Sunday, September 27, 2009

Generator - Update 2: The Good, the Bad, and the Noisy

Ok, so like normal, my posts occur several days (weeks?) following the event that inspired the topic. I put together the generator back on the same day as the prior post, but only now uploaded a picture.

The Good: It wasn't really that hard to figure out which bits go where to complete the assembly.

More Good: I put a quart of oil in it and a half gallon of fuel. Made sure all the right switches and levers were in the correct positions, and gave the engine a 'half' tug. Just to gauge the effort required to bring the thing to life. Not to actually start it. To my surprise, the thing sputtered and sprang to life. Off of the very first weak pull. Easy start? Check.

The Bad: I've got no place to put it. I guess that means I will have to start a 'weekend' project to either build a little home for it, or create a path to the shed (that is wide and smooth enough for the wimpy wheels), and build a ramp up into it.


The Noisy: I mentioned that the generator had a much much bigger muffler than the prior one. Yes, it does. And it is less noisy. But, I wouldn't be silly enough to call it 'quiet'. The old one sounds like a tractor with a straight pipe. Stuck in your ear. This one sounds about like your average lawn mower. Gas powered. Not electric. That would be different.

Friday, September 18, 2009

American Camper Generator Update

I managed to drag the generator out of the back of the FJ, and wheel it in to the garage to get a look see.

First, the good news. The muffler on this one is 8 times the size of the muffler on the Generac. That should mean that it is quieter. It also has wheels, and a place to put a battery for the electric start. So far, no lies uncovered.

The bad news: It is not completely put together (as expected), and it does not have instructions for final assembly (not expected). The handles, wheels/axle, and feet are not installed. I have a bag of different sized bolts, and no indication of which goes where. Also, upon inspection of the axle, it isn't correct. It has a bracket on one side (to connect to the left side of the generator frame), but not the other. I don't think it will roll well with only half of the axle secured to the frame.

I have not started it yet. I wanted to get it fully assembled before putting oil and fuel in it. So I don't know how well it starts/runs. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tool Auction

If I postulate that people that go to hardware and tool liquidation auctions are morons, and I went to one, and bought stuff, does that make me an uber moron?

I suppose yes. I went to one the other day, because someone put a flyer in my mailbox announcing a bankruptcy liquidation auction with name brand items listed. Some of which I needed. Or, well, could use. Ok, ok. Wanted. Also, I had never been to an auction before, and wanted to see how they work, and if you really could get great deals.

Upon arrival, I should have been a bit more dubious about the integrity of the whole operation. The flyer stated things like 'bankruptcy' and 'liquidation', and the lorry that parked in the local VFW had, in nice big letters, 'tool auction'. Nowhere on any banner were the words I had seen before that imply 'good stuff' at 'everything must go' prices. Next, walking inside, there weren't the name brands that I was looking for. Mind you, there were some named brands, but not for the items I was interested in.

Now, to get back to the stipulation that auction goers are morons. The auctioneer was quite adept at getting people to bid on non name brand items as if they were purchasing name brand items from a store. Or at least for more than you can get other non name brand items from places like Harbor Freight. Often twice as much.

I was hugely disappointed at how it was run. For some of the items that I was (still) interested in, the auctioneer would group a bunch of 'near the same value' items together - making sure that a highly valuable item was there that he knew multiple people were interested in. Thereby raising the bids to aforementioned astronomical levels. The deal was, that the final bid would set the price for any single item in the set. So, it generally ended up being a higher price for the item I was interested in than an equivalent name brand item at, say, Home Depot, which I can see from my house. So, I didn't raise my bidder's number placard for any of the items in any 'group bid'.

So, you think that maybe, I might have just been an otherwise intelligent person, out of place in a sea of morons. Not so fast. I did end up purchasing 3 items. Two of which it would be exceedingly difficult to argue that I need. An angle grinder - with a bunch of wheels, and a screwdriver set. To my credit (which does not begin to offset the intellectual debt I have acquired), I *almost* didn't purchase them. And, I didn't, per-say, bid on them. I let the others bid it up, then, when the bidding stopped, he asked if anyone else was interested in the given item for the specified price - and I, with at least a small pause, stupidly raised my placard.

The final, and most expensive, item I purchased, am currently crossing my fingers on. It's a generator. To replace the non functional generator that I loaned to a friend. I'm not really upset with it coming back non functional. I've never really liked it. It's the loudest generator I've had the displeasure of standing next to. Not the easiest thing to start either. Now, I had set myself a price limit of $500 for a generator. I figured it was an auction, so I *should* be getting things at *below* retail. In the end, the auctioneer talked up the generator, and people (not me) bid it up to $625. Once the price was set, I hesitated, then gritted my teeth and bought into the auctioneer's tales of awesomeness about this generator.

