GenSet Replacement

My-GMC Picture Gallery

September 5, 1999 Update

** May 29, 1999 -- Project completed **

My next project... coming soon.

Soon is here... see March 29, 1999 heading.

The following is an email exchange between myself and Advanced RV Products in my quest to find a suitable replacement for the Onan Power Drawer.

This is the reply I received from Joseph:

I have been in the generator business since 1964 and I have never seen a generator that performs as well as the Q55-G Generac. Hollywood dressing rooms use these units for 5000 to 8000 hours without problems. The 5500 watt will run two ACs or an AC and a microwave together. The gen. is only 215 lbs and if you purchase the extra quiet muffler system, you will be surprised at how quiet this generator is. The 6010 and the Q70-G are much higher RPM therefore much noisier. I never like to sell the 6010 because
it has a 3600 RPM whine from the generator that just drills your head with noise. The Generac is 18 1/2"D x 16"H x 24 1/2"W and only $2195.00 $50.00 shipping by truck. Call 1-888-426-8707 to order. Joseph-advrv

Heinz Wittenbecher wrote:
> Hi folks.
> I'm in need to replace the Onan PowerDrawer GenSet in my '76 GMC Motorhome.
> I'm considering the Honda EV6010 and Generac Q-55G or Q-70G
> Any information you could provide to help me decide would be very much appreciated.
> My prime priorities are noise and reliability. I'm looking for quiet and a GenSet I can run days on end around the clock except for stopping it for fuel and oil.
> I will entertain purchasing a GenSet (and installation kit) only, i.e.
> install myself (shipping would be to Blaine, WA or Will-Call). I would also consider having it installed during my next trip to California later this month. Installed would actually be preferred, but I would have to be made comfortable that it'll be  an install I don't have to redo.
> Any and all information greatly appreciated.
> Thanks in advance
> Heinz Wittenbecher

March 29, 1999 -- San Diego, CA.

Arrived in National City, just south of San Diego, on Sunday night ready and raring to go for Monday morning. Joseph was just checking to see if I got in yet to offer a power plug and as luck would have it I was just arriving as he was leaving. I would've been there earlier, but had to change an alternator just 10 miles short.

Out with the old:

Last Look at the Old.jpg (204308 bytes) The Onan as well as the 8D battery will be removed. The big battery will be replaced with 2 smaller size 12 volters. 12 Volt batteries were chosen so that in an emergency I can run on a single battery, something that would not be possible if 2 6 volters were chosen.

...checking out for the new:

Checking it out.jpg (231424 bytes)

It was a little difficult to remove the the power drawer itself but eventually out it came. The area where the drawer was bolted to the frame had collected quite a bit of rust.

Rust Discovered.jpg (235620 bytes) This area seemed great for collecting moisture, making it an ideal rust factory.

It was cleaned up and painted.

Rust getting cleaned up.jpg (205412 bytes)

...and a new battery tray fabricated:

New Battery Tray.jpg (211172 bytes)

End of day one:

 End of Day One.jpg (187780 bytes)

Fibreglass soundproofing material was installed all around.

Looking good... hope to finish on day two.

Day Two:

Well we didn't make it today, but no hard feelings.

I've been getting a lesson in the meaning of Generator Installation vs. installing an Auxilliary Power System in a GMC.

The GMC has provided a few challenges as has my particular GMC as it has a few more 'wires' running to the rear battery to power the AC inverter, solid state charger, etc.

While I don't want to jinx the outcome I do want to express that I'm pleased with my choice of getting the installation done at Advanced RV.

Advanced-RV.jpg (62172 bytes)

Shhhh.... don't tell Joseph, but I really appreciate his efforts to make all things best possible. Of course it helps to have some experience to draw on. At this point I'm certainly glad I didn't undertake this as a do-it-yourself project. Generator installation would've been feasable but an Auxilliary Power System, that's tommorows story, hopefully with an ending.

Day Three... The End

It only took part of day three to tidy up.

Some final touches.jpg (217684 bytes)

Joseph was very particular to make it right... not only right but to make it look good.

GenSet all done.jpg (214620 bytes)

And finally... ALL DONE!

GenSet from rear.jpg (206108 bytes)

The final install protruded slightly into the area previously occupied by the 8D coach battery. Two regular sized 12 volt batteries are doing the job of the 8D now. This was a very acceptable change as I now have a GenSet that will provide the power as needed with very (very) acceptable noise levels.

All done.jpg (171148 bytes)

Joseph certainly knows Generators and how to integrate them into mobile surroundings such as my GMC. Note I said "integrate", this particular GMC GenSet enhancement goes beyond the term "installation".

I'm certainly glad I took the detour to National City. What was the final "hurt"? In round numbers $3200. This included tax, remote start, super quiet sound package, batteries and all of Joseph's expertiese and patience. -- It was a pleasure to hand over the plastic :-)

As I write this I have almost 10 hours on the Generac. Been running heater and heatpump to get it loaded up during the break-in period and also to vary the load during this time. Once broken in and then some I plan to switch to synthetic oil.

Maybe it'll get warm enough today to run the roof AC.

