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Old 05-25-2014, 02:29 PM   #1
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110 v/Genset question;

Just back from a nice trip to the mountains of NC - well, nice except for a tire blowout, but that's history now and I'm faced with a problem not so simple.

We have a 1994 Winnebago Brave 31RQ on a Chevy chassis, w/Onan EmeraldPlus 5000 GenSet.

Somewhere along the road, the generator stopped working. I didn't think anything about it since I was only using it to power the rooftop air and the night was getting cool. Anyway, Friday morning, I got no response when I tried to start the generator. None. not even a click. When we got home, I plugged into my 110 shore power line, turned on the AC and about an hour later, blew the fuse in my house. This happened a couple of times before I disconnected it all.

Today, I decided to try again using the rear air (in case it was an A/C fault) and the 110 works fine. Switched to the front air and everything is still OK. It's been running for over an hour in 90+ temperatures. But I still have nothing from the generator. Checked the 5A fuse and the circuit breakers inside the RV and all looks good. UPDATE: A couple of hours and the home circuit breaker is blowing again. A problem with the 110v still exists.

Any ideas? When I thought it was just the generator, I was ready to take it back to the Onan repair shop, but with the 110 issue in play, I'm debating whether it'd be better to go to the regular CW repair shop. Of course, I'd be happy for somebody to tell me there's something simple that I've overlooked.

Forgive the long-winded post from a newbie, but I've enjoyed just being a lurker for some time now.
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Old 05-25-2014, 03:33 PM   #2
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How much fuel in your tank? These usually need at least 1/3-1/2 full tanks to run. Just an off the wall thought.
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Old 05-25-2014, 04:02 PM   #3
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Yes but he said "Not even a click"

My guess: House batteries deceased (Shorted) house breaker blowing due to the converter trying to charge a shorted battery.

I STRESS THIS IS A GUESS
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Old 05-25-2014, 05:11 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. Fuel isn't the issue. I hate the cost of replacing fuel pumps , so I never get below 1/3 tank. Breakers are okay (at least the ones I can locate). Interior lights are working on both 12V & 110.

I probably need to clarify that the "house" breaker that was tripping was the one on my 110 shore power line - not anything in the RV. It is only a 20A line, but I've never had a problem with it before.

I switched back to using the rear air and it's been running for a couple hours now with no problems. So now I'm wondering if the front air is somehow overloading and causing the house breaker to pop. And since the front AC was the one in use when the generator problems started, maybe it also caused something in the genset to blow. I'm thinking maybe there's a breaker/fuse that I can't locate (maybe an internal safety). It seems like there'd be something bigger than 5A to start the Onan.

The search continues....
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Old 05-25-2014, 05:23 PM   #5
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How many amps in your home shore hook up? Anything else on the line? A rooftop A/C won't work on a 15 amp circuit if anything else is also using power on that circuit.

The generator fuses and wires that supply power to the ignition and the starter need to be checked.
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Old 05-26-2014, 04:35 PM   #6
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Shore power is 20A and there is nothing else on that line. I've used this setup for a couple of years with no problems.

Using shore power, I ran the rear A/C for about 6 hours yesterday with no problems and kept the fridge and lights powered up for over 24 hours with no problems. I think I've narrowed the problem to being in the front A/C compressor (I hear a surging when it kicks in). I'll have CW test that out later in the week and either fix or replace. It is 20 years old after all.

I'm still baffled by the Onan generator though. No response from it at all. I stopped by CW to talk things over and they want $175 to just look at the genset. Then they told me that even if it was a fuse or circuit breaker, the $175 minimum charge would apply. Sorry CW, but I'm not buying that!

I guess if I can't come up with something on the genset before Wednesday, I'll just take it directly to the Onan dealer and hope they are more reasonable.
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Old 05-26-2014, 06:43 PM   #7
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I think you'll need a multimeter that can measure amp draw to see if it's the A/C unit. This meter might work, it's not a Fluke, but it doesn't cost +$100 either.

7 Function Clamp-On Digital Multimeter

Just be aware you can't just clamp the shore cord, you'll need to buy or make a cord that separates each wire from the bundle so you can clamp on the single hot lead, (Or in the case of RV 50 amp service, both hot leads)
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:52 PM   #8
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I love all these already answered questions:

I will say again, I think your house batteries are either
1: Very very low or 2: One (or more) has a shorted cell.

Measure current to the house batteries, if you have a DC clamp on meter use it. I suispect you will find excessive current.

Comment: If your house bank is made up of one or more six volt pairs or a six volt pair in parallel with a 12 volt.. AND it is one of the sixes that has a shorted cell.. Replace both of the batteries in that pair.

Think of six volt batteries like this...

-{Bat}T{ery}+12 volt (the T is a jumper wire).

and always replace both halves of the 12 volt battery at the same time EXCEPT.. if you replace them and one half fails in say one week or less, then you replace just it, under warranty (Had that happen to a 12 volt battery once, Dang thing had a lifetime warranty and did not last the week, They replaced it, and years later replaced it again, and years later the car it was in died of a drug overdose.. Yup, got run over by the drug store shuttle truck).
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:54 PM   #9
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Thanks wa8yxm. I'll double check the batteries in the morning. I have two 12v's in addition to the 12v engine battery.

