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 > $3150 to service Onan 7k and replace ignition coils!

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TriumphGuy

Simpsonville, SC, USA

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Posted: 04/30/19 07:57am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi all,
I'm in sticker shock. I took our MH to a Cummins/Onan shop because the genset would not stay running ... kept throwing a code related to ignition.

They have to pull the genset and replace the coils and ignition module ... and are recommending other service "while they are in there."

I had thought I might have been in for about $1500 but not $3k. Quote is 12 hours of shop labor plus ...

Anyone pulled a genset before? I've taken a cursory look at the shop manual everything other than pulling it out seems rather clear to replace the coils and module...


2011 Tiffin Allegro 35QBA (Mack); 2015 VW GTI (Lightning - toad); 2008 Acura MDX SH-AWD (Sally).
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2oldman

New Mexico

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Posted: 04/30/19 08:07am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I feel ya. Just had the same shock getting my truck back from doing a lot of maintenance work. And it took them almost three weeks. And they lied to me.

midnightsadie

ohio

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Posted: 04/30/19 08:30am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

no way would I put three k into a gen set. just for fun look up the price of a new one. and theres gotta be a repair service cheaper than that.

eubank

bosque farms, nm

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Posted: 04/30/19 08:32am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had a similar experience at the Cummins / Onan place in Albuquerque. Not about to go back there again!
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midnightsadie

ohio

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Posted: 04/30/19 08:35am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

just googled it you can buy a new one for a couple bucks more.

TriumphGuy

Simpsonville, SC, USA

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Posted: 04/30/19 08:38am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

midnightsadie wrote:

no way would I put three k into a gen set. just for fun look up the price of a new one. and theres gotta be a repair service cheaper than that.


Exactly. $5k for a new one, $3k for a refurb unit ...

Having trouble finding another shop to work on it though.

Big Katuna

Deland, FL

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Posted: 04/30/19 08:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

midnightsadie wrote:

no way would I put three k into a gen set. just for fun look up the price of a new one. and theres gotta be a repair service cheaper than that.


New is about $5k not installed.

I was quoted $1500 to replace the belt. It’s a grand to drop it and re-place it.

You can get a quote from an independent house.


My Kharma ran over my Dogma.

Jayco-noslide

Galesburg,Il., USA

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Posted: 04/30/19 10:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I share in your shock. Shouldn't 12 hours not cost more than $2000 tops. How much for the parts?


Jayco-noslide

TriumphGuy

Simpsonville, SC, USA

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Posted: 04/30/19 11:08am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jayco-noslide wrote:

I share in your shock. Shouldn't 12 hours not cost more than $2000 tops. How much for the parts?


Apparently $1000 in parts which I'm trying to understand.

I've found that the ignition module is about $150 and coils are about $50 each.

Honestly I was so shocked I didn't ask any questions, all I could do was have the sense to say "I need to think about it" so I could get off the phone...

maillemaker

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Posted: 04/30/19 02:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yes, I've pulled my generator. Had to take it out and put it back in twice in fact. I have an Onan 4BGE. My old 1990 Winnebago has it mounted on a "tilt out" frame, which has "hook" hinges that can be lifted off their mounts when keepers are removed. Then the entire unit lowers and pulls away from the RV. I used a cheap Harbor Freight dolly with some 4X4 lumber on top of it and a hydraulic jack. Others have used motorcycle jacks or transmission jacks.

I think that people who do RV repairs, and RV generator repairs, see RV owners as an easy mark. They tend to be older, and I think they figure if you have enough money to buy the toy you have enough money to pay to have it fixed. Plus labor is just super expensive today. When burger flippers get $10-$15 an hour, mechanics are going to make a lot more. I think it's hard to have anyone even touch your generator for less than $500.

You will get a ton of expert advice on Onan generator work here:

https://www.smokstak.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=1

They will direct you to the service shop manuals for your generator that gives much more diagnostic and repair information than the owner's manual.

You may be able to work on the gennny in your RV, depending on how it is mounted. It can be hard to get to some parts of the genny. It's definitely easier to work on them out of the RV. Trying to get on your knees and contort yourself and work by feel is hard and it's harder when you're older like me.

But, the generators are pretty simple. First, there's the engine. It's pretty bullet proof as long as you don't run it out of oil. Second, there is the generator head. It is also pretty robust, and if it dies, you're pretty much looking at a new generator anyway unless you want to learn how to crack the genny in half and have someone re-wind the head. It can be done.

Things that give problems:

1) Carburetor. If you don't exercise your genny monthly and get fresh fuel running through it, and let it get agitated by heat and vibration from the running genny, you are asking for varnish and mold to build up in the thing. Especially with today's ethanol gas. You can forget about all the so-called "mechanic in a can" fixes like Seafoam or carb cleaner. They almost never work once the internal orifices are plugged up. Sometimes you can rebuild the carb if you are careful. Other times it's easier (or even recommended by Onan) to just replace it. It's about a $300 item.

2) Starter. I found an aftermarket one with a stronger design less prone to failure than my OEM one for about $30.

3) Ignition Coil. I found an aftermarket one for about $30 that included a new condenser as part of the kit.

4) Ignition Control Module. This I had to buy an Onan part. About $100.

So, I replaced my coil, ICM, starter, and new plugs for less than $200. For all the farting around I did trying to troubleshoot, knowing what I know now I would have just dropped $200 and replaced it all from the outset.

My 4BGE has 3 other major components that can fail:

1) Voltage Regulator. Again, if you don't exercise your genny monthly the copper slip rings inside the generator can tarnish, which increases the resistance between the brushes and the slip rings they ride on. This can damage the VR. It's about a $200 item for an aftermarket replacement from Flight Systems. Easy to replace from the front of the genny.

2) Control Board. Super easy to replace from the front of the genny on my 4BGE. Some screws, unplug some sockets. About a $150 part from Flight Systems.

3) Starter Solenoid. Easy to get at from the front of the genny on my 4BGE.

4) Fuel Pump. Hard to get at on my unit - had to drill a hole in the genny mounting pan to get access to one of the bolts that holds the pump to the side of the genny.

So on my Onan 4BGE, for about $600 I can replace every single auxiliary component on the genny.. That's pretty much everything except the motor and the genhead.

By the way, Flight Systems will test the VR and CM for you for $20 each, and if you then buy a new board from them they will apply the test fee to the price of a new component.

One last Achilles heal for the 4BGE (and maybe other Onans) is when they moved from points ignition to a Hall Effect ICM they put the pick-up magnets on a little plastic propeller inside the generator on the shaft, in between the motor and the gen head assemblies. If critters get inside your gen head and build a nest, and you go to fire your genny up, the little plastic propeller can hit this debris and it will shear off its arms. This is a massive problem as now you have to split the generator in half by removing the gen head from the motor so you can install a new magnet rotor. On my 4BGE you can remove the ICM and look down into the genset and manually crank it over and watch the two magnet arms go round and round to see if they are there or not.

The point here is, if you can do some wrench turning, you absolutely can work on a genny yourself. There aren't that many auxiliary components that make it run, and if you buy aftermarket they are cheap, and most of them are easy to replace. The trick is to identify the Onan part number and then you can Google for aftermarket replacements. Just beware because sometimes people claim a match for a part number when it isn't. So double-check before you buy.

Again I highly recommend the people over on the SmokeStak Onan forum for help. These guys restore old generators like some people restore old cars. This is their hobby. most of them are into bigger models than you find in RVs but they still know all about them.

The genny is not that mysterious once you look at it and understand the different components involved.

Steve


1990 Winnebago Warrior. "She may not look like much but she's got it where it counts!"



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