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Along that Amazon Way

“Anything mechanical breaks eventually.”

Pan seared ribeyes from HEB with a loaded baked potato - Now THAT is good eating!

Pan seared ribeyes from HEB along with a loaded baked potato – Now THAT is good eating!

I was lounging around late Friday night in my cotton flannel camo jammies and enjoying the total absence of late evening traffic on the gate when things went absolutely haywire.  Power out, crap blinking and beeping, the generator sounding all funky.  When Tuco the Dog runs under the dinette to hide it is serious.  I glanced at the remote pendant of the Progressive Industries EMSHW30C Surge Protector and it was showing offline @ 177 volts.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the generator would be a good place to start unraveling the predicament.

The combo unit from Guard 1 was brand spanking new when they delivered it back in December or thereabout.  Perkins 12kw generator with 0 hours, 350 gallon diesel tank,  650 gallons of water and a nifty little toolbox up on the front.  Made me happy it did.  One less set of components to worry about in my mind.  Everything mechanical breaks eventually, new is just less apt to let you down.

Oil field gate guards will tell you nothing ever breaks down at 1pm on a Tuesday afternoon.  It is always zero dark thirty on a weekend.  I looked at my Citizen Eco-Drive Stainless Steel Watch and it said 12:09am on a Saturday morning.   Why should I be any different?  Oh well!  This is a good place to talk about the importance of a good electrical protector for your RV.  I don’t care if you fulltime in a high dollar motor coach and only stay at ritzy resorts, use your RV only on weekends for a retreat at a local state park or if you grind out a living as a gate guard in the puckerbrush; I don’t care.  Sooner or later, you are going to plug in to something dirty or a previously great connection is going to south when you ain’t looking.  This is the third voltage regulator I have had go out when I was using a generator.  ALL 3 went high voltage. All 3 times my EMS protected everything in my RV.  I had two fancy LED road lights hooked to the 20 amp GFCI on the generator when it run wild.  One of ’em went POOF! immediately the other one was burning real damn bright before I could get it loose so I am betting it is damaged in some fashion as well.  So let me tell you how the cow eat the cabbage here………  Some of you are going to click over to my Amazon link for the Progressive Industries EMS and think to yourself that there is NO WAY you are paying that kind of money for a surge guard.  There are name brand surge guards for a hunnert dollars less you are gonna say!  I know, it happens every time I get on my high horse about the Progressive EMS.  All I got to say about that is do your internet research and then justify not buying this EMS.  You will only have yourself to blame when a dirty power sources fries everything in your RV.

Back to the story now………  I slipped on my crocs, put my  Leatherman Wave Multitool in my pocket
because there would undoubtedly be something to cut or wrench or unscrew.  Picked up my Fenix headlamp hanging by the door  ’cause it was darker than the bottom of a well out there; hollered for the Dog and here I went.  Turned off the generator and watched Tuco the Dog sniffin’ up some night time critters for a few minutes and then fired the genset up once more.  I did not have high hopes that re-starting it would make everything wonderful and good once again because there was a definite smell of burnt up wires in the air.  Sure ’nuff, the EMS was reading voltage all over the board.  144, 197, 163; finally settled in about 155 volts or so and I reached up to turn it off.  No hope here, move along, move along, time for Plan B.

Little Blue crankin' out the power.

Little Blue crankin’ out the power.

If you are a gate guard here in the oil patch you always need that Plan B.  Help is always hours away and if you don’t take care of yourself and plan for failures of all different kinds,  your life is gonna be sour and disappointing to my way of thinking.  I undid the cover on the DTB and grabbed Little Blue and the milk crate of accessories that was settin’ there ready to go in case of an emergency.  Little Blue is my fine and capable Yamaha EF2000iS 2,000 Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator that I bought in November of 2013. It has proven to be a reliable and capable performer with several hundred hours on the clock now.  I had to have some accessories for Little Blue like a Generator Cover-, a magnetic dipstick since Little Blue does not have an oil filter and a Hour/Tach Engine Meter to keep track of service intervals.  I also picked up a power harness that lets me run two Little Blues tied together.   Little Blue will run everything on the NO Princess Place just fine except for the rooftop AC.  When you hook two of them together, it runs the AC just fine.  My Bro bought the same generator and when I was up at the Secret Hideout last Spring I used ’em both to stay nice and cool.

