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Old 09-11-2010, 02:23 PM   #15
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Yup--diesels are a funny animal. They are designed to "fire" solely on the heat generated by high compression in the clyinders--not a spark anywhere. Accordingly, cold weather can be a problem. Our Cummins engines have electric grids that heat the intake air at start-up--thus the need for a delay before starting them in cold weather. The old-timers used ether as a primer, or tank water heaters to warm the whole engine block. Some even built open fires under the oil pan to pre-heat the engine. You can imagine that both ether and open fires had some drawbacks. Glow plugs and heater grids are much safer.
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Old 09-11-2010, 03:06 PM   #16
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Have checked all 3 fuses they are Ok
Have 12 volt at the wire at the connector by the switch that goes to the glow plugs but directly at the glow plugs we don't seem to get power. Could there be a relay in between and where would it be located. If we apply 12 volt directly to the glow plug with a separate wire and heat them up the generator starts right away.
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:03 PM   #17
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Wow--now we are way out beyond my headlights. Think its reasonable to assume the glow plugs work on some sort of controlled cycle--ON when you push the start button, then OFF once the engine starts, or a certain temp is hit, or a certain resistance is achieved, or a simple time delay. Whatever it is that trips the plugs off is probably down-dream from the fuse. You might could trace it but its probably time to visit a Cummins/Onan shop.

PS--my compliments on your trouble-shooting skills.
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Old 09-11-2010, 10:56 PM   #18
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goferfam,

Agree with Old Scout... I am also impressed with your diagnostic skills.
Don't rule out the possibility that everything is working correctly... it may be that you are not aware of some step in the cold weather cranking procedures, as suggested by some.

Something triggers the glow plugs, usually BEFORE attempting to crank... they have to have a few seconds to heat up and improve the pressure combustion environment, as I pointed out in my earlier posts.

It could possibly be a detent position on the starter switch which activates the glow plugs... it could be another switch right next to your generator starting switch (which may have a coiled wire symbol on it) Look for a lighted switch which lights up for a few seconds, then goes off for "glow plugs heating" ...It may also be a push or pull function of your genset starter switch which you never noticed before. Inquiring minds want to know...

Then again, you in fact may be chasing a bad relay, wiring connection, or fuse after all. I would start from the glow plug ...which you have very adequately diagnosed as being good ... and trace the wiring back up to the starter switch. If it splits anywhere and goes to another circuit, another switch (EUREKA!) ...look at all connections and relays on that circuit too.

As to diesels not having a spark igition... If one ever "runs away" you will probably not be able to stop it by turning the switch off. It is a matter of starving it for fuel and air to shut it down ...unlike a spark ignition.

Diesel engines work so well because diesel fuel "explodes" when it reaches a certain temperature. That temperature is easily achieved when the piston compresses the fuel/air and causes it to heat up... BANG! Every time... without fail... no skipping because of a wet sparkplug wire or a weak spark. Good stuff, that diesel. Pound for pound a heluva lot more pent up energy than gaz-o-lean!

Under certain conditions, (rings and seals failure) it can feed on its own crankcase oil to the point of self-destruction. Not a likely thing to happen in your smaller motors... but read all you can about diesels so you will be able to handle any event with confidence.

Keep your fuel fresh... treat it with additives if necessary. That will aid in cold weather cranking when the fuel may "gel" and clog filters.

The diesel is great engine for a genset... it just needs a little attention to keep it cranking easily and purring smoothly. With proper care, it will last "forever".
Good luck,
Jim
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Old 09-11-2010, 11:12 PM   #19
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Suspect that there IS a glow plug relay/solenoid for the gen set. Same problem applies to the Ford Powerstroke diesel when the glow plug relay fails.
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Old 09-11-2010, 11:47 PM   #20
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Sorry for for being so dense but would you please explain the hold the OFF button down. I no not have a manual and have never heard of this. Sounds like something I should know. Thanks.
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Old 09-11-2010, 11:57 PM   #21
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OneRVer,

