Generator won’t start after running out of fuel

clearcan

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Hey brain trust.

I’m at a bit of a loss. I know a little bit about small engines, air / fuel / spark.

My generator ran out of gas early this morning that we are using at the house since the last storm in the Northeast. Are usually have the timing down pretty well. I just thought up when it’s getting low and don’t turn it off, I know I know safety concerns but let’s move on. I refuse and hold the pull cord, but nothing is happening.

Here’s what I’ve done this far - refilled the tank, clean the carburetor, which was actually pretty clean to start with, checked for spark, pulled the power cord many many times. What am I missing? Spark check, air check, fuel check, …

Oh compression? I didn’t notice that the oil was very low, so I filled that up. Thanking that there was some sort of sensor throwing an error… I threw the compression tester on it and I’m not getting any reading. Could the tester be bad? Well I use that not too long ago on a leaf blower and it worked just fine. I’m now thinking I scorched the rings. I have to take my daughter up to the mountain tonight for ski lessons and was thinking about grabbing a new spark plug but I’m pretty sure that’s not gonna do anything other than perform standard maintenance.

Question is… buy a new one as I’m an early millennial or crack this baby open, and replace some rings? Valves looked like they were functioning under the cover and the gaps were good.
 

El Mar

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harpoon83

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Hey brain trust.

I’m at a bit of a loss. I know a little bit about small engines, air / fuel / spark.

My generator ran out of gas early this morning that we are using at the house since the last storm in the Northeast. Are usually have the timing down pretty well. I just thought up when it’s getting low and don’t turn it off, I know I know safety concerns but let’s move on. I refuse and hold the pull cord, but nothing is happening.

Here’s what I’ve done this far - refilled the tank, clean the carburetor, which was actually pretty clean to start with, checked for spark, pulled the power cord many many times. What am I missing? Spark check, air check, fuel check, …

Oh compression? I didn’t notice that the oil was very low, so I filled that up. Thanking that there was some sort of sensor throwing an error… I threw the compression tester on it and I’m not getting any reading. Could the tester be bad? Well I use that not too long ago on a leaf blower and it worked just fine. I’m now thinking I scorched the rings. I have to take my daughter up to the mountain tonight for ski lessons and was thinking about grabbing a new spark plug but I’m pretty sure that’s not gonna do anything other than perform standard maintenance.

Question is… buy a new one as I’m an early millennial or crack this baby open, and replace some rings? Valves looked like they were functioning under the cover and the gaps were good.
Try starter fuid, if it won't run at all with starter fluid you have issues.

I am currently using a generator on a job site for the framing crew. The generator is very sensitive to oil level, looks like it should be enough oil but the sensor says NO and it won't give the plug spark. Top off the oil and is purrs like a kitten.
 

kehoff

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what type of generator are we dealing with ? I was reading somewhere about one freezing the the ventilation tube up and blowing it's oil out and scorching the rings , but first we need make model
 

AJ2020

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ARC

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You don’t mention the make, but I can tell you we have seen plenty of generac and champIan units with broken piston rods. Check for compression.
 

the_Bartender

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Put on a leather or rubber glove and put your thumb over the spark plug hole, then crank it over. That will give you an idea if you have any compression! Do protect your thumb skin and STAY AWAY FROM THE COIL WIRE!
 

xbskt

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Are you sure it ran out of gas or was it just very low and quit because it lost compression. Chicken or the egg.....
 

clearcan

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I bought this for my parents back in 2008/2009 and since they now have an automatic generator they gave this back to me. Briggs & Stratton storm responder.

I just got back from the mountain where my kids have ski lessons, so I’m back to taking a look and like a dolt,I completely didn’t check the valve lash, they are way out of spec, so I’m hoping this may be the culprit.

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E0DC08CD-9E6C-4EAF-A36B-3B27753FA34A.jpeg
 

clearcan

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Alright valves adjusted, made a slight difference, it is still pretty easy to pull the cord. I think it’s going to be a bigger job. I’m still not getting a puff out of the spark plug hole. If it was running for probably 40 hours straight, and the rings degraded over time, I would think it would have failed prior to running dry. It was definitely a dry tank when I filled it this morning.

Or is the expansion from the heat enough to keep it running?
 

ARC

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You don’t mention the make, but I can tell you we have seen plenty of generac and champIan units with broken piston rods. Check for compression.
They use engines that are very much a copy of Honda gx390 or go 270. But like many copies they lack the proper casting and machining . In most cases the connecting rods are very poor cast , somewhat thin and very brittle. They all snap in the same place . honda’s never break a rod . We have also seen many exhaust studs pull out and valve guides come out of place.
 

clearcan

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For using just a couple times a year, any recommendations on a brand without dropping a lot of coin on a Honda?
 

harpoon83

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I have that excact generator for my crew at work, living in the municipal world....Typically not the best at doing preventative maintenance and the thing just runs and runs.

The only issue we have had was it sat over the summer with the fuel valve open and it drained gas into the oil. We did an oil flush and its been running a few years since then.
 

harpoon83

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I'm not sure this is even possible...but could the pull cord mechanism be broken so its not actually turning the motor over?
 

leaky

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Any small engine w/ a carburetor, when you suspect it's the carburetor, you buy a new one. Usually are like $20 to $70. Even the outboard engines, 50% of the time when I know there's a carb issue, I never find anything wrong, but a complete rebuilt/cleaning solves the problem. Half the time you never realize what you fixed. These small engines - it's not worth buying a rebuild kit and the crap shoot when you can just buy a carb and bolt it on.

With that said - my Subaru powered generator, for whatever reason if you store it w/ the fuel tank turned off (which it always seems to need, even w/ a new carb bolted on there to keep it from weeping) or you run it out of fuel, it's a total bitch to get running again. A soaking of starting fluid, carb cleaner, anything that burns, into the carb throat as you pull it and it fires up and will keep firing up easy (cold or otherwise) until you go store it w/ no fuel in the carb for awhile. I suspect the float sticks, or something about that carb, it doesn't fill itself w/ fuel correctly or get fuel into the right places unless the engine is running.

9/10 times it's a carb related problem. I'd try the starting fluid thing as mentioned. If it pops off and runs OK - great. If it pops off and runs like shit, good chance that carbs still not clean and it's time to replace it. If it doesn't pop off then you got a different issue.
 

clearcan

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Any small engine w/ a carburetor, when you suspect it's the carburetor, you buy a new one. Usually are like $20 to $70. Even the outboard engines, 50% of the time when I know there's a carb issue, I never find anything wrong, but a complete rebuilt/cleaning solves the problem. Half the time you never realize what you fixed. These small engines - it's not worth buying a rebuild kit and the crap shoot when you can just buy a carb and bolt it on.

With that said - my Subaru powered generator, for whatever reason if you store it w/ the fuel tank turned off (which it always seems to need, even w/ a new carb bolted on there to keep it from weeping) or you run it out of fuel, it's a total bitch to get running again. A soaking of starting fluid, carb cleaner, anything that burns, into the carb throat as you pull it and it fires up and will keep firing up easy (cold or otherwise) until you go store it w/ no fuel in the carb for awhile. I suspect the float sticks, or something about that carb, it doesn't fill itself w/ fuel correctly or get fuel into the right places unless the engine is running.

9/10 times it's a carb related problem. I'd try the starting fluid thing as mentioned. If it pops off and runs OK - great. If it pops off and runs like shit, good chance that carbs still not clean and it's time to replace it. If it doesn't pop off then you got a different issue.
Starting fluid did not work nor putting gas directly into the cylinder. There isn’t any compression whatsoever.
 


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