Ciprian Boboc

personal, astronomy, etc

Converting a Champion Generator to run on Propane (or Natural Gas) and Reasons Behind It

Posted by ciprianb on June 25, 2014

A while back, we’ve planned a party. We invited many friends to our place at around 3pm. In the morning, around 10am, we were hit by a power outage. We’ve waited aprox 2 hours and we were still without power. Therefore, it was the option to call off the party or come up with a different solution. I didn’t want to call off that party so therefore, I went to Costco and bought a Champion 41532 generator.

This generator turned out to be a good buy. Like any generator, it’s noisy, but I can run my whole house on it (it delivers 7000W with a peak of 9000W). As long as I’m not running my dryer, oven or some power hungry vacuum cleaner, everything works fine in my house (all lights – and I have at least 20 CFL lights here, TVs, computers, furnace, etc).

One first problem was how to connect the generator to the house power system. There were multiple options there, but basically I had to decide between a power transfer switch system and a simpler and cheaper interlock kit. I’ve decided for the interlock kit because fewer limitations and price. A transfer switch allows the use of a limited number of circuits (6 or 10 usually), while the interlock kit doesn’t come up with the same limitation.

It’s not very difficult to install a transfer switch but I’ve hired a professional to do the job. On top of that, they got the inspection taken care of. It costed a bit more, but I really didn’t want to mess with the electrical system of my house.

Recently I’ve decided to convert my generator from gasoline to propane or natural gas. As far as I understand, the price is comparable if you run the generator from a propane tank vs a similar amount of gasoline. I’ve read that a standard $20 propane tank holds aprox 4.2 gallons of propane and that delivers aprox the same amount of BTU (or HP) as 4-5 gallons of gasoline. While the price of gasoline is aprox 4$ / gallon, then 5 gallons are aprox $20, too. But then, if you run the generator on natural gas from a grill line, then the price is way cheaper (propably at least 4 times cheaper).

But then there’s the problem of storing the fuel. I don’t see myself storing 10 gallons of gasoline. Gasoline has a limited shelf life and it’s more dangerous to store gasoline vs propane. I already have 2 standard propane tanks and those should give us aprox one day of uninterrupted electrical power to run our house. And if we end up with a long electrical power outage, there’s the option to hook up the generator to the natural gas grill line.

I didn’t like storing gasoline for too long time. A generator is supposed to be use in a emergency and I didn’t want to bother to run it every 2 weeks (as indicated by the generator’s manufacturer), or even every month or so. That’s a waste of time and gas. But if you don’t start the generator for a long time and then you have a emergency, you may have some troubles with the gasoline in generator’s carburetor, tank and fuel lines.

Long introduction to my generator story… Now, fast forward to today and how I’ve converted my generator to gas.

I’m not a mechanic and my experience with engines is limited. I’m actually a software engineer and converting the generator was a bit of challenge for me. But it turned up fine – it took me under 3 hours (and that included time spent on finding the proper screw drivers, drills, etc).

I’ve ordered a tri fuel conversion kit from http://www.motorsnorkel.com/. Their web site asks you for what kind of generator you have and I assume they deliver the right kit based on your selection. I got my conversion kit in aprox 1 week and it costed a bit under $200.

I’m probably going to create a youtube video with installation instructions, but for now I’m going to explain it using a few pictures.

If you have a new generator, make sure you run it on gasoline for at least 2 hours before starting the conversion. If you’ve used it already for 2 hours, then you’re set and start converting it.

I’ve decided to get rid of the gas from the tank of the generator. You can either burn it all by running the generator (slightly tilted) until it runs out of fuel or just pump the gas out (my approach).

Make sure you also turn the gas line off (so you avoid residual gas to come into the carburetor when running on propane).

Then start by taking apart the air filter.

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There are 6 screws on front (on the sides), 2 close to carburetor and one in the back holding the air filter to the frame.

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I had some problems with the screw in the back. I had to remove the wheel in order to get access to that screw.

Open everything and expose the carburetor.

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Install the motor snorkel on front of carburetor. Make sure that the hose gets inside the carburetor while the choke is on run position. They especially give us warning not to install the snorkel if the choke is not open (in run position).

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After that, install the air filter back, on top of the motor snorkel.

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I had also some problems installing back the 2 screws next to carburetor (I had to push the cover in order to get it in position).

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The next step is to install the regulator. You have to drill 2 holes in the carburetor’s frame using a 1/4 drill. Make sure you don’t drill into the gas tank. Especially if you still have gas in the tank, then pay a lot of attention to this step. Gas explosions are not fun, so stay out of trouble (by removing the gas and eventually shielding the tank when drilling).

