Life beyond lightspeed
Propane consumption for Honda EU2000i

I bought a tri-fuel conversion kit for my Honda eu2000i. I have two Hondas, a new companion and my original one which is 4 years old now. I bought the tri-fuel kit from central maine diesel for 279 bucks. The kit installed pretty easily using a youtube video from engineer775 to guide me along.

Back to the numbers. I have a backup power setup using 6 x 216Ah 6V Golfcart batteries with a xantrex pro sine SW 2000W inverter and an IOTA DLS-55/IQ4 12 VOLT 55 AMP 4 STAGE AUTOMATIC SMART BATTERY CHARGER / POWER SUPPLY charger. I use #00 wiring for everything. For this test, I pulled 4kw out of my battery setup from fully charged. I measured this using a kill-a-watt meter. I pulled the 4KW using my gas powered furnace and a desktop PC attached to the xantrex inverter. The gas powered furnace draws about 5A to run its fan when the heating system is engaged. The computer draws about 2A continuously and simulates the draw from my hurricane essential items (fridges, some lights, chargers for phones). I pulled the 4kw over a 13.5 hour period. I’d no issues at all with the Xantrex and would recommend it.

The voltage on the batteries after the 4kw was 11.83V under load with the furnace and the desktop running. This was drawing about 5.2A at the time. I removed the load and after allowing the batteries to rest, the voltage was 12.07V. I measured both these voltages at the “battery”.

I used propane to recharge the batteries using my Honda eu2000i.

I attached a full propane tank (36.1lbs gross weight) to my Honda and let it charge the batteries using the IOTA 55A charger. The charger drew 10.1A during the bulk stage. Thats about 860W. I started charging at 12:45pm. The bulk charge finished around 5 hours later. At that point, it had drew 4.4kw from the Honda (measured by the kill-a-watt). The voltage at the battery was 14.06V and in the absorption phase, the draw had dropped to 8 amps.

I stopped it there. I weighed the propane cylinder and it was now 31.7lbs. So, drawing 4.4kw from the Honda took 4.4lbs of propane. Thats 1kw/lb of propane. The math turned out too easy but those are the numbers.

Signed up yesterday. I’m using the normal 6 month training plan with maximum of 70 miles per week.

Vertical dipole antenna. Worked very well, no counterpoise required.

Vertical dipole antenna. Worked very well, no counterpoise required.

Leaking moon roof on Ford Flex fixed

My 2009 Ford Flex SEL’s moon roof has been leaking in the rain lately. Any turning or breaking caused water to drip down around the courtesy lights towards the front of the roof line. I’d heard it’s likely blocked drainage pipes that lead towards the wheel wells.

We brought it in to the local Ford dealer and they fixed ours for 260 bucks. The tray was our problem. They realigned it so that it drained towards the drain pipes and the problem appears solved. They warrantied the fix for 12 months so if it happens again then I hope we’re covered.

Next ultras?

Thinking about the north face 50 miler in bear mountain, ny. Looks hard. 14k feet of elevation change. That’s in may. Then there is the Vermont 50 miler in September. That looks harder still.

Tips from surviving Hurricane Sandy in North New Jersey

We just had an interesting week. Sandy came through and devastated NJ and NY. We were impacted but clearly no where near as badly as some people in Staten Island and the other flooded areas. Regardless, this is what happened to us and what we did.

The big impact on us in Tenafly was loss of electrical power and cable and then lack of access to gasoline. I have a generator, a Honda EU2000i. This is a 2kw portable generator. It generates pretty clear power that I normally use at the racetrack for charging power tools, running A/C and laptops. I paid about a thousand bucks for it 3 years ago. This unit is what powered the essentials in my house during the loss of power which lasted from Monday evening around 6pm until late Saturday.

