Home Canadian News Multi-fuel generators have come a long way

Multi-fuel generators have come a long way

Multi-fuel generators have come a long way

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Q Have you written anything on retrofitting a gasoline generator to burn both gasoline and propane?

A I haven’t created any content on DIY retrofitting, but I do have experiences with different generators that burn propane. My first was a unit I bought where the retailer had added a propane regulator and hose that fed into the gasoline carburetor for dual fuel use.  This arrangement works, but not well, especially in cold weather. This said, different manufacturers are now coming out with factory-made dual-fuel and tri-fuel models that work quite well in my experience. I’ve spent the most time with Champion models that either burn propane in addition to gasoline, or propane and natural gas. The natural gas option is especially attractive because it costs so much less than propane, and a natural gas model can run without refuelling indefinitely during and extended outage if it’s connected to your main natural gas feed line. In my experience the Champion models start and run just as reliably on propane as gasoline, though there is one thing to keep in mind.

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Neither propane nor natural gas delivers quite as much energy as gasoline, so you need to expect somewhat lower wattage output when running on propane or natural gas compared with gasoline.


Steel wool
This synthetic steel wool is a great option for rubbing down wood surfaces before finishing, especially when refinishing antiques. Photo by Photo Robert Maxwell

Refurbishing an antique dresser finish

Q How should I go about refurbishing an antique dresser owned by my great grandfather? I think it needs a sanding and oiling. The wood looks dry and old.

A The thing about antiques is that even under an ugly, old finish there’s something important there to preserve. It’s called the “patina” and it’s a kind of golden brown colour that’s one reason why some antiques look so good. The thing about the patina is that it’s easily destroy by sanding. Once you abrade your way through it, it’s gone.

It sounds like there’s no gunky old mess of paint or varnish on your dresser, so consider rubbing down the surface with a fine, synthetic steel wool. Vacuum off all debris, then apply some oil. If you’d had an ugly finish to remove first, you’d start with some kind of safe paint stripper to soften the gunk, then a sharp putty knife for scraping. Follow this up with light abrasion using synthetic abrasive wool to remove the remains of the old finish, followed by cleaning the surface with a shop vac and bristled dusting brush.

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An oil finish is a great choice for antiques. I much prefer flat or satin finishes rather than gloss since the duller appearance hides imperfections better. You might also consider a coloured oil finish to add depth and richness. My favourite is made by Watco.

Apply oil to the surface, let it sit and soak, then wipe off allow you can with a rage before letting the surface dry completely. Repeat the process three or four times, and your grandfather would be very pleased if he could see how you’ve taken care of a family heirloom.


Ventilating an apartment

Q How can I control wintertime mold growth in an apartment that doesn’t have a heat recovery ventilator (HRV)?

A:There are three things you can do that should make a big difference to reduce moisture levels in winter and eliminate mold. First, open some windows a bit and leave them open and inch or so all the time. Second, run the exhaust fan in the bathroom for several hours each day, and the same with the kitchen range hood if you have one. And finally, make sure the space under your entry door is open and not blocked with carpet or a door sweep. Ventilation systems in apartments are made to direct air from hallways into individual units through the space under the door. If you block this space, proper ventilation can’t happen.

Steve Maxwell is a big fan of fresh air in Canadian homes. Visit him online at baileylineroadcom and learn from over 2000 articles and videos he has online.

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