Cheap Generator? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

Has anyone seen a national chain (such as Home Depot, Home Base, etc.) that is selling people's returned generators for *cheap(er)*? Would kinda like to have one on G.P.s, but haven't wanted to spend the cash previously.

Thanks in advance,


-- Someone (, January 04, 2000


Someone--Wait until this summer, you may be able to get a good buy on a generator. Also, check out Sears this summer too.

-- bardou (, January 04, 2000.

Around here the only company that will take back generators is Sears and they will charge you a 20% re-stocking fee. Home Depot and the hardware and farm stores have said that they will not take returns. I say look in the classifieds or the small advertising papers (like Penny Saver, Advertiser, etc).

-- beckie (, January 05, 2000.

IMHO, it isn't fair to return anything that we purchased as a hedge against Y2K failures. Your insurance company doesn't give you a refund if you haven't made a claim. It is the same principle, only now we are on the honor system. When we bought our generator, we knew that Home Base wouldn't take it back, so now we have one for whatever comes later. At this point, though, we are not keeping the fuel stored. We will use it quickly and store a smaller amount just for the generator. We live in California farm country and may very well need it .... if power ever goes out for any reason, we can use it to pump water from our well.

In answer to the question, though, I'm sure generators will show up for sale from time to time, probably in the classifieds.

-- Kenin Marble (, January 06, 2000. for the westies.

-- Carlos (, January 06, 2000.

Thank you all for your responses, at present still waiting for that great "deal".


-- Someone (, January 08, 2000.

I bought two used Onan industrial grade 4KW propane "portables" (really takes two people to roll one) for $379 each from a federal auction last year.

They are 1800 RPM 2-cylinder units, built like tanks.

Used generators *do* become available from time to time, so the best thing is to keep your eyes peeled.

I *would* suggest being *very* diligent to avoid getting one that's been abused or neglected.

Our first genset -- a Generac 4000XL -- comes with *very* specific break-in directions, which include a one-time retorqueing of the head bolts, an initial oil change, and valve-lash setting with torque wrench and feeler gauge. Because of the different torque settings for the head bolts and valve nuts, it means you need *two* torque wrenches, as well as a crowfoot wrench tip for one of them (to fit on the valve nuts).

I wonder how many people buy one, and never do *any* of that, never change the oil, and never change the air filter?

I'd bet a *lot* of them!

The other thing you want to keep in mind is that there are essentially four grades of gensets (five, if you include the tiny 2- stroke units, but please *don't* include them!)

The lowest grade uses a lawnmower-type engine -- it's a flathead/side valve motor with "splash lube" (no oil pump, relies on a splasher on the crankshaft to distribute the oil where it's needed. Some have cast iron cylinder sleeves, some don't.

The next grade up uses an OHV engine, with an oil pump and pressurized oil system.

Both of those grades run at 3600 RPM, which is necessary to get 60 Hz out of the 2-pole generator ends they use. While the engines are built to have that speed be in their power band, it's still pretty fast for a little one-cylinder air-cooled engine, and they're very highly stressed.

The lawnmower type engines aren't designed for more than a few hundred hours of use before replacement or major overhaul. The OHV type should be good for a few thousand hours, and can go for a *lot* longer if properly maintained.

The next grade is the two-cylinder 1800 RPM type. These tend to be much bigger and heavier due to the two-cyl engine, and the 4-pole generator end. (They need 4 poles to get 60 Hz at 1800 RPM) They also tend to be VERY rugged, and can last and last and last and last...

The top grade uses a multi-cylinder water cooled engine, and unless trailer-mounted is not portable.

I did not break these down between diesel, gasoline, or propane (or natural gas). Within any type, all other things being equal, diesel will last the longest, gasoline the shortest, and propane/natgas in between.

Gasoline is a solvent, and is cruel to lubricants. Diesel has some lubricating qualities, and doesn't tend to foul like gasoline. Gas (propane/natural) burns the cleanest of all -- no residues or sludge - - but, can damage the valves unless they're designed for high temperature use.

All of that said, *any* generator is better than *no* generator, with the exception IMO of the little 2-stroke jobs. I say that for two reasons -- a tiny 2-stroker is *incredibly* stressed, and asking one to do constant duty use for an application where your life, health, or safety may depend on one is not wise. The other reason is that the first generator I had was a 2-stroke "Tiny Tiger" (I *think* that was the name, it was over 20 years ago). My plan was to use it for various applications where noise wouldn't be a factor (you wouldn't believe how loud it was), and 300 watts AC would do the job -- and, for charging my car battery if I was stranded and needed a jump, since it had a 10 amp 12 volt DC output too.

That *was* my plan, until it threw a rod after less than ten hours of use.

I didn't mean this to come off as a pedantic lecture, and I'm far from an expert on this stuff, but what I did say are things that I've learned, and know to be true. The reason I post this is because it's common sense to realize that there *will* be a lot of used generators available shortly, and I'd hate for someone to buy one and get ripped.

-- Ron Schwarz (, January 08, 2000.

Ron, Thanks! I wasn't aware that the number of cylinders would determine rpm of operation, but will definitely pay closer attention to this before purchase.



-- Someone (, January 09, 2000.

Frank -- there *are* some 2-cyl 3600 RPM "mower type" engine out there, but so far as I know, there aren't any 1-cyl 1800 RPM engines.

-- Ron Schwarz (, January 09, 2000.

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