Harbor Freight5 ton elect splitter on a generator problem

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rodneygt

Member
Jan 18, 2013
27
According to the HF manual, the splitter requires 12A. I have Porter Cable 5250 watt generator I bought after Hurricane Katrina in 05.. So I took the generator and the splitter where I'd cut up some wood instead of bringing the wood back to the house where I've used it in the past. Sometimes, the generator was having a hard time getting the motor on the splitter to spin. Sometimes it would start up ok. But it got pretty frustrating. I tried both outlets on the generator and with and without an extension cord. It was frustrating enough that I eventually just brought it back home and plugged it in where it worked fine.

So, I've read of people using generators even half the size of mine to run these splitters. 12 amps is only 1440 watts. The generator is fine as I just used it for nearly a week following Hurricane Ida. It seems to run fine at home as long as I used my heavy duty extension cord. I looked at the capacitor and it doesn't have any bulges. Should I replace it anyway? Or any other ideas of what the issue might be?
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
689
West Michigan
Weak cap in the gen? Or the startup on the splitter is way more than stated. Can you try it on another gen somewhere to see how it does?
 

rodneygt

Member
Jan 18, 2013
27
I don't have access to another generator nearby. I did order another capacitor a few minutes ago. It would be so much easier for take the splitter to the wood so I'm hoping that will fix the problem.
 

Supersurvey

Burning Hunk
Jan 25, 2015
234
New Jersey
I tried a 3,200 w with no luck either.
 

Rusty18

Burning Hunk
Nov 3, 2018
102
Belpre oh
I ran a small job smart compressor on a 3500 watt champion gen. Running amps was somewhere around 4-5 range. Would stall the generator as soon as it Tried to start. Fortunately for me the governor linkage was easy to access and we were able to get a little more effort out of the generator to get the compressor started.

The way it was explained to me was that 3500 was the rating for the whole unit...that is to say half went to the 240v plug so 1750 for the 120’s half to each circuit gave me 825 watts on each 120v plug or 6.8 amps. I’m sure start up was way over that...

some Inverters are rated the same way but that’s a headache for another day.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,595
NE Ohio
I ran a small job smart compressor on a 3500 watt champion gen. Running amps was somewhere around 4-5 range. Would stall the generator as soon as it Tried to start. Fortunately for me the governor linkage was easy to access and we were able to get a little more effort out of the generator to get the compressor started.

The way it was explained to me was that 3500 was the rating for the whole unit...that is to say half went to the 240v plug so 1750 for the 120’s half to each circuit gave me 825 watts on each 120v plug or 6.8 amps. I’m sure start up was way over that...

some Inverters are rated the same way but that’s a headache for another day.
This ^ ^ ^
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,223
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
I have a 6 ton yardworks electric splitter (almost identical to a HF model) and it starts just fine on my 3200 watt champion inverter generator. Sounds like an issue with either the generator or splitter.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,223
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
I ran a small job smart compressor on a 3500 watt champion gen. Running amps was somewhere around 4-5 range. Would stall the generator as soon as it Tried to start. Fortunately for me the governor linkage was easy to access and we were able to get a little more effort out of the generator to get the compressor started.

The way it was explained to me was that 3500 was the rating for the whole unit...that is to say half went to the 240v plug so 1750 for the 120’s half to each circuit gave me 825 watts on each 120v plug or 6.8 amps. I’m sure start up was way over that...

some Inverters are rated the same way but that’s a headache for another day.

That's not really the way it works, assuming it's actually a 240volt unit (which as far as I'm aware Champion doesn't make a 240 unit this small) you would still have at least 1750 watts available at the plug, but in reality its likely a 120volt only generator and all 3500 watts is available for the compressor, you stalling the generator furthers my belief in this, pulling only 1750 watts would not stall the engine.

Motors of all types (unless equipped with a VFD or soft start function) have an extremely large inrush current on startup for a second or two, usually in the range of 7-10 times the running amps, which is not an issue when connected to the seemingly limitless energy of the grid, but it is an issue when connected to a small generator with limited capacity. Your compressor could have been pulling 6000watts or more at startup, which would very quickly slow the rotation of the generator and engine, and in your case slowed at such a rate that the engine governor could react quick enough and when it did react the engine did not have enough power to overcome the load from the generator. By pulling on the governor linkage you likely oversped the engine giving it more inertia to start the compressor, you would have also been able to apply full power sooner allowing the engine to absorb the surge load placed on the generator from the compressor.
 
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rodneygt

Member
Jan 18, 2013
27
I attached pics showing the specs of the generator, the outlets and the capacitor the splitter uses.

