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logisoft 08-06-2011 11:39 AM

Broken piece of starter in Yanmar 3GMD engine

I've got a treasured rebuilt Yanmar 3GMD that I installed myself 6 years ago. The purr of that engine means a lot to me.

I'm also, due to circumstances, cheap. I installed a new chinese starter last season and the housing of the starter gear broke inside the engine. I took it off and fished a large broken piece from the place where the starter gear meets the flywheel. I fitted it back on the starter and discovered a smaller piece (about 1/2 inch flat square) missing. Where did it go? How hard will it be to retrieve? What bad things could happen from this piece being somewhere inside near the flywheel? I replaced the starter and the engine starts and runs like it used to. I think I do hear a little metallic "tinkling" sound every once in a while.

My nightmare is that the little piece of metal will get into the flywheel teeth and be driven through the engine casing. Is that rational?

Thanks for your advice.


dabnis 08-06-2011 12:03 PM

"Tinkling sound"? could be the piece being picked up by the fly wheel teeth?, not so good. You might try getting a long flexible shaft with a magnet on the end and try fishing around anywhere you can poke it. The magnet should be available at an auto parts store. Not sure how much damage the piece could do but it would be better if you can get it out. Something like this:

Pick-up Magnet 'Snake Magnet' 4 lb. Flexible Shaft on eBay!


bljones 08-06-2011 04:24 PM

Are you cheap, or frugal? (Answer is at the bottom of the post)

You can pull the motor, tear it down and remove the missing fragment now,
(Total cost- some time and a couple of gaskets. Total inconvenience- moderate)
Or you can ignore it and hope for the best. It may NEVER be a problem. Or, it may decide to jump up and jam the flywheel and do a job on the wheel, the case, the crank and the bearings, usually when underway, off a lee shore.
(Total cost- LOTS. Total inconvenience- extreme.)
The question you have to ask yourself is,
Do you feel lucky, punk?

BTW, the difference between cheap and frugal- a cheap sailor will ignore the problem and hope it isn't really a problem. the frugal sailor will fix it now, while the fix is still cheap, and learn from the experience. Cheap sailors always spend more in the long run than frugal sailors.

hellosailor 08-06-2011 09:02 PM

Dan, what bl said. If you can't flush it out (compressed air?) or coax it out with a magnet, you know what that noise is and what it can wind up doing.

How much can a new flywheel and starter cost, if it gets crushed in between the two? Or the flywheel shatters and the engine slams to a halt?

logisoft 08-07-2011 10:41 AM

Yes, I'm sufficiently freaked-out. My question is: Where is this piece going to be and how do I get to it?

jrd22 08-07-2011 11:08 AM

I would try using the magnet as suggested. The piece isn't "in" the engine, it's in the flywheel housing. Chances are that by fishing a flexible magnet down thru the starter opening you'll be able to retrieve the piece. If not you will have to remove the tranny and the flywheel housing (if I remember your engine model correctly, it's been awhile since I've looked at one).

dabnis 08-07-2011 11:09 AM


Originally Posted by logisoft (Post 759411)
Yes, I'm sufficiently freaked-out. My question is: Where is this piece going to be and how do I get to it?

If there is any clearance between the flywheel and the bell housing it is probably in the lowest part or bottom. The magnet or compressed air is worth a try. Next step might be to separate the engine from the transmission, move it forward if possible and see if the piece falls out or is visible? Or, easier yet, if possible, slide the transmission back a little from the engine. If you can hear it it is being picked up by the flywheel and bounced around inside. Maybe it will eventually wear itself down to a smaller size and not be picked up any more? Probably not, better to bite the bullet and get it out. Let us know how it works out. Good luck with the magnet, it might just work. I have had good success with one retrieving lost nuts and small tools that have dropped out of sight and not hit the floor.


logisoft 08-07-2011 11:26 AM

Thanks, Gang. I'll try the magnet first and then go the tranny separation route. Anyway, I'll let you all know the outcome.

No more chinese starters for me.


SailerDoc2 09-06-2011 12:32 AM

Chinese starters

Soon as you finish installing're ready to Install another one

centaursailor 09-06-2011 05:56 PM

Go for the magnet or strip down, compressed air could just push it somewhere disastrous.
An old trick is to use a strong magnet on the outside of the housing were you think the piece or pieces are likely to be lying. Then slowly work the magnet to a convenient opening such as the strarter opening. Worth a try anyway.
Safe sailing

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