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Old 12-14-2019, 01:31 AM   #1
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Generator

I could not get my generator started today after getting RV back from Camping World. I called them and they said that if my gas tank was less than 1/4 full the generator would not start. Anyone else ever hear of that?
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Old 12-14-2019, 02:46 AM   #2
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Yes. It's a safety feature so that you don't run the rig out of gas.
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Old 12-14-2019, 06:52 AM   #3
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yes, that's a 'standard' design in the RVing world, to keep an owner, or even the AGS(auto gen starter) from accidentally running the fuel tank dry, not allowing then the vehicle to 'get' back to a fuel station.

I would rather see this as a customizable setting, allowing an owner to drop below the 1/4 fuel tank reading, if desired. The issue, though, is that this is a physical issue, as the installed placement of the fuel pickup tube for the generator is set 'in stone', at least in it's current design. It would have to have some type of 'moveable' tube in order to make this possible. Unlike the fuel tank's level readout for the vehicle, which uses a float meter, the generator's fuel tube is simply that, a tube....where it ends within the tank determines where the level is. For some RVs, that might be lower than in others, so some owners may see their fuel tank reading fall a little lower than 1/4 tank before the generator runs out of fuel and shuts off. For others it may seem as if the generator stops before it reaches 1/4 tank. Some of this could also be due to being parked off-level, or if the RV is moving while the generator is running, or just because some fuel gauge readings are not totally 'accurate', etc.


also, as a note: when you add fuel to your tank, and then try to restart the generator, you may find that it takes a lot longer for it to start - but don't give up, keep trying, as the fuel pickup for the generator lost all the fuel within the line when the fuel tank originally dropped below 1/4 tank - now the fuel has to be drawn all the way up and thru the fuel line to the generator before it will start.
Sometimes, the generator will start fairly normally, because some fuel is still left in the line, near the generator, but then the generator cuts off again. Keep trying to crank it, as the fuel line is simply out of fuel until it gets pulled back up to the generator's starter.
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Old 12-14-2019, 08:52 AM   #4
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Yes. Needing over 1/4 tank (it varies slightly from model to model) of fuel to run your generator is a standard way of preventing you from completely draining your main fuel tank by running the generator, and becoming stranded. Motorhome generators have been connected this way for a long time. My 1995 model was that way.

The generator fuel line pulls fuel from a separate fitting in the tank that is set above the tank floor so it can’t access the fuel if the level is below 1/4 full.

Some newer generator start/stop switches in the coach have a prime setting. If the generator carburetor and fuel line have been run dry, you can press this switch to run the generator’s electric fuel pump for a few seconds (5-10?) to prime the carburetor. If your motorhome or generator does not have a prime switch, you can install your own prime switch on the generator itself to temporarily apply 12 volts to the fuel pump prior to attempting to start the engine. Otherwise the pump only runs during cranking and running, which can have you cranking the stater a lot attempting to start the engine. Having the prime switch saves some wear and tear on the starter, and there’s less drain on the battery.
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Old 12-24-2019, 01:57 AM   #5
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Yes. It's in the manuals.
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Old 12-24-2019, 02:23 AM   #6
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Not a new thing.

I had a '62 VW Beetle that used the same system. You drove until your motor "sputtered", reached down and turned the handle and you had 1 gal to find a gas station
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:56 AM   #7
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Question Ethanol or non ethanol

