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Old 07-11-2016, 06:52 PM   #1
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Question Onan 5500 generator: Surging + Overheat

Last weekend we heard our toy hauler's generator start to run funny -it was throttling up and down A LOT, with no changes in load. Looked it up, that's called surging apparently. I ran the generator for 60-90 minutes every month all winter while my unit was stored, I was told to do that to prevent varnishing, which is what I hear causes this.

Funny thing - when I went to look at the generator, it was CRAZY hot. I pulled off the cover and waved it back and forth, fanning the unit, and the surging slowed and eventually stopped -seems like it is overheating. I checked for obstructions as well as any leaks in exhaust -could not find anything.

Everything was fine last month, no issues at all. 4 weeks later, generator is acting crazy and it even shut down. Carbon monoxide sensor is even going off in the trailer now -this is really weird. Called the dealer, they will get us in to look at it -IN OCTOBER! We have a 3 week camping trip planned that we are not canceling, and it sure would be nice to have a generator for the trip...

Anyone heard of this? I can see the surging part being related to varnishing -who knows why that happened, but if it did, so be it -but the overheat? I couldn't even touch the manual start button, it was so hot -and that is rubber!

Toy hauler and all gear is only 13 months old. Generator only has 67 hours on it, not even close to a maintenance schedule, if I am reading everything right. I am stumped.
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:21 PM   #2
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I'd call your local ONAN service center, they're good about answering questions.
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:28 PM   #3
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It's a bad fuel pump. Costs all of $30 to replace and takes 15 minutes. Here is the pump they use;
https://www.amazon.com/Airtex-E11015.../dp/B0076D5OI2
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:32 PM   #4
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fuel pump > overheat

ok - I can't say I am surprised, based on what I have read online. I just am so confused as to how the fuel pump causes the overheating.

Is it something along the lines of it malfunctioning and running too rich, providing more fuel than can burn in the chamber and having it burn in the exhaust, or something like that?

I appreciate the help, I will see how I can get that replaced faster than Amazon (1-3 months) or my dealer (October)

Thanks!
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:46 PM   #5
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It sounds more like the carb is gunked up with varnish, did you use an additive like Seafoam in the fuel over the winter. Even if you run it now and then it will still varnish up without some kind of additive. If you can't get it in for service add a heavy dose of Seafoam to the fuel run it some, let it sit then repeat a few more times, since its fairly new this may clean it out.
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:53 PM   #6
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No - I just read that now in the service notes. Wish I had known! Will give that a try tomorrow! Have also heard good things about the 4C spray from Cummins
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:04 PM   #7
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Is that the spray stuff? I just pull the air filter with the generator running and spray it in???
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenroads View Post
Is that the spray stuff? I just pull the air filter with the generator running and spray it in???
No Seafoam mixes with the gas, you want it to run through and clean the carb. All a spray will do is make it look pretty, it won't clean the internal parts of the carb that varnish up. You can buy it at any auto parts store.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:20 PM   #9
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Sounds like bad fuel.
I'd drain the tank and fill with fresh.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:29 PM   #10
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THAT would be an easy fix! any reasonable way to do that? It has about 20 gallons in there now. if that's all it is, great. just not sure how to do it, other than running the generator, which is the problem right now!

This is built into the front of our toy hauler, gas tank is towards the rear by the fuel station for the ATVs
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