No power? PROBLEM!

dbhost

Super Active Member
Sep 19, 2018
1,273
League City, Texas USA.
Deviating slightly from my motif...

As I have mentioned, I ran across a problem with my generator to recharge my CPAP battery pack during the Texas Ice Storm in February even though I have a Harbor Freight Tailgator 900w 2 stroke generator that typically starts on the 2nd pull.

The problem is that this was the first opportunity I had to try starting this generator below freezing.

And no, it did NOT start. NO matter what I did...

Doing some research it appears that 2 stroke gasoline engines do NOT like to start below freezing.

Now I have been considering upgrading to an AiPower SUA2000iv 2KW 4 stroke generator to eliminate the oil / gas mix which I find a pain in the butt, better reliability at lower and higher temps, AND MUCH greater run time / fuel efficiency. However this is what I have for now. Which makes me wonder what I can do to make this little HF generator easier, or even possible to start sub freezing..

So what have your power fails been for boondocking, and have you found a good solution for them?
 

rsdata

Active Member
Oct 3, 2011
298
N. KY
a little squirt of ether in the carb would have helped a bunch... you have to take off the face plate on the generator to see the air filter to the carb... DON'T leave home without a can of that magic stuff

I have in a pinch started my truck and put that small genny in the warmed air-flow of the tail-pipe for 15 minutes to warm it up... be careful... nott TOO close to the tailpipe

actually using that small genny running, I use it's warm exhaust gas to warm up my larger 4kW genny before starting to pull on it in cold weather... works wonders...

OF COURSE all of this is well ventilated OUTDOORS
 

firepit

Super Active Member
Feb 26, 2020
2,665
I avoid 2 strokes for everything
Weed eaters and snowblower as well as leaf blowers are the worst...you use them and stink like gas and oil.
A two stroke should start better in the winter.
Think about it...you dont have thick heavy oil in frozen temps like a 4 stroke.
2 strokes foul plugs easy if your mixture is too rich.
Starting fluid is your best friend in cold weather.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
11,499
Nj
Im going to agree with fire pit. My snowblowers are not 2 stroke, and to be honest, anything i ever had that was 2 stroke had the most problems. Chainsaws, leaf blowers, weed wackers. All need carb work and plugs before i think they do. My generator for the house ( portable, but not really) and snow blowers work fine year after year. Less maintenance and start in the cold. I do use the ellecteic start for the snowblowers if i can.but the generator, reguler type , starts first or second pull each time for the last 15 plus years. I use stable and start it like 2x a year if i remember, i did just blow out the carb with starting fluid this year. Not because it nessassarly needed it but because i did them all.
 

tenttrailer

Art & Joyce - Columbus, O
Jul 18, 2013
3,758
Thornville, OH
I have a 25 year old 2 cycle snow blower 20 degrees F and above 2 pulls, zero to 20 degrees 4 pulls. Below zero, I dont know, but if it does not want to start. I would plug it in and run the starter.
 

Jkoht

Active Member
Aug 10, 2020
127
I don't understand the hate here on 2 stroke motors. Granted if it were me I'd rather spend more money on a better generator than that 900w unit, but from a practical stance there's no reason it shouldn't have started. My guess is that you flooded it out. All you have to do is pull the plug, wipe it down, and try again. My other thought would be are you mixing your gas right, is it the correct ratio? Too rich and you may have issues. Also, are you using non-oxy gas, as in ethanol free gas? Regular gas in any small engine is not good because it attracts moisture from the air, and also the ethanol can degrade rubber hoses and gum up carb jets. Speaking of, maybe there's an obstruction in one of the needles of the carb, try running some seafoam, or using an additive like stabil for engines that you don't run very often. There's far more answers here than a blanket statement saying 2 strokes don't run in the cold.
 

firepit

Super Active Member
Feb 26, 2020
2,665
My only problem with 2 strokes is they make you stink like gas and oil when it comes to lawn equip and snowblowers.
Weed eaters are the worst...i use a battery powered weed eater...they always start and are quiet and dont make u stink.
 

SteveP

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
May 21, 2015
2,432
I've had much better luck with 2 cycles since I started using only premixed methanol free gasoline in them. But I still had to bring my chainsaw in the house to warm up during the storm. I'm sure you guys up north have knowledge and experience to deal with temps like that but down here that **** ain't supposed to happen.

