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Onan Generators Restoring, operating and maintaining vintage Onan generators.

Onan Generators

Thanks to Onan!

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Old 11-18-2017, 07:02:53 AM
JohnnyC JohnnyC is offline
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Default Re: Thanks to Onan!

I had a commercial generator that I found in the local municipal dump shortly after Y2K. It was a 1958 Westinghouse. I fixed it up and kept it. After Hurricanes Irene and Sandy struck my area leaving no utility power for days, my Westinghouse ran perfectly, but since it ran on gasoline I almost did not make it through Hurricane Sandy since gas stations could not pump and those that did ran out of gasoline.

After Sandy I started looking for a commercial generator that ran on natural gas and I found an Onan 15.0 JC on Craigslist that was only several miles away. I knew nothing about Onans or what an Onan is, but I bought it anyway and as usual with many things I own, I restored it and found this forum to ask questions and later hopefully contributed. While restoring the JC I caught the Green Disease and restored something like 4 or 5 other Onans.

New Jersey
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Old 11-18-2017, 08:45:08 AM
YellowLister YellowLister is offline
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Default Re: Thanks to Onan!

I spent alot of years living on a tobacco farm in ky as a young kid and teen, learning how to fix tractors and engine's, we had 3 onans.. rdjc and 2 djcs and A old 40 kw g.e gen with A 4.71 Detroit, they were really neat to me back then.. but I was to into old trucks motorcycles and young girls to really catch the bug..

A buddy i worked with fixing equipmemt in 2005 gave me a djb after someone hit a utility pole and we lost power for 9 hours.. he had pulled it out of a firetruck he bought just for the cab and chassis

It had been sitting in his garage for some 5 years, but fired right up and ran perfect, looked like new even tho it was a 87 model year, and would pick up a full load with a good grunt and bit of smoke.. after tuning it up and installing it in my shed I got hooked.. still have that djb, and have had probably over 250 onans and other gens over the years.. buying them cheap some in sad sad shape fixing and selling them for cheap usually just breaking even, but had fun and learned something,.. and helped someone get a American made generator that will last a very long time if cared for. Made some good friends from fixing onans, and fixing them has made a good path for my future.
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Old 11-18-2017, 08:55:25 AM
Handyhiker1 Handyhiker1 is offline
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Default Re: Thanks to Onan!

I was a mechanic in the oil fields and also did automotive repair. I have just always tinkered with anything mechanical. Growing up I always had some kind of motorcycle or two. Tear them down and repair, rebuild what was needed. Then got into Quads. I had 6 at one time mostly trail riding stuff. In 2012 I was in an accident that almost took my life, a head on with me on a motorcycle and a car. They did not expect me to live. After I proved them wrong, then they said I may never walk again. After I was in that wheel chair a while I knew that was not for me. Months of physical therapy and a lot of painful days, I learned to walk again. After the recovery, I just needed something to keep my mind going, couldn't ride anymore so no interest in working on motorcycles. Traded some stuff for a Onan 4.0cck that was laying in a guys yard. Got it home, found this site and just really like the challenge of finding a cheap old Onan and breathing new life into it. I have had 7 since then and still have 2 that I am working on.
The Onans may be old, but I think working on them keeps me young and my mind working.
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Old 11-18-2017, 11:41:54 AM
JT240Z JT240Z is offline
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Default Re: Thanks to Onan!

For me, it started when I picked up a sad 1992 Airstream Land Yacht motorhome for $2000. It needed extensive repairs to the inner walls since a roof leak had damaged them. It was originally listed for $7000 but the owner hadn't been in it for several years. When I went to look at it we found the roof leak and the subsequent damage. He reduced the price and away I went with it. The MH did have some very attractive options that made it worth the price. Besides the 8 Alcoa aluminum wheels worth the purchase price it had an Onan 7.0NHM genset with 412 hours. After some carb cleaning and slip ring cleaning, it fired up and produced good power. I was very impressed with how much the genset could power without a struggle. Two 13Kbtu AC units and a microwave without a hickup. Worked on the motorhome for close to a year and it was finally restored. Been using the MH for close to 5 years now. Still had the Onan running strong. Now with over 700 hours on the clock.

A few months ago I went to fire up the genset and ... Dam! Fired right up but no power. Dropped the generator and began the troubleshooting process. With some help from here, I found that the slip rings were bad and needed cleaning again. Unfortunately, it also took out the regulator $$$. After replacement, she came back to life and was reinstalled. Before I did get her running I decided to look for a replacement since I was due for a trip to the races that needed the genset working. I found a 6.5NHM LP genset for a good price with only 68 hours on the clock. Was used for a housing standby and was rarely used. Was still bolted to the original shipping pallet from the Onan dealer. A month ago the wife started to ask if the new generator could be the house back up. Started to figure what it could handle. Then the wife started to inject what she would like to have running. To make a long story short I ended up finding a 15.0JC that would fit her needs. Was originally used as a back up for a store location and was wired for 3 phase. Was rarely used and had less than 50 hours on the clock according to the transfer switch. Still had the original oil filter installed. It had all I wanted. Extended stack, tri-fuel capable, and is 12 wire reconnectable. Came with an LT transfer switch, two sub-panels and about 300 feet of #6 wire. Paid $1700 but I now feel I got lucky and it was a good deal.

