I am getting a handle on some brain things during the wee hours of a mid December morning. My old tired noggin’ does better when things are laid out in a simple linear fashion. Close as I can figure I am well into my fifth year of writing this blog; come January Miss K and I will have three years of oil field gate guarding under our belts. This all come up yesterday to start and got me to thinkin’.
We have a rig getting ready to rig down and get out of here. Part of the boys are heading out to Pecos, West Texas, USA. For some of those young men from Mississippi and Louisiana, LaSalle County Texas is a long ways from home. They think Pecos is just about to drop off the edge of the earth. I smile and tell ‘em it ain’t so bad, tell ‘em about the time we spent out around Iraan and Balmorrhea, try to allay their concerns. Maybe it helps a bit.
It was a decent day out yesterday. The temps crept up toward 50 or so and that biting north wind laid down for awhile. I had been piddling with the Yamaha EF2000iS Inverter Generator . I filled it with synthetic 10W30 oil and test drove it the last couple of days. Yesterday was the BIG test.
I figure it this way these days. With all the electronics and technology and robot arms putting our goods together, you either get a good one or a bad one straight out of the box. Don’t seem to be any middle ground any more. If it runs like a champ from the get go, chances are it is gonna be a good ‘un going forward. ….. and vice versa. There are some things we have been buying of late that go straight to storage. We barely open the box for a quick peek. Then there are other things that gotta be wrung out and I gotta get schooled up on. A generator needs to be on the ready; set to go when you need it. I do imagine I would get the laser stinkeye from Miss K if we had a generator failure and I had to unpack the Yamaha backup and read the manual before I throwed the juice to the Princess Palace. Lord, Lord. Won’t even go there.
So the piddling with the Yamaha EF2000iS Inverter Generator served to familiarize me with the little rascal and also see if we had a dog that was gonna hunt. 630 am yesterday I grabbed a full 5 Gallon NATO Jerry Can and gassed up Little Blue. Switches on and choke out it started on the second easy pull. I waited until it warmed up just a skoosh and would run smooth with the choke off and then plugged the Palace in. I was determined to wring out Little Blue and see if it had the measure to do what we needed.
The generator was settin’ 15′ behind where I was parked at the dinette. It has a smart throttle on it and at 6 amp draw it just sorta puttered along and I could not hear it runnin’. I had the flat screen, DISH receiver, laptop and the other assorted travel trailer things runnin’. 4-6 amps seems to be our baseline as far as power consumption. It was getting just a tad chilly in the pre-dawn hour and I reached down to adjust the thermostat on the Broan Big Heat Portable Heater. When the heater powered up, I heard Little Blue grunt and power up as well. At 12 amps draw, the sound was noticeable but not unpleasant. Little Blue has a .76hp four stroke engine so you don’t get the 2 stroke scream like one of those kamikaze weed whackers. I couldn’t EVEN deal with that. I was watching the Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor and it would occasionally creep up toward 16 amps and then go back to 11-12 amps after a couple of minutes. 16 amps is about all you gonna get continuous out of Little Blue.
I was scratchin’ my head and doin’ the WTF???? problem solving routine when it dawned on me. We took off 10 days over Thanksgiving and went to Baytown to see my folks, my BFF Cait and Hank the Tank (more on that later). Miss K had made no secret of the fact that available refrigeration on the Princess Palace sucked. The RV fridge was pitifully small and the apartment fridge we picked up all beat to hell for $25 bucks at an auction 3 years ago was, well, still an apartment fridge and still beat to hell. Miss K made it abundantly clear it was time to fish or cut bait and we would NOT be leaving Baytown with this problem still on the table. She took advantage of all the Black Friday sales and the close proximity to a by God Big City and designated an afternoon to go refrigerator shopping. We ended up with a 10.7 cu ft residential fridge and it is a honey let me tell ya. I had to take the doors off the get it in the Palace but that aggravation was a small price to pay. She smiles every time she opens the door. The boost in my amps was the new fridge compressor cycling on and off — duh!
It was just a good morning all the way ’round. Once the sun got up a bit and warmed things, me and Tuco the Dog went outside to piddle and afford Miss Kathy the opportunity to get some real sleep without that door bangin’ and slammin’ all the time. Little Blue just continued to purr right along. That all went south about 11 am. I rounded the corner about the time Little Blue started to scream and the red AC overload light was on. Didn’t take but a minute for the safety switch to cut all the power. When you overload the Yamaha, the generator continues to run but AC output is shut off. To reset the generator, you have to shut it down and re-start it. I headed inside the Princess Palace to figure out what had blowed Little Blue up.
When I opened the door up and saw Miss K sittin’ on the couch, I knew exactly what had happened. You see, it is like this. Miss K is unable to speak until she has the first cup of coffee. Just ain’t happenin’ other wise. Her coffee maker of choice is one of those Keurig pod thing single cup machines. It is an all important piece of equipment. Matter of fact, it is on the Primary Grab and Run list should the Princess Palace ever catch afire. Let me be clear, it makes danged fine coffee but it is a generator nightmare of first degree. So she got up in normal deaf mute state and fired up that Keurig with no knowledge Little Blue was online instead of the 20kw monster power source that normally feeds the Keurig. Unfamiliar loud engine noises, me cussing and then the lights went out. It is REAL quiet and everything is broke. Caught unaware it is enough to make you pee your pants — almost.
