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Old 09-20-2013, 02:10 PM   #1
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Default New (old) Roadtrek owner

I have recently bought an older roadtrek and have a few questions if anyone can help.

The generator will fire right up and cycle a couple of times and die. It is a Onan. I am thinking it is not getting gas. I can not get to the bottom of the gas filter to change it without taking the set out of the van. Any thoughts?

Also, the coach air won't cool. Can these little units be charged and or replaced easily?

Thanks for any info that can be provided.

Bill
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Old 09-20-2013, 06:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

Welcome to the forum Bill.

Often problems with an Onan 2800 are carburetor related. It get "gunked" up from not being used regularly. The Onan should be run for two hours every month.

I've read reports of using Sea Foam Motor Treatment http://seafoamsales.com/sea-foam-motor- ... e-engines/ to clean the carb enough to get it working. It's worth trying that first.

Re: air conditioner

Apparently you can put in a valve (after cutting the copper pipe) to recharge window type air conditioners but most people replace the air conditioner.

This link: http://www.classbforum.com/phpBB2/do...file.php?id=80 is for a PDF file that has instructions on how to replace the air conditioner in a Roadtrek. I think it is from around 2000 so it may not be for your model but should give you an idea of the work involved.
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

I've talked with a HVAC guy about adding Freon to try to recharge the A/C. No matter how good the sweat job is, it will leak on one of those taps. Unfortunately, it is one of those cases where it probably needs to be replaced because of the refrigerant changes and other stuff.

The Onan is likely fixable. Some people get very lucky with Seafoam, as it helps both the vehicle engine and the generator. Others might have to drop the generator and see about a new carb.
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:37 PM   #4
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

Thanks guys, I appreciate the info. My roadtrek is a 1995 Chevy that will be used mostly for camping but also for tailgaiting etc. I'll post back with some results.

Bill
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Old 09-20-2013, 08:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

Make sure there's enough oil in it. If it gets too low, they won't run, auto-shutdown. You should be able to get to the little cap/dipstick combo, but be careful, as they have been known to come apart, and fall into the lower part of the cover, or worse. Here's a thread about that.
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1316&hilit=onan+dipstick

If it's the carb, I have had good results cleaning out the carb on my lawn mower (same type of engine as a generator, or so I've been told), and resolving minor fuel system hiccups in my Roadtrek by adding a generous amount of fuel stabilizer (the red stuff?) to the fuel tank. Might have to be persistent, if it keeps stalling, but the stuff is designed to keep the fuel from gunking up the fuel systems, and it seems to help clean them as well.

Maybe it's the same idea as SeaFoam, but I think SF is diesel fuel with some additives. I've never used it, but seen good comments about it, and there's a website out there with a DIY version of SeaFoam. You can make your own, with a few simple ingredients and a measuring cup, apparently.
http://hildstrom.com/projects/seafoam/

As for the A/C unit. If it's rear/roof mounted, and you can get the outer cover off to actually get a look at it, it may just be the condenser air flow being blocked by "debris" from storing it, or even bug or bird nests. Did your unit sit anywhere for a while where the "forces of nature" could have settled in and blocked the airflow to it? Could also be the thermostat/control switch. Does the furnace work? I'm assuming the heat/cool controls are on the same switch plate and share the same thermostat. Failing that, if it were mine, I'd take it to a Roadtrek repair facility and let them do it, assuming I was going to keep the unit for a while. It can be DIYed, but certainly not by me.
Good luck.
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Old 09-22-2013, 01:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

From what I understand also is that if the fuel tank is at 1/4 or less the generator wont run. For safety reason this keeps the m/h from running out of gas while camping, may not be your case but I thought I would add this. As for Sea-Foam, I have been using it for over 10 Years in all my engines and will continue for the next 10, Good luck
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

Sea Foam and Stabilent are the answer. I had the same problem with my Onan . The dealer convinced me there was no repair other than a new Carb at $600. Since then Roadtrek told me to use Sea Foam and Stabilent every time I get home.
The best thing to do is put the sea Foam in your gas and keep starting the generator. It may take a while but eventually it will smooth out and run.
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Old 10-29-2013, 09:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

After reading this thread I just went out and started up our 2013 GW Legend SE. The battery was down to 12.2 Volts, which from what I understand is about 60%. I guess with the shorter days, the 85W solar panel isn't keeping the batteries topped off. So I started the Onan generator up, too.

