When we bought the coach the Onan 6K generator was not running, the PO didn’t know why so we set about figuring it out.
I pulled the heads and cleaned, changed plugs, jumpered wires, ran a line to a fuel tank and eventually got it to fire up and make power. This was a good moment!
It’s a bit loud but not too bad. It made power. Let’s use it!
So we set about repairing.
First thing we needed was a new control board. Got one from Flight Systems and that did the trick. (120something)
Then we needed new points. Ebay to the rescue.
Then we needed a new starter bracket.
Then we needed a new exhaust gasket.
Then I had to TIG up some holes in the muffler.
Then I had to drop the fuel tanks and run new fuel lines.
Then she was purring like a kitten (granted an angry, old, one eyed kitten)
I probably spent 40+ hours troubleshooting the Onan over a month or two’s time. If it wasn’t one thing it was certainly another. Getting it to start was a “maybe it will, maybe it wont” kind of thing every time. Once it was running we were using it to power the AC’s in the dead of summer while working on the interior. Out of nowhere the RPM’s skyrocket. I ran outside and killed the genset, but not fast enough.
The governor had failed, since this is not an inverter generator frequency as well as voltage are proportional to the RPM’s of the unit. These uncontrolled RPM’s sent 170+ volts to the AC side of the coach, frying the brand new Progressive Dynamics Converter, the microwave, and a few other little gadgets that were then plugged in.
At this point an executive decision was made, I knew that I would never be able to trust the Barbarian (Onan the Barbarian, get it?) to power the coach. In the back of my mind I’d always be waiting for it to fail, or spend my vacation repairing some trivial little thing that broke. Time for a HONDA.
After a fairly lengthy search, I finally found a Honda EV6010 that was to my liking. New aluminum radiator, clean bill of health and from a trusted source. I paid more for it than I would have liked ($1000) (see another theme developing yet?) but how much is reliability worth? More than 1000 bucks surely.
Because Honda makes a rock solid product. I can’t tell you how many times I have started a honda engine after sitting for 30-40 years with nothing but ether and a little elbow grease. They just build great products. Few failure points, easy maintenance, and a full list of available replacement parts should you need them.
Next up was getting it into the coach. The beauty of the Honda is that all service can be done without sliding it out, meaning no need for complicated mechanisms and failure points. We reinforced the subframe with some aluminum under where she would sit and using the template from BDUB’s site (thanks Billy!) I was able to trace out a CAD file for the cutouts and toss a piece of marine ply on the CNC to make a mounting plate. It fit like a glove.
From there it was a simple matter of mounting the panel to the floor of the GMC and mounting the Honda to that. Really easy. The hardest part was getting the old onan out. That thing is LEAD HEAVY.
There’s a lot of information on the EV6010 available for GMC’s. I’ll toss in a little more, and some personal opinion:
The ev6010 runs at 3600 rpm’s the Onan at 1800. Now if you read the specs and read online accounts the Honda is considered “Quieter” than the onan. Everyone says “it’s a higher pitch, but overall it’s quieter”.
I’ll come right out and call bullshit on this one. I would not in any way call the 6010 Quiet. It sounds like a pissed off lawnmower that you flipped over and accidentally pinned the throttle. The onan is considerably more pleasant to be around. Other than that disappointment (which I’ll address in a later post about insulation) I’m happy with the swap. It starts in a second, runs like a top, and it’s a Honda. Now when the batteries are low and were in the middle of nowhere in a life or death situation that somehow magically calls for the use of a generator, I don’t have to worry. Just push the button and get to work.
After our trip out west i had to do something about the generator. It was just too loud. I was embarrassed pulling into parking lots with it running, and felt the need to preemptively apologize to the neighbors at the campgrounds before starting it.
2 things quieted it down to a much more reasonable level.
I coated the door of the generator compartment with sound deadening material. This cancelled out a good bit of the outside noise that was obtrusive.
Secondly I added a 2nd muffler inline with the original. a Walker Quiet-Flow Stainless Steel muffler. Which helped immensely with the obnoxious exhaust note.
Combined those 2 made a large difference in outside noise, and I’m no longer embarrassed to run it in public!