Not discounting your theory, but I juiced it up with shore power and the batteries are holding a charge. Everything works on 12v (lights, fridge, vent fans, TVs). The rate of discharge appears to be normal and when depleted, an hour on the shorepower puts everything right back at 100%. In the past, when the coach batteries dropped down below what was needed to start the generator, I'd just crank up the 454 and the genset would have the extra kick to fire right up. Not so, this time.

I'm the first one to admit that my knowledge of all things electrical registers near Idiot on the smartness scale, so rest assured that I am following up with all these suggestions - as time permits.

Got a good laugh out of the drug overdose of your car. With everything going on right now, I needed it.

Pretty wife gave me until Thursday to have this resolved or call a Pro. She's ready for a weekend at the local campground. No long trips until I get 6 new tires though.

BFlinn, I appreciate the info, but I'm going to focus on the generator and not even going to touch the A/C. We've got the rear air that's working fine, so I'll let CW weigh in on what the front one needs and either repair or replace it based on cost. It is 20 years old, so a new unit might be the smarter move.
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Old 05-29-2014, 06:16 AM   #10
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Minibike,

A few things as food for thought...

Using a voltmeter it's imperative to measure the DC voltage right where the 12vdc power is supplied to the genset right next to the START/STOP switch. The 12vdc positive lug is exposed (may have a rubber boot over it) on the Emerald units so it's easily accessed. If you see 12vdc there then hit the START switch and see if the voltage decreases substantially. If so, then I would use a pair of jumper cables to another known good battery, perhaps jump it from your car, and see if the genset will start. If it starts then you have either a ground or + problem between the genset and your coach batteries. In some cases the genset is powered from the battery bank with a large 150-200 amp inline fuse. Those usually fail due to age and vibration.

Second, as others have mentioned above, I'm amazed that a normal 20amp breakered outlet has powered both of your ACs in the past. Nonetheless you know your coach's operational tendencies better than anybody else. Before condemning the AC I would either try to get plugged into 30 or 50amp somewhere or resolve the genset issue. As the compressors age they do tend to draw more amperage, thats perfectly normal and perhaps is now just starting to show, but could still offer you many more years of service life.

There is nothing you could do operationally with the 120v side that would affect the Emerald series from starting or running. The Emerald series, unlike newer models, will continue running even if it's unable to produce any 120vac.
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Old 05-29-2014, 02:17 PM   #11
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Thanks 94-Newmar, but I've thrown in the towel on this one. The local Cummins/Onan dealer has a tech coming to check it out in the morning. I think you're right, that there's an inline fuse somewhere that's causing the generator problem, but I couldn't locate it. Time to pay for his knowledge. I'll post the solution.

BTW, my 20A circuit won't run both A/Cs simultaneously. I toggled between using the two units when I was troubleshooting why my shorepower breaker was tripping. I dedicated this line 30 years ago and it's handled several RVs over the years - usually just to top off the batteries before a trip and run the A/C for overnight guests or visiting RVers. This is the first RV that we tend to keep plugged in all the time.

Now that I'll be turning the genset over to a pro, I get to research tire choices. I need to replace all 6 before our next road trip.
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Old 05-29-2014, 02:34 PM   #12
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Hi,
Good luck trouble shooting your gen set problem, keep us posted.
Off topic...but future post potential...

Im curious about which tires you go with and how they work out. I use my camper about four or five weekend trips during the summer and I will be replacing my 16 in tires in the future.
Wal*mart gave me a price of around $800.00 for 6, 235/85/16 load range E.
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Old 05-29-2014, 03:14 PM   #13
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Trashman, I've always been a Michelin loyalist on all my cars and trucks. I like the ride quality and quiet ride. Even though they're usually more money up front, averaged over the life of the tire, it's not that bad. But this is the first time I've had the 19.5 rim size. I'm pulling intel from a December 2013 issue of Motorhome magazine to help in my research, but that article only covers the 19.5 and 22.5 sizes. My spare tire was a Sumitomo and after my last Bridgestone blowout, it's now in use. I can't blame the Bridgestones though - they were old, old, old.

With your 16" rimsize, you may want to do some comparison shopping at www.tirerack.com . I've had WalMart match their prices and there is value in the fact that WalMarts are all over the highway if you need warranty coverage when travelling. Good luck to you as well.
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Old 05-30-2014, 10:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 94-Newmar View Post
In some cases the genset is powered from the battery bank with a large 150-200 amp inline fuse. Those usually fail due to age and vibration.
94-Newmar nailed it. It was a fuse. Now I know where it's located. Tech said that the A/C wouldn't have affected it. Just old age and vibration. Ironically, there was a replacement fuse right inside the holder. Literally, in this case knowledge is power and I had neither.



I still want to thank all of you for the other suggestions though. They helped me think outside the box and I will remember them the next time I have a problem. Which with a 20 year old rig we all know will be sooner than later.
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