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Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 6
Gary860 Offline OP
Novice
I have a 7yr old Lectron EC2000i ( Chinese made ) portable generator in as new condition ( support discontinued by Aus distributor soon after purchase because of lack of after-sales support). This model was quite popular about this time. It was bought for emergency power supply use only, so it has only had a 5 minute test run each year, after draining and adding new petrol, with no problems till now.
Yesterday, I ran it for longer and after bout 10 mins running it started to belch cloud of white smoke for 5 secs then smoke slowly cleared, and same again after bout 30 secs.
Had to stop as neighbours may have complained. I also added small electrical load during test and rpm adjusted as expected.
Any ideas as to problem or is it beyond repair ??

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Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 4,670
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SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Did you tip it too much when draining fuel? With four strokes, the sump oil can go to places it shouldn't when you tilt it the wrong way, particularly tipped toward the intake side. It sounds like the vibration of the motor is getting trapped oil somewhere to sporadically drip into the combustion chamber.

Maybe find a location where the breeze carries any smoke away from neighbour's homes to test for longer and maybe burn away this errant oil.


Ahh, if only victa had kept producing the thumblatch catcher series, they would be in better shape today!
Joined: Jul 2018
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SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Hi Gary

First of all, you do have options for after sales support. Looking at lectron, it is just the common copy of the old ex7 honda.

I have one called A Viggen 2500 http://www.autoone.net.au/upload/VIGGEN.pdf

Micky Blu still do them and he has good after sales.

Gentrax also do them (though they have changed mostly to the more squared off design one.

I emailed regarding mine stalling - gentrax said 'inverter board stuffed - that would be $200'.

The bloke from micky blue said 'clean out the carby and adjust the idle up a bit, wack a high start up load tool on and keep adjusting until it doesn't stall when loads applied. If all else fails inverter board.

Worked straight away with higher idle, so you can guess who I have a higher opinion off



How old is your oil?, what grade did you use and how full is it?

Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 6
Gary860 Offline OP
Novice
Thanks for your answers. The generator was not tipped in anyway. I disconnected the fuel line from bottom of carby to drain petrol. Oil is 7 years old,( probably had 30 mins run time ) is still full to fill hole and is SAE30 oil, as supplied.
I am confused as to why it took 10 mins to blow smoke - maybe it has to do with oil getting up to running temperature ??

Joined: Jul 2018
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SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Ok, as a matter of course, lets change the oil to begin with. Being sae30 it shouldnt shear down but stranger things have happened. If we can avoid splitting the case it would be good - these are a bit of a PITA to repair

How many pulls from cold start out of interest?

Joined: Feb 2006
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SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Originally Posted by Gary860
Oil is 7 years old,( probably had 30 mins run time ) is still full to fill hole and is SAE30 oil, as supplied.

So you filled it way beyond max mark on dipstick? Could be the answer.


Ahh, if only victa had kept producing the thumblatch catcher series, they would be in better shape today!
Joined: Jul 2018
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Likes: 80
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
MF, these gensets are like the old briggs with low mount fills - fill them until you are about to overflow

Joined: Apr 2014
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Apprentice level 3
Sounds to me like the oil might have separated out and/or you have water under the oil at the bottom of the crank case.

I don’t know anything about these specific machines. However, with any engine with an oil sump you can get temperature fluctuations with different amounts of moisture in the air. Then, the warm damp air can cause condensation inside the crank case when the temperature falls overnight. This water then runs down and collects under the oil in the bottom and is effectively sealed in under the oil. Over time you can get quite a build up.

When you start up the engine regularly this small amount of condensate gets invisibly evaporated by the heat. However, if you leave it long enough you’ll have enough water to blow white smoke when the engine gets up to temperature.

Also, there are some oils with a limited shelf life. I used to buy engine and hydraulic oil in bulk in drums keeping an eye out for discounts. The agent told us to watch the dates because sometimes older drums can have been sitting around and they lose some of the important properties through degradation over time.

Regardless as to what your specific problem is it’s best to completely drain the oil every now and again and replace it with fresh new stuff of the correct grade specified by the manufacturer of the engine. I do it every couple of years with the things that don’t get regularly used. Degraded oil and water aren’t much good as engine lubricants.

Last edited by Ironbark; 09/03/22 06:29 PM. Reason: Typo
Joined: Jul 2018
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Hi Ironbark, you could very well be onto something there. I have never left the same oil in a motor for 7 years and don't know the storage conditions so who knows what could be in there

Normally we see more fuel dilution in smaller engines, but depending on storage and the very infrequent and short runnings, water could very well be a problem. Anytime my genset comes out - usually at least 12x per year (though sometimes thats 4x in one month and then 3 months of nothing) it gets run for at least 1/2-3/4 hour even if it is only needed for 15 minutes. These ones actually spool up to around 5k rpm under high loads so they are no slouch of a motor and need to be run hard occasionally.

