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Hot and Bothered

There are a few little things that I really look forward to.  One of them is relaxing while I enjoy an uninterrupted meal.  All of you oil field gate guards will know what I am talking about. The gate slows down, you finally get to go inside the RV for a few minutes, you just set down to eat that sandwich and then DING! DING!   Enough to make you crazy!

Light tower, generator, fuel dump

About noon on Saturday, we had just finished a round of 100 rock trucks that had started the previous day.  Everybody knows keeping those rock trucks gathered up and making sure they behave is a real chore.  The last one was GONE and I had just set down to a ham and cheese sandwich, mesquite bbq kettle chips and a Dr Pepper 10 when the unforeseen happened.  The generator inexplicably quit.  It didn’t cough or sputter or wheeze; just shut off like somebody flipping a light switch.  My first thought was fuel filter and I wasn’t exactly happy because I have yet to change a fuel filter without getting some diesel on me.  I was  tired and cranky enough so just the idea of that pissed me off.  Suck it up buttercup.  Eatin’ a ham sammich is damned sure not gonna get the electricity turned back on.

Fuel filter changed. Generator back on, electricity juicing through the lines, sandwich in hand  and then no electricity AGAIN!  WTF?  Being as how this was Saturday and I had just used my last fuel filter and I had been a slacker sumbitch and not refilled the propane bottle for the onboard generator;  could be we were in a pickle.  Miss K jumped in and said she would run to town for a fuel filter while I figured out just what the hell was going on.  Most likely she figured being solo in the Suburban was better than listening to me — and she would be exactly correct.   Living with me is not always a ride on the gravy train with biscuit wheels.  Just sayin’ …….

Oasis of light —  Go, Generator, Go!

So I probed and piddled, scratched my head,  and peered and pondered and figured this and that.  The final diagnoses of the generator problem was hellifiknow.  I cranked it back up and it ran.  It was still running when Miss K got back from town; it was still running when I finished that ham sandwich; it was still running when I went to bed and when I got up.

As a matter of fact,  it just ran and ran and I figured I would just chalk the whole  episode up to aberrant mechanical behavior and get on with other things.  That is until about 1pm Sunday when the sorry rascal quit again.  Tuco the Dog looked at me.  I looked at Miss K.  Miss K looked for her ear plugs —or the Suburban keys; I forget which.  Tuco the Dog looked for a hidey hole.  I wished I had a stiff shot of Jim Beam.   I figured it was time to do some cipherin’ on the subject since the danged thing had quit two days in a row at approximately the same time   — that was significant.  What we had here was a Big Brain Problem to solve.

I put my CSI Oil Patch hat on and here is what I came up with:

  • The generator has no gauges to ascertain oil pressure, battery charge or water temp.  It relies on automatic cut off switches which is just an enabler for the truly stupid.
  • It has been cool enough the last few mornings that the window shaker AC takes care of things until about noon. Then I have to turn on a rooftop AC as well. That loads up the generator considerably.
  • I left the bat wing access doors open on the generator the previous afternoon which I generally do not do.  I was tired of opening  and closing them repeatedly. The set runs quieter when they are closed though air flow is restricted.
  • We had just finished up 48 hrs of extremely dusty conditions with the rock trucks.

Hmmmm, so where  does that put me?  I had one  thing I wanted to check out.  I went out and laid my hand on the top radiator hose.  I expected it to be scalding hot as it is the hose that moves the hot engine water  to the radiator for cooling.  It was H O T.   I walked around and put my hand on the bottom hose. I expected it to be measurably cooler as that water has passed through the radiator and is headed back to the engine to do its’ cooling thing.  Well, it wasn’t.  It was as hot as the top hose.  BINGO! Either I have a bad water pump or the radiator is stopped up.   The automatic switch was shuttin’  ‘er down when the engine over heated to prevent damage.

Bein’ as how I don’t carry an air compressor handy, I couldn’t blow out the radiator.  I grabbed up the water hose and did my best to wash 10 miles of caliche dust out of the radiator with what pitiful little washer pressure was available.   I washed a brown caliche river out of that poor abused radiator.  It just kept coming out and I came no where close to getting it all.  All I could do was fire the rascal back up and hope for the best.