As to the output of the generator it has 5250 running watts and 6500 surge. When you engage the splitter you hear the generator surge and the splitter motor either tries to spin but only goes a little or it spins up and works fine throughout the split. It doesn’t have a problem running after it gets going, it’s just initial start up.

As mentioned I ordered a new cap to try. Hopefully it’ll arrive before the weekend.

When I said I had tried both outlets I meant both of the standard 120v outlets. I do not have an L14-20 plug with adapter so I haven’t tried that. But I may pick up one to try.

If I make an l14-20 to standard 120 outlet adapter how do you do that so it’s 120?

D41B3794-52AD-4119-BE34-6F6032CD19FB.png E0579FA5-48DD-4CF2-BC9A-1E287DBFDF87.jpeg 02E64118-6072-460E-87F2-26B94A7A2327.jpeg
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,502
SE North Carolina
does starting the splitter with a valve open (ram moving with no load yet on it) reduce the startup load? Sounds like Startup load is quite high. Make sure the governor linkage is all free and moves freely. I would spray some carb cleaner in there and change the spark plug.

Evan
 
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DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
689
West Michigan
That's a common gen chassis and head that's been sold under a lot of labels, including coleman, devilbiss, generac, etc,.

First thing I'd be checking after seeing it is what RPM it's running with about 3000 watts of load on it/and or the watts it's putting out at about 1/2 load. The governor on those is usually very simple and includes springs, different holes, etc..

You can buy a very simple digital tach off ebay for about $10 that includes and hour meter that you can simply wrap a wire around the plug boot to pick up the RPM.

You want that thing to turn 3600 RPM when it's got a load on it to get the right volts and hertz out of the gen head. You can also use a voltmeter to check the output. Do a youtube search to see how it's done.

I've seen these gens have too low RPM when running with a load, and once you adjusted the governor, which sometimes includes changing which hole the gov wire or spring is set in, but usually can be adjusted with the governor screw.

I can't guarantee what the governor looks like on this, as I don't know if it's powered by a briggs or a tecumseh, but it's likely a briggs and does have some adjustability.

Bottom line, I'd check those RPM when it's warmed up and has about 3000-4000 watts on it and adjust it until it's near 3600 RPM. At that speed, the gen head will put out the appropriate volts/hertz.
 
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DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
689
West Michigan
That's a common gen chassis and head that's been sold under a lot of labels, including coleman, devilbiss, generac, etc,.

First thing I'd be checking after seeing it is what RPM it's running with about 3000 watts of load on it/and or the watts it's putting out at about 1/2 load. The governor on those is usually very simple and includes springs, different holes, etc..

You can buy a very simple digital tach off ebay for about $10 that includes and hour meter that you can simply wrap a wire around the plug boot to pick up the RPM.

You want that thing to turn 3600 RPM when it's got a load on it to get the right volts and hertz out of the gen head. You can also use a voltmeter to check the output. Do a youtube search to see how it's done.

I've seen these gens have too low RPM when running with a load, and once you adjusted the governor, which sometimes includes changing which hole the gov wire is set in, but usually can be adjusted with the governor screw.

I can't guarantee what the governor looks like on this, as I don't know if it's powered by a briggs or a tecumseh, but it's likely a briggs and does have some adjustability.

Bottom line, I'd check those RPM when it's warmed up and has about 3000-4000 watts on it and adjust it until it's near 3600 RPM. At that speed, the gen head will put out the appropriate volts/hertz.

Lastly, stuff likes to run at 120 voltz and 60Hz, but damage and problems occur when it starts to drop below that threshold. I'd rather run stuff a little over 120/60, as opposed to under. Lot of motors and electronics hate being operated below that point vs. do fine running a little over with the volts and hertz.
 
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DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
689
West Michigan
My guess is when you hit that start up amp demand, your gen isn't running at 3600 RPM, and isn't putting out the desired 120V/60Hz, and you might be able to dial it up a bit with the governor.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,679
WI, Leroy
making an adapter will not help as you would just be duplicating one of the 120 volt outlets.
 
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rodneygt

Member
Jan 18, 2013
27
My guess is when you hit that start up amp demand, your gen isn't running at 3600 RPM, and isn't putting out the desired 120V/60Hz, and you might be able to dial it up a bit with the governor.
Thanks. It’s an ohv briggs 10hp. I will see about ordering a tach. I’ll have to see what I have to put a about 3k watts on it. Maybe a coffee maker and a few other things.

