Generators, sigh

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JRHill
JRHill Registered Users Posts: 281 ✭✭✭
I won't go through the whole history but generators, they are a big issue. In an off grid system the balance between supplementary generation and what you get, or don't get, is critical.

Next to batteries the next biggest expense is generation. I have a wonderful EU7000is that was a jewel until it wasn't. The low oil sensor failed. Dang. there was a $4500 generator gone south. AND NO PARTS.

But I still have this Champion 3100 inverter. It's old. But it works really good. I could buy several of them for the Honda cost. No, it doesn't have the output but it just keeps working. If it dies I doubt I could get parts. But it was cheap. The Honda? when it dies and you can't get parts. $4500 gone south.

The whole thing is frustrating. 
Off Grid. Two systems: 1) 2925w panels, OB VFXR3648, FM80, FNDC, Victron BMV-712, Mate3s, 240 xformer, four SimpliPHI 3.8; 2) 780w, Morningstar 30a, Grundfos switch, controller and AC/DC pump, 8 T105. Honda EU7000is w/AGS. Champion 3100. HF 4550, Miller Bobcat.

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  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,442 admin
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    Sorry to hear about the parts issue... Just out of curiosity (I have eu3000is and eu2000i gensets for backup power--So finding parts/debugging may be an issue in my future), Honda does not have oil level switch (and other parts) available?

    From this quick youtube video, on the Honda eu2000i, the sensor is a simple "open" there is oil. And a "closed/shorted" connection there is low oil (similar open/shorted output for other Honda GX engines?):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5sHxLLry8Y
    Also, this website has (qty=2) switches available (for a very expensive $65 each) for the eu7000is (I think)

    https://www.ereplacementparts.com/switch-assy-oil-level-p-556938.html

    And if this is a generic GX240 Engine, this site has one for $33 each:

    https://www.lawnmowerpartstore.com/low-oil-level-sensor-switch-for-honda-gx240-gx270-gx340-gx390-15510ze2033-15510ze2043-15510ze2053-15510-ze2-033-15510-ze2-043-15510-ze2-053/

    It looks like need more information on specific engine model and serial number range to get the "right" part.

    And from a quick browsing--I have know idea where the oil switch is or how it is installed on/in the engine. Generic GX240 oil switch discussion:

    https://tractorpoint.com/cgi-bin/tractor/pda_msgByThread.pl?parentnum=132818

    I guess can always run with the oil switch disconnected for now... Nice to have a low oil safety switch--But no run genset is not doing much good for now.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,442 admin
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    I guess there is also an "Oil Alert" module on the GX240 (external switch/interface?)...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AHJQ0xL7Bk

    Champion seems to have a similar low oil sensor--Bypass the sensor:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89id49yJB1M

    Here is a Predator engine oil sensor removal (looks similar)... Probably will be a pain in the rear for a Honda inverter-generator (lots of parts to take off to get to the engine):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnKZ_Y5CaGE

    Looks like a float in the bottom of the crankcase. In the Champion video, it seems that the float can stick to the bottom of the sensor housing (shipped/stored without oil?). They disconnect the yellow wire/plug and run the engine for 20-30 minutes to see if heat and vibration will unstick the float...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • MadJack
    MadJack Solar Expert Posts: 47 ✭✭
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    JRHill
    It is amazing what you will find [for Honda engines] on Amazon!  While the EU series Honda Genny's suck to dig into, you can find most any part, parts, and bundles of parts for Honda engines!
    Last summer I acquired an older saw mill with the Honda 13HP. Pretty much rebuilt the whole fuel and electrical systems for for $43 and free shipping. (Big box o' parts!)
  • JRHill
    JRHill Registered Users Posts: 281 ✭✭✭
    edited March 2022 #5
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    I'll look into that further when the time comes. I am a JM machinist and experienced mechanic on everything from chain saws to locomotives to racing. But at my age I just don't have the initiative for major projects or even minor - as a generator might be considered. We'll see then winter is done and I clean the shop up :-(. but hey, I know where everything is, mostly.

    But here is a curious observation: with the loss of the EU7000 I dropped back to backup sources. The Miller Bobcat welder is great for AC but it is a phenomenal fuel hog. Spinning 3600 rpm for only 20aac from a 11kw genset is ridiculous. But it always starts regardless of weather.