Anyway, we have only run our ONAN generator for a few hours in the 8 months that we've owned the rig. And most of that was to give it exercise each month.

Are we really supposed to run it 2 hours a month?!! That seems excessive.

It is running as I write this, but I'm wondering if it really needs hours of run time each month. Could someone explain why?

...........Rocky
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

This info from Onan explains it well:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Onan Owner Manual
EXERCISING YOUR GENERATOR

It may seem strange that “not” using a machine could cause performance problems, but with RV generators that’s exactly the case. Regular “exercise” is an important part of keeping your generator healthy. Lack of exercise can cause moisture build-up and fuel system damage that make it run poorly. In fact, in as little as 30 days, the fuel in gasoline-powered generators can begin to break down into gums and varnishes that clog the fuel system. Fuel varnishing results in hard starting and surging. (A surging generator never settles at a stable operating speed.)

To prevent such problems, we recommend running gasoline generators at a minimum of 50 percent capacity (2000-watts, or one air conditioner for a 4000-watt set) for
two hours at least once every four weeks. A long two-hour exercise period is preferable to several short periods.
and

Quote:
Originally Posted by Onan Owner Manual
EXERCISING THE GENSET

Exercise the genset at least 2 hours each month if use is infrequent. Run the genset at approximately 1/2 rated power. See LOADING THE GENSET (Page 2-2). A single two hour exercise period is better than several shorter periods.

Exercising a genset drives off moisture, re-lubricates the engine, replaces stale fuel in fuel lines and carburetor and removes oxides from electrical contacts and generator slip rings. The result is better starting, more reliable operation and longer engine life.
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Old 10-30-2013, 12:36 AM   #10
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

These are my opinions based on anecdotal experience. YMMV.
I had a problem with ours a few years back. After some other unrelated scheduled maintenance, I tried to start the generator (to exercise it) and it was completely non-responsive. After checking what I could, it was clear that it required a trip to the service technician which eventually cost around $400 iirc, mostly labor. The problem was some corroded wiring on a solenoid located inside the casing which controls the transition between starting and running modes. It required the genset be dropped out of the van to repair, resulting in the labor charges.
The tech that fixed it said two things. That the problem was probably due to lack of use, allowing moisture to build up inside the casing, which slowly corroded the wiring. The other thing was that the rest of the generator was fine. In fact it was almost like new. So, you could conclude that a lack of use can cause you problems, but they may not necessarily be fatal.
We bought our van used in 2008 so I have to assume the 2 previous owners apparently didn't use or exercise the generator very much. I try to do it with as much regularity as possible, but I honestly don't think it's all that critical, unless you live somewhere where moisture build up is likely. Maybe if you live near the water, or in an area where there is often a lot of daytime humidity, followed by cooler temps overnight, you might have cause for concern about condensation inside the generator.
When I think it's due for a workout, or when preparing for a trip out, I try to run mine, with or without a load, long enough to bring it up to normal operating temperature, and to the point where it's running as smoothly as possible. Usually for at least a half hour. To date, and since the repairs, I haven't had any further problems with it starting or running, with or without loads.
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Old 11-06-2013, 02:29 PM   #11
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

One thing about the Onan. It is very fuel efficient. Under a full load it only uses about .4 gals of fuel per hour. So don't worry about the cost of two hours run time per month. We waste more fuel than that sitting at stop lights.
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Old 11-07-2013, 02:13 AM   #12
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

