Generator won't start

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kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
43
Location
Michigan
L = LOW = 6V
F = FAIR = 11.2V
G = GOOD = 11.9V
C = CHARGE = 12.7V

A good Lead acid battery is considered 50% discharged at 12V. You are above 11.2 but below 11.9 so you definitely ran it down too low. If you want to get the generator started faster, pull the engine battery and drag it back to the genny and hook it onto the genny with jumper cables.
Well I am letting it go for a while. Hopefully I can get it started soon, lol, glad I am not needing anything, too important.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
43
Location
Michigan
Point was to try to start the generator while the RV engine was running, that way the alternator can add juice to start the generator. Once the generator is running you can shut doff the RV engine.
Bob, thank you, even with it running the genny won't kick. As I wondered could it be a bad starter? As I have noticed before, the genny starts on its own if all is on, plus I cannot stop it by the regular means. I hope that I have learned a good lesson here.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
43
Location
Michigan
L = LOW = 6V
F = FAIR = 11.2V
G = GOOD = 11.9V
C = CHARGE = 12.7V

A good Lead acid battery is considered 50% discharged at 12V. You are above 11.2 but below 11.9 so you definitely ran it down too low. If you want to get the generator started faster, pull the engine battery and drag it back to the genny and hook it onto the genny with jumper cables.
Also, thank you, I feel a bit dumb witted not knowing what the lights mean, you very much helped me understand. It is not like I haven't been around RVs, it's just no one showed me all the ins and outs.
 

