the Mike Mercury Generator



"My Home Generator Project"



* Permanently mounted installation

* run with either gasoline or propane

* Use existing engine & parts


Two things set this project in motion, the first was hurricane Ike; we generally don't see any hurricane-strength weather here in Ohio... but the windy part of Ike traveled north into Southwest Ohio. Due to all the power line damage, we were without electricity for 5 full days. And, our home is on a well - which means no water... and that means no flushing toilets!!!

The second motivator of the project came from a good deal on a generator head from Harbor Freight (2 pole design. 10,000w max; 7200w continuous) that I purchased new in 2007:

This generator head has received great reviews from those that already have used it. It is extremely heavy; 85 lbs !!!

Luckily, I already owned the recommended engine, a 16hp Briggs Vanguard twin:

which was located on a retired MTD tractor. Not the original engine on that tractor, the Vanguard was a replacement engine that I only used for 1.5 seasons before the tractor was retired. This particular engine is NOT a "Murray riding-lawnmower" type engine. The Vanguard is in the B&S commercial line; and has a pressurized oil system. with a spin-on oil filter.


I disassembled the MTD tractor, leaving the engine attached; then cut the frame of the tractor down to where it was just the right size to add the generator head:


some additional details:

* the concrete foundation is 6 inches thick; the square metal supports were threaded-rod'd together down low... and form some of the total steel that was imbedded into the slab. The supports are actually 2 feet in length, with only about 11" exposed. The dirt was "coned-out" where the supports go deeper into the ground... so the cement depth in these areas is about 12" deep.

* The generator head is direct coupled to the engine via a LoveJoy coupler; each half has three "fingers" and they are mated through a six-finger rubber "spider":

* The electrical cable is run underground into our homes utility room, the gray metal box outside is a disconnect... that also has two slo-blow fuses (there is an additional main generator breaker inside the house).

* the frame is vibration isolated from the four supports, using large "lord mounts"

Note: the disconnect box is not attached to the frame; but is attached to the support (though this picture may lead one to believe otherwise)

For protection from the elements, I purchased one of those SunCast Boxes:


Once everything was installed and tested, one of the last things I needed do was to set the speed (RPM) of the engine driving the generator head. 


1. Starting ?

The B&S Vanguard engine came with both an electric starter and a pull starter. When using the pull starter, the engine has faithfully started by the second pull. Although the electric start is still installed on the engine, I decided to not keep a battery outside all the time. I made provisions -though- for a quick connection to a battery in the event I want/need to use the electric start. This engine is not a "Murray Lawnmower" engine; it's an industrial B&S with a pressurised oil system and spin-on oil filter. It will start and run without a battery present.

2. How do you vent the heat and exhaust from building-up in the enclosure?

The engine is never run with the box all closed-up. I have run the generator for 5 hours straight and the SunCast box sides never even got warm (in this opened-up condition). Also, the SunCast box can be lifted off completely and set aside.

The B&S Vanguard Twin engine came from the factory with the two cylinders exhaust Y'd together... into one muffler mounted on the side. The way I have the unit situated, the muffler points directly outwards... through the opening of the two front swing-out doors.


Hard to find items:

Harbor Freight Generator Head: ITEM 45416-1VGA

lord (isolation) mounts: V11Z02MMMKA060H

Lovejoy engine/generator shaft coupler: #68514411342 L099 - for 1" shaft (qty 2); #68514411494 rubber spider:

FYI, the above Lovejoy part numbers may have been superceeded; best to call The Hydraulic Store 800-323-5749 and have them get you the most recent offerings.

SunCast Horizontal Shed (deck box) GS1000B (free shipping if shipped to your local store).



Ah-ha, you are alert today !!! I purchased a dual propane/gasoline conversion kit for my B&S 16hp Vanguard Twin. This kit was purchased from US Carburation for $320; it allows you the use of either gasoline or propane. Fortunately I already have a propane line at the end of the house where the generator is located; I just haven't attempted installation of the kit yet.

I'm certain I've left a few details out; please email me with any questions: