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Shop Talk. I have a delema. Kinda long

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Well as some of you may recall, I've been rebuilding a 100# little Giant hammer for some time now. The other day I went to fire it up and.......:confused:
Well xxxx!!!! My little 6.5KW Honda generator Just don't have the stuff:mad:

I've been planning on bringing the power down to the shop for a while now... So off to Pacific Graft & Extortion I go, (PG&E) to those of us in Northern California.

After several "sorry there's no one here who can help you's" I finally got a guy from the back to take pity on me. That is when the blood began to drain from my head:(

Quick background, I have a power pole on my property and its about 200 feet from my shop.

So, this kind person who has taken pity on me, begins to tell me why he can't say how much it is going to cost to bring this power the last 200 feet. My knees begin to warble.... He won't give me anything close to a number I can go with. So, I keep at him. It really can't be THAT hard can it? Long and short of it... They want me to pay $1500.00 to find out how much it will cost. Boy, I wish I could charge for estimates... Anyway. I keep pressing on. I explain the terrain and vegetation etc. so I can at least get SOME sort of idea. That is when I lost consciousness. Might cost $5k but doubtful. Better budget $10K he says. I wasn't sure I heard right. So I tell him, In 2002 we brought the power .6 miles for about $25K. Are you sure its going to cost between $8 & $10K to go 200 feet. By this time I'm not really hearing him, I'm trying to keep my legs from giving out. I thank them for everything. Wiping the sweet from my brow, I head for the door. I kind receptionist asks If I would like an application... its FREE.

So, My dilemma.
I've been looking at BIGGER generators and diesel. From what I can tell, I'm going to want a min. 15KW. Oh, and the power PG&E can bring me... It's single phase. So, Yup, I'm think'n 3 phase.
I like the low RPM Listeroid diesel motors. They seem to be cost effective @ .5 Gls an hour at 1/2 load. If I plan my purchases right, I can do that for about half what PG$E wants.

Any you guys out there run your shop on alternative energy? Any one use a Listeroid type motor? Any feedback will be greatly appreciated...

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I think you might have run into an organization that is suffering from Ignoramus Arrogansus Stupidity syndrome. It happens when someone works at the same job for too long, or sometimes when there isn't an apparent alternative place to seek assistance.

In any case, you have several alternatives.

How handy and creative are you?

1. If you really are hot for public electricity onsite... Ask.... if you brought the wire to the pole, will they hook it up. They may need to put a meter on your building also. If you can run the wire yourself, find out if the wire has to be run underground or can be strung overhead. If the ground is not too unfriendly, rent a bobcat with a trencher and dig the trench (find out the depth requirements). If the ground is not friendly, and the wire can be put overhead, find a source for poles and dig holes (use a jack hammer if necessary). If you are not handy (or adventuresome enough), you may have to hire folks to do this part)

2. Use a generator.... as you are asking about.

3. Use a small gas or diesel engine to directly run your power hammer. You may need to build a jack-shaft to reduce RPM. If you don't have a pressing requirement for electricity elsewhere in your shop, this would be the least expensive. You could probably find a new Honda gas engine for this task for a small fraction of the cost of other methods.

4. Extension cord (underground rated wire), creatively routed.

Edited by djhammerd
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Dont know how it is in other states etc. but where I live anything within one poles distance ( i believe two hundred feet ) is free for single phase.
I had a 200 amp service set to run an electric fence charger for a hog pen once at no cost ( the fence charger didnt even use enough power to spin the meter over) . minimum bill fifteen dollars a month.
Had the same problem as you did .
Dont talk to just any one that just works there .
Find the guy or guys that go to the site.
Once you get some accurate information its easier to make a calculated decision.

Mike Tanner

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djhammerd is correct, you may have to do at least the trenching for the power company, and you need to find out if they will either:
1) "drop the line into your trench" and up to the meter base
2) hook a wire coming out of your trench up to their pole.

You can also find out if it is permissible to run a wire underground from your house's circuit breaker to a sub-panel in your shop. If you run a wire yourself, make sure it is the correct gauge and that it is designated for underground use in wet conditions. Ideally put it in pipe, especially where a vehicle may drive over it, and put sand or whatever recommended substance your area needs under and around the pipe to prevent rocks from puncturing the pipe and/or wire.

Here are the steps I had to follow to run a line underground to our house:
1) Have an electrician attach a meter on the outside of the house
2) Ask the electrical company to install a pole to run the wire from, as there was no pole on our side of the road. You already have a pole.
3) Have a backhoe dig a trench from the pole to the meter base. The electric company had a photocopied sheet with specifications.
4) Have the electric and the other utility companies come by and drop their wires into the trench.
5) Hook up the wires to the house.
6) Have an inspection.
7) Close the trench.
8) Turn on the power from the pole.

Yes the electric company was extremely childish and uncooperative. You would have thought I was asking to date his daughter.

