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Old 11-30-2021, 11:29 AM   #1
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Onan 5500 generator issue on 1999 model F 53

Onan Marquis 5500 gas powered generator (on 1999 Pinnacle Class A) quit putting out power then stalled out, after running about 6 or 7 hours during an overnight stop.. No circuit breakers were tripped.. But I seen the display on the fridge saying "E" meaning low current, I believe.. Then the fridge defaulted via "automatic" power mode, meaning it went to propane, and it worked fine for remainder of my 3 day trip, because the fridge electricals are 12 volt D.C. while in propane mode.. I had been using a 1500 watt space heater, which was never a problem before, since the Onan has plenty of capacity for this amount of load, and I always make sure not to run anything else which draws lots of power at same time (microwave or toaster, for example)
I done a little "on-line" research and I am finding references to the oil dipstick add (and) fill lines being incorrectly positioned on the plastic dipstick ? They are saying that the actual "full" level on the stick should be much lower than the factory marks indicate, and that filling oil level to the existing "add" mark actually results in the crankcase being Over Filled ? I have read that later model generators will shut down automatically if motor oil level is either too low or too high.. My question is whether this problem exists on an Onan as old as mine ? (1999 I believe) Before I start the trouble shooting process, I want to make sure this oil dipstick is not the root cause of my generator issue. Also - I wonder if it would be a good idea to order a replacement voltage regulator and a circuit control board, and carry them as spares from now on, since this Onan is fairly old.. 465 hours is all it has on it, but I realize that age and infrequent usage could be factors with these generators.. This one has always worked fine during the four years I have owned the RV, and I have given it frequent oil changes also..Any helpful input or comments would be much appreciated, thanks everyone
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Old 11-30-2021, 12:02 PM   #2
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How old is fuel pump and fuel line and filter ? I would start there.. when was last time you cleaned armature slip rings ?
Good luck and let us know what you did and maybe better members then me will help you
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Old 11-30-2021, 01:36 PM   #3
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We have a 2000 version of your genset. In addition to your and donr103's suggestions you might check your batteries (disconnected from coach) to see what amps they have. We had a problem where the genset would start and run a while, then quit. Then we couldn't restart it. We actually have had an oil level issue in the past, so that is real. I checked it and it looked good. The genset would only click so we checked the fuel flow. It flowed. Inside the coach we checked the amps showing on the monitor - 13.7amps. Ooops, then I remembered to disconnect the batteries and ckecked them independently. 2.4amps! They were almost dry. Have had them nearly eight years and have regularly checked for water and cleanliness. I guessed it was caused by a vampire drain of some sort, or maybe it was just their time to go. Replaced both batteries and that solved the problems. Good luck.
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Old 12-01-2021, 11:03 PM   #4
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1999 Onan 5500 generator

Quote:
Originally Posted by donr103 View Post
How old is fuel pump and fuel line and filter ? I would start there.. when was last time you cleaned armature slip rings ?
Good luck and let us know what you did and maybe better members then me will help you
Thanks Don, Great point about the age of the Fuel Pump, line and Filter, on my 23 year old RV I sure plan to replace those items right away (I should have done so already) but my generator engine was still starting pretty easy and running, just no A.C. (current) being produced.. So i am focusing more on the electrical side of things.. The unit being 23 years old, I am considering just ordering a circuit board and voltage regulator, because (in any case) if those items are not defective, I would at least have the spare parts in the event I need them.. As far as cleaning the armature slip rings, i have never done so, and I have no way of knowing whether the previous owner ever did.. I will have to do a search for further information on that, Thanks for the idea.. I probably will start by looking for the obvious (severed wire from rodent gnawing, or short circuit created by some kind of critter (no joke) I will definitely report on what I find ,Thanks Again
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Old 12-01-2021, 11:21 PM   #5
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Onan 5500 generator failure 1999 F 53

