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WInterizing Generator

JimBollman
Explorer
Explorer
Back in June we bought our first RV with a generator built in. It is a Class B so it gets used as a second car when needed which isn't often in the Winter. I winterized the rest of the B like I have done with past slide in pickup camper. We went the whole Summer not needing to use the generator but running it for 10-15 minutes every month because that's what people said to do to keep the carb from getting gummed up. Not sure if we will ever use the generator but it is nice insurance, so I don't want to haul around a dead weight that doesn't run but also don't want to run it every month all Winter.

So here is what I did. I ran the gas tank down to near empty, filled with alcohol free gas and added STA-BIL gas treatment to treat the whole gas tank full (14oz) and then ran the generator for 15 minutes with a load. My plan now is to forget the generator till sometime next Summer.

What is the general opinion, will this work?
16 REPLIES 16

MDKMDK
Explorer
Explorer
Trackrig wrote:
DownTheAvenue wrote:
I would read the owner's manual for the generator and follow their recommendations.


I'll bet the owner's manual says to start it every month and run it for 30 minutes or so. My manual conveniently forgets to address when you live in cold climates that trying to start a frozen generator every month will cause way more wear and tear / damage than letting it sit until it warms up again.

Bill


X2. Just run it when you can during the winter, under load, and forget all the other stuff. 9 years with a Roadtrek/Onan 2.8 combo and no problems.
Mike. Comments are anecdotal or personal opinions, and worth what you paid for them.
2018 (2017 Sprinter Cab Chassis) Navion24V + 2016 Wrangler JKU (sold @ ????)
2016 Sunstar 26HE, V10, 3V, 6 Speed (sold @ 4600 miles)
2002 Roadtrek C190P (sold @ 315,000kms)

JimBollman
Explorer
Explorer
Thanks John and Matt. The shutoff valve is a good idea and easy to do. There is already a fitting in the middle of the fuel line that was leaking and had to be replaced so it would be easy to add a shutoff valve. That would be easier than adding a second small tank to feed Av gas in before shutting down. I would have to check if I have electric fuel pump. I assume it was installed when the Bee was built in 1999 so whatever Onan was using then is what it has. It has less than 300 hours on the generator which I would guess is mostly warming it up on a regular bases. The only controls I have inside the camper is a push to start and push to stop button. Even after a month it takes a 3 or 4 attempts at cranking 30 seconds or so each time for it to start so I would guess a manual fuel pump. If after a full year we find we just don't use it I may go ahead and put it in deep sleep and fog the engine. Although it would be tempting to just pull it out and take the spare off the back and put it back underneath.

The Onan is bigger than my Honda that I use for the house in emergencies so it is a good backup for that. I have the house wired for a generator and the plug that I use for the Honda is right beside where the Bee is parked in the carport so it would be handy. Honda supplies all the power we need and uses a lot less gas and is quieter, so the Onan would be strictly backup.

Matt_Colie
Explorer
Explorer
Jim,

John Wayne is the closest to a good response so far, but he missed one thing. Run the carburetor dry, that is how you keep it from getting fouled with old fuel. Stabil is good, but the fuel can still dry out in the carburetor and leave stuff behind. Running it dry can mitigate this. There are two ways: (if you don't want to put in a valve)
First is if it has an electric fuel pump (does it have a prime switch?), find it and while the machine is running, disconnect it.
Second is the find where there is rubber line that you can pinch off (this is not good for the hose, but it works).

Now, in any case, get some "Fogging Oil" and fog the engine (spray oil into the air intake) the as it is running out of fuel. When it finaly studders to a halt, close it up and leave it alone until you need it again. It will start with some smoke, but that will last only a few moments.

Now is where I tell you that the start it regularly is put forward by the people that sell you parts. The idea of running it at load to keep the windings dry is left over from pre-WWII. The varnish used in such windings in the last 70 years has not been a kind that absorbs moisture.

Matt
Matt & Mary Colie
A sailor, his bride and their black dogs (one dear dog is waiting for us at the bridge) going to see some dry places that have Geocaches in a coach made the year we married.

John_Wayne
Explorer II
Explorer II
Install a shut off valve in the generator gas line and run the generator till it runs out of gas.
John & Carol Life members
01 31'Sea View single slide, F53 V-10 with 134,000 miles and counting.
2012 Jeep Liberty Smi brake system
Security by Bentley
God Bless

KF6HCH

TurnThePage
Explorer
Explorer
Every single tank of fuel in all my smaller engines is 92 octane, non-ethanol, with sta-bil. I may start my generator twice over a typical longish winter if I remember. I've never had an issue in over 20 years of this practice.
2015 Ram 1500
2022 Grand Design Imagine XLS 22RBE

DrewE
Explorer II
Explorer II
jplante4 wrote:
Carb problems are only part of the issue. The reason you run the genny under load is to blow off the moisture on the brushes and windings. Go to you local GA airport and get a couple of gallons of 100LL. Shelf life is 2 years, but it actually will go much longer. No draining carbs, no Seafoam, no worries.


