  I don't care how much I adjust and evolve I am never going to be able to pee standing up.  It is what it is.  For the sites that are in the back-country half way up a mountain the woods are your washroom sure... but when I'm downtown Vancouver I don't think people would really appreciate if I squatted in their shrubs.  My workplace uses Esso fleetcards and luckily Esso's tend to have fairly clean washrooms so that is a nice bonus.
  • "YOU KNOW IT'S RARE TO SEE A FEMALE DOING THIS".  Yes. Thank you for pointing that out.  I was unaware that it is nontraditional for a woman to be working on your generator.  I don't usually mind these comments I realize people are just being friendly but then they all seem to start talking about so and so who's aunt's friend's daughter is working as a mechanic in Ohio.  At some point I need to cut them off and say "Ok I need to get back to work or I wont make the deadline of my full bladder".
  • HAIR.  Headbands are your friend.  No matter how well prepared you are as soon as you dump diesel all over your hands it is at that exact moment that your hair falls in your face and you brush it aside promptly getting your locks as greasy and stinky as possible.  A simple solution is to wear a baseball cap, however, I am so used to having peripheral vision above my head that as soon as I put on a cap with a beak I start smoking my head off of things.  Again, I will adjust and evolve ;)
  • GOING OUT AFTER WORK.  You have two choices for going out after work.  The first is that you go home and completely shower and change.  The second is you just wear your work uniform so that people understand you have a valid excuse for looking (and smelling) like a greaseball.  The problem with the second one is anytime I wear my work uniform into a store people assume that the little girl in gray must be an employee.  I thought everyone knew that Wal-mart employees wear those bright blue smocks but apparently not.  After so many "Sorry I don't work here"s I decided to have some fun and start saying things like "oh yes it's on aisle five".  Or "oh sorry they don't pay me enough to give a shit". 
  • FRIENDS.  Moving to a new city most of the people I know out here are through work.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate my fellow technicians but every once in a while a girls gotta talk to another female or she'll go crazy!  A lot of companies have an "us and them" attitude between the service technicians and the office staff.  When I talk and bond with my service coordinators/administrators the technicians consider it flirting with the enemy.
  • LOOKING GOOD.  If you Google "mechanic girl" you get countless pictures of hot girls wearing cut off jean shorts, a clean white crop top with no bra, perfect hair, and heels.  I'm sorry but those girls are almost as bad as the girls I see at Cypress Mountain doing their makeup in the bathroom.  If you aren't skiing/shredding hard enough to sweat off that eye shadow then get out of my way.  Some days I would love to work in shorts and a tank top because of the heat but it's just not possible.  Mechanics/electricians/anyone doing any kind of work at all NEED POCKETS.  I have mastered the art of the pocket dance.  You know that jig you do when you cant find a wrench or a pen or a key and you start feeling up all your pockets while kind of shaking around.  As for the hair...  I don't just tie my hair back to keep it out of my face... I do it because I work around rotating objects.  I think my boyfriend appreciates that I go to work dressed for it and return with my hair and scalp in tact.  Oh and the heels?  As long as their steel toed I guess they're fine ;)
Those are the major ones but I'm sure other women would have different ones depending on their trade.  

Thursday, 29 March 2012

How a block heater works

Most of the generators I come across have the coolant circulation style heater. There are still some that use a plug style but those are likely to have something like this occur:

The coolant circulating style heat the coolant so it starts boiling and rising up causing the coolant to circulate through the engine. For most units it only circulates through the engine and not the rad because if your radiator is working properly the coolant will be cold again by the time it gets to the bottom. This constant circulation allows the entire engine block to warm up somewhat evenly. If it fails to circulate the block heater will burn out. This is actually quite common and block heaters do fail somewhat regularly. Many people think that an indoor generator doesn't require a block heater because it's never cold. The block heater doesn't just warm up the oil it also makes it easier for the engine to start. The aluminum pistons warm up much quicker than the engine block. A block heater eliminates any period of time that the pistons have expanded before the block causing them to scuff against the cylinder liners.
Here is a picture of a typical coolant heater. You can see that the element is inside of the plastic piece with cold coolant entering from the bottom and hot coolant boiling up the top.

