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Old 04-11-2002, 01:03 PM   #1
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Angry Generator Problems

The short of it is it will not start.

I have an Onan 4.0

When we left mystic spring it would start but ran REALLY rough, sounded like a lack of fuel issue. I have an in line filter prior to the main filter/pump on the generator; I changed this with no luck.

After reading the owners manual and the troubleshooting charts I have to assume that the main needle valve has worked loose or tightened up???

So I gingerly screwed it in and backed it off the 1.5 turns the manual calls for, and now I cannot even get it to start.

I replaced the plugs last night. The old ones were as black as tar (rich, huh).

After attempting to start with the new plugs I pulled one and there is fuel getting into the engine.

I can get it to start with starting fluid/choke cleaner so I know I have spark.

Do I continue to try this myself ?? Take it to an Onan shop $$$???

Suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-11-2002, 05:11 PM   #2
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Gen set checks

I would advise you to discover your equiptment. Any repair is based on risk versus gain. Be all that you can be. The plugs were telling you some very good info. Plugs tell the story of the combustion chamber. Your engine must be too rich. Most small engines run rich because of just a few reasons. The most common too rich situation is caused by the auto choke is not opening completely after warmup. The linkage gets rusty and sticky. Find the choke plate and flood the linkage with a penetrating oil. The choke is merely a plate that closes off inlet air to engine. The next fuel adjustment would be the main metering jet located under the fuel bowl of the carb. While checking the engine and functions, remove all the aircleaner and ductwork. The carb main jet should be turned tighter just till the needle touches it's seat. Now back out the needle about 1.5 turns. This should allow enough fuel to start. The next item to check is the ignition points. This is the biggest weak link of this gen set. The points need to be adjusted to .017 with a feeler gage. Remove the sparkplugs, reconnect to their heavy plug wire, lay sparking end on any sheetmetal and spin the engine, noting the color of the spark. The color indicates the plug adjustments as well as the point setting. The color that is the best is a big fat blue zapp. A small yellow color is a weak spark. While plugs are removed, coat the threads with any anti-sieze lube. Most small engines have aluminium heads and the plugs are steel. Ya know that old galvanic action, electrolisis. Frank
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Old 04-16-2002, 09:58 PM   #3
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My generator won't start now either and I just spent 250$ at onan to have it all tuned and check ran good for for about 5 hours then it died. Won't start, then I got it started by not letting up on the start button. It ran 30 seconds real rough and now nothing. The only clue to what is wrong is that as it died it shot out blueish smoke from the inside top where the plug is on the back side. I say I have a blown head gasket. Onan says it might be and then told me a ball park figure of 530$ or so to fix it. What do you guys think?
Paul..
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Old 04-16-2002, 10:27 PM   #4
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I would say it is time for a compression check, and maybe a head gasket.
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Old 04-16-2002, 11:17 PM   #5
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Gen set Answers

Paul, Ya gotta get the last guy to warranty his work.. If this is not possible, you can do head gaskets easily. This job must be the easiest task there is to do. Onan is a great gen set builder, but their equiptment is really old technology. Honda is the leader and their engines are great. No old farm tractor engines for that group. That said, all the gen set makers build units based on lowest cost. The engine designs are usually a 100 years old, and are usually valve in block. To replace the head gaskets is very simple. Remove the sheet metal cooling trim, carefully noting every bolt length, size, and locations. The heads are in sight. Remove heads and check for straightness, replace gaskets and reassemble. Any parts needed should be gotten from small engine replair shop of good auto parts stores. The guy at the lawn mower shop may become your best friend. He will even show and tell if you pay for information. I would recommend getting a factory parts and repair book for your specific model. The major makers are on the net some where. In many service books, the makers recommend removing heads for any carbor build up. All the makers do not make enough of any product to have their own dedicated filters and maintainence parts, so there are many filters that fit from cars and trucks. Our old FWD GMC with a Onan used filter for a toyota truck. Onan's price $12.50, discount auto parts $2.50. IN closing....Do your home work Frank
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Old 04-17-2002, 08:39 PM   #6
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Are you telling me that the whole genset does not have to come out ? I can reach all bolts in both heads from one side? All I have to do is remove the shields and there the head is, waiting to be repaired? It can't be that easy. I know can't never did nothin. (I teach middle school)..is it really that easy?

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Old 04-17-2002, 10:21 PM   #7
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Gen set repair

Paul friend, I would not tease you. This is not a very difficult task. Get the book about your generator. When this task is done you will have gained much more than a repair. This gotta be easier than teaching a kid about math. Look at this job as a worst case senario. You take lots of parts off and are stuck.... go to the small engine shop and talk, talk, and draw pictures. I'll be here for a while. Like they say " I'll talk ya thru the job". Get the books and ask me lots of questions before ya turn a bolt. Look at the gen set hand book. Tell me the make model, wattage and etc... Send a personal note. Frank

The engine in picture is really hard to tune up....
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Old 04-18-2002, 08:41 AM   #8
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Frank, is that engine mounted in that configuration are do you have it off the mounts and turned up on its side? I was curious about oil getting into the lower bank of cylinders. Is it a dry sump ?
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Old 04-18-2002, 09:49 AM   #9
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Aword of encouragement form a fellow school Teacher- I have repaired items on my old Porsche that were supposed to cost hundreds of dollars, and I jumped in with a lot of careful wrench turning and replaced them myself for a fraction of the cost. I did the master cylinder for 100 bucks total, with warranty on the part- and the a/c fan motor for free- got the part from a mechanic who did not need it. I had been quoted 400 for the master alone.
The generator might be a good place to get your feet wet as they say- because a mistake won't leave you any worse off than you are now...and won't leave you on the side of the road unless you forget to hook back a fuel line.
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Old 04-18-2002, 11:58 AM   #10
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Generator

When we first got our MH 310 Deisel w/turbo the propane generator didn't run smooth we took it to Onan and they serviced and set it. The fact that we were new to the whole thing we will use as an excuse, but we didn't run it regularly as we are now told to do, with a load after about 2 min. warm up. Last year before a trip to Rapid City it was surgeing and running rough. Onan came out and changed the Propane regulator. It works great now I haven't taken apart the old regulator to see the inside but what ever was going on is now fixed.
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Old 04-18-2002, 08:52 PM   #11
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Guys, Thanks for your support I am thinking about doing it myself, I just need personal time to do it. I have too much on my plate and at the moment. When school is out and before I have to start back this summer. I have about four days of vacation I think.

Frank, thanks, I will be talking to ya...soon.
Paul...
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Old 04-19-2002, 02:24 PM   #12
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Paul- I saw your photos posted, and wondered what the interior layout is on your 310. I have the 280, rear bath, model.
Wondered if it is noticeably different from mine. Thanks(posted in the wrong area I know!!
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Old 04-13-2003, 07:12 PM   #13
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When I started this thread I was concerned I was going to have to get a new Generator. I took the coach to the local RV place and they did points and adustedt the unit so it ran great. Well, it has been about 100 hours and now it is acting up again. It will start, run, and without a load it will miss occasionally. After running with a load for a while the Generator will just die. I pulled the plugs and they were black again, rich again. I am going to go out after dark and see if I have a bad plug wire, but I am hoping the problem is not deeper. The other symptom that causes me concern is that there seems to be some oil dischage at the edge of the tailpipe

So now what does the collective experience have in the way of advice????
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Old 04-13-2003, 08:06 PM   #14
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brett

is the spark plug sooty black or oily black?

if it is soot, then you are too rich, if it is oil, then it is time for rings and valve guides.

either way it is still cheaper than a new gen set.

do a compression check and compare it to the manual. and go from there.

john
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