Saturday, November 22, 2008

generator works

A small group headed up to the Carr Astronomical Observatory for the day. We wanted to finish the installation and testing of the propane-power generator.

Tony, Charles, and I parked near the observatory at about 10:45 AM. We decided to take the "high road" after assessing the local conditions. A lot of snow had come down recently. It turned out to be a good call. There was about 30 to 45 cm of snow on the ground. Possibly Charles's truck would not have been able to make it along the unplowed portions of the access road and then the driveway to the CAO. So we snowshoed in hauling our gear on toboggans.

It was tough going even after some snowmobiles blazed a trail for us. I finally got to use my long black Pelican sled. It worked well. And I finally brought up to the CAO a large cache of supplies. I wanted enough food stuffs so to last a week. For that I received endless ribbing from Chas and Mark Anthony.

I completed the configuration of the external junction box first removing the box from the exterior wall. This required moving the thick blue leads which first required the removal of the nut and spring washer from the post. Then I was able to pilot where the new outbound 120 VAC line feed needed to go. This was for the battery warming blanket. I removed the small knock-out from the box. I verified we'd have no collisions inside while Tony drilled the hole with the spade bit with my lithium-powered drill. I fed the 14-2 outside which Tony stripped. I inserted a squeeze clamp into the junction box. I taped up all the holes at back of the box with aluminium tape to reduce the amount of incoming water or snow. I retrieved some orange Marrettes and made the final connections. And then I replaced the cover plate.

I helped Charles and Tony finish some generator work. I drove in the last tapcon for the generator base. It seemed impossible to reach with a cordless drill but I temporarily removed the generator cooling rubber boot to improve access. Quickly finished that. The outdoor chores were done. Woo hoo.

Inside, I attached clamps to the conduit from the outside junction to the furnace room. I tidied up some other wires in the library ceiling.

The boys were getting ready to verify and move circuits in the house so with radios we sorted out the current and new configurations. I helped them review the installation video and we were ready to conduct the final testing. It was very cool.

We test-started the generator, disconnected from all circuits. It took a few revolutions (probably due to the cold) but it started up. We then started the generator with the generator breaker closed: we saw good voltage and cycles inside the house. Then we connected the generator to the main box of the house but without loads and killed the power. The generator came on after a few seconds. That was very exciting. Then we activated critical circuits in the house. The generator did it's job and supplied these circuits. When we measured the amps with a clamp gauge, Tony said the system was generating 80 amps. We knew that was not possible. I studied the analog gauge of the meter and pointed out to Tony the 3 scales. He used the middle scale, which was 6 amps, so we multipled by 10 to get a proper reading. Amps: 32! All good. Well within specfications. We performed a few more tests. Everything worked perfectly.

It was impressive given all the people involved in this project, all the changes we had made, over a long period of time, with equipment new to us. Anyway, to make a long story short, we were successful. The house can power itself now.

Throughout the day, I determined the source of a problem with the surveillance camera. But hopefully this will be a non-issue in the future, particularly now that we have permanent power.

As we hiked out, we enjoyed Venus and Jupiter. Charles saw a meteor and trail in the south-east; I missed it. When we turned our lights out, we could immediately see the Milky Way. Pity. Too bad we couldn't stay overnight. It looked beautiful.

And later, as Tony drove into Toronto, I could see Orion, fully, above the horizon. Lovely.

Photos 1, 2, 5, 6 provided by and copyright Charles Darrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Blake, I really enjoyed reading about the past weekend at the CAO. Thanks for posting such an interesting account of events. The blog about the previous week's adventures was great reading too!