Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘backup generator

Two Surprises

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Tuesday night as we were falling asleep, our motion light over the deck popped on. I saw a flash of wings moving up by the light and then the little night stalker landed on the railing. Surprise! It was a young owl.

Cyndie got out of bed to snap a photo. Cute little bugger. I think it was literally bugging, as in, trying to grab the big moths flitting around near the light. It’s nice to see there is a new generation of owls in the vicinity.

The second surprise happened yesterday, and it wasn’t as much fun as seeing the owl.

Our backup generator hasn’t been coming on as part of its weekly self-test lately and I finally remembered to look into why that is. Since I so rarely interact with the machine, working on it becomes a bit of a guessing game. Luckily, there was an obvious red LED indicating a problem. Stepping through the menu I found a note indicating there was a problem with the battery.

It’s ten years old, so I’m not going to mess around with anything other than simply replacing it. Unfortunately, there was nothing simple about removing it.

The positive cable came off with minor effort but nothing else was easy about the extrication. I couldn’t reach the nut on the clamp around the negative post and I couldn’t slide the battery around the wall.

I started trying to remove screws from panels with the hopes something would shift just enough to free the battery. Too bad I didn’t even know if any of the hex head screws would serve my purpose until they were out. Too bad they weren’t in positions where one could actually turn them easily with a wrench. Less than a quarter-turn movement before needing to reposition the wrench over and over is frustratingly tedious.

It’s like salt in a wound when the screw finally comes out and the panel doesn’t move one bit. It wouldn’t even flex.

I looked for other alternatives. The third try was the charm. After two long but fruitless battles of unscrewing, I found a plastic guard that moved enough to give better access to the negative terminal. Two screws were holding it, both of which took painfully long to wrench out.

There was only one battle left. Holding the plastic guard up and out of the way. Of course, removing the screws didn’t mean the guard could be pulled out entirely. After I suffered a couple of ill-fated attempts to work around the stupid guard, Cyndie showed up with an offer of assistance.

I asked her to hold the guard up while I got a wrench on the clamp of the negative post. Once both cables had been disconnected from the battery, I was able to tip it up and finesse it around the end panel to get it out.

I will not be surprised if the installation of a replacement battery ends up being just as difficult as the removal of the old one.



Written by johnwhays

May 25, 2023 at 6:00 am

Feeling Happy

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Woke up this morning and looked out at the sun coming up over Round Lake in Hayward, Wisconsin and realized we weren’t at home. Then, I remembered the wonderful dinner we had at the Lake Magnor Lighthouse restaurant attached to the convenience store gas station on Hwy 63 in Clayton on the way up.

Servers were fully present and projecting great energy, which enlivened the whole place. We seated ourselves in a booth with a view across the road to Lake Magnor and soaked up the atmosphere. It wasn’t our second honeymoon, but it was feeling a lot like the first one.

This was the first weekend we had coverage to be away since the occasion of our 37th anniversary, so the two of us have dashed up to a solo weekend at the lake. Easily reminiscent of our visit this month back in 1981.

When dinner was delivered, the “bottomless” real fresh-cut potato fries on Cyndie’s plate won me over instantly. This was after I had already visited the salad bar and discovered a spring mix of greens in place of the usual iceberg lettuce, plus every topping I ever wanted. More characteristic of a trendy urban restaurant than this perfectly kitschy rural diner.

Good food, great service, and two oldsters reliving their lifetime of being in love provided all the ingredients necessary for a memorable moment that lasts.

The fact that we’d cluelessly driven past the place so many times before on our travels to the lake enhanced our delight over the serendipity of finally discovering it this time.

I won’t deny that my mindset was already primed with happiness over an achievement earlier in the day that I have been waiting far too long to resolve. We got our home back-up generator serviced!

It has been over five years since installation and I have neglected it ever since, despite repeated mailings urging us to purchase an extended warranty and service contract. There was a constant mental conflict over thinking I was being negligent and they were being overly persistent.

