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Old 09-22-2005, 07:56 AM   #1
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Propane Generator Help Please

Hi,

I have searched the forums and can't find my exact problem, so I am asking for your help. I just got a 1982 280 Turbo Diesel with a 6.5 Onan propane generator. I am going to do my best to explain this as I am not remotely familiar with any of this.

The generator cranks and runs fine although it does seem to put out too much power when the a/c is not on (goes up on meter to about 130). We had the generator running, the front a/c on, and the meter showed about 116 at an outlet. We were told that both a/c's could run on the generator so we turned on the rear air. It did come on and the meter dropped to ab out 112. It ran for a few minutes and then the meter dropped to nothing. The a/c's were still running but there was no power to the outlets, or I guess to the motorhome other than the a/c's. Even with both a/c's off, there is no power showing on the meter plugged into an outlet when the generator is running. There is, however, 120 on the meter when the power cord is plugged in to power. I do not have the "plug" in the rear storage compartment where the manual says I would plug in the power cord. Instead I have a box there with wires and some electrical looking stuff in it and the power cord seems to be wired directly to that. I also have a solar charging system with the inverter under a bed.

Also, does the generator use power from the starting battery or the house batteries to crank?

Can anyone tell me where to start??? Please!!!
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Old 09-22-2005, 09:57 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snadi
Hi,
The generator cranks and runs fine although it does seem to put out too much power when the a/c is not on (goes up on meter to about 130).
A little high but not unreasonable especially with 116 at the receptacle
(insure that shore power is unplugged for the troublshooting phase of this project )

We had the generator running, the front a/c on, and the meter showed about 116 at an outlet

That is good but it may be shore power you are reading.

We were told that both a/c's could run on the generator so we turned on the rear air. It did come on and the meter dropped to ab out 112. It ran for a few minutes and then the meter dropped to nothing.
May be a breaker on the generator that is tripped.
There are typically two breakers, one goes to Coach transfer switch located in rear of coach. The other breaker goes to toggle switch that operates rear or forward AC. That toggle switch goes to second tranfer switch located in rear of coach

The a/c's (Both AC's or just rear AC?) were still running but there was no power to the outlets, or I guess to the motorhome other than the a/c's. Even with both a/c's off, there is no power showing on the meter plugged into an outlet when the generator is running.
Breaker on generator is tripped or your transfer switch is not working properly.

I have a box there with wires and some electrical looking stuff in it and the power cord seems to be wired directly to that.
That is your automatic transfer switch
I also have a solar charging system with the inverter under a bed.
Now you have really confused things....

Also, does the generator use power from the starting battery or the house batteries to crank?

House batteries

Can anyone tell me where to start??? Please!!!
Yes, turn key at ignition,
( I could not stand it )
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Old 09-22-2005, 10:50 AM   #3
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Thumbs up Smily saves the day!!!

Thanks so much Ken, you are a life saver!!!

After a short telephone call, Smily helped me to locate the "breakers" on the generator that I did not know about. Indeed one of them was tripped and after resetting it, everything works as it should. I will stick with one a/c for now.

What would one do without the forums and good airstreaming buddies like Smily!!!
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Old 09-23-2005, 06:30 AM   #4
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Congratulations on your purchase, you now own the best AS ever made!
I am happy your gen set problem was settled. One piece of advice is do not be afraid to run the generator, they need to be excercised. Also we that have the propane engines need to get the valves adjusted at regular intervals since they run a little hotter. Mine starts from the starter battery and not the house batteries.
I would be interested in how your solar panels are installed on your roof since that is one of my many wish list items.
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Old 09-23-2005, 07:07 AM   #5
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Hi again Chaplin Kent. I do feel that soon I will feel it is the best motorhome ever. So your generator is propane too! The manuals I have all refer only to gas models so that has made things difficult. My husband changed everything he could (spark plugs, wires, filters, oil) and I have the points for him to change but he hadn't done that before so he wasn't in a big rush to do that. Now it runs great for about a hour or so, with a load or without, then it starts what I think is called searching. The meter goes up and down between about 108 and 130 or so (not much out of the green area on the meter) and I can hear the engine change each time it goes up and down. Sometimes changing the load will make it stop and sometimes it won't. When it starts this, I have let it do it for about 5 or 10 minutes and then it makes me uncomfortable, so I cut it off. Any ideas?

Thanks again.
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Old 09-23-2005, 07:08 AM   #6
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Per my manual, my generator also starts from my starter battery. As for the solar panels, I will post some photos as soon as I get some made.
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Old 09-23-2005, 07:19 AM   #7
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Maybe

Now that I think about it, mine may be starter battery. I guess when I noticed that my house batteries were weak, my generator will not start. I assumed that my generator was hooked to house battery. But..... my starter battery is electrically parrallel to the house batteries.
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Old 09-23-2005, 07:31 AM   #8
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I actually replaced my starter battery last night. I had noticed that trying to start the generator seemed to drain whatever battery it was using pretty quickly. Since I think my solar monitoring "stuff" monitors the house batteries and they were always charged, I figured the started battery needed replaced. While my husband was doing the changing of the battery, I found in the manual that the generator starts on the starter battery but I had been confused as to why the motorhome engine had no problem starting. I then found in the manual that gas motorhomes have a switch that you can use to pull power from all batteries to start the engine, but in the diesel it automatically pulls from the starter and house batteries to start the engine. This would explain the motorhome engine starting easily when the generator seemed to not get enough power to start. Isn't it amazing what you can find out when you read the directions!!! My husband says only women read directions though.
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Old 09-23-2005, 10:32 AM   #9
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engine rev

I still think you have a problem with the idle control for the generator, or is there a control for the output? Your voltage shouldn't vary that much from what I've read. Others can chime in (as I really don't know too much about the generator), but my Honda is rock steady with it's idle and power output. 130 volts is too high IMHO.
Marc
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Old 09-23-2005, 10:47 AM   #10
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There is an idle control but I haven't tackled that yet. I must first read the instructions! The odd thing is that is runs very smoothly for a while, over an hour, then for no apparant reason starts the 'searching'. I hope to look into this over the weekend.
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Old 09-23-2005, 02:29 PM   #11
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Hi Sandi,
When the Gen revs up, it is supplying more amps for some reason. I found that weak bulk batteries made my generator dwell like that. I fully charged my bulk batteries and then load tested each one, they all failed! After I replaced them, it runs much better. I also found that the solar panel on mine is a 10 watt panel. That woud be just about enough to cover the memory of my sterio, good for maintaining but too small for charging ability. depending on what charger you have, it will electronically switch on bulk charge and rev the generator when needed. Lastly, if you are not plugged up to a/c power, don't leave anything running when you are not in your RV. It literally kills the bulk batteries. Mine has the main battery switch that I use religiously when I'm exiting the coach.

-Cheers, Keith
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Old 09-25-2005, 06:03 PM   #12
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Thanks for the suggestions. We replaced the starter battery but have not checked the coach batteries. I will add this to my husband's list. I don't know alot about the solar system yet, but I do have 3 panels. I have no idea if that makes any difference or not but it does seem to charge well when not plugged in, with just the solar working.
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