Edit: ordered the tach
 
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DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
689
West Michigan
Thanks. It’s an ohv briggs 10hp. I will see about ordering a tach. I’ll have to see what I have to put a about 3k watts on it. Maybe a coffee maker and a few other things.

Edit: ordered the tach

When I break in, repair or test a gen, I use heat guns, hair dryers and portable heaters for applying the load on units this size. Hair Dryers are generally 1500 watts on high, heaters are usually about the same, heat guns vary, but are usually 1500-2500 watts for a big one. Simple way to apply a load and tune the RPM so it's outputting the correct V/Hz.
 

rodneygt

Member
Jan 18, 2013
27
When I break in, repair or test a gen, I use heat guns, hair dryers and portable heaters for applying the load on units this size. Hair Dryers are generally 1500 watts on high, heaters are usually about the same, heat guns vary, but are usually 1500-2500 watts for a big one. Simple way to apply a load and tune the RPM so it's outputting the correct V/Hz.

Of course. Yes those items make sense.

My capacitor is supposed to arrive today so if it’s not raining maybe I can see if that changes anything.

Even if that fixes it, I definitely want to make sure the generator is set up right.
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
689
West Michigan
I'm sure you have your reasons, but with the inefficiencies and limitation of your setup, I think I'd be keeping my eye out for a used gas powered splitter, and cut out the middle man. You're putting hours on 2 devices instead of one, and most certainly burning more fuel and time in the process vs. a nice used 20-28 ton gas powered splitter, if you can find one for a deal, and have the room, etc. I just saw a very nice, low hour red 22 ton Husky (Speeco) sell for $400 on Facebook marketplace. I almost grabbed it as a backup to my backup. Less machines involved, and less headaches.
 
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rodneygt

Member
Jan 18, 2013
27
I have access to borrow a gas splitter when I need it but for little piles near my house this would be simpler than going to get it etc. i actually prefer this little electric for stuff it’s sized for but I have looked on Craigslist for a used gas one but I don’t really use Facebook. I’m in the Deep South - I’m if there’s as many splitters around here.
 

rodneygt

Member
Jan 18, 2013
27
That's a common gen chassis and head that's been sold under a lot of labels, including coleman, devilbiss, generac, etc,.

First thing I'd be checking after seeing it is what RPM it's running with about 3000 watts of load on it/and or the watts it's putting out at about 1/2 load. The governor on those is usually very simple and includes springs, different holes, etc..

You can buy a very simple digital tach off ebay for about $10 that includes and hour meter that you can simply wrap a wire around the plug boot to pick up the RPM.

You want that thing to turn 3600 RPM when it's got a load on it to get the right volts and hertz out of the gen head. You can also use a voltmeter to check the output. Do a youtube search to see how it's done.

I've seen these gens have too low RPM when running with a load, and once you adjusted the governor, which sometimes includes changing which hole the gov wire or spring is set in, but usually can be adjusted with the governor screw.

I can't guarantee what the governor looks like on this, as I don't know if it's powered by a briggs or a tecumseh, but it's likely a briggs and does have some adjustability.

Bottom line, I'd check those RPM when it's warmed up and has about 3000-4000 watts on it and adjust it until it's near 3600 RPM. At that speed, the gen head will put out the appropriate volts/hertz.

Installed the tach.

It doesn’t budge from 3600 rpm with no load.

I put a 1500 watt heat gun and 1000 watt heat gun on it and after the initial drop, it pretty much stays at 3480 rpm with occasional dips to 3420.

I’m attaching a couple of pics including one showing no load and 2500 watt load rpm and the gov linkage set up. And then I’m going to see if I can find the online manual. Any tips appreciated.

2EFA261A-F681-4D1F-A9A8-0C05847D124E.jpeg 4FC18D17-3B24-49CF-8645-1CC278837CE2.jpeg 4ACB5BB1-9937-4072-A621-311503041A46.jpeg 78119009-9230-41AC-AD5C-DC510E50B4A5.jpeg
 

rodneygt

Member
Jan 18, 2013
27
So, I loosened the nut on the governor arm and turned the stud clockwise til it stopped. It only turned a hair clockwise - just enough to feel it hit the stop. I tightened back up. This actually dropped the no load rpm to 35-3550ish. I then moved the governor spring from hole 7 to hole F (I tried 8 but that put me a bit too high). In F I’m getting about 3660 rpm and 3600 with 1500 watts and about 3560-80 with 2500 watts of load.

