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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Honda Engine followup
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 15:48:48 -0500

In my "Cordless Battery Charger" post, I mentioned that the Honda
GC-135 engine I used had cratered with just 8 hours on it.  I have
just returned from the local Northern Tools store where I picked up
a replacement engine.  Superb service.  I was on pins and needles,
afraid that I'd have a huge hassle getting this engine replaced
instead of repaired. Didn't happen.  Only slight hassle was that I
had to make two trips from Cleveland to Chattanooga.

Anyway, what I learned might be of interest to this group since
Honda is using this engine on a wide variety of low cost products
including the EN2500 Harmony generator.

When I arrived today, the Northern service mechanic had the old
engine apart.  The cam drive belt was toast and the rings had not
seated at all, hence the smoke.  Seems that Honda has a Technical
Service Bulletin on this engine.  Seems that if ordinary 10W30 or
heavier oil is used in cold weather (It was about 15 degrees out
when my engine cratered), the cam drive belt will pick up enough
heavy oil to throw it off the sprockets.  The solution is two part.
One, use 5W30 in cold weather.  Second, they have a modified timing
cover with an extra groove in it that serves as a belt guide to help
it stay on the sprockets.  The timing cover is only for "cold
weather climates" so down here in Sunny Tennessee, we don't get
'em.  I think I'm going to put this engine in my walk-in freezer and
see how it works with with 5w30 oil.

Other than this problem, this engine is sweet.  The manufacturing
engineering is amazing.  I'm going to guess that the engine assembly
is fully automated.  While obviously a throw-away engine (aluminum
rods, no bearing inserts, etc), it still has important durability
features such as an iron cylinder liner and hardface valve inserts.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Honda Engine followup
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 12:44:32 -0500 wrote:
> John-
> I very curious about this engine!
> Are you saying the Al rods run right on the crank with no insert?

Yes.  That's actually fairly common with the "lawnmower class" of
small engines.

> about the little end? Nothing on the piston pin?

Didn't get a look at the small end, as the mechanic hadn't
disassembled the piston from the rod.

> How about the crank & cam? They must run in some kind of bearing, no?

Cam runs right on the head.  Also increasingly common, even for
motorcycle engines.  The trick is the high silicon aluminum.  The
cam or crank effectively runs on the silicon nodules which are
supported by the aluminum.

Crank runs on ball bearings.

> Is there a tensioner on the belt?

Not that I recall seeing.  The block and head are integral - of the
same casting.  The belt tension can be precisely controlled by the
spacing between the crank and cam axis.  With no gasket to compress,
there is nothing to cause variance in this spacing.

> Any idea what the lifetime of this engine is?

I don't have any idea of the lifetime, though Honda rates it for
"light duty" applications.  I suspect that the lifetime will be
quite good as long as clean oil is kept in it.  The rings are high
quality moly type so they should last a long time.  The cam belt is
ingeniously used to carry oil to the cam and lifters so they are
well lubed.

>how much does it cost?

This is the cool part - $179 (price went down since I bought mine on
Jan 9th) off the shelf at the store.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Buying generator - Coleman any good ?
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2001 02:46:24 -0500 wrote:
> Any opinions on Coleman Generators : I need to buy 3 of the  5000
> (6250) peak watt 10hp Tecumpseh IC  (sp ? )  models to use daily 8hrs
> / day  7days for 2 months.  Costco has them for sale at for $ 440.00 a
> piece .  Will they last through the job an beyond providing they
> aren't overloaded and I change the oil every 40 hrs with 30HD. -
> Thanks

The design life of the aluminum cylinder Tecumseh engine is 40
hours.  The iron sleeved engine is around 100 hour (can't remember
for sure without digging in the files.)  IOW, these are throw-away
engines.  You'll find that the engine will use a quart of oil to
each tank of fuel or more and the fuel consumption will be twice
that of an OHV engine.  They are loud enough to cross your eyes.
Even on a construction site (what I'm assuming you'll be using them
for), the noise is so severe to become a real irritant.  This is the
voice of experience speaking.  During the rebuilding of my burned
house, I tolerated the Coleman racket for exactly one day before I
took the restocking hit and got a Yamaha - not nearly as quiet as a
Honda but adequate for construction use.