Many people seem to believe that only diesel engines use this style of heater but they are even common on small gas engines like this little four cylinder Datsun:

The block heater is the most common area for coolant leaks. You will see the residue left on the hoses or the heater itself like this:

These leaks are easy to spot and usually very easy to fix.
The most common problem I have with block heaters is that they attract rodents! A toasty warm engine is like a luxury hotel to mice so make sure you animal proof the enclosure!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

How to troubleshoot your Onan's ignition system

While in Edmonton I've been working on a lot of Safeway units.  They are all little Onan generators, the majority being 15JC models.  Being in a grocery store they don't get tested every month and sometimes go almost a year without starting.  This causes the breaker points to get stuck open and no spark is produced.  Two generators in a row had this issue which was a little frustrating but a somewhat easy fix (especially if your hands are as small as mine).  I just pulled off the points and sanded down the post they pivot on with emery paper then lubed it with dielectric grease.  Here is a video of what the points look like when they are stuck open:

Here is my typical procedure for troubleshooting an Onan's ignition system:
    For most units I need to start the engine from the unit instead of the transfer switch.  Some have a Auto-Off-Manual switch on the front of the unit.  If there is no switch you will need to open the lower control panel cover and either flip the switch that is inside (if there is one) or pull off wire #2 on the terminal strip.
Here's a picture of the electric start/manual start switch inside the control panel
   Heres a picture of the terminal strip with wire #2 if there is no switch

    When the unit fails to start put your meter on the battery to check your cranking voltage.  A cranking voltage of about 9.6 vdc is considered okay.
    Pull off a spark plug wire and pop it onto an old spark plug (or screwdriver if you dont have one) and hold it to a known ground to check for spark.
    If there is no spark use your meter to check for B+ at the coil while cranking.  This photo shows where to put your meter to read full battery voltage.
    You can also check the resistance of the spark plug wire from your coil to the distributor to make sure it isn't a damaged wire which is common.  If you suspect that the coil has failed you can check the specs for what the primary and secondary resistance should be and check it with your meter.
    Like in the video you can check that your points are making contact.  If they are they may just need to be cleaned.  Take a clean piece of white paper and fold it a couple times and swipe it between the breaker points.
    On some Onan units the other small wire on the coil should read half battery voltage while it is cranking and if you are reading full battery voltage your breaker points are not making contact and you need to re-adjust the gap.  Setting the gap of the points varies for each model so you will need to look up the procedure in a manual if possible.  I will try to make a posting in the future with the proper procedure for different models as they are always quite old and the manuals are kind of difficult to obtain.
    Inside the cover shown in this picture you can find a little push button and when you push it you should hear your "Go" solenoid click. 

    Also check how dirty the rotor contacts are, how worn your spark plugs are, and make sure all plug wires are on tight.  This is where I start from and if this all fails phone calls are made.  Hopefully this makes sense and there may be a part 2 in the future with more tips.

**Note:  Onanism is apparently the art of masturbation named after the god Onan.  This post is about generators and not touching yourself so please keep that in mind before attempting these procedures!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

How to be a good handyman/woman

    I have noticed, after working with quite a few guys, that a lot of people can excel in their field but struggle with some very simple tasks.  I'm talking simple as in opening a bucket!  I was working with a new coworker who is a licensed electrician and has worked around high voltage for years.  He's a very smart guy but I caught him struggling to get a lid off of an empty pail.  I didn't think too much of it but then it happened again this week while training a guy at the Edmonton branch.  They both went straight for ripping the lid off the pail.  These pails have very easy to follow instructions printed on them showing that you have to remove the seal before opening the pail or you will really make your life difficult.  It seems that a lot of guys (hey maybe girls too but I unfortunately never get to work with any!) jump right into things without reading the instructions.
    Another example is how often they over-tighten their oil filters, which you know is a huuuge pet peeve of mine!  The filters show right on them how to install them and NO TOOLS are necessary!  9 times out of 10 half a minute of reading can save you a major struggle.  I always check the data sheet before I head out to my job so I know what I'm getting myself into.  If you have to park half a block away from the unit you're working on it's nice to have a cart ready.  If it's located outside you'll probably want to grab your jacket.  If something seems off it can be a HUGE help to call up the last guy who was there and ask them if they had any issues.  I don't understand the need to jump right into something and do it the wrong way and then re-do it after wasting your time.  Kind of like asking for directions, checking the manual might be some sort of shot to the male ego but I would rather get a job done right the first time and go rest my little girl ego at home ;)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

