Hi there, So I’ve moved the boat down onto
the Coventry Canal. I’m out of the flood risk areas on the Trent & Mersey. And today I’m
going to be talking about one of the sources of power you usually have on a narrowboat.
There’s usually four sources, the first would be plugged into shoreline, which is, in the
UK it’s 240 volts usually at about 16 amps, mains electricity effectively. And that would plug
into your boat and that would allow you to charge your batteries and do all sorts of
things. The second thing is using your engine. On the
engine of a narrowboat there is an alternator. Sometimes one, sometimes two. I’ve got two.
They charge your starter battery as well as your house batteries. The problem with that
is your adding extra hours of usage onto your engine and therefor it needs servicing more
regularly and your using a huge great big engine to run some alternators. There’s also
the theory that some people say that the engines better and it runs more efficiently when it’s
under load so, some people put their boats into tick-over, even when they are moored up,
and charge their batteries. I don’t really like doing that because you
create a wash, you annoy other boaters and more importantly, you erode the banks of the
canals, especially as I moor up in country areas. The third thing you can use is solar power.
I’ve got two solar panels on my roof. I will be going into a couple of real detailed
couple of videos on my electrics. Now that’s been quite good, but during the dark and dingy days
of the winter, it’s been quite tough. So around about a year ago I purchased a Honda generator
and today I’m going to talk about the generator, I’m going to talk about servicing it. My generator has
been converted to use LPG as well as petroleum, effectively gas or petrol as it is in the
UK and which is more fuel efficient. I have a Honda EU 20i generator. It can produce 1.6 KW of power at the UK rate of 240 volts. It’s said to be one of the quietest
suitcase generators on the market and I purchased it converted to use either petroleum or LPG
gas. It has two UK sockets, and has the ability
to put the generator into eco mode. This switch allows the engine to run in idle but when
required it throttles to cope with a higher load. This I have found keeps the generator
as quiet as possible and is more fuel efficient. For safety it’s always best to operate a generator
on the tow path. Because of this, I have had a thick anchor chain welded into one of the
stern lockers and is long enough to connect the generator to the boat at all times, either
when stored away or when in use. When operating a generator on LPG you can
have the secondary regulator fitted to either, the side of the generator or the top of the
gas bottle. To reduce the width of the generator I decided to have the bottle mounted version.
The double regulator is fitted to the bottle and the LPG is fed to the generator via a
flexible orange pipe. As I store my gas bottles in the stern in my gas locker, I requested
the hose be extra long to reach the towpath on either side of Alice. At the bottom side of the generator is a small
orange hose and connector. The hose from the gas bottle is plugged into this, the gas it
turned on and the priming button is pressed on the larger regulator. As long as there is no petrol in the generator
it can be started exactly the same. I have plugged a standard energy measuring
meter into the generator. Here are my calculations. I have a standard sized 13Kg LPG gas bottle.
This is the most frequently used size and I have on average paid £28 for a replacement. A 13Kg bottle is said to have between 24-26
litres of LPG in it, so let’s say 25. That calculates to £1.12 per litre of gas.
After what seems like months and months of testing, I have generated 15.99 kWh so let’s say 16 kWh from
the full bottle. That is 1.5625 litres of LPG gas per kWh produced.
£1.75 per kWh I’ve also tested the fuel efficiency of
petroleum. At the moment, a litre of Unleaded petrol
from a UK forecourt is £1.189 I generated 22 kWh from an equivalent volume
of 25 litres of petrol That is 1.1363 litres of petrol per kWh produced
£1.35 per kWh at the current pump prices. So my calculations have determined, running
a generator on petrol is currently cheaper and uses less fuel per kWh produced. It’s now time to service my generator. For the service, I’m going to use the oil
provided to me when I purchased the generator and that is 10W40 type. I also have a new
CR5HSB spark plug. The tools I will need are: A pair of gloves, a large flat headed screwdriver,
a small funnel, some paper towels, a spark plug wrench and a spark plug gap feeler gauge. Using the flat headed screwdriver, unscrew
the holding screw on the side of the generator and remove the maintenance cover. Then unscrew
the cover from the air filter. Remove the two filters from the housing. Clean both filters
in some warm soapy water. Squeeze them in the water to remove any dust or dirt. Try
not to twist or ring the filters. Dry the filters on a bit of towel, and again,
pat dry rather than ringing them. Dip the filters in a small amount of the clean engine
oil. This applies a small coating of oil to the filter. Put the filters back into the
generators housing, replace the air filter cover and screw back on. Whilst the maintenance cover is still off,
at the bottom left corner is the oil filler cap. I removed it and tipping the generator slightly, I poured the used oil into a container.
Although I was able to get most of the oil into the container, it does have a habit of
spilling, so that is where the paper towel came in handy. Once the oil has all drained out I put a small
funnel into the filler cap, tilted the generator back and added around 350 ml of oil. The generator
holds 400 ml so using the side of the bottle I could guesstimate what I was putting
in. Levelling the generator, I topped up the remaining until the oil was level with the
top of the screw in cap hole. I then replaced the oil filler cap. Finally, on this side of the generator, I
replaced the maintenance cover and screwed it back on. In this service, I will also replace the spark
plug. Using the screwdriver remove the spark plug maintenance cover.
Pull the spark plug cap off the plug. Using the spark plug wrench I unscrewed the spark
plug. I removed my new spark plug from its box and
checked it for cracks or damage. The gap between the electrode and the plug should
be 0.024-0.028 inches. Using the feeler gauge I slid the plug onto
the gauge at its smallest point. I then slid the plug around until it stopped. This plug
stopped at about 0.026 inches. This was the correct gap I required. I screwed the plug back in by hand and tightened
it using the wrench. I will keep an eye on it’s tightness after a few uses to ensure
it hasn’t loosened off. I then replaced the spark plug cover and my
generator service was complete. I have included links to all the items I’ve used and discussed
in this episode in the description below. If you like this episode please do give it
a thumbs up and don’t forget to leave a comment. Until next time, see ya later.