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Old 03-03-2018, 07:52   #1
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How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

My boat is quite electrical-intensive, and preparing for remote cruising I shiver a little thinking about gear failure. Normally I have full redundancy with generating capacity -- a heavy duty school bus alternator on the main engine capable of producing about 2.5kW, and a reliable 6.5kW heavy duty diesel generator. Wellll, last summer I had a freak combination of failures where the pulley nut on the alternator came off (I thought the bearings failed) AND just a few days later, I had a fuel system problem with the generator which I was not able to solve underway.

So this has made me a little paranoid.

I might bring a spare entire alternator, but I'm thinking about bringing along a suitcase generator as well.

A suitcase generator is a good solution because I have a power boost inverter which will let me limit the power taken from the generator and make up any shortfall with inverted power. But the big problem is where to store it. It will rust in the anchor locker or on deck, and otherwise you have to bring it below where it's not safe to have petrol.

What do you guys do about that? Pour the fuel back into the jug, then run it dry? But there's still some fuel in the system after you do that.

Is there a solution?
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Old 03-03-2018, 08:28   #2
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How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

I keep my Honda 2000 lashed on deck near the mast with a Sunbrella cover. Itís been on deck for 7 years so far with no rust problems. In fairness though I rarely take green water over the deck and Iíve been able to rinse it with fresh water soon after on those few occasions.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:02   #3
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

For over 11 years, I've stored Mr. Honda in the starboard lazzerette, with out draining the fuel. While I would never store a Jerry Jug of gas below deck, the honda's tank is protected from damage by the case of the generator. In addition the fuel fill cap has a lever/valve to close the vent and the cap is well threaded and seals air tight. (unlike the easily striped threads of a plastic jerry can).

Is there a danger of storing fuel in the Honda below deck. Sure. Everything has danger. Myself with some experience with that engineering thingy, consider the danger of a fuel leak from a honda 2000i generator, safely stored below, to be no greater then a fire from either diesel leaking or a shorted wire (those pesky circuit breakers sometimes are defective and don't trip either).

It's just another thing to check and be aware of.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:11   #4
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tayana42 View Post
I keep my Honda 2000 lashed on deck near the mast with a Sunbrella cover. Itís been on deck for 7 years so far with no rust problems. In fairness though I rarely take green water over the deck and Iíve been able to rinse it with fresh water soon after on those few occasions.
At my latitudes, my decks are regularly swept with green water, so that wouldn't work for me.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:12   #5
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

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For over 11 years, I've stored Mr. Honda in the starboard lazzerette, with out draining the fuel. While I would never store a Jerry Jug of gas below deck, the honda's tank is protected from damage by the case of the generator. In addition the fuel fill cap has a lever/valve to close the vent and the cap is well threaded and seals air tight. (unlike the easily striped threads of a plastic jerry can).

Is there a danger of storing fuel in the Honda below deck. Sure. Everything has danger. Myself with some experience with that engineering thingy, consider the danger of a fuel leak from a honda 2000i generator, safely stored below, to be no greater then a fire from either diesel leaking or a shorted wire (those pesky circuit breakers sometimes are defective and don't trip either).

It's just another thing to check and be aware of.
OK, that sounds pretty reasonable. Thanks.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:20   #6
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

Put it in your propane locker and rig the propane on deck for this one trip.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:26   #7
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

until i donated my 10 yr old abused and well used honda 2000, i kept it inside where my hot water heater used to be, perfect place. safe. no issues.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:34   #8
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

I think SC's recommendation would be fine and very minimal danger but if you want to be extra super cautious AND keep the carb in the gennie from gumming up it isn't that much trouble to drain the gas.

Be sure to also drain the bowl on the carb as well since that will also gum up the works if left to evaporate. My Honda has a hose from the bottom of the bowl and a screw on the fitting where it connects that does this quite easily.

You know of course the rule of emergency equipment like a portable generator? If you buy one and haul it around you'll never need it. I bought a nice portable for the house after we lost power for two weeks from a hurricane near miss. 10 years later and the only time it has ever been cranked is when I pull it out for an annual run and checkup.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:35   #9
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorchic34 View Post
For over 11 years, I've stored Mr. Honda in the starboard lazzerette, with out draining the fuel. While I would never store a Jerry Jug of gas below deck, the honda's tank is protected from damage by the case of the generator. In addition the fuel fill cap has a lever/valve to close the vent and the cap is well threaded and seals air tight. (unlike the easily striped threads of a plastic jerry can).

Is there a danger of storing fuel in the Honda below deck. Sure. Everything has danger. Myself with some experience with that engineering thingy, consider the danger of a fuel leak from a honda 2000i generator, safely stored below, to be no greater then a fire from either diesel leaking or a shorted wire (those pesky circuit breakers sometimes are defective and don't trip either).

It's just another thing to check and be aware of.
+1
I keep mine in a locker on deck. Never had a leak and as above, the fuel containment is excellent. I never smell fuel.

