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Author Topic: Generator not working  (Read 667 times)

Angiekaye

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Generator not working
« on: October 30, 2017, 05:00:01 PM »
Hello!

Ok, I just purchased a 1994 coachmen Santara and it's 39 ft long. The generator is an Onan 6500. I brought it to a mechanic and they said it didn't work and I needed a new one. However, I read that if the gas tank is below 1/4 tank it won't start. So I added gas and it started just fine. Now it won't start and I take my finger off the start button and it doesn't maintain. I think the oil is low? Could that be it? And I just read that I shouldn't run a load unless I let it warm up. I've only turned it on a few times but let it run for 5 minutes. Did I ruin it? Thank you!!!!! I teach yoga and run a small nonprofit so I need to save money and do this myself if possible.

Roy M

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2017, 05:59:34 PM »
It will do that if the oil is low. It ran fine the last time so that could very well be the problem.

Angiekaye

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2017, 06:24:37 PM »
Should I be worried about filling up the oil too much?  Will I ruin anything if I do?

RedandSilver

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2017, 06:58:04 PM »
Should I be worried about filling up the oil too much?  Will I ruin anything if I do?

YES.

Since it's new to you and I will assume you don't know when the oil was last changed - I would change it if at all possible.

Many units have a dip stick and if yours does use that to gauge how much oil to add.
Actually if you find a dip stick look at that FIRST because it might not be low and there might be another problem.
IF you need the Generator now and the dip stick confirms it's low, then add a quart of oil and see if it starts.
If it does fill it up to the full line on the dip stick.

But like I said - it's probably better to have the oil changed - then the proper oil and amount should last awhile for you.

Overfilling the oil in any engine is not good.  It can start foaming and then it doesn't lubricate like it should and you can have
bigger problems. 
2002 Rexhall Rose Air  Cummins 8.3  350hp

Angiekaye

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2017, 08:32:02 PM »
Thanks! That makes sense. The oil was changed 2-3 months ago when I had it serviced. The mechanic said it wasn't working so they changed the oil to see if that would help. But it still didn't work cause the gas was low. But I'm surprised the oil is that low since I haven't driven it. Maybe there's a leek. I'll definitely add one container and see if it starts. Cross fingers!

Angiekaye

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2017, 02:55:55 AM »
Update: I made sure the oil was full. The generator was now not even turning over. So I saw what would happen if I turned on the engine, then tried the generator. And it started right up. So I let the engine and generator run for 20 minutes and then turned the engine off and the generator stayed running. I let the generator run for a total of an hour and ran a few appliances to put some load on it. After I turned it off, I waited a minute and then tried to turn it back on without the engine. It worked.

So, what do you think the problem is? Is it just old and crickety? Shall I clean it somehow to get it back running on it's own?

Thanks for all your help!
Angie

Larry N.

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2017, 05:42:30 AM »
If starting the engine let the genny start, (and it was not turning over) I'd be suspicious of your house batteries.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL
  de N8GGG

Ernie n Tara

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2017, 09:19:27 AM »
What he said. Almost certainly a battery problem. Note that the generator depends on the house (usually) and doesn't have its own. Note also that you must have 12V for the refrigerator and water heater even if on propane.

Ernie
Ernie 'n Tara

2011 Winn Journey 34y
2012 Jeep Rubicon - Dozer (orange - kinda)
2006 Jeep Wrangler

Angiekaye

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2017, 12:12:54 PM »
Ok, let me make sure I understand.

The generator needs the house batteries to start? I thought the generator also charges the house batteries. (I'm slowly learning:)

So if i start the engine, to get the generator to start. Then I let the generator charge the house batteries, I should be ok? (If it's the house batteries problem)

Angie

prfcdoc

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2017, 01:39:53 PM »
Ok, let me make sure I understand.

The generator needs the house batteries to start? I thought the generator also charges the house batteries. (I'm slowly learning:)

So if i start the engine, to get the generator to start. Then I let the generator charge the house batteries, I should be ok? (If it's the house batteries problem)

Angie
You're getting it. The problem also could be weak batteries (can't hold a charge) or your converter might not be charging your batteries efficiently when you're on shore power. I wonder how old the batteries are. I would either take a battery to an auto supply place and ask them to test it or run the generator for several hours and see if the batteries retain enough strength to continue starting the generator.
Bob
Bob & Kathy
Saving and researching for our future extended road trip.
2017 F350, Diesel
5th wheel TBD

Larry N.

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  • Westminster, CO
Re: Generator not working
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2017, 02:06:28 PM »
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Then I let the generator charge the house batteries, I should be ok?

As Doc says, this is true ONLY if the batteries are in good shape (and the converter is working properly). Be sure they have enough water (distilled water only, and don't overfill), run the generator for several hours, then try and, as Doc says, "...see if the batteries retain enough strength to continue starting the generator." Keep in mind they likely will not be fully charged at that point.

