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Old 01-14-2021, 10:06 PM   #1
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Default Starting Cold Generator

I have a 2006 Pleasure-Way Excel TS. I try to start and run the generator and engine about once a month, don't think it is a good idea to let any engine sit to long without running them.
Often when I try to start the generator, it seems to take a lot of cranking. I only try to start it for 10 - 15 seconds at a time so I don't overheat the starter. Once it has started and run, it always fires right up.
My question is: Is there anything special I need to do, like prime it, or choke it? My guess is that the gas has evaporated out of the carb, and needs to be replaced before it will start.
If it does need to be choked, how do I do that? I can't find anything in the owners manual about special things to do to start a cold generator.
Thanks
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Old 01-14-2021, 11:21 PM   #2
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The Manual states to exercise it once a month under a load.
I always leave my engine running, push on the generator button at the bottom, which is Stop about three times...this chokes it also. Then I push the top for Start and it fires off. I leave it run for about five minutes, then activate either the Heat Pump or Air Conditioner. I also put in a can of SeaFoam Gas Additive when my gas tank is between half and quarter- it will help keep your generator carb clean and help your rigs fuel system.
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Old 01-15-2021, 12:34 AM   #3
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Thanks!!! I read the owners manual front to rear, and never saw anything about that. I was really worried about how much work, or $$ it would take if I burned out the starter motor.
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Old 01-15-2021, 02:09 AM   #4
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Not sure what model generator you have. My KV 2800 does not have the prime or choke by button feature (2003). I have found that reducing the start attempt to five seconds, pause, then try again, gets it to start quicker than holding the button down longer.

Usually it starts on the second or third attempt where holding the button down won’t let it start at all. I don’t know why that is. I assume it is fuel related. The choke is activated by a bimetallic exhaust pipe heated spring. Heating the spring turns the choke off.

There is no electrical way to activate the choke nor will it prime by holding the off button down as other models will.

If your generator is a KY 4kw version let us know. I have the service manual for that, too.
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Old 01-21-2021, 05:11 PM   #5
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Definately fuel related as carb dries out. I hotwired the fuel pump to refill carb before cranking, and the genny starts right up.
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Old 01-21-2021, 06:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron J. Moore View Post
I always leave my engine running.
I also find that the generator starts better, especially after sitting for a while, when the engine is running. The starter draws a lot of power, so having the engine alternator available helps. Once, when I tried to start the generator with a too weak battery, the starter gear got hung up somehow, and I had to manually turn the generator to free it up, which was no easy task. Since then I always start the engine first, then fire up the generator.
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Old 01-21-2021, 06:38 PM   #7
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Default Same issue

Same issue with mine. If you leave it more than a month it's even harder to start.
I've found that cranking it 5 seconds, letting it sit for 15-30 sec, repeat... will eventually get it started. The waiting seems important...
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Old 01-21-2021, 06:41 PM   #8
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Fire up the chassis, then the generator. It gives it a nice boost. If you’ve ever noticed how the fantastic fan, or furnace blowers kicks up a notch when you fire up the chassis, this does the same thing. Been doing it this way for about 3 years now and it almost always fires up on the first try. As someone else mentioned, I run it off load for about 3-5 minutes, and then under load. Good luck!
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Old 01-21-2021, 10:25 PM   #9
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We have a 1995 Dodge Explorer with a Onan 2800 generator. Its has always been hard starting and is especially so in cold weather. I always start the coach and have to hit the start switch several times before gen. starts. I let it run for few min. then start air conditioner or electric heater. After hour or so. I shut air or heater off let gen. run for few min. then cut off.
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Old 01-22-2021, 02:58 AM   #10
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I have a 96 Dodge LTV that has a Onan 2800 generator. Yes, when I start it up monthly from the drivers area it takes about 3 tries. But what I found was to start it from the rear swithch at the generator, AND spray a squirt of starter fluid onto the air filter does the trick.
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Old 01-23-2021, 05:42 PM   #11
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As anyone with an older Roadtrek painfully knows, it is hard to access the 2800 Onan given the fact that it is mounted to the rear and hangs down from the chassis. So, starting with the switch on the genset and manually choking is a real problem.

Like I guess all the older models of Onans, the start switch is a start-stop rocker with no ability to prime. I have never had a problem with my generator until recent months.

I use the technique described in the above posts: start the engine and then press the "start" on the generator switch for about five or six seconds to move a little gas, do it again and mine will fire up on the third try. It has done this since it was brand new in 2007.

A few months ago, after firing up it would run just fine for a few minutes and then start to cycle and sputter. I always have allowed it two or three minutes to warm before putting it under load. Now, if I don't put it under load in about sixty seconds, it will start sputtering. Under load, it runs fine and the last week I ran it for two hours with the heat pump on and the thermostat set on 80. I opened the windows so the coach would never get to that temp because it would if I had not opened the windows on a forty degree day.

What I can't figure out is why suddenly it will sputter, run a few minutes and then croak if I don't put it under a full, heavy load after starting. I tried a light load of just turning the thermostat to "Fan only" and it dies after a few minutes.

With the full load, I get a constant voltage output and a true 60 cycle output.

