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opinions on harbor freight generators

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  • davidkerryedwards
    Harbor Freight (I first typed Harbor Fright--was that a Freudian slip?) has a 4000W electric start generator with a Robin Subaru engine for $540. Has anyone
    Message 1 of 7 , Aug 1, 2005
      Harbor Freight (I first typed Harbor Fright--was that a Freudian
      slip?) has a 4000W electric start generator with a Robin Subaru engine
      for $540. Has anyone had any experience with these or opinions about
      their quality and reliability? If someone has one, can they comment
      on what they think the adaptability problems might be when installing
      it in a motorhome?

      Kerry
    • Ron Mitchell
      I haven t put one in an RV, but have a similar unit connected to my house for emergency backup. I see the problems in modifying one to install in a RV as: 1.
      Message 2 of 7 , Aug 1, 2005
        I haven't put one in an RV, but have a similar unit connected to my
        house for emergency backup. I see the problems in modifying one to
        install in a RV as:

        1. Fuel. Your going to need an electric fuel pump or something to get
        fuel up and out of the chassis gas tank to the engine. You don't want
        5 gallons of gas sitting on the top of the generator inside the compartment.

        2. Exhaust. You need to get the end of the exhaust pipe out past of
        the RV body, either to the side or back past the bumper. I'd
        recommend 3" or more outside the body to be reasonably safe. Look at
        some existing installations, if you can. Not dealing properly with
        the exhaust would be deadly.

        3. Cooling. RV generators are ducted to control the airflow in/out of
        the engine and generator. If the air just stays inside the
        compartment, the unit will overheat and burn something out pretty
        quick. Regular generators expect to be sitting pretty much out in the
        open, where airflow isn't a problem.

        4. Mounting. If you have a generator compartment, you probably
        already have some mount points. You may need to modify something on
        the generator base or come up with an adapter. Mine is mounted on
        fairly a heavy spring & rubber donut system to absorb the vibration
        from the unit, so it doesn't vibrate the whole coach when it's running..

        5. Electrical connections. This may be the easiest part of the whole
        thing, which is why everyone thinks about it. Find the feed wires,
        add a plug or two, and plug it in. If possible, I'd recommend a
        "twistlock" receptacle or some manner to make sure the plug doesn't
        vibrate out. Maybe think about just wiring it in, permanently.

        If you can solve all of these, I'd say it is possible.

        Ron
        76 Coachmen

        At 10:49 AM 8/1/05, you wrote:
        >If someone has one, can they comment On what they think the
        >adaptability problems might be when installing it in a motorhome?
        >
        >Kerry


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • davidkerryedwards
        Thanks. I hadn t thought about the cooling. The existing generator in my 71 Travco only has some louvers in the door. I thought about the fuel pump issue.
        Message 3 of 7 , Aug 1, 2005
          Thanks. I hadn't thought about the cooling. The existing generator
          in my 71 Travco only has some louvers in the door.
          I thought about the fuel pump issue. It needs to be wired so that it
          only is hot when the engine is running or starting. I believe that is
          how the pump is wired on my current Onan. A pump that continues to
          run when a leak occurs and the generator stops is a nightmare.
          I had to replace the fuel pump on my current Onan. Onan no longer
          made the pump so I adapted a generic in-line fuel pump that works fine.

