Generator starting issues
If your gen, when pushing the button intermittently turns or grunts, it could be as simple as dirty or loose wire connection. Check them all. If it turns but doesn't start listen when pushing button-you should hear a rather loud click which is the fuel solenoid opening. Ours as the wire terminals are exposed simply corrode-had this happen several times, cleaning fixes. I've gotten trained to listen for the click-if it doesn't I don't even try to start and go wiggle the fuel solenoid wires.
But to the starter solenoid...Its possible though unlikely the contacts inside are carboned/pitted to the point doesn't function or intermittent. Cheap enough to possibly fix replace IF that is problem. This only shows disassembly cleaning and putting back together the solenoid. If/when I find solution Ill add. update: After this exercise I actually dropped the generator and cleaned all connections-tested per service manual discovering bad main board. Covered on a new page. Only leaving this intact for fyi.
Servicing starter solenoid-(contactor). Recommend testing first unless your sure. Likely hood that internal contacts on this solenoid are the issue is slim. Test for battery voltage: apply a multi meter lead to the small 12v input terminal (blue wire)- while holding start button after a few seconds you should see full voltage delivered to energize coil-if it fluctuates or drops problem elsewhere-download a copy of service manual. If voltage remains stable at battery voltage terminal but starter doesn't turn check top terminal of solenoid to starter. If full voltage at terminal to starter when button pushed-problem elsewhere, probably starter. If full voltage at small terminal when button pushed but none at top output terminal solenoid not working. Verify continuity with multi meter between 2 small terminals (wiring disconnected). If none, coil wire burnt/broken- Replace. If constant voltage at/thru the 2 small terminals but erratic at top to starter, possibly dirty contacts inside- key words here are erratic at top to starter but consistent at input blue wire AND at battery terminal. I hadn't checked input TO solenoid from blue wire-duh. So went thru the following. Kinda interesting, I now have a nice shiny contacts, something to do on Sunday afternoon. Other than that-didn't accomplish anything.
Or link to generator fix page outlining other possibilities and actual fix, bypassing faulty control board output to starter.
So the story:
Our generator when trying to start will stop turning over, grunts like a bad connection. Then it'll turn over. When starting I don't hold the button for more than a few seconds. let it set then try again. normally it'll fire second third forth or so try. But as mentioned sometimes, usually and getting worse, when pushing in button it just grunts. When it 'grunts' battery takes a large hit. If this happens more than the time its actually turning over it'll flat suck batteries down. This usually occurs in the evening-when wanting to use micro to heat something for dinner. Now we have discharged batteries so forced to get it started or were spending the night dead. Instead of running for 15 minuets to cook were running for 45 min getting the batteries up a bit. Annoying to say the least.
I have in the past had this happen, it will be a dirty connection though usually nothing I see, but cleaning all terminals I can get to on top will cause it to work. Not happening this time and its getting worse. Sometimes using start button on gen is better-sometimes not. last trip I was using a screwdriver -jumping the solenoid terminal and it would turn like crazy. So if it were starter or starter terminal jumping wouldn't help. At home decided to try and fix. As it would turn jumping terminals figured it must be the solenoid-didn't think to check voltage from control board. Thinking I had a fix got on line. Pricing all over the map but I want to check local shop to see if they have one before ordering on line.
But its Sunday so decided to pull solenoid apart just to see until I can get to RV shop. Its an intermittent problem so solenoid isn't dead, maybe just carbon up. Solenoid are just simple coils when activated generate magnetic filed to close contact between battery terminals, same as jumping terminals with a screwdriver. Though the coils can burn up usually its the contacts dirty. Wasn't thinking I could fix but just wanted to see, I have fixed automotive ones but sure these are different.
Hardest part is removing, only because one bolt is up against back side of wiring box. After ensuring battery off/disconnected remove battery cables and other wires. Noting which wires are connected together. It does not matter which large terminal battery is connected to just ensure the small feed wires goes to same terminal. Once main cable off, and two screws removed pull up solenoid-RECORD wires colors and connections.
