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Old 02-16-2016, 08:00 PM   #1
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Advice for getting Generator going?

Have a 1996 Dodge w/ Cummins Onan generator. Purchased this last July at a pretty good price so the owner's claim of "we never used the generator" I went with and purchased.

So, winter showed up shortly thereafter and I haven't needed the generator. I have hit the start button a few times and it sounds like it wants to turn over and get going, but I'm afraid to do that more than a few times until I'm ready to give it a serious college try.

Looking for any advice anybody can give. We have small engine shops around here, but due to the fact the generator is tied to the SMB gas line that would be a bit of a pain to get it in? I guess I have two questions:

1) Any advice on getting this going myself? Again, it sounds promising on the start, but may need some coaxing.

2) Any advice on a RV service center in the Denver area that might be able to get it going for a reasonable price. Being that a new generator is like $1800 it doesn't make a ton of sense to put a whole bunch of money in this thing as it has to be more than a few years old. Visually it looks pretty good and just like anything new you'd see out there, but I don't know the full history of it.

From everything I can tell the two owners before me did not use it much, if at all.

Thanks!
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:50 PM   #2
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Those things are supposed to be run monthly. If they sit far much more than that, especially with E10 fuel in there, it gums up the carb. So... You're more likely looking at a carb rebuild new spark plug and new fuel filter.

That said... nothing wrong with trying some ether to see if it will fire up at all.
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Old 02-17-2016, 12:32 AM   #3
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Those things are supposed to be run monthly. If they sit far much more than that, especially with E10 fuel in there, it gums up the carb. So... You're more likely looking at a carb rebuild new spark plug and new fuel filter.

That said... nothing wrong with trying some ether to see if it will fire up at all.
Great, thanks. Yes, everything I've ever read says run it pretty regularly if you want it to continue running regularly. Unfortunately that doesn't seem like it ever occurred. So, leaving out the "carb rebuild" it sounds like new spark plug and new fuel filter...any other advice? I figure the key to getting it running is to "get it running". A couple hours of idling could do it wonders.

I figure the thing isn't much more sophisticated than a lawnmower which I've coaxed to life after 4-5 years of not running (with old gas in it). That basically involved gas right in the carb. Done the same with an old scooter. The location of this thing under the van makes it a real bitch to get to and fiddle with though.
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Old 02-17-2016, 01:22 AM   #4
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Here is a basic RV GENERATOR TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE that may be helpful .https://www.flightsystems.com/pdf/on...oing-guide.pdf
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Old 02-17-2016, 09:57 AM   #5
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Besides the plug and filter, be sure to siphon some clean fuel into the delivery line. Also, give the carb a good soaking with carb cleaner spray if you can reach it.

BTW - I believe there's a solenoid on the aux fuel port, and I'm not sure what triggers that to open.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:13 AM   #6
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I have a Honda 2000, which I don't start monthly but I do try to remember to start and run (under load, that's important) every 2 or 3. I only ever put ethanol free gas in it and always mix in a little Seafoam. Still, even with that, mine gummed up. I had to take the carb apart and clean out the jet. Short story, they're sensitive. Onan is a good brand. You probably just need to clean the carb and put it back in to use, and remember to run it under load pretty often.

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Old 02-19-2016, 11:27 AM   #7
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what Scotty said


Giving the carb some love and attention is the most important part of the above advice... a spark plug and filter are good, too.

I fight this stuff with my generators and little 50cc pit bike every year, it's real pain in the neck. Fortunately it's not uncommon, any Honda or Yamaha, lawn and chainsaw shop can clean up the carb for you (or if you're like me, just do it yourself) to get it running. From your post, sounds like you will be taking it in. The key with that is to know what to ask for, so you don't get, ahem, taken in

From my experience, generators and small gas engines typically don't need new gaskets or parts replaced like your typical carb 'rebuild', not even a 'tune up'. just an internal carb cleaning, unplugging of the idle jet (often the culprit), maybe the main jet (sometimes the culprit). the jets and float bowl get gummed up with residual gunk, that blocks the small amount of fuel the carb rations out to the engine (the gunk is just the heavier chemicals left behind, after the lighter ones have evaporated).

Today's gasoline seems to have been engineered to go bad in as little as a few months, when stored in small quantities (like the float bowl of your small generator). I've been using this stuff called "Stabil" fuel stabilizer additive, which helps, if your small engine runs from it's own dedicated small fuel tank.

One trick that sometimes works, is to block off the incoming air at the air filter horn, and hit the electric starter for 30seconds. The high vacuum will sometime dislodge gunk from a plugged jet. Seems to work about 20% or the time for me, but it's often easy, if you can remove the covers and the air filter, plug the carb intake with the plam of your hand, not always possible with every generator.

I'm no small engine mechanic, but I do ok with the larger ones as a hobby

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperG View Post
Great, thanks. Yes, everything I've ever read says run it pretty regularly if you want it to continue running regularly. Unfortunately that doesn't seem like it ever occurred. So, leaving out the "carb rebuild" it sounds like new spark plug and new fuel filter...any other advice? I figure the key to getting it running is to "get it running". A couple hours of idling could do it wonders.

I figure the thing isn't much more sophisticated than a lawnmower which I've coaxed to life after 4-5 years of not running (with old gas in it). That basically involved gas right in the carb. Done the same with an old scooter. The location of this thing under the van makes it a real bitch to get to and fiddle with though.
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Old 02-22-2016, 09:57 PM   #8
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I expect you know that you hold the "stop" button to prime the generator. You will hear the fuel pump click and it will fill the carb with gas.

Then you hold the "start" button until it starts. If it fails to start it will tell you about it with a flashing code.
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