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Old 04-12-2006, 04:58 PM   #1
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1989 37' Airstream 370
Beverly Hills , Florida
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Talking Onan Genset not starting

Whilst cruising back home from Bikeweek at Daytona, my genset stopped running after about an hour. It started back up and ran for about another 30 minutes, then died again. I restarted it and it ran for about 15 minutes, dying again. After that, it wouldn't start.

It is an Onan NHE Emerald III 1989 genset in a 370 LE. The oil volume is correct and the oil is fresh. I replaced the spark plug even though it only had about 20 hours on it.

After perusing the Onan manual, I suspect some sort of fuel delivery problem. I started surgery today by removing the fuel line from the tank to try to remove the filter and fuel pump.. No luck. They are on tighter than Dick's hat band and won't budge.

I need more clearance to get more torque and to be able to disconnect the fuel pump, but in order to do that I need to pull the unit out. The manual tells me how to do that, but I was wondering if anyone has had any experience removing one and if they experienced any "gotchas" they could share. Also, any suggestions for further testing/troubleshooting would be appreciated.

Thanks........

Nick Danger, Third Eye
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Old 04-12-2006, 05:14 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Danger
...I need more clearance to get more torque and to be able to disconnect the fuel pump, but in order to do that I need to pull the unit out. The manual tells me how to do that, but I was wondering if anyone has had any experience removing one and if they experienced any "gotchas" they could share. Also, any suggestions for further testing/troubleshooting would be appreciated.
Nick:

Are you SURE there is a fuel pump in the tank?

I don't think any of the 345's have a pump in the tank - they are all mounted on the front of the Onan - looks to be about the size of a 1/2 liter water bottle - integral fuel filter (element no longer available).

I experienced the same symptoms on my NHE Onan with about 725 hours on the clock....new carb (the old jets were really eroded - as if there were a lot of air getting into the line), new points, plugs, and filters - but the oil pressure safety switches HAVE been known to kill the engine even when there was adequate oil pressure. The Onan manual calls out for a "head scrape" on occassion - have to remove the genset to get to the rear cylinder. I used a fork lift to remove the genny from the belly of the beast. I DO suspect that air was entering into the old and cracked rubber lines at various places between the fuel tank and the generator compartment.

PeterH gave me some advice - get rid of the Onan and replace it with a Honda water cooled unit - Peter has been there and done that - so I took advantage of his wisdom - traded the Onan for an 18' flat boat....anyone want to go fishing?

In all seriousness, there comes a time when any particular item NEEDS to be replaced on these antiques or soon to be antiques....engine, tranny, generator, water heater - whatever - they all have finite lives. I was tired of working on a generator with a bunch of hours waiting for the next sub-system to fail and having to go through the entire routine to trouble shoot and correct.

A new Honda was the right choice - now I just need the time to install it.

Like SNL's Roseanne Roseanna Dana's mama used to say - "Its always sumpin'".
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Old 04-12-2006, 07:09 PM   #3
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87MH is on the money........it might be time to give up the ghost on this one! If you are going to replace it...also take a hard look at the Generac RV units. Very well built and easy to work on (Hondas are a 'challenge'). V-Twin belt drive and everything is accessible from the front........what a joy. Onan even copied their V-Twin bottom belt drive system on their newer units!
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Old 04-13-2006, 01:37 PM   #4
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Has anyone tried a "Kipor" genset? their ads say they use Honda replacement parts. they seem cheeper.....
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Old 04-13-2006, 06:34 PM   #5
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Smile

Dennis........

Yeah, I'm SURE there's a fuel pump on my genset. It's attached to the fuel filter and the fuel delivery line to the carbuerator and has FACET ELECTRIC FUEL PUMP in big letters on it. It is attached to the genset housing on the starboard side as you are looking at the coach.

Remember, as I said in my post, I don't have a 345. I have a 370 LE.

Other than replacing it, does anyone else have any experience with a similar problem fix?

Thanks.........................
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Old 04-13-2006, 07:07 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by dye904
Has anyone tried a "Kipor" genset? their ads say they use Honda replacement parts. they seem cheeper.....
I believe that Kipor's are Chinese.....which isn't necessarily a bad thing these days! I just replaced my Parallax converter with a WFCO (also Chinese) and it is doing a much better job at charging the battery!!!!!

Kipor's might be worth a look for portables. I don't think they make an RV certified unit yet.
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Old 04-13-2006, 08:39 PM   #7
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Nick,
I've chased a number of no start, run then stop issues out of my Onan NH. Not sure if we have the same setups (345 vs. 370) but here goes.

First things first, check your fuel supply. I assume you know already that the genny's are plumbed to cut off at 1/4 tank (so you don't strand yourself in a WalMart overnight). If your tank is full and it still cuts out, start by removing the rubber fuel line into the pump and connect your fuel pump to a new hose into a plastic gas tank. Also consider adding a clear fuel filter in the host so you can "see" fuel moving.(not to mention catching anything that comes up from that old gas tank).

Other cheap things to check:

Run circuit fuse (these need to be "slow blow" fuses as regular fuses can get hot and burn out.)
Start circuit fuse
Points. These need regular adjustment
Oil pressure switch
R1 resistor
Plug wires
12V to the control box
Chaffed wires in the control box grounding out the 12v supply
Coil
Start Stop switches (remotes as well) for grounds and loose wires.
Carb cleaner, remove the carb take out the jets, clean it up, etc.

I also perform a compression check at each oil change just to keep a baseline on the cylinder performance.
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Old 04-14-2006, 06:02 AM   #8
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Thumbs up

Steven.........

Great tips.

Thanks.....
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Old 04-15-2006, 08:40 PM   #9
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Dye904, there was a post some time back about the so called Honda interchange with Kipor. I recall some parts only looked the same and did not do to well.
Lewster is right about the Generac RV gensets! I've got thousands of hours on my 40G Quietpac. I've only done one major service and just change oil and filter every 100-150 hours. I'm using Mobil 1 synth. in it and it runs all day every day when I'm on the road. I generally start it up about 7 a.m. and turn it off when I retire about 10 p.m.
Heck it's even only on it's second spark plug!
I paid $1350 back a couple of years ago from RVExit.com and that was shipped! I'm ready to let it go with my old bus and replace it with a new / same unit.
On the Onan... check the fuel line. I had a kink in mine that actually shut down the engine right after the generator.
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