'Pros': It has the same engine as a beloved Honda generator ('same engine' = same design. It's not actually made by Honda). It's rated for 6500 watts (old one is 5000. Or, in it's current condition, 0 watts). It's 'quiet' (I have yet to hear one running). It's 'worth' over $1500. It has electric start. It has wheels.

Cons: Several grains of salt for the 'pros' (i.e. Who can prove that it is the same design? How 'quite' is it, really?). It is an American Camper brand generator. I've never heard of American Camper.

Hold on now. I'm obviously on the internet. Lets do a Google... Uh oh... Here's one 'find': "AMERICAN CAMPER GENERATOR PARTS. WE JUST BOUGHT A GENERATOR ON LINE AND IT NEEDS PARTS PLEASE HELP". Heh, well, I also found an EBay attempt to sell a 3000 watt American Camper generator for $1200. ...And a 2000 watt one retailing for $250.

So, I'm still holding my breath about if I got a deal, or if I bought a lump of slag. I think I'm afraid to try to start it.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, another scam-olicious tactic of the peeps running the auction. They add a 10% auction transaction fee to everything. And, tax too, of course. The 10% fee is to automatically increase their profit margins. Sure, they are very up front about the fee by posting notice of it in the flyer and at the entrance to the auction room, and they even mention it multiple times in the intro before the bidding starts. But then that's the last you hear of it until they add it to your tab when you check out. They tell you about it, but then they want you to forget about it while bidding - which, as far as I can tell is what everyone did.

Conclusion: Yes, indeed, I have moronnitis auctionus. But I don't appear to have as serious a case as most of the other people in the room.

I'm still interested in auctions, but now that I'm no longer a virgin, I expect that I will have the fortitude to get up and walk out of a bad one.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

RMNP: Day 1 - Part 2. Did someone say rain?

With my successful arrival, and my tent pitched, the topic turned, without surprise, to the subject of what gourmet, err... camping delicacies we could partake of in the immediate future.

Dave and Christa's camp site was 0107, and was pitched two days prior. They were already set up for cookin, so we headed over there.

Site 0107 was a somewhat interesting site. It was in a little bowl near the top of a hill. There were other camp sites all around them, but they were mostly obscured by trees and the rim of the bowl. As with all the sites in the camp ground, parking was limited. 0107 had only one space, so I snagged a space dedicated for the nearby comfort station (pronounced: restroom).

Dinner consisted of campfire cooked soy sauce marinated strips of top sirloin, herb and buttered halibut (foil + campfire), instant mashed potatoes, and for me, a green salad. All of which was quite good. Koal and Amber gave the beef two paws up (or is that two energetic tails?), as they were able to split a strip that fell on the ground.

Shortly after dinner, wave one of rain came through, and we all went into the McMansion - Dave and Christa's big orange tent. It is tall enough in places for me to stand up, and has two rooms. The 'private' room had two cots, a night stand, and five battery powered ceiling fans. The 'public' room had 3 chairs, a camp table, and plenty of floor space for the dogs to not get wet.

Twenty minutes later the rain stopped, so we started cleaning up from dinner. In the middle of that, the rain came again, only harder. Another twenty minutes later, it stopped, and we decided to try to bake some cookies. Yes, I did say bake. It just wouldn't be glamping without an oven for your cookies. Just as the oven was up to temp, the rain came again. Yes, again, harder. And it brought a friend. Hail. Fortunately the hail struggled to be pea sized, and didn’t last long, so did no damage. The rain stayed a bit longer, and was accompanied with lots of lightning and very loud thunder. Much to the delight of Koal, who couldn't find a closet in the McMansion to hide in. (Even though Koal is mostly deaf, thunder now bothers him)

While waiting out the storm, we played 3 hands of Uno. The first hand was an endurance hand. Everyone kept having to draw lots of cards to be able to play. We nearly went through the deck twice. The Uno deck was dog themed, and had a special card. The Fetch card. The rule for the fetch card was that when played, the other players try to grab it. I’m not sure what the benefit is for grabbing it, but we didn’t think we wanted to do that, and ruin a table or tent in the scuffle. The first hand we played, we made it the same as a wild draw 4. That made for a lot of wild draw 4’s. The 2nd and 3rd hands, Dave came up with the idea that when played, everyone passes their cards to the right. It added an interesting twist and got a lot of laughs.

At 9:00, it was bed time. Both of the dogs and I were quite ready for it. Neither of the pups were having fun any more. By the time I was changed and slipped into the sleeping bag, both dogs were snoring, and Amber insist on doing it in my ear.

Comments welcome...