You also might check the battery cables and posts, to see if there is corrosion there. If so, it'll need to be cleaned up to be sure the charge will take. You might also check the library (link near top of page) on Battery Maintenance, an article written by Gary Brinck ("Gary RV_Wizard"). There are many other good tips, explanations, checklists, etc. in that library, too.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL
  de N8GGG

RedandSilver

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2017, 04:13:56 PM »
Can you plug into shore power?  Most MH's when on shore power will charge the House batteries.

If you can plug in - then keep it plugged in for a few days or a week if you can, then if the generator starts you know it was low
battery power.

When you started the engine and let it run some it charged the house batteries enough to start the generator.
Yes the generator should also charge the house batteries - but plugging in doesn't use up your fuel and is probably cheaper
and definitely quieter then the generator running.

I agree you need to check the water level in the batteries - add distilled if needed.  IF any of the plates are showing (not covered
by liquid) when you first look into the batteries there is a good chance they are toast or almost.  Then new batteries may be in order.... 
2002 Rexhall Rose Air  Cummins 8.3  350hp

Angiekaye

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2017, 04:58:53 PM »
Ok thanks. All 3 of my batteries are new as of the last couple months. So they should be fine. The generator is working now. I think it was the low charge in the house battery. I also feel like it needs to be lubricated some how...not sure what that will mean, but I bet it hasn't been used consistently over the last few years. But it's working!  That's a start.

Question: I've read that I should let the generator run 1 hour every month on minimum for maintenance. What's the ideal running time if I use it every few days. Do i need to run it 30 minutes every time I turn it on? And someone mentioned that the generator will probably use .6 gallons of gas every hour? I'm just starting to understand what my expenses will be every month now.

Larry N.

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2017, 06:05:12 PM »
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Do i need to run it 30 minutes every time I turn it on?

Perhaps not quite, but the general principle is that running it until it is thoroughly warmed up gets the moisture out of the oil and internal parts (especially the internal generator parts), and not getting it completely warmed up allows moisture to stick around and possibly cause rust or other problems. If you're running it every day, then you could skip a day or two of complete warmups, but don't let that built-up moisture stick around very long. In dry climates you have more leeway than in moist climates, too.

Also, I'm not sure why you'd want to run it for less than 30 minutes most times. I'd be reluctant to, for example, fire it up, heat a cup of coffee in the microwave, then shut it down.

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And someone mentioned that the generator will probably use .6 gallons of gas every hour?

Under heavy load it probably will be in that neighborhood. Idling or with a light load it will be somewhat less.

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Ok thanks. All 3 of my batteries are new as of the last couple months. So they should be fine.

As long as they aren't too low on water and have been kept somewhat charged that's probably the case. But a brand new battery can be ruined quickly if the water level (and/or charge level) gets too low. Be sure you only use distilled water.

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I also feel like it needs to be lubricated some how...

I'm not clear what you mean here -- the generator, or its engine, or... ? The engine oil is the engine's primary lubricant, and the genny may not run if that is low (check the dipstick, perhaps get the oil changed). You'd need a maintenance manual (or a maintenance schedule from an owner's manual) to tell you what you need in terms of any lubrication (or other maintenance) of the generator itself.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2017, 06:06:53 PM by Larry N. »
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL
  de N8GGG

Angiekaye

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2017, 01:33:59 AM »
My house batteries are half full right now and that's where they've been for awhile. Should I always have them either full or above half most of the time? I"ll ask a friend to show me how to check and add water to the batteries to make sure.

Lou Schneider

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2017, 02:54:12 AM »
Are you talking about the charge on the batteries or their water level?  They're two different things.

The water level must be above the level of the plates in each cell ... each cell is separate so you need to check them all.  If you look into the cell, you'll see a fill tube extending part way in with a slot on each side.  When the water touches the bottom of the tube the surface tension forms a lens or cat's eye so you can tell it's touching.  That's the maximum level you want to fill to.

You want to keep the batteries fully charged, running them at half charge or less will shorten their life.  The generator doesn't charge the batteries directly, it sends 120 volts to the converter, which in turn charges the batteries.  The converter also charges the batteries when you plug into shore power.

What kind of converter do you have?  In the 1990s there were some that didn't do a very good job of keeping the batteries charged, if you have one of them it would be worthwhile to upgrade it.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2017, 03:01:25 AM by Lou Schneider »

John From Detroit

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2017, 08:01:54 AM »
My Standard is minimimum 1/2 hour under 1/2 load every month.

IF you are using it... frequently you need to run it long enough for the engine to reach full operating temp.. And hold it there for at least a few minutes...

Has not been a problem for me this week.. Been traveling.. Woke up Monday Morning, Furnace failed so I had to use electric heat and burn gasoline instead of propane.