You didn't say what you're using this for so my advice has to be
general.  The minimum engine for any significant use is the Briggs
Vanguard "industrial" (sic) OHV engine.  This is a durable but loud
engine.  Much preferable is the mainline (red) honda engine.  Quiet
and efficient.  Beware of the low end generators that use the black
case GC model Honda engines.  These are very light duty, throw away
engines.  They are quiet but with the cam running directly on the
aluminum head, no pressurized lube, no valve guides and minimal
piston.  Also, if you use normal 10W30 oil in cold weather, the oil
will build up under the cam drive belt, toss it off the pulley and
bend the valves.  I learned that the hard way last winter.  Honda
put out a TSB to use either 5W30 or synthetic oil in the winter but
it never made it out to the enduser. (Honda did give me a new engine
so no permanent harm done.)


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Question-fast battery charger?
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 22:45:47 -0500
Message-ID: <>

OH, I was just kidding...

Yep, first engine had a design defect.  In cold weather with 10W30 oil, oil
would build up under the cam drive belt and toss it off the cog pulleys.  This
is an interference engine so the valves got nuked.  Northern Tool just gave me
a new engine, one with a slightly different cam pulley arrangement.  Plus I
now run the 0W30 Mobil 1 in the engine.  No more problems.  One night I
cranked it when it was 15 deg out and it just purred along.

One thing I really like about that series of Honda engines is the built-in
fuel pump.  I put a tee and a valve in the gas line so that I can attach a gas
hose and dip it in a 5 gal gas can.  No need to man-handle the heavy gas cans
or mess with pouring fuel into the relatively small tank.

The commercial regulator pictured in my old photos actually worked OK for the
application.  My homebrew controller does automatic temperature compensation,
variable engine speed and some other goodies.  Like a lot of other projects, I
never got around to finishing the thing by putting it in a waterproof box so
for operations at the new drive-thru, the old controller is back in place.


On Tue, 10 Feb 2004 23:31:34 GMT, Chris Bryant <> wrote:

>On Tue, 10 Feb 2004 12:37:45 -0500, Neon John wrote:
>> "Apparently?"  Well harumph.... :-)
>;)  I seemed to remember a couple of threads about it- IIRC, you got a bad
>Honda engine the first try ? I do remember that the Heart regulator (or a
>homebrew) was the key to making it work well.

From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Testing Low Oil Sensor on Honda GX Engine
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 13:38:23 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 12 May 2005 08:27:41 -0700, "Ulysses"
<> wrote:

>My generator with a Honda GX270 engine suddenly stopped running.  My first
>thought was that it was low on oil.  I checked it and it seemed to be within
>the acceptable level but filled it to full.  Didn't help.
>I took out the spark plug and grounded it and the spark looked weak and
>intermittant.  I tried switching the ON/OFF switch a few times and jiggled
>the wires but no noticeable improvement.  I checked to see if anything was
>grounding out but could find nothing.  I tried disconnecting the wires to
>the ON/OFF switch and the low oil sensor but no luck.
>There is a small (1 inch square) metal box that is connected to the ON/OFF
>switch and the low oil sensor.  Is this the electronic ignition module?  I
>looked in my Hayne's Small Engine Repair manual but it didn't show such a
>thing.  It also mentioned the existance of low oil sensors but had no info
>for the Honda engines.  The owner's manual that came with the engine doesn't
>even suggest checking the oil if the engine won't start!

First off, throw away that Hayne's manual.  It is of no help on modern
engines.  I highly recommend getting the factory manual.  Invaluable
if you ever need to troubleshoot the generator side.

The little box connected to the oil sensor is a combination time delay
and latch.  It prevents the engine from being killed by oil sloshes,
tilting of the engine and the like.  When the time delay expires the
box latch the ignition off to make sure the engine stops.

It would be possible for the box to cause a weak spark but not likely.
The usual failure modes are that either it doesn't work at all or it
shorts the spark completely.  You should be able to disconnect the box
completely to test.

I'm not sure which engine is on that generator but in general the
Honda electronic ignition is built into the magneto coil.  A weak (and
mis-timed) spark is a common failure mode.

The way this ignition works is that as the flywheel magnet approaches
the coil, voltage is induced in the coil and stored in a capacitor.
As the magnet passes through the center of the magneto there is a
sudden flux reversal.  The magneto detects this and dumps the cap into
the coil making the spark.  The timing is set by the flux reversal.

When the electronics fail the flux reversal itself can usually cause a
small, weak spark but its timing is indeterminate.  Replacing the
magneto coil solves the problem.