Since this forum is for Alpine Coach motorhomes, they have Onan Quiet Diesel GenSets, mostly model HDKAJ. The Operator Manual for that GenSet can be found at this link:

http://www.cumminsonan.com/www/pdf/m.../981-0161C.pdf

Page 24 describes the use of the STOP position of the switch to achieve priming of the engine fuel system. Page 8 describes the START procedure.
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Old 09-12-2010, 12:09 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale777 View Post
OneRVer,

Since this forum is for Alpine Coach motorhomes, they have Onan Quiet Diesel GenSets, mostly model HDKAJ. The Operator Manual for that GenSet can be found at this link:

http://www.cumminsonan.com/www/pdf/m.../981-0161C.pdf

Page 24 describes the use of the STOP position of the switch to achieve priming of the engine fuel system. Page 8 describes the START procedure.
Well I do not have an Alpine Coach but please forgive me if I stepped into the wrong forum. I too have the """"Onan Quiet Diesel GenSets, mostly model HDKAJ"""". Thank you for the manual.
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Old 09-12-2010, 12:57 AM   #23
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OneRVer,

I had no intent of suggesting that you stepped into the wrong forum. For clarity, I simply stated what Onan GenSet is used on Alpine Coaches. I then provided the link to the appropriate manual for that GenSet, thinking that might be helpful to you, IF you happened to have the same GenSet. In fact, I referenced specific pages based on your comments, thinking that would be helpful. I could have asked 1st about your model GenSet, but I thought it simpler to just clearly state what was what.

If you look at any of my other posts, you will see that I try to be very precise and concise to eliminate any potential confusion.

I'm sure that anyone in this forum is willing to be quite helpful, especially when the equipment we are familiar with applies to your coach.
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Old 09-12-2010, 07:48 AM   #24
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I have experienced a problem, not with an Onan genny, with a glow plug relay, that was on a Ford 7.3 diesel. The symptoms were the same, if temperature colder it would not start, unless I plugged the engine block heater for 10-15 minutes.

I replace the relay and everything was fine.
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Old 09-12-2010, 02:30 PM   #25
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Thank you guys for all the advise.
Rvhauler, in our opinion it is the relay solenoid, this was confirmed by the gentlemen who advertises in the FMCA magazine.
Dale do you or anyone else know where the relay is located?
We think it is located in the gold anodized box located in the front, but it is a bear to get at it.
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Old 09-17-2010, 12:43 AM   #26
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Ok - seems to me I remember that white smoke indicates air in the fuel. So I would also check to make sure the fuel lines are not cracked and or leaking fuel someplace.

I also would not let it crank over for longer than 30 seconds. The electrical amp draw will get those cables hot after prolonged starting attempts and you could cause one of them to get so hot it will catch fire. That happens you won't care if it won't start, you will have a bigger problem. So between the 30 second attempts, let it rest for 2 minutes to cool off those cables.

Under NO circumstances should you use any kind of starting fluid to get the genset started, it could blow out a piston, or as bad bend a connecting rod. Find the cause of the hard starting, and I think its air in the line. Check those fuel lines well, look for leaks inside the generator as well.

And is the fuel tank over half full? If not, then the genset might not be getting enough fuel, as WRV could have hooked it up to the wrong port. There are several places fuel pipes go down into the tank. One is/was for the main fuel line for the big engine, one was for the genset, and it's cut off at approximately 1/4 left in the fuel tank so the genset does not deplete the fuel and you can still get someplace to have the tank filled. Check the fuel level in the tank, don't depend on the gauge.

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Old 09-17-2010, 07:59 AM   #27
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PSSSS--the genset starts fine in warm weather, not so much in cold weather. I am going to make a wild guess here and say it has something to do with outside air temps [glow-plugs] not fuel availability, but I could be wrong.
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Old 09-17-2010, 05:21 PM   #28
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I'm in total agreement with Old Scout on this issue. We are currently dry-camping in the Eastern Sierra at an elevation of 7300' and the morning temperatures are running in the mid 20's. When starting the Onan under this cold weather condition it really doesn't take much more cranking than when at more normal temperatures and elevations, but it does run a bit rough for about 3 or 4 seconds and produces an embarrassing amount of white smoke that dissipates fairly rapidly. Later in the day when the temperatures are in the mid 70's and I do a restart it produces a normal start with no white smoke. Therefore, it's my opinion the issue of hard starting and white smoke is probably more temperature related.
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