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Author Topic: Any comments on front mounting a generator like a diesel pusher?  (Read 3506 times)
belfert
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« on: November 28, 2009, 06:49:11 PM »

Ruthi and her husband Ken are converting a 1998 Dina.  I talked to Ken today on the phone and he has converted the area behind the front bumper into a slide out for an 8KW generator.  Pretty much the same idea as a diesel pusher.  (On a Dina the spare tire hangs there on a winch kinda like most minivans, SUVs, and pickups.)

I'm considering doing the same thing to free up luggage bay space.  I would probably put my house batteries, inverter, and breaker panels where the generator is now if I moved the generator.  (Batteries would be boxed and vented to prevent inverter damage.)  I suppose I could also stick the batteries and such up front and not move the generator, but I'm more likely to need access to the electrical stuff on a regular basis.

Any reasons not to mount the generator up front like this?  Would I need a grill for venting?  I looked at photos of a lot of diesel pushers and almost none of them have grills up front.  I don't know how they provide cooling air for the generator.  I am pretty sure my front axle has enough capacity for this, but no idea if extra weight out front would affect ride.

I'm not sure my generator would even fit height wise.  I couldn't find my tape measure earlier today.  This would be a spring or summer project as it will be too cold until then to work on the bus.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2009, 07:07:08 PM »

Brian, people do installs that way on Eagles when they raise the floor to do a level driver access is made from doors on the side not from the front and then pull air from the bottom.   

good luck
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belfert
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2009, 07:14:17 PM »

I'm not sure how I would install a side door to access the generator.  One side has the main door of course, and the other side has the driver's heat and A/C in a box with a door.

When folks raise the driver's platform how do they typically deal with the extra steps required?
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
luvrbus
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2009, 07:19:43 PM »

Some do in it in a straight run but most do a spiral 

good luck
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rv_safetyman
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2009, 07:25:49 PM »

Brian, I have worked on several of the units you are talking about when I install my system.  They are almost all Onan Quiet Box, with a PowerTech or two mixed in.  They are enclosed units.  I have manuals for both the PowerTech and Onan.  The Onan is manual is out in the bus, but the PowerTech is on one of the computers.  It has a side air inlet and a generator air exhaust on the bottom front and radiator air outlet on the rear bottom.  I have always wondered if the hot air gets mixed with the fresh air when the coach is stationary.   However, they seem to work just fine.

The weight of the generator will be hung out in front to the axle.  Because of leverage, it will have more "impact" than just the weight in terms of loading the front axle.  Several of the motorhomes have a big problem with overloading the front axles.  One now produces a 16K front suspension system.  Several coaches are close to the front axle weight limit when they leave the factory.  I have read some forums where folks don't fill their fuel tanks (mounted in front) more than half.

As Clifford noted, some Eagle have done this, but only with a raised driver and also a mid door as I recall.  

It all sounds good on paper, but I would want to start by having my bus weighed and then do some calculations on axle loading.  It sounds like you would move some other heavy items up front (batteries) and that could make matters worse.

Jim
« Last Edit: November 28, 2009, 07:52:07 PM by rv_safetyman » Logged

Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2009, 07:36:08 PM »

Clifford, didn't Basil put one in the front ?
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« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2009, 07:42:37 PM »

I forgot to make a comment about servicing the front generators.  Most of the recent ones are on a powered slide out.  They are pretty easy to service.  Some are hard mounted and they can be a bear cat for anything beyond normal service.  The commercial units have trap doors in the bottom that let you get to the fuel and oil filters and oil drain plug.  The exhaust drops out the rear air exhaust opening.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2009, 07:45:28 PM »

To me with the front axle set back as far as is on a Dina it would be a easy install without many modifications.
The only concern I would have like Jim would be the weight on the front torque tubes the Dina's don't look that strong to me with the square tubes.


good luck
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belfert
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« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2009, 07:56:23 PM »

It all sounds good on paper, but I would want to start by having my bus weighed and then do some calculations on axle loading.  It sounds like you would move some other heavy items up front (batteries) and that could make matters worse.

I would only move the batteries up front if I did NOT move the generator to the front.  If I move the generator to the front I will move the batteries to where the generator is currently mounted.  The batteries are currently in the very back of the bus today.

The Dina front axle is rated for 12,000 lbs.  I am at 9,900 lbs on the front axle today.  I'm more worried about ride quality than overlaoding the axle.

My generator is the Powertech enclosed one.  It is currently in the former condensor compartment so it has the whole side exposed to fresh air today.  No heat issues per the temp gauge when stationay right now.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2009, 05:31:54 AM »

Blue Bird has done that for as long as I can remember.
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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2009, 06:56:43 AM »

Back in the late 90's when I was building my Eagle I talked to several "experts" on mounting a diesel generator up front.  At that time I was warned that the weight ahead of my steer tires could have a adverse effect on steering.  Also the weight could overload the front suspension under certian conditions.  After I completed my conversion I noted that the front weight on my  suspension  was near the limit without the generator.   Just something to consider.

