Generator starting problems

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  #1  
Old 01-05-16, 08:48 AM
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Generator starting problems

I have a standby generator for our many frequent outages. The past two days have been in the low to single digit temp range. It took about twenty pulls to get the unit going. Then about three stalls later I got it to run smooth. It's located outside and covered with a tarp. The gas is treated (it pours out clear, not that yellow that shows its old). I try to start it about once a week, but I usually forget to do it constantly. This past summer I replaced plug, drained and replaced oil and did a general tune-up. Run and starts very easy in warm weather.
Model PM0435001
Bought it back in '06
It's a Subaru engine, model EX13D/30D (Robin Engines)
The manual does indicate that infrequent use may cause hard starting and they recommend running about once a month.

Any ideas on what I might do to make things easier? Or is that all I can expect?

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  #2  
Old 01-05-16, 09:50 AM
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One thing I suggest is running the carb dry every time you are going to shut it down by closing the fuel valve and letting it run out of fuel.

And swap out the gas, even if it doesn't "look" old. Each fall I pump the gas out and use it in the car. I then let it run until it dies and don't refuel it until next time I need it.
 
  #3  
Old 01-05-16, 10:16 AM
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It doesn't have a fuel shut-off valve. I tried to install one when I did the tune up this past fall, but the configuration just does not allow room for valve and hose to fit in the space allowed. I'm currently keeping minimum gas in the tank and I make sure it's well treated with Stabil (the gas is being rotated about once or twice a month, depending on usage). Normally I tend to store all my gas engines with treated fuel as opposed to dry. Never had problems with other items.

In this case I think you're right about keeping it dry, just isn't possible. Maybe next summer I'll take a closer look at how to install a valve.
 
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Old 01-05-16, 10:24 AM
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I've got a "cold start kit" on my standby genset. You might investigate for yours. Mine has a wrap around the oil filter, that keeps the engine above 32 deg. It has a in-line thermostat that turns off the current above freezing.
 
  #5  
Old 01-05-16, 10:39 AM
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I've got a "cold start kit" on my standby genset.
Looks interesting. Have a brand name? Any pic as to how it wraps?
 
  #6  
Old 01-05-16, 10:59 AM
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I'd recommend continuing to use the gas conditioner or completely non-ethanol fuel if it is available in your area. Ethanol chemically traps water in the fuel as it sits; not a problem when gas is used right away; big problem when it sits around in storage. You could try a different conditioner like Seafoam or Lucas; maybe Stabil just isn't playing well with that engine.

You'll also want to make sure you're using an engine oil rated for the outdoor winter temp in your area. Standard SAE30 small engine oil is only good down to about 40F. You'll want to use something like a 5W30 synthetic oil in the winter for good lubrication during cold starts down to 0F. You also may need to retune the carburettor in the winter, usually a little richer than the summer setting. Cold air is denser (more oxygen per unit volume) so if you last tuned it in the summer your fuel-air mixture will be off when the air temp has dropped 70 degrees.

The "block heater" is an interesting idea too. Do you find you need to wrap the generator in something insulating for it to maintain a temp above ambient?
 
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Old 01-05-16, 11:23 AM
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You'll also want to make sure you're using an engine oil rated for the outdoor winter temp in your area. Standard SAE30 small engine oil is only good down to about 40F. You'll want to use something like a 5W30 synthetic oil in the winter for good lubrication during cold starts down to 0F.
I think you hit on the problem. I'm using a multi weight 10w30 as specified in the manual and suppose to be good from -15 to 45 degrees. But I agree a synth might be better. But we get power outages in all seasons, both winter and summer. So is there an all season synth multi weight?
 
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Old 01-05-16, 12:00 PM
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If you have easy access to the carb or air cleaner, hit it with a dose of spray staring fluid before pulling the rope. May start on first full pull.

Available at Wally world or any auto parts store.
 
  #9  
Old 01-05-16, 12:06 PM
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Actually 10W-30 isn't bad, although single digit temp is really at the bottom end of its range. I was referring to plain old SAE30, usually in lawn mowers and other small engines -- terrible cold weather oil. The 5W30 might help a little, but I don't think that will be a silver bullet. Switching to synthetic in either weight would probably improve things regardless. It's about $12/qt. so be prepared for that part. I run Synth 5W30 in pretty much everything given the wide seasonal temp swings here in MI -- that way I don't have to remember when I last changed the oil in which engine. (Image from Briggs & Stratton)

 
  #10  
Old 01-05-16, 03:22 PM
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Goldstar, Good idea. the air clean is right in front,easy to get to.

ipooks, Yea that price is bit steep. But maybe in spring it might be the right thing to do. Not now, it's too cold!.

Thanks to all who replied.
 
  #11  
Old 01-05-16, 06:31 PM
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Lots of ways to heat engines. Here is one that is fairly hi $. The generacs are pressure lubed and have spin on filters. You could also investigate watlow flat strip heaters and attach to the steel mounting surface.

Cold Weather Kits - Air Cooled Home Standby Generators

And yes, use 0w-30 or 5w-30 synthetic.
 
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