Portable generator on the fritz; holes in the lawn


The Traveler’s Bob Brennecke answers your outdoors questions:

QUESTION: While getting ready for the upcoming camping season I got my portable generator out to give it a test run. It didn’t run!  

I pulled and pulled, choked and put on run and pulled some more. What would keep the generator from starting since it was running 5 months ago and all it did was sit in my basement?

ANSWER: Unfortunately, you have probably put gasoline with alcohol in your generator. The wonderful government has funded, subsidized and mandated by law that we should put 10% ethanol alcohol (E-10) in our gas — and that has been a problem for the power industry since that mandate was initiated. 

The problem(s) with ethanol alcohol in our petroleum-based fuel has given everyone a chance to: replace fuel line hoses, carburetors, and replace gaskets along with replacing many other engine parts.

Well, I guess I’m getting a little political, right? Not that I disagree with government mandates. Back to the problem. 

When leaving fuel with ethanol in an internal combustion engine of any kind for a period of time, you will have some type of damage to your fuel system. 

Many carburetors will start to internally degrade, oxidize, or just rust from the inside because the alcohol is a magnet for water and water inside fuel systems is not good. 

If you take your carburetor apart you will find a wet white powder mixed with a clear gummy substance — this is oxidation of the aluminum.

Remember when we used, “HEET” in our engines? “HEET” is a commercially-produced product containing alcohol. In the winter the alcohol was poured into fuel tanks to absorb the water in your gas tank.  

We put the “HEET” or alcohol in the tank to absorb the condensation that formed in the tanks. This condensation was formed from the tank being heated and cooled from the environment over and over. 

We did not add 10% alcohol, but just enough to absorb that condensation.

Unfortunately, you have only a few choices now: replace the carburetor yourself, have a shop do it, or take the carburetor apart yourself. 

Taking it apart will involve: completely taking the carburetor part; cleaning all jets, crevices and fuel passages with special solvents; washing out with soap and water; rinsing and blowing out all the passages with compressed air; and  replacing all gaskets and reassembly. 

Don’t forget to replace fuel lines and clean the fuel tank.

When you get ready to use your internal combustion engines use 100% gasoline, preferably 94 octane or greater. This problem exists for all internal combustion engines that have not been engineered to resist the water left inside them. 

We all should have a choice in what fuel we use. Every public fueling station should supply all types and grades of fuel including 100% gasoline, E-10, and E-85. 

Alcohol in fuel makes an unstable, water-absorbing and solvent-producing liquid in our fuel systems. Sorry!  

In the future use only fuel without alcohol, it can be found commercially $$$.
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QUESTION: I have these holes in my yard that I think are caused by deer passing through. I don’t think the holes were “dug” as there’s not any dirt next to them. What do you think is causing them? (photo below)

ANSWER: The first quick answer was to be a SQUIRREL! But at second look at the size of the hole and the closeness, the proximity of the holes and the depth of the larger holes, I believe it is an armadillo. 

I do not like these creatures! Even though these animals eat grubs and other insects in our yard, they can spread disease. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation has suggested in dispatching these animals when possible because they are non-native, invasive creatures and belong “down south” where they came from. 

We will, unfortunately, be invaded more and more by armadillos because of them being able to tolerate the warmer temperatures here in Missouri.  

While traveling in the south a few years ago I was interested in a spiral trap in someone’s back yard. This trap started at an entry point where they knew the armadillo entered an area. 

The entry area had like a guide or a funnel barricade to get the animal to travel in a specific direction. 

Now, I was told by this older gentleman that had set the trap, that armadillos won’t climb over things much higher than their height and that they follow along that barricade in a large spiral, funneling into a trap looking like an old-style rabbit trap, only larger. 

I had never encountered the animals until about 10 years ago in Mississippi. I don’t know if it works but I can only go by what this old guy said. 

Good luck. Dispatch them ALL!


QUESTION: Our 9-pound miniature pinscher dog is missing. She got out of the gate while we were away from the house but she’s never left the yard before. 

None of the neighbors have seen her, and we live in the country about a quarter-mile off the road. Is it possible a hawk or owl could have grabbed her? Can they carry that much weight?

ANSWER: I don’t know where you live but coyotes have been encroaching into subdivisions and habitable areas more and more every year. 

There have been instances where coyotes have even become embolden enough to stalk children playing in suburban back yards. We have brought this on ourselves by feeding our pets outdoors, leaving garbage in uncovered containers, and not keeping these animals in check by hunting and trapping.

These animals are really smart and will learn how to survive in our environment. The coyote has been inside the city of Chicago for a while now and takes advantage of anything available to eat, including cats, dogs, rats and anything that has possible nutrition. 

I hope you find your dog soon but if you have seen a coyote in your area in the last few months, it is likely your dog is gone.

(Got a question about camping, trailers, RVs, boat care, hiking, fishing or pretty much anything outdoors-related? We can answer it! Contact Bob Brennecke by email at robertbrennecke@hotmail.com.)

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