Prather
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belfert
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2009, 07:02:03 AM »

Blue Bird has done that for as long as I can remember.

So have all the class A manufacturers, but they design and engineer the coach from the ground up with the generator up front.

I don't want to go to all the work of doing this and find out it doesn't work since the bus wasn't engineered for this.  I should be below my axle weight ratings by about 1,400 lbs after installing the generator up front since the generator weighs 515 lbs plus the weight of any steel.

I am a little worried about how having the driver and 8 passengers up front affects the front axle weights although not all of the weight should go to the front axle.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
luvrbus
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« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2009, 07:06:20 AM »

The difference between a Eagle and a Dina is the Dina is a shorter wheel base on a truck frame and you can adjust the front axle weight with the air tags same with Prevost and MCI
Basil has a 45 ft model 15 Eagle and they will carry more weight on the front axle than a model 10 or 05 so the generator is no problem for him.
You can also take weight off the front axle on a Eagle by adding more to the boggies not a big deal you can pickup some of the weight deference with aluminum wheels if you are running steel wheels


good luck
« Last Edit: November 29, 2009, 07:15:37 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2009, 07:07:49 AM »

Brian,
I honestly think you'll be OK doing this. But keep in mind that the actual weight is not you enemy here but the end weight. (in other worde think leverage!) I would just for safety sake double the weight of the generator when calculating. And yes you should still be OK!
Grin  BK  Grin
PS I have no actual knowledge on this, just thinking how I would do it. But as always YMMV! Grin
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
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« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2009, 07:12:02 AM »

Clifford and I were posting at the same time a minute ago, and he brings up an excellent point!

By the way I can show you how to install airbags on the front of a Dina since "Dino" (the Dina leased to us) has them already! (installed by the previous owner for running "HEAVY" loads on rough roads in Mexico!)
FWIW Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2009, 08:14:13 AM »

The difference between a Eagle and a Dina is the Dina is a shorter wheel base on a truck frame and you can adjust the front axle weight with the air tags same with Prevost and MCI

The problem with the air bag idea is the Dina uses Torsilastic suspension like an Eagle.  Air bags are only on the tag axle.

I was thinking about putting batteries up there instead of the generator, but I realized the batteries weigh more the generator!
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2009, 08:33:10 AM »

Maybe I wasn't clear Brian but I did say adjust the front axle weight with the air tags

good luck
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« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2009, 09:21:16 AM »

Maybe I wasn't clear Brian but I did say adjust the front axle weight with the air tags

Sorry, I thought it said air bags, not air tags.  Dina is pretty specific about running exactly 43 PSI in the tag axle.  The regulator is froze at 43 lbs, but I suppose I could try a new regulator that the adjuster works on.  I thiink I have a couple of new air regulators laying around that would work.  (Didn't buy them for the bus.)
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #18 on: November 29, 2009, 10:06:18 AM »

Brian, I think it will work out. All the research we have done on it, it appears to be a workable plan, and we dont think the weight will be a problem. We sure wouldnt have done this if we had any doubts. It will be very easy to slide in and out, and the front bumper is modified for it, and is almost finished. We are doing a little extra fiberglass work on it now. Our gen is a powertech. This is a backup gen for us. The main one is a 12 kw. That was a huge wasted space area, so it worked out great. I will be posting some new pics of the bus and the modifications shortly. Good luck Brian, and if you have any questions, give us a call. Ruthi
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« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2009, 10:31:32 AM »

When converting a transit bus, the big problem is where to put the generator.  When I originally bought the bus, I eyed the front section by the drivers seat as where to mount the generator.  I bought the Powertech 10kw with remote mounted radiator.  I was at first going to make a slide out tray type, until I saw the big support beams I'd have to cut for the bumper.  Since transits have reinforced bumpers, I wanted to keep them in place.  I still used the area next to the front drivers seat for the generator, but made a permanent generator compartment with 1/4" steel floor and 3/4" plywood walls bolted to the bumper frames.  The generator had to be installed through the front door with a cherry picker, and mounted backwards-with the generator head facing forward.  The access is through a top door in the bus.  Sounds weird, but you work on the engine from above and can get to both sides easily.  The only time I would have to pull the generator is if I had to work on the bell end of the alternator.  The radiator is mounted under the drivers seat with a pull through squirrel cage blower and 2-speed belt driven 1/2hp motor-high for driving, low for quiet night time use. The compartment is so tight that the air cleaner is also mounted outside the compartment.  For ventilation, I have a 250cfm inline bathroom blower on a rheostat to push air through the compartment.  Has worked well, and even Dick Wright says it is quieter then most generators-although not quiet enough for me (it is much quieter then the Onan "quiet" diesels).  It was a lot of work, but has been trouble free since installing 15 years ago.  My weight distribution is 10,500lb on the front, 20,500 on the rear. Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2009, 02:46:53 PM »

I installed my 6.5 Onan  between the front axle and the front bumper.  I have no ride issues or handling issues.