Eventually, I contacted the installer to inquire about a preventive maintenance inspection. They no longer provide support to this product. I tried another place they referred me to, but it only offered long term warranty programs like the one the manufacturer keeps mailing to us.

I mulled over trying to figure things out on my own and changing the oil myself. That never seemed to lead to any action.

Finally, I found a new company that could service it without a long contract and would come from Minnesota to do it. However, they charged me immediately on the day I scheduled the service, and then postponed the appointment twice, both times without warning me in advance.

I was thrilled yesterday afternoon when the tech called to say he was fifteen minutes away. The firmware is updated, oil, spark plugs, and air filters changed, and specs calibrated.

With that completed, I was more than happy when we set off for this lovely weekend celebrating September in the north woods. No wonder the food tasted so good.



First Test

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Despite my desire to get the already too long grass mowed yesterday, due to an all-afternoon soaking precipitation on Thursday that delayed getting started early, I ended the day without ever having turned the key on the lawn tractor. As so often happens, activities unfolded with total disregard for my feeble plans.

DSCN3686eKnowing we had an appointment scheduled for George to trim the horse’s hooves at noon, I chose to dip into a project down at the barn, finally assembling the shade gazebo that we purchased over a year ago. I threaded nuts on bolts for hours on end throughout the intense afternoon heat.

Cyndie provided valuable support, including going to the trouble of making a temporary fence to enclose the horses on some of the too-long grass outside the paddock, so they could do some “mowing” for me.

At the end of the day, we decided to save the work of stretching the canvas over the top for this morning when we would have fresh energy. That turned out to be a really smart decision, especially since I have yet to drive the anchors into the ground.

In the middle of the night, we were startled awake by an incredibly intense storm. We both fully expected to find the spindly frame tossed into a tangled mess, pressed up against the round pen rails nearby. Lightning flashed at a shocking rate, wind stressed our house, and the power went off for a couple of hours.

The generator kicked in perfectly, but the sound of it tended to fuel the dramatic feeling of alarm over the significance of the storm raging outside. Alarms chirped occasionally within the house, at the sudden absence or intermittent return of AC power during the outage. There are only a few essential circuits that the generator maintains, so much of the rest of our electronic devices remain at the mercy of the power grid.DSCN3687e

Getting back to sleep was a challenge. I always think about how the horses are faring when the level of intensity of thunderstorms is so extreme. By the time we find them in the aftermath, they always seem so unperturbed.

This morning they were happy as could be. I wondered aloud if Legacy knew that today was his birthday. The elder statesman of our herd turned 19 today.

To our joint surprise, as we came around the woods and the new gazebo frame came into view, it looked exactly like the way we left it last night. It survived its first test with an excellent result.

Now we need to walk the trails and see if all our trees held up nearly as well.











Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2015 at 9:38 am

Got Power?

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We’ve got auxiliary power. Wintervale Ranch now has an automatic backup generator that will provide power to our essential appliances/services during occasions when there is a loss of electricity from our energy co-op. That is one more piece of the puzzle now in place.

IMG_2350eIt is not easy to convince me to buy something that we don’t ever want to use, but the snowstorm we suffered early in the month of May this year, which left us without power for over 28-hours, helped me to feel this would be a smart purchase. At that time, we lost the ability to pump water from our well, and keep our furnace and refrigerator running. That will no longer be a concern.

I stayed home from the day-job yesterday to supervise the installation of a unit that will kick in automatically, and run off our propane. They had to work in the rain. (What a surprise that it rained here again!) Regardless, the job went relatively easy and by mid-afternoon, we had it running and successfully tested. I was a little leery about how noisy it would be, but it wasn’t too bad. It isn’t a desirable sound, but considering the service it will be providing in a time of need, I think we can tolerate the disturbance.

It feels a lot like buying insurance. We now have a backup generator, and we hope that we never need to use it.

Written by johnwhays

June 13, 2013 at 7:00 am