But no way I'd listen to a 2 cycle gennie for a couple of hours to charge a battery.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
11,499
Nj
I really have nothing against them , and never had problems just related to the cold. But they do get gummed up faster and take more maintenance. So for me they are not as reliable. Especially if they sit for long periods. I gave up on the weed wacker also, and went ellecteic. Tired of fixing it at the start of the year. For me i just rather not have them. A tip, i always put carb cleaner and stabil in my gas cans before filling them up. No need to wonder if i added it or not later. This helps. I need to better lable the cans as to the dates i fill them. This will help also.
 

dbhost

Super Active Member
Sep 19, 2018
1,273
League City, Texas USA.
I guess that's why snowmobiles only work in warm weather! ;)

Interesting point. All I can tell you is what I observed. Above freezing easy start. Below freezing no start.

Mind you, living in TX, I am not exposed to snowmobiles often. I guess here they could be used as mudmobiles...

I do have family that has "winter" equipment up north like snowblowers, and they are all 4 strokes.
 

dbhost

Super Active Member
Sep 19, 2018
1,273
League City, Texas USA.
I've had much better luck with 2 cycles since I started using only premixed methanol free gasoline in them. But I still had to bring my chainsaw in the house to warm up during the storm. I'm sure you guys up north have knowledge and experience to deal with temps like that but down here that **** ain't supposed to happen.

But no way I'd listen to a 2 cycle gennie for a couple of hours to charge a battery.

Honestly it's not that bad. When out camping I stash it at the end of the extension cord in the brush. I carry a few of those foam floor pad things you put on kids play areas and I make a loose "box" using some cheap duct tape as a sound enclosure. It REALLY cuts the noise WAY down.

I CAN sleep with the AC running (6.5K BTU window unit) being powered by this rig.

It is FAR less than ideal. Of course ideal would be completely silent such as solar, but buried deep on the forest, not always a good option and the system would have to be enormous and stupidly expensive to run A/C.

Long term goal is a mix of a nice 4 stroke 2KW - 4KW Inverter generator, all of which are 4 stroke, and a reasonable amount of solar / battery.
 

WrkrBee

Super Active Member
May 23, 2018
6,545
South Carolina
I use ethanol free gas in all my small engines and the boat. Everything starts as it should, but I'm running Stihl equipment which is a plus in my experience. Ok, there is one small Poulan chainsaw. I do not smell like gas and oil after yard work.
 

dbhost

Super Active Member
Sep 19, 2018
1,273
League City, Texas USA.
I use ethanol free gas in all my small engines and the boat. Everything starts as it should, but I'm running Stihl equipment which is a plus in my experience. Ok, there is one small Poulan chainsaw. I do not smell like gas and oil after yard work.

I typically use Ethanol free gas in my 2 strokes. I don't have Stihl but since I have freinds at the dealer, I have Echo power equipment that always starts easy. My chainsaw needs to be replaced as I wore out a Remmington electric chainsaw and have been giving a Husqvarna some serious consideration.

The only cheap 2 stroke I own is that crazy little Harbor Freight generator.

I've been around 2 stroke engines my entire life, and to be blunt, if you don't smell like 2 stroke / oil / fuel mix exhaust after using them, you are pulling off some sort of miracle I cannot accomplish. It's not a bad thing per se, but there is always some whiff of that specific scent. Kind of bad if I am out hunting, but if I am hunting I am not using 2 stroke engines at all...

Aside from the massively overpriced, pre canned, stabilized, pre mixed stuff, ethanol free gas can be had you just need to hunt around for it. If I head toward the marine / rural areas near me Ethanol free gas is super easy to find. But my corner gas station won't have it at all...

I used unstabilized fuel with ethanol because it was what was available during the crisis time, I did the mix of the oil and fuel though and that was all well and good.

The OE Torch spark plug and the garbage spark plug boot / connector hit the trash as soon as the HF warranty was up. I swapped in NGK plug and plug boot / socket on this little genny. That is how it starts on the 2nd pull at above freezing temps...

The air filter in this thing is complete garbage, but anyone that has seen these knows that.