I have shielded my gas tank with a little piece of metal (which I positioned between the frame and the gas tank).

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Here is the regulator attached to the frame.

Make sure you tighten up the connections, add sealant on the threads and connect the gas / vapor tube before tightening the regulator.

In my case, I had to do some extra steps here (there was no space to rotate the part coming on top of the regulator (fuel outlet)).

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Finally, connect the propane gas to regulator.

The gas tube was only 3/8 size and the regulator inlet was 3/4. Therefore, I had to use 2 step down conversion fittings (3/4 to 1/2 and 1/2 to 3/8). I bought them from Home Depot for aprox $3 each.

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Before starting, make sure you read the motor snorkel manual. It tells you how much to rotate the part on top of the regulator to allow the proper amount of propane gas in (5-6 rotations for propane gas, probaly 7-8 for natural gas).

Also, you can allow a bit more propane in, for the initial start and then reduce the in take.

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Use also a tachometer. I don’t have one, therefore I had to adjust based on the sound of the engine. But I’ll buy a tachometer to make sure I get the proper rpm rate. And that’s pretty much all.

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Enjoy Life

Posted by ciprianb on April 23, 2014

We move through life and sometimes we look back. What have we accomplished so far? What did we bring new to this world? How did we spend our life so far? What does it make up proud so far? What are the lessons we learned?

Every single person is different. We learn so much every day. And it’s a pity we get to share only a fraction of our experiences.

I think we have to be active, set and achieve small goals and try to be happy – enjoy what we have.
Life is precious. Spending time with family and friends is good. Creating something new and helping with the progress of the mankind is great.

butterfly

butterfly

We are too often living on “auto-pilot” and wake up too late regreting the lost time. We avoid risks and stay close to routines. We’re afraid to take new paths and we go over and over again on the same route.

But we have to stop and think. Does the well established route make us happy? Or do we want to try something new and try a new adventure?
We all are remarkable creatures. With enough motivation, every single one of us can achieve a lot. We are the top life form on our planet and we shouldn’t forget this.

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Memento Mori

Posted by ciprianb on February 20, 2014

Today we said good bye to a friend. He was young and his death was completely unexpected to us.

Aside from grieving and remembering the good times spent with that person, it makes me pause and think about our short journey in this universe… It’s hard to accept, understand, and wonder why a good person must die so young…

I found myself trapped in pointless thoughts or actions. Laughs, tears, emotions, cries, dark or light – all this human life – and what’s the point of all of it?

Maybe we should bother less about small problems and enjoy this gift named LIFE.

Well, good bye, dear friend, and I hope your soul is in heaven now.

 

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Do Not Fear the Universe

Posted by ciprianb on May 22, 2013

Let me start by quoting Albert Einstein:

“The single most important decision any of us will ever have to make is whether or not to believe that the universe is friendly.

The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.

I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.

For if we decide that the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly—and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is powerful enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.

If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is essentially ‘playing dice with the universe’, then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.

But if we decide that the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives.”

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There are so many fears: fear of night, fear of future, fear of uncertainty, fear of losing what we have, fear of change, fear of death. But really, why should we spend our time in fear? Yes, if we’re in real danger, a short adrenaline shot maybe’s useful… But then, if we spend hours or days in fear… then we get sick and die.

Jesus told us not to fear: “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” . Perfect love casts out fear.

So many wars or fights start because fear… We have to let go and not obsess about control.

“We try to control things because of what we think will happen if we don’t. Control is also a result of being attached to a specific outcome—an outcome we’re sure is best for us, as if we always know what’s best.”

Terrorists act because fear and insecurities. They’re afraid of a bad outcome in after-life, poverty for their families or other reasons rooted in fear.

Ideas, thoughts, laws of physics, everything can be seen as a flow… It’s our decision to fear this universal flow or just accept it. We have our own free will and we can influence others, but probably we can make a bigger impact if we let go and not oppose this universal flow / will of God / laws of Nature.

When I’m out at night time, watching galaxies or star clusters far away, I am in a state of amazement of the beauty of Universe.

And I believe that we live in a friendly Universe, in a place where we can build instead of destroy, we can create and expand our dreams and imagination beyond any limits.

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SkyMap for Windows 8

Posted by ciprianb on December 19, 2012

SkyMap application (based on SkyMap Windows Phone code) has just been released on Windows 8 and Windows RT platforms. There are 2 versions of this app:

Be ready for Dec 21st (end of Mayan calendar) and use this app to check if planets align or if there is anything special happening in the sky.

