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Submerged Gas Engines or Generators
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Submerged Gas Engines or Generators

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The best thing to do is prevent a small generator from being submerged. The biggest problem is with normally aspirated gasoline engines with carburators. Some of these critters (generators) can weigh up to 500 pounds, and if you are alone of have only one helper you may not be able to get them on the bed of a pick-up. To raise them to the level of the pick-up use a long lever - a pipe or heavy plank. Lift one end a bit, then shim underneath with wood. Then do the same on the other side and add another shim. Go back to side one and raise it a bit more. Cinder blocks make good shims when you get high enough. As you go higher you need to put a shim under the lever. When you get as high as the bed of the vehicle you can pull the generator laterally. On the last level of shim place a plastic garbage bag to provide a slippery surface to assist in lateral movement. If you have to leave the unit in place you need (a) wide elastic electrical tape (rubber bands) (c) plastic such as from a heavy garbage bag. You need to cover the gas cap and the carburator with the plastic, then secure the plastic with the rubber bands. Then seal all the way around with lots of electrical tape. Don't worry about covering the air vent on the gas cap. If there is an air-cleaner, plug up the air intake the same way. Now use electrical tape to seal the gap around the distributer.  If the unit is completely submerged to restart it you may have to clean the carburator. With flood there is often lots of mud, and the unit may be completely submerged in mud. If the carburator is mud-filled the easiest thing is to exchange it for a re-built carburator. The carburator will be your biggest problem if there are difficulties in re-starting the unit. If you take it off to clean it take pictures with a digital camera or you will never get it back together! There are carburator re-build kits that are inexpensive, but if you take one apart without those digital pictures you will NEVER get it back together. There are tiny passageways in the carburator that have to be rinsed and cleaned. Use carburator cleaner. Pretty toxic stuff. The best thing is simply to exchange the carburator unit. When you go to start it remove the distributor cap and dry inside. If submerged for a while, clean the rotar. Remove the wires from the sparkplugs and air dry the inside of the caps. You may have to use fine sandpaper inside. Hand rotate the engine before attempting to start to insure no water is inside the pistons, which would cause hydrostatic lock. This is unlikely, but possible.
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And, of course, don't forget to do your best to seal the air-vent openings on the generator portion. Heavy garbage bag plastic and lots of electrical tape. You might consider after sealing the vents to put the whole unit in a large heavy duty garbage bag. If the unit is too big a plastic tarpaulin that is TIGHTLY sealed at the top. Tightly sealed means a wrap with wire, then electrical tape. If you have epoxy above the wire tie put in epoxy then another tie above. Then wrap around with electrical tape (it is flexible and when stretched provides pressure. Bend over the top and bring the plastic down in a "U", then more wire around (tight) and more electrical tape. Finally, put a small garbage bag around the entire bunched up area and secure that. The amount of pressure generated by even three foot of water is tremendous and you want to keep the unit absolutely dry.
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