I ran the Honda outside my house and chained it to a flat bed trailer parked beside my house. I ran a long extension cord from the Honda in to my house through my mail box opening. I ran just my fridge (a Subzero Pro48, a big fridge) through a 4 way power box. We used a 18W Dewalt light for lighting around the kitchen and I also hooked up my furnace (gas powered) to this also. This provided more than enough power and ran about 11-12 hours on a gallon of gasoline. We charged iPhones and so on from this also. We ran the Honda on eco throttle the whole time except when running the microwave. Eco throttling allows the Honda to automatically adjust its throttle based on load and this is the most economical way to run it.

The furnace takes very little power. It’s mainly city gas operated and required power just for spinning the fan. I reckon it draws maybe 300 watts when it’s heating and it’s only hearing for a few minutes an hour. It increased my gasoline consumption from 13 hours a gallon to maybe 11/12. Not bad at all.

I changed the oil of the Honda after the first day. I used motor oil from Autozone and this is pretty easy to do. I ran the Honda continuously except for when refilling it with gasoline during the time.

Running large household appliances requires a lot of power. My advice is don’t use them. Go small, you can buy a large generator but it’ll require a lot of fuel to run it or it needs to be hooked to town natural gas which may not work.

We precooked a lot of spaghetti and minced meat before hand and kept it in the fridge. We then microwaved it to heat it back up to eat it. We couldn’t use our normal microwave (1200w), it drew too much current and caused the Honda to shutdown. We instead used a smaller 1000w microwave and this worked fine. I just ran the Honda with eco throttle off when we used the microwave. We also used a Kuerig single cup coffee machine and didn’t need to switch eco throttle off for the kuerig.

Lighting wise in the house, the best thing we had were BlackDiamond head lamps. These are LED lights that use a strap to go on your head. The batteries are AAA and last at least 40-50 hours on max brightness. D cell flash lights are a fail, you can’t get D cell batteries during one of these things, they sell out instantly. We also had flashlights from Dewalt powered by rechargeable 18V dewalt batteries which we kept charged. I destroyed a nano battery because it discharged with the light on and we didn’t turn the light off straightaway so I think it went below threshold and the charger refused to charge it afterwards. I bought two more NiMH (DC9096) batteries as a result.

Our fridge/freezer is pretty big and a couple of families around us used our unit to keep food fresh during the time. The big subzero worked very well and has about 30 cubic feet of space.

Gasoline was a big issue during this event. Most of the garages either ran out of gasoline or with no power couldn’t pump it. There were 3 hour queues around where we live. People with larger generators had problems keeping them running as they couldn’t get gasoline. The Honda is brilliant in this regard. We used maybe 2 gallons a day even with the furnace on. I had filled my two cars up before the storm hit thinking I could siphon gas from them during the event. You can’t siphon gas from a modern car. They have anti-theft mechanisms in the gas filler tube. So, basically you either need to have stored gas in tanks or queue for 3 hours to get more if you can get any at all.

I unpacked an old Sony FM radio and this provided most of our news during the event. ATT 4G was a total fail on my iPhone 4S and my Verizon iPad LTE worked better and provided a Wifi hotspot for us and our friends. I have a motorola police scanner to listen to what was going on in NYC during the event, the police and FD were very busy obviously.

We had hot running water the whole time. Our water heater is city gas powered and does not require electricity. We also filled up sinks and water buckets so we could flush toilets. Our bath tubs would not hold water by the way so some large multi gallon water containers for flushing toilets would be a good idea.

Now, that it’s over for us and power is restored, what would we do differently. The Honda unit is absolutely recommended. It’s all most families need. The city natural gas supply kept running during this event and a gas powered generator would be very cool but costs about 10k for a house sized unit. The Honda is a 1000 bucks and will let you run the essentials and it’s quiet. The neighbors 6-10kw portable construction generators are super loud and will upset people quickly. The major issue we had was access to gasoline. You cannot buy gas tanks, siphons, invertors, generators, flashlights, D-cell batteries once the event is underway so make sure you have these up front. I will be purchasing 6 x 5 gallon tanks to store 30 gallons of gasoline in my house from July onwards moving forward. With some stabilizer added, it’ll be good for 3 months and then I’ll use it in my cars and refill. Having access to gasoline would alleviate the biggest stress factor we had during the event given we were not flooded and so on.

