Monday, February 16, 2015

Update to the Outlander Gear Shifter Break

As you may know, the shifter arm on my Outlander ATV snapped off a few days ago.

After having a small section of threaded rod welded alongside the round stock of the shifter, it was a relatively simple task to reinstall it on the Outlander.  I took the opportunity presented by having the side panel off to adjust the linkage arm so that the positions of the shifter accurately corresponded to the gear that the transmission was in.

You can just see the tip of the threaded rod reinforcement here.

A better view of the threaded rod laid in front of the existing shifter.


At first it was a very challenging shift, but that quickly calmed down as the newly reinforced shifter wore the plastic slot away at key friction points.

Between the adjusted linkages and the stiffened shifter arm, I have to declare that at least while I cleared up our latest snowfall from the driveway, things were performing better than they ever have.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

How Much Solar Electricity we Have Generated.

Given the chance, I do like to remind people hooked up to the grid just how incredibly cheap their hydro is.  A brief mental calculation about how much power an appliance requires for its operation, multiplied by the current cost of electricity, usually reveals it to only be pennies per use.

Strangely, I have never looked at how much we are generating or consuming and seeing what the actual value of it would be.  It's a simple calculation, and here it is...

Our 690W of solar panels generated 466 kWh over 437 days (my charge controller has a small server built in which tells me these sorts of statistics).  Current peak residential charge for Ontario is thirteen and a half cents per kilowatt per hour.  Thus:

466 kWh * $0.135 = $62.91.

After spending many thousands of dollars on the panels and batteries and controllers and such, that $62 is money in my pocket!

Truth be told, we actually consumed probably twice that amount, the other half being created by the generator.

I at least can take solace in wondering how many people have a have a hydro bill of less than $10 per month.

Our Generating Station


I still believe it makes sense for *us* to be off grid - it would likely have cost us more up front to hook up to the traditional grid than it did to install our renewable energy system.  Now we are no longer subject to arbitrary outages, and worse, price increases.  More importantly, we philosophically wish to promote the use of renewables.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Big Snowfall / My Outlander ATV Gear Shift Finally Breaks

The day before yesterday we began to see weather reports calling for up to 25cm (10 inches) of snowfall overnight.  I suited up and used my roof rake (great product, by the way...) to clean off the yurts, sauna, cabin and dojo tent.

In the morning, it looked like we had clearly gotten a fair amount of snow, but it didn't look that crazy at first.

Doesn't look too bad from here.

I trudged out to the dojo tent and started up the ATV (I think I should name her - she's earned it!) and after a few moments eased into some light ploughing.

Quickly I realized that we had had close to 20cm.  The ATV could barely push her way to the entrance of our driveway, and then got stuck as soon as I hit the combination of an uphill climb and the snow that the road plough had deposited on the surface.  With a little back and forth and raising the blade, I was able to get to the road surface where I attacked the entrance at a more oblique angle.

Returning to the cabin I managed to push away enough snow from the dojo tent to the cabin to ensure that we could still get vehicles right up to the cabin.


Oh to be young again!

After a break for lunch, Donna and Kenny came out to help clear around the vehicles and I spent the afternoon taking short trips back and forth in a herringbone pattern up the driveway betwixt the entrance and the dojo tent.  The banks needed to be pushed back significantly to allow our vehicles to continue getting in and out the remainder of the season.

Stuck in reverse?!

Fortune smiled on me, as once the bare minimum was complete, and I was about to really start clearing the surface, the shifter on the ATV suddenly became extremely sloppy and refused to move out of reverse.

Careful examination revealed that the stress of all my back and forth had finally caused the shifter to fail.  I believe this is a known weakness of the early Outlander models, I can't speak to if Bombardier has addressed this or not.  It's a pretty weak shifter to begin with, and the transmission is also very sticky and often requires extra effort to switch gears.

I was facing away from the dojo tent, and stuck in reverse, so I simply backed into the tent and retrieved my wrenches.

The side panel had already shook loose, so I moved it aside and with my wrench set, removed the pieces of the shifter.


No real surprise that this thing failed.

They'll be off to get welded (and hopefully reinforced at the same time) and we'll hopefully have the ATV back in action soon.
Just happy to be out in the sun.

With the ATV kaput, Donna and I cleared around the Echo and then I did some little chores before heading back inside and calling it a day.