It didn’t take me long to get Little Blue all hooked up. I fueled it with some good gas out of one of my 20 liter NATO Jerry Can .  This fuel was probably six months old but I knew it was good because I had  treated it with some PRI G Fuel Stabilizer when I put it back AND the NATO cans are not vented so all the volatile agents in the gas don’t just evaporate. The NATO cans are also not CARB compliant — I like that too!  I reckon I was up and running with Little Blue before 1am.  I crawled back in bed on the fold out couch and decided I would wait till daylight to notify my service guy.  No use ruining his Friday night, right?

‘Long about 6am I sent out my text about the generator being down.  By noon, I had a swapout unit in place with enough diesel to run several days and a full tank of water.  I know you folks up north of I-40 ain’t wanting to hear it but it was getting unpleasantly warm in here by the time he showed up with my replacement combo unit.  76 degrees right now on a great lookin’ South Texas day!  Gotta love it!

End Note:  The Front Porch Song by Robert Earl Keen when he was still a Jr.  from The Live Album ca. 1993.   Live from Sons of Hermann in Dallas — which is a whole ‘nuther story in itself.

If you are in New Braunfels on a 4th of July and REK steps up solo and starts to sing this song, well, you just sing along because by God, you know every word.  And you whoop and holler some too because when REK is on stage, it is what you do. It’s  Texas! and it is GOOD!  This is the long version with additional anecdotes.  Need a good dose of Texas?  Well, here ya go!

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13 comments to Along that Amazon Way

  • Yup… surge protection is a MUST… we have the hard wired progressive industries for our rig. We know of friends who plugged into a power pole at a park and fried all their components, even the control boards in the water heater and fridge and furnace. Turns out a previous idiot had backed into the pole, knocking it over. Instead of letting park maintenance know of the accident, he pushed it upright and drove away. Inside the bent pole some wires had somehow made connection and caused an awful short on the outlet. Our friends paid the price of his dishonesty of not owning up to his accident.

    KarenInTheWoods and Steveio
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    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard
    http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com/
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    • Andy

      Judging by the reaction when I plug my Progressive EMS into the generator, the service guys all want to know what it is and what it does. Which leads me to believe there are plenty of gate guard RVS plugged straight into the generator with little or no protection.

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  • Ken

    Doncha get tired of telling folks about the concept of protection? It is another of the “pay me now or pay me later”. I can hear ’em now, “well, hell, I saved xxx dollars and the surge protector is just as good as Progressive Industrys protector”. Took me a spell before I understood that you buy the best and you only buy it once. Sounds like your service guy was quick to respond. That is a good thing.

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  • Joel

    Dang, Andy, you’ve put on enough learnin’ to qualify for an associate degree in EE.

    “it was darker than the bottom of a well out there”

    Or, as John Hartford once sang, darker than the inside of a cow:

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    • Andy

      Life experience Joel. No better teacher. After 31 months on this same Ranch,this gig may be ending. This coming week will tell the tale. The Eagle Ford is quickly becoming a dry, dusty ghost town. The pump jacks are still pumping away but little new exploration. A single guager or operator can easily take care of tens of wells so we are winding down. I have already been promised a new guard assignment but believe I will turn it down. Little future here for the next couple of years anyway.

      If this gate assignment does go away, I have several different options in the works and none of them involve the oil business.

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  • Joel

    A little investment tip:

    http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/23/investing/oil-prices-private-equity-buying-energy/

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  • You a better EE than me, Jose. Onliest time I messed with it was why I tried to replace the balky outboard on my sloop with an electric motor. It hauled me out of the slip just fine but didn’t have the oomph to slow down much less stop all that fiberglas and I ran right into the dock behind me.

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  • Line Camp

    How’s the dog?

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