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Old 03-08-2013, 08:17 AM   #1
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Generator Maintenance

I am over due for the rebuild of my Onan diesel generator. I know several people on here have attempted this themselves, but this is a bigger job than I want to tackle. Being it is a 2000 Itasca Horizon, I understand that it is very labor intensive to remove and replace the generator. My question, is (generally) what have others out there paid for to have this done. I have found it is usually a good idea of having a ball park idea of what a project should cost before listening to a mechanic. Thanks
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Old 03-08-2013, 10:02 AM   #2
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I am over due for the rebuild of my Onan diesel generator. I know several people on here have attempted this themselves, but this is a bigger job than I want to tackle. Being it is a 2000 Itasca Horizon, I understand that it is very labor intensive to remove and replace the generator. My question, is (generally) what have others out there paid for to have this done. I have found it is usually a good idea of having a ball park idea of what a project should cost before listening to a mechanic. Thanks
Cummins West quoted me 1100 not including dropping the unit so they can get to it. That would cover belts, hoses, T-stat, and who knows what else. I decided to wait. The unit is 9 years old with only 150 hrs on it. Given the condition of the rest of the mechanical s there is a fair chance they did everything about 4 years ago on it. Cross my fingers.
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Old 03-08-2013, 10:38 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by GaDawgFan View Post
I am over due for the rebuild of my Onan diesel generator. I know several people on here have attempted this themselves, but this is a bigger job than I want to tackle. Being it is a 2000 Itasca Horizon, I understand that it is very labor intensive to remove and replace the generator. My question, is (generally) what have others out there paid for to have this done. I have found it is usually a good idea of having a ball park idea of what a project should cost before listening to a mechanic. Thanks
GaDawgFan,
Just wondering, why do you think you're over do for a "Rebuild" on your gen? Is it abnormally smoking? How many hours do you have on it? Is it hard to start? Is it not putting out correct 110VAC? Is it abnormally more noisy than it used to be? Is it leaking anything, oil, coolant etc.? Is it throwing codes of any consistency?

These little Kubota diesels can run for an eternity. I recently had my gen about 1/2 way apart due to the needs of replacing the sending unit, a rotor that had one of the magnets disintegrate and explode all over the inside of the gen and, a hard start-pre heat cranking problem. Now, mine is on a slide out tray which, makes service considerably easier than one that's not. In all reality, it's a big tinker-toy set. I even had to pull the head off mine to repair a problem with the lower thermostat housing. And that was way easy.

Just wondering why you think it needs rebuilding? Good luck
Scott
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Old 03-08-2013, 11:46 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by GaDawgFan View Post
I am over due for the rebuild of my Onan diesel generator. I know several people on here have attempted this themselves, but this is a bigger job than I want to tackle. Being it is a 2000 Itasca Horizon, I understand that it is very labor intensive to remove and replace the generator. My question, is (generally) what have others out there paid for to have this done. I have found it is usually a good idea of having a ball park idea of what a project should cost before listening to a mechanic. Thanks
I'm curious too. I have been told that 20,000 hours is not unreasonable if they are maintained correctly and run regularly.
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Old 03-08-2013, 11:51 AM   #5
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Also checking in. My generator is 13 years old and I was under the impression that properly maintained there is no major service that needs to be done till 1k hours.
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Old 03-08-2013, 03:05 PM   #6
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I appreciate the questions. My thinking is first, the unit is 13 years old. What is the expected life span of any belt or hose? I have no idea.

Second, the generator has over 1200 hrs in it. While there were not many miles on the motorhome when I bought it 5 years ago (22,000), the previous owner dry camped quite a bit.

Third, if I simply wait until something fails, will my repair then be more expensive than if I took care of this now?

I appreciate anyone's suggestions.
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Old 03-08-2013, 03:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by GaDawgFan View Post
I appreciate the questions. My thinking is first, the unit is 13 years old. What is the expected life span of any belt or hose? I have no idea.

Second, the generator has over 1200 hrs in it. While there were not many miles on the motorhome when I bought it 5 years ago (22,000), the previous owner dry camped quite a bit.

Third, if I simply wait until something fails, will my repair then be more expensive than if I took care of this now?

I appreciate anyone's suggestions.
GaDawgFan,
Well Sir, 13 years old is up there but, not antique. 1200 hrs is up there too but, I've seen many with a lot more. My son works for an RV repair service here in San Diego and has seen units come in with upwards of 3800 and 4100 hrs and still running just fine. Now, "replacing" worn items is different than "Rebuilding" a whole unit. Yes, there's items that need attention every now and then and, at certain intervals. Onan has charts that have maintenance schedules for their gens which show what needs to be replaced and when.

Now, with all that being said, again is yours still working fine? Any issues? If you have not done any maintenance since purchase, then it might be time for a major service, not a rebuild. And, while it will run a few bucks to have it all done, a competent shop (which sometimes is hard to find) can do it, replace the belt, temp sensor, thermostat, adjust the valves, changing air/oil and fuel filters, coolant and oil, and a couple of other odds and ends for a somewhat reasonable price.