Either replace at this point or take it a part. Also at this point if you run a12v hot wire and touch the (on mine) blue wire terminal the solenoid will close. If I hit start switch it grunts and doesn't turn over. This was after the fact I discovered its not the solenoid but the blue wire activating it. Somewhere on the convoluted path between the small red wire that connects to battery then disappears up into motor should thru switch and whatever else and back to solenoid is the problem. But as mentioned figured this out afterwards.
Drill out the 4 rivets that hold base to top.
Carefully remove base, mine had a cork gasket. Remove the 'masking' tape, mine fell off.
Remove the spring plate
Here you see the wires from coil soldered to the 2 side terminals screws. You need to carefully remove 2 screws and coil without breaking the wires. At this point note the depth of screws/solder blobs and where insulating strip. Its not a critical depth but everything needs to be flush when reassembling for case to seal.
With nuts on end of screws (to protect threads) gently knock the screws loose evenly, the coil should be loose but the 2 isolating strip wires are embedded in may need to be slightly worked out to follow. You want everything to move together.
Again slowly work the screws, the isolator and coil out as single piece, trying not work the wires. Fairly easy, just don't rush and pay attention. Break a wire you done.
Once free should just come right out. Just ensure all 3 are being moved in unison and should be ok. If you have to pry a bit on insulators try not to scratch the coating on wires.
Remove the center contactor sleeve. This is what, when energized, the coil drives pushing the contactor bar against battery terminals.
Remove the bell. This just centers the coils and pushes the contactor bar pin.
Then pull out the contactor bar and small spring. Note the long side tip goes toward coil. Short tip and small spring go toward case. Now you can see how it works. When coil energized it becomes a magnet, the sleeve is driven pushing contactor bar against the battery terminals creating a path between them, simple.
Now I can see the main terminals. Looks pretty good. All internal parts free and clean, coil has continuity so this solenoid is fine. Some minor carbon and pitting on battery terminal, not enough to impede function but Ill clean since I'm here then put back together. Driving the main terminals out takes a bit more effort. Place nut on end of threads and drive out.
All clean n shiny and reinstalled. I used alcohol to clean and fine emery cloth on both the terminal ends and contacting bar. Don't want to removed too much material. To reinstall use the nuts to pull terminals back into position. If you have a problem DON'T drive them. Using tension on the nuts lightly strike inside with something soft-wood dowel etc. I had a piece of plastic cut from old tooth brush. Alternate with light striking and tighten nut. One of mine didn't want to go in. If you dent pull it back out and file flat.
Overall layout of pieces (except the spring plate, I had in wrong place). Once terminals back in simply reassemble in reverse order. I cleaned the sleeve, inside of case with alcohol. Blow out any dust.
Seat the insulating strips and screws when reinstalling the screws, again using the nuts to pulling, ENSURE screws don't TURN as your pulling in. If any pieces do not go to flush take it back apart and see why. If you reassemble base to case and something is sticking up it wont seal or worse might crack case.
I decide to bolt together instead of riveting. Don't plan on working on this again-but unknown force of rivet gun not worth risk of cracking case. I used small screws with star washers on both sides.
Reinstalled on generator- the one bolts a bear. Yup-Verified that this wasn't the problem which after taking apart I knew wasn't.
generator grunts 90% of the time, if you hold it'll fire but just sucking battery and hammering the starter. I guess the confusing part is jumping the terminals or manually feeding power to energizing terminal it cranks like crazy. Other wise I'd assume starter dragging or battery connection on it. Today Im going to back track the blue wire. I know I wont get far beyond the switch before I'll need to drop generator to continued tracing to fault. It is possible to run another hot wire thru a momentary switch to feed the solenoid. This would by pass everything and allows starter to crank but it wont start because fuel solenoid not turned on? If I manually turn on fuel (bad idea) throttle doesn't open or function. If starter solenoid jumped with another 12v source while holding stock start-it'll fire right up. Oh well
We have thoroughly vented that solenoid IS NOT the problem. But in process identified what is, sporadic input to solenoid coil. Now to find out why-hopefully bad connection inside -somewhere.
Generator fix Identifying actual starting issue cause with generator and my fix.
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