Cars keep fuel in large quantities and never have a problem until inverted punctured or a pipe leaks.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:38   #10
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
I think SC's recommendation would be fine and very minimal danger but if you want to be extra super cautious AND keep the carb in the gennie from gumming up it isn't that much trouble to drain the gas.

Be sure to also drain the bowl on the carb as well since that will also gum up the works if left to evaporate. My Honda has a hose from the bottom of the bowl and a screw on the fitting where it connects that does this quite easily.

You know of course the rule of emergency equipment like a portable generator? If you buy one and haul it around you'll never need it. I bought a nice portable for the house after we lost power for two weeks from a hurricane near miss. 10 years later and the only time it has ever been cranked is when I pull it out for an annual run and checkup.
Yes, I used to carry around a Honda 1000i for a few years and never needed it. Actually in 9 years my diesel generator has only failed twice -- once a bad electrical connection to the lift pump (misdiagnosed by me as a bad lift pump, so I replaced it), and the other time a minor fuel issue.

But I used the Honda also for putting a long finishing charge on my batteries when I still kept my boat on a mooring. If you don't have solar, a gasoline generator is the next best thing for that because unlike a diesel generator, it doesn't mind running for a long time at low load.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:45   #11
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

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My boat is quite electrical-intensive, and preparing for remote cruising I shiver a little thinking about gear failure. Normally I have full redundancy with generating capacity -- a heavy duty school bus alternator on the main engine capable of producing about 2.5kW, and a reliable 6.5kW heavy duty diesel generator. Wellll, last summer I had a freak combination of failures where the pulley nut on the alternator came off (I thought the bearings failed) AND just a few days later, I had a fuel system problem with the generator which I was not able to solve underway.

So this has made me a little paranoid.

I might bring a spare entire alternator, but I'm thinking about bringing along a suitcase generator as well.

A suitcase generator is a good solution because I have a power boost inverter which will let me limit the power taken from the generator and make up any shortfall with inverted power. But the big problem is where to store it. It will rust in the anchor locker or on deck, and otherwise you have to bring it below where it's not safe to have petrol.

What do you guys do about that? Pour the fuel back into the jug, then run it dry? But there's still some fuel in the system after you do that.

Is there a solution?


Yes, there is a solution....
If the pulley nut came loose then someone messed up.
This never happens. If it does happen then the mechanic that installed it should never be used again.
Also a spare alternator should be carried and stop with the silly generator backup idea.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:51   #12
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

We don't carry one but friends keep theirs below decks behind the companionway stairs strapped to the floor with a heavy belt system. They have sailed far and wide and never had an issue.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:52   #13
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

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Yes, there is a solution....
If the pulley nut came loose then someone f..ed up.
This never happens. If it does happen then the mechanic that installed it should never be used again.
Also a spare alternator should be carried and stop with the silly generator backup idea.
Yes, someone definitely messed up -- it was ME.

I was turning the pulley with a socket in order to get new belts on it and forgot to check tightness after I finished. Must have been turning it the wrong way. I was tired; it was at sea in roughish weather. Brain flatulence.

Yes, I've decided to carry a spare alternator, but why is the generator idea "silly"? This also backs up AC power in case of a failure of my charger/inverter, which is a Victron, so always a chance of that. I know this is getting into paranoid territory, but I'm going to be in very remote places - I want to eliminate the risk as much as reasonably possible.
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:19   #14
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

Storing the genset below decks should not involve unsafe petrol storage. Gensets should be stored EMPTY and run dry before they are put away. Or else the fuel in them will break down (unless you're also adding stabilant) and gum up the works.
So, nbg, just empty it out before storage. Spray with a rust inhibitor (even rustoleum sells that in cans now) if there's a gross problem. Otherwise throw some 3M rust blocking tabs (ask a gun shop if you can't find them eleewhere) in the generator housing, or some naphtalene mothballs (still coming out of Ceylon via ebay) and then seal it up in a couple of contractor-grade plastic bags.
No problem, no rust, no fumes. And if you can smell the mothballs--it hasn't been sealed.
And of course the standby petrol should have, must have, stabilant in it. I'm happier with metal fuel cans for long term storage, preferably the genuine "NATO" ones because tey are simply built better. (The generic Chinese copies all seem to measure thinner and have other issues. The newer genuine NATO plastic cans are hard to find in the civilian market in the US.) I added a sealant inside the cans, which is supposed to be totally redundant, and a couple of extra coats of paint outside, in order to postpone any questions of long-term rusting. (I don't like rust. I don't like sanding. I'd rather prevent both up front.)
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Old 03-03-2018, 16:39   #15
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Re: How to Make a Suitcase Generator Safe for Storage Below?

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What do you guys do about that? Pour the fuel back into the jug, then run it dry? But there's still some fuel in the system after you do that.

Is there a solutions well.
Presumably your fender locker just behind the anchor locker drains overboard. If so a shelf glassed in high up at one end would make a good place to store a Honda 10i.

Actually I would take the Honda 10i over a spare 24v large frame alternator.

If you lost both the engine and genny which is unlikely, then you don't need much to keep going, some lights, a VHF and some nav gear will see you sail several hundred miles to somewhere to effect more permanent repairs.

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