I had been dreading the Keurig test. If the Keurig doesn’t do what a Keurig does, Mama ain’t happy. And if Mama ain’t happy, well…….. Probably a good thing I saved Little Blue’s packing box because if this test was a FAIL, back to Amazon Land for Little Blue. I explained to Miss K what the dealio was and about all I got was a grunt which meant coffee was called for NOW — not LATER. Snap to it big boy. I shut the Broan Heater off and went outside to restart Little Blue. Back Inside, I loaded a round in the Keurig, crossed my fingers and flipped the switch. Holy Cats! That Keurig made Little Blue fart and burp like a fat baby. Looking out the window, I could see the red overload light sorta flickerin’ like it wanted to come on; just right on the edge of a blow up. All the while coffee was streaming into Miss K’s cup and I was thinkin’ ‘Lord, just a few more seconds please! Don’t blow me up now.’ I managed to get through that test and even used the 900w microwave to warm up some tasty beef stew for lunch. Made me so happy I warmed up a second bowl just ’cause I could!
At 3 pm my shift was over and Little Blue was still chugging along. I had purposely started the test before daylight because I wanted to be over and done with the test by shift end. I figured 1.1 gallons of gas would surely be run out in 8.5 hours time with the generator being loaded for the entire test. So me and Tuco the Dog piddled some more. We walked a good ways down the lease road and picked up trash, same same at the entrance. We loaded up the hood of the big ass Suburban and made a trip up to the trash trailer on the Facility pad. Every time I came back to the Palace, I looked to see if the green power light was still glowing on Little Blue. At 4 pm I give it up. Miss K got the clipboard and I slipped my shoes and Carhartt vest off to relax. At 430 pm, Little Blue sucked the last ounce of gas and died. 10 hours on 1.1 gallons of gas moderately loaded the entire time.
Let me explain how the cow eat the cabbage here. For the last 3 years, we have gotten our electricity from a generator. When you flip a switch, the power comes from a source onsite. We don’t plug into a pole and forget about it like City Folks do. I don’t see out situation changing in the near future. It may very well get worse if those criminals in Washington don’t square up. When the Old Girl left outta here in August it left us with no back up generator and that was troubling to me. Everything mechanical eventually breaks; that is a given. I knew we had to get a backup generator and I researched them relentlessly. Price was not as important as getting a generator that would unequivocally do the job. It had to be reliable, fuel efficient and easily portable. I looked at the chinese contractor generators at Harbor Freight, Tractor Supply and Home Depot. Twice the output at half the price. Quality and reliability questionable. Loud, heavy, fuel sucking pieces of junk. Honestly, I just couldn’t comfortably do it. Too much is on the line. Little Blue is an engineering marvel backed by a 3 year warranty at any Yamaha Motorsports dealer. The Honda 2000 watt generator is just as good from what I can tell. I bought the Yamaha because it has a fuel shut off switch and I could get it on Amazon. For some reason Honda does not exactly go for the online sale of their generators. They suppress the publishing of prices online as well. Oh, you can buy one online if you do a little digging but somehow that just didn’t set quite right with me.
Bear with me while I do a little math related to my test of the Yamaha EF2000iS Inverter Generator . 1.1 gallons of fuel consumed in 10 hours equates to 0.11 gallons fuel consumption per hour…… and I ran everything in the Princess Palace off Little Blue with the exception of the air conditioning. Certainly, I had to turn some things off in order to use other appliances but we do that anyway. Gotta remember we only have 30 amp service on the Palace. 0.11 gallons of fuel is just a teeny bit over 12 fluid ounces. A coke can holds 12 ounces. A coke can of gas would run Little Blue loaded for one hour. Our long term plan is to get a second Little Blue 2 this spring, along with a tri-fuel conversion kit that would allow me to run it on bottled propane or gasoline. With a parallel cable connecting Little Blue and Little Blue 2 I would have 3.2kw continuous output which is enough to run the rooftop AC.
I got some women and dogs I am responsible for. They look to me to protect and provide for them. Now just sayin’ – just sayin’– things get a mite tougher in the months to come. Normal things that we have become accustomed to are harder to obtain and the way we are forced to live becomes more toucheous by far. Miss K, Tuco the Dog and me could get along pretty decent in the Palace since we are already living the Nomad lifestyle. After the Little Blue test yesterday, Miss K and I had a fair serious discussion about Pocky Lips type doin’s. I figure we could scale things back and pretty much get by power wise on our solar and running Little Blue two hours or so per day to top off the batteries and make coffee. At that rate, a 5 gallon can of gas would run Little Blue for 25 days.
That’s where we are at friends and neighbors. December 14th, 2013.
End Note: Undone by Nathan Hamilton from the Receive cd.
“He’s got a stained and battered Stetson; keeps it pushed back on his head some”
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