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Old 06-25-2014, 05:16 AM   #1
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Tips for 1st Oil change in generator

I know this isn't difficult but thought I would get some tips before I tackled the first change in the propane genny. Ideally I could just take it somewhere but Mercedes dealership doesn't deal with Onan, and the closest Onan servicers not set up to lift a sprinter.

I have looked at the owners manual, seems straight forward to remove the drain plug and replace about a quart. No filter to mess with. But a few questions to run by those who have done it already:
  • Is it best to remove the spare beforehand?
  • The access panel is shown in the manual, I can't tell if that is up against the spare or curb/party side.
  • Is the drain plug fore or aft? (so would it make sense to have the Interstate at an incline or overhang to facilitate draining/making room underneath)
  • Planned to use 10w30. I would use the Onan stuff but it is pretty much impossible to find anywhere and is probably the same thing just 5 times more expensive.
  • I've seen prior posts about the turkey baster method. Any other tricks/tips before I get under there?
Thanks all,
Brian
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:58 AM   #2
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You could consider getting something like this. A vacuum pump is used by most foreign auto shops for oil changes, as most upper end cars have at least a partial belly pan that you'd have to remove to access a drain plug. I have a vacuum pump, and use it for oil changes on my cars and even my Sprinter, as well as my generator and snowblower. If you can access the oil filler cap, you can easily change the oi.
BTW-the first time I used the pump to change the oil in my Sprinter, I then climbed under and pulled the drain plug. Not a drop was left inside. I think the vacuum does a better job of oil removal than gravity does. When the last bit of oil has been removed, you hear the vacuum sucking air and whatever else is left in the sump.
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:56 AM   #3
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Although I don't have an Interstate, I do have an ASCL 31' with an onboard Onan Microquiet 4000 genset operating within a very tight enclosure. I agree with the vacuum method of oil change if access to the drain plug is difficult. I don't agree with the 10W-30 oil, especially if it is non-synthetic.

ASSuming your genset is air cooled, it is set up much more loosely than a liquid cooled engine and thus a more viscous oil is beneficial. I personally use Mobil 1 (fully synthetic) 15W-50 in mine and have over 1,000 hours on it.

The synthetic oil will degrade less under the high temperatures that air cooled engines in enclosed spaces operate and the 50 viscosity will keep the internals from making contact at those temperatures where a 30 viscosity would thin too much.
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Old 06-25-2014, 09:40 AM   #4
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While I haven't changed mine yet, I did pull in my driveway until the rear axle was just on the driveway which left the generator hanging over the street. This gave me about 6 inches more clearance and looks like it would be easy to change at that point.
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Old 06-25-2014, 12:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by 73shark View Post
While I haven't changed mine yet, I did pull in my driveway until the rear axle was just on the driveway which left the generator hanging over the street. This gave me about 6 inches more clearance and looks like it would be easy to change at that point.
This may help; although I have ramps, to raise a whole vehicle I cut 2 each 6 foot 4" X 4"s in half at a 30 degree angle which allows me to ramp all 4 wheels onto the 4" X 4"s. It's inexpensive and will raise the whole vehicle ~3.5".
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Old 06-25-2014, 12:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert claus View Post
You could consider getting something like this. A vacuum pump is used by most foreign auto shops for oil changes, as most upper end cars have at least a partial belly pan that you'd have to remove to access a drain plug. I have a vacuum pump, and use it for oil changes on my cars and even my Sprinter, as well as my generator and snowblower. If you can access the oil filler cap, you can easily change the oi.
BTW-the first time I used the pump to change the oil in my Sprinter, I then climbed under and pulled the drain plug. Not a drop was left inside. I think the vacuum does a better job of oil removal than gravity does. When the last bit of oil has been removed, you hear the vacuum sucking air and whatever else is left in the sump.
I have seen one of those in a boat shop.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:23 PM   #7
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Everyone in here has such good ideas. And the great part is I have an electric oil pump already which I used for a boat I sold long ago. I have a case of Mobile 1 in the garage already as I got that for an eventual oil change for the sprinter but decided I would not do my own oil changes until the warranty was out. And lastly I had to rebuild my deck earlier this spring and have 4 6x6 posts I didn't have the heart to send to the dump which will be perfect to use as Withidl suggests.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:36 PM   #8
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Since the Sprinter uses Mobil 1 ESP which costs more, I'd suggest getting regular Mobil 1 for the generator.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:44 PM   #9
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This is my first picture so hopefully I did it correctly and it will show up here. I'm assuming this is the panel I need to remove to access the oil dipstick location?

Brian
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:53 PM   #10
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The Cummins/Onan owner's manual has a table on page 6, that says for expected ambient temperatures between 10°F and 100°F (which covers most of us) the correct oil viscosity is SAE 15W-40.

For those who have to deal with really cold winters, for temperatures from -20°F to 50°F they recommend using SAE 5W-30 oil. In both cases, they also recommend using API performance grades SJ, SH, or SG, and performance class CH-4, CG-4, or CF-4.

By the time you match viscosity, performance grade and performance class, you'll spend all danged day in the motor oil aisle of your local Walmart reading labels to find the right oil.

The manual also recommends their proprietary OnaMax™ brand. I use OnaMax mainly because there's a Cummins dealer not five miles from my home so it's easy for me to stop in there and pick it up. It's worth paying the extra price to avoid having to spend all that time reading labels with my developing cataracts.
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Old 06-25-2014, 04:17 PM   #11
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Thanks Protag. I have to agree with your logic on that. It wasn't there before but I just checked Amazon and they are carrying it now. It is criminal to charge almost $11 for a quart of oil but I guess I'll pay it.

Brian
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