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post #1 of 8 Old 11-15-2010 Thread Starter
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Starting problem with a Universal M-18

Recently I have been having a starting problem with my M18. Normally, I would put I on one battery, turn the key, let the fuel have time to reach the injector pump and then glow the engine for about 15 seconds. Most always started right up. Now after doing this if, I turn the key to start, nothing happens........ I then turn the key off, release the glow and the starter turns over and most of the time starts but sometimes take a second and third try. Now, most recently it almost did not start. After several tries I switched to both batteries and it finally started. Could this be my battery is drained from using the glow plugs and not providing enough power to turn the starter or could it be the glow plugs are working correctly or how about the starter itself. Any ideas?
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post #2 of 8 Old 11-15-2010
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Sounds like the batteries are run down. Do you have a voltmeter? Does it indicate the alternator is charging when the engine is running (voltage 13-14 volts)? If not, you may have a problem with the alternator.
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post #3 of 8 Old 11-16-2010
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I had similar problem when I first got my boat, 27" Catalina , M-18
Blamed it on everything, except the real problrem, dirty injectors
Cleaned them & its been starting & running great. If all electrical
things check out. Try it. Good Luck
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post #4 of 8 Old 11-16-2010
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When you were having trouble and then the engine finally starts, did it seem to miss for a few seconds on some of the cylinders? That would indicate glow plugs not working on some of the cylinders. This is not the diagnostic method recommended in the shop manuals. It’s just a hint that you should pull the glow plugs and test them, or maybe you should just pull them anyway because when the temperature is warm enough, the engine will not miss even with bad glow plugs. I just use an ohmmeter then usually realize at least half of the glow plugs show no electrical conduction and then replace all of them. However, on a hot day a diesel will start easily without glow plugs being used. Aside from glow plugs, another quick thing you can try is crank the engine for about fifteen seconds, then immediately put your hand on various battery cable connections to see if any are hot. Be careful on electrical solenoids because they can get very hot because they are so lightweight. Also, wash your hands after handling terminals at the battery, as you will likely have battery acid on them. If the battery cable is hot in the middle, consider a shorted starter if the engine does not turn over easily. A shop manual calls for voltmeters and amp meters to see what is going on and this of course is the definitive method, but I have usually done all right with the quick and dirty methods. If the battery cables and starter seem alright, but the engine does not seem to spin over like it used to, consider charging the battery or use a car battery with heavy duty jumper cables to see if the engine spins over like it used to. The definitive method here is to use a voltmeter across the battery while cranking or even better to use a hydrometer on the battery cells if they have caps that can be removed for adding water. If the boat battery is near dead, then you need to check the alternator and the rest of the charging system. If you do not run the engine every month or so, the battery probably self discharged (they all to that) and then sulfation occurs resulting in a battery that cannot be charged and so you need a new battery and a small solar panel of about 20 watts depending on latitude and availability of the sun to keep the battery charged. You also will need a regulator to keep the batteries from being overcharged which can also ruin them. In the wintertime if you pull the boat out of the water, take the batteries home and put them on a float charger. If you float the batteries while in the boat, make sure the charger is the marine type; otherwise, you could have severe corrosion, usually on the propeller and shaft because the automotive type charger can ground the engine to the electrical AC neutral and then you are grounded to other boats in the marina with some of the boats having metals being sacrificial to that on other boats. This corrosion is not the sacrificial zinc thing, but rather like electroplating where metal is stripped from one metal plate and deposited on another because you have electrical currents flowing from boat to boat underwater because the various metals act like batteries. A marine charger acts like an isolation transformer so there is no AC electrical connection between boats.
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post #5 of 8 Old 11-20-2010
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i hear two things that are incorrect first and easiest to correct is never crank the engine while the glow plugs are energized they use lots of power out of the battery. push the glow plug button count to 15 or 20 release the button then crank the engine, and the other if I'm reading right you turn the key to off then the starter engages leading me to believe your switch is going out. charge the battery use plugs as described then crank engine if that doesn't work pm me and i will be glad to walk you through other trouble shooting steps rob.

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post #6 of 8 Old 11-20-2010
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Hello, You said "I then turn the key off, release the glow and the starter turns over" When you turn the key off there should not be any current to the starter solenoid so the starter shouldn't turn over. Either the ignition switch is failing or our wiring is incorrect or some of the wires to the ignition switch are shorting to each other or some of your wires in the harness are shorting. This needs to be corrected first. Have fun Pete
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post #7 of 8 Old 11-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newhaul View Post
i hear two things that are incorrect first and easiest to correct is never crank the engine while the glow plugs are energized they use lots of power out of the battery. push the glow plug button count to 15 or 20 release the button then crank the engine, and the other if I'm reading right you turn the key to off then the starter engages leading me to believe your switch is going out. charge the battery use plugs as described then crank engine if that doesn't work pm me and i will be glad to walk you through other trouble shooting steps rob.
And many diesels, such as many Universal & Westerbeke's, INCLUDING the OP's engine, the M-18, are wired so the engine WILL NOT start unless BOTH buttons are pressed simultaneously. The glow plug draw and start draw of an M-18 are of very minimal impact to a good battery. My 44hp motor uses less that 1/10th of an Ah for starting...

Right from a Westebeke engine manual:

Note: The START button will not energize unless the PRE-HEAT button is depressed.


And this from the UNIVERSAL M-18 owners manual:

NOTE: YOU MUST HOLD GLOW PLUG BUTTON IN TO ENERGIZE THE STARTER BUTTON FOR CRANKING ENGINE.

The op likely has a connection issue or bad battery. Could be a bad ignition switch, bad ground or any of the many connections or wire terminations. Could also be a bad starter solenoid..

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 11-21-2010 at 06:40 AM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 12-18-2010
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M-18

I think there might be a difference, depending on the age of the engine. Mine does not require that I hold down the glow plug button and press the start button. The M-18 manual is for people who understand diesel engines and not newbies (like me). In short, it sucks. :-)
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