All my plans are on hold until Pele moves on.

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Forum topic by 1voyager1 posted 09-13-2014 11:35 PM 1727 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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74 posts in 1400 days

09-13-2014 11:35 PM

My plan to build a work bench and storage cupboards in the garage were on hold until I built an outfeed table for the table saw.
The outfeed table was stalled while I made decisions about tool acquisitions.
Now, all of those projects are shelved because we are going to be cutoff from the rest of the island, in about 2 weeks or so, by a lava flow.
We’ll lose road access, power, telephone [ except cell hopefully], cable, internet, etc. as it all comes down that highway.
How long?
Best guesses run from a few weeks to 2 years depending on what gets taken out by the flow.

We just went a week without power due to the hurricane a month ago.
We’ve had enough of that.
So, we just bought a 7kw dual fuel generator.
We will be able to keep food from thawing this time without chasing after ice to keep it cool, clothing will not need to be hand washed, and we will have a pump to get water from our catchment tank to the house.
Almost all the comforts of city living.

Now, I will need to build a shelter for the gen-set.
It is basically a 200# cube 30” on a side.
It needs to be protected from the weather, but also needs good air circulation and clearance for hot exhaust.

I have some 1-1/2” minus cinders that I have spread to make a pad to put the “doghouse” on.
I’m thinking of a 4X4 frame leveled up with the 48” square piece of MDF board left over from the outfeed table on that for the floor.

Then, I’m thinking a couple of 4X8 sheets for a roof to also provide overhang and a protected area for propane bottles.
Any suggestions and ideas on getting this done simply , quickly and effectively will be appreciated.

Life on the primal edge of the frontier of Paradise is exciting.

-- Every mighty oak is nothing more than a nut that has stood it's ground.

25 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4907 posts in 3928 days

#1 posted 09-13-2014 11:38 PM

MDF floor? Is that gonna hold up in the weather?


View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2455 days

#2 posted 09-13-2014 11:49 PM

I suggest not using a floor at all. Mount the genset on 4×4’s or set it on concrete blacks.
This will allow air to be drawn from under the unit (leaving the sides off the ground), circulation it up and around the engine before being drawn out.
Even if it is a liquid/fan cooled unit, the heat from the engine will cause a convection flow.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View hotncold's profile


782 posts in 1512 days

#3 posted 09-14-2014 12:32 AM

That sounds like an episode of “Survivor”...but it’s in Paradise, so all can’t be all bad!
I love Hawaii and would love to live there…although maybe a little further up the road! :)

-- Dennie - Tennessee

View 1voyager1's profile


74 posts in 1400 days

#4 posted 09-14-2014 03:03 AM

Thanks folks for the input.
The gen-set is a”portable”.
It is on wheels.
I prefer to keep them on it.
It has an auto low oil shut off.
It needs to be kept as level as possible.

I would prefer a floor for its base with stops on the floor to keep it from wandering around.
No matter what material is used for the floor it will need a finish to protect it from the weather.
I’m thinking a spar varnish on the 3/4” MDF board.
That’ll save me from having to transport and handle a full sheet of 3/4” ply just to get a 1/2 sheet.
It’s a 50 mile Round trip to town and back with a lot of trips to be made.

Any more ideas or suggestions?

I have to admit.
I’m having fun.
Now, M’Lady’s stressing a bit.
She likes things a bit more orderly and neatly pigeonholed.

-- Every mighty oak is nothing more than a nut that has stood it's ground.

View bubbastinks's profile


20 posts in 1334 days

#5 posted 09-14-2014 03:52 AM

I ran a portable generator for three days straight last year sitting on the driveway and didn’t notice any “wandering” so that may be a worry you needn’t have. I’d worry more about an mdf base, it’s just not likely to hold up long. Heavily coated, maybe you’ll get your two year max window out of it but I doubt it. I think it will deteriorate on you pretty qiuckly from moisture. You could simply drive some rebar through 4x’s as stops if it would ease your mind.

View 1voyager1's profile


74 posts in 1400 days

#6 posted 09-14-2014 06:03 AM

Thanks guys.

OK, 3/4” ply it’ll be for the floor.
And, I’ll make it a 4X8 doghouse.
That’ll save me having to store a 1/2 sheet of 3/4 ply too.
It’ll give me a floor for the propane bottle storage area also.
I’ll simply screw some short 2X4s to the floor to block the generator into place.
That’ll keep it in place and give me peace of mind.

Then, I’m thinking of running some 2×4 or 2×2 posts up to a comfortable height in a post and beam type configuration.
Finally adding framing to make for a flat lean-to type roof made from corrugated fiberglass.
Don’t think I’ll need any plywood for the roof.

Still open to thoughts on the subject.

-- Every mighty oak is nothing more than a nut that has stood it's ground.

View robscastle's profile


4882 posts in 2172 days

#7 posted 09-14-2014 06:18 AM

If it were mine I would just make a sandbag wall with earth floor and if yo can find a semi circular corrigated iron culvet section use that for the roof.

The reason being with 7 kW purring away the noise can be reduced by the earth wall/roof.

At the layout stage you will need to consider orienting it with prevailing winds to allow flow through ventalation

-- Regards Robert

View 1voyager1's profile


74 posts in 1400 days

#8 posted 09-14-2014 05:36 PM

You are right.
it cannot be described as being low noise.
I assembled it on the concrete slab of the lanai on the back of the house.
I gave it a couple of test starts.
It is noisy, not terribly noisy, but too noisy to run from there.

