A Diesel in the Shed.
You can have your solar panels
and your turbines on the hills;
You can use the warmth of sunshine
to reduce your heating bills.
You can dream you’re self-sufficient
as you weed your vegie bed;
As long as you make sure to keep
A diesel in the shed.
When I was a kid on a dairy farm in Queensland, we relied on green energy – horses and human muscles provided motive power; fire-wood and beeswax candles supplied heat and light; windmills pumped water and the sun provided solar energy for growing crops, vegies and pastures. The only “non-green” energy used was a bit of kerosene for the kitchen lamp, and petrol for a small Ford utility. We were almost “sustainable” but there was little surplus for others.
Our life changed dramatically when we put a thumping diesel in the dairy shed. This single-cylinder engine drove the milking machines and an electricity generator which charged 16 lead-acid 2 volt batteries sitting on the veranda. This 32 volt DC system powered a modern marvel – bright light, at any time, in every room, at the touch of a switch. This system could also power Mum’s new electric clothes iron as long as someone started the engine for a bit more power.
There were no electric self-starters for diesels in those days – just a heavy crank handle. Here is the exact model which saved us from a life of dairy drudgery, kerosene lights and Mother Potts irons:
See and listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itxY98A8wHQ
But all that effort, noise and fumes were superseded when every house and dairy got connected to clean silent “coal power by wire”, and coal was used to produce coke for the new slow-combustion stoves. Suddenly the trusty “Southern Cross” diesel engines disappeared from Australian sheds and dairies, AGA cookers displaced the old smoky wood-burning stoves in the kitchen, and clean-burning coal gas replaced dirty open fires in the cities.