Honda Generator surging - any ideas?

Submitted: Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 16:36
ThreadID: 35218 Views:9540 Replies:6 FollowUps:10
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Hi all,
I've got an older Honda generator, model EM1000F. I stripped it down the other day because it wasn't running too well and found a lot of whitish buildup inside the head - probably from my bad habit of letting it run out of fuel. I also drained the carbie, which seemed to have some grunge in it. Anyway, I put it back together, but now it's surging a lot and, and overall seems to be running faster than it used to. (I discovered this the next day when it blew our laser printer up :-( -- I was just thinking to myself, hmmm, that sounds a bit fast, and one of the kids started yelling to my wife (who was doing the printing) that smoke was coming out of the printer.) So I decided to stick a multimeter on it, and discovered that it's putting out 300V AC and 20V DC - seems a bit over the top! And, as I said, it's surging.

Can anyone tell me how these things are regulated? I can see some sort of a governor arrangement on the motor, but it all seems to be hooked up okay, and doesn't seem to be that sensitive anyway. Is that all there is to regulate the power output, or is there something electrical as well? I can see something that I think is a capacitor, but I've got no idea what it does? If any guru out there can tell me how these things work I'd be very grateful. It's our only power source other than solar (we live on a remote island in Vanuatu), but we only plan to be here another six months, so I don't want to buy another one unless I can't avoid it.

Thanks all,
Tim Zylstra
Tanna Island, Vanuatu
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Reply By: Mike Harding - Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 16:50

Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 16:50
Get what you pay for mate - should have bought a GMC for $98.

Mike Harding :)

(Sorry Tim - could not resist :)
AnswerID: 180100

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 16:57

Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 16:57
Most small generators use a mechanical system to control the engine speed according to load - I'm not sure what the newer "inverter" gens do. The ?capacitor? you can see may be to do with the ignition system or possibly suppression of same.

I would check the carb again very closely. Are you sure you don’t have any air leaks?

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 436310

Follow Up By: hl - Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 17:07

Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 17:07

It definitely sounds like you did something that makes the governor not work properly. It should move quite freely and change the motor speed as it does.
I think there is a small vane that gets pushed by the cooling air and it is held back by a spring. If it does not move freely, the motor may over rev. Some of these hondas also have a 50hz/60hz switch that basically alters the tension on the governor spring and makes the motor run faster for 60hz. The capacitor is part of the voltage regulation, but it only works properly if the motor runs at the correct speed.

FollowupID: 436311

Reply By: phillowe - Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 17:00

Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 17:00
Hi Tim,

I assume if you have had the head off you have replaced with new gaskets??? If not (which I am assuming) there could be a gasket leaking...most probably on the inlet manifold which could (in conjunction with the govener trying to keep a constant speed)cause the engine to surge.

Good luck!!

AnswerID: 180101

Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 15:08

Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 15:08
New gaskets?!? I wish... I can't even buy the right size tyre for my 4Runner here! Sounds like both you and Mike are pointing me in the same direction, though, Phil, so I'll have to have another look at all of that. Gasket goo's looking good...
Thanks very much to you both for your input!
FollowupID: 436312

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 17:20

Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 17:20
I has some gasket material in the garage - if you have sensible access to the postal service I'd be quite happy to post some across to you if you send me a mail address? Failing that you could try making new gaskets from card or leather - maybe thick paper too? Gasket goo does work, sometimes, but it's a bit hit and miss and a devil to clean off.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 436313

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 17:21

Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 17:21
PS. Want to tell us what you're doing out there - how, when and why etc?
FollowupID: 436314

Follow Up By: phillowe - Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 17:37

Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 17:37
Have to agree with Mike on the gasket especially careful in fuel areas...has a nasty habit of finding its way into jets!!! I too would love to know what you are up to there?
FollowupID: 436318

Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 12:09

Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 12:09
Hi Mike, Phil,

Sorry to take so long to get back to you - we also have had no phone service for the past two and a half months, so I am reduced to carrying the laptop down to town (4 kms down a 4wd track) and borrowing a friend's phone to do emails etc.

Anyway, the genny first - thanks to you guys, I went home and partially stripped it again on Sat, and then used some red gasket stuff that's been good for me in the past (not sure what it's called) on the inlet manifold, and that seemed to fix the surging - but then it sounded starved for fuel. So off with the fuel tank, and clean it out (there's no fuel filter in this thing, would you believe?) and I also found a bit of a blockage in a drain line that seems to come from the top of the carbie - don't know what it does. Put it all together, and voila! - works beautifully. Even better, the laser printer still seems to work - I guess not all the good smoke ran out, there must still be a little bit left! :-)

What am I doing here? I'm a missionary pastor, looking after a small congregation here on Tanna island, and also doing Bible translation work into the local language. So we live in a little village about 4 k's inland, 200 metres or so above sea level, where the church is. We've been here for nearly nine years now, but will probably head back to Aust at the end of this year - my oldest daughter will be heading into year 11, so we think we need to head back for their schooling. She's the only one who wants to go, though (she's right into computers, and loves the idea of ADSL) - the other four kids would all rather stay in Tanna! It's a great lifestyle for kids - and for adults too, as long as you don't get too frustrated when things break down, or don't go to schedule :-)

Thanks again for your help,
FollowupID: 436634

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 13:33

Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 13:33
Excellent! Glad you got it running again Tim. And the laser printer survived to tell the tale :)

Had to look Tanna up in the atlas (unsurprisingly :) Now that is what I call _remote_ but it sounds like a beautiful spot to live and to raise children - I suspect they will find it a big change when they come to Oz. Need any Western aid type workers on the island, I'm looking for a total change of life?

Go well.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 436652

Reply By: Member No 1- Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 18:39

Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 18:39
my honda has a fuel cap that requires venting( breathing) when running. when in transit one has a small valve to close....could this be the cause
AnswerID: 180118

Reply By: froomey - Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 22:13

Friday, Jun 23, 2006 at 22:13
hi tim

how old is your geni .
if it is one of the older heavier types it more likley has an oil light , comes on when oil is low , if oil level is ok disconect the wire to the oil light , had the same trouble years ago and worked for me.
some gens love pulling power , if not pulling a great deal it may do this as well.
worth a try

AnswerID: 180150

Reply By: kesh - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 08:54

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 08:54
About a 90% chance the problem is in the carby (you mention muck in it).
When the engine surges it is generally the main jet air bleed blocked. This air bleed is on top of the tube which comes down and into the top of the main fuel jet (looking into the throat of the carby)
The way to access this is to remove the carby, take the bowl off and remove the main jet (screwed in the brass holder). On the top of the carby directly above the jet is a small screw with fibre washer under covering the top of the air bleed jet. A thin punch or nail with the point flattened can push the jet up and out from the underside. A small hole in the side of this will more than likely be blocked. There are different patterns of the air bleed but the priciple is the same. (on some the hole is in the top, not the side and is easier to clean).
Re assemble all as pulled apart and she should go like a bought one.
AnswerID: 180165

Follow Up By: Eddy - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 16:04

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 16:04
Bravo! kesh!

Top answer.

FollowupID: 436435

Reply By: zigglemeister - Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 12:13

Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 12:13
Thanks very much to all of you who took the time to answer, especially kesh with his detailed response. It's fixed! - see my response to Mike and Phil, up above.

Best regards,
AnswerID: 180388

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:02

Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:02
Hey Tim, Good luck with the gennie mate. You're not originally from Narrandera by any chance?
FollowupID: 436660

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