16 July, 2008

The Generator Redux and Other Stuff

Ok, this is the third time I've written this bit. The two previous times, I used a Google Gadget "Blogger Post Gadget".

The first time, I changed pages in Firefox, my browser, and when I returned to the Blogger Gadget page, discovered nothing had been saved. That was my own fault. I should have known better.

The second time, I wrote the complete post of several paragraphs and hit "post" to send it to the blog. It clicked and whirred and then did nothing. Not a good sign. Anyway, that was a failure too. I've since deleted that gadget.

The whole idea was that it would give me a nice way to quickly make a text-only entry to the blog in a hurry, without me having to load up the blog (similar to opening a new program) each time. Apparently, there's no easy way to do it. Bummer.

Ok, so what had I written? Well, for starters, Monday, Anthony Watson, our electrician, came by to check out the problem I had with the full-load generator test. He looked everything over and had me fire up the generator so he could test voltages at the transfer switch (there is a way to defeat the safety-lock feature of those doors). All was good. Then he discovered the solution. I had been too gentle in switching the le ver. It seems to make a good connection, you have to slam the switch lever into place to ensure the knife switch really seats itself. That was the problem.

While we had the generator running, and were right there at the switch, I then went through the whole transfer process, following my spiffy diagram.
The Diagram Works Great
I brought up the breakers I had identified that needed to be powered up during an emergency. The generator lugged slightlly when I switched breaker No. 1, then recovered. That powers the whole upstairs - fans, fridge, and all. I then added in all the other breakers. It didn't even break out into a sweat.

I'm still trying to find a small tin of white enamel to mark each of the breaker switches, to remove as much guess work as possible.

So, that proved the generator can power up completely everything we have here and has plenty of room for more. Woohoo! Is that cool or what?

The next thing I had Anthony look at was the front gate doorbell. I wanted him to test the line from the doorbell button itself to the transformer, a distance of over 70 feet, all now buried. That all tested fine. Whew! What a bugger that would have been to try to pull a speaker wire pair (they don't have bell wire down here) through that 1/2" conduit all that way.

What the problem did turn out to be was the transformer. It had burnt out. Turns out, I made the mistake of following instructions installing it. That meant it had 12VDC across the coil all the time, which caused it to heat up some, and eventually failed the fine wire winding on the coil.

That all being done, Anthony went on his way. He had only his tester with him as his son, Jr., had taken all his tools to use on another job (he's an electrician as well). So, yesterday, I ran around doing my errands, and got a replacement transformer from Pablo Marin Electric. Anthony will come back Wednesday to install it, doing it so that it only has 12 VDC when someone pushed the doorbell button at the gate. In theory, it should last for a long time.

Some other stuff, I'm having Vasco Doors and Windows make a trash bin lid for me and a stand to hold six five-gallon water bottles. I've had differing bits of luck with them. Sometimes they do stuff close to on time and its really good work. Other times, they just don't seem to be able to make any sort of deadline at all. Really frustrating.

This may be one of those times. I gave them the order on last Thursday. They told me it would be ready Tuesday. They wanted my number in case it got done early. A good sign.

Tuesday came, I stopped by. "Ummmm, could you come back Thursday? It's not finished yet." Sure, no problem. This is not a good sign. I mean, it's only a garbage bin lid 26" x 34" with two hinges and a handle. The water bottle stand is simple welding. They even had an example there to go by - their own water bottle stand. Of course, it may have gotten complicated. Their stand holds 8 bottles, mine was only going to hold 6.

We'll see. If it's not ready on Thursday, it looks like I'll be giving Isaiel a call to do a couple of small jobs for me.

What else... Oh, the hurricane evacuation kit is ready to roll. Following the evacuation checklist I put together, we've got everything ready in that regard. There's just a few more pieces of scrap wood to add to the burn pile.

I finally figured out how I'm going to take care of the forms for the pool, which are just sitting in two neat stacks out in the yard. I'll hire a couple young guys to move them into one of the breezeways. That should protect them and give a bit more protection to the downstairs.

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