I might buy another Honda unit and put a transfer box in the house that will power the kitchen and furnace next time this happens. This makes it easy to hook up the generator. A second Honda would let me drive the electric stove and give me a backup generator in case one fails. I’d only turn it on though when using the electric stove. A good buy would also be a LPG camping stove to cook food on or a grill with a couple of stove tops. It’s easy to store 4 x 20lb propane tanks in the garage. I’ve thought about getting a LPG conversion kit for my Honda but I think having the 30 gallons of gasoline would get me 2 weeks of power without needing more gasoline, it’s probably enough.

Flashlights around the house are a mistake. Dump them, they are too inefficient. Get yourself LED lighting whether it’s headlamps or LED flashlights. They last much longer and the bulbs don’t blow.

To summarize:

  • Honda EU2000i 2kw generator (2 gallons of gas per day on essential loads)
  • Chain the generator to something solid, there are thieves around!
  • Keep the generator at least 10 feet from the house.
  • Have battery Carbon monoxide detectors in the house.
  • Extension cords for the above that reach your kitchen/furnace.
  • Buy and store 30 gallons of 91 gasoline with stabilizer and recycle it every 3 months. This is basically 2 weeks of power for the generator.
  • Buy LED flashlights and batteries
  • Buy rechargeable CFC lights for use around the house, Dewalt ones work very well.
  • Precook food and keep in fridge to reheat.
  • Buy a grill with a stove top and keep 4 propane tanks on hand for cooking.
  • Large water containers for flushing toilets.
Autumn Leaves 50 Mile ultra marathon 2012 race report

I guess 1200 miles of training paid off on Saturday when I completed this years Autumn Leaves 50 mile ultramarathon. This was my first ultra and now thats it over with, I’m happy I did it :)

The race takes place in Champoeg State park in Oregon. It’s about 40 miles south of Portland airport. The park is really pretty. The race is basically 8 laps of a 6.25 mile circuit. Most of the lap is on an asphalt bike track, there is a little concrete too when you cross a bridge. 1.4 miles of it are on a single track trail. There are a couple of wooden bridges also which when wet were pretty slippery even when walking over them so care is needed on the bridges. It’s pretty flat from the start finish line until you get in to the trees after a mile or so and then it’s a little rolling but nothing serious hill wise. The 1.4 miles of trail got tricky enough because of the rain, it was pretty muddy and it’s basically single track. I’m pretty sure it’s here that I hurt my right knee some how.

The race started at 6am and about ten minutes before that the rain started and the rain basically stayed the whole day. It’s pretty dark in the early stages. The first lap is pitch black. Some runners did not have head lights and had to wait for other lit runners on the trail portion especially as they could not see where they were going. The second loop was pretty given it was raining and the sun was slowly coming up. The light changed subtly in the park and it was pretty to watch as the sun rose higher. Running in the dark was interesting as it’s like running looking through a helmet slot.

My first 4 laps (25 miles) went to plan and I was deliberately holding my pace back to about 9:40 or so a lap. Just keep remembering this is 50 miles… Four hours and four laps. Then I felt some blisters and had decided to change my shoes and socks at the half way mark. This took about ten minutes. I had some blisters on the tips of my third toes on each foot so I lanced them and they didn’t give any trouble for the rest of the race. The rest of my feet were dry and in great shape.

The last 4 laps were a slog. After I’d started my 5th lap with new shoes and socks, my right knee started hurting a lot while running. It was sore on the inside where the tendon attaches to my shin. While walking it was fine but when running it hurt a lot. So, I made a choice to walk the rest of the race and run when I could for as long as I could. Thus began the long haul. It took 5 hours fifty to cover the last 25 miles in the rain. It wasn’t so bad, mentally I was prepared for this and my mind just switched to counting laps rather than miles or time so it went by pretty fast. I didn’t use any music because the rain would probably have broken it. I didn’t miss music either. I just kept going in my own world and the time went by pretty fast.

