Off Grid and the Cold...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by seedspreader, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Messages:
    11,456
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    We are grid tied, and I have to be honest, I have been thankful the last few weeks.

    I have a diesel tractor which I use almost every day (man is that thing good on fuel!) and I plug in the heater block every night. It sure does start nice that way, otherwise, when it is so cold, lots of ether and a battery jump pack, even then it's not a guaranteed start.

    So how do you off gridders deal with some of these type things? (Those in the north country I mean)

    Tell me about your cold dealings!

    Edited because I spelled ETHER ~ either... LOL
     
  2. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,878
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    I know some people will bring the battery inside on COLD nights. Keeps the battery warm an ready to start.
     

  3. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Messages:
    11,456
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    That would definitely help, I would imagine that the engine gelling and the viscosity of the oil would still be a big problem.

    I know I hate it when my "freeze free" hydrant freezes back by the barn, I can only imagine the hassle that off gridders have with some of those things.
     
  4. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,883
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    And if some one is relying on a diesel genny and they haven't done their homework properly ... gelled diesel fuel ...
    not a good thing. Many a trucker from the deep south, hauling a load north, has experienced the woes of gelled fuel. The additive to prevent gelling is pricey.

    Up in my neck of the woods propane fueled gennys are by far the best way to go for Cold weather.

    And of course my Carharts to keep the bod warm.
     
  5. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

    Messages:
    6,226
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    Location:
    Wyoming
    Mixing about 1 gallon of unlead gas into 20 Gallons of diesel will lower the gelling point by about 20 degrees and doesn't affect the running of the engine.

    Also when I worked Exploration if we where expecting it to get below -25 we would drain the oil out and warm it on a stove in the morning before putting it back in.
     
  6. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,878
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Your values are right, just the wrong fuel, its 1 gallon on kerosense to 20 gal of diesel.
     
  7. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

    Messages:
    6,615
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2005
    Location:
    Near Traverse City Michigan
    My brother lived in anchorage alaska for a couple years. He said the oil drillers let the trucks, and dozers run all winter. They said at -50 and below the engines would never start
     
  8. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

    Messages:
    6,615
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2005
    Location:
    Near Traverse City Michigan
    I grew up an a dairy farm. My dad had a 2 cylinder diesel John Deere. It would start down to about -10 without starting aid. a couple times when the temp got colder he took a bunch of coals from the wood stove, put them in a steel bucket, and set them under the tractor for an hour
     
  9. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,569
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2003
    Location:
    CHINA
    I know that deisel and #2 fuel oil are about the same product despite coloring and tax issue and folks here in Maine who have outdoor oil tanks for their furnaces go to a 50/50 mix of #2/kerosene if they are smart.....when hubby was "on call" burnerman I cannot tell you the number of times he had to address gelling....it doesnt save money to risk it eventhough kerosene is more money it was $60 for hubby to drive into the dooryard to thaw the oil tank and unplug all the other stuff.

    When I was on the schoolbus gelling became an issue at about -10. Every year it was a problem...even for drivers with 10 years experience....and they do plug the buses in...gelling would often occur midway thru route.
     
  10. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

    Messages:
    16,200
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    We've had no problems down to -30 with our John Deere because of the engine glow plugs. It starts right up every time.
     
  11. freeinalaska

    freeinalaska Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,138
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Location:
    Happy Valley, Alaska
    The winter efforts to keep our vehicles running is one of the biggest challenges up here. Nothing starts after a night of -40. On a typical 40 below morning I will get up and start the propane heater in the generator shack at around 4:00 AM. After coffee, about an hour later, the generator (gas) will start happily so I can plug in the block heater for the truck. After another hour and a half the truck will start.

    Another method is to pull my parachute over the entire vehicle and run a propane weed burner under the rig for an hour and the start the truck. Something about open flames in the vicinity of a gas tank make me nervous though.

    Two years ago I bought an auto-start for my primary work truck. This has a feature that starts the vehicle when the engine block temperature drops to 0 degrees F. At -50 the truck will start about every hour and a half and run for 18 minutes. This does use more fuel than I want, but ensures a vehicle is always ready in case of an emergency.

    Ah...the pleasures of winter in the northlands. A morning like this one with the temps being a mild -15 seems spring like.
     
  12. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,511
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2004
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Drove a diesel VW for years. VW recommended one gallon of regular unleaded to 9 gallons diesel for extreme cold weather.
     
  13. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

    Messages:
    16,200
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    My husband says we also have an air intake pre-heater that heats the combustion air going into the engine.
     
  14. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    366
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    A trip to Siberia...

    http://staging.travelandleisure.com...&objectid=58F6868B-FEB4-40D8-A6285FAC5E5FB5B3

    I was just thinking about grid power last night. It does really come in handy!
     
  15. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,180
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Location:
    WI
    A block or other engine heater run for just a few hours (use a timer for convenience) doesn't add that much load to my PV/wind generator system. If I needed to start a diesel every morning no matter what the weather I would also keep it inside. I have found heated work space for winter mechnical jobs is cheaper in the long run than buying newer vehicles, and that keeping the tractor under a roof and out of the wind, even if the space is unheated, makes a big difference in cold weather starting. and then, as I said, the amount of power used by an oil or block heater isn't enough for me to worry about. Back when I had a strictly DC system, I used a 100 watt bulb under the engine, with a tarp over the top to contain the heat.
     
  16. bbbuddy

    bbbuddy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    464
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    A freeze proof hydrant can't freeze if installed correctly, as all the water drains down below ground. It either is installed so the valve is above your frost level, or there is something wrong with your dry-well that it should drain into. We used large rockfilled plastic sandbags (they are not water proof) with plastic tubing running into them when we installed ours, and have no problems at all. Use the water outside all the time when it is 1to 3F and they are just fine.
    This summer dig it up and fix whatever problem it has....you probably need a bigger better dry-well.
     
  17. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

    Messages:
    16,200
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Ours haven't ever frozen and it's been pretty cold at -30!
     
  18. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Messages:
    11,456
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    Yup, it's on my list, it was installed when I bought the place and has given me problems...
     
  19. mink

    mink Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    425
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    Location:
    ny
    i work for a highway dept and our fuel is cut 50-50 diesel and kerosene....we plow at -25 sometimes and never have a problem with gelling. i use 50-50 in my tractor at home and i never plug it in unless its below 0..... oh another tip see if you can have glow plugs installed. i plug mine in on the cold days for an hour or so and it takes right off with just the glow plugs and no ether...mink