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Old 08-02-2011, 10:53 PM   #1
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Champion generator shutting down while driving

I bought a 3500w Champion Generator from Northern Tool for the back of our party bus (converted Skoolie). It's on a rack that slides into a hitch, and there is very little movement of the rack. As we are in St. Louis (heat index was 118 here today), we need the generator to run while driving to keep the 13,500 AC running. The whole setup is only a couple of months old, and the generator now has 30 hours on it. The problem we are having is that it is intermittently shutting down while driving. I changed the oil last week, so I know that it has the proper amount of oil in it. The unit was $575 shipped, so I would consider this a contractor model. Any advice on why it's shutting down and how to solve the problem? I'm assuming that the oil is bouncing around causing it to shut down, but I have no idea. BTW, it has a little red LED and what looks like a circuit breaker button on the side by the fuel petcock. I noticed tonight that when I remote started the unit that the light blinked a few times. Any idea what that is? I plan on calling Champion in the morning. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 08-02-2011, 11:51 PM   #2
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

Nothing to offer but I heard Champion had good support. Let us know, especially cause I have the same set.
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Old 08-02-2011, 11:52 PM   #3
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

probably low oil sensor. might need to mount it on something that doesnt let it vibrate or shake too much.
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:54 AM   #4
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

I forgot to mention that it is in an enclosure I built, but the sides of the enclosure and the bottom are all open. Champion's FAQ mention vapor lock in the gas tank due to heat/pressure build-up and a faulty breather valve on the gas tank lid. I will call them this morning and then update the post. I'll cut and paste the FAQ here as well. Thanks guys for the thoughts. Champion's site also shows how to bypass the low oil cutoff, but I don't think I really want to do that (they show that as a temporary fix to only be used in extreme circumstances to get the unit started). Thank you all for the comments.
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:03 AM   #5
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

I just talked to Champion and they told me that the old gas tank entry in their FAQ was 5 years old and they've resolved that issue. He said that it's likely the low oil sensor shutting it off. He told me to unplug the wire that leads to that sensor (there is a green inline connector that can be unplugged, right by the oil dipstick) and see if that solves it. He said that for our application, with the unit being able to bounce with the bus, we might not be able to leave that sensor plugged in. Which means we'll just have to check the oil periodically (itís a safety sensor that shuts the unit off if there is a low-oil situation). He said that the unit should not burn much oil, but that if we unplug that sensor, we should check it every couple of uses to ensure the oil remains full. He also told me to take the spark arrestor off of the muffler, because they have a tendency to get clogged and cause backpressure. They are mainly to prevent forest fires if the unit backfires while in use in dry, grassy/forested areas (a situation that our tailgate bus will never see). I've attached some pictures of the enclosure I made. Rack is all aluminum. I made the enclosure using angled aluminum I bought at Home Depot. The sheathing is alumilight material I use for my real estate signs (aluminum skin over a hard plastic core). I wanted a rack that would not rust!
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File Type: jpg 20110802 - Misc IPhone Photos 017.jpg (127.7 KB, 1683 views)
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:48 AM   #6
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

I would suspect with it being on a hitch in the back that its bouncing heavy and the sensor is doing what it needs to be doing. I would also not suggest unpluggin the low oil sensor.

I think your mount is fine but I would put some kind of a rubber insulator in 4 spots where you mount it. It need to have some spring in it so it wont slosh as much? Only reason why this comes to mind is I am working on a onan that is having starting issues. When I crank it it does rock on the mounts a fair amount. Not sure if the contractor models have those if they do I dont think they will be enough to stop your issue. They are ment to stay in one place with only the motor bouncing not the whole unit.


Good luck.
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:52 AM   #7
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

There are some rubber feet that are between the motor itself and the frame of the unit, which takes out some of the vibration. But I agree, having a spring set up where the unit kind of "floats" would be strongly preferred. If this oil sensor deal doesn't work, I may try that. I wonder how the onan's and the built-in's get around this kind of problem? I guess if the gennie is mounted between the axles there is much less bounce in play. Thanks for the thoughts. I'll let you all know how it goes.
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Old 08-05-2011, 06:23 PM   #8
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

if its the low oil sensor, I would try just adding a bit more oil, if you want to keep the senor hooked up. I had to do that for my generator, it works fine now.

