Monthly Archives: May 2014

Back to the story. I think I said earlier that my daughter, Ashley offered to help me with the installation of the transfer switch. I took this as a good sign and took her up on her offer. We did all of it together. I’m proud of her for wanting to help by being right there next to me doing everything. We had plenty of time to talk about the respect for the danger of electricity. I told her what to do in case somehow I am electrocuted. She looked sort of wide eyed at first but understood my meaning. I told her not to touch me. To go get help, BUT, to make sure that if my wife came down to keep her from coming over to grab me as well. Now that I think of it it is scary thinking about it. If I’m electrocuted at the box it wouldn’t be just a little tingle. It would probably be over.

Needless to say we were extremely cautious and took each and every step slowly.

In conclusion, I’ve often asked what this experience has meant to me. Unofficially I’ve asked many of the people that I come in contact with everyday, if they lost power. This usually leads to a conversation of whether or not they had some type of emergency procedure already in place. People that live outside of the city that I live in mostly have well pumps and sump pumps. Without power their basements can flood and they would have no water. I didn’t have that concern and looking back that costs me in terms of preparation. Even when we had outages of a few hours or a day and the weather was warmer, we could pick up dinner, turn on some candles and ride it out. Not this time. This type of cold took no prisoners.

As I write the final words on this story I think of all the people that went through the experience as we did. Many of them will put their collective heads back in the sand. A few will use that proverbial pain and get a bit more organized. I want to be a part of the latter. For me and my family it is important. Perhaps we will never use these preps. If not, that will be great piece of mind.

I’m not convinced. Our modern society has not on whole gone about decreasing our dependence on electrical energy. We’ve expanded it exponentially. I plan to learn more of the old ways. Of times when there wasn’t a switch to turn on, or a device to charge up. Frankly, I sort of like the times when we have lost power. Not the cold but the unplanned stuff that comes along with it. I like that it forces us to come together. Sister speaking with brother, neighbor speaking to neighbor, families spending time together, it’s wonderful. In those six days I spent more time talking with my 13 year old son, Jorden, than I probably do in a year’s time. That is sad, but at least I’m aware of it. I’m determined and I’ve told him as much, that I want us to spend more time with each other. He even has more of a sense of humor than I knew of.

Learning these lessons made it all worth while. I don’t want to do it again…but I wouldn’t trade the experience. I consider it life changing and thought provoking.

If you were a part of it, did it change how you think?

For me………………………..It Did?

 

Take care, Constant Reader.

On January 2, 2014, I placed an order for a 3500 watt generator, a 10 circuit transfer switch kit, (includes the 30amp 240 volt locking cable and power inlet receptacle) and a nice lock and cable so all of it hopefully won’t up and walk away. It was scheduled to arrive on January 6th a Monday. On the 5th, Icemageddon turned into snowmageddon. We got 17” of snow. Turns out it was the 3rd highest snowfall amount in our areas history. Seems like I remember getting more snow than that but I guess it all happening in a short period of time made a difference. In the middle of the afternoon on the 5th, it was snowing so hard I could barely see the big honey Locust tree in our back yard. During the middle of the afternoon I saw our light blink three times. I’m thinking, Oh No; we are so close. IMG_20140106_125726_389 IMG_20140106_125648_653   I figured that UPS wouldn’t be able to deliver my item on the 6th and would have to perhaps wait another day or two. The next day I checked the tracking information and it was listed as out for delivery all day until about 2030, then they called it off due to bad weather. On the 7 th, early, it showed the packages out for delivery but they were cancelled due to the weather at about 0900. Even though my items are only about 5 miles from my home, it looked like old Jack Frost had put a hex on me. I called UPS and requested that I be able to pick up the items from their distribution center. They put in the order and scheduled that I could pick up the items on the 8th. Great now I can look forward to its arrival. I guess I should explain a bit about the problem. I told you about the 17” of snow. That’s a lot, but we’ve handled that before in our area. Not under our current circumstances. Our city, Flint, Michigan, is under state receivership and sadly laid-off a large swath of our work force. In the past if we had a storm of this magnitude, garbage trucks would have been equipped with snow blades and it would be all hands on deck for the sanitation, maintenance and Department of Public Works people. Well there were few hands to put on deck. Our garbage pickup has been outsourced. Many of the other departments were cut down to skeleton crews. There was no where to pull from, so it took forever for the streets to get plowed. For us it was 5 days. That’s five days with one lane ruts in the road from cars driving back and forth, which included many getting stuck. This is why UPS couldn’t chance coming into our subdivision. Heck my wife told me that a FedEx truck came to the house next door and got stuck and it took quite a while to get free. All of this I can understand. I’m just too close to having some peace of mind with this situation to have our items cooling their heels in some warehouse just a few miles from home. So Ashley and I went and made a pickup. As soon as we get there I figured I would give the guy behind the counter my papers with the tracking numbers. He asks, what is the name of the street. I’m thinking how would he know just by the name of the street. As soon as I tell him, he knows. He doesn’t even need to see the tracking numbers. Looking back, I imagine the amount of packages going through their place in the first week of January is significantly less than around Christmas. He’s like…Oh that package. “You got a…”. He’s snapping his fingers trying to remember. I tell him it’s a generator and it’s like a light bulb went off. He tells me to drive around to the front and he’ll bring them out. So we do that and load everything up in the back of the mini van. It’s time to take stuff home and make some room. I won’t bore you with a detailed story of installing the Manual Transfer Switch. It went well. One thing I will speak on is buying the generator. A couple months ago I had every intention of buying a gun safe. I had researched all the models that were in my price range and appeared to satisfy my needs. I’m not sure what I was waiting on— but I’m glad I did. This experience changed my priorities completely. I still plan on getting the safe, but the generator/transfer switch became my new high priority.