You are right about hydraulic oil - it is a glycol base and, like brake fluid, its hygroscopic. will absorb water like anything

Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 6
Gary860 Offline OP
Novice
Thanks for the prompt replies about the oil.
I will drain and replace the oil today and update thread asap.

Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 6
Gary860 Offline OP
Novice
Update: I have drained the old oil - looked ok - had a dark grey color - looked like slightly used engine oil.
I re-filled with 10W30 oil - about 700ml - should be 750ml.
Ran for 2 mins - blew some white smoke for about 1 min then eased up to almost normal.
I stopped motor to check oil level and when I removed fill plug white ( almost ) milky oil poured out of fill hole so plug straight back in.
Left for 10 mins and now can check oil level and oil no longer looks milky inside fill hole.
Any ideas appreciated.

Joined: Jul 2018
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SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Ok, there are 2 things which could be happening here

1 - the 'milkyness' was just oxygenated oil from splash lubrication or 2 there is water stuck in there. Mine splashes out as well if you remove the plug right away.

Please give it a good run of 15+ minutes to boil any moisture out

Are you taking the choke off fully?

Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 6
Gary860 Offline OP
Novice
Tyler, I dont think any water involved - I had the generator on it's side for 3 hours draining the oil and no sign of anything that looked like water.
The choke is fully off .
Will attempt a longer run tomorrow and update.

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 219
Likes: 10
Apprentice level 3
G’day Gary

When I suspect there is junk in the sump I normally dump the old oil, and then, after filling with new oil, run the engine properly up to temperature and then dump that oil too. If I’m helping rescue an old piece of machinery we’ll use inexpensive but correctly graded oil and might do a couple of flushes before putting in better quality stuff. Normally crank cases are not dead flat along the bottom. There’ll be crevices and crannies, where stray bits of stuff collects and a flush process cleans them out.

Some engines may take quite a while to get up to temperature. I’d give it 15 minutes. Short running exacerbates issues as you need to get heat in to burn off the carbon deposits from choked operations on startup.

We had an old grader with a big old diesel in it that needed 20 minutes of decent time working before the thermostat even got close to opening.

Water won’t necessarily manifest itself as that stereotypical mayonnaise-looking emulsification. That’s more for water cooled engines where there’s total mixing such as with a compromised head gasket

It doesn’t have to be water in the oil either it can be that the oil itself has begun to break down. It could be that, in the past, some fuel got into the oil too. There’s some not so flash designs about that can allow it to happen more readily than it should.

I’m assuming you checked that no insect or other bug has made a home for itself in the intake or exhaust? Mudwasps in the exhaust can lead to interesting effects.

Last edited by Ironbark; 11/03/22 03:20 AM.
Joined: Jul 2018
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Likes: 80
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Originally Posted by Ironbark
There’ll be crevices and crannies, where stray bits of stuff collects and a flush process cleans them out

Which actually reminds me, most of these have and oil filter at the bottom underneath. it is the lowest point - not a filter so much as gauze (like a vw beetle).

Slipped my mind until now

If you tilt it slightly, you will see a nut head (about 16mm) cast onto a recessed body.

Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 6
Gary860 Offline OP
Novice
I have just run the generator now for 20 mins with no smoke evident.
The only thing I have noticed is that I dont think it holds 750ml as displayed on sticker. I estimate I only put 650 ml in and then I lost a bit when it spurted from oil fill plug yesterday because I tried to check immediately after stopping.
Now, I waited 1 hour and oil level is just below overflow point but clearly visible.
If this generator is not regularly used, how often should I run it to keep it in good condition ?
Very strange problem - thanks to all of the members who responded.

Joined: Sep 2015
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SENIOR TECHNICIAN & HISTORIAN
G'day Gary ,Mf ,Tyler and Ironbark

Originally Posted by Gary860
If this generator is not regularly used, how often should I run it to keep it in good condition ?

Run it once a month for a few minutes.

https://www.electricgeneratorsdirec...-Portable-Generator-in-5-Easy-Steps.html

Cheers
Max.

Joined: Feb 2006
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SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Originally Posted by maxwestern
G'day Gary ,Mf ,Tyler and Ironbark


Run it once a month for a few minutes.
Max.

Also take the opportunity to run an electrical item with it while you have it running. E.g. a power tool.


Ahh, if only victa had kept producing the thumblatch catcher series, they would be in better shape today!

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