That’s why I’m going to locate it about 50 to 75’ away from the house behind our 20’ diameter by 6’ high catchment tank with the exhaust facing away from the house.
If that’s still to loud, I’ll add more muffling to it.
The main thing is to get a roof over it to protect it from the weather.

The handling of sand bags from filling to stacking does not appeal to this “never-gonna-see-70-again” youngster.
After a night’s sleep, I’m also thinking of seeing if it might work just sitting on the pad of cinders.
I’m going to water the cinders down and tamp them this morning.
Then, I’ll put the generator on the bare pad and run it for it’s break in run.
If it seems stable, I’ll just frame the doghouse around it.

-- Every mighty oak is nothing more than a nut that has stood it's ground.

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3009 days

#9 posted 09-14-2014 06:59 PM

Crazy place you live in.
I thought I had problems in New Mexico.
We just get flooding not Lava Flow.

I hope the best for you and it doesn’t last to long, I can tell your a survivor and doing the best to be prepared.
When we get the Monsoons here I have to batten down the hatches and hope for the best, we continually have to drag the dirt road and the neighbor is always getting flooded.


View 1voyager1's profile


74 posts in 1400 days

#10 posted 09-15-2014 03:08 AM

It’s gonna work.
I smoothed and watered down the cinder pad.
I had a short length of redwood 2×4 left over from building a trellis for the lilikoi, passion vine for you mainlanders.
Cut it into 3 pieces for the wheels and the support leg to rest on.
Placed them on the cinder pad, leveled them up and pulled the generator up onto them.
Touched up the levelness a bit, then fired it up.
Ran it for an hour, it didn’t move from level.

The higher pitched mechanical noises are louder than the exhaust.
They’re completely blocked by the catchment tank.
The exhaust noise is muffled to a very low volume.
The volume is very low on the lanai, and I can hardly hear it inside the house.
The neighbor’s ohana gets more noise than our house or theirs.
And, I don’t think anyone is staying in it.
Final judgement will be when M’Lady gets home.
She has hinted that she thinks I need a hearing aid.

Tomorrow I will go to town to pick up the materials to build the doghouse.
I might add a barrier to muffle the noise directed at the ohana.

-- Every mighty oak is nothing more than a nut that has stood it's ground.

View MadJester's profile


2063 posts in 2398 days

#11 posted 09-15-2014 11:18 AM

Wow…I’ve never had concerns about lava here in NY….I hope all goes well and that you are not cut off from things for too terribly long…but it seems that you have the preparations well in hand…I’ve thought about getting a generator myself…our transformer on the pole in our neighborhood always goes out (even if it’s a fairly mild storm…we are the ‘forgotten’ repair…and about twenty of us are always without power even when the rest of the town has been restored). I keep saying I’m going to get around to getting one, but other things always keep coming up….

I wish you all the best…the whole situation just doesn’t sound ideal…

-- Sue~ Mad Jester Woodworks, "Not what I have, but what I do is my kingdom" Thomas Carlyle

View 1voyager1's profile


74 posts in 1400 days

#12 posted 09-16-2014 08:47 AM

The county is pushing 2 access roads through lower down from the highway.
Of course that means eventually they will be covered also as the lava marches to the sea.
Both are dirt maybe even gravel if they get upgraded.
In the mean time they are going to be expected to carry the 7 to 8,000 vehicles a day.
Not a chance.
The only alternative is to open a road that was covered by lave 20 to30 years ago that is in the National Park.
The N.P. is demurring.
They do not want the road opened up again.
So, life in Paradise goes on.

Back to the project:
Went to town today picked up 1-k kerosene for my kerosene lanterns, and four cylinders of propane for the generator and the grill, giving us 6 total.
During the week long power outage from hurricane Iselle, we cooked on the grill and a Coleman stove, just like camping.
We even got our showers from a “Sun Shower” bag hanging from the eaves on the lanai.
We will be doing that again for this duration.

Also picked up the materials to build the generator coop and started to put it together, barely.
The sill plate is 4’ X 8’ 2X4s half lapped together.
It is square, clamped, glued and nailed.
Tomorrow I will add screws before moving it to the generator’s location.
I will set it on concrete blocks after leveling them up.
Uprights will be 2×2s rabbited into the corners, 3’ high on the backside, 5’ on the front.
I’m trying to keep it as 4’X8’ modular as I can.
I’ll start taking photos and add them to my updates.

Here is Pahoa, the town the flow is zeroing in on with the lava flows in the background.
 photo Pahoa_zps6bcda5a6.jpg

-- Every mighty oak is nothing more than a nut that has stood it's ground.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5096 posts in 1688 days

#13 posted 09-16-2014 01:09 PM

All we have to worry about here in northern Ohio is various municipalities using way too much salt in the winter then complaining when they run out. At least the lava moves slow and is somewhat predicable as to where it’s headed. Hope you’re not separated from the rest of society for too long, good luck!

View Ripthorn's profile


1454 posts in 2953 days

#14 posted 09-16-2014 01:28 PM

I would recommend seeing if you can find some louvered panels to make at least two sides out off. This will accomplish many goals, including: allow air movement, reduce acoustic transmission of mechanical noise, protection from the elements, and prevention of interference from wildlife, etc. The big commercial generators use these all the time. Just make sure the louvers point down instead of up :)

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2834 days

#15 posted 09-16-2014 02:12 PM

Wow! I hope that it’s not going to be two years. I hope that you will be able to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Are you retired or do you still have to work? If you work I hope that you will still be able to do that somehow instead of loosing your income. I sure do hope that everything works out ok and that the damage will be minimized.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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