Anyway back to buying the generator. As I said before I placed an order with Amazon.com and we picked it up from the UPS distributor. I set it in the garage for a couple days until I would have a chance to look at it on the weekend. It’s Sunday morning and I open the generator box so I can install the wheel kit and put some oil and gas in and get it started. Once I unpacked it, I see a dent on the corner of the frame. The black powder coat finish has separated and is flaking off as well. I can also see that part of the frame is bowed instead of a straight like the other side. DANG. I remember reading that generators can’t be returned to Amazon. Now I’m wondering what to do. I figured at the least I’ve got to send them an email and tell them the issue. I’d hoped maybe they would refund me part of the cost of the generator and save me a few bucks.

So, I take a bunch of pictures and record a bit of video just in case they need me to send that to verify my claim. Email is sent and I continue working on the transfer switch. I come in the house after installing the exterior power inlet receptacle, when my wife tells me I have a phone call. It’s a lady from Amazon. She tells me that she got my email and apologizes for the damage to the unit. She says she will place an order for another generator and have it to me within a couple days. I’m quite pleased as this is much more than I expected. Then she blew me away. As we were finishing up, I realize she hasn’t said anything about the other generator. I assumed she would want me to box it up and perhaps send it when the other one is delivered, but she isn’t saying anything. So I ask her what should I do with the old one. She tells me that since a generator is considered a hazard it can’t be sent back, so I should fix it, sell it or discard it, but they can’t take it back. WHAT!

Now I have two generators. I’ll probably sell one of them on Craigslist. Now that is some customer service from Amazon.com. Let me offer a suggestion to anyone reading these words someday in the future. Don’t try and take advantage of this type of event with Amazon.com. Without her explaining it to me I’m almost certain that she did a little research on my purchase history and saw that I hadn’t done this before. So lets not be ridiculous.

I appreciate them taking care of the customer. I wouldn’t have gotten that response at a local store. Apparently Lowe’s, Home Depot and other big box stores have figured out what people do during natural disasters. They often go out and purchase a generator, “Just in Case”, they need it. Once the disaster is over, droves of people begin returning these machines. Actually I was hoping to get one like that after the storm for half price or so. No luck. All the stores had up signs saying they wouldn’t take them in return. So if I would have bought one in a box and it had the same type of damage; I would have been SOL. I figured if Amazon wouldn’t do anything, I would just deal with it. I would paint the damaged portion of the frame. No big deal as the damage appeared to be all cosmetic. Now I have another problem. But it’s a good problem. If I sell this generator, I could in essence have gotten a generator for free.

The other thing I’m considering is getting a tri-fuel kit so I can use, natural gas, propane or gasoline in the generator. When I first heard of the tri-fuel kits, I thought what difference does it make? As I studied further, it makes a lot of sense. If power is out in my city or area or even the region, gas stations lose power as well. If they aren’t powered the gasoline doesn’t flow. Having an option of natural gas or LP propane gas might make a lot of sense. The other thing that I like about propane is it doesn’t go bad. From what I’ve read it seems to last indefinitely. Even gasoline will only last about a year or so with double the fuel stabilizer added. That seems very appealing. If I’m able to tap into my natural gas line, that could potentially offer an unlimited fuel supply as long as the source isn’t stopped due to contamination or worse.

Until next time Constant Reader…Never Quit Ever.

 

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