I can't figure out why it won't run and dies if I have a light load, but runs fine under a heavy load. Recently, I sprayed the carburetor with "SeaFoam Spray" while running and goosed the genset engine. Then, stopped the motor and sprayed some in and let it set an hour and then fired it back up. That seems to have helped a bit.

The truth is these older 2800s are temperamental and have a mind of their own.

Anybody got an idea why mine requires almost an immediate (one minute) heavy load in order not to die and why it runs perfectly after that? After all these years of ownership, this is a new problem.

I have always been very diligent about exercising under load for at least an hour every four weeks.
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Old 01-23-2021, 06:20 PM   #12
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My first guess would be to replace the spark plug
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Old 01-24-2021, 05:53 AM   #13
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You mention spraying the carb with SeaFoam....drop a can in the tank when your down to half tank. This will help your carb and the chassis gas system..
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Old 02-21-2021, 04:58 PM   #14
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First, I live near Dallas, and yes the cold weather and no power was a big problem! I went out to the RV to get warm and the gen. would not start, the battery was turning it over, but no luck. I had started it only a few days before and it started and ran fine.
Can you explain to me how you hot wired the fuel pump to fill the carb? If you want you can contact me directly @ koyjones53@gmail.com.
Thanks
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Old 02-21-2021, 05:39 PM   #15
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I spliced into the power wire at the fuel pump, and made new wire connection directly to the battery with inline switch. I power on the pump with the switch and listen to the pattern of pump cycling, and when it slows down the carb is full so I power off the switched battery connection and proceed to start the genny that powers the pump thru the original circuit. Basicly priming the carb with a second independant switched power wire to the pump.
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:49 PM   #16
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I'm curious, how long does it take to manually prime the carb? It can sometimes take quite a while to get the genny started if it sits too long. I would think hitting the start would power the fuel pump just like your priming circuit.
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Old 02-21-2021, 08:11 PM   #17
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Hitting start button also cranks the engine....and for a long time to refill the carb. Hot wiring the pump removes the long cranking issue, and saves battery power for better starting. The start switch panel should have prime button, but not necessary if the genny is used frequently. Its the long periods of non use that makes refilling the carb an issue that begs for priming before starting.
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Old 02-21-2021, 10:43 PM   #18
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My 4kw generator has the prime button. Doesn’t seem to help much. Still takes 3 5 second pushes of the start button. My bet is wiring in a prime button won’t help much. Let us know if it does.
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Old 02-22-2021, 02:03 PM   #19
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Over the years I have put on 2 new fuel pumps. One stopped working and other started making loud knocking sound. I have read in other post people mount outside of gen. casing because of heat problem. I am not that creative so put back in same place a hope for the best. I always have van running for extra starting boost. In winter I sometimes spray little started booster to help. I believe Onan 2800 ate notoriously hard to start from what I have heard. My buddy has a Generac in a Class A. Older unit like mine. His starts right up. I wish Honda made a unit to fit in space because it would be replaced in a heartbeat! Good luck buddy!!!
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Old 02-28-2021, 02:01 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doneworking View Post
As anyone with an older Roadtrek painfully knows, it is hard to access the 2800 Onan given the fact that it is mounted to the rear and hangs down from the chassis. So, starting with the switch on the genset and manually choking is a real problem.

Like I guess all the older models of Onans, the start switch is a start-stop rocker with no ability to prime. I have never had a problem with my generator until recent months.

I use the technique described in the above posts: start the engine and then press the "start" on the generator switch for about five or six seconds to move a little gas, do it again and mine will fire up on the third try. It has done this since it was brand new in 2007.

A few months ago, after firing up it would run just fine for a few minutes and then start to cycle and sputter. I always have allowed it two or three minutes to warm before putting it under load. Now, if I don't put it under load in about sixty seconds, it will start sputtering. Under load, it runs fine and the last week I ran it for two hours with the heat pump on and the thermostat set on 80. I opened the windows so the coach would never get to that temp because it would if I had not opened the windows on a forty degree day.

What I can't figure out is why suddenly it will sputter, run a few minutes and then croak if I don't put it under a full, heavy load after starting. I tried a light load of just turning the thermostat to "Fan only" and it dies after a few minutes.

With the full load, I get a constant voltage output and a true 60 cycle output.

I can't figure out why it won't run and dies if I have a light load, but runs fine under a heavy load. Recently, I sprayed the carburetor with "SeaFoam Spray" while running and goosed the genset engine. Then, stopped the motor and sprayed some in and let it set an hour and then fired it back up. That seems to have helped a bit.

The truth is these older 2800s are temperamental and have a mind of their own.

Anybody got an idea why mine requires almost an immediate (one minute) heavy load in order not to die and why it runs perfectly after that? After all these years of ownership, this is a new problem.

I have always been very diligent about exercising under load for at least an hour every four weeks.
I had a similar but bot as bad experience with my Onan as well as a snow blower that had did the same. I loaded the gas with carb cleaner (I mean don't just use the minimum amount be very generous, instead of one bottle try 3 or maybe 4 in fresh gas) I believe I used Gumout and let it run under just enough load so it is running rough but still running fair. After a while it started running better and I decreased the load more. Continue this until it is good
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