Once you remove the cowl to access the magneto, you can test all the
external circuits by disconnecting the low voltage wire(s) from the
magneto.  There will be one, maybe two.  One is the ignition wire that
is grounded to kill the engine.  The other, if it exists supplies DC
power for battery charging and the oil sensor.  The magneto is fully
self-contained so it should spark strongly even when the flywheel is
turned by hand with all the low voltage wires disconnected.

This photo shows a typical Honda magneto.  It's the black thing
sitting at an angle on the left.

This photo is of the Honda mini-4-stroke engine used on their weed
whackers but the magneto is representative.

>Is there a way to test the low oil sensor or bypass it temporarily to check
>it?  Is there a way to test the ignition module?  The ignition coil does not
>appear to be damaged in any way and is not loose or obviously out of
>adjustment but I'm going to try to check it with an ohmmeter.
>The engine was running normally and suddenly stopped.  I started it again
>and it ran for a few minutes and then suddenly stopped again.  It acts like
>it has a loose connection or something but I can't find any.
>Any suggestions?

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: I want Your take on the best Portable Generator
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:42:35 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 19 Sep 2008 10:30:42 -0700 (PDT), "Hustlin' Hank" <>

>On Sep 19, 10:57?am, wrote:

>I am surprised you were able to get a tank at all. Good going! Another
>thing, the nuts and bolts aren't as well machined (tolerances) as the
>American/Japanese counter-parts. I could "feel" a difference. I took
>extra precautions to nut strip one. Basically, they are J-U-N-K! I
>really doubt that the generators would be any different.

Dragging this back on-topic for the thread, Hank, you apparently didn't listen
to Alan.  Too eager to pontificate about ChiCom stuff, I guess.  He used the
word "clone" with great specificity.  Those engines >are< clones, made under
license from Honda.  Spare parts are as near as your local Honda engine

My experience with ChiCom-made vehicles has been good.  A neighbor in the RV
park bought a couple of kiddie ATVs from a fleamarket vendor.  He paid about
$300 for each of them.  They're powered by clone Honda Trail 90 engines minus
the transmission - single speed.  His kids have beaten the hell out of the
things and little other than the plastic decorations have broken.  The very
few parts that he's needed he got from the Honda dealer.

I rebuilt a carburetor for him a couple of weeks ago after they let it sit
with bad gas in it.  A perfect clone of a Kehkin (sp?) carburetor, the carb
brand that Honda used (uses?) back then.  I was right at home.

At the price, he can let the kids wear the things out, then buy new ones, then
repeat the process again for what a jap ATV of similar size would cost. Repair
parts are really a moot issue, given that economic model.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: I want Your take on the best Portable Generator
Date: Sat, 20 Sep 2008 10:26:39 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 19 Sep 2008 18:41:49 -0700 (PDT), "Hustlin' Hank" <>

>On Sep 19, 12:42?pm, Neon John <> wrote:

>> I rebuilt a carburetor for him a couple of weeks ago after they let it sit
>> with bad gas in it. ?A perfect clone of a Kehkin (sp?) carburetor, the carb
>> brand that Honda used (uses?) back then. ?I was right at home.
>> At the price, he can let the kids wear the things out, then buy new ones, then
>> repeat the process again for what a jap ATV of similar size would cost. Repair
>> parts are really a moot issue, given that economic model.
>> --
>> John De Armond
>Maybe there are different qualities of the China brands, maybe not.
>Since you rebuilt the carb (which usually is just taking it apart and
>a good cleaning and making sure the jets are clean) did you notice the
>sloppiness in the nuts that hold the carb on (if it is the kind that
>bolts directly without rubber mount)? Or the chrome jets? Or just the
>cheap stuff overall?

No, no cheap stuff.  Looked like a Kekhin clone to me.  spigot mount, brass
jets, brass needle, just like the original.  The screws even had that same
peculiarly japanese "snick" when they broke loose and then stuck to the
screwdriver like ISO screws tend to.

>I understand the logic of being able to buy 2-3 for the price of a Jap
>brand, if thats what you want to do. I just hate throwing stuff away
>that would normally need a $10 part to get it running.

I don't either, being someone who would spend a day fixing a $10 appliance,
but thems the realities of global trade.

>What parts did the Honda dealer furnish? If I were a bettin' man, I
>would bet they are aftermarket universal type stuff.

Geez, I don't know.  I don't live with 'em!  From the way the kids ride the
things, I'd guess clutch parts.


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