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Old 08-06-2011, 08:17 AM   #9
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

The way the oil reservoir works is that the unit is full when the oil runs out of the edge of the filler hole. So, unless I tilt the unit while filling it (which isn't possible now that it's bolted to the rack), I can't overfill it. But thank you for your solution. The bus will be in use tonight, so I will let you guys know how it works. Hopefully by having the correct amount of oil in there now, we should be set.
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Old 08-06-2011, 08:21 AM   #10
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

Btw, I forgot to update this. After all of these posts (thank you), it turns out we were low on oil. When I changed the oil a couple of weeks ago, and then built the rack cover, I couldn't check the oil. So I cut an access panel for checking oil this week, and it turns out it was low. So I properly filled it, left the sensor in place, and we'll try it out tonight. Thanks.
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Old 08-08-2011, 07:16 AM   #11
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

I deleted this comment as it was not accurate - Bob H.
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:44 PM   #12
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

DO NOT OVERFILL
small engines use a four prong wheel that flings the oil up into the internal parts that require lube and cooling. If you overfill you will defeat the ability to fling the oil, and you will need a new engine soon.
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:35 AM   #13
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

a lot of the better motors are oil pressure system, low end ones have the splash system . my old wacker/packer had a briggs motor with the oil splach system,and low oil shut down. if you didnt over fill it a bit(not a whole lot just a bit) it would stop, to much movement.

but you are most right, if you overfill alot the splash system will not work, also you will start bruning oil and have some blue smoke, and smell

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Old 08-15-2011, 08:09 AM   #14
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

Okay, new post, I'm still having the problem (I thought it was fixed but it was not). I'll unplug the sensor and try that next. On overfilling, the oil level sits three threads from spilling out the fill hole when full. Unless I had someone fabricate a screw in type extension as mentioned, I can't overfill the unit (I guess I could tip the unit up but that would require me taking the entire rack off the bus, which is a total PITA to do). I will fill it up to the edge of the fill hole, which is just a hair over full (I've been told the dangers of too much oil for years, so I agree with those that are saying not to do it). Anyway, we are using the bus on Saturday, so I'll let you know how it goes with the sensor unplugged, next week. Thanks everyone.
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Old 08-17-2011, 04:36 PM   #15
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

Good idea to check warm. The owners manual does not mention that, but I am going to try it. Thanks for the tip. Wow, I just googled this and there seems to be a lot of discussion on the best way. Most say that while warm, the oil is covering the engine and you don't get a good reading, which makes sense to me. I think I'll call Champion and ask their techs the best way to check it. Thanks!
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Old 08-18-2011, 03:48 PM   #16
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

After seeing this post, I looked in my Polaris RZR owner's manual and it does not specify whether to check it warm or cold. It's a 2010, so in this day and age, I was somewhat surprised not to see any direction on that. As for the dipstick article in PM, I was relieved to see that on the yellow dipstick cap of the generator the words "don't insert" or something like that was embossed into the cap, letting us know not to screw the cap in while checking the oil. EVERY oil cap/dipstick should have that!
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Old 08-18-2011, 04:17 PM   #17
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

I just talked to Champion's technical service (877-338-0999) and they said that the oil level in the lower case is usually pretty stable because it's a "splash system" and that it does not matter whether its warm or cold (I'm assuming that most of the oil just sits down below and gets splashed up while running, as we've discussed above). He did say NOT to thread the threads in (I didn't ask him, he just offered), which I thought was funny, given our conversations above. So, we're back to square one on what is the best way to check the oil!!!
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Old 08-18-2011, 09:20 PM   #18
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

I forget what the book says it takes for volume. I would drain the oil, then fill it with the correct amount and then try it. If it still quits, get rid of the low oil sensor. How long did we run engines without them?
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Old 08-19-2011, 12:40 PM   #19
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

.6 liters. I just changed it. I'm going to unplug the sensor for tomorrow nights outing. I'll post again on Monday and let everyone know how it went.
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Old 08-21-2011, 02:35 PM   #20
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Re: Champion generator shutting down while driving

I'm happy to report that my issue went away. Welding the rack to make the generator level and ensuring the proper amount of oil did the trick. No need to unplug the sensor at this point. Until further notice, the case is closed!
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