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Old 11-13-2011, 05:00 PM   #1
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Suggestions on Starting Generator after sitting

I have an Onan 7kw genset in my 92 LY. I know that my LY has sat for at least a 1.5 years, maybe even more. There's only a 1/4 tank of gas in the coach's fuel tank right now. The coach's engine starts and runs fine but I'm concerned about just how old the fuel in the generator's fuel line is. I'm also unsure as to how much fuel is needed in the main tank to be able to run the generator. My plan was to fill the tank to over 1/2 full with fresh fuel with stabilizer added. I was then going to disconnect the fuel line from the genset and let the genset pump run until I get fresh gas. I'm also going to replace the oil filter and oil before I attempt a start.

Does anyone know how to get the genset fuel pump to turn on?

Any other suggestions on what to do before getting it started?
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Old 11-13-2011, 06:37 PM   #2
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I cannot provide specific suggestions for your particular generator but I can tell you that old fuel will create a build up of rubbish (for lack of a more technical term) and can eventually solidify in the bowl if left long enough. Likely you need to remove the carb and bowl and boil them out, then add fresh fuel. Many generators have a screw that allows you to drain the bowl when the generator is going to sit for awhile. Good luck.
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Old 11-13-2011, 06:50 PM   #3
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You're right fuel to the generator comes from the main tank above the 1/4 tank level, so good plan on filling to half. Seafoam should help, but it will take a bunch to treat 20 gallon diluted to 40. I would look at disconnecting fuel line from generator and feed from a small tank, but before trying to start take off the bowl and clean ports with carb cleaner.
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Old 11-13-2011, 06:57 PM   #4
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Change the engine oil and try to start it. If it runs OK then all is OK; if not then address the problem.

I have an Onan MicroQuiet 4000 which if it isn't "exercised" every month or so will gunk up the carburator which requires replacement of the carburator as it can't be cleaned.

On the other hand, old fuel won't necessarily cause a problem. I aquired a 1990 Lincoln Continental from a neighbor that had sat out in the weather and not been started for more than 3 1/2 years due to a bad starter relay. After replacing the relay the engine started after about 15 seconds of cranking, ran roughly for about 1 1/2 minutes and then settled down to a smooth idle. The fuel tank was about 1/3 full and I drove the fuel out before adding more. The Contenental only had 52,350 miles on it ......... I've now got over 88,000 trouble free miles on it.
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:42 PM   #5
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Ethanol in the gas is going to be the biggest problem. This stuff is evil on fuel systems that sit. Seafoam is good stuff. If it won't start pull the carb and clean all the gunk out of it. Chances are the jets are clogged. Also bad fuel will fowl the plug so you will probably need to change that. Once they get carbon on them, they are only good for throwing at a dog. I would put some miles on the coach to get the fuel system cleaned out with a couple of cans of Seafoam and then mess with the generator.

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Old 11-14-2011, 11:40 AM   #6
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good stuff here!

first, do an oil service including checking the air and fuel filters - see the maintenance manual for the genset on service intervals.

second, try to start and see if it goes. if it doesn't start, then maybe a small tank with a system cleaner like seafoam and, if that isn't enough, then you might need to do a bit of carb work.

third, check the fuel feed. The genset should have its own tank draw that is above tank bottom so it won't drain the tank - my B-Van genset was misinstalled to T off the main engine fuel feed and that is not a good thing.

Then, start to worry about the effects of modern fuel additives on small engines. Ethanol getting past 10% can be a problem, for instance.

It does get amazing what some folks get away with when it comes to ignoring gensets. Probably not good practice but it is a testament to the gensets resistance to abuse.
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:54 PM   #7
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Things made of metal and rubber don't like ethanol. Carburetors corrode when exposed to ethanol. Rubber swells and eventually falls apart.

