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Author Topic: onoa generator smokes when trying to start  (Read 559 times)


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onoa generator smokes when trying to start
« on: November 06, 2017, 12:34:24 AM »
I loaned my rv out to a friend and it came back with the generator not starting . it just clicks and electrical smoke is coming from the generator. what could happen. they say it worked fine during there trip. any suggestion????


Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: onoa generator smokes when trying to start
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2017, 05:03:15 AM »
Sounds like something shorted inside. Is the smoke from an external component, maybe the fuel pump or starter motor, or from inside, e.g. the stator or armature that actually do the electrical power generation?  The later is a VERY expensive repair.

Since it just clicks when trying to start it, my first guess would be that the starter motor has failed.
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

John From Detroit

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Re: onoa generator smokes when trying to start
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2017, 10:26:18 AM »
Electrical smoke indicates current is too high for somehthing.. A sized starter or rotor can cause excessive starter current. but that is only ONE on a long long list.

Side note: When I read the topic.. I was thinking of smoke from the engine exhaust.. an Issue I've had for most of my 12 years of RVing, when starting.. IT quickly clears.

Turns out the choke was sticking and took a while to open up.. Had the oil changed and when the Mechanic started the generator he noticed and fixed.. Man does it fire up nice now .
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.


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Re: onoa generator smokes when trying to start
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 04:08:53 PM »
My 1992 Onan 4000 did the same after I abused the starter during adjustments. I removed the entire unit an found the plastic starter gear had wedged itself against the flywheel.  Amazon had a new starter ready to install for $34.   Piece of cake
1976 BMW R90/6 "Airhead"
2005 Triumph Bonneville "America"
1992 Challenger Motorcoach


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Re: onoa generator smokes when trying to start
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2017, 06:14:53 PM »
I had the same experience as B737doc. A few weeks ago, my house batteries were low and when I tried to start the generator, it began to smoke and smelled like burnt wires. I had to remove the generator and I found that the Bendix gear on the starter had jammed against the flywheel, and the smoke was probably caused when I gave it several attempts to crank it and the starter was trying to turn in place. I removed the starter and did a bench, which revealed it still worked. Neither the generator nor the starter had any burned wires. I placed the starter back and put the generator back. The generator is now running great again.