 Not sure what the Onan weighs but I would guess it is close to the weight of the spare tire compartment if I had the compartment and the spare inside it.

The last time I weight the front axle at the scales it was only 3730 kg so less than 9000 lbs
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belfert
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« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2009, 04:24:57 PM »

Hmm.  I didn't consider the weight of the spare tire I will be removing so that will help.  The tire and wheel must weigh 100 lbs easy.

I'm going to have to talk to Ken about this again as it appears a fairly major piece of the frame would have to be removed unless he put the generator in a different direction than I am thinking.  It would sure help if I actually removed the spare tire to get a clearer picture of the situation.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2009, 04:42:44 PM »

Brian,

You are correct, that the tire and the wheel (if steel) are each over 100 lbs. I believe they are about 100-120 lbs each.
I have not tried to pick up a genset lately, but I have found out how old I have gotten recently, moving 24.5's around....

Good Luck with your genset relo. project.

Gary
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« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2009, 04:47:22 PM »

Brian, it would be closer to 250 lbs. Our gen weighs close to 350 lbs. Also, you would need to remove the spare tire winch and pulley system. We left 2 inches of the front cross member to support the front of the frame rail. Also, installing the gen only took one day, including the welding. Your bumper is in good shape, so it wont take as much time to modify it for the gen. We had to do a lot of fiberglass work on the bumper to get it back nice.
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Mixed up Dina, ready for the road as of 12/25/2010
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« Reply #24 on: November 29, 2009, 04:50:34 PM »

You are correct, that the tire and the wheel (if steel) are each over 100 lbs. I believe they are about 100-120 lbs each.
I have not tried to pick up a genset lately, but I have found out how old I have gotten recently, moving 24.5's around....

I know my genset weighs around 515 lbs.  It was put in with a forklift at a buddy's house.  He is so busy I don't know if he would do it again especially since he quit the hobby we were both in.

I didn't realize a steel 24.5" wheel and tire weigh more than 200 lbs combined.  No wonder it is such a struggle to move one around.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2009, 06:04:13 PM »

Brian, it would be closer to 250 lbs. Our gen weighs close to 350 lbs. Also, you would need to remove the spare tire winch and pulley system. We left 2 inches of the front cross member to support the front of the frame rail. Also, installing the gen only took one day, including the welding. Your bumper is in good shape, so it wont take as much time to modify it for the gen. We had to do a lot of fiberglass work on the bumper to get it back nice.

I have the same Powertech generator as you have in your GMC except mine is 8 KW instead of 12 KW like yours is.  I think they use the same enclosure for both.  The manual says it weighs 515 lbs.

Did you install your generator parallel to the bumper or parallel to the length of the bus?  I can't see getting mine to fit unless I install it parallel to the bumper.  I'm looking forward to pictures of the installation.

I am accumulating a huge list of projects to do next spring/summer.  The guys in my group are talking about going out to Reno twice next year so I might not have as much time as I thought to get things done.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2009, 06:25:10 PM »

It is parallel with the bus, inside the frame. I dont see how you could install it parallel with the bumper. You would have to cut out the supports for the bumper. The gen that we are installing up front is the 8 kw gen, not the 12.
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« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2009, 07:52:10 PM »

I think there is enough room between the frame rails to mount my generator parallel to the bumper, but I would have to measure again to be sure.  Mounting the generator parallel to the length of the bus would be better but I think the generator will hit the cross member.  My fully enclosed Powertech is 36" long if my memory serves ms.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2009, 08:46:25 PM »

For what it is worth, all of the motorhome units I have seen/worked on have been longitudinal (crank parallel to the frame).  but it really should not matter. 

Having said that, the side air inlet on the PowerTech might be affected by a side mounting.  The layout for servicing would suggest that the inlet side would be mounted to the front.   I really can't think of anything that would be bad about that situation.  It will not be exposed to direct ingestion of rain (I am told that the components in the main box are weather resistant).  I don't think there would be any air flow issues.  If there would be a problem, you could make a deflector shield of some sort.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #29 on: November 30, 2009, 06:25:11 AM »

Brian, I think there is only about 27 inches across.
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Mixed up Dina, ready for the road as of 12/25/2010
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« Reply #30 on: December 01, 2009, 11:10:58 AM »

I'm starting to think this might not work.  I was out doing some measuring today and there is something less than 30 inches to the cross member between the frame rails.  Redesigning the front bumper might make it fit, but that is probably more work than I want to do. 

I'll have to take a closer look at this in the spring when it warms up again.  Removing the bumper and the spare tire will give me a better look at things.

I think Ken and Ruth's generator is probably a little shorter than mine.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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