Buy a generator : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

My husband and I want to purchase a generator for backup electricity. How do you know when you buy something like that if there is not a computer chip embedded in it somewhere which will make it useless when 2000 rolls around?

-- Karen Kadlec (, March 30, 1998


A generator is a relatively simple mechanical piece of equipment with little need for time keeping. Just be sure that you buy one that does not have a timing device on it and you shouldn't have any problems with Y2K. Be sure and have plenty of fuel stored to run it for several weeks at least!

-- Jim Buel (, March 31, 1998.

If you are storing fuel I can recommend the fuel preserver sold by Nitro-Pak 800-866-4876. I've stored it for 3 1/2 years in a fairly high heat area (But out of the sun) before starting to use it up and replace. It was fine even in 2 cycle equipt. Store premium and use quality gas- not ethanol based (chevron is good gas)

-- skipper clark (, March 31, 1998.

You will have to ask the manufacture whether there are any embedded chips in it. The retailer, unless it's a specialist, will not know.

If for example you purchase a Coleman generator, don't bother asking Coleman, they didn't make it. Instead contact Briggs & Stratton (or whatever engine brand) and ask what type of ignition and speed governor is on that model, hopefully something really simple. Same of the generator manufacture, what type of device controls the voltage?

P.S. Those little $500 one lung potmetal 3,600 RPM wonders have a useful life measured in hundreds of hours, period. If you are planning to run them only one hour per day to pump water into the cistern and charge batteries for one year they might fill your need. If you need more power for a longer period of time a one lunger with replacable sleeves can be rebuilt several times (if you have the parts). If your life is going to depend on electricity, like your drinking water is 300' below ground for example, you need a serious multicylinder engine that runs at 1,800 RPM and will last for years. Of course then you have to decide on which fuel, gas (dangerous to store, requires stabilizers to prevent spoilage), diesel (safe to store, requires stabilizers), or propane (safe to store properly, requires NO preservative treatment).

-- Ken Seger (, April 01, 1998.

"Of course then you have to decide on which fuel, gas (dangerous to store, requires stabilizers to prevent spoilage), diesel (safe to store, requires stabilizers), or propane (safe to store properly, requires NO preservative treatment)."

Propane companies seem unwilling to carry and/or sell pigs with bottom-fittings, which I understand are necessary for running things like cars and generators. Anybody else run into this?

-- Ron Schwarz (, April 02, 1998.

Short lesson in Propane 101. Propane is sold in two different ways 1) as a heating fuel in large bulk tanks for your home or small 20lb (5 gal) or 40LB (10 gal) cylinders. These types of tanks draw vapor off the top ONLY, unless your bulk tank is equiped with a "wet hose" on the bottom for filling other smaller tanks. You can run small single or twin cylinder gas engines directly on Propane vapor. The limit is about 16-20 HP depending on how large your bulk tank is. Surface area of the liquid inside is the key.

MOTOR FUEL tanks are for vehicles, fork lifts or large engines that must use a LIQUID DRAW system similar to conventional liquid fuels except that no fuel pump is required. Liquid draw systems are more complex since they require a vaporizer to flash the liquid into a vapor for use in the "mixer" which mixes Propane gas and air. It is NOT a carburetor, they atomize liquid gasoline and air. The difference between these two types of tanks are that Motor fuel tanks can have several valves for liquid, vapor, or forklift style liquid fitting. The fill fittings for heating fuel, Motor fuel and forklifts are diffent and NOT interchangeable. Motor fuel tanks are very expensive new. Check your local "Buy-N-Sell" type classified adds and you will find used motor fuel tanks in the automotive section. Also complete conversion kits usually at 25 cents on the dollar of new. Back to generators. Look for used RV generators, they are twin cylinder 1800 RPM units and even used will last longer than lanmower engine light duty units and they come with VERY quiet mufflers. For the more techically capable and near large bodies of water, consider old marine gas generators. These are liquid cooled but you'll have to add a radiator, a muffler and eliminate the wet exhaust connection. What you'll get is an extremely rugged unit designed to run all day and night as long as you've got fuel. Remember any 4 cycle gas engine can be converted to Propane, Natural gas or Bio gas from sewage digesters.

-- Douglas V. Dorsey (, April 03, 1998.

If you want a back up for a couple of weeks the gasoline and ropane generators are fine. If you are going to need steady deppendablle ower for months or years, you need a diesel. art of the difference here is that diesels run at a1/2 the seed of gas and most propanes, and proane and gas is a solvent. Diesel fuel is a lubricant.

Diesels reguarly go 10,000 - 50,000 hours before an ovver-haul, and when the overhaul takes place, its a pretty simple affair, compared to a gas engine.

But then......diesells of the same power are 3 times more expensive. But then also, you can turn your diesel on in the morning, and knowing that it needs to be on in the afternoon, just let it run all day. At idle it bare sips fuel, and does better running than sitting idle.

Its not for nothing that big diesel rigs, are left running in the parking lots while the drivers have dinner, a shower and a couple of hours of sleep.


-- Joseh Smith (, May 01, 1998.

I spoke with a few propane suppliers, and none of them can provide tanks that have bottom fittings. I understand that if you want to run a generator (or a propane-converted car) on propane, you need to drain liquid off the bottom of the tank, instead of gas off the top.

Can anyone shed any light on this? If it's true, are there any sources for tanks that can be used?

-- Ron Schwarz (, May 01, 1998.

Ron Schwarz, If you want to run a large (more than 18 HP) liquid cooled engine go to your propane dealer and ask for a MOTOR FUEL tank it will have a LIQUID valve which draws off the BOTTOM of the tank even though the valve may be ANYWHERE on the tank. If you are running an engine under 18 HP, air or liquid cooled, that is stationary you can use a Propane VAPOR system directly off any large bulk tank. Call your Propane dealer for conversion parts for small engines. Look in your Buy-N-Sell type flyers for used MOTOR FUEL tanks. I have bought a total of 3, for a total capacity of 210 gallons for $200 and there was still 10 gallons in one of them. These three tanks would have cost well over $1000 new. You can always add a Vapor valve to an unused port on a MOTOR FUEL tank.

-- Douglas V. Dorsey (, May 06, 1998.


I've been trying to locate a propane generator between 6 & 10kw. Does anyone have a phone number for companies who carry them? I've been looking for Winco's number, I've heard that they carry a very good propane generator.

Thanks, Candice

-- Candice Brinkman (, June 02, 1998.


Northern, 1-800-533-5545, has a 10kW dual fuel (propane/natural gas) generator for $2,900.

China Diesel ( has some listed, too, I believe.

Good luck

-- Rocky Knolls (, June 02, 1998.

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