Sunday, December 15, 2019

I should have bought a Honda (or a Maytag)

Almost 4 years ago I bought a highly reviewed generator to serve several purposes: to power various appliances during power outages, to power the RV when camping away from full-service campgrounds and to allow QRO operation during FD and other events.

The Champion worked well for a while, then became hard - and eventually, impossible - to start.

A replacement carburetor was sent to me at no cost despite the warranty being expired. This fixed the problem for a while. Despite all the precautions - regularly running the engine and keeping the carb drained when no use is anticipated for long periods - it has once again become impossible or difficult to start.

I should have bought an EU3000iS Honda generator. Honda's reliability is almost as good as that of Maytag's ;-)

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My goal with the old Maytag is to find a 1930's washing machine to install it back into or rig up a 1930's-era generator/voltage regulator for an antique way of powering my most modern QRP rig...
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7 comments:

  1. Good evening John we have the Firman 3650 running watts, it has a 240 volt 30 amp twist lock plug that is connected to our 30 amp transfer switch. I have wired it to operate our fridge, living room, split mini (heating and cooling unit fused at 15 amp 240 volt) our bedroom and heating tracer cables for the water lines. U exercise the generator once a month at 50% load for about one hour. I have fuel stabilizer in the tank and the 2 reserve gas containers. So far I have not had any issues with starting using either the electric start or the wireless from the FOB. Honda is an excellent generator but I need one that is 240 volt and it becomes very pricey. I did notice your Champion was an inverter type which are smaller and not a noisy, but I was not able to get an inverter type generator with 240 volts unless I paid huge money for a Honda.
    Do post which Honda you end up getting.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

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    1. Hi Mike, I forgot to mention that I do use fuel stabilizer as well. I have a variety of other gas engines that are used only seasonally (mower, weedeater, leaf blower, etc) and none of them have been a problem at all. Only the generator so I'm going to give the carb a thorough cleaning, see what a local handyman will give me for it and then stick with a name brand. Yamaha also make a model comparable to various Honda models.

      73 - John

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  2. Hi again John, when I was in the market for a generator Firman seemed to have very good reviews and so far I have not had any issues but the generator is not that old. The warranty is for 2 years, so I will see what happens and it was good that Champion did send out a free carb.......but if it's the same as the one that was giving you issues that really is not a solution to the problem. Good marks to Champion for seeing that the carb is an issue but that really does not help when you need the generator and it's not working.
    Mike

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  3. Hello John, I actually repair these kind of generators in our repair shop at my job. I never ran into a champion but have seen others made by the chinese. A lot of carburator problems as well. Most of the time a fuel issue but also other issues like worn gas valve shafts. I hope this is not a plastic carburator, they have issues on their own like deformation of various parts. The fuel problem is really a pain and fuel stabilizer is not always solving, it can only be used to keep fresh fuel fresh. We sell special alkalyd fuel and use it ourself it is sold under several names, we use the Aspen brand. This kind of fuel is expensive but stays fresh for 10 years and has less toxic exhaust fumes. Overall Honda and Yahama are the brands to go for. We have an 25 year old Yahama generator for hire here and it is still running well, although we use that special fuel for the last 10 years. You made a great video, I love the old Maytag engine, they don't make this quality anymore. 73, Bas

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    1. Hello Bas, thanks for the info about Aspen fuels. It seems difficult to get here in the US - I'll try looking for the same type of fuel with a different brand name. What little I see about it all sounds good and very beneficial for small engine use. Regardless, I will take apart and clean the carburetor this week. I'm sure that will get the engine running again, but for how long, and will it start when I need it to? So even if it runs well, I will shop around for a Honda.

      Yes, the little Maytag is a nicely-built little engine. It weighs about 30 kg, always starts (cold or hot) and is of a unique design not made anymore ("hit and miss"). 84 years old and runs like new, always.

      73 - John

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  4. I have a 3500W Champion I got at Cabela's on sale for about $250 (including a wheel kit and cover), that has been used for Field Day the last several years. Aside from a couple of home power outages, where I just ran extension cords to several appliances, it hasn't seen any other use, and I keep regular unleaded gas in it from the local gas station.

    The way I see it, I can buy ten of those Champions for the price of one Honda. Wanna bet a Honda will outlast ten Champions?

    I do intend to get a much larger unit for the house, likely a Cummins or Onan (NOT a Generac), and have it wired up with an automatic transfer switch, and run it off of natural gas. In the 30+ years we've lived in our current house, the gas and water have NEVER failed, but the electricity is starting to go out on a regular basis. DTE's overhead wiring is starting to fail, and this older neighborhood has plenty of trees to fall on the lines, in spite of various tree-trimming efforts over the years.

    I "inherited" a free brand-new 5500W 240V Champion recently. It's a heavy beast, so it's essentially impossible to lift it onto my truck. I'd like to figure out how to get it to Field Day next year, to run my 5th wheel A/C. We recently upgraded from a 17-yr old trailer with one AC unit with 30 amp connection to the new dual-AC 5th wheel, with 50 amp connection.

    I will admit that the Champions and their ilk are all pretty noisy, compared to the Hondas, but what price quiet? I'm still not convinced it's worth $2000 to get a quieter generator.

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    1. Hi Dave - I agree with a lot of what you say but I've come to realize that reliability is an important criteria. No, a Honda won't outlast 10 Champions but when I needed my Champion, it wouldn't start. Even if I were willing to buy another one for a low price, I'm without power for that particular power outage and the fridge is getting warm. Or, I decided to drive 12 hours pulling the trailer, to a great boondocking site, and don't know of the engine for the generator will start when I get there? Can't do that. To me, reliability is more important than low noise.

      Tomorrow I'm going to several small engine repair shops around here to see if they have an alkalyde type gas mentioned by Bas. Then I'll overhaul the carb, get the thing running and sell it. Maybe someone else will have better luck with it.

      73 - John

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