Generator Maintenance, Service Questions

An elderly friend of my family is moving from Florida back to the Midwest. Her husband passed away a few years ago and she's decided their property is too large and hurricanes are too much hassle for her to deal with on her own.
Some of us will be flying down to help her pack up and move, including driving her and her worldly goods up to her new home. In exchange for our help, she's offered us some of her possessions that she doesn't intend to keep for herself. She's offered me a generator, which I can use, since I live in a hilly, treed neighborhood that tends to lose power in severe storms.
I haven't seen the generator and she hasn't been able to provide much in the way of details, except that it's large and it hasn't been run or serviced since her husband's death. When she says 'large', I suspect it will be quite large, because it's a shorefront property and a very substantial house (seven living rooms, for starters).
I don't know if it's gas or diesel. I don't know the capacity, I don't know its age. But I'm pretty sure this is going to need some cleaning and servicing since it hasn't been looked at in about seven years.
I've never owned a generator. Can folks here provide me with tips as to its cleaning/servicing/testing once it arrives here?
Thanks in advance.
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On 08/13/2013 01:58 PM, Moe DeLoughan wrote:

Good luck with that!
Florida humidity + ocean-front salt air + hasn't been serviced for seven years = corroded up engine and generator head
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On 8/13/2013 1:41 PM, devnull wrote:

That's what I'm afraid of. On the other hand, my brother-in-law is reasonably handy, and he's captaining the moving mission, so he'll check out its general condition. If he deems it worth servicing, he'll load it onto the truck and bring it home.
This lady's husband was very handy, very capable. He took care of his own equipment for as long as he was able, and supervised the people he hired when he no longer could do things himself. So I think it's safe to assume that it was serviced and properly stored after its last use, and has just been sitting there, waiting, ever since.
There's actually a second, smaller generator as well. It never even got uncrated, because they only needed this one to run everything. The smaller one is going to be donated to the local church. Which is another reason why I'm wondering just how large is the generation I'm getting, if the smaller generator is enough to meet the church's needs.
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On Wednesday, August 14, 2013 1:16:02 PM UTC-4, Moe DeLoughan wrote:

The smaller new one was probably the better deal. IDK about other brands, but if it's a Generac, go to Amazon and take a look at what a whole lot of people there are saying about their experiences. Everything from it didn't work right out of the box, to it's been failing many times, to it ran fine during it's weekly auto start test runs, then failed during afew h ours of use. A neighbor had a 12KW one, about 5 yers old, that was profess ionally installed and it failed during just a few hours use in a hurricane. Gen section shot and the dealer told him it's not worth fixing. I looked into fixing it for myself, but the parts would be $500+ and given what I saw on Amazon, decided it wasn't worth it. So, if you intend to ins tall it as a whole house one, or put money into it for parts, I'd do some checking on the specific make and model first.
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didn't work right out of the box, to it's been failing many times, to it ran fine during it's weekly auto start test runs, then failed during afew hours of use. A neighbor had a 12KW one, about 5 yers old, that was professionally installed and it failed during just a few hours use in a hurricane. Gen section shot and the dealer told him it's not worth fixing. I looked into fixing it for myself, but the parts would be $500+ and given what I saw on Amazon, decided it wasn't worth it. So, if you intend to install it >as a whole house one, or

For many a 5 kw or so is usually about the best size. The larger ones really burn a lot of gas. If it is powered by oil, then a larger one is fine. At 3 to 4 dollars per gallon, the gas generators can get expensive to run.
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On Wednesday, August 14, 2013 4:56:38 PM UTC-4, Ralph Mowery wrote:

How much they burn is highly dependent on the load. But you're right, with a bigger engine, even at idle or low low, it's going to burn more than a smaller engine. I also agree that for most people, 5KW is a good size. Enough to run a gas furnace or oil burner, water pump, fridge, etc. Especially now that so many things are more energy efficient, ie CFL lights, fridges that draw 90W running, better efficiency furnace blowers, etc. The one I was talking about was nat gas fueled, which I think is ideal. You can get conversions kits for most gas engines that will allow them to run on nat gas.
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Moe-
"Large" is in the eye of the beholder.
If a gasoline model, you most certainly will need to drain the old gas out of the tank and clean the gum out of the carburetor. If a diesel model, you may need to replace the starting battery. A diesel may start right up and run with a good battery.
If she does not have the owners manual, you can probably find it on the web. I suggest you do whatever it takes to get it running and change the oil. Then pretend it is new, and run it for ten or twenty hours under some load as a break-in. Then change the oil again and it should be ready for the power outage.
As a load, you can use an electric heater or two, depending on its power rating.
If you want to get serious about generators (or various other machinery), check out www.smokstak.com.
Fred
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On 8/13/2013 2:02 PM, Fred McKenzie wrote:

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm looking forward to finding out just what it is (hope it's a diesel). My hope is that I can do whatever needs doing myself. Dunno what the remaining lifespan of this will be, but I'm not gonna look gift horsepower in the mouth.
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I think your best bet is to get the brand size and model from the machine, when you get it. Do a search online for the owners manual online probably PDF format. Follow their instructions. Or since it was free, take it to a shop to have the pros do it over.
Generally, change the oil and air filter. Change the fuel. New spark plug if needed.
I was given a generator that didn't run. The only problem was shutting down on low oil safety. Add oil, and it runs. Of course, I changed the oil and put new oil in.
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
On 8/13/2013 1:58 PM, Moe DeLoughan wrote:

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I picked up a coleman generator that didnt generate for 50 bucks on craigli st. I had planned on beating down the price but seeing the nice young coupl e with their new baby i just decided to pay the 50 bucks.... the couple was selling the generator to pay their rent.......
Stopped at a buddys on the way home., he offered to take a look at it.....
he found the govenor spring was stretched, and I sold him the generator for what i paid for it. he s my best friend and is still using that generator today, 10 years after i bought it
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On 8/13/13 12:58 PM, Moe DeLoughan wrote:

Pour diesel fuel in the cylinders and let the engine sit a few days if it's locked up. I resurrected an old V4 Wisconsin gasoline engine by doing that. It actually ran fairly well once it could turn over.
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On 8/13/2013 12:58 PM, Moe DeLoughan wrote:

I used to install and service a lot of generators in homes and businesses. They all ran on natural gas and had automatic transfer switches. If the big genset is supplying a large home it will more than likely have a permanent connection with a transfer switch wired into the home's electrical system. It's not a simple unplug and carry away. It can be a big job to remove it so it could be best to sell it with the home. If you plan on taking the genset home, you really need the transfer switch too. Some pictures would help. ^_^
TDD
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A lot of old people unknowingly leave cash and jewelry laying around - rather than worrying about a generator, it's far easier to grab small valuables (when none of your friends are looking) instead of fooling with a generator. If "Granny" complains about missing money or jewelry, discretely remark to others in the group that "she seems to be more and more forgetful lately" - make up a story about her putting the dog in the washing machine thinking she was letting him out for a walk - replace the real money in her wallet with Monopoly money.
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On 8/15/2013 7:35 PM, AngryOldWhiteGuy wrote:

AOW, you have demonstrated a characteristic of a lot of senior citizens who develop dementia, you failed to grok the post before commenting. I would suggest you go back a read the thread before attempting to contribute to the discussion. You could try nym shifting. ^_^
TDD
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