Quote:
Originally Posted by peggwn View Post
We have a 2000 version of your genset. In addition to your and donr103's suggestions you might check your batteries (disconnected from coach) to see what amps they have. We had a problem where the genset would start and run a while, then quit. Then we couldn't restart it. We actually have had an oil level issue in the past, so that is real. I checked it and it looked good. The genset would only click so we checked the fuel flow. It flowed. Inside the coach we checked the amps showing on the monitor - 13.7amps. Ooops, then I remembered to disconnect the batteries and checked them independently. 2.4amps! They were almost dry. Have had them nearly eight years and have regularly checked for water and cleanliness. I guessed it was caused by a vampire drain of some sort, or maybe it was just their time to go. Replaced both batteries and that solved the problems. Good luck.
Thanks for the input, Peggwn, My coach batteries are less than a year old, and I keep them slow charged continuously using Battery Tender Jr chargers. (only about 1.5 amps each) Some loss of battery water will occur over time, but taking a look (topping them off) often enough to stay ahead of it has worked pretty well, so far.. But about the Oil Level in your generator : What issue were you having ? Did your generator shut itself off because your oil level was incorrect ? Please let me know, Thanks Again
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Old 12-03-2021, 12:10 AM   #6
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BeenThere B4 - Yes, oil level was an issue. Evidently when I changed the oil I didn't wait long enough for the new oil to "settle", so when I checked it, it looked to be at the correct level. I managed to get the genset started, but it quit after a few minutes. When I checked the level again, it was low. So I added a little more oil and let it settle again and tried running again. It was difficult to start and when it did, it only ran a few minutes and quit. I checked the oil and this time it showed too much. I drained a little, let it settle, and now all seems to be well, so I must have finally arrived at the correct level. I have to say, there must be a better way to determine the oil level than using that silly little cap thingy the Onans have. Clean, clear oil is difficult to "read" on a yellow dipstick that is short and really has no easy to distinguish level markings.
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Old 12-05-2021, 09:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peggwn View Post
BeenThere B4 - Yes, oil level was an issue. Evidently when I changed the oil I didn't wait long enough for the new oil to "settle", so when I checked it, it looked to be at the correct level. I managed to get the genset started, but it quit after a few minutes. When I checked the level again, it was low. So I added a little more oil and let it settle again and tried running again. It was difficult to start and when it did, it only ran a few minutes and quit. I checked the oil and this time it showed too much. I drained a little, let it settle, and now all seems to be well, so I must have finally arrived at the correct level. I have to say, there must be a better way to determine the oil level than using that silly little cap thingy the Onans have. Clean, clear oil is difficult to "read" on a yellow dipstick that is short and really has no easy to distinguish level markings.
Thanks for the reply, Peggwn - When changing the oil in your Onan, do you "prime" the new filter ? (Fill it full of new oil before you install it ?) The oil level will stabilize a little sooner for you that way.. But I am finding information (a Youtube video) saying the dipstick markings indicating oil level (the add and the full marks) are not positioned where they should be. This would mean that if you top the oil level off right at the "full" mark on the dipstick, your engine is actually overfilled.. Perhaps this subject has been addressed on this forum (or others) I plan to check into it more in depth before I start a new thread..
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Old 12-06-2021, 11:23 PM   #8
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BeenThereB4 - I do not. It creates a massive mess. i have to slide it in horizontally, so oil gets everywhere during the process. Your upcoming thread would be of interest. Thanks.
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Old 12-07-2021, 09:23 AM   #9
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May be dirty slip rings and/or worn brushes

On a recent trip I had a very similar issue with my Onan 5500. I tested power at the transfer switch and it was getting 120VAC on the input side, but the switch (solenoid?) would not engage to send power to the coach. That threw me off and I replaced the part. $200 later and still no power. Disappointing to say the least. In hindsight I believe the 120 volts was only being delivered intermittently and the switch requires steady voltage for about 20-30 seconds before it engages the solenoid (making that satisfying "click") to deliver power.