Bobtop46

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Joined
Mar 11, 2011
Posts
766
Location
Bronson FL
I had a situation with an Onan 4000 once where I had the same as you. Clicking sound. What happened to me is the starter fly wheel engaged but not enough juice to start. The problem was the starter fly wheel didn't disengage and was "jammed" in the generator flywheel. I took it to a retired Onan guy. He reached on the side to where the flywheel is and tried to rotate it by hand back and forth to un-jamb it. This didn't work an he told me to remove the generator from the RV and loosen the starter. Once I backed the 2 screws out half way the flywheel released, and I put everything back together.
So if you are getting just clicking when you try to start the generator, make sure no one is near a start button and try to turn the flywheel by hand. give it a pretty good tug forward and back. If it rotates freely its not jammed, and your problem is still juice to start. Make a habit of starting the RV first ad then the generator when not plugged in, unless you know for sure your battery is 100%. When plugged in the converter will help supply juice to start, but the battery still acts as well of power for big loads, like starting the generator. DO you know which battery the generator tries to draw from when starting. The RV engine or the "house" battery? Mine starts from the engine battery, that's why starting the RV engine first helps. I think most are that way. The battery gauge that you show in the picture is the house battery and is low. Yours might try to get the juice from the house battery. That doesn't make sense to me, if you deplete the house battery you wan to be able to start the generator (from the engine battery to recharge the house battery. The thing is you don't want to kill the engine battery trying to start the generator, because then you are really stuck. That's why I say start the RV engine first, then try the generator. Once the generator is running you can safely turn off the RV engine. The converter will charge the house batteries faster then the engine. Other thing you need to know is does your converter charge both batteries or just the house? Which batteries does the alternator charge, the RV engine or both? Newer RVs charge both from either. Older ones like a '95 Thor might only charge one. Older RVs used to have to hook up battery chargers to the engine battery to keep them charged during extended stays or run the engine every couple weeks to keep it charged.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
43
Location
Michigan
I had a situation with an Onan 4000 once where I had the same as you. Clicking sound. What happened to me is the starter fly wheel engaged but not enough juice to start. The problem was the starter fly wheel didn't disengage and was "jammed" in the generator flywheel. I took it to a retired Onan guy. He reached on the side to where the flywheel is and tried to rotate it by hand back and forth to un-jamb it. This didn't work an he told me to remove the generator from the RV and loosen the starter. Once I backed the 2 screws out half way the flywheel released, and I put everything back together.
So if you are getting just clicking when you try to start the generator, make sure no one is near a start button and try to turn the flywheel by hand. give it a pretty good tug forward and back. If it rotates freely its not jammed, and your problem is still juice to start. Make a habit of starting the RV first ad then the generator when not plugged in, unless you know for sure your battery is 100%. When plugged in the converter will help supply juice to start, but the battery still acts as well of power for big loads, like starting the generator. DO you know which battery the generator tries to draw from when starting. The RV engine or the "house" battery? Mine starts from the engine battery, that's why starting the RV engine first helps. I think most are that way. The battery gauge that you show in the picture is the house battery and is low. Yours might try to get the juice from the house battery. That doesn't make sense to me, if you deplete the house battery you wan to be able to start the generator (from the engine battery to recharge the house battery. The thing is you don't want to kill the engine battery trying to start the generator, because then you are really stuck. That's why I say start the RV engine first, then try the generator. Once the generator is running you can safely turn off the RV engine. The converter will charge the house batteries faster then the engine. Other thing you need to know is does your converter charge both batteries or just the house? Which batteries does the alternator charge, the RV engine or both? Newer RVs charge both from either. Older ones like a '95 Thor might only charge one. Older RVs used to have to hook up battery chargers to the engine battery to keep them charged during extended stays or run the engine every couple weeks to keep it charged.
Bob, thank you. I am thinking that my alternator charges both, as I have a disconnect on the house battery for storage. I am not quite sure about which battery the genny starts off of and I did try many different times today while I had the engine going.
I think that your suggestion about the starter, may be the ticket.
My only other idea is maybe I have a bad connection somewhere, as well and it is shorting. At least I got the battery charged to Good, for today. I don't want to waste gas. I will leave my fridge off, it is cold enough that it should be alright; I will just not get into it and leave it closed.
I have looked at a couple of different videos on YouTube and of course none have the same exact set up. So I really am not sure where the starter is actually located.
As I said, I feel a little dumb here. I thought that I would be able to pull out the genny, like it is on a slide.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
43
Location
Michigan
If your fridge runs on propane it will draw so little from the 12V battery that turning it off will not help. You may as well keep your food cold.
Jay, thank you. I just turned the fridge back on. Still no start on gennie.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
43
Location
Michigan
I had a situation with an Onan 4000 once where I had the same as you. Clicking sound. What happened to me is the starter fly wheel engaged but not enough juice to start. The problem was the starter fly wheel didn't disengage and was "jammed" in the generator flywheel. I took it to a retired Onan guy. He reached on the side to where the flywheel is and tried to rotate it by hand back and forth to un-jamb it. This didn't work an he told me to remove the generator from the RV and loosen the starter. Once I backed the 2 screws out half way the flywheel released, and I put everything back together.
So if you are getting just clicking when you try to start the generator, make sure no one is near a start button and try to turn the flywheel by hand. give it a pretty good tug forward and back. If it rotates freely its not jammed, and your problem is still juice to start. Make a habit of starting the RV first ad then the generator when not plugged in, unless you know for sure your battery is 100%. When plugged in the converter will help supply juice to start, but the battery still acts as well of power for big loads, like starting the generator. DO you know which battery the generator tries to draw from when starting. The RV engine or the "house" battery? Mine starts from the engine battery, that's why starting the RV engine first helps. I think most are that way. The battery gauge that you show in the picture is the house battery and is low. Yours might try to get the juice from the house battery. That doesn't make sense to me, if you deplete the house battery you wan to be able to start the generator (from the engine battery to recharge the house battery. The thing is you don't want to kill the engine battery trying to start the generator, because then you are really stuck. That's why I say start the RV engine first, then try the generator. Once the generator is running you can safely turn off the RV engine. The converter will charge the house batteries faster then the engine. Other thing you need to know is does your converter charge both batteries or just the house? Which batteries does the alternator charge, the RV engine or both? Newer RVs charge both from either. Older ones like a '95 Thor might only charge one. Older RVs used to have to hook up battery chargers to the engine battery to keep them charged during extended stays or run the engine every couple weeks to keep it charged.
Bob, I do believe that I found the flywheel you are talking about. It turns freely. I am really starting to think it is the starter.
I have done everything that you all have suggested. With exception to jumping directly, as I don't think I have my jumper cables with me, they I believe are in my car, five hours away.
I am not defeated but I will call it a night and try again tomorrow.
I did watch a few more videos and found how to pull out the genny from the compartment. I at least have tools to tinker around with.
This I know:
Gas, is good
Air intake, good (and filter)
Plug, well questionable
Oil, good
My couch starts right up and the alternator is at least charging both, so that tells me:
Coach battery is good
Alternator, also good
I just bought the house battery, two weeks ago, all my connections are tight and I have seen that it has been holding a charge, unplugged, coach not on etc.
So I am down to:
Faulty starter
Bad switch
Dampness (rainy and cold last couple of days)
Or a short somewhere???
As it continues to just click when starting. I am figuring give it a rest and try, try again.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
43
Location
Michigan
All of y'all who have replied today, thank you so very much. I am undaunted and thankful. I will keep you updated to see what is shaking.
Hopefully I close soon, on my new cabin and this will be able to wait until spring to completely over haul. I think it may be prudent to give the genny a full tune up and a brand new starter. I will also get some electrical contact cleaner to help the connections get cleaned up.
Nothing worth doing is seldom easy, if it were, we would all have no worries. Good night everyone.
 