Hi Bill, glad you joined a super group.
Marko mentioned the SeaFoam Motor Treatment; I would like to add a little to that. SeaFoam also has a spray version that works extremely well on freeing up carbs. Good luck, Ron.
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Old 10-11-2014, 04:16 AM   #13
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Mike, don't underestimate the ability of gasoline to absorb water! Even in a dry climate like New Mexico, gasoline readily absorbs moisture. The real culprit is the ethanol that is added to gasoline, because ethanol is highly hydrophilic, meaning it "likes" water and absorbs it avidly: (ethanol is used for dehydrating tissues in the biology lab).

In a partially filled jerry can, the accumulated water sinks to the bottom where it corrodes its way through the wall: I have inherited a couple of vintage Korean War cans ruined this way (sob): that's why it is advisable to keep steel gasoline tanks full (or empty) - if full, there is less space for the ethanol vapor which absorbs moisture. Of course, water in fuel creates problems in other ways, especially in carburated vehicles.

Moreover, just a few days ago, under very inconvenient circumstances at a Roadtrek rally, I had a rusted (from the inside) freeze plug blow out in my '95 Roadtrek: tellingly, the corrosion was right at the bottom of the plug. I'm sure it had been sitting for a few years before I recently bought it, and the water settled out of the antifreeze sufficiently to permit corrosion. It is not good to leave a 'Trek unloved for long.

Exercising the generator has other benefits according to Onan: "re-lubricates the engine, replaces stale fuel in fuel lines and carburetor and removes oxides from electrical contacts and generator slip rings. The result is better starting, more reliable operation and longer engine life" (I'm sure you are aware that stale gasoline deposits varnish in the lines and carburetor, as mentioned by Marcopolo above, resulting in erratic running or surging of a generator.)

Installing a cut off valve on the fuel line and running the generator dry can prevent the gasoline-related problems, but not the others.
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Old 10-11-2014, 01:43 PM   #14
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

Crank, my concerns with moisture were related to condensation inside the generator casing, rotting the wiring. Not in the fuel system. As i mentioned in my previous post which I caveated as opinion, based on experience.
That said, water in the fuel system of the Onan might also imply a greater problem since it drinks from the same well as the chassis/vehicle engine. So your comments about not letting these vans sit for long periods is probably good advice for the entire package. They both need exercise to stay healthy.
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Old 10-11-2014, 11:05 PM   #15
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Default Re: New (old) Roadtrek owner

I apologize Mike, I misunderstood your previous post, probably because I have never heard of condensation inside of the casing: I have not examined the Onan closely yet, and did not realize it is so enclosed that condensation could accumulate inside it's casing: I agree that's especially likely in a humid climate.

I wonder if drilling a few ventilation holes in the casing is practical and would be helpful?
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Old 10-11-2014, 11:40 PM   #16
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No problem. I've done it, too. We all have, I'd guess. It happens.
I can't recall if I asked the guy who fixed my solenoid wiring about that. I probably wouldn't have thought of it, but it might help. I might be concerned that adding more points of access might allow more water from the roadway to get in. I think his best suggestion was what we've already talked about, and that's "use it, or lose it". Meaning exercise it or use it regularly or it will tend towards atrophy.
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Old 10-12-2014, 12:52 AM   #17
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Well, if ventilation might allow liquid water in, there should be a low point drain. Additional possibilities might be a small fan or heater, if I could think of a means of activating them under appropriate conditions (or just run them continuously from a 110v source). I'm not sure that exercising the engine monthly is proof against condensation inside a casing in a humid environment.
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Old 10-12-2014, 01:14 AM   #18
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I'm not sure what the answer might be. The placement of the generator under the rear of the van makes it harder to diagnose and troubleshoot. If there were a way to reroute the van's exhaust heat around and/or through the casing, just running the van's engine once in a while might dry out the inside.
It's a tough one.
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