As for wire in your shop, everything should be in steel. The outlet and junction boxes should be steel, and all the wire should be run inside of conduit and/or pipe. The metal serves as an extra ground for safety, and protects against vermin. I don't recommend cutting corners with electricity.

Edited by UnicornForge
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In most cases when people have an electrical problem, they hire an electrician. That is what we do for a living, and why we have licenses, the power company is not obliged to train you how to do this. Also in most cases the perple ou can talk to at the power company are not electricians, those are out in the field working.

Have you contacted one to see what they said?

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1) Personally, I don't consider the word I used rude. I regret that you thought it was. I have two masters degrees, and do not see why the word is offensive.

2) I hired an electrician, but he made *me* do all the work of coordinating, scheduling the various parties, including hiring the backhoe guy.

3) Electricians around here have turned down my offers to hire them to do stuff. And the jobs they did for me they charged $1,100 per day, and cut corners, and required that I go behind them to tighten wires they loosened in the breaker box, and redo things that were sloppy and/or junky. Not to mention that the electrician outright refused to put in more than 200 amp service, telling *me* that I did not need it (the result is that my wife says the lights dim in my house when I turn on the table saw). If I want quality around here, I have to do it myself.

If you had asked me, I would have changed the word. Changing it for me was rude and disrespectful in my book.

I'm not going to sign on to this conference for a few days. I am greatly insulted by this and by past action to delete a whole thread that I participated in. I am *never* going to again spend a half-hour or more writing a detailed response to a person's question, and put myself at risk of being insulted for a third time.

last paragraph edited by admin
Unicorn I have contacted you off line about the edit.

Edited by UnicornForge
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If you had asked me, I would have changed the word. Changing it for me was rude and disrespectful in my book.

I'm not going to sign on to this conference for a few days. I am greatly insulted by this and by past action to delete a whole thread that I participated in. I am *never* going to again spend a half-hour or more writing a detailed response to a person's question, and put myself at risk of being insulted for a third time.

If you have issues or concerns with IforgeIron, please contact me directly. I can be reached PM through the site, by email, or by using the contact form on the site.
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Try PG&E again.
I lived in Ca., (Mariposa) and as an electrical contractor did a lot of this.

Ask that they come to your site for an estimate.
Beforehand call 1 or more electrical contractors and tell them what your plans are and ask about procedure.

People love to hate electricians but they are not all bad, look for a helpful one.

Sometimes the utility is reluctant to provide new service because they think maybe you aren't going to use very much power.

Used to be you could get a seperate "well service" or shop service no charge, also min. distance has changed, in general they are charging more for less.

I contract in Oregun now and things are the same here.

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Thanks guys for all the suggestions:)
Didn't mean to cause any trouble... Unicorn- Don't take it personal... I get censured too sometimes... Part of having a nice site without all the nasty rants you get on other sites.

I suppose I should clarify, I am a Licensed GC here in Ca. I don't have a lot of experience with new service although I do have experience with service upgrades on remodels.

My shop is located in a very rural area, no house as of yet...current economy took the wind out of that for now.

Steve S.
I have talked to a few electricians and suppliers, so when I did talk to the utility, I at least know how to ask the questions and what variables I could explore. Of all the trades I deal with on the job, I usually get on best with the sparkies... As long as they don't cut up my walls to bad;)

So, that being said. I'm wondering about alternative energy for the shop. I have a well pump that is running all self contained on solar. That was one of the best purchases I've made... My water is Cheep, Cheep, cheep.

Energy costs are rising, service is in jeopardy and so I wonder:confused:

Still hoping for feedback from someone who runs on alternative means:)

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My question has been answered in private and it is therefore withdrawn.

" It is better to remain silent and appear ignorant than to open your mouth and remove all doubt" -Mark Twain.

Edited by MoleDoc
I hit the send button way too soon!
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What did you edit out? I ASSUME we are big boys and girls here (since we play with fire) and can decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Not sure if I like censorship


Your assumption is incorrect. We have registered members at IFI as young as 9 years old. I am sorry if others talk like that around a Child, or allow children to use rude language, but we have stated clearly in the guide lines that this is a G rated forum.

I am a volunteer here, as are all the mods. We have a job to monitor posts, including sometimes re-locate posts to allow easy reference by other members, and some times removing (censoring if you insist) a spammer or rude language. If this is a problem for you, talk to Glenn. He set the standards here, I only help to enforce them.

Now may we please get back on topic for this thread. Edited by steve sells
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piglet 74-
No, I have no power for my shop other than a fairly new 6.5KW Honda Gen. set.
The power that has been run to/by my area is only single phase. So, part of my thought is to put in a generator that runs 3 phase as that kind of power is much better for industrial use.

Thanks for the thought though-

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What did you edit out? I ASSUME we are big boys and girls here (since we play with fire) and can decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Not sure if I like censorship Ted:confused:

To put this into proper context, it started about 8:15 am, I posted at about 10 am, less than 2 hours later.