          Kerry

          --- In classicrv@yahoogroups.com, Ron Mitchell <rmitchel@f...> wrote:
          > I haven't put one in an RV, but have a similar unit connected to my
          > house for emergency backup. I see the problems in modifying one to
          > install in a RV as:
          >
          > 1. Fuel. Your going to need an electric fuel pump or something to get
          > fuel up and out of the chassis gas tank to the engine. You don't want
          > 5 gallons of gas sitting on the top of the generator inside the
          compartment.
          >
          > 2. Exhaust. You need to get the end of the exhaust pipe out past of
          > the RV body, either to the side or back past the bumper. I'd
          > recommend 3" or more outside the body to be reasonably safe. Look at
          > some existing installations, if you can. Not dealing properly with
          > the exhaust would be deadly.
          >
          > 3. Cooling. RV generators are ducted to control the airflow in/out of
          > the engine and generator. If the air just stays inside the
          > compartment, the unit will overheat and burn something out pretty
          > quick. Regular generators expect to be sitting pretty much out in the
          > open, where airflow isn't a problem.
          >
          > 4. Mounting. If you have a generator compartment, you probably
          > already have some mount points. You may need to modify something on
          > the generator base or come up with an adapter. Mine is mounted on
          > fairly a heavy spring & rubber donut system to absorb the vibration
          > from the unit, so it doesn't vibrate the whole coach when it's running..
          >
          > 5. Electrical connections. This may be the easiest part of the whole
          > thing, which is why everyone thinks about it. Find the feed wires,
          > add a plug or two, and plug it in. If possible, I'd recommend a
          > "twistlock" receptacle or some manner to make sure the plug doesn't
          > vibrate out. Maybe think about just wiring it in, permanently.
          >
          > If you can solve all of these, I'd say it is possible.
          >
          > Ron
          > 76 Coachmen
          >
          > At 10:49 AM 8/1/05, you wrote:
          > >If someone has one, can they comment On what they think the
          > >adaptability problems might be when installing it in a motorhome?
          > >
          > >Kerry
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Loul
          Kerry - Regarding fuel pumps, check out construction equipment shops. The pumps for small engines usually have a smaller pressure than for autos etc.
          Message 4 of 7 , Aug 1, 2005
            Kerry -

            Regarding fuel pumps, check out construction equipment shops. The pumps for small engines usually have a smaller pressure than for autos etc.

            Regarding ventilation, most important and very hard to solve. Each unit is different requiring different solutions and if not done right, a hazard to both the generator and motorhome not to mention you. Perhaps the best solution other than a unit designed for the m/h is one of the enclosed portables like the Honda. Check the air inlets and outlets and then mount them so that these areas are unrestricted. That coupled with routing the exhaust should insure that the mounting is safe and functional. One other thought, I used to have generators on boats. They were very heavy and water cooled but they were reliable and could be mounted most anywhere. Just a thought in case a used marine unit showed up.

            Best Regards,
            lou howard
            77 Apollo
            ================================

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: davidkerryedwards
            To: classicrv@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Monday, August 01, 2005 1:23 PM
            Subject: [classicrv] Re: opinions on harbor freight generators


            Thanks. I hadn't thought about the cooling. The existing generator
            in my 71 Travco only has some louvers in the door.
            I thought about the fuel pump issue. It needs to be wired so that it
            only is hot when the engine is running or starting. I believe that is
            how the pump is wired on my current Onan. A pump that continues to
            run when a leak occurs and the generator stops is a nightmare.
            I had to replace the fuel pump on my current Onan. Onan no longer
            made the pump so I adapted a generic in-line fuel pump that works fine.

