Generators for field day

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KB1AWM, Jun 5, 2021.

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  1. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I fill my lawnmower with the cheapest available gas, which happens to have 10% ethanol. The lawnmower is from Montgomery Ward, which gives some idea of its age.

    I don't put any additives in the fuel. After I'm done mowing the lawn, I put the mower away, and it usually has half a tank of gas. In the late fall, it snows, and I don't mow the lawn any more. I don't do anything special with the mower, and it sits in the garage all winter with a half a tank of gas in it.

    The next spring, I top off the tank, push the primer a couple of times, and start it up. It starts on the first pull, and when I'm done, I repeat the whole process.
    N9DG and AC0GT like this.
  2. WN1MB

    WN1MB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Tecumseh or Briggs-Stratton?
  3. KD0UFC

    KD0UFC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm not planning on doing it for this field day, but next year. I like my solar setup, but want to be able to augment it with other sources. As to noise, it's part of my reason for using a belt drive. A belt drive would be quieter than chains or shafts, and would allow for a greater degree of isolation between the generator and anything that can act as a mechanical amplifier.
  4. KD0UFC

    KD0UFC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah, I was conflicted on that. I started by capitalizing both Imbert and Gassifier, but second guessed myself on capitalizing gassifier, then decided that Imbert gassifier looked wrong.
    WN1MB likes this.
  5. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Growing up on the family farm I remember having all kinds of trouble starting lawnmowers and weed eaters. Once all us kids went off to college though I remember Dad buying a brand new weed eater and lawnmower. This tells me Dad had problems too. Anything built recently though will start after the first or second pull or something is just broken.

    I have two gasoline mowers, one with a Honda engine and the other a Briggs & Stratton. They don't seem picky on fuel. They will run on 2 year old gas just fine. And I discovered they will run fine on 2 year old fuel mixed for 2-cycle engines. The weed eater didn't like it so... I had to do something with that fuel.

    I buy ethanol free fuel unless it means going out of my way to another station. The fuel cap for my Briggs & Stratton engine tells me not to use E85, which suggest that 10% and 15% is fine since if it wasn't they'd just say no ethanol.

    Why do I have two gasoline mowers? It's a bit of a side story and this is looking like another long post so I left that out. If anyone really wants to know I'll tell that story.

    The manual for my dual fuel generator says to use unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 85 or higher, no mention of ethanol that I could see. Like with my mower I assume ethanol blends are fine or they'd mention it. I really do need to test that generator. It's new, bought months ago, but haven't run it yet. I plan to run it only on LP unless in dire need. I don't like the idea of old gas sitting in the tank. I do like the idea of options on fuel. The generator is an A-iPower brand inverter style. It's rated 120 VAC 2000 watts peak, 1600 watts continuous on gasoline, 1500 watts continuous on LP. It's capable of being paralleled with another similar A-iPower generator for more power. There's a USB port on the generator but I'm not sure I'd trust it on anything important. No 12 VDC outlet though.

    The generator was bought with power outages and camping in mind, not Field Day. I found something that I thought big enough to power the essentials in my house but yet small enough that I would not be afraid to take it on a camping trip. It would certainly work for Field Day, I'd just need to use a 12 VDC power supply. I recall the gasoline-only version of my generator had a 12 VDC outlet but at the time I was thinking about the problems of finding gasoline after the derecho knocked out power for a large portion of the county. A 12 VDC outlet was not high on my priorities at the time.

    Backing up a bit about the mowers, I did consider converting the older mower to a generator. I saw plans on how to put a V-belt pulley on the shaft where the blade is, and mount an alternator off the mowing deck. To run the belt a notch would have to be cut out of the side of the deck as there's no side discharge chute, the bagger chute comes out the top of the deck. With an automotive battery and an inverter it can provide AC power. Without the inverter it could still power radios on Field Day, or power plenty of my 12 VDC gear during a power outage or while out on a hunting or camping trip.

    A mower to generator conversion may still be an option I'd consider. I'd want it to be reversible though so I can still use it to mow. Any ideas on how to make that happen? The cost of the conversion will be a consideration. If it costs more than that gasoline-only A-iPower generator I saw with the 12VDC power outlet and can parallel with my current generator then I'd just buy that instead. If it costs even half that much then it's another generator or just doing without. So, can this be done for under $200? That's parts and labor. I'd do the work myself but I value my time, though the rate can vary. If this can double as a stick welder then the allowed budget just tripled, at a minimum.

    Sorry for another long post, I can't help myself. :(
  6. WZ7U

    WZ7U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sell propelled walk behind mowers are generally belt driven and anyone with the skills could make the adaptation. If your time is that valuable, having it fabbed up shouldn't be an issue.
  7. NG1H

    NG1H XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I discovered while helping a friend struggle with small engine sound reduction that a significant portion of the remaining noise came through the intake. By attaching a larger/more complex air intake the sound appeared to be reduced as much as adding a better muffler. Still not "Honda EU" quiet but it was worth the effort.
    N2EY likes this.
  8. NG1H

    NG1H XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, they can get zapped by both the State and Feds for not collecting the road taxes. So I can sort of see their point. But there a LOT of small airports that only have self serve stations and you can usually just drive your car/truck right up to them. Plus they are often over $1/gallon cheaper. But being ready with the Rotax excuse just in case is a good idea.
  9. KD0UFC

    KD0UFC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good to know. I suspect that mounting the engine to the frame with rubber feet and using a belt drive rather than a shaft coupling between the engine and generator could reduce noise also.
  10. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am very reluctant to tinker with my self propelled mower, I need that to work. I'll tinker with the older one though, but not if it means destroying it if the experiment fails.

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