But from that point on, you should be good to go and, you'll know what the condition of the major/minor operating components are in. And, you'll know when the next major maintenance should be. That should do it for ya. Good luck.
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Old 03-08-2013, 04:02 PM   #8
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GaDawgFan,
Well Sir, 13 years old is up there but, not antique. 1200 hrs is up there too but, I've seen many with a lot more. My son works for an RV repair service here in San Diego and has seen units come in with upwards of 3800 and 4100 hrs and still running just fine. Now, "replacing" worn items is different than "Rebuilding" a whole unit. Yes, there's items that need attention every now and then and, at certain intervals. Onan has charts that have maintenance schedules for their gens which show what needs to be replaced and when.

Now, with all that being said, again is yours still working fine? Any issues? If you have not done any maintenance since purchase, then it might be time for a major service, not a rebuild. And, while it will run a few bucks to have it all done, a competent shop (which sometimes is hard to find) can do it, replace the belt, temp sensor, thermostat, adjust the valves, changing air/oil and fuel filters, coolant and oil, and a couple of other odds and ends for a somewhat reasonable price.

But from that point on, you should be good to go and, you'll know what the condition of the major/minor operating components are in. And, you'll know when the next major maintenance should be. That should do it for ya. Good luck.
Scott
Scott, thank for your response. In short, I have kept up with oil and filter changes as well as fuel filter changes. Based on your post, I am inclined to put this project off for another year or so. I know labor costs associated with this job will be high as the unit has to be removed from the bottom of the Motorhome. In reality, the generator is primarily used on the road for AC purposes or so my son can watch a movie. Thank you again.
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Old 03-08-2013, 05:20 PM   #9
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For what it's worth I think that's a wise decision. My generator is now being worked on and it has only 475 hours but it was not functioning correctly.
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Old 03-08-2013, 06:24 PM   #10
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I struggled with the same decision. You may have seen my thread where I dropped the genset and did major service. Mine had 1100 hours and was 11 years old. I had done all the required oil, filter changes and coolant flush and refill (twice). However, I became concerned about the condition of hoses and the drive belt at 11 years of age.

The hoses looked good but one was not properly installed on the radiator (from the factory apparently) so there was a slow leak there. Also, my drive belt had many cracks and looked like it was ready to go.

My genset was running fine but I am glad I took care of it. We rely on it quite a bit and I was not wanting to have a failure on the road and have to be at the mercy of whomever I could find to service it wherever I might be. Now, if mine was mounted on a slide and could be more easily accessed, I probably would have postponed the work for another year.

My local Cummins/Onan shop estimated 5 hours to remove and reinstall the genset in the coach. That did not include the time to do the service it might need after they got it out. I would say $1,000 or so is about right.
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Old 03-09-2013, 09:19 AM   #11
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I struggled with the same decision. You may have seen my thread where I dropped the genset and did major service. Mine had 1100 hours and was 11 years old. I had done all the required oil, filter changes and coolant flush and refill (twice). However, I became concerned about the condition of hoses and the drive belt at 11 years of age.

The hoses looked good but one was not properly installed on the radiator (from the factory apparently) so there was a slow leak there. Also, my drive belt had many cracks and looked like it was ready to go.

My genset was running fine but I am glad I took care of it. We rely on it quite a bit and I was not wanting to have a failure on the road and have to be at the mercy of whomever I could find to service it wherever I might be. Now, if mine was mounted on a slide and could be more easily accessed, I probably would have postponed the work for another year.

My local Cummins/Onan shop estimated 5 hours to remove and reinstall the genset in the coach. That did not include the time to do the service it might need after they got it out. I would say $1,000 or so is about right.
Smlranger, I did read your posts and if mine were on a slide I would do it myself. You did a great job. My concern is exactly as yours around the hoses and drive belt.
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Old 03-09-2013, 08:47 PM   #12
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GaDawg...if it's of any use to your peace of mind, I took a 2000 Fleetwood Discovery into Cummins a couple of years ago and asked them to go through the Generator and do whatever was necessary. I was worried because it had 5600 hours on the Genny.
They checked it out, replaced the oil & filter, recalibrated the output and told me that it was in great shape. They said that a diesel generator should go 100,000 hours if you take care of it. I can't see where you have anything to worry about.
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Old 03-10-2013, 10:18 AM   #13
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GaDawg...if it's of any use to your peace of mind, I took a 2000 Fleetwood Discovery into Cummins a couple of years ago and asked them to go through the Generator and do whatever was necessary. I was worried because it had 5600 hours on the Genny.
They checked it out, replaced the oil & filter, recalibrated the output and told me that it was in great shape. They said that a diesel generator should go 100,000 hours if you take care of it. I can't see where you have anything to worry about.
I would agree the engine should last a long time with proper maintenance. However, did Cummins suggest wear/finite-life items like a water pump belt, hoses and thermostats should last 100,000 hours . Their own service manual clearly states belt, hoses, T-stat should be changed at 1,000 hours. That may be a bit overkill, I'll admit, but letting those items go more than 10 years regardless of hours is risky at best.
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:57 PM   #14
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I would agree the engine should last a long time with proper maintenance. However, did Cummins suggest wear/finite-life items like a water pump belt, hoses and thermostats should last 100,000 hours . Their own service manual clearly states belt, hoses, T-stat should be changed at 1,000 hours. That may be a bit overkill, I'll admit, but letting those items go more than 10 years regardless of hours is risky at best.
No, they didn't. I hadn't owned the coach that long when I took it in, so maybe that stuff had been taken care of long before. They just said that it was now in great shape and should last for many years.
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