Since we're discussing generators, I think we all know that ethanol gasoline is bad for small engines. I don't use non-ethanol to fill my Sunseeker gas tank and of course the Onan generator uses the same gas tank for it's source of fuel. Question, do any readers use non-ethanol gas in the main gas tank to solve this issue, or gas additives or just use the ethanol gas and hope for the best?
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Old 01-13-2020, 06:57 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by KQ2N View Post
Since we're discussing generators, I think we all know that ethanol gasoline is bad for small engines. I don't use non-ethanol to fill my Sunseeker gas tank and of course the Onan generator uses the same gas tank for it's source of fuel. Question, do any readers use non-ethanol gas in the main gas tank to solve this issue, or gas additives or just use the ethanol gas and hope for the best?
Seafoam is your friend. I put at least a can in with each fill up, if not 2. Have not had any issues starting my generator in the 3 years we've had our Sunseeker. Trying to find non-ethanol gas around my part of the woods is like searching for the needle in the haystack.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:48 AM   #9
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Since we're discussing generators, I think we all know that ethanol gasoline is bad for small engines. I don't use non-ethanol to fill my Sunseeker gas tank and of course the Onan generator uses the same gas tank for it's source of fuel. Question, do any readers use non-ethanol gas in the main gas tank to solve this issue, or gas additives or just use the ethanol gas and hope for the best?
Carbureted engines present the biggest potential problems, especially those with gravity fed fuel systems. I own around 20 engines total, from very small up to the Ford V10 in the motorhome, and this includes a 4kw Onan generator. I’ve used 10% ethanol gasoline blend in everything since they forced it on us locally something like 25 years ago. I never use additives, except for using Stabil for storage over 2-3 months or so. I have had no ethanol fuel related problems. It’s not about “hope for the best”, rather the basic rule is to never leave fuel in a carburetor bowl for more than a few weeks. So for the RV’s Onan generator, the first modification i make is to install a fuel shut off valve, and run the generator engine out of fuel before periods of expected non use. My past RV’s generator was 25 years old, still ran well, no additives were used, and the carb never had to be removed for cleaning. I just used the shut off valve and ran the carburetor as dry as possible prior to storage.
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Old 01-13-2020, 12:10 PM   #10
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Since we're discussing generators, I think we all know that ethanol gasoline is bad for small engines.

Actually ethanol is not bad for engines, its the affects of ethanol when stored for long periods that is bad for engines.


Ethanol is "hygroscopic" as in it can adsorb water. with 10% ethanol fule

it can hold .5% water at 60 deg F which is .64 ounces in a gallon or 12 ounces of water in 20 gallons. but can only hold .35% water at 20 deg F (.45 ounces).


so that fuel you bought in summer will dissipate .2 oz of water per gallon (or plate out). But when this water comes back out of the fuel it bonds with a sulfur molecule and becomes a mild sulfuric acid which eats aluminum parts.


some say the shelf life of ethanol fuel is 1 month.


I used to always use staybil (red). But in the 90's BMW started having problems with injectors on F800 motorcycle clogging up and some suspected Staybil mixed with ethanol was the cause. since I had an F800 at the time I switched to StarTron Enzyme Fuel Treatment and never had a problem. I rode the BMW all year so using better fuel was not a choice, but in our area of PA it was hard to get non ethanol fuel so winter I would still put away my power equipment for winter with TruFule or better yet VP small engine fuel but its $20.00 per gallon.



Now we have moved to central FL and we can buy non ethanol fuel all over down here so that is what goes into my bikes now. I could not find any Star-tron so I went back to staybil but a tank never last more than a month or 2.



I can see its hard to put away your Motorhome with VP fule. I used to recommend to my Dad to use the website https://www.pure-gas.org/ and go fill up (plus star-tron) every fall before storage
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:22 PM   #11
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The nearest fuel stop to my house has non-ethanol at $2.99/gal. I top off the tank there, 3 miles from home, when we return from a trip but seldom buy it when on the road. Just feel better about it sitting up with non-ethanol. And I run the generator under load at least half hour each month.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:30 PM   #12
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"Actually ethanol is not bad for engines, its the affects of ethanol when stored for long periods that is bad for engines" have to disagree ... had about 40 pieces of hand tools 2 cycle for many years between 4 lawn rigs ... no trouble until ethanol arrived.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:07 PM   #13
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"Actually ethanol is not bad for engines, its the affects of ethanol when stored for long periods that is bad for engines" have to disagree ... had about 40 pieces of hand tools 2 cycle for many years between 4 lawn rigs ... no trouble until ethanol arrived.

in 1826 Ethanol was the original fuel before they even invented gasoline.

The first Ford model T was designed to run on Gas, ethanol or any mixture.

ethanol was used in 20's and 30's as octane booster.

in WW2 era it was under high demand with gas shortages caused by war.

I remember Jason Walton switched his car over to run on "recipe" on the Walton's TV show.

remember as a Kid playing with a "cox .049 engine" ? (released 10/1951). It runs on 15-35% nitro-methane, 20% castor oil and the balance is Methanol (wood alcohol)

Remember dumping STP Gas treatment in your car thinking it would go faster? Alcohol.

Ever use Gas dry when a car would not start in winter because of water in fuel filter? Alcohol.

In 70's ethanol became required for Automotive fuels as a oxygenator in states that require winter fuel after they discovered the oxygenater MTBE was contamination ground water.

