My Generator Page and
What I Learned As Florence Came Through
Back in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo hit Charlotte NC on September 22, my wife asked me the night before if I thought I should tie down or move the garbage cans. I said no, we always have hurricanes on the coast and it means we have good sailing breeze here in Charlotte. I was wrong, in fact I think I located the garbage cans, but I do not remember where they were. Below is a photo of what we used to sail in the late 60’s through the 90’s.
I have had my generator which is a NorthStar 5500 for over 10 years. Years ago we had it hooked to the electrical boxes that are out the back door. I keep the generator in the garage which is close and roll it out when in use. It is not a good idea to run it in a garage or any other closed space because the carbon monoxide get in through the small spaces in doors and windows.
We used the generator one time when we were in New York City around the first of the year. We had a severe ice storm and the electricity was out for much of Charlotte. We were watching the evening news in New York, and the TV showed a family from Charlotte hunkered down in front of a roaring fire. It was our next door neighbors. That was quite a shock.
When we got home I was able to get the generator running, and we kept the frozen stuff safe.
I suppose we might have used the generator on one or two other times, but it is still a pain to hook up because I always have other stuff loaded on it. I also have to refresh myself as to how to start it.
So now let me tell you what I learned before and during Hurricane Florence.
I did not maintain my generator properly because I knew there were a few times I could not get it started. Fortunately the power was off for a short period of time.
A long time prior to Florence, I had it serviced by a company that came and loaded it on a pickup truck and hauled it away and then came back to deliver it. Then when I checked it out several months later I turned on the gas valve and saw gasoline flowing out from the fittings where the gas line goes from the fuel tank to the carborator. It leaked badly and I was stuck. What had happened I found out is that the ethenal in regular gasoine ate up the rubber gaskets.
I had the repair people come again haul it away to be fixed. The problem is that all of this was about 3 days before Florence paid us a visit. Luck was with me because the company owner was at the beach and arriving back in Charlotte the next day. Not only did he get back on time, but came and picked the generator up but got it back one day before Florence. Our power did go off and the generator ran for about 7 hours until the electricity came back on. It turns out that a large limb fell out of a tree on Maryland Avenue and took the power out.
I felt pretty comfortable with that and as the big Snow Storm of December came was predicted to bring up to 12 inches of snow to Charlotte, I felt I was prepared. Days before I rolled out the generator, opened the gas valve, turned the start stop switch to on and yanked the cord. Nothing happened. I pulled about six times and realized it should have started on the first pull. Having been in the tree business for a long time I knew a good bit about power saws and did some thinking about what to do next.
The first thing I did was google How to start a North Star 5500 Generator. I did not learn much from there, but did find a guy who said how to cold start.
Basically he said start with good clean non-ethenal gas. open the valve that goes from the fuel tank to the carborator. Put the half choke on, pull twice then go to the full choke and pull again... it did not. He said if that did not work then spray just a little carb cleaner and starter fluid into the carb. You will have to take the cover off the carb to do this. I did so and one pull and away it went. I did that two or three times and it started on one pull. I also had non leaded gas in the tank that was 3 months old and it still worked.
A little more coming ...... a step I left out.
But I do feel that I have the steps down pat and will get an easy start in the future. After we get through the winter months, I will drane the tank and use that gas in my car. I will keep one gas can around to get it started and plan to buy more gas as needed.
follow up after snow storm of 12-10-2018
10-8 Today as I enter this new information is December 10, 2018. We were prepared this time and I started my gerator about four times on Friday and Saturday in preparation for a bad winter storm. We escaped the bullet. We had sleet on Saturday about two inches deep. Across the street I heard a generator up the street and later found the power was out for two hours. Northwest of us and toward Greensboro and Raleigh, had record snow falls... some were 12 to 15 inches and in Roanoke in western Virgina had 18 inches.