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Old 02-17-2009, 08:30 AM   #1
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Generator in pickup w/shell?

If I have a diesel truck, it would be nice to have a diesel generator, and leverage the ample fuel tank in the truck somehow. I'm looking at putting a shell on the truck, which would be dedicated for hauling around an Airstream and plenty-o-stuff, and no one would ever be in there except while fetching stuff.

I would like to approach motorhome convenience - charge batteries, shutdown when batteries charged, start up when load or battery level demands. I can give up those features as needed when reality kicks in.

Ideally, I permanently install a diesel generator in the truck bed. It doesn't have to be a big one - 2500 to 3000 watts. It may not be possible. I have some questions...

1) Can it be done?
2) Where does the exhaust go?
3) Can a fuel pump arrangement be made to pull from the truck tank?
4) Can I keep a couple of batteries w/inverter in the truck bed too?

What do you think about that?

-CB-
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:30 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by cbgenrich View Post
If I have a diesel truck, it would be nice to have a diesel generator, and leverage the ample fuel tank in the truck somehow. I'm looking at putting a shell on the truck, which would be dedicated for hauling around an Airstream and plenty-o-stuff, and no one would ever be in there except while fetching stuff.

I would like to approach motorhome convenience - charge batteries, shutdown when batteries charged, start up when load or battery level demands. I can give up those features as needed when reality kicks in.

Ideally, I permanently install a diesel generator in the truck bed. It doesn't have to be a big one - 2500 to 3000 watts. It may not be possible. I have some questions...

1) Can it be done?
2) Where does the exhaust go?
3) Can a fuel pump arrangement be made to pull from the truck tank?
4) Can I keep a couple of batteries w/inverter in the truck bed too?

What do you think about that?

-CB-
Diesel generators are heavier than gas/propane. They usually do start until 5KW (5000 watts) Much more than you will need.
You can do it but other than the diesel supply why? I have diesel truck and I carry to honda EU2000is's. Each can be carried by myself.
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:21 AM   #3
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Michelle, you have two generators that you can run together, right? How many gallons of gasoline do you carry around, in what type of container(s), and how long does that run?

This Onan RV QD 3200 is 3000 watts, electric / remote start. Something that would go in the generator prep area of a 5th wheel, dry weight of 205 lbs.

I don't know if Onan's automatic start/stop on load / low battery control works with this generator, but remote start/stop with endless fuel supply would be sweet in itself.

Ideally I would like to be able to run a couple of computers, a satellite Internet service, and various networking gear with minimal power interruptions. The whole group wouldn't pull more than 500 watts probably, but I would drain a couple of batteries a couple of times during the course of a day's work. But I don't want to run a generator all the dang time, or be refueling a couple of times a day. Just speaking ideally.

Do people install RV generators like these in pickups? Maybe there's a thread already with these answers?

-CB-
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:50 AM   #4
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CB, This is what I have done. I have a Yamaha 3000 (if I was doing it again I would get a Yamaha 4500) I mounted it on a slide for easy maintenance and in these pics I had a booster fan in the exhaust to a dryer vent on the top but that burnt up after 30 hours running so I put a Fantastic Fan in the top and haven't had any problems. I have a slider window in the front of the cap for fresh air and I am going to convert it to propane this spring, it should run 72 hours on 2 30 lb. tanks, there is a wired remote to the rear of the truck for the fan and I am going to get a wireless remote for the gen. when I convert to propane. When I did the work on the trailer I put in a power port on the front so I can hook up and run the gen. while still hooked up to the trailer even while going down the road if I want.

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Old 02-17-2009, 10:51 AM   #5
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

I guess it could be doable, but you will have to over come some potential problems.

There is a guy here on the Forums who runs a gas generator in the back of his capped pick-up. He uses a Fantastic Fan in the roof of the cap to vent the exhaust. You could also fabricate an exhaust pipe out through the roof.

As far as getting fuel from the tow vehicle's tank, that might be a little more difficult. Generators generally don't have fuel pumps; they utilize gravity or siphon feed. You would have to add an electric fuel pump as the truck's fuel tank would be lower than the generator. It could be done, but I would consider a saddle tank that can be filled from the exterior of the vehicle.

You may have trouble finding a quiet diesel generator in the 3000 watt range. My son has a 4000 watt diesel generator that sounds like 2 freight trains at close range.

You would also have to consider getting to the generator for maintenance. If you use it a lot, oil changes come quickly.

I use 2 Honda 2000's and a six gallon auxiliary gas tank. this system works great, and I can handle the weight. I tow with a Suburban now, but if I ever go to a pick-up, I will try running them in the truck bed with an exhaust fan.

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Old 02-17-2009, 11:04 AM   #6
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Genset In Truck Bed

CB,

This was my solution to the question you posed.

I have the 3000w Yamaha and run it off of propane to avoid spillage, fumes, etc. David Tidmore installed a circuit board in the genset and a plug that goes to the trailer. This enables me to control the genset from inside my trailer.

I will try to describe what I have done as best as possible. I will be home in a couple of weeks and will see if Vaughn can take some pics and post them for you.

I have a F-350 with an A.R.E topper that is even with the truck cab and slopes higher towards the tailgate.

I have a shelf installed at the front of the bed that is about 1/3rd the length of the bed to improve storage.

A friend of ours built a steel mesh box with a come-along mounted to the top that will hold our genset and lock. This is bolted to the bed of the truck. The come along and a dog ramp enables one person to load/unload the genset.

