Archive | December, 2012

Feast of 7 Gallons of Water on the Floor

29 Dec

We thought it would be fun to make a “Feast of the 7 Fishes” dinner before Christmas. I have no idea about the history of this tradition except that Italians do it on Christmas Eve. It probably had some nonsensical religious origins, but I don’t care about that, we just wanted to cook and eat a bunch of seafood. So, Melinda and Alex came over and we indeed had our version of Seven Fishes (on Christmas Eve Eve). This included shrimp cocktail, fried calamari, crab dip, iron skillet mussels, salt-crusted whole red snapper, Caesar salad (anchovies) and linguini with clam sauce. We even had some Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food for good measure. It was a hell of a feast and a great time.
A little while before Melinda and Alex were due to arrive I was thoroughly cleaning the clams I had gotten from my friend Jim. They came out of the water that morning so they were very fresh. I was scrubbing the clams and rinsing them over and over to make sure there wouldn’t be any sand or mud to mess up the sauce. Finally I finished up and as I went to walk away from the sink I realized I was standing in a giant puddle. I was initially confused because I didn’t think I was splashing much, but when I opened the cabinet the problem was clear, the tailpiece for the drain had cracked all the way around where it screws onto the drain.

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I’m guessing this was a result of some kind of dissimilar metal reaction. A quick check with the local hardware store revealed that they were closed and we were on our own. There was no time to run all the way to Home Depot… Our guests were soon to arrive and we still had 4 or 5 fishes to go! The only reasonable thing to do was to channel my dad and break out the electrical tape. I put about 20 wraps around the broken connection and put a basin under the P trap in case of any slight leaks, (there weren’t any, by the way) and we got back to work cooking.

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The electric tape repair had actually been holding up great; it was dry as a bone under the sink, but I figured it would be prudent to do a proper repair, just in case Mike Holmes stops by unannounced. I went out and got what I thought would be appropriate replacements for the damaged parts and brought them home. Less than ten dollars, not too bad. I had to use the blow torch to remove the old screw fitting from the drain, it was really frozen on there. It melted like solder when I torched it, quite surprisingly. Finding the right parts was made slightly more tricky because there is also an inlet for the dishwasher that needs to be accommodated. I had to get an 8″ tailpiece with the dishwasher inlet and then an extension piece to make up the rest of the distance, which I had to cut to fit. After I cleaned everything up I fitted all the new stuff losely and then tightened it all up and attached the dishwasher hose and we were back in business.

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While I had the whole sink cabinet taken apart we reorganized everything under there and installed a fire extinguisher in the front so it is close at hand in case anyone decides to broil any bread crumb crusts for 5 minutes and we don’t have any wet dish towels handy. 🙂

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Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

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Splitting Headache

20 Dec

After the storm, with all the trees down, there was an abundance of potential firewood lining most roads. I began scavenging it with my friend Jimmy so we could amass a good firewood collection for next year. We both filled our pick ups a few times, and we’re collecting some good piles. On Thanksgiving however, our neighbor had a tree guy who was dropping off some wood and he offered to drop some off for us too. We didn’t know what we were getting into. The guy dropped two or three loads off at both of our houses, and from then on much of my life has revolved around dealing with a back yard that has been taken over by firewood.

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That’s one pile of two. Some of these logs are around 3 feet in diameter. Most of it is red oak, which is not light, by any means. It took an entire day for me and my friend Nick to move these piles into one orderly row along the back fence.

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That picture really doesn’t do it justice, it is about 100 feet long, 2 rows deep and 2 or 3 logs high most of the way. There were some logs that were simply too large and oddly shaped to move with just two people, so they remained scattered around the yard.

Finally this week, Jimmy was able to procure a gas-powered splitter so we could get to work on all this. Derek, always the eager arborist, has been on hand to lend his assistance, as this is much better a two-man job than one.

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Here Derek does his best Lieutenant Dan impression showing the splitter in its vertical position.

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This is really the only way to split these larger logs that are way too heavy to lift.