            Kerry

            --- In classicrv@yahoogroups.com, Ron Mitchell <rmitchel@f...> wrote:
            > I haven't put one in an RV, but have a similar unit connected to my
            > house for emergency backup. I see the problems in modifying one to
            > install in a RV as:
            >
            > 1. Fuel. Your going to need an electric fuel pump or something to get
            > fuel up and out of the chassis gas tank to the engine. You don't want
            > 5 gallons of gas sitting on the top of the generator inside the
            compartment.
            >
            > 2. Exhaust. You need to get the end of the exhaust pipe out past of
            > the RV body, either to the side or back past the bumper. I'd
            > recommend 3" or more outside the body to be reasonably safe. Look at
            > some existing installations, if you can. Not dealing properly with
            > the exhaust would be deadly.
            >
            > 3. Cooling. RV generators are ducted to control the airflow in/out of
            > the engine and generator. If the air just stays inside the
            > compartment, the unit will overheat and burn something out pretty
            > quick. Regular generators expect to be sitting pretty much out in the
            > open, where airflow isn't a problem.
            >
            > 4. Mounting. If you have a generator compartment, you probably
            > already have some mount points. You may need to modify something on
            > the generator base or come up with an adapter. Mine is mounted on
            > fairly a heavy spring & rubber donut system to absorb the vibration
            > from the unit, so it doesn't vibrate the whole coach when it's running..
            >
            > 5. Electrical connections. This may be the easiest part of the whole
            > thing, which is why everyone thinks about it. Find the feed wires,
            > add a plug or two, and plug it in. If possible, I'd recommend a
            > "twistlock" receptacle or some manner to make sure the plug doesn't
            > vibrate out. Maybe think about just wiring it in, permanently.
            >
            > If you can solve all of these, I'd say it is possible.
            >
            > Ron
            > 76 Coachmen
            >
            > At 10:49 AM 8/1/05, you wrote:
            > >If someone has one, can they comment On what they think the
            > >adaptability problems might be when installing it in a motorhome?
            > >
            > >Kerry
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





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          • Steve Elms
            I recently installed a brand X generator in my 76 Midas. I used a small electric fuel pump that was rated at 3psi but found I had to also use a pressure
            Message 5 of 7 , Aug 2, 2005
              I recently installed a brand X generator in my '76
              Midas. I used a small electric fuel pump that was
              rated at 3psi but found I had to also use a pressure
              regulator to get the fuel pressure low enough that it
              wouldn't run too rich. I guess the excessive fuel
              pressure was forcing the carburetor needle valve open.
              Both the pump and regulator were available from a
              local auto parts store, O'Rileys.

              I welded up an exhaust pipe to route the exhaust out
              the bottom and mounted the muffler under the rear
              bumper. I wrapped the pipe with automotive header
              wrapping tape to reduce the heat in the generator
              compartment.

              I used the rubber mounts that came with the generator
              but still had considerable vibration.

              I considered wiring the fuel pump so it would be
              powered by the generator output through the power
              converter. There's a relay in the converter that
              senses 12 volt output from the converter and switches
              the batteries off. I figured I could use that circuit.
              I haven't done it yet but I think it would work. I
              might have to add a diode and a second relay to avoid
              feedback and to handle the load of the pump. I think I
              will also need a push button to fill the carb for
              starting after it hasn't run for a while.

              By the way, while I'm pleased with the way I installed
              the generator, the choice of the cheapest possible
              generator off e-bay was a mistake. The generator
              lasted about 100 hours before the stator shorted out.
              I don't think the failure was heat related since I
              only ran the generator with the cover door removed.
              There is no warranty and no replacement parts are
              available. The seller was Pacific Coast Trading Co.
              and they seem to have already gone out of business.
              So, buyer beware!

              Steve Elms
            • Ron Mitchell
              My Kohler draws in through the louvered door and exhausts out the bottom at the front. It has a big huge fan on the front of the engine and another inside the
              Message 6 of 7 , Aug 2, 2005
                My Kohler draws in through the louvered door and exhausts out the
                bottom at the front. It has a big huge fan on the front of the engine
                and another inside the generator head. Lots of air circulates through
                the compartment when it's running.
                The emergency house generator seems to flow in the opposite
                direction, from the engine, past the generator. I'll look closer when
                I get a chance to see if there might be a reasonable way to duct it.

                Ron
                76 Coachmen

                At 02:23 PM 8/1/05, you wrote:
                >I hadn't thought about the cooling.


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • TravelswCharlie
                Kerry, See the link below to my blog. I m not allowed to click on ads, so I can t check, but there s one that might interest you. It s titled Generator
                Message 7 of 7 , Sep 7, 2005
                  Kerry,

                  See the link below to my blog. I'm not allowed to click on ads, so I can't
                  check, but there's one that might interest you.

                  It's titled "Generator Camping" and something about 1000 of generators, at
                  the top of the first page.

                  http://camping-and-rv-travel-adventures.blogspot.com/
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