    2nd is an old Champion 3100 inverter. It's been love-hate for years with fuel system problems. Its working fine for now. But a curiosity here: When I dial back the charging current to14aac into 4ea 3.8 PHIs, its a small input from the genset but it runs its course and hits CPM consistently. But not so much from when using the EU7000 or the Bobcat at higher inputs.

    I don't believe its the PHIs as they don't care. But its the friggin BMSs. For the 'ol school Outback FNDC its based upon lead. They haven't been motivated to come out with a unit for lithium. So I wanted to compare the FNDC with the Victron BMV-712 Smart which is more configurable, At least for Peukert's law formula. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peukert's_law. The FNDC is configurable but it is a PITB. When correctly configured it is supposed to chime in well with the Victron.

    I am so completely pissed off with Outback. I won't go into details. HUGE original investment and then upgrades for the PHIs.

    Do your research.


    Off Grid. Two systems: 1) 2925w panels, OB VFXR3648, FM80, FNDC, Victron BMV-712, Mate3s, 240 xformer, four SimpliPHI 3.8; 2) 780w, Morningstar 30a, Grundfos switch, controller and AC/DC pump, 8 T105. Honda EU7000is w/AGS. Champion 3100. HF 4550, Miller Bobcat.
  • JRHill
    JRHill Registered Users Posts: 281 ✭✭✭
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    BB. said:
    I guess there is also an "Oil Alert" module on the GX240 (external switch/interface?)...

    -Bill
    Bill, I avoided your thoughtful responses for a reason: my own embarrassment. Yes, the oil level sensor was failed (2 years). It was pretty easy to troubleshoot. Once the wire to the sensor was disconnected the unit worked perfectly. But the obvious down side - no low oil sensor. Not a problem as I checked the oil regularly and it used NO oil and always was light opaque at 100hrs.

    Then last year I began to have a problem with the oil level climbing. The oil was getting substantially darker. Not good. Duh, what could do that? I began checking the oil level for not being low but being high. Smelling a dipped finger. Yup. It was gasoline. So I kept a close eye on it while I researched and that would seem a new $100 injector was in order. Ordered and waiting. And waiting. So one a day I was changing oil which was becoming frequent awaiting the injector. I hadn't shut off the Automatic Generator Start. Middle of the day, full sun and no reason for the genset to start but it did. Mid oil change. Before I got to it the damage was done. Stuck. Dang I haven't set AGS to OFF.

    After beating my head on a nearby tree I added a bit of Marvel MO down the spark plug hole and waited another week. Pulled the cord and it rolled but with no compression and a rattle from the crank case. I suspect I lost the connecting rod but I don't think the case was damaged - that would be a miracle. Yeah, the low end shouldn't break but the top end. It's a major failure.

    All over a failed low oil sensor. It can't be fixed without shelling the whole engine. The low oil sensor comes out from the inside of the crankcase. That's not a tune up item.

    So there it is - another got you from living off grid. I should've known better. At least to set AGS to OFF.

    From the beginning I wanted our system to be friendly, mainly for the DW. With the lithium's we are about there but I took a major step backward on a really stupid thing.
    Off Grid. Two systems: 1) 2925w panels, OB VFXR3648, FM80, FNDC, Victron BMV-712, Mate3s, 240 xformer, four SimpliPHI 3.8; 2) 780w, Morningstar 30a, Grundfos switch, controller and AC/DC pump, 8 T105. Honda EU7000is w/AGS. Champion 3100. HF 4550, Miller Bobcat.
  • checkthisout
    checkthisout Registered Users Posts: 31 ✭✭
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    The low oil floats stick. You just aggressively tilt the machine side to side a few times letting it thud against the ground and it frees right up. 

    Sounds like the decompressor is now sticking. The cam might be wiped. Did you tear it down and check it out?

    So the injector was injecting enough fuel to fill the crankcase? Were you getting black smoke at that time as well?

    Bummer.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,442 admin
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    JR,

    Wow, that is terrible. AGS more or less tanked your engine during a simple oil change... And waiting (forever...) for a replacement injector.

    I can see not wanting to revisit that chain of events again, and again...

    Take care,
    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset