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Diesel This is a forum dedicated to diesel engines and their applicable accessories.

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Old 09-02-2011
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Starting a diesel that sat for 18 years.

I've read the threads under this heading and found one similar to our situation:

We bought a boat that has been sitting on a trailer for pretty close to 18 years, best guess. Never registered, never been in the water, engine hour meter shows 1 hour running. Its a Norsea 27 that needs the interior finished.

The engine is a Yanmar 2gm20F, our very first diesel, in fact our first inboard.
I can see fuel, the color of weak tea, in the filter bowl. Here is my plan to start the engine :
1: change oil and oil filter
2: drain fuel tank
3: change fuel filter
4: drain as much of the fuel in the lines by opening the bleeder valves
5: disconnect steel tubing to injectors, attach vinyl tube to steel injector tubing, lead other end of vinyl tube to container to catch old fuel when engine is cranked. Maybe this is a bad step if the pump requires some sort of back pressure.
6: supply fresh fuel to fuel filter intake.
7: bleed system
8: decompress engine, crank till fresh fuel is visible in vinyl tubing.
9: reattach steel tubing to injectors, supply cooling water to intake, close decompression level, cross fingers and crank engine.
10: hear engine running
11: do victory dance.

Is this the right plan? Am I being overly cautious or not doing enough?

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Old 09-02-2011
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Jerry. that's amazing.. sitting so long. Question? does it even turn over by hand or with a wrench? I know on gas engines it's common to squirt something in the cylinders first since they may be rusted. I"d hook up a new or temporary tank and filter because 18 yr old fuel is mostly sludge!
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Old 09-02-2011
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yep, ferget the fuel for now, if you can't rotate it you'll need new rings minimum. No point in spending a lot of time dinking with fuel if you need to pull the top end off anyway.
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Old 09-02-2011
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If you're doing this in the water, leave the RWC valve closed until you hear that sweet chug when she starts.. otherwise extended cranking may flood your exhaust system.

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Old 09-02-2011
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Denise, I can rock the engine back and forth by rocking the pulleys. So I'm pretty sure the engine is not seized. I guess it wouldn't hurt anything if the engine is turned over using a wrench. I would open the decompression lever first. I think the engine rotates counter clockwise. Got the manual so I'll check that first.

Last edited by Captainmeme; 09-02-2011 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 09-02-2011
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Faster, she isn't in the water yet. She is on the trailer in front of my house.
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Old 09-02-2011
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meme, I think I'd pull the injectors and have them examined, reconditioned if necessary. Even with "one" hours on them all that sitting around could have allowed for corrosion.

But in any event, pull them and put some lubricant (marvel mystery oil?) in each cylinder, hand crank a few times, to get some lube oil on the cylinder walls and rings before you fire it up.
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Old 09-02-2011
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Steps 1,2 & 3 good.

Do not touch the injectors, do nothing except get fresh diesel to the injector pump and bleed the pump.

Turn the engine over with the decompressor pulled until the oil pressure guage moves. Shut off decompressor set throttle to full and see if she starts most will start within 10 to 30 seconds if not bleed at injectors by cracking the pipe nuts while cranking and try again.

Have someone at the throttle to pull it back when it starts.

I have started a number of engines that have lain untouched for years either in scrapyards or in military stores and have NEVER had to overhaul injectors, thrown away a couple of seized ones yes but overhaul no.
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Old 09-02-2011
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I would as you say drain the entire fuel system and discard the fuel. Change all filters crank oil, and trans oil. Fill the fuel tank with bio diesel, it has a higher lubricity than petroleum diesel, coat the raw water impeller with petroleum jelly and reassemble the pump and shut off the raw water until it starts running. Remove the intake silencer and fog with fogging oil for a couple of cranks decompressed, bleed fuel system according to mfr's instructions and start her up. If you can turn the crank pulley it is either not locked up or it is in need of an awful lot of work as something big would have to be broken(given what you have said about hours I think this is unlikely). I wouldn't pull any injectors until I have exhausted the fuel supply side, as if you have fuel, timing and crank a diesel will run unless something big is wrong.
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Old 09-02-2011
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My Yanmar (and Norsea 27) sat on the trailer for 4 years during one stretch of 5 years when military assignments took me here and there and I had no one to look after the boat. With the old fuel and a fresh battery, the engine started within two revolutions. Turns out the aluminum fuel tank was rotted and there was water and a biology experiment in the tank, but the "clean" fuel in the pump, lines, and injection pump was enough to test run the engine for a couple of minutes.

My recommendations are based on fighting this fuel system and neglected engine (I know, my fault) for a couple of years, which now makes me nervous about an idle, neglected engine, so I start it regularly while the boat is on the trailer. I would do the following (not in chronological order):

I don't think your water pump impeller needs inspection and repair. The boat has never been in salt water, so the engine was run on fresh water, and probably laid up to prevent freezing, and the impeller is basically unused and never exposed to UV. You can't put a pressure source on your water intake. That will flood your engine through the exhaust manifold, so when you are ready to run the engine, disconnect the supply to the water pump and put a length of half inch ID hose on it, and the other end of it in a 5 gal bucket on the deck in the salon or head. Put water in the bucket and let the pump lift the water to the engine. Fill the bucket with a hose as needed. I usually fill the pump supply hose by partially filling the bucket, putting it in the cockpit, siphoning water into the hose, then moving the bucket inside. I put a garden hose in the bucket and adjust flow as needed to maintain the bucket level while running the engine.

If the starting battery hasn't been replaced, do so.

For the fuel system, buy a six gallon portable fuel tank and the lines and fittings to fit hoses to the vent and to the supply to the inlet to the fuel lift pump for the engine. Disconnect the installed fuel tank at the inlet to the fuel lift pump and connect the tank, with a bulb pump in the line to use for priming. Change the engine fuel filter and prime the filter by cracking the vent on top of the filter while pressing the bulb. Open the vent when the bulb is pressed and close it before you release the bulb to press it again, as needed. Get all the air out of the fuel supply.

Check that the engine fuel control cable operates smoothly. The only internal issue I had with the long layup of my engine was that a little rust built up on fuel rack on the fuel injection pump. As a result, the throttle control and governor would not perform reliability. The FI pump and governor gave fair service for a good while after the engine was placed back in service, and I only found this much later, but you can check cable smooth operation without disassembly now, and pull the governor cover and check the pump rack later when you have time. The FI pump rack is a precision ground fit in the pump and must slide almost friction free.

Change the oil and filter.

When you first try to start the engine, use the compression release and spin her good, then release it and see if she starts. My guess is she will. If the engine doesn't start after about 20 seconds of spinning, stop trying. If you spin the engine longer than that, you risk pumping water into the engine...exhaust is needed to expel the cooling water via the exhaust.

If the engine doesn't start, prime the fuel system again, up to the FI pump inlet and the excess fuel line that comes back to the fuel filter from the injectors. That primes both sides of the pressurized fuel system with fuel at low pressure, and the FI pump should do the rest. Repeat as needed. There is a bit of art to priming. You may not get it done right the first time.

Try to start the engine again. When it is running, be sure to check that the exhaust pulses cooling water out the back of the boat.

When it is running, I would run it at relatively low speeds for a while, building up RPM pretty slowly, because the cylinders/pistons/rings could have a little bit of corrosion and the engine really hasn't been run long enough to break it in.

I would run the engine from the portable tank long enough to ensure that fresh fuel was everywhere in the engine fuel system. Then I would tackle the fuel tank and filtration system as a separate issue.
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