So now the meat of this tip…Oil Changes!
It was time for me to do a little preventive maintenance (PM) on my two Champion generators. One is my Champion 120v, 4000 watt (PSW), inverter generator, the other is a Champion 3500 watt (MSW), dual fuel generator. Both have the same engine. Yeah, amazing how that worked out…same motor on both…almost like I planned it 😉
In this case the PM was oil change, air filter cleaning, and spark arrestor check. So here are my steps on how I go about it…
1) I get the generator well off the ground to a comfortable working height and to make it easier to get to and oil drain pan underneath.
- Notice the dump cart in the background. I use that to transport the well house generator to my mini-barn/shop. The cart tilts to ground level, I roll the generator onto the cart, tilt the cart bed back to its upright position and haul the cart with my UTV. My solar system stand-by generator is on a 4-wheeled cart that I simply hook up to and pull with the UTV. Yeah, I mounted it on its own cart to assist in moving it around the construction site while I was building the house. I also left it on the cart to make it easy to move around the property with the UTV should I need the power somewhere more remote. I can also more easily use it at other locations in my community should the emergency need arise.
- Don’t buy some expensive oil drain pan! I use a Walmart plastic storage bin that cost me about $2. It came with a lid so I can close up the drain pan till I am ready to dump the oil.
- To get my wheeled generator off the ground high enough I simply pulled it up on my car ramps.
- And what you don’t see in the picture is my mechanic’s stool. An adjustable stool, on casters, with a tool tray around the base. That gives me a nice comfortable working height…sitting down. And a place to keep my tools off the floor of my shop which happens to be cinders.
2) To make my efforts more efficient I actually work on changing the oil and cleaning the air filter at the same time. I use a stiff brush to clean around the drain plug, then I remove the drain plug to drain the oil, and remove the oil dip stick to make the draining easier. Then I remove the air filter and take it to the house to clean it. There are some air filter cleaners out there but they are a little pricey. I simply use hot water, a little dish soap, and clean it like I would a shop rag. After I have rinsed it thoroughly I use dry paper towels to wrap it in and squeeze until the paper towels are no longer damp. Then I sit the air filter out in the sun to finish drying. You must get the air filter completely dry! While I have been cleaning the air filter the oil has drained completely.
- When I remove the dip stick I place it on a clean paper towel to make sure it stays dirt/grit free. And it has a nice absorbent surface to drain on.
3) I make sure the air filter cover is clean on the inside as well as the air filter housing that is connected to the engine. If needed, I use WD-40 to clean off any grime. Before I put the air filter back into the housing I use PJ1 on the foam filter to assist in catching/trapping any dirt/grit/sand/dust from getting through the filter.
4) Time for putting in the nice clean oil! Yeah, don’t forget to put the drain plug back in. And really don’t forget to ensure that if there is a crush washer that it goes back on.
- I use only fully synthetic oil when I do oil changes. Yes, I use manufacturer recommended oil for the break-in period…then fully synthetic after that. And yes, I use a slightly heavier oil in our hot summers and a slightly lighter weight oil during the winter. And yes, I buy my oil in gallon jugs or larger…cheaper.
- Make sure you have a long-neck funnel on hand to assist in pouring the oil back into the motor. Champion generators come with a funnel…nice touch! Also, notice the Ziplock bag in the picture? Yeah, I store my funnel in it. It keeps any dirt/grit from getting on it. I also put a couple of paper towels in the bottom to absorb any leftover oil when I put the funnel in the bag.
- When adding the oil I use the drip stick to check the quantity of oil to add. To check the oil level correctly you have to screw the oil dip stick all the way in. But, I am inpatient. I simply put the dip stick in until it hits the mouth of the oil fill inlet, I don’t screw it in. When the oil reaches about the halfway full mark it is close enough. Then I screw it in to do a final level check.
5) The final step in my PM in checking the spark arrestor screen and cleaning it if needed.
Note: A buddy of mine saw a used generator deeply discounted at a “big-box store” that appeared to be fairly new. The tag said it would not start or run. He looked at the spark arrestor screen…he immediately purchased the generator. He got it home, took the spark arrestor screen off and cleaned it really well. He checked the air filter…fine. He checked the spark plug…fine. Checked to make sure the gas wasn’t foul…fine. It started right up.
- You can run the generator without the spark arrestor screen. But, check the warranty, it may void it, and it won’t be approved for use on public lands…or in California.
- If you are in California…move.
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