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Author Topic: Need advice on making Honda EU1000i generator electric start  (Read 5481 times)
Kevin Warnock
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« on: May 15, 2008, 10:28:42 PM »

Hello,

I plan to modify my Honda portable gas EU1000i generator to be powered by propane. There is a kit sold here:

http://www.propane-generators.com/

that contains the parts needed. You send them your generator carburator and they drill it and make other modifications and send it back. Then you can run only on propane. I only use my bus a few times a year, so gas spoils and that also would be a third fuel on board, so I think this is the best way to go. 1000 watts is enough for my bedroom 5000 BTU air conditioner. Yes, the Honda will start it, I've done it. But I also will run the output through my Trace SW4024, so I have huge starting power available. I want to keep fuel consumption tiny, and plan to run the Honda at just 500 watts, which is what my air conditioner draws. With the eco switch, it's very quiet at this output. I can run it all night to sleep with the air conditioner on.

Since I have to butcher the generator to go propane, I am planning to go further and make the generator electric start. I plan to mount the generator in a bay on my RTS bus and plumb it into my bus propane system. I will be able to go for many days 24 x 7 on propane if I wanted to. I will make a sound proof box for it with that rock wool sheeting discussed here some weeks back. The sound path will bend to keep the noise down. I will use an auto muffler and pipe to further cut down the noise, and to pipe the exhaust out of the box and out the side of the bus just under a bay door.

Now for the question for the board:

The generator is recoil start now. I took it apart an the mechanism looks simple. If I buy an electric generator start motor like this one from Northern Tool:

http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_531098_531098

what can I expect? Is there a way to get the starter motor gear to engage with a matching gear that I could fit on the shaft of the Honda generator engine?

The reason I really want to do this is that the RTS doors are clumsy to open, and I hate the idea I will have to prop open a bay door, climb under it, open the sound proof box and pull a manual recoil starter to start the generator.

When I make the above changes, I will get rid of the existing plastic Honda case, so I will be able to have better cooling air flow over the generator. I bought some fans that use very little power, and have done a test in an enclosed sound box running for over an hour. It takes 4 computer type fans to drive enough air through the sound box. The generator remains as cool as it would in freestanding operation, even running under full load. Thus, I am pretty sure I can keep the unit cool enough in real life operation. If 4 fans won't do it, I can add a few more.

Please advise what you would do to make this generator electric start. Note that I will also have a larger generator on board. This tiny one is to run all night with minimal fuel, and otherwise to be run when I only need a small amount of power.

Thanks very much.

Kevin
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Don4107
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« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2008, 11:12:57 PM »

Can't help with electric start.  How about just extending the the starting rope and controls to some place more accessible.

Good luck
Don 4107
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Don 4107 Eastern Washington
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2008, 07:27:37 AM »

Good idea Don!!  I was going to do that with my Honda 2000i. trying to route the rope poised a bit of a problem, at first I thought of useing pullys. Then decided on running a line through copper or plastic tubing! The friction might require the addition of an extra return spring?  I did not do this, so it is only an idea.
                  Jim
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2008, 07:38:40 AM »

Some of the older Wisconsin engines had an add on electric start that I think will work.  You take off the recoil starter, and have a V belt pulley made for the shaft (about 8" diameter or whatever will fit).  Then there is a starter/generator made that also has the V belt on it.  If you don't want the generator function, just don't hook up the regulator.  This will be far easier than trying to get a ring gear flywheel and mounting the gear drive starter to mesh correctly.  Good Luck, TomC
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Kevin Warnock
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2008, 08:12:58 AM »

TomC, are you saying that just let the starter motor spin all day with the generator running? Are the starters designed for so much spinning. The Honda runs at 5500 RPM per the manual and per the tach I installed on it.
Thanks, Kevin
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Don4107
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2008, 11:53:31 AM »

My old Cub Cadet 127 (30 plus years old) mower has such a starter.  It looks just like an old car generator.  Hit the starter and it turns the engine.  In the run position it charges the battery with an external regulator.  Have never had it apart. Has mowed many a acre.

Don 4107
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Don 4107 Eastern Washington
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« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2008, 10:13:42 PM »

Kevin, I think Don has an idea worth checking out. I would try to find out if I could put the pull handle somewhere inside the coach.

Another idea is that souring gas is not a problem IF you shut the gas off to the carburetor before shutting it down. Whenever we park our coach, it sets for at least 2 1/2 months before it is run again.

Since we adopted the practice, there is never a starting problem. It used to be a persistent problem.

Evaporating the gas from the carburetor causes more gas to enter the carburetor. The evaporated gas leaves a very small amount of residue which is quite sticky. If you use the gas out of the bowl and prevent more from entering while not in use, the surfaces never get sticky enough to be a problem.

Then, when you want to use the generator, the fresh shot of gas from the tank will disolve gums and start the engine easily.

If you did that, you wouldn't need to convert the carburetor.

If you are going to take the generator out of it's factory shell and put it in an enclosure, there are a lot of things to look out for. For example, how did Honda deal with the issue of an accidental fire? Since it is not supposed to be run in an enclosure, I think there may be shortcuts in safety that would not exist it it was designed to be run inside your bus.

While noise is the obvious concern when installing in your bus, there are more important things to think of. Jim Shepard has some kind of fire extinguisher for gensets that you might want to check on. An automatic fuel shutoff for overheating might also be in order.

I believe that Honda makes good products. As to the inverter generator design since it came out, there are a bunch of people using these for their primary power 24/7. When used in this way, they have developed some problems that require some special servicing. So says our dealer.

For what it's worth.