IT WAS SNOWING.. Also my Converter was deceased.  Got in  car, drove across BIG parking lot (T/A, Tekonsha, MI) to eatery, ate, drove to Marshall (Corner of Old US-27 note T/A is on M-60 and old US-27) and Industrial (Most people now days call old 27 something else. but hey. I'm old too and when I was young that WAS Us-27, which is not the alt designation for I-69) Walked into building and a woman said "Can I help You"  I pointed to the converter and said DEAD.. She pointed me to a pair of double doors were we did it again. Walked out with a new Factory Remanufactured unit, new warranty, and smaller bank account.. Back to T/A. hook it up (Still have not bolted it in) and on the road again.

Next night Walton KY, still needed heat  Just not as much.  Church in the AM was less than half a mile away. (Flying j)

Next night a Cracker basrrel in Newport something (South Carolina?)

Last night in a campground. today I change sites when a full hook up empties.

TIRED AM I (no heat needed last night.. Did not get cold enough)

That's how I exercised my Genny this month. Since they fixed the stuck choke, ,starts real nice .
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

ferfer

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2017, 01:58:11 PM »
Another good practice is to turn off devices using generator power approximately  5 minutes. prior to shutting down the generator.   Conversely, allow the generator to run approximately 5 minutes prior to applying load (power).
Jennifer 
2004 Georgie Boy Pursuit 3500DS  aka QSHOUSE
Jennifer, Dan and Scooter

Angiekaye

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2017, 03:46:23 PM »
Yes, I was talking about the house batteries at half charge. Ok, i will make sure I charge the house batteries to full every time and then try not to let them sit too long below half charge.

Another question:  So I had my generator on today for 2 hours. I'm just learning how much I should plug in while the generator is going. As I started a few of the devices around hour 2, the plugs stopped working as if the circulate breaker switch them off cause it was too much. (My last house did that all the time, so I feel like it's the same thing.)  The generator still ran. It would be nice to know where there's a circuit breaker switch I can look at? Any suggestions?

So here's what I had plugged in...It's a 6500 W Onan Generator. I had a space heater on (cause my RV heater doesn't work I believe), that's 1500W. Then I was heating water which also uses 1500W. Then I decided to heat up soup in the microwave. I just bought a new one at 700W. My laptop was plugged in. My fridge. And the old Microwave, which I need to unhook and put the new one in. It wasn't over 6500W, but I guess that's too much?

signed, someone who's learning and hopefully didn't kill the RV:)
Angie

Larry N.

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2017, 04:33:51 PM »
Quote
in the microwave. I just bought a new one at 700W.

That 700W isn't the total wattage the MW uses. It's only the actual amount that goes into cooking (transmitted, power, in a sense). The MW itself will use a fair amount more.

Quote
Yes, I was talking about the house batteries at half charge.

I'm curious how you determined half charge. A simple three or four point indicator, as many RVs have, aren't very accurate about that, so you may not have been quite down to that, or you may have been quite a bit under, if that indicator was your means of measuring.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL
  de N8GGG

Angiekaye

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2017, 05:18:37 PM »
Yes, there's a 4 light indicator. It's been at 2 for awhile.

I think I probably need a good generator mechanic to come look at my generator I think. I found the circuit breakers and nothing was off. So I tried starting the generator again and now it won't turn on. It turns over a little. Too old? 1997 rv

Neal

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2017, 08:09:59 PM »
You may not have overloaded your generator, but more likely a branch circuit breaker. Most of them will be either 15 or 20 amps. 1500 watts @ 120 volts = 12.5 amps. Not much else would trip a 15 amp breaker.
You should have a box for the house branch circuits. Some plugs may be on different circuits.
Most likely you have breakers on generator control box also.
You may have a fuse or breaker on your inverter, if you have one.
On my unit, these are all located in different places.
Neal,        2008 Winnebago Journey 39Z, Freightliner XC-S chassis,
Cummins ISB 6.7L 350 HP, Allison 3000,  2014 Honda CRV Toad.

Angiekaye

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2017, 11:48:27 PM »
OK! I feel like a rookie. I fixed the problem. The generator decided not to work anymore and it sounded like it wasn't getting enough juice or something. Even when I started the RV engine, it didn't start up. So it dawned on me!!  My RV was unlevel when I checked the oil the last time. So it read like it wasn't full. Then I added some wooden slabs underneath a few days ago to level the RV which means the oil was already full. Then I checked the oil today and it was WAY FULL now that it's level!  So, I went to Walmart, bought a $2 turkey baster, took the oil out..and it works smashingly again. lesson learned!!!  Thx everyone.

I checked the circuit breaker and it didn't trip anything, so I turned them all off and on again just incase. Generator and outlets work again. I'll be careful not to overload the generator again.

It's like a I need to take an RV 101 class somewhere:)
Angie

John From Detroit

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Re: Generator not working
« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2017, 07:15:06 AM »
In the interest of humor.. A couple of us were across the drive from me at a fellow RVer's Class C.

He bought it used. The salesman told him "You got a great running Generator There" (Genrac 55G) and so it is. Runs Great..... Not connected to anything (Prior owner butchered the wiring) but it runs great.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

 

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