I began to fear the trail section, with my bum knee, I was afraid of slipping and falling/straining something so I took a lot of care on the trail section and did not look forward to it every lap once my knee started hurting.

Aid stations were great. They had a good selection and even though I only used them at the end, I was glad of them at that time.

Shoes and socks

I used Brooks pureflow shoes and these worked very well. My socks were drymax thin ankle high socks. This combination worked very well. I used no lubricants on my feet. I had 3 blisters to talk off during the event, two on the tops of my third toes and one on the inside of my left big toe. I knew I’d get one on my big toe, the other two were a surprise. I think I’ll tape them next time. My feet were in great condition besides these, completely dry and no skin problems from moisture at all so all in all, these shoes and socks passed with flying colors. The shoes were very wet but the drymax socks kept the water/moisture away from my feet.

Shorts

Here, I had a problem. I used Asics two in one compression shorts and these were a fail basically. The problem is the compression inner is too short. They kept riding up my legs and as a result I would get chafing starting on the inside of my thighs. I kept pulling them down again which gave relief but it was a major annoyance. I’ll definitely switch to shorts with bicycle like length compression shorts for ultras moving forward.

Running top/jacket

I used my Nike dryfit running top (115g weight) and a Brooks LSD II jacket. These were awesome and I wore the same set throughout the whole 10 hours. Great protection from the elements, no chafing and very comfortable/warm. Definitely a total win for these items.

Hats

I used a Brooks nightlife mesh hat which is treated with a DWR for water proofing and it also worked great and was very comfortable to wear. Head felt fine, no problems with water in my eyes given the rain or sweating problems.

Lubricant

I used sports slick lubricant and used a lot of it around the buttocks/groin areas before the race. I didn’t reapply it during the race and it worked very well all through the race. No chafing at all in those areas. I also used it on the edges of my shoulder blades and on the insides of my biceps where I’d seen chafing before. But again, except for where the asics shorts rode up, this was a chafing free event which is amazing given the conditions. I used band aids on the nips and made sure to put them on the night before as I’ve found they stick much better then.

Compression sleeves

I used Zensah calf sleeves and arm sleeves and they worked very well also. No problems given the constant rain, kept me warm and didn’t chafe at all. I did turn the sleeves so the seam was at a 45 degree angle rather than running straight down the back of my arms or calves. I also folded the bottom of the calf sleeves up about 1cm.

Food/Drinks

I used vitargo genr8 at my sole carb source. I mixed two scoops in a 20oz bottle with straight water. I ended up drinking about half bottle per lap. I followed the new Noakes advice of drink to thrist rather than some amount per hour. A bottle holds about 280 kcals so I drank about 140kcals/hour. I took an s-cap pill once per lap also for electrolytes (against Noakes advice). I did have two half glasses of cola, 10 grapes and a cookie on my last two laps at aid stations. Overall, the vitargo worked very well for me and I’d no GI issues etc at all.

Training changes

I’m going to lose weight. I can lose another 25lbs easy. I’m 178lbs and 5 ft 9 (178cm) right now. I’d be comfortable at 150-155lbs. This would help a lot with pace and wear and tear. I’d also do more trail work and knee strengthening and similar weight exercises. Cardio wise, I was fine but my strengthening needs to be improved.

Summary

Overall, I’d a good time and enjoyed the experience despite the rain and injury. I was dressed in brooks clothing except for shorts and socks. Vitargo genr8 for carbs and finished in 9:53. The race was well organized and I’d happily run it again. My garmin 910xt data is here.

Photos from Autumn Leaves 50 mile ultramarathon 2012 - View album on Snapjoy.

Photos from Autumn Leaves 50 mile ultramarathon 2012 - View album on Snapjoy.

Yum, 2200 calories of Vitargo Genr8 powder. Fuel for running. - View photo on Snapjoy.

Yum, 2200 calories of Vitargo Genr8 powder. Fuel for running. - View photo on Snapjoy.

Newark airport, plane is delayed, will miss connection, iPhone has 0g which I pay for unlimited data on….