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Old 03-17-2023, 06:59 PM   #1
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Onan 6500 LP Generator - worth saving?

We have an Onan 6500 propane generator (approximately 900 hours) in our 1997 Beaver motorhome. After almost daily use while travelling north from Mexico to Canada over a one month period, it stop working. Pushing the starter results in a grinding kind of sound. My first thought and hope was that it was only the bendix gear.

The service center called me today to say they think the generator is in really bad shape, possibly seized. They will need to pull it and at this point they don't know the extent of the problem. They asked if we really want to put money into it, signaling that it might not be worth it.

I can't believe it's beyond repair and while I appreciate that you need access to accurately assess it, and this means sliding it out of the cavity, wouldn't it be worth it?

If you were in my shoes, what would you do? Any ideas of what possibly could be the problem? I have religiously maintained this generator over the past several years, changing the oil at least twice annually and running it under full load for 2 hours once a month whenever our coach has been idle and in storage - to make sure it doesn't just sit. It's always been a gem.

Please help me save our little gem! All ideas welcome and appreciated.

Many thanks,

Bill
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Old 03-17-2023, 08:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Contigo View Post
We have an Onan 6500 propane generator (approximately 900 hours) in our 1997 Beaver motorhome. After almost daily use while travelling north from Mexico to Canada over a one month period, it stop working. Pushing the starter results in a grinding kind of sound. My first thought and hope was that it was only the bendix gear.

The service center called me today to say they think the generator is in really bad shape, possibly seized. They will need to pull it and at this point they don't know the extent of the problem. They asked if we really want to put money into it, signaling that it might not be worth it.

I can't believe it's beyond repair and while I appreciate that you need access to accurately assess it, and this means sliding it out of the cavity, wouldn't it be worth it?

If you were in my shoes, what would you do? Any ideas of what possibly could be the problem? I have religiously maintained this generator over the past several years, changing the oil at least twice annually and running it under full load for 2 hours once a month whenever our coach has been idle and in storage - to make sure it doesn't just sit. It's always been a gem.

Please help me save our little gem! All ideas welcome and appreciated.

Many thanks,

Bill
That low of hours and on propane I would check it out. Itís got to come out to put a new one in anyway
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Old 03-18-2023, 08:28 AM   #3
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Won't take much shop labor to run up a pretty big bill.

Since the generator has to be pulled anyway it might be worth having them at least drop the oil pan and look for metal. Also check the generator portion for any obvious problems. Not sure what kind of problems the Onan Propane generators have but do some research.



My generator failed, I opted to find a used one, low hours. Got it at a salvage yard, they even installed it.
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Old 03-18-2023, 08:49 AM   #4
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Grinding noise and inside an engine just donít seem common. The starter and ring gear fit that description.
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Old 03-18-2023, 09:03 AM   #5
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Yup, diagnose the issue before trying to make a decision.


Those are very good generators and pretty simple.
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Old 03-18-2023, 09:27 AM   #6
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Could be loose starter not engaging flywheel correctly, etc. I wouldnít jump to conclusions with out checking things out thoroughly. You may have it at the wrong shop as it sounds like they donít want to properly diagnose the problem.
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Old 03-18-2023, 10:48 AM   #7
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I do not have eyes on it and don't like to 2nd guess shops.. but I do.. if you do have suspicions then get 2nd opinion.. seems low hours.. and if you are paying 200 p/1hr labor.. putting on new flywheel could get up there.. so take it for 2nd opinion.. if I were you .. are you original owner ?
Good luck and keep us posted
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Old 03-18-2023, 10:53 AM   #8
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Yep, got to pull it anyway. I would want to know what's wrong and why before I made the decision to replace
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Old 03-18-2023, 04:13 PM   #9
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If the service center isn't a Cummins/Onan branded shop you're at the wrong place. If it's an RV service center you're definitely at the wrong place.

Sounds like it's a starter problem. I don't see how they could conclude "really bad shape, possibly seized" by looking at the front and top of it. They couldn't have wrenched it over to see if it's really seized since nothing's accessible from there. I think they're just blowing up your skirts.

I have a 1993 6500LP. A few years ago it stopped making electricity so I had a supposedly "certified" expert to come take a look. He confirmed that it stopped making electricity, (duh) then announced that it would have to come out to do any diagnosis and that would cost about $2,000US at his shop, then any repair cost would be on top of that. I then went to the Cummins/Onan shop about 80 miles up the road. The tech used his magic stick to scrub off the slip rings and cleaned the brushes and we were out in about an hour, at the lowest labor charge of $125.

Then last summer there was a tremendous clatter and I stopped the generator. I looked at the front of it and noticed that the outer part of the bearing was gone; I found it sitting on a frame rail. So I went to another Cummins/Onan shop. I'd read the repair manual and knew the generator would have to come out for this repair.

At the time there were three choices. Hope the rotor was ok and repair my generator. Second was to replace it with a Onan QG 4000/3600LP, which would fit, but would cost about $6,000US plus installation and expected availability was about a year away, or install another brand equivalent for $4,000. Since my generator had about 700 hours on it, I opted to spend about $2500US to have that $26 bearing replaced.

With luck it'll be good for another 30 years.
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Old 03-19-2023, 12:43 PM   #10
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That low of hours and on propane I would check it out. Itís got to come out to put a new one in anyway
Thank you, and I too thought the low hours meant something. And you're right, it has to come out anyway to assess. Sometimes I just need a good kick, thanks!
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Old 03-19-2023, 12:47 PM   #11
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Won't take much shop labor to run up a pretty big bill.

Since the generator has to be pulled anyway it might be worth having them at least drop the oil pan and look for metal. Also check the generator portion for any obvious problems. Not sure what kind of problems the Onan Propane generators have but do some research.



My generator failed, I opted to find a used one, low hours. Got it at a salvage yard, they even installed it.
Great point about dropping the oil pan, thank you! I'll keep the salvage option open, in case we get the worst news possible. Appreciate your comments.
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Old 03-19-2023, 12:49 PM   #12
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Grinding noise and inside an engine just donít seem common. The starter and ring gear fit that description.
Thanks for mentioning this, it's my best hope and what i went to right away. Will keep you posted once I know.
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Old 03-19-2023, 12:51 PM   #13
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Yup, diagnose the issue before trying to make a decision.


Those are very good generators and pretty simple.
For sure, it makes sense, doesn't it. And thanks for your encouraging words about the quality of this generator. That helps me to appreciate it. Fingers crossed.
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Old 03-19-2023, 12:58 PM   #14
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Could be loose starter not engaging flywheel correctly, etc. I wouldnít jump to conclusions with out checking things out thoroughly. You may have it at the wrong shop as it sounds like they donít want to properly diagnose the problem.
Thank you! I think you've nailed it about the shop. They're trying to be polite Canadians but I suspected their hesitation and you apparently can too! I'm going to look at other options, I'll talk with them this week. I was surprized they didn't mention the potential starter / flywheel problem.
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