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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Onan spare parts
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 18:19:30 -0400

Chris Bryant wrote:
> On Fri, 22 Jun 2001 19:57:14 +1000, D.A. wrote:
> >Well, an Onan against a Honda EU3000i is a no contest bout.  The Onan would
> >fail to leave the dressing room.  Comparing the equivalent Onan features
> >against the Honda EU3000i would be embarrassing.
>         But- with all due respect- you are comparing apples to
> oranges.. first- Johns genset is fairly old, not a new design

True, but I'd still rather have a Honda than anything I've seen of
Onan.  Especially after today.

> (btw-
> Onan has a model with EFI out now),

Really?  Didn't know that. Which one?

> and second- they are built for two
> different uses. As John said- adapting the Honda is going to be quite
> a chore.

>         I do wish that Onan would make a small, inverter equipped
> genset- Generac does in the Impact, but the Onan inverter sets are all
> much larger (the Quiet Diesel line).

Do you have any experience with the Impact?  Only place I've ever
even seen one is on the shelf at Camping World and they won't even
talk to me about demo'ing one.

>         Don't get me wrong- the EU3000 is an amazing machine- but if
> you compare a Honda *RV* genset with an Onan *RV* genset- I'll take
> the Onan- hands down.

It wouldn't be so bad if Itasca hadn't built the generator box just
for the AJ.  Too small for the Emerald even.  The Impact would fit
but I'm afraid of it, sight unseen.

This has been an interesting day.  I spent a good chunk of the day
on the phone looking for a used carb, even a trashed out one.  No
luck.  Spent the rest of the day looking for something that I might
could substitute.  All the area lawn & garden shops have been
infected with this "we don't have it but we can order it", "we ain't
got no inventory" virus.  I don't know what I want until I can hold
it in my hand!!!

Unless Alan comes through with something, here's the plan of action.

1.  Patch up the existing carb to get me through my 4th/july
vacation. I've epoxied up the throttle shaft hole with aluminum
bearing epoxy and re-drilled it.  7/32 drill is the proper size for
the shaft.  This has the genny running pretty well but obviously the
epoxy is soft so that's not a long term solution.

2.  Install EFI.  Not enough time before the vacation so this is a
project for after I return.  Been thinking about that for awhile
anyway, as I'd like to put a cat converter and closed loop oxygen
sensor on the thing to clean up the fumes.  Tired of smelling them.
(Anyone else interested in the cat converter?  I might put together
a kit.)

3. Save the shekels and buy an EU3000 and do whatever is necessary
to install it in the genny box.  I put over 60 hours on the genny in
the month of May and I'm tired of listening to it!

4.  Never never never buy another Onan product.  Any company who
would rape an existing customer to the tune of $250 for a carb or
$175 for 18" of exhaust pipe doesn't deserve my money.  Amazing to
think that the little generator in your RV is like a stick of
dynamite just waiting to blow up your wallet.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Onan - a hard learned leason.  long
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 01:27:20 -0400

Mickey wrote:

> At this point I doubt I would ever purchase another product with an Onan
> twin as the power source.  This is but one persons experience and you may
> never have any problems like these but if you do, you can expect
> considerable problems getting access to many of the components.  If you have
> someone else do the work for you be prepared to spend $$$$$$.  Local JD shop
> told me if they had done the starter brush replacement, the cost would have
> been close to $125.  And for the governor job now under way I can easily see
> a $500 bill for a somewhat simple job of replacing what should have been a
> $10-15 part.  Doing all the work myself except for the press work, I'm going
> to have between 125-150 dollars in parts.

Your experience is mirroring mine.  Recall the article I posted
several weeks ago where I noted that Onan wanted $250 for a friggin'
lawn mower type carburetor for my AJ generator.  I've done further
checking and have found that the cost of overhaul parts renders the
generator worthless.  I'll be better off buying a new generator and
figuring out how to fit it in my generator box.  And since onan
seems to value their existing customers enough to rape them on parts
prices, I can guarantee that my next generator will NOT be an Onan.
I have just about decided that I can get a Honda EU3000 in my box
with a little work.

As to serviceability, I find the same thing to be true as you do.
Single side serviceability - Bah!  At least not on this one.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Onan - a hard learned leason.  long
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 05:44:25 -0400

Alan Robinson wrote:

> As was said in the previous thread... I'm not really sure HOW you
> expect the parts to be so cheap, unless they are EXACTLY
> identical to something on a Briggs&Stratton or Tecumseh lawnmower
> engine that was - and is - produced in huge numbers.

In the case of my AJ, it is.  It's a standard old off-the-shelf
Walbro lawn mower carb from that era.  I moonlighted back then by
running the service department of a local farm and garden supply
company.  I KNOW that this very same carb cost lest than $20 back
then.  I'd be very surprised to learn that Onan paid more than about
$5 for that carb.  Knowing that, I was still prepared to pay up to
about $80 for a new carb, being mentally prepared for an Onan
gouge.  But I wasn't prepared for an attempted rape.  There are no
words to justify $250 for a carb!  As bad was the almost $200 for
the exhaust down pipe, a simple ~18" long hunk of exhaust tubing
with a single 90 degree bend in it.