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Old 11-14-2011, 03:13 PM   #8
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Hard Starting Generator

I also have a LY but a 93 with an Onen generator If I start it weekly I have no trouble with it but if it sits for a couple of months it won't start .
I have checked it and my trouble is getting fuel to the carb. The system uses an electric fuel pump and it has a fuel shut off solonoid . This Solonoid will only open to allow gas to flow as you turn the generator over trying to start it . After it starts the fuel shut off will remain open as long as the generator is running preventing the carb to flood over should it stall. Check and make sure it is pumping fuel out of the fuel line while you are turning the generator motor over . Do this by having someone turn it over while your holding the fuel line into a can . Be careful and have a fire extinguisher close by . If fuel comes out of the line , next check the carburator. If not Next check the fuel Solonoid then check the electric fuel pump . As you know the fuel tank should be half full . I hope this helps
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Old 11-14-2011, 04:31 PM   #9
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Generator

Ours is a Propane Onan and when it's been sitting, the only way it will start is from the generator itself. Apparently there is a volatage drop from the interior switch. The good thing is, propane doesn't seen to get old!
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Old 11-14-2011, 04:33 PM   #10
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Thanks
Don for that info. I knew that the main tank needed to be more then empty but was not sure if it was 1/2 or 1/4 tank. Most RV's that I've rented requiered 1/4 full. Not that I know it's supposed to more then 1/2, I'll make sure I fill the main tank to 3/4 full before I attempt the genset start. Good stuff guys!
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Old 11-15-2011, 02:30 AM   #11
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Propane is a great way to go with these generators I wish mine was hooked up to propane .
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:09 AM   #12
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Propane solves a lot of ills with generators that sit a long time between starts.

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Old 11-15-2011, 11:09 AM   #13
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I've heard that you will go through a lot of propane on extended periods without shore power when using a propane generator. I had a friend that had a diesel pusher with a propane genset. He ended up converting to a diesel unit because he was going through so much propane.

Agree with issues using a gas genset. I’ve thought about putting in a fuel cutoff valve before the unit to cause the unit to starve of fuel before long term storage. This way the carburetor will “clean it self out” before storage. I’d just run the generator until it purges the float bowl. At least then I wouldn’t be risking a carb rebuild every time I restart the unit.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:22 PM   #14
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A fuel cut-off switch sounds like a great idea. The Onan 6500 on my '89 345LE won't start, no matter which switch I try. Something else to work on. Don't you just love being an Airstream owner!
Thanks, Derek
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Old 11-16-2011, 01:43 PM   #15
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You can put a manual valve in the generator compartment and just go and shut the fuel off when you shut is down. Best not to load the generator during shut down.

Perry
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Old 11-16-2011, 06:26 PM   #16
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Yep, that's pretty much what I was planning on doing. Main fuel tank is almost at 3/4 full so I'll be attempting to start the genset some time this weekend. Been adding fuel with stabilizer at 5-gallon increments per day. The more I put fresh gas into her the better the engine starts and runs on the main coach. The ole 454 fires right up after a couple seconds of cranking and now has a very smooth idle. I'm hoping that the Onan follows suit.
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Old 11-16-2011, 06:31 PM   #17
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The bigger the carb jets the less of a problem you are going to have. The 454 has big jets so they are less likely to clog. I just finished cleaning the 4 carbs on my Concours 1000 motorcycle and it has 4 little tiny carbs with tiny jets that pick up stuff like mad.

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Old 11-21-2011, 07:41 AM   #18
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[QUOTE=92landyacht;1072633]I've heard that you will go through a lot of propane on extended periods without shore power when using a propane generator.

Our experience has been just the opposite. We think the propane lasts a long time. However, we use the same conservation steps as with water when dry camping. We use the generator sparingly. Fortunately the RV life style includes lots of outdoor activities, so we use the generator mainly once a day (mornings).
I suppose if we stayed parked with both A/C's running, the propane would be gone quickly,but that's not our idea of RVing. We also never use it while driving, because we have great dash A/C.
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Old 11-21-2011, 12:14 PM   #19
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IF your genni does not fire up and you dont have the expertise and parts to clean and rebuild your carb,I would strongly suggest you "LEAVE IT TO THE EXPERTS". I do small engine carbs everyday.ITS not just take em apart and clean.You must know where to clean and what to replace to afford trouble free operation.
Take it to an ONAN Dealer. It will not be cheap but it will be done rite and garunteed.
IF you plan on leaving you LY set for more than 30 days I strongly suggest you STA-BIL the fuel.1 1/2 OZ per 5 gallon of fuel. If you can afford it ADD STA-BIL and TOP OFF the tank.
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Old 11-21-2011, 12:55 PM   #20
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A good way to start engines that spend a lot of time sitting is to use an aerosol can of starting fluid (ether). The ether will fire off pronto and save a lot of cranking. Works like a champ.
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