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Old 09-05-2007, 12:37 PM   #1
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Generator Problems

Over the course of each winter I try to start my rig and generator motors regularly. On one occasion last winter the generator stopped and would not start after that. I assumed that it was because my gas tank had reached the quarter mark. After filing the tank this summer the generator still would not start. If anyone is familiar with the onan generators maybe you could lend some advice. It appears that my air filters are clean and that I have a decent spark from both plugs. It turns over strong but even when I spray WD40 directly into the carbs and cylinders nothing happens. Getting at the unit is tough and before I drop the unit for a better look is there something I should do? Are there shut off switchs on gas gens.? Do they have in line filters? Could floats or needle valves left dry stick shut? I'm open to ideas. Mr. D.
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:07 AM   #2
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The gen engine is just like any other engine. If the carb is left dry, you will have all sorts of problems with stuck floats, crud in passages, shrinking gaskets, etc. My unit is the Kohler. It has a filter in the end of the electric fuel pump at the genset, and an in-line filter just ahead of that.
I would make sure you are getting fuel into the carb. The float may be stuck closed. After getting fuel into the carb, let it set for a day or so to see if it is going to leak. After that you may be able to get it going OK.
Good luck, Rob
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Old 09-06-2007, 12:03 PM   #3
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Your engine needs 3 things to start.
Fuel, compression and spark at the right time.
For a gasoline engine starting spray, I would recommend starting fluid rather that WD-40.
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Old 09-06-2007, 12:18 PM   #4
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I have heard that starting fluid is rather hard on gasoline engines. I just remove a plug and add a bit of gas from an oil can. I have one of those cans that you bend in the bottom of. At the other end I have a little bit of clear hose to make it eaiser to see the gas coming out and to get it to the spark plug hole. A little dab will do ya.

If I am starting a car, I pour a little bit in the throttle body of the carb. A teaspoon or so.

Steve
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Old 09-06-2007, 12:22 PM   #5
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Starting fluid will not hurt a bit for diagnosing your problem. I've used it for years, both for vehicles and small engines.
You don't want to use starting fluid on 2-stroke engines, it washes the oil in the fuel off the cylinder walls, etc.
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Old 09-06-2007, 01:05 PM   #6
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I am a shade tree kind of guy when it comes to working on the MoHo and anything else with a piston. I just remember reading something about not using ether to start a gas engine. It was from a column about cars in the newspaper. I don't believe everything I read in the newspaper, but this article seemed to be on point. I don't remember his reasoning, though. Perhaps it was only directed to 2 cycle engines. Like a recent AG, "Senator, I don't recall".

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Old 09-06-2007, 01:12 PM   #7
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Maybe Overlander63 or someone you trust will give a second opinion here....
I used it professionally as needed for 11 years before becoming a firefighter, and still use it. Remember, we're talking about short term use in diagnosing a starting problem. I would guess that your article was talking about long-term chronic use.
FWIW, Dave
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Old 09-06-2007, 01:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geophilist
I am a shade tree kind of guy when it comes to working on the MoHo and anything else with a piston. I just remember reading something about not using ether to start a gas engine. It was from a column about cars in the newspaper. I don't believe everything I read in the newspaper, but this article seemed to be on point. I don't remember his reasoning, though. Perhaps it was only directed to 2 cycle engines. Like a recent AG, "Senator, I don't recall".

Steve
I heard it was Diesel engines and was told to use WD-40. The propane mixed with the oil in WD-40 is safer for a Diesel. I heard this form a Diesel Mech who was sitting under a shade tree. I cranked of and old Outboard this weekend which had sat for 8 years and ether did the job.
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Old 09-06-2007, 05:11 PM   #9
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It is not a matter or trust, Dave, I trust you know what you are talking about! I have use ether in the past and had no problems with it. I was just wondering out loud if it was safe to use in light of what I had read. That is what makes a forum like this so valuable; people willing to lend their expertice.

I know I know little, but what I don't know is what I don't know.

Steve
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:24 AM   #10
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Mr D.
The Onan (I'm assuming you have the Onan) has a fuel filter (screen) inside the eletric fuel pump which is mounted on the control panel. You can access this from the front to check it. The bottom comes off to access the screen.

I have installed an additional inline filter ahead of the stock filter for "extra" filtering and so I can visually see fuel moving through the line.

Others have already given great advice (fuel, spark, air) all of which should be checked before removing the unit. Additionally, some of the carb passages can be cleaned with carb cleaner while still in the unit.
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Old 09-07-2007, 09:53 AM   #11
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It turns over strong but even when I spray WD40 directly into the carbs and cylinders nothing happens.
Try turning it over in the complete dark - there is a good chance to 'see' either the surrounding glow or the spark directly of a high voltage insulation breakdown on the coil - wire - sparkplug circuits... Even a lean charge of WD-40 should produce some combustion signs...
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:37 PM   #12
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Thanks for the advice!

Thanks to all! Good to have a place where I can get advice like this ... will work on the rig this weekend if the weather and time permits. Will let you know the results. Mr. D.
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:46 PM   #13
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Yes, WD-40 to help start diesel engines (NO NO NO ether!) and ether to start automobile engines. Both for short-term runs only -- don't try to keep the engines running on either one.

I would hesitate using ether for two-cycle engines unless it was maybe one squirt (as Fyrzowt says above, it washes away the lubricating oil a two-cycle needs).

Susan
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Old 09-21-2007, 12:44 PM   #14
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Good luck with WD40

Just wanted to write back and let everyone know that a good dose of WD-40 in both carbs and directly into the cylinders before replacing the plugs corrected the problem. It might be worth mentioning that the dose to the carbs was left to sit overnight before replacing the plugs and successfully starting the gen. Thanks again to all... in this case WD-40 appears to have been the best choice. Mr D.
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