Utclmjmpr

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 14, 2009
Posts
5,349
Location
Cedar City, UT
If weather is turning colder,, make sure all your batteries are charged up to prevent them freezing..
When a battery is depleted low enough , the electrolyte returns to water and will freeze and break the case... This is a case where "good enough" isn't..>>>Dan
 

Krazeehorse33

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 27, 2021
Posts
101
Location
Kenton Ohio
If you see the starter try wiggling the wires and tapping it lightly. Sometimes that works. And if it does then you can be fairly confident you have a bad connection on the starter or a bad starter. (The others will know for sure but I assume this doesn’t have a remote, stand alone solenoid)
 

JayArr

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Joined
Jun 13, 2020
Posts
621
Location
Mission British Columbia Canada
You can try lightly tapping it with a hammer while trying to start it. I've owned more than one car where a faulty starter would just click. I would keep a hammer under the seat and crawl under and give it a whack and then the car would start.

Power to the starter is often supplied by a solenoid that is in turn controlled buy the start switch. You could try giving it a whack as well.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
43
Location
Michigan
L = LOW = 6V
F = FAIR = 11.2V
G = GOOD = 11.9V
C = CHARGE = 12.7V

A good Lead acid battery is considered 50% discharged at 12V. You are above 11.2 but below 11.9 so you definitely ran it down too low. If you want to get the generator started faster, pull the engine battery and drag it back to the genny and hook it onto the genny with jumper cables.
Jay, I did hook up the car battery to the genny, I found that I do have my cables. It turned over but wouldn't start up, I tried again, clicking.
I think that with everyone's answers here, I am thinking it is definitely a mix of the starter and solenoid at the generator.
I am also concerned that the person I bought it from created a short, somewhere. I know that they put a new fridge in, which I can turn on but after running a few minutes, on propane and battery; it is faulting out. They also changed out the radio, which was part of a whole house 'entertainment' package, so there could be something there that is not hooked where it is supposed to be.

Jay, Bob and all the rest of you, thank you. I have a lot of learning left to do, as the song goes.
 

Tiercel

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Joined
Jul 20, 2021
Posts
206
Location
Pennsylvania
You say you have no bells and whistles but you have an automatic leveling system which I don't have on my 2000 Dutchmen but I do have an emergency start switch. If I am not mistaken, Dutchmen is a subdivision of Four Winds.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
43
Location
Michigan
You say you have no bells and whistles but you have an automatic leveling system which I don't have on my 2000 Dutchmen but I do have an emergency start switch. If I am not mistaken, Dutchmen is a subdivision of Four Winds.
Well the hydraulic levelling system is not working either. I do not see anything else in the driving area which suggests an emergency start switch. I only see the basics which any vehicle has, with exception of the light by the steering wheel for the jacks.
The one possible note on that, is maybe when they removed the old radio system, that switch was there?
Thank you.
 

Henry J Fate

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Joined
Jun 14, 2018
Posts
1,579
Check the connections at the starter relay. The relay is at the end of power cable from the battery and is in the lower left. Check both connections. (in & out)

Get the house battery fully charged.

Generator starters typically will last a long time if you have a good starting generator. If the generator has problems starting, long durations of starting attempts will prematurely weaken and ruin the starter.

Most important is to not hold down the start button when the generator starter fails to turn the engine over. This will cause excessive heat to the starter. If it does not turn, let off and try again.

I occasionally have a problem starting my 4k microquiet. Usually it is caused by low battery power with the engine in the combustion stroke. I go out to the generator and manually move the fly wheel to an easier starting position and the generator alway turns and starts. This is similar to pull starting a law mower. It's nice to get the engine in the sweet spot before pulling the rope.
 
Last edited:

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
Posts
74,620
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
L = LOW = 6V
F = FAIR = 11.2V
G = GOOD = 11.9V
C = CHARGE = 12.7V
Don't know where that table came from, but it's very wrong. Or maybe just hopelessly optimistic. Even allowing its measure an active battery rather than "at rest", anything less than 11.9v is poor and 11.2v is darn near totally dead. Barely lights a bulb! 10.5v is the lowest that most RV appliance circuit boards will tolerate, so things stop working even if they use propane or shore power for their main power source. Most experts consider a 12v battery to be "dead" at 10.5v.
 
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