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Old 09-17-2017, 04:38 PM   #1
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Onan generator 5500 smokes going up steep inclines

We had our geni full-serviced a few weeks ago and hubby has changed the oil once since then recently. Last week, we were driving up through the Rockies and smelled a lot exhaust smell. Pulled off at the rest area and the geni was pumping out white smoke. Turned it off immediately and kept driving to our destination. Did some research the next day and discovered hubby put the wrong oil in it (diesel formula instead of regular 10w-30). Oops. Changed the oil immediately and ran a whole new quart through to capture any residue. Also changed the oil filter. Started it and it pumped out while smoke for 2 minutes and then cleared up. However, in the next set of serious inclines, we smelled the exhaust smell again and it was pumping out white smoke. We turned it off again. It runs fine on level highway. We are perplexed. Any thoughts about generators and steep inclines?
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Old 09-17-2017, 04:46 PM   #2
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Maybe overfilled.
Diesel oil shouldn't have any effect.
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Old 09-17-2017, 06:33 PM   #3
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On our Essex with a 12.5 Onan gen. when it runs above 8K feet it runs very rough and blows white smoke out exhaust. Anything below 6K feet runs great.
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Old 09-20-2017, 09:59 AM   #4
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Maybe overfilled.
Diesel oil shouldn't have any effect.
Agreed... nothing wrong with diesel oil. I run 15/40 Rotella T in my 5500 onan with no issues at all.
I also run the 15/40 Rotella T in all my cars, motor homes, mower, wood splitter, tractor, and motorcycle.
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:28 AM   #5
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On our Essex with a 12.5 Onan gen. when it runs above 8K feet it runs very rough and blows white smoke out exhaust. Anything below 6K feet runs great.
My Onan 4K has an altitude adjustment knob. Would that being set wrong Cause what you're experiencing?
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:39 PM   #6
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On our Essex with a 12.5 Onan gen. when it runs above 8K feet it runs very rough and blows white smoke out exhaust. Anything below 6K feet runs great.
That's our issue precisely.
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:40 PM   #7
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Agreed... nothing wrong with diesel oil. I run 15/40 Rotella T in my 5500 onan with no issues at all.
I also run the 15/40 Rotella T in all my cars, motor homes, mower, wood splitter, tractor, and motorcycle.
Very good to know - thanks!!!
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:40 PM   #8
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My Onan 4K has an altitude adjustment knob. Would that being set wrong Cause what you're experiencing?
Really? I do not know if ours has one but we will look. Thank you for the tip!
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Old 09-21-2017, 07:27 AM   #9
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I'm not sure about the altitude adjustment deal. I went out west this summer and I went from El Centro (below sea level), to the Devils highway (191) and an altitude of 9,370 ft. and was running the generator the whole time. Never had any issue's and never had to touch the altitude adjustment knob.
By the way, taking a class A with a 20' trailer up old "666" highway is not for the faint of heart. Not something I would do a second time for sure.
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Old 09-21-2017, 07:49 AM   #10
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As you climp above sea level, there is less oxygen in the air.

Climp high enough and it causes the engine to run gas rich, causing rough running and black smoke.

White smoke is oil burning. There could be two reasons.

1, The oil is pooling near one of the cylinders and working past the rings. Not likely.

2, The oil is pooling near the crankshaft, camshaft or governor and being thrown up towards the crankcase breather, which goes to the air filter box.

Stop when it's smoking, open the air filter, and see if oil is laying behind the filter. If it is, I have read something about a recall and fix for some generators that do this. I don't recall the post, so the search is on you.
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Old 09-22-2017, 01:18 AM   #11
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Rotella T6 - the do everything oil =)
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Old 09-22-2017, 01:13 PM   #12
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White smoke in a diesel exhaust can mean water getting into the combustion chamber. Hope that is not your problem. Take a look at you coolant.
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