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Old 10-20-2016, 07:43 PM   #1
Generator repair.

Had my standby Onan generator down for just over two years because of rodents chewing up the wiring in the control box. Sure would have been nice to have it working when hurricane Hermine knocked out power around here. So I figured I really should get it fixed.

I tried contacting people known to work on generators, and had no luck. I did get one place to refer me to a place called ALL ABOUT GENERATORS, which just so happens to be run by the guy who originally installed the generator for me. Guy by the name of Roy Holland, and it was Morgan Electric he worked for when I bought the generator from them and had it installed. So I thought this would be the ticket. Actually, thinking back, I did contact that company when the generator first got chewed up, two years ago, if I remember correctly. They told me they had a 6 week backlog, and I guess in hindsight, I really should have put myself on the calendar. But honestly, from what I have seen recently, that would have been wasted effort.

Anyway, I contacted ALL ABOUT GENERATORS, and spoke to a guy (Justin) who said he could come out on Thursday the following week to take a look at the generator. He said he would call on Wednesday to confirm. Didn't hear back from him on Wednesday. Late on Thursday he did call to tell me he wasn't going to make it (gee thanks for wasting two days of my time waiting), but would have someone get out here on Friday.

Friday comes, and then late in the afternoon someone finally calls. Turned out to be Roy Holland Jr. He said he was on the way out.

So he gets out here and I showed him the control box with the chewed up wires. I guess I was looking closely, but don't think he was. He said, "Let's see if it will start up." Apparently he didn't notice the wire on the start switch that was hanging loose after being chewed through. So of course it wouldn't start. Have to admit that I wasn't real impressed with an electrician who didn't notice a wire to a switch completely cut in two. Then he starts talking about replacing the entire control box and how he would have to order it from Onan. And some of the larger wires with minor chew marks would have to be replaced too, and those would have to likely be ordered. I'm thinking, "Hell, this guy is trying to rack up the $$ with this!" Last time I had rodent damage repaired on that generator it cost me $1,000. I was getting the feeling that he was trying to beat that record.

So anyway, he said he would check on prices for things, but since it was late on Friday, he wouldn't get back to me until Monday. Did I hear back from him? Nope. And I'm not really surprised. This looked like a lot easier fix then when I first looked at the damage. So I found the manuals and the schematics and by taking pictures of the damage, traced the wiring to figure out exactly what wires need to be replaced. Then I went and bought some wire and new crimp on ends from Lowes and Home Depot. BTW, WHY do you always have to go to BOTH stores to get everything you need? Anyway, one of the wires would have to be soldered, as it went into a harness that went somewhere down below out of the control box. So I needed to strip the end pf the wire I could see and just solder an extension wire to it and run it where it needed to go in the control box. Little bit of shrink wrap for insulation and it's as good as new.

Anyway, today I laid out all the stuff I would need and just jumped in with both feet. Didn't have much to lose at this point. It's already broke. Maybe two hours later, it was done. Soldered one wire, replaced several others with crimped on ends, and then put wire loom for protection around those large cables with minor damage to the insulation. There were a couple of other smaller wires with real small nicks in them that I didn't feel needed to be replaced, since the wire itself was not cut through. I put some liquid insulator on those and that should be enough.

Double checked my work, and it was time for the smoke test.

Tried the manual start of the generator motor with the switch and after cranking for a while, it started up. Hallelujah! BTW, I changed out the oil and filter a couple of weeks ago, along with replacing the battery, since it had been sitting for two years. Then the real test came when I set the generator for auto start and then killed the power in the building that the generator was designed to detect, and darn if that didn't work too.


Wished I had known how relatively easy that was going to be, as I would have worked on that rather than fussing around with what I had to go through with the portable generator during the power outage. But live and learn, I guess. I guess I was just reluctant to work around electric stuff like that. Doing a smoke test is one thing, but possibly BEING the smoke test myself is just not my cup of tea.

Wonder if I will ever hear back from ALL ABOUT GENERATORS?
Old 10-20-2016, 07:54 PM   #2
Originally Posted by WebSlave View Post


I'm so glad it is fixed, it is awesome that you did it yourself,
I hope you don't need it any time soon.
Old 10-21-2016, 02:30 AM   #3
Here's a few pics of the generator control box opened up before doing the repairs.

When you look at the schematics, it seems MUCH easier to trace the wires because they used to be all color coded. Evidently the last time I had this sort of repair done, the electricians only had white wire to work with. So yeah, this made it a bit more challenging to figure out.
Old 10-21-2016, 07:39 AM   #4
If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they design wire insulation that tastes bad to mice?
Old 10-21-2016, 11:26 AM   #5
Originally Posted by TheFragginDragon View Post
If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they design wire insulation that tastes bad to mice?
Yeah, that would be a great idea. You have to wonder how many rodents win the ultimate prize when they get to the actual hot wire while chewing on the insulation. ZZZAP!

Rodent damage to wiring was the main reason I had my garage built. It cost me a lot of money getting all of the vehicles we had at the time repaired from the damage. The Jeep I had at the time was completely disabled and had to be towed to the dealership. This and the first generator attack all happened at the same time after years of no problems at all. Seriously, you wouldn't think rodents would hang around close to a building where corn snakes were being raised, now would you?

Well anyway, ALL ABOUT GENERATORS finally got back to me this morning. Quoted me a price of $900 and said it would take two days to fix my generator. I told them I would get back to them. Uh huh.....
Old 11-05-2016, 09:52 AM   #6
Sorry, I have to call you out on those shoes and socks...

I know what ya mean though. I do maintenance and I.T work at a police dept. About 2 weeks ago a relay in the master electrical switch that makes transfer after a power outage to generator went bad. You had to manually throw switch off then back on after power restored before generator would kick off. A job I was not comfortable doing.

They sent out this kid and I had a bad feeling. He proceeds to stick a screw driver in a live box that has 440 volts. I turned my head away just as it exploded. Sounded like a bomb going off and everyone in the building running around like decapitated chickens.

Chewed his ass out good. Luckily I was able to get back power before all the UPS's shut down. Got generator turned off and cleaned my pants out. Called company and they said we'll have there top guy out with in an hour and kid left. Luckily not in a Hearst and all his limbs.

Any way good job Rich!
Old 11-09-2016, 08:15 AM   #7
Originally Posted by TheFragginDragon View Post
If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they design wire insulation that tastes bad to mice?
It is my understanding that they use environmentally friendly, but very tasty, soy based pigment on the wires. I've had white footed mice disable two vehicles by chewing wires under the hood.

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