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The method we’ve developed is to split the larger logs into quarters or eighths, depending on how big they are, and stacking them like that, then coming back with the splitter in the more comfortable horizontal position to further break down the quarters into firewood-sized pieces. This has proven much more effective than fully splitting down the large logs to firewood vertically or breaking our backs trying to get them onto the splitter horizontally.

At this point there’s about 3 days invested in this project and probably a solid three more to finish splitting, then another day or three to stack it all off the ground on pallets near our existing firewood supply. This wood should be ready to burn next year, at least the smaller pieces, but unless we have roaring fires every night this is shaping up to look like about a four-winter supply of firewood. I think my back might be fully recovered from this by then!

Prepping Honda EU2000i for Storage

6 Dec

Now that our power has been restored for a while, and we feel pretty confident it will be stable for the foreseeable future, it was time to prepare the generator for long term storage so it is ready to use the next time we need it.
As has happened in the past, when gas goes bad it can play havoc on an engine. For this reason it is best to remove all the gas, if possible, and the EU2000i is designed with this in mind. If you can’t remove the fuel from an engine for storage, then you can treat it with a fuel stabilizer like Sta-bil. It is good practice to use Sta-bil for short term storage because gas can go bad very quickly, even within a month or two if the conditions are right (or wrong!)

The first thing I did to prepare the generator was to change the oil. It had run for about 40 hours since the last oil change so I though it best to change it prior to storage. You never know when you’ll need it and that’s not when you want to have to change the oil.
Once the oil was changed, I drained the gas by siphoning it with our new super siphon into a gas can.

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I then ran the engine to burn up the last little bit of fuel. At this point the tank is empty but there is still gas in the carburetor. If the fuel remains in the carburetor and goes bad, it can foul the carburetor and the engine may not start or run well as a result.

When the access door is removed you can get at the carburetor and the built in drain valve and drain tube. From low down you can see the screw that opens the valve and drains the remaining gas into a tube that runs out the bottom.

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The amount of gas that drains out is probably less than an eighth of a cup. When the drain was open I pulled the starter cord a few times to make sure any remaining gas was pushed out. Of course, you tighten the screw back up when you’re done so gas doesn’t spill out the next time you fill it up.

After that was all done I cleaned the outside of the generator and stuck on a P-touch label indicating when the next oil change is due. It’s really not a difficult task and doesn’t even take very long, so it’s cheap and easy insurance.

Honda EU2000i Oil Change

3 Dec

As mentioned in my Powered by Honda post, we ran the generator for a very long time so I decided it would be wise to change the oil a few times. The little Honda only takes about a half quart of oil, but when you change that oil, you don’t want that oil to wind up in the generator, you want it to go into your disposal pan. Honda attempts to prevent that a little by designing a little ramp below the oil drain, which helps the oil flow out the drain a little bit, but it still doesn’t reach far enough out to stop the oil from dripping inside.
When we bought the generator from Wise Sales we also bought their oil change accessory kit, which includes an aluminum magnetic dipstick plug and an aluminum spout for oil draining.

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The magnetic dipstick is a nice feature because it catches any metallic particles that wind up in the oil; because small engines like this have no oil filter it is good to catch any particles you can to keep them from circulating in the engine and causing wear. Whatever gets stuck to the magnet you simply wipe off with a paper towel while changing the oil.

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The spout is shown above, you simply thread it in where the plug normally lives while performing the oil change. This spout pokes out way outside the confines of the body of the generator, now when you pour out the oil it goes right to the catch pan. It is also helpful for filling the oil, although a narrow funnel is still required. Much like filling the gas tank, filling the oil is tricky because there’s not much warning that it is full. It’s full when it’s level to the edge of the fill, which means it’s basically spilling out at that point. Knowing how much oil it takes in the first palace helps you at least have an idea when it should be full, but a few paper towels or a rag usually come in handy.

A high end generator like this is a big investment so maintenance is crucial to make it last. We’ve been running good gas, and changing the oil at least every 50 hours with Mobil 1 synthetic. The hour meter I installed and these two accessories make keeping on top of the maintenance a little easier, so we’ll be ready the next time. I’ve got a few more posts related to this generator in the works, so stay tuned!