I got a great deal on a like new 5500 watt generator to use with my new welder a couple of years back, and ever since I've been having fun making various modifications for it. Since they all relate to the same generator, I figured I would post the main three in a single instructable.
One of the problems I had from the start, having nothing but a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a cargo space that is usually full of camping supplies, was finding a way to haul it around if I wanted to use it away from home. One day when I was walking through the scraps area of one of the local metal supply shops, I saw a piece of square iron that suddenly reminded me of my hitch receiver and the first idea was born.
Another problem I had was that when I was storing the generator in the garage at home, the thing was big enough to take up a large chunk of floor space that quickly became unusable. I wanted to put a work-table out there somewhere but was running out of room to do so between the band saw, the vice, the welder and the generator. It was while wandering through the local Ace hardware that I saw some of those little metal clamp-on spring clips like the use on some lawn chair cup or ash-tray devices that I got the second idea to make a table top for the generator itself.
The tabletop worked so well, I decided to use the combination of the two projects to put an 'extension' out the end with some of the material that was left over from the first two projects.
Step 1: Making a Receiver Hitch Mount
The first project was to make the thing haul-able via the hitch receiver. I picked up the scrap pieces I saw as well as another piece that the first slid into. Tipping the generator on it's side (carefully as not to spill out oil or gas) I was able to see that there were two 'u' shaped bars across the bottom. Looking through my materials bucket, I found a couple of pieces of flat iron that fit nicely in there with just a small bit of grinding and built a second to work along with the front-end 'feet' but still hold the bar in place.
This was mostly just a matter of measuring the holes where the existing screws went through, bending the shape for the front and measuring the placement across the larger square tube that the smaller would slide into. (note the 'woops' - while I measured my holes twice and drilled once, I got confused by the upside-downside nature and accidentally welded the back bar on backwards the first time, had to grind it off with the angle grinder and re-weld it back on the correct way)
Once those pieces were set up correctly, I inserted the smaller bar and drilled horizontal holes through both pieces to put retaining bolts and/or clips through to hold the generator onto that bar. Next was to move it up to the back of my receiver, insert it, figure out a good length to extend beyond and drill horizontal holes for the hitch receiver pin. (the picture shown was before cutting the bar down. The end result is closer to the back of the jeep.
I tend to use straps also just for a little extra stability but the receiver mount works like a champ! I'm still learning my welding, so I haven't had the guts yet to take it on long trips, but it hasn't shown any signs of wearing or straining on multiple short trips around town including a few down rather bumpy dirt roads.
Step 2: Adding a Table Top
The second modification was a rather simple one. I wanted to try to mount a table top to the generator itself. You can pick up clips at just about any hardware store that are made more for connecting onto a lawn chair arm, but were the right diameter to fit on the frame bars across the top of my generator. This might not work on a generator with a raised gas cap, but this particular model has the tank just low enough that the cap sits just below the particle board when using the clips to attach it.
Three sets of the clips on each end hold the table top quite securely in place while still making it easy to remove. A simple curved piece of flat iron with a single screw is enough to hold it in place even more secure if needed.
Step 3: Using the Spare Pieces to Extend the Table Top.
When I was done putting the table top in place, the particle board I had picked up to make it was too large to go over the top of the generator. I ended up cutting off a piece just over a foot wide. I didn't want it sticking out like that all the time, but the extra piece got me to thinking I might be able to make a temporary extension. With a little welding and a few pieces of flat iron, some screws and a few sliding supports, I was able to make a piece that would use the existing hole in the extended receiver mount to hold the extension in place. While it's not secure enough to hold anything really heavy, it does give me a little extra room off the end when needed to hold up a piece of stock or rest some tools.