It is not censorship. I am trying to collect information on what was edited, why it needed edited, and to contact Unicornforge to get his side of things. Only after I have all the information can I make an informed decision. Till that time, I have made notes in gray stating an edit was made. This informs Unicornforge that he is being contacted, and leaves me a place holder to locate where action was taken. and where to make any adjustments, if they are needed. It is a administrative post-it note if you will.

If you have an issue or concern about this matter, please contact me directly.
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Other places other times people have similar problems with the electric utilities. They are with out a doubt some of the most uncooperative utilities we deal with. Only to be out done by anything run by a municipal or state government.

I've heard very mixed results with convertors and little giant hammers. It may depend on the vintage of the motor and how much it actually draws. I don't have any direct experience.

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heres a thought that i've alway had about when i win the big one but im not even sure if it would work. how about a steam geny for electricity.
please give feedback, as i said its only a thought i had and would like to know what people think

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ok just so i am reading this correctly. you have a 6500 PEAK watt generator at 120 volts that's roughly 55 amps of power output.
do you have running water on your land?
how sunny is it there? how many days of rain would you guess that your land gets?
are you willing to do alternate forms of energy?
hows wind in the area?

there are ALLOT of options for you to get power. don't rely in PG&E to supply you i would suggest getting to the point where you supply them. the cheapest option i see is to use a small combustion engine on your power hammer. look at your hammers engine whats the horse power output of it? perhaps even something as small as a lawn mower engine would work for it.

i'm in school right now for renewable energy so i can bounce some ideas off of you and see if any stick.

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How about a an all air shop? Have a diesel driven air compressor and put air motors on everything? I saw an Amish buggy shop in Indiana that had all of the saws, thickness planers, joiner, drill presses, hand held tools driven by air. Seems that electric tools was against their religion or some such thing. They also made cabinets for homes in the shop. Did excellent work with air tools. :rolleyes:

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Because of the times I have been thinking of being able to get free of public power in the shop. Our bill just went up 12% and I don't think there is any end in sight. I like the idea of a line power shaft. I also like the idea of a Lister diesel generator as one can be run on Bio diesel.
I think it would be wise to be prepared to use an alternate energy source even if you get electricity to the shop.

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:DAh... THIS is what I am looking for:D


Ok, I am all about alt energy.

My shop will have some power hungry machines in the future... Glen, I do have 3 welders and one plasma cutter. They are Power hungry. I didn't get one with the gen set because of he maintinace. I LOVE the idea about a line shaft... a friend joked that one day he would show up and thats what I would be using. Regretfully, It won't work for me intentions

In looking at the low RPM Lister motors That ah ha light went off. Big slow moving engine

Solar isn't powerfull enough, although I did build a kitchen with PV power several years ago.

I'm not looking for the How to, I'm looking for feedback on thoughts, experiance and maybe someone who is running this way now.

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honestly i feel solar is pretty weak when it comes as a main power source.

water energy is something i've been thinking about allot. *living in the northwest* and if your property has a year round running stream on it. that would not be hard at all, and would have a pretty decent output *Roughly 2kWh*

Look around on the web. there are tons of home made wind mills etc. also don't forget about your forge. there is a great source of heat for a boiler.

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I ran a shop for a couple of years off of generated power. Pain in the butt but really made you appreciate the juice. Maybe I cut some corners here and there cause I didn't want to hear the noise. Even if the install fee is high you are going to lose in the long run if you stay put. Equipment$ + gas $ + hauling gas $ - (minus) efficiency. Theres nothing really "green" about generated power. If you are running big stuff its tough to make it work. Better to buy into the grid and supplement with solar.

Edited by nuge
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I know what you mean about solar being weak. I just can't afford the thousands of dollars for enough panels to suplement my use. California has also instituted a 3rd party monitering requirement for grid tied solar. That was the deal breaker for me as well.

I have looked into steam turbins. I feel they need more R&D time for small aps. I am south west facing too. In the summer, I get 14 hours of productive sun. Steam may have some merrit in the next few years for me but nt yet.

So, my quandry. A good Diesel generator running a 15-20 KW generator head and all the maintinance. From what I understand, I can run straight recycled vegitable oil after the engine has reached opperating temps. Noise won't be a problem as I will be building a dog house outside the shop for the compressor.

I always wish I had a stream for hydro power but I'm on top of a knoll... Lot of sun with an outstanding view....

What kind of generator where you running? I burned up a cheepo running the well for 4 years. Now I have a decent Honda. The Lister type motor I'm looking at runs .5 Gls an hour at half load. The rated RPM is 800 & 1000.

Hoping for more input:)

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I was running a little honda and a Miller bobcat 225 for the 2 h.p. motor on the trip hammer. Sold the Miller a little while ago and had that "hope this isn't a mistake" feeling. It just sat there idle, but when you need it.......

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