SkyMap for Windows 8 Home Page

SkyMap

Windows Store Description:

The popular Windows Phone SkyMap application, downloaded by more than half of million users, now comes to Windows 8!

SkyMap is an amazing planetarium for your device. It enables you to point your device at the sky and see what stars, constellations, planets or deep space objects are out there in real time. SkyMap shows the sky in 3D, like you see it at night time exposing a collection of over 110000 stars.It’s very easy to use for any viewpoint, time and location on Earth: it determines your location automatically, supports pinch to zoom for more details and provides a highly customizable map.*Free trial availableSkyMap has a full set of features in order to help both casual stargazers and amateur astronomers to explore and locate the objects in the sky.
  • can use the current time and location but you can also customize them
  • interactive zoom
  • night mode
  • touch screen support
  • realistic Milky Way image and horizon
  • stars twinkle
  • constellations with beautiful Johannes Hevelius’s artwork
  • constellations, stars, deep space objects, planets, sun and moon information
  • fast loading and initialization
  • point to sky mode
  • improved sky map graphics: planet images, star colors, diffraction spikes, etc
  • sky object information (wikipedia integration)
  • alt/az grid
  • additional customizations (show/hide map layers: planets, stars, messier objects, etc)

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Our trip to Cancun, Mexico

Posted by ciprianb on October 31, 2012

The tropical resorts in Mexico are a great vacation destination.

We’ve been to Mexico many times for vacation:

  • cruises to East and West coasts of Mexico
  • vacations to all inclusive resorts (Puerto Vallarta and Cancun)

We’ve just returned from a trip to Cancun (Iberostar Paraiso Lindo at Riviera Lindo, close to Cancun). I think this trip was great.

My wife and daughter enjoyed swimming with dolphins. And I did some scuba diving. On top of that, the resort offered all kind of activities: water sports, archery, darts, pool games, bingo, etc.

I was also really happy to use this opportunity to practice my Spanish.

I haven’t learned Spanish in school. Actually there are a bit more than 2 months since I’ve started to learn Spanish seriously. And I had a very good and fast progress. The trip to Mexico was my main motivation to keep learning Spanish. And once I got there, I’ve started using the (limited) Spanish phrases I learned.

I really think that, in order to learn a foreign language, there is a need for a strong motivation (e.g. a trip somewhere, a desire to impress somebody, a job demand, etc) and the desire to practice that language. Also, I’ve learned that complicated grammar structures, obscure verb tenses don’t really matter much. It’s more important to relax and engage in discussions with native speakers whenever possible.

But back to scuba diving.

They offered a free scuba dive tryout in the pool. I think that is a great marketing approach – because they got new customers. People are trying it – and a good percentage of them will love scuba and are willing to try it out in the sea.

And once somebody dives in the sea and watches the beautiful marine life, feels the liberty to swim in any direction, he’s hooked for scuba.

Here’s a video of my second dive at Manchones coral reef:

 

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Curiosity Landed on Mars!

Posted by ciprianb on August 5, 2012

A few minutes ago, Curiosity landed on Mars!

This is a great step forward for planetary exploration and for the whole mankind.

$2.5 billion, a lot of human work and dreams spent on this project only to end up with success. I really belive that humans should keep their own “curiosity” and continue “boldly go where no one has go before”.

 

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Romania

Posted by ciprianb on May 2, 2012

Romania is a east European country. It is part of European Union since 2007 and it neighbors Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Republic of Moldova.

It was a communist country and had a  madman as president (Ceausescu) until the revolution of 1989. Ceausescu had a mock trial and was executed a few minutes after the trial. Anyway, people were really happy to see the country free of its former president and Ceausescu was guilty for many obvious crimes.

After 1989, there were many changes  in this country. After a rather painful transition in the ’90s, Romania started to experience a steady economical growth. Many Romanian citizens started working in West Europe. The people of Romania started changing their mentalities – moving from a communist/socialist way of thinking (lack of leadership, state funded welfare expectation, state controlled economy, etc) to a open market and liberal ideas.

Like other East European countries, the country still struggles with bureaucracy, corruption and not very efficient justice system. But it offers very good business opportunities, a skilled labor force available to hire for wages under the average of European Union and it still has a lot of potential for growth. Because the tough reforms, Romania performed pretty well compared to other European countries during the recent economical crisis.

Romania is, without doubt, a nice tourist destination. It has 3 main regions: Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldova.

The country is known for the its middle age inheritance, myths and legends (Dracula / Vlad the Impaler, vampires, etc). One can visit old castles, hike the Carpathians mountains, get a trip to medieval monasteries or to the Black Sea coast. Also, a  traveler can find rustic villages where people keep very old traditions.

 

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