Friday, May 7, 2010

Saskatoon in the sunshine

We moved from Regina to Saskatoon yesterday, coming via Humboldt.  That’s not really much of a detour unless you do like I did and miss the junction of #20 turning north off #16 highway.  That added a few miles – by the time I realized what I had done it was easiest to just carry on to Colonsay and come north on #2 which made for quite a bit of backtracking.  Marilyn had a meeting in Humboldt in connection with the funeral services training that she is writing.  Once she got done that and we had cooked supper for her friend we headed for Saskatoon, arriving just at dark. 

We spent the night on the new Wallymart lot on the south side of the city.  The shopping centre is new enough that it doesn’t show on the Google map but you can see signs of them getting ready in the photo.  This one actually had a sign posted indicating where they want the RVs to park so we felt downright welcome.  We seem to have managed to leave the snow in Regina.  Yesterday when we got up the ground was white again but this morning was clear blue skies.

Last night our on again off again genset was on so I was able to use it while I made supper.  This morning I started it and it ran for about 40 seconds and shut down.  That is a normal failure mode that sometimes cures itself but I think it has been getting worse lately.  The electronics on this generator are needlessly complicated but as near as I can tell the run time is a delay to allow the oil pressure to come up before the auto shutdown circuitry based on oil pressure or high temperature kicks in.  We’re talking about a 2 cylinder maybe 14 or 16 HP engine so it shouldn’t need a bunch of complicated circuitry but evidently Kubota doesn’t subscribe to K.I.S.S. 

I have tried for several years to get a service manual for this piece of crap but that doesn’t seem to be possible.  Today I phoned Wrico International and, wonderful folks that they are, they helped me troubleshoot what was happening.  All symptoms point to the control module or “computer” being the problem but there is no way in hell I will be buying a new one.  I’ve already got half the price of a new unit into this piece of shit over the last year but no more.  Even when it is running it is still a noisy over-revving son of a bitch so there is no way I am spending any more money on it. 

I figured out that the control module is de-energizing two solenoids to shut the unit down and that I can override the control module by putting power to those solenoids.  By the time I quit working on it today I had satisfied myself that I could make it run but it wouldn’t have any safety shutdowns for high temperature or low oil pressure.  However, as I told the guy at Wrico, the way it is now I don’t have a generator so not having safety shutdowns seems like a pretty small sacrifice.

Much in the same manner that many years ago Paul Kardash told us “enlightenment come to Buddha one day when he was sittin’ under a tree”, I had an inspirational moment as I was packing up for the night.  At the very least I can enable the high temperature shutdown and I think I can get the oil pressure shutdown working too.  That stuff doesn’t take a computer and whichever damn engineer thought up the idea that it does is a fool.  There were Murphy switches on diesel engines long before anybody thought of putting computers on them. 

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