Sent: Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:15 pm
Okay. Before we begin, you have some reading to do. Go here: http://www.bobistheoilguy.com
If you ever wanted a Masters degree in oil, this is where you would start. You would be surprised at how little you actually "know" about oil. So start here on the "Motor Oil University" pages and read-up on what oil is, what it does, and HOW IT WORKS. Without this info, the rest of this PM will be lost on you. So, go. Skedaddle. Vamos.
OK. You've read BITOG. A quick review:
Compare two oils: a dino-based 10w30 and a (fully) synthetic 10w30. They are the same thing, right? WRONG. They are completely different critters and not really interchangeable. Why? Because dino-based oil with a 10w30 designation is actually a 10w base oil that contains a bunch of viscosity improvers (VI's) that make it flow like a 30w oil at high temperature. By contrast, a (fully) synthetic 10w30 is actually a 30w base oil that has been processed to emulate a 10w oil when it is cold though a trick of the native oil molecules. Those VI's are bad. They don't lubricate in and of themselves. They just make things thicker, and that too isn't a great idea. But simply programming native oil molecules to run faster at cold temps (without sacrificing high-temp performance) is a good thing.
Please read the above paragraph again. Understand it. Grok in fullness. It's important. The ramifications are this: in a conventional oil, as the oil ages and oxidizes, it gets thinner. But not a synthetic. It may slightly (very slightly) thicken at low temps with extreme age, but at high temps it will always be a certain thickness. The viscosity index can be much wider because you're not artifically thickening the oil with VI's. You are relying on the native size of the molecule strands, which in a synthetic are very, very long. Long is good. Short is bad. Long lubricates. Short sucks.
Read this again until you really get it. Maybe read BITOG again, just to be sure.
Recall that 90% of engine wear happens at start-up. The remaining 10% is "normal" wear and there isn't any effective way to stop it. But we can make big improvements to that first 90%. How? Buy running a synthetic that is as thin as possible at low temps. Lubrication doesn't happen in a cold engine (see BITOG) when the oil is thick like molasses. So you want oil that runs like water in cold engine... and then stays fairly thin as the temp increases. This means a synthetic oil. This is where dino-oil can't compete: in that first 10 minutes of operation when the oil is cold and lube is critical.
You really need to completely read and understand the "Motor Oil University" on BITOG, but the long and short of it is you should be running a full synthetic oil that is as thin as possible (0w!) when it's cold and the proper thickness (like 30w) when it's hot.
In the Honda EU2000i, experimentation shows the ideal oil is Mobil 1 Synthetic 0W20 (if under 90F ambient) or 0W30 (if over 90F ambient). THIS IS THE MAGIC. That 0W flows easily when the motor is cold and protects it from cold-start syndrome... where 90% of the wear happens. Unfortunately, most people think it's a good idea to run 15w40 conventional oil (or similar) and wind-up screwing themselves out of fuel economy and engine life in the process.
The second bit of magic is letting the engine warm-up on the eco-throttle setting for 3-5 minutes before you put a load on it. The colder the ambient temperature is, the longer you should let it idle before dumping a load on it. In really cold temps 10 minutes isn't excessive. This run-up time lets the oil thin-out a bit before you start hammering the genny with big loads. (Remember that cold oil is almost useless as a lube. It needs to thin-out and flow to be effective, hence the delay).
The third bit of magic is frequent oil changes. On the Honda EU2000i this is critical. The oil sump only holds about 330 mL (1/3rd of a liter!) so it's not like you'll be spending a lot of money on an oil change. There is also no oil filter, so anything that ends-up in the oil is going to stay there. Finally, there is no oil pump: it's all splash-lube. So the sooner you get the old oil and contaminants out, the better.
Plan on changing the oil every 25 hours. On the playa in a constant-run mode, this means once a day. Sure, it's a little bit of work, but when you can get THREE complete oil changes out of a single bottle of oil, it's cheap insurance. So just do it. It's impossible to get into trouble if you're changing the oil this often.
The final bit for making these engines live forever is break-in. They need to be "trained" a bit from the moment you get them. So here is the first-start protocol.1). Put a middle-grade NON-synthetic into the engine. Generally this will be a 10w30 dino oil like Pennzoil, etc. Start the engine on the "eco-mode setting and let it warm-up without aload for 10 minutes.
2). Put a 300-400 watt load on the genny (a hair-dryer on low?) and let it run for 15 minutes.
3). Put a 600-700 watt load on the genny and run it for 15 minutes.
4). Put a 1000 watt load on the genny and run it for 15 minutes.
5). Put a 1500 watt load on the genny and run it for an hour.
6). Change the oil. Replace with dino-based 10W30. Repeat the above once.
7). At the next oil change, switch to 0W20 (or 0W30) synthetic oil.
8). Run the engine under various loads for 8 hours. Drain and replace with synthetic.
At this point you have a fully broken-in engine that will handle anything you can throw at it. If you keep up with the oil change schedule (25 hours) and use exclusively a 0W20 (or 0W30) synthetic oil, this engine can easily run 5000+ hours. Street vendors routinely get 7000 hours before a major overhaul.
Final bit of advice: Get an hour-meter/tach and bolt it on. This is a nice bit of kit that will pay for itself many times over. They run about $30 and install in just a few minutes with a screwdriver.
Don't let anyone talk you out of this protocol. It has been tested and works. Anyone who believes the change interval can be extended, or advises you to use a dino-based oil is an idiot. Ignore them. Likewise, anyone who thinks it's OK to hammer a cold genny with a load is milking without a bucket. Anyone who says you don't need a fuel stabilizer is same-same.
At the end of the day, all these gennys need is warm oil, frequently changed, and a quality fuel with a good stabilizer. Run them for an hour every month, keep the tanks full to the top, and feed them clean air. Given this, they will run nearly forever.