The Generac is wired for a split load, just like my Onan was. Just like the Onan was connected, we're actually feeding the coach only 30 amps but have provisions to feed the additional 20 easily. Actually I plan to install an outlet in the generator compartment to feed my house during power outages. (Nothing to do with Y2K, just windstorms, etc.)

If you have specific questions for a pleased customer, please email me. To see what Joseph might be able to for you, give him a call and/or visit his website.

That's my story... and I'm sticking to it.

Unrelated to the GenSet install, here are some new pictures of the office areas of "The Bus":

The Front Office.jpg (227740 bytes) The front office,   The Rear Office.jpg (238004 bytes) and the back office.


May 19, 1999 update:

101 hours on the hobbs meter now. Still pleased with my choice. Only downside is the time it takes to fill oil at oil change time. While it is VERY convenient to do an actual oil and filter change it takes forever to get the quart and a half of oil back in. I truly hope that the rest of the GenSet was thought out better. Time will tell. Guess if that's the only complaint I'm having... I'll gladly put up with it every 50 hours.

Have had several comments from strangers as to how quiet the installation is. Hot water heaters make more noise :-)

Since having this GenSet installed I've gone to Texas, back to California and finally home. Have had several occasions to just leave the GenSet running while travelling through the 90's weather of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Starts easily and I especially like the positive shutoff. Just flip the button to off momentarily and it'll shut off, no need to hold the switch off until the engine finally stops.

May 29, 1999 - Project completed

I now consider the project complete after making some final adjustments. Some of these adjustments I've been meaning to make for years :-)

My definition of this The GenSet project includes overall house power support which means it includes house batteries and the charging and monitoring of same.

Have added a little more soundproofing inside the coach, probably not necessary/noticable, but what the heck.

GenSet-all-done.jpg (209412 bytes)

I added an AC outlet in the generator compartment using the 20 amp output that is not used inside the coach in my Transmode. This will make it real easy to plug an extension cord in to run some home stuff during power outages.

I replaced the wiring from the twin 30 amp chargers to house battery with #6 wire, up from #8. The house batteries are now a set of 2 six volt golf cart batteries. Wiring has been routed so that it's a little easier to service the batteries... hopefully.

To monitor the house battery I installed an E-Meter from Cruising Equipment.

E-Meter.jpg (164712 bytes)

The E-Meter includes current monitoring as well giving time remaining at the current load.



System Panel.jpg (186424 bytes) 

I was able to mount the E-meter in the regular coach system panel using my trusty Dremel tool to cut the hole in the plexiglass faceplate.


System Panel Closeup.jpg (185900 bytes)

My System Panel. It includes GenSet start and hour meter and all the other good stuff. The button on the lower right is a lighted push button to switch fridge to 12 volt.


HousePower.jpg (229660 bytes)

Near the top right you can see the push-pull switch I use to turn on the Macerator at pumpout time. The switch is mounted in a manner to force it off when the GenSet access door is closed.

In the lower center the current shunt for the E-Meter is mounted. The 1200 watt inverter is connected via a 50 amp circuit breaker. The other circuit breaker is a 30 amp used to feed a 12 volt outlet in the coach.

In revamping batteries and stuff I now have 3 isolated battery banks. Engine Battery, Aux/Boost Battery and House Batteries. The banks are connected via two Combiners.

C150top.jpg (4320 bytes)
I'm using the 150 amp Combiner to connect engine battery and house battery and a 50 amp to join engine battery and the aux/boost battery. For more Combiner information click here. The Combiners were purchased at West Marine.

Basically the combiners keep the batteries isolated until the battery that is connected to the charging source reaches 13.3 volts. The combiner then connects the other battery. This will work extremely well in my situation as it prioritizes the charging, only charging the other batteries when excess is available.

Please Note: When revamping my batteries I discovered that my aux/boost battery was in parallel with the house battery. This probably explains why I've had several battery failures over the years as the aux/boost and house were certainly a mismatch to the max.

I also added a few grounding straps to assure frame and coach are all at the same level.

September 5, 1999:

I now have 325 hours on the GenSet. Some running sessions were a few minutes and other sessions were of the 24 hour variety.

I'm still happy with my decision.

While having the opportunity to camp at several Provincial Parks, were there is a little room and woods and gravel pads to absorb some noise, I was able to get a better feel of the GenSets' actual noise level in the real camping environment. I was pleasantly surprised. It is indeed a good neighbor.

A point worthy of note is the service I received from the manufacturers of the Battery Combiners. I had 2 failures of the 150 amp and received a replacement "fast" and without fuss. The last one was even drop shipped to me at a customer site. I have sufficient time on #3 to declare it past the initial fail stage and thereby a success.

The operation of the Combiners makes for much improved Alternator management. I really like the delay the Combiner has before adding the other battery bank. This gives the engine and alternator time to stabilize on only the engine battery instead of getting hit by the high load requirement of a drained coach battery. 

All that's missing now is a slideout battery tray so that the rear batteries will get proper maintenance checks for water level on a regular basis. Coming Soon.

This page was last updated
on Monday, April 26, 2004 05:53 PM
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