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Small Engine Repair Shop, On the Move

Small Engine Repair Shop, On the Move

Originally published by Grinder Pump Experts

Come Spring, a flood of anxious service requests from businesses and homeowners in Clifton Park, NY, keep Deane McGeary very busy. After retiring in 2019, Deane decided to establish Small Engine MD, a part-time mobile business that he could grow locally.

Small Engine, MD

Open the doors of Deane's box truck, and step into a mobile small engine repair shop with all the common parts and tools you’d expect to find in a full-service shop. With greater flexibility and lower overhead costs compared to traditional repair shops, Deane’s business model has proved successful. “90% of my customers live within 10 miles from my house and almost all new business comes from personal referrals.” 

Of course, the job requires having everything needed for on-site repairs, most importantly, an independent power supply. “Aside from the typical power tools, I regularly run my drill press, angle grinder, compressor, lights, and a fan in warmer summer months,” says Deane. 

For years, Deane relied on his portable generator to power his electric tools. While it was loud and took up valuable space in the van body, the generator worked well…until it didn’t. "When the temperature drops below 40°F, the generator often refuses to start. The last thing I want to do during a service call is stop to repair my own generator."

Inspired by a home battery backup system installed by Colin Smith of Grinder Pump Experts, Deane started dreaming about ditching his generator. Colin proposed a basic mobile power system that could handle all of Deane’s major electrical loads and allow him to recharge the battery while driving the van.

Victron Energy power system installed in van body

Deane’s power system consists of: 

  • A MultiPlus II 12/3000/120-50 inverter/charger, sized to handle all his AC loads
  • A 200Ah AGM deep cycle battery wired to charge off the van’s alternator 
  • An automatic charging relay to prevent draining the coach battery
  • A Victron IP65 SmartShunt to accurately measure his battery capacity 

Deane can also use the manual combiner switch to charge the starter battery from the inverter’s battery and start the truck. “Having a secondary battery bank, or house battery bank, is great for running an inverter but it also builds some redundancy into your vehicle,” says Colin. “The secondary battery bank can be used to charge an unintentionally depleted starter battery.”

Further, Colin notes that “We automatically disconnect the house battery bank and 12V loads from the vehicle’s starter battery when there isn’t a charging voltage present, but we always install a manual combiner switch to connect the house battery bank to the starter battery in an emergency.”

Deane is beyond pleased with the upgrade. “All I do is push a button, and I have instant power in the back of my truck. Just the convenience alone has been heaven; not having to start the generator at all.” 

“Electric start snow-blowers, for example, draw a lot of current. Although my little generator could get them going, rather than getting out the generator to use, so I’d just pull the starter cord. That’s all well and good when the snowblower starts easy.  However, when it does not, I end up having to fuss with the generator, hoping it will start on a cold day. Now, I just use my inverter to crank it over with the snow blower’s electric start.”

Deane will soon move his family - and his business - down to North Carolina. “I’ll be starting all over again, but that’s ok.” He’s already thinking about new ways to use his power system. "It's exciting to know that if I lose power at my house during a storm, I can run an extension cord from my van and have access to 3,000 Watts of power to power up basic circuits. How great is that?"

Planning to design an electrical system for your recreational or professional van? You can reach out to Colin at or through the website,

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