Friday, September 2, 2016

Generator Fix – Skruffy Update

Onan MicroQuiet 4000 Generator

While we were facing Skruffy’s Illness in Alaska, our Generator went out.  When you try to start it, it would just click once, and house lights would dim.  Last year we faced something similar, except there were multiple clicks, no lights dimming. 

Holley Generator, Sacramento

So on Thursday I took it back to Holley Generator, thinking the worse…a frozen generator engine, and hoping for the next to worse, needing a new starter.  Last year I wrote about how great we liked Holley Generator, and how Brian was able to fix it very quickly, did a oil change and he checked the spark plug and air filter and tuned it up a bit. 

Onan MicroQuiet 4000 Generator

I arrived at 9:45 for my 10 am appointment.  Before 10 am Brian has pulled the RV into place, and started to work on it.  I told him about how it stopped working in Alaska, and how I tried to shake it (starter) loose in case it was engaged into the flywheel like it was last year…and commented that even the bumpy roads of Alaska and Yukon were unable to loosen it.  I went back to the drivers seat and let him do his magic.

Onan MicroQuiet 4000 Generator, positive wire from Solenoid to Starter

Now I did not get pictures of Brian at work…but this is what he did.  He removed the “out” line from the starter solenoid.  This would typically be a “positive” line…the red line below the arrow is the positive line coming from the house battery.  He wheeled up a “starter battery” like one would see at an automotive store, or on a tow truck, when they need to jump your batteries.  He hooked the NEGATIVE line up to the loosened line leading to the starter.

Onan MicroQuiet 4000 Generator, engine casing

Brian then took the positive line and touched the outside of the engine, creating a reverse polarity to the starter, which fired up and spun backwards, which causes it to disengage with the flywheel.  He let it run for about 8 seconds to listen to it.  He told me it sounded fine, no unusual rattles or sounds that concerned him.  He then hooked everything up and the generator fired right up.  Now when I was at the shop last year he tried to tell me how to do this…and this time I listened and understood more.  I nearly tried to do this up in Alaska, but I just did not feel comfortable.  Now I understand it better, and if this happens again I will bring up my car, use its battery with jumper cables.  It is important to realize that you HAVE to use a battery outside of your house batteries since the generator engine is grounded to your house battery, and although you can use your motorhome engine batteries, isolated batteries like off of another car is best…or take your engine battery out of the engine compartment and place near the generator. 

Brian of Holley Generator working on motorhome last year

Above is a picture of Brian working on it last year.  He is a very good RV Generator man.  While working on our motorhome, a fellow worker was asking him questions about another motorhome that had pulled up…and without going over to look at it, he answered and guided the other tech on how to fix that one too.  After getting our running and testing voltage, he again gave it a tune up, changing oil, spark plug, air filter and making adjustments.  All for $150.  All in one hours of work.  I was back on the road again around 11:15…it took the office staff longer to get the bill written up than it took Brian to get the generator going again.  He advised me to be sure that the motorhome engine is running, providing full power to the house batteries, giving the starter full strength to turn the engine over.  He said the every once in awhile, a generator engine, which can have a very high compression, could be at the bottom of the compression mode when it is turned off…and when you go to start it, it will take all the power available for the starter to move the flywheel and start the engine. 

For the SECOND time, Holley Generator fixed our generator at a minimum cost when other, not so reputable shops could have said it needed a new starter, which would have cost about $500 in labor (or more) and another $140 for the starter (and they might have just pretended to put a new one in and left you with the old one!)  I think someone is going to take some donuts down to Holley Generator on Tuesday after they get back from their 3 day holiday.  Open-mouthed smile 

Skruffy, 9/2/2016

A few people have asked about how Skruffy is doing.  It has been nearly 2 months since we left the Soldotna area.  She has been doing very well.  I test her blood sugar about every three days, and she is getting 2 1/2 units of insulin twice per day, although I have had to increase or decrease by a 1/2 unit a few times.  While here at my Sister’s house, Skruffy is a very active dog, chasing squirrels and birds and running around the backyard barking at neighboring dogs.  Her food intake has been greater to compensate for all of her activity.

Skruffy, 9/2/2016 

During her illness she lost around 4 1/2 pounds, maybe even 5.  She has maintained her lower weight, which is real good.  I had worries about her not letting me give her the insulin shot…but she comes over when I call her and lets me give it to her without any problems.  Every once in awhile she will have a slight jerk when I inject her…but most of the time she acts like she can’t even feel it.  Only twice has she made a slight sound when she jerks…so my fears about giving her the shot,  thank goodness, have been eased.   I will get some shots of her and Bubba running around outside to share with you all soon.  Those squirrels have to be at the top of her game because she is a little faster than she use to be.

Driver entry door, step taken off

Above is a picture of our latest project…this one has Arny involved very heavily.  It is a picture of the driver’s entry door…can you see what is missing????


  1. So glad to hear Skruffy is doing well. Playing Nurse can be the pits because you feel their pain (I had to give Jonathan shots twice a day for a month way back when), so I'm gad she's taking it so well. Plus she feels better. YAY!!!

    1. She is so much back to her normal self...can't thank our Fisherman Vet, Meezie, enough for saving her life.

  2. Thanks for the generator recommendation! So glad to hear all is going well with Skruffy:)

    1. Not sure why we got so lucky to have a generator that "acts up" now and then. Have read of others who have had the same problem, and some have been "talked into" getting a new generator through a conversation such as: "You need a new starter in your generator, which means we have to pull it. That will cost you around $750, why don't you just put a new one in for $3500 and not worry about it because that 8 year old generator is going break down one of these days..." When in reality, a generator which has had frequent oil changes and tune-ups and started at least once per month should last for 20 years or more, or around 7-8 thousand lifetime hours, 10k+ for a diesel.


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