> If it's
> something specific to an Onan, any spare parts are either made in
> small quantities, as needed to replenish spare parts stock, and
> economies of scale don't figure in - or are extra parts from the
> initial production run - in which case it's perfectly reasonable
> for Onan to increase the price as time goes by.  After all, if
> you took $10 and invested it 15 or 20 years ago, how much would
> you have today?  Now, if you had a part that cost $10 to make 15
> or 20 years ago, and it's been sitting on a shelf ever since, do
> you really think they should sell it today for $10 plus profit
> margin?

OK, I accept that some markup is reasonable.  After all, I was
willing to pay up to about 4X what the carb cost back in 82 for my
generator.  But $250?  Get real.  I can stroll down to my friendly
local Chrysler dealer and order most parts I've ever needed for my
68 Fury.  And given my trade discount, the prices are not much out
of line with the aftermarket. By Onan's pricing standard, a new carb
for my Fury would cost $5,000!!! Old line manufacturers with a
reputation to defend stock the old parts at reasonable prices as a
service to past and hopefully future customers.

I'll give you another example of Onan gouging.  The local NAPA store
is owned by a good friend. It used (key on "used") to sell Onan and
can still order parts.  I had them order that "4C" Combustion
Chamber cleaner that you recommended.  When it came in, he didn't
have the heart to charge me what Onan's suggested price was - $15.75
including shipping - so we traded for some food.  Imagine my
surprise when my nose confirmed what the label says - that this
aerosol can contains primarily a mix of Marvel Mystery Oil and
Stoddard solvent!  Now Allen, you'll have to admit that almost $16
for a spray can of Marvel Mystery Oil is a bit excessive, even by
Onan's standards.  This is NEW stock - the code date says that it
was packaged during the 26th week of this year.

Parenthetically, I decided to save this can just to show people. I
can confirm that Marvel Mystery oil fed in the carb, 4 oz slowly and
then a couple more ounces fast enough to choke the engine to a stop,
followed by at least 15 minutes of soaking before restarting did an
excellent job of decarbonizing my generator.  My borescope showed a
much cleaner combustion chamber afterward.  The guys at NAPA told me
as much but I had to find out for myself :-)

> I do wind up occasionally working on other brands of gensets, and
> they ALL have service issues that make you cuss, I haven't found
> one yet that had cheap parts, and, for the most part, if it's old
> and not an Onan, major parts are simply _not_ available, even if
> tuneup-type items are. If you believe Honda is a magic bullet,
> then go for it - I'll be watching for your posts in a few years
> complaining about Honda's prices and parts hassles.

I started my career by working in the local Honda shop at the age of
14.  A little later I received factory sponsorship for my motorcycle
racing program.  I have maintained a relationship of one sort or
another with the local Honda dealers ever since.  I'm quite familiar
with Honda's spare parts policies dating back to the 60s.  While
Honda can, at times, also become quite proud of some of their parts,
they can't hold a torch to Onan as per my recent experience.  And
they DO stock parts over the long term.  I have a friend who is
restoring a Honda 305 Dream motorcycle (go figure!) and he's had
little trouble getting parts from Honda.  Honda sets the standard in
whatever field they choose to enter.  They certainly are in the
generator and small engine fields.

>I'm not
> saying that Onan is perfect - I've done more than my share of
> cussing at 'em - but I can say for sure that at least some of the
> other stuff out there is worse.

No argument there.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Ping ...Alan Robinson
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2008 02:19:44 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sun, 8 Jun 2008 20:28:02 -0700, "Alan Robinson" <> wrote:

>It depends ENTIRELY on how you maintain and use the genset. I've seen them
>(in commercial service) with over 8000 hours and still going strong - but
>that was in an application where it was used regularly, typically ran for at
>least two hours when used, and was -always- run with at least 1/3 load. I
>know of several Onans that have been retired from rv service and now are
>providing power for off-grid cabins - one of them has over 5000 hours. The
>only one in -rv- service that I've seen that the engine wore out on, I don't
>know how many hours (no meter), but it was 30 years old, and judging from
>the condition of the rest of the rv, was maintained only when it wouldn't
>run - and then only enough to get it running again.

Hey Alan,

There's an old Onan being used at the nearby trout fish hatchery for emergency
power that has run its 4 digit hour meter around at least once.  It's the old
opposed-twin type.

The AJ in my MH was pretty worn when I got it and I finished wearing it out.
Total generalized wear-out, from mushroomed valves to almost no compression to
piston slap to the carb throttle shaft that rattled at least 1/16th of an
inch.  When it would no longer run my AC, I replaced it.  I gave it to a
friend of mine who is a mechanical engineer at Ford.  He's gradually
rebuilding it, making parts from scratch, for the most part.  It'll become his
emergency power supply when he's finished.

The hour meter had long since quit before I bought the rig but it has over
2500 hours on it then.  I put at least another 5-800 hours on it.  My repair
to the mechanical hour meter wasn't all that successful :-(

Those old ones, at least, were tough critters.


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