How to stay warm while working in the cold

I am in Edmonton, Alberta for 16 days helping this branch of the company that I work for play catch-up while their PM techs are in school.  It has been one day of travel (after my 1 hour flight turned into over 4 hours when it was too foggy to land in Edmonton!!) and one day of work so far.  I already have some ideas on what works and what doesn't for staying warm.
  • Long johns are you friend!  Whether you're wearing coveralls, dickies, carharts, jeans, or whatever type of leg covering.. WEAR LONG JOHNS.  They make you feel bulky for about 10 minutes then you get used to them and forget they are there keeping you toasty.
  • TOQUE.  I have been told that "toque" is a slightly Canadian word so for those outside of the great white north it is a warm hat.  I really don't understand how you cannot have a word for a "warm-hat".  If not toque then what?    Anyways..  In cold weather you lose most of your body's heat through your head.  By simply wearing a toque your body doesn't close the blood vessels to your extremities in order to send warm blood through your head.  Keeping your head warm with a toque lets your blood warm up those fingers and toes!
  • Layers and layers and layers and layers.  I mean it's pretty well-known to dress in layers when it's cold but people still ignore that rule!  Today I wore a long sleeve undershirt, my work shirt, my fleece sweater and my high-vis coat.  I was packing up in the shop and had to peel off some layers to stop myself from getting a good sweat going before going out into the brrrrrrr of Edmonton.  I have extra socks in the work truck and a pair of coveralls.
  • Wear gloves.  Adding even the thinnest layer between your bare skin and the bitter cold air makes a world of difference.  It's also nice to put lotion on and wear gloves so your hands don't look like the ice on your windshield after drying out in this crazy Albertan air! 
  • I have mixed feelings on drinking hot beverages when it's cold.  Yes it feels amazing to hold a warm drink and warm up your belly but for some reason I feel the need to pee is much worse when you are also shivering.  However, if you layer properly and wear your toque then you shouldn't have to worry about shivering ;)
  • Keep moving
  • When all else fails... hug your running generator for warmth!
As the next couple weeks continue I will update this if I find some other awesome ways to stay warm!  Let me know if you have any great ways of staying warm... even if they come in a flask ;)

View over BC
Compared to the view over Alberta

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

How to Convert RPM to Hz

   As you can see on today's "Google Doodle", it is Heinrich Rudolf Hertz's birthday today.  So I thought it was a good time to post the easiest way to convert your engine's revolutions per minute to the electrical frequency. In order to convert rpm to Hz you need to know how many poles your alternator has.  This is usually labeled on the alternator tag.  Since most generators have a frequency meter I most often use this formula to see how fast the engine is rotating or how many poles the alternator has if it is not labeled.

RPM = (Fx120)/n

where:  rpm=Revolutions per minute;    F= frequency in hertz;    120= constant;    n= number of rotor poles

    A diesel engine typically has 4 poles so that it can run at 1800 rpm to maintain 60 Hz.
    1800= (60x120)/4

    A gas engine may have 2 poles which means it must run at a speed of 3600 rpm in order to maintain 60Hz.
    3600= (60x120)/4