He also designed a false gate made of steel mesh that is bolted inside the tailgate. It drops down just as the regular tailgate does for loading and unloading. He made an opening to run the cord through to the AS from the genset. This inner gate stays locked to the door of the topper. This prevents theft of anything in the bed. If we stop somewhere to sleep we do not have to unload and secure the genset. We open the side windows on the topper(We insert a piece of metal in the track to prevent the windows from being fully opened.) and plug a fan into the genset to blow the fumes out the tailgate and keep good air circulation for the genset.

We also carry all of our outdoor supplies in the bed along with a propane tank for the genset. I did not want to rearrange things to fit the water carrier in the bed (the water bladder that is like a water bed mattress from CW) so I also ask him to make a steel rack over the front sloped portion of the topper with rails that would accommodate this and prevent it from moving when inertia kicked in.

This method may not be satisfactory to some. Drilling and boting things to the bed does not bother me since I buy used vehicles and keep them for along time. I had my last truck 15 yrs. So drilling and bolts are pretty much a non-issue by the time I trade.

Hope this helps.

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Old 02-17-2009, 11:14 AM   #7
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A permanent mount in the truck is a very good solution for the trailer power needs. You can keep it reasonably quiet and also keep the exhaust well away from the RV as well. This is similar to what I am doing with a B-Van.

The AC power to the trailer can be rigged with a 10/3 power cord and the signals for starting and monitoring can run in another plug-in cable. It is a pain in that most trailers have the AC plug near the rear but you'd want to run a separate line and a transfer switch, anyway. You might want to figure out how to set up a truck cab control so you could fire up the genset and the trailer RV while on the road to cool down the trailer when planning for a rest stop.

A battery bank for the genset can be a good auxiliary RV 12v supply fed via the existing wiring to the trailer. They would be kept charged by either running the truck or by the genset. You could also put a couple of solar panels on the truck shell and then you could keep the trailer in the shade and still get good solar contribution to your energy needs.

Do take care to have a proper fuel feed for the genset so it won't run your tank dry.

With a setup like this, you'd probably want a 3 to 5 kw genset. You are talking about a load of up towards 500# and this needs to be as far forward as possible and properly balanced for best handling.

I haven't seen much about this sort of thing for trailers but it seems that borrowing ideas from the Class A world, where it is very common, could make for very convenient trailer power.
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Old 02-17-2009, 12:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by cbgenrich View Post
Michelle, you have two generators that you can run together, right? How many gallons of gasoline do you carry around, in what type of container(s), and how long does that run?

This Onan RV QD 3200 is 3000 watts, electric / remote start. Something that would go in the generator prep area of a 5th wheel, dry weight of 205 lbs.
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-CB-
I have two generators that can be parralled. Giving me 26 Amps (3100 Watts) of power. That will run the AC if necessary. I fill each generator and carry 2.5 gallons of extra Gas. She will run depending on load 3.5 to 8 hours. total weight about 100 lbs.
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:05 PM   #9
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The Onan I mentioned, the RV QD 3200 (PDF) has 3200 watts, weighs 205 lbs, "electric fuel pump", "automotive type starter", and "meets National Park Service sound level requirements". It's 30"L x 17"W x 18"H. The exhaust appears to come out the bottom?

Anyhow, maybe I should just go with a gasoline genset or two, and get a gasoline pickup (like a V10). Siphon the gas, fill the tanks, pull the cord to start, go outside to stop, let the genset's inverter drive the Airstream's converter to charge the house batteries, and use laptops to avoid the worst of the power failure issues. Roughing it, as it were. I'm OK with it if that's how it ends up, just looking at my options.

Thanks for the helpful comments. I look forward to reading more. It's very helpful.

-CB-
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:20 PM   #10
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i just purchesed a 1974 argosy moterhome in ohio. i live in kentucky and it has to be inspected by the sheriff to change the title. there is no serial number on the dash . the manual ststes there is one on the toe panel . please help me find the toe panel or can i have a new sticker made for the dash thaks john
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:22 PM   #11
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please excuse the spelling ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 02-18-2009, 09:19 PM   #12
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What about LP gensets. You have a large supply already, so no constant refilling to mess with. If I could put an remote electric start LP genset on my Airstream, that would meet many of my goals.

This Onan LP genset has those features, 2500 watts, weighs 113 lbs., 24" x 16" footprint.

Could that be put on an Airstream?

-CB-
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Old 02-18-2009, 09:49 PM   #13
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CB,

I run my genset on LP. I keep a 30 lb LP tank in the bed of my truck. The control panel for my genset is mounted underneath the thermostat controls inside my AS.

The 30A plug for my genset is at the front of my trailer. This is how I can plug in the genset to the AS without having to take it out of my TV bed. David installed a second line that goes from the genset to the front of the trailer. This is the line that connects the genset to the interior control panel.

It was done by David Tidmore while he was at Roger Williams. You can check and see if they are still doing this install.

So to answer your question - Yes it can be done.

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Old 02-19-2009, 07:45 AM   #14
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Interesting approach ... I note that as compared to small Honda and Yamaha generators, both of the Onan gensets are pertty noisy, but also note that the diesel one does have its own electric fuel pump, so all you need is a tie-in to truck's fuel supply. Those of us with diesel tvs have probably all thought of this question, 'cause with a genset, we've otehrwise gotta' haul along gasoline or tap into the trailer's propane system (which is what I'm planning to do).

If I were you, I'd consider whether I couldn't do most of what you want to do with solar. 2-3 panels on Airstream roof and 2-3 on topper roof, with battery bank in truck bed, would give you the wattage you need, and are silent. Do you really need 500 watts? How about 300-400? Can you get away with mostly daytime usage? If so, solar will do the trick for you almost all the time during decent weather. But it won't run your A/C, however, if that's important to you.

Do let everyone know what you decide, as this is a popular issue.
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