So Cindy and I continued our final hurricane prep on Saturday with urgency as some of the initial outer bands of wind and rain began to push through. We did decide to sacrifice 8 panels of pool screening on the outside corner of the cage in order to reduce the wind load. Even with some of the gusts yesterday I felt good about the decision to pull them.
We buzzed around the property trying to pick up loose ends wherever possible. I also tried to start the problematic large generator so it would be good to go when we need it. Well it wouldn’t start of course. This generator is key to our existence in a no utility power scenario as it has the 220V outputs I need to drive the water equipment. My little Honda generator only has 110 output.
So I have had problems for the last year or so getting this generator started during my regular runs I try to do every three to four months. The last couple times I would pull on it forever and get nowhere however after I would let it sit in the sun and bake for a few hours it would magically start. Well there was no sun to bake the unit yesterday.
Well I simply could not shrug this off, I NEEDED this thing to work so I grabbed some tools and started doing more in depth diagnosis. I blew out the fuel lines and carb with cleaner, hoping it was just a fuel flow issue. It didn’t help, I pulled and pulled on the start cord until my hands were sore and it didn’t come close to starting. I was pissed.
So I next pulled the spark plug. It looked fine, not oily or fouled. I then hooked it up to the plug wire and had Cindy help me check for spark with her holding it against metal while I pulled the start cord again. There was no spark. Ok so I know where the problem lies, now I had to try to find a solution.
First we tried something simple, pulling a spark plug from the tractor to see if it generated spark, it did not. I then retreated inside and got on my computer to research the problem. A saw a couple references to the low oil sensor killing the ignition. I went out and checked the engine oil which was actually somewhat low so I topped it off. I pulled on the cord with anticipation that I found a stupid easy fix to my issue. My hope was dashed as still I had no spark.
Well I was not ready to relent so I again headed inside and looked some more. I read on a forum a post from a guy with the same symptoms as mine. In his case the low oil sensor was defective. He got around the problem short term by disconnecting the sensor. To get to the wires I needed some minor disassembly of the generator but I did locate it. After yanking the kill wire I pulled the starting cord one final time, hoping for spark. A sense of triumph flowed over me as I saw that beautiful flash of light arcing across the plug, it worked….
I put the parts I removed back together and gave the cord a pull, bam, the generator started right up, first pull. For some reason my reflex reaction to my success was to give the generator a double middle finger salute and telling it to go f itself. I was 80% certain that this generator was going to be out of service for this hurricane. Being able to bring it back to life as the clock is ticking down felt good.
I finished up the coop hardening attaching makeshift hurricane shutters to the windows and totally covering the front door with clear roof panels. I even dropped the small automatic chicken door and drove a screw into it to keep it in the down position.
When we grabbed the chickens to relocate them to the garage it was already raining hard. We each grabbed one soaked chicken at a time and carried them up. For the most part the chickens were agreeable. Once they were all in the chicken tractor you could tell they were confused why their living quarters suddenly became so cramped. However when we checked on them later they seemed to be pretty settled. They have something like 16-17 feet of coop/run to exist in for a day or two. It’s not ideal but more space than a lot of chickens get. Somehow all the birds managed to squeeze up top to sleep during the night.
So of course we watched a lot of hurricane coverage. We went to bed last night expecting a bad night of sleep, possible loss of power and waking up to a pretty big mess already. Instead I more or less slept through the night and opened my eyes a little before 6AM and heard nothing, weird….
So I hopped up and got on the computer hoping that maybe Irma continued to roll west. Well the track was slightly more west than when I went to bed but the weird thing was it looked like the hurricane hardly moved off of Cuba. The slow speed is not good news as it means more exposure to high winds and more potential for storm surge to accumulate. I am hoping it continues to wobble more west.
So for now, life continues on in a pseudo normal way. I plan to do some normal things like pay some bills, play some WoW and try to not hyper focus on what is to come. Like most I wish it would just hurry up, smack us and move on. By lunch time things will start to get pretty real. The local wind forecasts I saw showed periods of time where it could hit 120mph+ in our area which will not be an enjoyable time. Sometime mid morning I will likely place the final board across the rear slider, locking us in tight for pretty much the rest of the day. See you on the other side.