    Most gensets have a frequency meter on the control panel.  It may be a dial indicator style of one with teeth that vibrate at different frequencies.  Smaller generators usually do not have any gauges on their control panel, except for maybe an oil pressure gauge mounted directly to the block.  In this case I use my clamp on meter to read the frequency.  I have a Greenlee meter and there are some features that I do not think are very practical.  The main one is that I cannot read frequency using the voltage scale so I must use the clamp.  This means I can only read frequency when there is current flowing through the cable I am clamped to.  For my load tests I like to take a no-load reading and a full load reading but I cannot see the change in frequency until I apply some sort of load to the line.
    Hope this was useful :)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pros and Cons of Natural Gas Fired Generators

    A large percentage of the generators I see every day run off natural gas.  There are a lot of pros and cons to using natural gas for your emergency generator and of course it almost always comes down to the cost.  Here are a few things that come to my mind when I see a NG generator.
    I live in the Vancouver area and we are well overdue for a major earthquake.  Often times when there is a major earthquake the power goes out.  This is all well and good when you have that emergency generator that you aren't even aware of hiding somewhere in the basement behind a boiler.  In the event of an earthquake the natural gas lines are usually shut off which means at least half the buildings in the downtown area will be 100% without power.  Diesel generators will not have this problem and most of the larger buildings will be fine.
    Load testing makes up about 50% of my work.  I take a dummy load to apply full load to the generator and make sure it can handle it.  The small gas generators are rated for propane or gasoline and using natural gas de-rates the generator.  Natural gas engines have a power output of 30% less BTU per unit than that of propane or gasoline.  You have to be careful when loading a "15 kw" generator that you do not overwork the engine.  I have tried applying full rated load to several small natural gas generators and they bog down terribly.  Why don't they label the full load rating for natural gas as well?  If the question is "why?" the answer is always money.  I'm sure from a salesperson's viewpoint it sounds less appealing to mention "oh by the way for your application this 15 kw generator is actually only good for up to 12 kw."  For the most part these generators loads never exceed 60% of full rated load anyways but you definitely want to be aware.
    Natural gas burns a lot cleaner than other fossil fuels.  It still produces greenhouse gases, unlike propane, but it emits 30% less carbon dioxide than oil.  If natural gas does leak it is lighter than air so it rises up rather than creating a potential bomb.  I think the major pro for using natural gas for your generator is the convenience.  You never need to worry about what the fuel level is at and how you are going to refuel it.  You don't have to worry about the diesel getting old or doing a chemical test for water.  Unlike a diesel engine you don't have to worry about priming the fuel system or changing fuel filters.
    My main "pet peeve" with natural gas fired generators is that they are usually back in a dark corner of a boiler room that is over 30 degrees celsius and are right on the ground making it a pain to work on them but that's just me whining :)

Small Onan natural gas generator
The brains of an Onan generator.  The switch inside is to manually start the generator rather than running from the transfer switch.  If there is no switch you just pull off wire #2 on the terminal strip
 The first time I have seen a Coleman generator installed at a business.  It was a natural gas unit as well.
 A small Kohler natural gas unit.  It has a belt driven starter/DC alternator hybrid.

Monday, 20 February 2012

C3PO Ratchet

If this ratchet could talk I definitely feel confident that it's voice would sound exactly like C3PO

Saturday, 18 February 2012

When the zombies take over, how long till the electricity fails?

According to the answer on the Straight Dope if a zombie apocalypse were to occur (one where it is spreading rapidly causing immediate chaos) this is how long you can expect your power to stay on:
Coal power (16% in Canada):  as short as 2 hours (up to 18 hours if you're lucky)
Nuclear (12% in Canada): 500 days if no abnormalities or equipment failures occur (which is very unlikely) .. for those in Pickering it could be up to 700 days based on amount of fuel stored
Hydroelectric (60% in Canada):  several weeks
Natural gas:  1-3 days

Since small issues come up constantly, they figure within 24 hours almost all the power would be out.
Keep that diesel tank topped up for your generator ;)

The Straight Dope: When the zombies take over, how long till the electricity fails?

The Ten Commandments of a Diesel Operator

(As seen at the Stave Falls Power House)

The Ten Commandments of a Diesel Operator

1. The Engine is thy Engine; thou shalt keep it clean and in adjustment that thy life in its company may be long, and thy boss mayest give thee advancement.