Tom Caffrey
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Tom Caffrey PD4106-2576
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« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2008, 10:52:58 PM »

Those belt driven starter/generator that was use Cub Cadet put out about 15amp @ 12v....mean it will add 180 more watts load to a 50cc engine....that not counting the fiction of the belt drive system and not designed to add side or pulling load to main bearings.

I would look into a direct drive via starter to engine with a Bendix spline clutch system. Whenever you hit the button it will automatically engage to rotate until it run. You have to make a machined 2 fingers or pins hub that mount on end of crankshaft. The Bendix's gear will slide inside of double pins to engage. Make sure the one end of each pin are beveled so it can engage everytime. Hope a starter from Northern Tool is turning the right direction.

FWIW

Sojourn for Christ, Jerry
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2008, 12:35:00 PM »

Unless the engine on the genset has already been designed for retrofit of a ring gear with pinion gear start, it will be a major job.  If you're concerned of extra horsepower drain from a V belt, then use a cogged timing belt with it not drawn very tightly.  I don't think that the V belt horsepower draw is an issue, since I have a 1/4hp belt driven blower I use in the shop for cooling, and a 1/10 hp drill press that is also belt driven.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2008, 03:48:55 PM »

You might see if one of these kits can be fit to your engine:
http://www.jackssmallengines.com/electric_index.html
http://www.jackssmallengines.com/add_electric_starter.html

Or give them a call -- they might have something that's plug-and-play.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2008, 04:49:09 PM »

I also think its not a good idea to remove the honda case, they are made to put the right amount of air to the right place in the right direction all day long. I know an aircraft engine is precisely baffled to direct air to the right spots to prevent localized "hot" spots on the cyclinders.>>>Dan
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« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2008, 08:42:42 PM »

Also something to remember, especially since you're starting AC's with this, when you power a 1000w generator with propane, you end up with something more like an 800w generator.  Propane doesn't have as much energy as gasoline....
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Kevin Warnock
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« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2008, 01:10:50 PM »

I took apart the recoil starter assembly of my Honda EU1000i to see how it works. I was impressed with what I discovered.

It seems like I can use the recoil starter assembly parts to easily make the generator electric start.

When the rope is pulled, two pins are positioned so they engage with flanges on the engine shaft. As the rope is pulled, the pins rotate the engine shaft and the engine starts. Then, the engine shaft flanges rotate faster than the pins were rotating, and the flanges are cut so that they then push the pins out of the way. This prevents the recoil assembly from starting to spin at the rotation speed of the engine, which would ruin the recoil assembly quickly since it's all plastic except for the pins.

What I think is so great about how the current setup works is that I can just attach a 'starter motor' to the existing recoil assembly that contains the pins. Of course, I will take out and leave out the coiled spring that makes the rope retract after being pulled.

So, I need a starter electric motor. I don't see that I should use a real engine starter motor since it has a gear that moves out and then retracts. I just need a plain motor of the right speed and power.

I am thinking of using a cordless drill from Harbor Freight. I can use the chuck to mate up with the recoil assembly. I will have to make a fitting for the recoil assembly to give it a shaft I can put in the drill chuck, but that should be easy to do. The drill is cheap at about $39, and it is variable speed with presumably good torque. I will try it first with my 14 volt Dewalt cordless drill and see if that works. I would try to use the drill on 12 volts, even though it takes an 18 volt battery, as I don't need full speed. Do you think the drill will work on reduced voltage?

Does anyone know if these cordless drills are filled with electronics? I would plan to find out what speed works best, and install a hose clamp around the handle to hold the drill trigger to that speed. Then I would remove the drill battery and run wires to the internal contacts of the drill, so that I could put a push button switch inside the living space of my RTS. I hope to be able to push the button and have the drill start at the right speed to start the Honda (now propane) engine. But I wonder if a cordless drill can be started this way by applying power while the start button is already depressed. Maybe there is some electronic interlock that will prohibit that kind of use. Does anyone here know? Are these cordless drills geared? I am thinking of using a drill because they are so cheap and powerful and easy to get. If it were to ever break, I could get a replacement in any city or town in the country.

Note that the propane converter company says that the choke is no longer needed when running on propane, so I don't think I will need to make a remote control for the choke control.

With a right angle drill adapter, I could even keep the drill outside of the Honda case entirely, so as to leave the case installed, per the writers above who pointed out that the air flow could be critical. It seems I could get everything at Harbor Freight for well under $60, much less the price of the starter at Northern Tool I considered in my first message above.

It would be a disaster if someone pushed the start button while the Honda engine is already running. I suspect the pins would be destroyed and the plastic parts chewed up so badly as to be worthless. I figure I can put in a 110volt relay energized by the Honda's power output. This relay when energized would disable to start button to prevent accidental start attempts while the generator is running.

I am still waiting for the carburetor to be returned to me, so I have not started the above tasks. Do you think they makes sense?

Finally, I do plan to put an automatic fire extinguisher in the sound box. If a fire starts, the extinguisher will deploy automatically, and since the volume of the sound box will be small, I would think the fire will be put out immediately. I was also thinking about putting two trap doors on the box, one over the air input and one over the air output. These would be made of the same aluminum covered with rockwool that the box will be made out of. The doors would be hinged and have springs. I would have the doors held open with some kind of burnable material, maybe just plain string or twine. If the fire got out of control and the extinguisher didn't work, the string would burn through and the doors would slam shut, cutting off the oxygen supply and hopefully putting out the fire. I really don't want to burn down my RTS after all the work I'm putting into it, and these safety additions are pretty cheap and easy to implement.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Thank you,

Kevin

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