Long story short it turned out to be dirty slip rings. Access is behind the air filter box. While there I noticed the brushes seemed to be somewhat worn down. I cleaned the slip rings and we were fine boondocking on the way home. I've since ordered new brushes and springs (they are on backorder now) and will be replacing them when they arrive. There is a VERY helpful video that clearly shows how to access and replace the brushes and clean the slip rings.



Hope this helps!

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Old 12-09-2021, 09:30 AM   #10
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priming oil filter on generator

Quote:
Originally Posted by peggwn View Post
BeenThereB4 - I do not. It creates a massive mess. i have to slide it in horizontally, so oil gets everywhere during the process. Your upcoming thread would be of interest. Thanks.
The way I do it, almost no oil is lost, due to "horizontal" position where the filter screws on.. I dump new oil in the filter just till it appears full to the top, then I allow the oil level to "settle" inside the filter.. this takes it down to where you can tip it over and install it while losing hardly any of the new oil. I figure a totally dry filter is not the best thing for any engine, wanting to avoid any "dry start" as much as possible.. Although the filter is not totally full using this method, I think having at least some oil in it is better than none at all..
Then I put the rest of the two quarts of oil in and run the engine a couple minutes, making whatever adjustment of added oil is needed to bring it to the full mark on the stick..
Of course, if you top off the new oil (in the filter) till it is full, you would be losing quite a bit of it upon installation, that is true..
Thanks for your input, Peggwn, much appreciated
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Old 12-09-2021, 10:06 AM   #11
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checking brushes and replacing the brush block

Quote:
Originally Posted by tedwhe View Post
On a recent trip I had a very similar issue with my Onan 5500. I tested power at the transfer switch and it was getting 120VAC on the input side, but the switch (solenoid?) would not engage to send power to the coach. That threw me off and I replaced the part. $200 later and still no power. Disappointing to say the least. In hindsight I believe the 120 volts was only being delivered intermittently and the switch requires steady voltage for about 20-30 seconds before it engages the solenoid (making that satisfying "click") to deliver power.

Long story short it turned out to be dirty slip rings. Access is behind the air filter box. While there I noticed the brushes seemed to be somewhat worn down. I cleaned the slip rings and we were fine boondocking on the way home. I've since ordered new brushes and springs (they are on backorder now) and will be replacing them when they arrive. There is a VERY helpful video that clearly shows how to access and replace the brushes and clean the slip rings.



Hope this helps!

Ted
Thank you so much, Ted, that is exactly the kind of info I was seeking to find on this .. Your Onan 5500 is close to the same vintage as mine, but I am wondering how many hours (on unit) would be considered typical when it gets to the point that the brushes are worn out ? My Onan shows just 465 hours on the meter, which is probably on the low side for a 21 or 22 year old RV.. So I am wondering, would you happen to know about how many hours were showing on your generator when the brushes and brush block needed attention ? I am thinking of ordering the needed parts (brushes) for mine so whenever that failure does occur, hopefully I will be all set to deal with it.. I have had pretty good results ordering parts from Amazon for my RV (circuit boards and such) Just need to make sure what the vendor's policy is on returns, in case they send you something that is "close" but not identical..
I might start a new thread inquiring where the best sources seem to be for Onan generator parts (perhaps this subject has been previously addressed on this great forum ?)
Your input and the video link are greatly appreciated, Ted, I will sure check that out, and will post later on about my results..
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Old 12-10-2021, 09:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeenThereB4 View Post
Thank you so much, Ted, that is exactly the kind of info I was seeking to find on this .. Your Onan 5500 is close to the same vintage as mine, but I am wondering how many hours (on unit) would be considered typical when it gets to the point that the brushes are worn out ? My Onan shows just 465 hours on the meter, which is probably on the low side for a 21 or 22 year old RV.. So I am wondering, would you happen to know about how many hours were showing on your generator when the brushes and brush block needed attention ? I am thinking of ordering the needed parts (brushes) for mine so whenever that failure does occur, hopefully I will be all set to deal with it.. I have had pretty good results ordering parts from Amazon for my RV (circuit boards and such) Just need to make sure what the vendor's policy is on returns, in case they send you something that is "close" but not identical..
I might start a new thread inquiring where the best sources seem to be for Onan generator parts (perhaps this subject has been previously addressed on this great forum ?)
Your input and the video link are greatly appreciated, Ted, I will sure check that out, and will post later on about my results..
My generator had just under 500 hours on it when this issue happened. My guess is the dirty slip rings have more to do with driving on dusty roads and the generator sitting idle for long periods of time than the number of hours on the Hobbís meter (Iím the third owner of this rig and have no idea if previous owners ran the genset often enough). I should re-state that the brushes on mine were not completely worn out - they worked fine after I cleaned the slip rings. I will check the wear again per that video (see video 1:45-2:10).