I’ve got to remember where I put my multi meter…

71B76D32-B156-4A0C-871C-756242C4A4E1.jpeg
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
689
West Michigan
So, I loosened the nut on the governor arm and turned the stud clockwise til it stopped. It only turned a hair clockwise - just enough to feel it hit the stop. I tightened back up. This actually dropped the no load rpm to 35-3550ish. I then moved the governor spring from hole 7 to hole F (I tried 8 but that put me a bit too high). In F I’m getting about 3660 rpm and 3600 with 1500 watts and about 3560-80 with 2500 watts of load.

I’ve got to remember where I put my multi meter…

View attachment 282532

I looked at your first pics and was replying before I saw this post, you did what I would have done. Depending on the motor and how well the governor compensates for increased load, directly relates to how much they vary between no load and full load. Some motors handle the demand better than others and can maintain 3600 rpm throughout the entire wattage range, others can't keep up when the load gets near the maximum rating.

I fixed a neighbors similar size and style gen this spring that had a 10 hp Tecumseh, and had to find the happy medium, setting it where it would run just over 3600 rpm at 4000 Watts, because he usually had it maxed out when he used it. So with no load, it ran closer to 3800 rpm, but he rarely ran it with no load, so to get the ideal volts and hz out of it, I had to crank it up quite a bit. Made all the difference he said, as his lights and microwave no longer dimmed and ran funny. I dial them into running 3600 in the area they are going to run in, and that usually equates to being dead on with the voltage, and more importantly imo, the hertz.

Just keep good clean oil in it, and it should be fine. I've spun those little motors a whole lot faster than that for years in different applications, and never hurt one. I used to have a 5 horse briggs on a Toro walk behind leaf vacuum that I did port and valve work to that I would regularly run at 4300 rpm because it sucked leaves so much faster and more powerfully at that speed. Used it for years that way without a single issue, and the improved rpm made a huge difference in that particular application.

Pretty much all those little air cooled engines are horsepower rated at 3600 rpm, running it a little over that on startup if you have to shouldn't hurt it, and puts it in the sweet spot when you put the larger loads on it.

Some portable gens compensate perfectly from no load to max load with the governor right out of the box, never changing rpm from bottom to top, and others have to be adjusted, especially over time as the motor gets less efficient and more worn. Adjust that thing where it's spending most of typical demand at as close to 3600 rpm as you can. I bet you the multimeter will confirm it's very close to 110/120 and 60 hertz.
 
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sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
870
Central Ohio
@DodgyNomad - I'm assuming the above issues don't happen with a inverter generator ? All really good information BTW. Are you an electrical engineer ?
 

rodneygt

Member
Jan 18, 2013
27
I looked at your first pics and was replying before I saw this post, you did what I would have done. Depending on the motor and how well the governor compensates for increased load, directly relates to how much they vary between no load and full load. Some motors handle the demand better than others and can maintain 3600 rpm throughout the entire wattage range, others can't keep up when the load gets near the maximum rating.

I fixed a neighbors similar size and style gen this spring that had a 10 hp Tecumseh, and had to find the happy medium, setting it where it would run just over 3600 rpm at 4000 Watts, because he usually had it maxed out when he used it. So with no load, it ran closer to 3800 rpm, but he rarely ran it with no load, so to get the ideal volts and hz out of it, I had to crank it up quite a bit. Made all the difference he said, as his lights and microwave no longer dimmed and ran funny. I dial them into running 3600 in the area they are going to run in, and that usually equates to being dead on with the voltage, and more importantly imo, the hertz.

Just keep good clean oil in it, and it should be fine. I've spun those little motors a whole lot faster than that for years in different applications, and never hurt one. I used to have a 5 horse briggs on a Toro walk behind leaf vacuum that I did port and valve work to that I would regularly run at 4300 rpm because it sucked leaves so much faster and more powerfully at that speed. Used it for years that way without a single issue, and the improved rpm made a huge difference in that particular application.

Pretty much all those little air cooled engines are horsepower rated at 3600 rpm, running it a little over that on startup if you have to shouldn't hurt it, and puts it in the sweet spot when you put the larger loads on it.

Some portable gens compensate perfectly from no load to max load with the governor right out of the box, never changing rpm from bottom to top, and others have to be adjusted, especially over time as the motor gets less efficient and more worn. Adjust that thing where it's spending most of typical demand at as close to 3600 rpm as you can. I bet you the multimeter will confirm it's very close to 110/120 and 60 hertz.

I appreciate all of the help. I'm usually fairly mechanical but I've no experience with generators other than cleaning the carb, changing the oil etc. I was unfamiliar with where it made the correct volts and hertz. I've learned a lot. Thank you.
 
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