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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Diesel
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Diesel This is a new forum dedicated to diesel engines and their applicable accessories.


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Old 03-22-2010
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glow plugs

Anybody know if weak glow plugs can make a diesel hard to start the way worn out spark plugs can in a gas engine?
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Old 03-22-2010
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They absolutly can and do burn out. The bright side is they are easy to diagnose and replace as long as you can access them. Pull them out and hook em up to a battery and they should get red hot real fast (hold them with pliers) if they are sluggish in getting red hot then swap em out. Before you start pulling parts off your engine look over your battery connections and grounding wire and starter connections. It does not take much to affect an engines start performance if there is corrostion on your terminals or a loose wire. Good luck!

Rob
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Old 03-23-2010
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I've never seen a weak glow plug they either work or don't work. Before you go ahead and pull them check to see if you have voltage at the glow plug terminal you should get 12v there. Glow plugs and spark plugs are two totally different animals. Glow plugs actually heat up the air in the pre combustion chamber to a high enough temperature for the atomized diesel fuel to ignite when the engine is cold.

Once you have determined you have voltage at the terminal then pull them and check like PrairieRose said.
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Old 03-23-2010
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Anybody know if weak glow plugs can make a diesel hard to start the way worn out spark plugs can in a gas engine?
What kind of engine do you have?
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Old 03-23-2010
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And how cold is it? I'm sure engines differ, my Perkins starts when the outside temp is 40 or even colder. I don't have glow plugs. When it is cold out, I spin it a couple of times to warm it, the it starts. Most diesel problems are fuel problems.
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It is a Universal12 based on a 2-cylinder kubota block. Nice little engine. Runs well, sometimes slow to start in the cold.
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It is a Universal12 based on a 2-cylinder kubota block. Nice little engine. Runs well, sometimes slow to start in the cold.
Are you sure it has glow plugs? Many of the smaller diesel engines don't even have them, resulting in slower starts in cold weather.
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Old 03-23-2010
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As to temps, I sail here in NC all year, so it may be down close to freezing, but can be reluctant to start cold in 40 degrees. I'll check the voltage at the glow plugs as you guys advised. I imagine it is possible to have one burned out and starting only on the other plug, if WanderingStar's Perkins has none.
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Old 03-23-2010
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It definately has 2 glow plugs. I had the engine out and replaced rings, etc. due to carbon build-up causing a stuck ring when I got the boat. Cylinders were honed and within specs. Never pulled the glowplugs though.
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Okay, then it could be glow plugs. I just wanted to make sure, because some folks don't realize their engines lack glow plugs.

What is your starting procedure? I.e. how do you preheat the plugs and for how long?

One thing to see is whether they are wired in series or parallel. If in series (as some older diesels were), one bad glow plug takes the others out too (kind of like old christmas tree lights).

Could be low battery having trouble powering the glow plugs and the starter in cold weather.

Could be slightly low on compression and the cold weather exacerbates it.

Do you have a compression release? In cold weather, it can help to throw the compression release, and cycle the starter (with the fuel cut-off) for a bit to let the cylinders warm up. Then try starting the normal way (with fuel and compression).
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