Let's just say that I've acquired the green fever and now keep looking the CL ads to see what pops up.
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Old 11-18-2017, 11:50:02 AM
Leon N. Leon N. is offline
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Interesting question you asked. Well, it all started with me when I was 16. Bought my first used car for $25. Had it towed home because the engine would not turn over. Well, put water in the radiator and it ran out the exhaust pipe! Talk about a disappointment. I got screwed and Dad let me know. Well Dad helped me rebuild that 1940 Ford V-8 and that's how I became interested in mechanical things, especially engines. After high school went on to Wentworth Institute, got an associate degree in Industrial Electricity. That's how I became interested in motor driven generators both AC and DC, paralleling, starting big Caterpillar diesels in the labs, etc. etc.

Jump to 1969, we purchased our first and only new home. Always wanted a standby power generator. Purchased my JB at an Connecticut tobacco farm auction also in 1969. Wow when I think back, they had several CCKs, JB's and JC's. At the time, I took a chance on a CCK and a JB. The later turned out to be a good match for our needs. As I learned more about the Onan JB design, I became hooked and had several interesting discussions during the early 70's with the Onan techs as I refurbished the JB and worked it into our home electrical system. I trenched in 125 feet of gas line and underground cables locating the JB in its' own generator shed where it continues to function to this day.
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Old 11-18-2017, 12:54:43 PM
Newoldstock Newoldstock is offline
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Default Re: Thanks to Onan!

Great question:

My introduction to Onan and Kohler electrics started in my teens.
I would go with my Dad to yard sales and auctions and he would bid or buy thing he saw as of value and under priced.
I learned the basic fixes form my Dad would he sell after it have been rehabbed. ( sometime I got a cut too ).

Next chapter begins int he great ice storm or 98.
I was out of work and spent a lot of time fixing and scavenging generators that were going east to help people out.
I looked for the easy simple stuff to fix and it came back to the same machines I knew from my teens.
Those old units no one wanted were still out there sitting around and were relatively easy to fix and send out to work.

The lights went out in spring 03 and I was on strike and I had no generator.
I knew the power would be unreliable for a week or more ( takes about that long to restart a nuke, about a day to restart a coal plant and several hours to get hydro online ).
Turned out there were not many of those old good generators around and I needed one.
If I wanted something I would have to really look around because even parts had become difficult to find

I brought everything home that looked like it was worth trying to fix.
Most of it was free because no one tries to fix much these days.
I found an Iron horse, a LK205, and a BGE a large Petter some inverters and recently added an old Kohler.

There was also a rethink to the rest of the things I own.
I went to all use all GX clones for everything else and collected enough parts to keep everything simple and easy.
You can't go to the parts store when the power is out so you better be ready with a spare of your own.

Know something else?
Your friends and family will come calling when they have need and nothing works too.
You may as well get used to the idea of lending out machines to those in need.
Every good deed comes back on you.
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Old 11-18-2017, 02:31:46 PM
armandh armandh is offline
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Default Re: Thanks to Onan!

My late mother always said my interest in all things electrical began early,
with sticking a safety pin in a wall socket, sending sparks flying.

my dad's first boat had an exciter cranked Onan 3.5 kw

my first Onan was a gift, free, save the trailer rental.

currently in remission.
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Old 11-18-2017, 03:50:11 PM
Vanman Vanman is offline
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Hmm, well, I have Kohlers... I'm trying to count them in my head, but I believe they are nine...
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Old 11-18-2017, 05:36:03 PM
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John Newman, Jr. John Newman, Jr. is offline
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Default Re: Thanks to Onan!

My first Onan was a wonderful, complete and original W2C unit. Bought it through Ebay and had it shipped () Back then, it was still reasonable to do that....
Now I have 6 complete running W2C gennys and 4 parts donors.
Then I learned about the V-45. A V-4 cylinder 5000 watt 115/230 monster. Managed to acquire one of them, but it needs magneto work. Otherwise complete and in a doghouse. Also purchased through Ebay, but picked up locally.
Then there is a 6.3 NH (?) that was salvaged from an RV that burned. Only damage to the generator was melting the ID tag Still not sure what it really is or when it was made.
Finally I have a 10CW on a trailer. Was used by the Shriners in their annual parade here and pulled behind the float for lights. They have not done the parade for many years now. Apparently they had a lot of them. I got mine from a friend that acquired 4 of them (for $100 each!) and he sold me one at his cost.
John Newman, Jr.
Saint Louis, MO

I Can Probably Fix That
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Old 11-28-2017, 01:58:17 PM
Drangd1 Drangd1 is offline
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Default Re: Thanks to Onan!

My green paint problem started on the farm with a 3020 JD. Then 45 years in electrical construction and maintenance. Bought 5 acres and the power company is being silly about power, water was writing a check. Septic is not much harder. Found a JD 5510 with a backhoe.. Started looking at used gennys on CL and local sale sites. Always had a soft spot for the Kohlers and Onans I had installed. Looked at Kohler and can not afford that, found a 6.5 NH on a trailer for $300. Cobbled mess and after 4 trips across town and I had to show the guy how to wire it. I bought it. I am now converting the gas tank to a shiny AL one. I have removed the cobbled wiring and am mounting a 50 amp and 2 20 gfcis in boxes.
Ok everyone I know the units capacity. I have an Hobart 120/240 welder with a 50 amp plug. God know why, the unit at full tilt boogie draws 19 amps. I have never in the 3 years I have owned it done 3/8" metal. Well with in my units capacity. So I am going though my green machines and getting ready for some hours of run time. I really wanted a diesel Whitte (sp) but those are way to heavy to move around. Got a call from a friend some one out west has an green machine needing maintenance. Maybe I will go look this coming weekend.
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