Saturday, December 16, 2017

Building a Cheap Extended Run Tank for my Kipor/McCulloch Inverter Generator

One of the most interesting things about my solar powered office is that the entire office is a machine, it's a very obvious machine, and I don't have an instruction manual for operation.  It's something I'm learning as I go - and last winter involved an awful lot of learning.

Last winter, I ran my generator a lot, which means I had to refill it a lot.  I learned, early, that I lack a gas can suited to filling my generator.  All the new EPA legal stuff is awful to actually use (seriously, EPA, consistent gas spills on the ground aren't better than some gas vapors in the air), and I tended to make a mess with any can I used, because my generator doesn't let you see the gas level through the strainer, and by the time you can see it, you'll overfill it by the time the nozzle drains.  Annoying, wasteful, and I wanted a better solution for this winter.

An extended run tank solves this problem for the most part, but those kits are seriously expensive - a good chunk of what I paid for my generator.  Forget that.  They're simple enough.  I built mine for about $35 (I had the tank laying around).

Curious?  Keep reading!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Tesla's $0.07/kWh Megachargers look entirely reasonable!

At the start of last year, I did some back of the envelope math on electric long haul trucks.  And, recently, Tesla announced one.  We don't have exact numbers ("Under 2kWh/mi"), but their numbers are compatible with what I came up with last year (1.43kWh/mi).  I expect they'll come in slightly under that (my money is on 1.3kWh/mi), simply because they don't have significant cooling drag to deal with, and can improve the aerodynamics slightly over a big diesel on that alone.

What I want to talk about this week, though, are the Megachargers.  Which, I assure you, are not the latest enemy for the Power Rangers - or the lastest "Mash all of them together" big robot thing.  They're the devices that will cram 400 miles of range into the trucks - in half an hour.  Oh, and for an energy cost of $0.07/kWh.  For megawatt class charging.  I know my way around power rate schedules, but that's iffy from grid power.  Does it pencil out?  If it doesn't, how can they make it?  How feasible is this, really?  Keep reading to find out!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ford N Series Sediment Bowls (suck): Sealing a 9N/2N/8N Fuel System

If you have a Ford N series tractor, you probably know about the sediment bowl.  And, if you've tried to replace the original sediment bowl with the currently available option, you may have realized that it is an utter and complete piece of crap.  It leaks from everywhere that it possibly can, perhaps a few places it can't conceivably leak from, and it's quite unlikely that the fuel shutoff valve actually shuts off fuel.  Which, of course, is the whole point of a fuel shutoff valve.

It looks like this, and I've managed to beat one into actually behaving, not leaking, and actually shutting off fuel - even though it didn't start by doing any of those things!

Interested?  Read on!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

1939 Ford 9N Repair Work: Fuel, Air, and Oil

Continuing my Ford 9N repair series, this week covers the air, fuel, and oil systems.  If you've got no idea what I'm talking about, start with the overview post.  I own a 75 year old tractor that's not been particularly well maintained for the past decade or so, and I'm fixing the problems with it.  This is something totally and completely unlike small electronics or cell phones, but it's properly enjoyable to work on!

The air cleaner was dirty, the exhaust manifold was shot, the carburetor wasn't much better, and the whole thing needed some oil changes.  So, of course, I fixed all that stuff!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

1939 Ford 9N Repair Work: Electrical

This week, I'm talking about electrical system work on my tractor.  If you have no idea what I'm working on, I've got a 1939 Ford 9N tractor that I bought needing a good bit of work, and this series of 4 posts is documenting the repair process.

Last winter, I knew the electrical system was in rough shape.  The generator didn't work, the battery was pretty bad, and the one of the plug wires ends was rusted through and worked by being wedged in place by the spark plug so it could arc to the plug.  On top of that, there's some general wisdom about old Ford N series tractors that applies - the ignition switch is probably shot and high resistance, and the connections need some love.  So, this week, I talk about fixing all that stuff.  Read on for the details!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

1939 Ford 9N Repair Work: History and Teardown

This week is the first of a series of posts on my 1939 Ford 9N - a small utility tractor I use for property work and, importantly, snow removal in the winter.  This tractor has a bit of history in the family, but hasn't been well maintained to "winter plowing" standards - and definitely hasn't been maintained to my preferred standards.  It's been more "Fix it when it breaks" instead of getting it into good shape and keeping it there - which was fine for the occasional light summer and fall use, but not with what I'm using it for now.

If you're used to modern, disposable things (which, let's be honest, is most of the stuff built today), old tractors are entirely different.  They're built to run forever with occasional rebuilds, done mostly by a farmer with a crescent wrench.  My tractor is 75 years old now, and I fully expect it to outlive me.  It's a different kind of device, and I'll try to explain it as I go, for those not familiar with oil bath cleaners, carburetors, sediment bowls, and the like - so keep on reading!  If something isn't clear, please let me know in the comments and I'll try to explain better.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Harbor Freight Wind Up Flashlight/Radio Teardown, Review, and Upgrade (Model 98319)

I've torn down plenty of little solar powered gizmos on this blog, but I haven't torn down a crank powered gizmo - until now!  I had some spare birthday money and was at Harbor Freight.  Harbor Freight is a bad idea, generally speaking, because I end up with some neat (and cheap) gizmos to pull apart.

Like this one!  This is an "Emergency Crank Radio/Flashlight."  Well, I've had crank flashlights before, but I've never ripped one apart to see what makes it tick!

What's inside?  How does it work?  How can I improve it?  Is this worth buying?  What are the power consumption numbers?  Read on for the answers to all these questions!