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It’s Friday morning, the rain is coming down hard and our Honda generator just ran out of fuel. Groan. Fortunately, the batteries are topped up enough that I don’t need to get out there right now, getting wet while filling it up again.

Outside of solar panels and wind generators, one really has four sources for battery charging when not underway:

  1. Shore power when on a dock
  2. Running the boat’s main engines
  3. Built in generators
  4. Small, portable generators

Comments on the above:

  1. Although some people live on the dock, this is not going to be available to us all that often.
  2. Diesel engines with big alternators certainly kick out a lot more amps than our little outboards. With that said, running the main engine solely to charge the batteries has to be the least efficient method available due to the wear and tear on the expensive engine.
  3. I don’t really have much to say about this other than they are expensive and we don’t have one. When we did our Liveaboard sailing course with Offshore Sailing, the Hunter 49 that we were on did have one on board and we ran it every night for an hour or two.
  4. Very, very popular with cruisers and although there are different brands and models available, the Honda 2000 is the gold standard that most everyone uses.

When we were back in Georgetown, we met a sailor with a lot of engineering experience who was very enamored with the Honda 2k. He shared with me some of his tips (I’ll mark them with an *) for keeping them running smoothly. Although I can’t comment on the how and why for all of these, we do follow his advice along with the tips we have gathered from other friends and sources.

  • Lock the Honda to your boat! These would make nice carry-away gifts for thieves.
  • Add corrosion inhibiting spray to all of the cover’s access bolts and screws. They will corrode in the salt water and at some point, you’re going to want to get into the case.
  • In addition to the salt water/spray being hard on the unit, so is the sun. Many people, ourselves included, have sewn covers that we put over the generator when it is not in use. We have seen Honda 2000s where this was obviously not done and they are all faded pink.
  • Filter all gasoline going in to the generator. Water and crap in the fuel will not make the Honda happy.
  • Follow the manufacturers recommendations for oil, filter and spark plug changes. Duh!
  • Overfill the oil slightly. The Honda 2k has a low oil sensor that will shut the unit down (I think) when it gets too low. When the unit is running on a moving boat, the motion of the waves can cause the oil to dip below this level, making the generator seem to sputter as it runs. Having a tiny bit more oil in the unit seems to stop this.*
  • Every once in a while, run a liter or so of gas/2-cycle oil mixture through the engine (100:1, the same as used in most 2-stroke outboard engines). I can’t remember exactly what he said this did but we have been following his advice. I have also heard that people sometimes add Marvel’s Mystery Oil to the fuel, possibly getting the same effect.*
  • There is a spark arrestor by the exhaust output which apparently gets clogged up. To clear it, occasionally do the following: While the engine is running, tightly hold a folded up rag over the exhaust (careful, it will be hot!) until the engines bogs down. Quickly remove the rag, letting the engine resume operating properly. Repeat this a number of times (half a dozen perhaps).*
  • Always turn the choke on (close it) when the generator is off. We shut it down as follows: remove electrical output cord, close choke and then turn off fuel.*

Disclaimer: Although what I described above is what we do, do so at your own risk. Blah, blah, blah!


Tethered and locked to the boat.

Rebecca sewed a nice Sunbrella cover for Ronzo