Iíve found the Cummins/Onan website to be extremely frustrating to use. I ordered my parts from Jackís Small Engine repair (jackssmallengines.com). I ordered back in October and received the two springs and ONE brush. The second has been on backorder since then, but they tell me itís (finally) coming next week. Here is some detail for my generator and part order:

Onan Marquis 5500, model: 5.58GMFA26105H

A053W559 Generator Brush $7.68 each
212127603 Generator Brush Spring $4.22 each

Shipping was about $8.50


(Note that some sites say that P/N A053W559 has been superseded by Cummins # 214-0103.)

Someone else recommended yakimagenerator.com as a good source Ė however I just looked at their website and it says they are currently not taking orders Ė maybe closed for Christmas?

Hope this is helpful.
Ted
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Old 12-12-2021, 10:26 AM   #13
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Onan 5500 generator issue on 1999 F 53

Quote:
Originally Posted by tedwhe View Post
My generator had just under 500 hours on it when this issue happened. My guess is the dirty slip rings have more to do with driving on dusty roads and the generator sitting idle for long periods of time than the number of hours on the Hobbís meter (Iím the third owner of this rig and have no idea if previous owners ran the genset often enough). I should re-state that the brushes on mine were not completely worn out - they worked fine after I cleaned the slip rings. I will check the wear again per that video (see video 1:45-2:10).


Iíve found the Cummins/Onan website to be extremely frustrating to use. I ordered my parts from Jackís Small Engine repair (jackssmallengines.com). I ordered back in October and received the two springs and ONE brush. The second has been on backorder since then, but they tell me itís (finally) coming next week. Here is some detail for my generator and part order:

Onan Marquis 5500, model: 5.58GMFA26105H

A053W559 Generator Brush $7.68 each
212127603 Generator Brush Spring $4.22 each

Shipping was about $8.50


(Note that some sites say that P/N A053W559 has been superseded by Cummins # 214-0103.)

Someone else recommended yakimagenerator.com as a good source Ė however I just looked at their website and it says they are currently not taking orders Ė maybe closed for Christmas?

Hope this is helpful.
Ted
Thank you, Ted that is very helpful, much appreciated indeed !
Finding good sources for parts (on anything) can be challenging now days (I sometimes see a lot of empty shelves at a hardware store) online sources are often the the best answer to the problem, especially for the vintage RV owner or mechanic. I'm thinking that if I determine which parts are likely to eventually fail on my Onan, and order them, I will probably be glad I done that, one of these days.. I especially appreciate the recommendation to use Jack's small engine, will look into that - Thanks again
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Old 12-15-2021, 11:17 PM   #14
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Fuel issue?

Do you have more than a 1/4 tank of gas in your coach? Generators will not receive fuel if there is less than 3/8 of a full tank of gas(typically) so you want to make sure that there is atleast 1/4 of fuel in your coach(just to be on the safe side)
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