I am not defending this little thing, it is what it is. Which is a terribly cheap, low output, smoky 2 stroke engined generator that will run a battery charger to recharge my CPAP battery, and in a pinch run a small window unit AC. Fuel efficiency on it is kind of lousy for its output, especially considering 4 strokes with twice the output last nearly twice as long on the same amount of fuel... And it is NOT quiet. It's nowhere near as loud as most open frame larger 4 stroke generators I have used are, but it is a little 2 stroke engine being run under load...
 

Ladiesman

Super Active Member
Feb 6, 2018
769
I have a 25 year old 2 cycle snow blower 20 degrees F and above 2 pulls, zero to 20 degrees 4 pulls. Below zero, I dont know, but if it does not want to start. I would plug it in and run the starter.
Same here. I have had a 2 stroke snow blower for 19 years and starts first or second pull, My weed eater is 17 years old. Starts every time. I only use Trufuel in the weed eater.
 

nhlakes

Active Member
Oct 15, 2011
707
DE and NH
I'd run some 2 stroke Tru-Fuel through it to clean it out. If that does not work then you probably need the carb cleaned. Most problems on these little engines stem from old fuel - and the fact that you're not really dealing with a top quality motor there doesn't help.

I had 2 stroke snowmobiles (and motorcycles and outboards...) for decades. They do run in the cold. ;) But 2 strokes have been phasing out for many years for good reason. While 2 strokes are simpler and lighter in weight, 4 strokes run much cleaner, typically quieter, and are more reliable. Even new outboards are mostly all 4-stroke. 2 strokes are still around on the very small engines for handheld landscape equipment but cordless battery operated units will likely eventually push them out of that segment as well.
 

tenttrailer

Art & Joyce - Columbus, O
Jul 18, 2013
3,758
Thornville, OH
I have had a lawnboy 2cycle lawnmower since 1993. Still starts on third pull. But ever cycle it get fresh clean oil around the rings and main bearings. It will not ware out. Maybe some day it will a new carb. But the cast aluminium deck will give out before the engine.
 

Econ

Super Active Member
Aug 18, 2019
1,499
Deep South
The secret to 2 strokes. Add an ounce of SeaFoam to a gallon of Baptist gas.<<GG>> For you nawtherns, Southern Baptists alleged they are alcohol free. Everytime the chainsaw, etc is used the gas tank is drained and poured back into the gas can. Then run it dry. Change the plug yearly. If not, carry ether.
 

dbhost

Super Active Member
Sep 19, 2018
1,273
League City, Texas USA.
The secret to 2 strokes. Add an ounce of SeaFoam to a gallon of Baptist gas.<<GG>> For you nawtherns, Southern Baptists alleged they are alcohol free. Everytime the chainsaw, etc is used the gas tank is drained and poured back into the gas can. Then run it dry. Change the plug yearly. If not, carry ether.

LOL, wildest kegger I went to in college involved most of the members of the Baptist Student Union...

Interesting thought about Seafoam though. I have been wondering about it.

Mind you, this little genny has had less than 5 tanks of fuel through it, so a total of less than 25 hours run time. The plug and wire have less than 10 hours on them. I do run it once a quarter,

Since my main concern had been power post hurricane, not post / during ice storm, The fuel I had, 10 gallons of what you call Baptist Gas, that had a proper dose of StaBil added, was used in the car after the end of the 2020 hurricane season with the intent of getting fresh in late April / early May...

I had previously used up my pre mixed fuel, and TruFuel was not to be had at the time I needed it. I was able to source up some Ethanol mixed gas that I added the proper measure of 2 stroke oil to run the generator on, and fueled up the genny. I guess I could have kept the generator inside within the same room as the Catalytic heater so that it was warm enough that choke wasn't going to be an issue...

I am wondering if there is a design problem with the gas tank.

It never occurred to me that every time I start it, I fuel it up, cap it, turn on the fuel valve etc...

The time in the freezing temps I had already had it fueled and "ready". Turn on fuel valve, turn on run switch, set choke, yank cord, yank cord, yank cord, repeat... fail.

When it started I had uncapped the fuel tank to investigate the fuel and then recapped it, and there was a bit of a vacuum built up...

I am wondering if the fuel tank does too poor of a job venting to allow the fuel flow to begin properly...
 




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