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Solenoids and Hojos . . .

First off, the photo problem with yesterday’s blog has been fixed. I didn’t have time to  fix it this morning before we left the rig. Still don’t know what caused the problem, but the link to the photos were messed up in the blog, and the photo itself didn’t get uploaded to the blog like it should have. I did check the blog after I posted it, but didn’t go down far enough to notice the missing photos in the middle. Sorry about that.

Once again we were out the door a little before 9am, heading for Gillette, WY, about 125 miles away. But our first stop was the Mobil station right before we got on I-90.

We needed gas for the trip, and also wanted to check the place out to get diesel for the rig when we leave here . . . well, whenever we leave here.

We’re booked here until Tuesday the 6th, but we may stay until the following Saturday. We’ll see. But it does look like the Mobil station would be an easy in/easy out for the rig, and plenty of room to hitch up the toad.

Our road trip to Gillette was two-fold, or maybe three-fold. I wanted to pick up a specially-ordered part for our rig’s Onan generator, we wanted to eat at Humphrey’s, a favorite restaurant of ours, and on the way home, take a detour out to Devi’s Tower on the way home.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

We were picking up a new starter/solenoid for our generator. A couple of months ago we tried to use our generator and it wouldn’t start. In fact , it wouldn’t even crank. Normally the start switch on the dashboard flashes as the generator cranks, but nothing this time.

My first check was the big 300 amp fuse in the battery bay that feeds the 12 volts to the generator.

Generator 300 Amp fuse

But is was fine, so while I was there I took it apart and cleaned and wire-brushed the contacts.

Then it was on to the connections to the generator itself, and for that I had to crawl under the rig. After checking that I had 12 volts there I disconnected the 300 amp fuse. Then I cleaned and wire-brushed those connections too..

Generator 12 volt  Connections 1

Generator 12 volt  Connections

After hooking everything back up, I stay underneath with my voltmeter and had Jan try to crank the generator while I  checked the voltage at the connections. Starting with 13.2 volts, it dropped to about 12 volts when she tried to crank it. So something was doing something.

I had noticed that when I was trying to crank it from the generator itself, the light in the switch was flashing, and I could hear the slight clicking for a few seconds as the fuel pump pressurized the system.

After I finally tracked down the full service manual for the unit, I used that to translate the error code that the button light was flashing. And that code indicated “Low Cranking Speed.”

Well, duh!

How about NO cranking speed?

But one thing I noticed was that I never heard anything from the starter, OR the solenoid.

Now every solenoid I’ve ever fooled with makes a click or clunk of some kind when it’s engaged. So I put my hand on the solenoid while I tried to crank it and didn’t feel anything either.

And since I had power to the contacts on the solenoid, I was going with a bad solenoid.

But I quickly found out that Cummins/Onan now longer sells the solenoid separately, but only with the starter as a complete unit. And it was $140 and a special order. Hence our trip to Gillette.

Then after picking up our starter, we headed into downtown Gillette to have lunch at Humphrey’s Bar & Grill, a really good place where we’ve eaten a number of times, including with our good friends, Nick and Terry Russell.


Humphrey’s has one of those eclectic themes with a little bit of everything on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.

Humphrey's 1

Jan had the Easy Cheesy Burger, a 1/2 pound sirloin burger with sautéed onions and mushrooms, covered in nacho cheese sauce, along with fries.

Humphrey's Jan

For me, I went  with the 1/2 pound sirloin burger with crispy bacon and cheese, along with Hojo potatoes. Hojos start with a whole potato which is then sliced into 4 or so thick pieces, and then battered and deep fried to order, and served with sour cream.

Humphrey's Greg

Really good,and very crispy-crunchy on the outside with a soft center.

After a great meal, we got back on the road toward home about 12:30. As I said before we had planned on doing Devil’s Tower along the way, but as we left Cummins and headed toward Humphrey’s, I started getting a headache that just kept getting worse.

So with that, and the fact that it poured down rain a good part of the way home, we decided to postpone our visit to another day. We had visited here in 2008, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

Passport America, Save 50% on Campsites

After taking some Advil as we left Humphrey’s, and a two hour nap after we got home, I was on the mend. My version of Jan’s migraines, I guess.

Tomorrow I’ll start working on getting the solenoid replaced.

Onan New Starter

Thought for the Day:

I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way. — John Paul Jones



8 Responses to Solenoids and Hojos . . .

  1. Lloyd says:

    Greg, i read your blog (and met you at Dickinson Bayou) mainly for your rv repair explanations.Here is a solenoid just begging to be taken apart. If we can put a man on the moon,  we can repair this solenoid………….Thanks,Lloyd

    • gregwhite says:


      I thought about that, and have certainly done it before on car solenoids, but this one is press-fitted together and I’m not sure I could get it apart and back together. And still have it work.

      Thanks for reading our blog.


  2. Mike Resnick says:

    Hi Greg: I’m glad to hear that you and Jim are having fun in the “Great North”. I’m always amazed at your repair and technology abilities! I am a “one button” kind of guy! I wish I had 1/10th of your skills! I have a quick question. I’m very new at RVing. I have a class A diesel. Last night I turned on the generator. It worked for about five minutes and then stopped. I then restarted it and the generator ran for the entire night. Tonight the generator started fine but when my wife turn on the microwave both the microwave and the A/C stopped working. The generator still works, however. When I look at the electric control panel it doesn’t look like the electricity from the generator is being “accepted” by the coach. I know that’s not the correct explanation of what’s going on but that’s the best that I can do! LOL I checked the circuit breaker’s and everything looks fine. Any thoughts or suggestions about this problem? Many thanks! Safe travels!. Mike

    • gregwhite says:


      My first thought is that as you’re changing the load on the generator the speed, i.e. the frequency of the AC power (60 HZ) is changing, which indicates a generator problem. And your control system is rejecting the power since the freq. is not correct.

      You might try something like this


      that will let you monitor the frequency of the AC coming to you from the generator just by plugging it into an AC outlet. Watch and see if the freq. changes on the meter as you add/subtract load.

      Hope this helps. That’s about all I can diagnose from a distance.

      Thanks for reading our blog.


      BTW I may have already ask you this, but you don’t write science fiction by any chance, do you?

  3. Steven says:

    Hello Greg

    I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate all the good tips.  My wife just got the new S8 and has had trouble with the sensitivity through the screen saver.  I had considered the home mifi to replace our existing home internet as it is only used to access our security system when traveling.  Therefore I look forward to what you find out about the inconsistences of data usage with that system.  Safe travels, and thanks for a well written informative blog.


    • gregwhite says:


      Is it too sensitive, or not sensitive enough?

      Are you using any type of screen protector or cover on the screen?

      Let me know.

      Thanks for reading our blog.


      • Steven says:


        Yes she has the Zag Invisible shield gass curve protector they bundle in the store, this is our 3rd one (first S8 Had bad battery and 2nd Screen protector didn’t stick), all in a short span while we were traveling.  It is hard to type with, even after turning up the sensitivity, Apparently this is a common problem and they have refunded us for the protector but offered no recommended replacement.  Thanks for the interest and let me know how it works out with the MIFI.


        • gregwhite says:


          You might think about just ditching the screen protector, as I think they’re having problems with them.

          When I go my S8+ the end of April, Otterbox was selling a curved glass screen to go with it. Now they are not. It has been pulled from the market, I would imagine due to problems like this.

          Hope this helps.

          Thanks for reading our blog.


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