Two days later……..   The generator is running cool and consistently. Another Big Brain Problem solved out here in the pucker brush.  Could this problem have been averted?  Sure, with some simple routine maintenance.  I have been on gates where the service guy carried an air compressor and blew the radiator out as an item of routine maintenance. Just takes a couple of minutes if you stay on top of it.  Should I be expected to diagnose and repair the problem?  Most likely in our given situation.  Our little gate guard company pays a premium daily rate to NOT be bothered with stuff such as this.

End Note:  Flatland Boogie by Charlie Robison from the Good Times cd.   I don’t know if Charlie fell in the whisky bottle or a Bandera javelina sliced him up after he broke it off with that Dixie Chick.   He needs to put the big boy pants on and get back in the studio with some new tunes.

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Hot and Bothered, 9.0 out of 10 based on 10 ratings
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8 comments to Hot and Bothered

  • Based on the stuff I see on the Farcebook, Charlie has a newer model gal, a new boat down on the coast, and about one erg of interest in recording. As in, he makes noises about it. Could be he’s actually doing it. I worry that it will be crappy moon-June-swoon stuff about this new woman.

    As far as a whisky bottle, it wasn’t unusual, a few years ago, to hear tales on the boozer grapevine, of him coming to San Antonio rip-roaring, and crawling on random stages.

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    • Andrew

      Some sort of mid-life crisis??? Or Failed Trashville depression? Ah well, I guess if things go to hell he can look Jack Ingram up for some advice.

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  • Don’t know about Miss K but I’ll give you two atta-boys for that brainstorming fix. The blue-air you was blowing didn’t bother me in the least.

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  • don

    I agree with Richard, that was pretty good detective work on the generator. Of course not having power is a pretty good motivator!

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  • LJ

    Been forgetting my mid-life crisis move to own a chicken farm in Arkansas, (thankfully only for 4 short but long years) but the comment of ‘Big Brain Problem’ brought it front and center. Was a suit wearer for lots of years, tired of mindless meetings, quotas, and other endless corp. B.S. plus problems at home, the new start was selling out, and buying that damn chicken farm to be my ‘own boss’ doing it my way. so much went wrong w/ mechanical items, issues beyond our anticipation or control and no one handy to figure them out but lil ol me. After all was said and done, we survived, dispite not really having a clue on how to run a farm, but did know how to work and figure out problems, along w/ patching equipment to make do or make it last. I have a deeper appreciation of farmers now. I didnt know a person could work hard 24/7 and go broke or nearly so, in the process. Work ethic passed down to us by our Greatest Generation Parents, saved the day, and our bacon.

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  • So LJ, what are you doing now?

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  • Joel

    LJ, you ought to do a whole guest post on this experience. I’ll bet you have some great stories to tell.

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  • LJ

    Fortunate for my family the farm life only lasted, those 4yrs, from ’92 thru ’97, held 3 jobs to begin to cover the hole I dug. Xerox (another suit job), Xray teching in two different Hospitals, all at same time. 100hr weeks. but finally settled on nightshift as emergency room radiology tech for 13years, then a month after turning 60 was caught in a Reduction in Force movement. I kicked the dog (not literally) for 2 or 3 days, dusted myself off, and Retired!!! I was good at my work and had lots of support from the doctor staff, but cheap scapes corporate types were intent on trimming the budget w/ inexperience younger cheaper people, that was 2 years ago. I am lucky that my wife is very good at selling houses, and has a large following of clients thru helping people, and Andy– giving that 100% to this family and her clients and never settling by doing the 80% or less that seems more the norm these days. Now I hone my cussing skills while I lose golfballs, and work behind the scenes supporting my wife. I am indeed blessed. And yes, I do have a load of stories, from that farm, and 13years in the E.R.
    Thanks for asking Ms.Kathy

    Hung the Joe farmer hat up, along w/ making hay, egg picking, and trying to get my workers to understand my pidgin spanish.

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