My first experience with it causing problems as a mechanic was around 1981 when the rubber carburetor mounts on K cars started coming apart and they blamed it on the fuel. A simple change in the rubber components solved the problems.

Its so easy for the manufactures to blame poor engineering on "its the US fuel". VW and BMW has been doing it for years, blaming engine problems on US diesel. Even US manufactures have said "its the US fuel" and they are designing diesels for the US market.

I am not saying its great stuff, and it does produce Less BTU and not burn we well as straight gas, but its all some people can get and with proper precaution it can be made safe. But still, I run all my small seasonal stuff of VP small engine rule (or TruFuel) because at at any given minute it could be put a way for a month or 3 or more. and when you use so little fuel in them its cheep insurance for a known problem (of poor shelf life of ethanol fuel)

For the tractor I used to take 5 gallon cans with me when I ventured over into Lancaster county so I could buy non ethanol.


The problem is keeping the water out of it. when is the last time you had a bottle of whiskey go bad?
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:25 AM   #14
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in 1826 Ethanol was the original fuel before they even invented gasoline.

The first Ford model T was designed to run on Gas, ethanol or any mixture.

ethanol was used in 20's and 30's as octane booster.

in WW2 era it was under high demand with gas shortages caused by war.

I remember Jason Walton switched his car over to run on "recipe" on the Walton's TV show.

remember as a Kid playing with a "cox .049 engine" ? (released 10/1951). It runs on 15-35% nitro-methane, 20% castor oil and the balance is Methanol (wood alcohol)

Remember dumping STP Gas treatment in your car thinking it would go faster? Alcohol.

Ever use Gas dry when a car would not start in winter because of water in fuel filter? Alcohol.

In 70's ethanol became required for Automotive fuels as a oxygenator in states that require winter fuel after they discovered the oxygenater MTBE was contamination ground water.

My first experience with it causing problems as a mechanic was around 1981 when the rubber carburetor mounts on K cars started coming apart and they blamed it on the fuel. A simple change in the rubber components solved the problems.

Its so easy for the manufactures to blame poor engineering on "its the US fuel". VW and BMW has been doing it for years, blaming engine problems on US diesel. Even US manufactures have said "its the US fuel" and they are designing diesels for the US market.

I am not saying its great stuff, and it does produce Less BTU and not burn we well as straight gas, but its all some people can get and with proper precaution it can be made safe. But still, I run all my small seasonal stuff of VP small engine rule (or TruFuel) because at at any given minute it could be put a way for a month or 3 or more. and when you use so little fuel in them its cheep insurance for a known problem (of poor shelf life of ethanol fuel)

For the tractor I used to take 5 gallon cans with me when I ventured over into Lancaster county so I could buy non ethanol.


The problem is keeping the water out of it. when is the last time you had a bottle of whiskey go bad?
I should add .... Government controls of our emissions on our 2 cycle equipment and the addition of ethanol made for a bad combination ... this is a fact period ... I lived with it and dealt with it ... then why do they sell "RV non ethanol fuel " for small engines ... I spent $$ on additives which did help some .... the added ethanol with the government mandated emissions impacted the entire lawn maint industry ... if you are a small engine mechanic please give your opinion
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:40 AM   #15
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Kept my neighbors 1988 Camry running for 5.5 years with red Stabil while they have been gone. Kinda of an experiment for me. We do have ethenol added fuel here in Cali. I did have to add a gallon of gas about 3 times during that period to mix with the old gas for added octane.

Still starts though...but it is fuel injected so system stays under pressure.
Now that RV's are going to fuel injected gennies, that should solve most of the clogged jet problems with ethenol.


I use Stabil in my MH from time to time...and if is going to sit for awhile, I add Seafoam deep creep to the genny carb- just pull the fuel line off and spray it in.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:32 PM   #16
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Oh, and don't forget the E85. I don't know where this picture was taken but 85 cents per gallon I just sold a 2000 S10 that could use E85.



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Old 01-14-2020, 12:48 PM   #17
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Oh, and don't forget the E85. I don't know where this picture was taken but 85 cents per gallon I just sold a 2000 S10 that could use E85.



Many of us would like to FORGET E85!

While cheaper, the three vehicles I had that would run it, ran worse on it, had very poor performance and got horrendous fuel mileage.

I have moonshine that will perform better than that stuff!
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