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What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion


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  #1  
Old 03-12-2016, 08:14:36 AM
JohnnyC JohnnyC is offline
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Default What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

Good morning,

I am on a mission - I want to get an Onan diesel genset.

Onan manufactured many diesel gensets. I read that some parts for various diesel gensets are next to impossible to find and if found are very expensive. I read that marine diesels should be avoided due to corrosion. I read all kinds of things and I'm confused.

My question: I am looking for a SMALL Onan diesel genset. It does not need to look pretty, however it must be a solid performer and not molested by a butcher. In YOUR opinion, what is considered to be a highly desirable Onan diesel 6.5kw or smaller? Model, year, and detailed information to support your opinion would be good. Once I make up my mind based on your input I will know what to look for and what to avoid.

Thanks in advance,

JohnnyC
New Jersey
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Old 03-12-2016, 09:19:16 AM
gchank gchank is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

Since you thinking is just like mine I will tell you what I have. I have a 6.0 DJB and a 3kw DJA. The 6.0 is a YD end which puts out clean power. The DJA since its overpowered for that 3 kw doesnt more its rmp on the load so its clean so long you dont overload it to much. I only buy 120/240 so it can have my universal L14-30 plug for my interlocked breaker set up. I also have a few NG sets. I do not buy anything larger than 7.5 KW as I cant justify the fuel usuage (or garage/shed space). I pick up parts on ebay when I find them at really low prices as spares. Lets just say I have alot of spares.

Last edited by gchank; 03-12-2016 at 09:22:57 AM. Reason: more explaining
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Old 03-12-2016, 10:40:08 AM
Gunny Gunny is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

A DJB or C. Solid reliable, built to run forever. Parts still available. Down side is they are heavy and noisy.
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Old 03-12-2016, 10:40:52 AM
Doug E. Doug E. is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

This is a topic that I also have been interested in. My criteria is a balance between robustness of design, low maintenance, fuel economy, and parts availability. Or in a nutshell, which models can I keep going the longest with out 100% parts support.

In this neck of the woods, we get some minor power outages ever year, with a periodic major one. In the ice storm we had in Nov. of 96, some outlying areas did not get power back for 6 weeks. I'm interested in what models can I nurse along for the next 30 years with my skills as a machinist and mechanic. Electronics is a very weak area for me.

Regards,

Doug
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Old 03-12-2016, 11:22:28 AM
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Jim McIntyre Jim McIntyre is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyC View Post
...In YOUR opinion, what is considered to be a highly desirable Onan diesel 6.5kw or smaller?
6.0 DKC.



It's the baby brother to the popular 7.5 DKD. Onan, and all other US manufacturers got out of the small Diesel engine business because, IMO, Kubota and their ilk had a better product and beat them in the marketplace.

Sad, but I'm afraid true. Kubota, unlike Onan, is still around and has parts for these engines.

The DKC/DKD had two regulator schemes. The simpler was just a transformer (not really super-tight regulation, but lead-pipe simple and bulletproof).

I had a 6.0 DJE, and got rid of it. Too noisy, and hard to start in the cold. But, if you want an Onan engine set, that'd be the next best thing.
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Old 03-12-2016, 11:39:37 AM
akirkland akirkland is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

I agree with Jim, as much as I like onan air cooled gensets, I think the small japanese made diesels are much better products. Parts are readily available and I have seen many units that have run for thousands of hrs.
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Old 03-12-2016, 12:13:20 PM
Nazrat Nazrat is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

I'm going to vote for the DKD too - and I voted with my wallet a few years ago when I bought my 7.5 DKD and sold my 7.5 MDJE. The Kubota engine is really easy to get parts for, and honestly starts and runs smoother than the DJE did. It will start with HALF the CCA battery. As noted above, the transformer regulator is DIRT simple and can be replaced with the cheap Chinese regulators if you are so inclined.

-Tad
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Old 03-12-2016, 01:50:08 PM
YellowLister YellowLister is online now
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

Well if you want to just buy something the dkd or dkc are great.. i have a dkd and it's a great little gen and much quieter than the air cooled onans.. but they have alot of electronics.. a dja has a few resistors and etc.. is noise a big factor?

Considering there size i think you need both.. i think it will come down to which one you can find first.. not like there are many out there.. especially with a realistic price tag

Im sure you could build one.. get a little creative...anyone can buy one and make it work given enough time.. im sure you can find a small diesel engine and gen end and work your magic.. just an idea
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Old 03-12-2016, 01:56:48 PM
Paso One Paso One is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

I just bought a DKD so I hope your bang on on how good they are.
The one I got has 545 hours on the meter.
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Old 03-12-2016, 02:52:38 PM
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BigBlockChev BigBlockChev is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

I too like the DKD , I have one and trust it. However they have one glaring fault which cannot be overcome. The generator to engine mounting system is proprietary, ie you can only use an Onan genend or components. I just picked up another 3cyl Kubota based generator which uses a standard SAE bellhousing and mounting plate so you can get an aftermarket Pancake genend from a variety of manufacturers such as Marathon. These are used on light towers and RV gens. If you think that finding parts for a DKD is easy let me assure you that it is not. I know of a fellow who has been looking for a DKD gen end for some time now for a marine unit with no luck. You can buy a complete 8Kw Marathon pancake genend for $1700. I also like the MDJB and MDJE 2 cyl units for simplicity but they are somewhat louder than the Kubota based gens. So in order of preference for a 6-8Kw diesel. Cheers Dan

1 Kubota based 3cyl RV gen with Marathon genend
2 DKD
3 2 Cyl j series Onan
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Old 03-12-2016, 03:41:15 PM
Birken Vogt Birken Vogt is online now
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

If criteria was Onan only then a DKx (Kubota) would be my choice too.