2. Know thy Engine in all its parts and functions; else thou shalt be in darkness in some unholy place in the bush.

3. Be thou not wise in thine own conceit. Remember thine Engine’s factory instructions and keep them holy, lest repairs at night be thine undoing.

4. Be thou not loose in the jaw hinges; no man knoweth all about Diesel. Then truly absorb much knowledge and exude little save on request, and he who doth shall gain great repute among his fellows, and the favour of his superiors.

5. For all the things in life that thou desirest thou shalt also pay penalty and for the wisdom of experience no less. Advice from the multitude usually costeth nothing and is generally worth not that.

6. From the books of Diesel practice thou mayest know what to do and when, but only costly experience or the lips of man truly wise may tell thee the instant of when and true values of how; also thy knowledge of what and when shall but plague thee with smoky exhaust which damneth thee before all knowing observers.

7. God maketh the earth to rotate endlessly without bearings or good lubrication; leave not thine Engine so, else thou shall be blistered in the boss’s wrath.

8. Curse not thine Engine when it turneth not; curse rather thine own stupidity.

9. Steam engines and gas may operate though sloppy, a Diesel not so; with gauges and mics be thou ever busy.

10. The eternal eyes watch universal operations, but thou shalt not rely upon them as to thy Diesel; thine own eternal vigilance is the price thou payest for thy job.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Fun with a Power Generator (funny video feat. a cute Russian kid)


You have been warned!

Two atoms were walking down the street one day, when one of them exclaimed, "Oh no - I've lost an electron!" "Are you sure?" the other one asked. "Yes," replied the first one, "I'm positive."

New Truck

A while ago I got a new truck which means no more overloaded, worn-out Safari van for me!  The truck has it's issues sure... the slide-out is quite high and makes it a struggle for me to lift load banks and batteries onto it and the front seat doesn't provide much room for my paperwork.  I seem to have adjusted and made it work and the satellite radio and A/C don't hurt either ;)
Here are some pictures of it:

The slide-out loaded up with oil and load banks.

The side doors for parts bins and oil, gloves, etc.

The truck is NOT a 4x4 which means it is no good for a lot of those backroad Whistler sites but hey I'm not complaining.  I am just happy to finally have a working horn and a windshield with no cracks! It's nice to feel safe:) 

Now to work on my trailer driving skills and I'm all set!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Stave Falls Power House

I sort of stumbled on the Stave falls dam.  I live in Maple Ridge and my mom was visiting from Ontario so I took her to Hayward lake to check out the beach and trails and BAM there it was.  My boyfriend now works for BC Hydro so we can visit the museum for free and I definitely intend on taking advantage of that.  It's very cool... and apparently haunted ;)  Here are some pictures.  The main thing that surprised me is how small generators with the same kW ratings are now.

An early 100kW generator
 A shot of the generator room.  Those things are huge!  The apprentices got the lucky job of actually climbing IN the generators to clean them out.  It was so loud most of the employees ended up going deaf.
 The largest of the generators.  You can see how huge the tubes are for the water.

 In case you can't tell.. that's a HUGE crane.

 That's just the exciter.. again.. HUGE.
 Oil filled breaker

 The old sleuces

 Even the old loo is maintained :)

 Made in Peterborough, ON (my hometown)
 Just to show you how big everything is compared to myself haha.
 Big generators need huge wrenches!
 You're going to need to put a bit more effort into it than that.
Here we go :)
 The old man-lift.

 That's one gangster electric car!
 That's about 600 lbs in batteries alone right there.

 Straight out of a horror film.

 After going through the museum we then did the long hike around Hayward lake.  It was beautiful but quite tiring!
 Tons of berries to snack on along the way.
 The old railway bridge
 Apparently they're closing down the beach this year which sucks because I really want to go swimming there it looks awesome.

 Jonah on the footbridge.
 Steelhead falls... I think?  I will have to doublecheck the name.
 And that ends and amazing day!