Sunday 6 July 2014

New Boat, New Gear, New Reviews, Part One.

     "You got me coming up with answers...."
                                            -Duran Duran

A new (to us) boat means new projects and new, or new (to us), gear.
Refitting is a sailor’s excuse to go shopping…
….So, a-shopping we went.  
We needed to replace our no-longer-generating generator.  We had put off this purchase since halfway through Bottom Paint Season 2013, but the idea of sanding bottom paint by hand, on a deadline this year, thrilled neither SWMBO nor I. 
It was time.

Our old 3.5 kW Hyundai generator was  more than adequate, powerwise, but big, heavy and loud.   This time, we wanted a generator small enough, and portable enough, to make the occasional trip down the Dock to  put the power in power tools, and hang out on NextBoat’s* aft deck if we ever needed 110 power aboard when away from the Dock. The  Honda EU2000i was on our shortlist, and the Yamaha EF2000is was on our shorterlist, because it was slightly lighter and had all of the controls on the same face as the starting cord.
   The candidate tapped for a longterm test was neither of the above.  We opted to purchase a Champion 73531i 2kW generator.




Here’s why:

     Both the Honda and Yamaha generators were $1200 and change. The nearest dealers are at least 25 minutes from the Dock, if we need parts or service.  If we decide to cruise with a generator, the nearby-parts-service-availability drops precipitously-most of the ports on the north shore of Lake Erie do not have either Yamaha or Honda dealers.  So,  if parts are needed, we’re gonna be pointing and clicking through the interweb and waiting for a delivery…

…  just like we would with an off-brand genny sourced from a department store…

… which we bought for under $600.

Additionally, I liked the stackable cube design- on the aft deck of Nextboat,  that flat surface could come in handy as a support for a cutting board, beside the bbq.

Upon opening the box, I was pleased with the fit and finish, and the feel of the plastic panels.

Nothing felt inordinately “cheap.”

The bib around the gas tank cap is a nice detail...

       As is the  well-marked "on-off " cap vent.    A closable vent is a nice benefit if (like me) you drive a station wagon that (like me) you do not want to smell like gasoline on a hot day with a generator in the wayback.

      It came with a well written manual in both official languages (okay, it was well written in English, at least;  mon ne pas parlez francais well enough to know how bon it was in French, eh?) and an easy-to-follow "quick start" chart, along with the ubiquitous stamped steel/crimped tube spark plug wrench and a funnel.  A funnel?

   Before starting, as the manual made clear in 118 point boldface, YOU MUST FILL THE ENGINE WITH OIL...  or void the warranty.  So I filled it, with oil, (not included) with the help of the (included) funnel, a requirement due to the location of the crankcase filler:
Behind a cover...

and, appropriately enough, at the crankcase:

    Preliminary prep out of the way, I opened the vent on the gas cap, turned the fuel valve to "on", flipped the ignition switch to "on", set the choke to "start" and pulled the starting cord.

    It started.
     I pushed the choke in  and the generator continued to run.

     Also good.

     As promised, it was much quieter than our old generator.

     How quiet?

      That quiet.
     Carry-on-a-conversation quiet.
      SWMBO was impressed.

      That quiet.

      The next weekend we put our new box o' power to the test, and sanded Whiskeyjack's  bottom prior to rolling on a coat of antifouling paint.  SWMBO and I ran two palm sanders continuously for over 4 hours and used less than 3/4 of a gallon of fuel.  Further, our ears didn't ring, and we never had to yell at each other.
     Not yelling at each other is a real bonus, one not to be overlooked.

      I have no unrealistic expectations of longevity that rivals Champion's more expensive motorcycle manufacturer rivals, but...
       If it lasts more than 50% as long as the expected lifespan of the others, we will be money ahead.

      I will revisit this review next spring, and see how the Champion 73531i  has held up.

      Thanks for stopping by, and remember to

     "Talk the Dock!"

*NextBoat is currently named Take Time.  It is a nice name, but the experience of her acquisition begs for a name change.  More on that later.


  1. I would suspect that after a reasonable length of time, draining the oil and replacing it with new stuff would go a long way to improving the lifespan of this product. I suspect that failure is directly related to simple neglect. Sounds good.

  2. Boy have these come a long way in the last 20 years. We rented one in the summer of 1991 and it sounded like a rock crusher compared to this one. Even our mid 90' Honda is much noisier.

  3. We went with a Ryobi 2200 Watt generator from Home Depot for much the same reasons you gave above, including the $599 price tag. As quiet as the Honda, a touch more power and half the price.

  4. Hi
    Was wondering if anyone might be interested in a nordica 20 i have for sale in caledonia