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Old 09-01-2015, 07:31 AM   #1
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Onan Generator starts, run, then dies

As far as I can tell, the Gen starts up fine and runs for a while, around 10 minutes, then quits. After that, it starts, runs for about 10 seconds then quits. There's slow flashing red light on the gen set, but I can't make out what the text is beside this light. I suspect it's error codes but I can't make it out. Any suggestions please? I am ready to roll up my sleeves and become an Onan novice.
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Old 09-01-2015, 09:21 AM   #2
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Hard to nail down an issue without being there to see the conditions in person. But here goes a few suggestions of past experience with Onan's:

1. Does the unit have proper ventilation? Is it getting to hot? I was once camped in a spot with no power and my camper was on an incline putting the generator area very close to the ground. It was circulating hot air and causing the generator to run hot and shut down. I moved spots to a more level area with plenty of space for adequate ventilation and the unit run fine!

2. Is the fuel pump overheating? Once had an issue with the fuel pump running for awhile then the unit would just die. Wait a few minutes crank it up and it would run for seconds and just die. I took a rag and dipped it in ice water and wrapped it around the fuel pump for 5 minutes, removed it, cranked the generator, and it run fine for 10 or so minutes until the pump got hot again and it would die. After troubleshooting and determining the pump was bad I changed it out and was good to go afterwards.

3. Once had an issue were I would crank the generator and it would run for 15-30 minutes and die. I could never determine what or why it was doing so. Wouldn't crank after that until the next day. I happen to remove the gas cap from the tank for whatever reason and there was a fair amount of suction within the tank. Crank the generator without the cap on the fuel tank and it ran like a champ, put the cap on and it died 15-30 minutes later. Bought a new cap and was good to go.

4. A friends camper would run fine when first started up but soon after would run like it was starving for fuel. We literally pulled the entire thing down and checked everything and come up empty handed. He decided to change the fuel pump just to see and low and behold we found a kink in the fuel line behind the generator. Imagine that. This camper was new by the way.

5. Im sure you've already checked the oil level. Some generators will shutdown due to low oil.

It would really help if you could read the numbers by the red light in which you speak of. Most newer generators will give you a code and you can look them up in the manual and it will give you an idea of whats going on and where to start.

Some other info that might help members get you going: Fuel type, age, any recent issues, recent maintenance performed, generator size, fresh or old gas?

Small details could be a big help....
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Old 09-01-2015, 11:11 PM   #3
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How much fuel do you have in the tank? If low you might be right at the limit where it will start but not keep running.











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Old 09-02-2015, 02:18 AM   #4
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Sounds like fuel starvation to me. Mr. S has good advice. Does your gen have a fuel filter?
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:19 AM   #5
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You might want to check any flexible fuel lines too
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:30 AM   #6
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Tonight, I will check the fuel system. Here's a puzzler for me: I just replaced the engine batteries, wouldn't hold a charge. I measured the voltage on the house batteries and they were around 5V (they're 12V deep cycle). After I removed the house batteries and started up the RV, I tried to see if the Gen would run. It wouldn't even crank - are the house batteries what actually starts the diesel gen?
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Old 09-02-2015, 07:46 AM   #7
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Genset on 96 Clipper starts off the chassis batteries.

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Old 09-02-2015, 09:43 AM   #8
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OK, assuming the chassis batteries start the Gen, would it possible that the Gen dies because the chassis batteries are so low (5-6VDC)? I start the Gen by pressing the rocker switch that connects both sets of batteries.
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:08 AM   #9
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Low oil level?

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Old 09-02-2015, 10:49 AM   #10
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I was thinking oil pressure switch.
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:09 AM   #11
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I have the same moho year and model as yours. I also recently started having serious chassis battery issues. My solar array keeps my house batteries charged but my housekeeper forgot to flip the battery cut-off switch when she finished and the gardeners unplugged me from shore power. The batteries are less than two years old so instead of buying new batteries (which for some reason were damn near impossible to find in my town) I (after returning two that weren't powerful enough) bought a heavy-duty jumper/charger and let it charge overnight. After that everything seems to be working well again. From what I can tell on our model as well as Massey's '96 the generator starts off the chassis batteries. But your situation definitely sounds like a low gasoline situation. The generator cuts itself off at 1/4 tank or lower if I remember correctly.
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Old 09-02-2015, 03:25 PM   #12
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I know the MH diesel fuel tank reads full and with as little driving lately, I suspect it really is nearly topped off. I suspect the main (and only?) tank feeds both the engine and the generator right?

LucasS, tell me more about this cutoff switch please because I surely don't know if I have one or not.

The chassis batteries have a set of heavy cables going through one wall and another set from the adjacent storage bin which I assume is going to the Inverter, which is stored there.

Still will look at the gen fuel filter as the last time I had it checked/changed was about 3 years ago, and hopefully, the service center really did check/change it...

Gonna put 4-12V marine batteries in next month, maybe that will tell me something too.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:08 PM   #13
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Journey there are many things that can go wrong with a genset. I think genset power costs about $4 per KWH, due to genset life, fuel, & repair costs.

Many good tips already posted. My Onan 2800 had same symptoms. Tried every thing I could do.

Then took it to an Onan certified shop, NOT an RV dealer. Tested genset, took it apart. Bad igniter ! It is way down near the generator windings.
No other problems with genset for 10 years. Repair cost about $480, of that about $300 was labor, 4 hours.
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:07 PM   #14
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Simple Stuff

I don't have one of your type generator. But I have lots of gas engines around the house. None of them run very long with a clogged air filter. Secondly, the engine might start off the chassis battery but the control unit may run off the trailer batteries similar to the furnace, refrigerator and such. Your dead trailer batteries may be enough to control the start but not to keep it running. Charge the trailer batteries first and try it. Then the filter. Then the complicated stuff the other guys mentioned. DH
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