Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why should I buy something the military is getting rid of?
A. The military sells thousands of items at auction everyday. These items can vary from clothing to vehicles to spent ammunition casings. The list is long and the condition range from brand new, never used to scrap metal. Equipment and other items still in new or very usable condition may be sent to surplus for any number of reasons. Some of those reasons may include budget surplus (use it or lose it), discontinuation, "Government" cost estimates to repair or simply a lifecycle schedule regardless of condition or usage. So in short, not everything the government is selling at auction is junk.
Q. What makes these generators so much better than a Honda or off-the-shelf generator I can pick up at my local hardware store?
A. The US Defense budget for fiscal year 2010 has been approved for $663.8 billion dollars. When the pentagon comes up with a list of requirements for equipment, money is no object. Assuring the equipment meets the need is the number one priority, no matter what the cost. Everything available to the consumer market is built with cost reduction as the number one priority. Nothing can compare to a product built with virtually no budget. You can't buy these generators new and if you could, it would be cost prohibitive. Purchasing a good quality surplus generator will not only be superior to anything available commercially it also more economical from a price standpoint.
Q. Are spare / replacement parts available to civilians?
A. YES. Contrary to popular belief, parts for most surplus military equipment is available on the consumer market. The government doesn't make these generators, a civilian contractor does. As long as the equipment is in service, the government is going to turn to the contractor for replacement parts. Included with the generator are the operators manual, depot level repair manual and parts guide. The parts guide lists the original Onan part numbers which can be ordered from your local CumminsOnan dealer or on the internet. We service a lot of surplus generators and have yet to come across a faulty part we couldn't replace.
Q. Why is 1800rpm better than 3600rpm? Isn't faster better?
A. Engines don't last forever. The rate at which they wear out is directly related to the load they are subjected to and the speed they spin, more revolutions per minute, more up and down motions, the faster the engine will wear. In the case of a car engine, running it at 3600rpm on the highway is acceptable. Automobile engines are larger, handle higher RPMs and are designed to run like this everyday for many years. Consumer generators on the other hand use an off-the-shelf engine typically found on a lawnmower or snow blower and use it to turn a generator. The difference between the generator and the lawnmower is that the lawnmower can be restricted to a lower speed to extend it's life. In the case of the generator, because of how the generator is built, it must turn at 3600rpm to generate electricity correctly. From the moment the generator is started until the time it's shutdown it's screaming at 3600rpm, self-destructing itself; it doesn't matter if it's a Honda, Generac or Coleman. These engines are under horrible abuse at this speed... many times worse if it's one of those $1000 Chinese diesels found all over the internet. Slower 1800rpm generators are essentially turning at a high idle. The lower speed generates less engine heat, less noise and less friction. A low speed generator will outlive a high speed generator by up to 15:1. In addition, high speed generators are designed for temporary power and should be shutdown after 4 hours of use to cool. They are also disposable and are not cost effective to repair. Low speed generators are typically engineered for 24x7 operation with maintenance and service in mind. Parts are usually readily available and even major engine repair is cost effective when necessary.
Q. Well why don't all generators run 1800rpm then?
A. All consumer generators run at 3600rpm. Even a large number of portable commercial generators run at this speed. 1800rpm generators are typically only found on tow-behind mobile units and permanently mounted commercial units; even the big standby generators you have installed at your home are almost always 3600rpm. There's a reason for this...cost. But the cost savings doesn't come without a price. There's a mathematical reason for these two key speeds but the bottom line is, there are two ways to generate electricity. The first way is to spin a 2-pole generator at 3600rpm. It's also the cheapest way. The second way is to use a 4-pole generator (double the price) and turn it at 1800rpm. 4-pole generators are heavier, use much more copper wire, and cost significantly more.
Q. How old are these generators?
A. We purchase surplus units no older than 1982. Unlike most generators, age is less of a concern with these surplus units. The majority of metal used in manufacturing is aluminum leaving very little to rust.
Q. How hard are these to start in extreme cold weather?
A. Very easy. Without the external heat option, these generators easily startup in temperatures down to -25F. They feature glow plugs and an electric intake pre heater. All generators are tested for good cold weather starting components prior to sale.

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