Well Done Clark County Public Utilities Repair Crews!

Them guys earned their money tonight by golly.

The wind is still blowing though not as hard as it was earlier tonight. The windstorm caused wide spread power outages all the way around the Portland Metro area which includes Vancouver the way I see it.

This may be a completely different state but this area is basically a suburb of Portland anymore.

Thousand s of people without power.

Grog was kind enough to send me a link to a Portland news station who had a story about it that I could get to on my phone and it conveniently had a link to the Vancouver based public utilities, the power company. Following that link led me to an outage map and it was a busy little unit. Some outages were a combination and there were 8 to 10 separate outages marked on one spot.

There were a lot of spots like that.

Clicking on the little marker would open up a brief description of how many residences were affected in each outage, the cause if known and the estimate for repair, if known.

As you can imagine, almost all of them were marked Unknown.

Some were marked as tree damage.

That means there were crews out there with bucket trucks and chain saws, at night, in a wind storm, cutting up fallen trees before they could even start fixing the damaged power equipment.

The power was out here almost exactly three hours.

Just long enough for me to start contemplating having to dig out the generator and pull my guts out trying to get it started.

I traded my electric start to my brother because he lives out of town and has 3 freezers full of food he needs to keep cold.

At the time, I didn’t have a freezer yet and wasn’t too worried about outages.

This one is an old Contractors unit and it has a huge Briggs and Stratton engine on it that is so hard to pull on it might as well be a 4 cylinder Ford engine.

Yeah buddy, I see a new generator in my future.

One of those little quiet units you don’t have to kill yourself packing around and trying to get started.

I also have a small power inverter and just for grins I went out and hooked it up to the battery in the Sprite, ran a short extension cord through the garage to the freezer and flipped the switch.

That was a No Go, which I totally expected.

It can’t handle the start up load from the compressor.

I’ll be looking into snagging a way bigger one of those somewhere down the line too.

It would work fine for charging phones or laptops though.

There are going to be more of the little LED lanterns finding their way here also.

There used to be a whole boat load of cheap battery powered lanterns around here at one point but they all seem to have grown legs.

This is why I have a locking cabinet out in the garage now that I specifically hunted down on Craigslist.

I got sick and tired of looking for things I knew I should have but mysteriously didn’t.

Know what I mean?

I did have two of the bigger LED lanterns that run on D cell batteries but gave one to the Nephew a month or so when he was going camping.

The one I still had I just changed the batteries in just last week and it worked fine for what we needed. They will inevitably go on sale again and then you can snag them for about ten dollars apiece.

They are worth their weight in gold for these situations.

No fuel to mess with and no flame either.

On the lowest setting they will go for hours and hours.

Like two days straight.

I also have several head lamps and those are handier than anything.

The flashlight feature on the cell phones were really handy right off the bat and I had a small EDC flashlight in my pocket that I used to get around out in the garage with.

The Wifely Unit found a battery operated video game to keep our oldest son occupied and other than that, we just sat here in the dim lantern light playing on our phones.

I gotta tell you having the lights come back on before I fell asleep was a nice feeling. Throwing away a freezer full of food isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time.

So my thanks to those guys out there busting their humps in the middle of a storm at night getting peoples power back on.

Good job fellas.

14 thoughts on “Well Done Clark County Public Utilities Repair Crews!

  1. We have a rope start generator, and after I had shoulder surgery I noticed that the B & S engine was drilled and tapped for an electric starter.
    I used aftermarket, (cough, chinese) parts and added electric start without many problems.
    I did not change the flywheel to one that had a battery starting winding because once the generator is running, I use a plug in charger to top off the lawn tractor battery that I used to start the generator.
    Nowadays I just start it with one of those magic jump boxes.
    Details upon request.
    The best part of the job was covering the momentary contact toggle switch with one of those red safety covers and being able to say, “Launch Missiles!” when I crank the generator over.

