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Old 09-26-2009, 03:33 PM   #1
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Propane powered Onan won't start

We got busy last summer building a new barn for "The Roadhouse" and'
didn't start the Onan. Know it just cranks an cranks. Refridge and water heater work fine on propane, but not the Onan.
Any suggestions for someone who is basically afraid of propane?
I've been told that holding the start button keeps it choked, but worry about to much unburned propane gas.
First trip this summer was without the generator, but would like to do some dry camping this fall. Your experience and advice is always appreciated here.
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Old 09-26-2009, 04:41 PM   #2
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A propane-powered Onan should fire in 5 seconds. Onan went to electronic ignition at some time and RV people have told me over the years how lucky I am to still have points. The tune-up for propane-powered gen-sets is not a big deal: new plug, oil and filter. Your coach looks pretty fresh, so the cable from the starting battery to the gen-set should not be worn , yet, it could be. I'd be looking at the ignition after checking the above.
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Old 09-26-2009, 04:41 PM   #3
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Although obvious, make sure the propane is turned on at the tank. They usually turn it off when they fill the tank and it is a seperate valve from the rest of the house because it runs on liquid gas instead of vapor. I would just about bet it isn't getting propane to it, they are very dependable. Be sure to check the oil, it may have an automatic shut off if it is low on oil. Sometime it has a winter/ summer switch on the air filter, I don't think that would keep it from starting. Like I said, this as all obvious stuff but a place to start looking anyway. Good luck, I'll post more ideas if they come to me.
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Old 09-26-2009, 06:08 PM   #4
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Umm, I think they said fridge & hot water worked; they have propane.
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Old 09-26-2009, 06:33 PM   #5
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Umm, I think they run off of seperate valves...
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Old 09-26-2009, 08:07 PM   #6
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I'm guessing spark, because I don't think propane should foul the carbruator or the plug. Is that true?
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Old 09-26-2009, 08:34 PM   #7
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That is true. Propane burns very clean. You should be able to check the spark easily. If it is getting propane spark is the next thing to check. Please keep me informed on what you find.
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Old 09-26-2009, 08:50 PM   #8
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Just wondering, are you trying to start it from the remote or at the generator. Is it trying at all to start or just cranking? Is it cranking fast enough? Sometime the starter drags a little bit if it hasn't been used in a while and turns too slow to stat the motor. I know all this is random but you never know.
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Old 09-27-2009, 05:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Dobbin View Post
We got busy last summer building a new barn for "The Roadhouse" and'
didn't start the Onan. Know it just cranks an cranks. Refridge and water heater work fine on propane, but not the Onan.
Any suggestions for someone who is basically afraid of propane?
I've been told that holding the start button keeps it choked, but worry about to much unburned propane gas.
First trip this summer was without the generator, but would like to do some dry camping this fall. Your experience and advice is always appreciated here.
Paul,
Not familiar with propane generators, but like gas generators does there have to be a certain amount of propane volume in the tank before it will start?
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Old 09-27-2009, 05:56 PM   #10
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Paul,
Not familiar with propane generators, but like gas generators does there have to be a certain amount of propane volume in the tank before it will start?
Would hope the OP would have checked for that; the gen set likes lots of propane, where the fridge and stove will run on very little.
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Old 09-27-2009, 06:07 PM   #11
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Has to be 1 of two things FIRE OR FUEL , I not familiar with that fuel system but if its like propane powered tow motors it should have a spring loaded button on the evaporator that you can purge the system with or crack the in line and see it there is propane there.(NO SMOKING PLEASE) Be careful wear heavy gloves.
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Old 09-27-2009, 06:27 PM   #12
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I've been kind of lurking on this thread.

The first thing I check on any non diesel engine is the ignition. Personally I have had more problems with ignition systems than fuel, especially with propane or natural gas.

Do you have a spark?
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:26 AM   #13
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Have any of you converted propane gensets to gasoline? I've been thinking about doing that to my onan because of difficulty getting propane on the road. My sob MH has a built in propane tank and it is almost impossible to keep propane in it when traveling. The propane station, if they have one, is usually on the wrong side of the rig, and when you are towing a car backing up is not an option. I ordered the proper gas carburator from onan and am about to give it a try. My rig is diesel but I have room to mount a gas tank near the generator. Any thoughts?
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Old 09-28-2009, 07:21 AM   #14
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Actually a motor requires 4 things to run - air, fuel, ignition and compression.

I agree that I have by far more had trouble with ignition than the other three combined and that's where I would start. If you have a computerized ignition it may take a timing light with an inductive pickup to find out if you're getting a spark or not, since the old trick of cranking a motor with the spark plug out to see if it's sparking can damage the computer.
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