I would not suggest using 100LL gas for a built-in motorhome generator, since leaded fuel and catalytic converters do not get along well at all (and the main engine for a motorhome uses the same fuel tank). It probably would be illegal from a taxation point of view too.

I'm not sure it's a great idea for most modern small engines, too, but probably not quite as critical in terms of engine life. Avoiding putting lead into the environment unnecessarily is always a good idea, of course.

wa8yxm
Explorer III
Explorer III
Well I full time now but before I started doing that I'd add Sta-Bil (more on that in second) in the winter.. I still ran the Genny 30 minutes under at least half load (actually 3/5 in my case) every month. but then I used the RV basically Daily even when in winter storage (For about an hour or two a day).

Fill fuel tank adding Sta-Bil or Seafoam about mid point during the operation

Now.. I also have a special outlet on the RV to power the house in event of a power fail (And a proper transfer system in the house) worked real nice every winter when Detroit Edison failed to provide.

Next: Sta-bil or Seafoam.. Back then Sta-Bil sold one formula and it was not all that good with modern adulterated gasoline (My rig is a gasser) SeaFoam was recommended for E-anything other than zero or 1... Today's E-10 did not like the original Sta-Bil.. Today Sta-Bil has an "E-10" formula. But I no longer long term store. I use full time.

E-1? If you are old enough to remember Standard Oil adds "My Advice Sir, Get De-icer" here in the frozen north.. They added HEET brand Gas Line Antifreeze to the mix in the winter.. That's Alcohol folks. bure Wood Alcohol . about 1 pint to 20 gallons or so. a bit less than 1% .. Just enough to prevent gas line freeze up.

I can tell you it worked too
Home was where I park it. but alas the.
2005 Damon Intruder 377 Alas declared a total loss
after a semi "nicked" it. Still have the radios
Kenwood TS-2000, ICOM ID-5100, ID-51A+2, ID-880 REF030C most times

jplante4
Explorer
Explorer
Carb problems are only part of the issue. The reason you run the genny under load is to blow off the moisture on the brushes and windings. Go to you local GA airport and get a couple of gallons of 100LL. Shelf life is 2 years, but it actually will go much longer. No draining carbs, no Seafoam, no worries.
Jerry & Jeanne
1996 Safari Sahara 3530 - 'White Tiger'
CAT 3126/Allison 6 speed/Magnum Chassis
2014 Equinox AWD / Blue Ox

IB853347201
Nomad
Nomad
JimBollman wrote:
IB853347201 wrote:
Yes. I have done the same over the years.


So I assume you were successful then?

I have a Honda 2000 that I use at home and I use aviation gas in that and drain the carb and store it for many months and it starts right up when needed. I have considered a modification to add a second gas tank that I can switch to with av gas that can be switched to before shutting down. I'll see how much I actually use the generator before I put a lot of time and money into making it less work to maintain.


Yes, it has worked fine, no adverse effects so far. MH and generator are a 2010.
2010 Suncruiser

pianotuna
Nomad II
Nomad II
I prefer seafoam. It seems to work better.
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

Trackrig
Explorer II
Explorer II
DownTheAvenue wrote:
I would read the owner's manual for the generator and follow their recommendations.


I'll bet the owner's manual says to start it every month and run it for 30 minutes or so. My manual conveniently forgets to address when you live in cold climates that trying to start a frozen generator every month will cause way more wear and tear / damage than letting it sit until it warms up again.

Bill
Nodwell RN110 out moose hunting. 4-53 Detroit, Clark 5 spd, 40" wide tracks, 10:00x20 tires, 16,000# capacity, 22,000# weight. You know the mud is getting deep when it's coming in the doors.

JimBollman
Explorer
Explorer
IB853347201 wrote:
Yes. I have done the same over the years.


So I assume you were successful then?

I have a Honda 2000 that I use at home and I use aviation gas in that and drain the carb and store it for many months and it starts right up when needed. I have considered a modification to add a second gas tank that I can switch to with av gas that can be switched to before shutting down. I'll see how much I actually use the generator before I put a lot of time and money into making it less work to maintain.

DownTheAvenue
Explorer
Explorer
I would read the owner's manual for the generator and follow their recommendations.

Son_of_Norway
Explorer
Explorer
I exercise my generator for at least two hours every month under load. I believe that is what Onan recommends.
Miles and Darcey
1989 Holiday Rambler Crown Imperial
Denver, CO