    Our battery tools are made by a company whose name starts with “R” and ryhmes with “Obi.”
    They have lights that run off of the same battery that powers their tools and we have a fair supply of charged batteries.


  2. Dual fuel generators are the way to go.
    Propane never goes bad, and Craigslist is full of propane tanks so you can stockpile.
    They burn cleaner than gas,also.

    Save the gasoline for vehicles.

    I have about 400 gallons of propane and over 60 gallons of gas ratholed. I rotate the gas stock, 10-20 gallons per month.


  3. Our last outage was 3 days, we have gone over 7 several times. Damn a hurricane.
    I’ve owned 5 or 6 different generators, Got a Yamaha inverter now and hands down its been the best. Easy start, sips gas and you can stand beside it running under load and have a normal conversation.


  4. I tried running a fridge from a 750 watt inverter, that is a no go. I had a 3000 watt inverter but it went tits up. So I went to harbor freight and bought a jupiter 2000 watt inverter for about 170 bucks and it runs the fridge and or freezer just fine. You get a solar panel and a couple of 6 volt golfcart batteries, you got an emergency power supply right there. Put it on a hand truck or in a roll around box.


  5. Phil, upright freezers lose their cool if you open the door ONCE. Get a chest freezer or two, they can keep things solid for 3-4 days MINIMUM, especially if you limit the time you have the lid open.
    Another tip, you can get your generator started with a DC drill motor and a socket that will fit over the nut on the crank shaft. Of course, the larger the engine the larger the DC drill motor you will need – if you are a crackerjack fabricator you can find a way to utilize small starter motors (such as motorcycle/scooter) to spin the shaft!
    Go LED bulbs as much as you can, I switched ALL the lights in my RV to LED and cut my amps by 75% which translates to longer life for my coach batteries. I have calculated that I can keep my coach battery pushing amps for almost a week if necessary! I’ve only tested it for four days when I was dry camping. In Canada, of all places. Banff.
    Lots of ways to survive when the power’s off. Lots of books out there that have really great ideas to generate heat, power, light. “We have the tools, we have the technology!”


    • You are the six million dollar engineer? Oh, I was in Spokane over the Labor Day weekend, boy has it changed considerably since I was there in the early 90s.


    • That is what I did in my travel trailer, change all the bulbs over to LEDs and also my outside marker/clearance lights and tail lights and my hitch work light. It does make a heck of a difference! I have a volt/watt meter hooked up and it barely nudges the needle now as compared when I had incandescents.


      • On a side note, I had to replace the flasher because it didn’t draw enough current to make it flash. Got a flasher specifically designed for LED tail lights. Works fantastically!


  6. Phil, I swear you do these things just so you will have something to write about. On the first day of every month, you should be taking a couple of hours to make sure the items you will need in an emergency will work. Remember the 7P principle: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

    Now that you are set on buying a generator, check carefully where the generator is made. A majority of good American manufacturers like Generac contract to the Chinese to build their low-end models. If you can afford one Yamaha is the way to go. I have a Yamaha EF2600 that (a) is light enough to carry, (b) puts out enough juice to keep a freezer going and a well-pump going (just not at the same time) and (c) is just about as bulletproof as a generator can be.



    • Mike, you are happy with this gen set? How quiet is it? Much like the Honda 2000 or so? I have a small 19′ travel trailer and was looking at a Honda 2000 but it is much more expensive, but is fairly quiet. Light enough an old fart can lug around? I noticed it had a 30 amp tap on the web page.


      • Cederq, I love this generator. Yamaha generators are as bulletproof as Honda without the honda price. Noise wise it’s around 68DB which is about as loud as two people talking. As for lugging it around, the weight is just under a hundred pounds. I’m on the north side of sixty and I can lift it up and put it in the back of our truck. To move it around on the grass, I drag it on an ice fishing sled. It does have a thirty amp plug but the generator only puts out 20 amps so I don’t know ho well it would work for you.


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