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Standby Generator Starting in cold weather - Page 3

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Posted by SQLit on November 28, 2005, 4:50 pm

Every diesel I have ever worked on or around was a pain in the ass to start
if it was cold.  Every water cooled engine had a "coffee maker". Every air
cooled one had a dip stick heater to keep the oil warm.

You might consider that if you were to disconnect the 1500 watt heater, on a
really cold night with no power you could be in for a long haul getting the
beastie started. Especially with NG.  NG does not vaporize well at cold
temps. Once warmed up they seem to run fine.

Insulate the enclosure and the coffee maker would cycle to keep the engine
at temp. No insulation and it will run most of the time.

Lastly check with the engine manufacture and see if you could lower the

Posted by daestrom on November 28, 2005, 10:05 pm

Perhaps you're thinking of propane.  It doesn't vaporize easily when its 0F
or below.  But 'natural gas' (mostly methane) is a vapor at much lower
temperatures and wouldn't be a problem.


Posted by SQLit on November 29, 2005, 4:08 pm

Absolutely correct. I fat fingered the letters. LP is what I was thinking
I had a LP on top of a 5K hill above sea level that gave us fits every

Posted by tkgoogle on November 28, 2005, 7:32 pm


Mod on Scenario 1..   If immediate start is not necessary..

Make a removable R-10 insulated cover for diesel genny & fuel tank..
  A couple of 1/2" layers of  foil backed polystyrene or polyurethane
should do nicely.
  Foil faces should point towards both interior and exterior.
  Using "Nashua" aluminium duck tape, seal up modular panels and attach

     appropriate velcro strips in order to secure panels to genny.
  Cover exterior with tarp and then secure tarp.
  Keep unit insulated, dry, and covered when not in operation.

   Purchase small gas genny(2 to 3 kW, ~300$), decent 110v to 12Vdc bat
charger(~$0), keep in garage/elevated temp until needed.

   Upon onset of extended power outage. Fire up small gas genny and
charge for diesel starting battery and power coffee maker while R10
insulating cover is still attached.

   After a couple of hours of gas genny run time, the diesel genny &
bat should be up to a reasonable temp.  Start diesel, remove R10 cover,
shut down gas genny.  Take gas unit back inside.

  You shouldn't need much more than quart of gasoline for each cold
start of diesel unit .

  If shutting down diesel for night,  put R10 insulating cover back on.
 It should still be warm enough the next morning for a restart without
too many problems.

Posted by Bruce in Alaska on November 28, 2005, 7:47 pm

Answer1: As any diesel engine operator knows, it isn't the temp of the
cooling system or the base oil, that stops a diesel from firing up at
low temps.  It is the temp of the AIR going in the Intake Manifold.
Rip out that "coffee Maker" and attach the Old Ladies 1000 Watt Hair
Dryer to the Intake Manifold and give it a few seconds to blow HOT
Air down the intake pipe, then roll over the engine, an POP your running
on the second compression cycle.  WHy do you think Long Haul Truckers
carry Hair Dryers in their rigs?  It  is not to dry their hair at
truckstops....Just what do you think the purpose of a GLOWPLUG is?

Answer2: See answer1:  I have seen Listers started, in -20F weather,
in unheated enclosers, in less than 30 Seconds, using answer1.  Hot
air is your friend......to bad you can't fly Rush Limbaugh down when
you need to start up...... (joke).....

Answer3: Never had a Propane or NG powered engine so can't say...

See Answer1 for a good way to keep standby operating costs to a very
minimum.  The Hair Dryer only runs for a max of 90 Seconds at 1Kw
and the engine will be running with very little sweat.  Use a good
Multiviscosity OIl like Delo 400 15W40 or if your really cold (below
-50F) 5W40 and forget about all the other BS.  Mix you fuel 50/50
with Diesel #1/Diesel#2 and your good to below -40F.  In alaska we call
that WinterMix diesel.

Bruce in alaska
add a <2> before @

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