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Author Topic: Starter/generator issue  (Read 451 times)


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  • Posts: 29
Starter/generator issue
« on: October 02, 2017, 10:25:34 AM »
Hi everyone,

I'm driving a B+ Kodiak on a Ford E350 chassis, with an Onan 2800 generator. Bought it about two weeks ago. 2001 model with over 57k miles showing on the odometer.

I turned on the generator last night to start the water pump, and run AC and cool the cabin briefly. I turned it off and went to sleep.

When I woke about 7 hours later the generator was unresponsive. Then I tried the engine, and it was also totally unresponsive.

Could anyone offer insights here?


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  • Posts: 3067
Re: Starter/generator issue
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2017, 11:04:23 AM »
my guess is your house battery is dead.
The generator usually uses the house battery to start
Look for an emergency start switch or button on your dashbaord.  This temporarily connects the house battery system to your chassis battery and visa versa....for just this reason.
I'd bet you'll find that your house battery will hold some charge but won't hold full capacity....so you had enough to run a few lights or the water pump during the night but not much more.
and if it was at full capacity, if you did something like run the furnace fan much or lots of lights on all night it wold still be drained...
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
13 Thor Chateau 31L Class C on Ford E-450
'06 Silverado
'05 Rockwood Freedom 1910 (5-1/2 years)
former tent campers


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  • Posts: 29
Re: Starter/generator issue
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2017, 11:08:11 AM »
Thanks for the post!

Would this explain why the truck won't start though? I'm still getting clear on how everything works on this RV, but I think there's a separate battery for starting the engine, correct?

Roy M

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  • Posts: 448
Re: Starter/generator issue
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2017, 11:22:50 AM »
The vehicle battery should be isolated from the house battery when the key is off to prevent this scenario. Maybe there is no isolator so if the truck battery is toast the engine was starting off the other one. You need to get the batteries and charging system checked.


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  • Posts: 29
Re: Starter/generator issue
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2017, 11:29:04 AM »
One thing I did this weekend was close a switch built into the cabin battery. It hasn't been working for me, and I was having a friend look at it. This may have led to draining the overall capacity leading to today's situation.

Does anyone recommend a place in Dallas to service the electrical system?


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  • Posts: 1196
  • Part time travelers, 4-8 months each year.
Re: Starter/generator issue
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2017, 03:43:08 PM »
Some RV's have the generator starter wired to the chassis (engine) battery, so don't assume it is wired to the house batteries. 

Take a volt meter and check the battery voltage on both the house battery and chassis battery.  If you don't have a volt meter, you can buy one at big box hardware stores or Walmart for under $20.

If you can plug into shore power, you should see about 13.4V or higher on your house batteries.  This charge voltage is coming from your converter.

One way to find out where the generator starter is wired to is put the voltmeter on each battery and try to start the generator.  While trying to start the generator you can see the voltage drop on the meter.
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4