However, there was a lot of proprietary stuff on some of them which made them not the most desirable in my opinion.

I think any small diesel from Isuzu, Kubota, Perkins, Yanmar, etc. with a commercial gen-end is a better choice especially if it can be found newer.
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Old 03-12-2016, 03:48:31 PM
nothingbutdarts nothingbutdarts is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

Well, I have a DKD, just need to get it running better as here at 8,700' It smokes like a banche and I'm only able to get 6kw out of it before it starts loosing RPM and blackening the garage. LOL
On a side note though, I can't get any of my gasoline/propane generators to make full KW either!!!
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Old 03-12-2016, 04:14:29 PM
akirkland akirkland is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

Kubota engine, marathon windings, Murphy ASM 170 controller, basler SE350 voltage regulator. Simple,bullet proof, parts readily available.
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Old 03-12-2016, 05:01:07 PM
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

This thread reminds me- I once had an 8 kW (IIRC) Onan marine set that was powered by a two cylinder Kubota engine. I got it for the price of hauling it off, but it was locked up, and it turned out that I was unable to free it without taking it apart. This was well before I found the Stak.

So I stuck it on eBay and sold it. I wonder if that was Yellowlister that came to buy it???

Keith
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Old 03-12-2016, 05:06:12 PM
YellowLister YellowLister is online now
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

nope.. that was before my generator days im sure..
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Old 03-12-2016, 05:24:49 PM
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

Quote:
Originally Posted by akirkland View Post
basler SE350 voltage regulator. Simple,bullet proof, parts readily available.
I take issue with that statement a little bit, SE350s fail a lot more often than they should. Maybe switch that to Stamford/Newage with SX460 and we would agree
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Old 03-12-2016, 05:25:41 PM
Vanman Vanman is online now
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowlister View Post
nope.. that was before my generator days im sure..
Yeah, this would have been maybe '06 or '07. And, as JohnnyC pointed out, being that it was a marine set, it was definitely all rusty on the outside. And evidently rusty on the inside.

But it looked like it would have been a great unit when it was in good shape. I wish I could remember more about it besides being 8 kW and a two cylinder Kubota. Or would that have been a three cylinder? And white I do recall that it had a transformer type of regulation, and I remember admiring that. And wishing I could get it running to play with it

From the discussion so far, it sounds like a running one of these may be just what JohnnyC is looking for.

Keith
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Old 03-12-2016, 09:23:18 PM
bobbyz72 bobbyz72 is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

I have to agree also with a kubota. My kubota D905 engine is good for about 6kw max. It has an oversized 10kw generator end on it. It will power my whole house with the a/c. This is my go to, not playing around gen set. Quiet, unbelievable fuel efficiency, and already set up in the garage with hot air and exhaust piped out.
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Old 03-12-2016, 11:21:28 PM
JohnnyC JohnnyC is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

Thanks for all the information. I learned 2 things today -
1) You can only press the "Thanks" button a limited number of times before it disappears. I guess I was tooooo generous, gave too many thanks and ran out of thanks, so I have to say it here in my response.
2) Base on overall opinion I will be looking for a DKD and will be doing Googles on them.

If I am lucky to find a decent DKD to rebuild, I will add it to my collection and I will have a decent genset for gasoline, vapor and diesel.

It will be an adventure since I know nothing about diesels. I had 2 diesel trucks many years ago. I thing I hated about my diesel in my GM truck was when it went dry (gas out of diesel) it was the biggest pain in the butt to prime. That was 35 years ago. I'm sure thing got better although I assume any DKD I find will be 25 years old or older.


JohnnyC
New Jersey

I just printed off an Onan Genset manual for DKD. I thought I was printing off an operator manual, but when I pulled it from the printer it was the Parts Manual 981-0223. That's OK since I'm more interested in the parts rather than a manual that tells me how to start it. You all know IF I'm lucky and get a 7.5. or 6.0 DKD, it will be torn apart in a million pieces within hours after I get it home, so I better become familiar with the parts such as the flux capacitor and hydraulic throw back springs now.


JohnnyC
New Jersey
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Old 03-12-2016, 11:26:46 PM
Leon N. Leon N. is offline
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Default Re: What is the BEST small Onan diesel in your opinion

Gunny I agree 100%. If anyone wants a copy of an impressive Onan color brochure describing the technical features of the diesel J line magneciter equipped plants, I can make color copies for the cost of repro and mailing. This document sinched it for me way back in 1970 and continues to do so till I part.
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