Engine will not crank and required charging time - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #1  
Old 05-12-2010
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Engine will not crank and required charging time

For some details. 11 hp diesel engine. I have 2 batteries. I replaced the 1/2/all switch over the winter. After it was put in the water I have run the engine several times once when going sailing and the rest while working on the boat. The last time was 2 weekends ago I ran it for maybe 10 minutes. Only this past weekend I go down to do some things in preparation for this coming weekend when I am supposed to take my father for a sail.

I pulled out the water temperature sensor to clean it because when I replaced the water pump rotor thing like a month ago it was not pumping water and it got too hot. I got the water pump working but the temperature gauge had stopped working and cleaning it off is how I got it working the last time. I mention this for this question because I am think maybe a vapor lock? anyhow on to the question

After doing that I go to start the engine. I do the usualy prep, check oil, gear in nuetral and throttle about half way back. Turn the key to 1st stop check the gauge which reads roughly 12.5 then turn the key to the start position and I get nothing. There is no cranking sound at all. I recheck the gear and throttle and retry. Still nothing. I did notice that the voltage dropped slightly when I moved the key to the start position.

Any ideas? I was by my self at the time and tried to check some things electrically but it is impossible to turn the key and hold the multimeter lead in place. I am going down to the boat to diagnose this with my wife and would like ideas what to check for.

Also for the 2nd question How long should I run the engine to keep it charged. My boat is on a mooring with no external charging system. Once I get the engine started how long do I need to charge the starting battery to replace the energy used to start the engine?
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Old 05-12-2010
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On most diesels after you turn the key you have to push the start button, did you do that ??

you generally want to run a diesel to get it up to temp after starting it and if it started right away 10-15 minutes should be adequate to recharge a battery.
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Old 05-12-2010
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It sounds like you know you'll have to check voltages at the solenoid to see if or that's the issue or elsewhere to determine where the problem lies such that the starter motor gets insufficient/no voltage.

Regarding the battery charge issue, this is kind of a - how long will it take to fill up my partially full bucket - question. Without knowing the flow rate (alternator charging spec) and the size bucket (battery capacity) and how much water remains (how much it was drawn down), no answer can be expected to be precise.
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Old 05-12-2010
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I think it sounds like a voltage issue to where the starter isn't getting any or proper amount of voltage. You should at least here the starter clicking.
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Old 05-12-2010
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As has been suggested, the first you check is if you have enough voltage to crank the engine. Say 13+volts...

If the voltage is there and it seems to you that the starter is trying to turn the motor but is failing to do so, you may want to use the de-compression technique - If your engine has decompression levers, switch them both to de-compress position. That may allow the starter to turn the motor with its partial juice. Once the motor is turning, switch the de-compression levers one by one. Once you switch one the engine will start as the compression occurs (it may be rocky) and once it starts then you add the second cylinder. This technique was sometimes used in situations like these. Of course this can be done only if you have de-compression levers.

However, if you have good voltage and still the starter does not crank (you check wiring is all ok but you get nothing), you may want to check the fuse that is there on some diesels inline with the connection from the start switch (push button switch) to the starter solenoid. In some boats this fuse (usually 20A) is located in a very inconspicuous place. I have advised people to lengthen the wires and move the fuse to a more accessible and visible place.

Just some thoughts.
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Thanks for the suggestions. my responses in no particular order. The battery was only showing 12.5 ish volts not 13 on the boats. volt gauge It is only 1 cylinder and i do have a decompress lever so I will try that. Gary M the key starter switch is a 2 position switch. The 1st position powers the gauges and the alterator trickle the 2nd position activates the solenoid on the starter motor. just like a car. I know some newer boats have a 2nd switch or push button. Also there is no fuse between the switch and the solenoid or the battery to the switch (I know something I need to fix). I'll check this thread before I go from work tomorrow and let you know the outcome.
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Old 05-12-2010
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Ekenna—

You're really going to have to learn to use a multimeter for trouble shooting.

As the previous posters have said, check the voltage at the starter, the starter solenoid and such.

Finally, I'd highly recommend getting a small solar panel to top off your batteries, rather than using the engine. It isn't efficient to run an engine to top off your batteries and not good for the engine to do so.

I'd recommend you read the primer on solar power on boats that I wrote a while back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaFever2000 View Post
As has been suggested, the first you check is if you have enough voltage to crank the engine. Say 13+volts...

If the voltage is there and it seems to you that the starter is trying to turn the motor but is failing to do so, you may want to use the de-compression technique - If your engine has decompression levers, switch them both to de-compress position. That may allow the starter to turn the motor with its partial juice. Once the motor is turning, switch the de-compression levers one by one. Once you switch one the engine will start as the compression occurs (it may be rocky) and once it starts then you add the second cylinder. This technique was sometimes used in situations like these. Of course this can be done only if you have de-compression levers.

However, if you have good voltage and still the starter does not crank (you check wiring is all ok but you get nothing), you may want to check the fuse that is there on some diesels inline with the connection from the start switch (push button switch) to the starter solenoid. In some boats this fuse (usually 20A) is located in a very inconspicuous place. I have advised people to lengthen the wires and move the fuse to a more accessible and visible place.

Just some thoughts.
I'd point out that a fully charged 12 VDC system isn't going to give you 13+ volts. Fully charged, you're generally looking at 12.7 VDC or so.
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Old 05-13-2010
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I had a problem like this with my 1970 Chevy truck once, and it turned out to be a two bad wires to the starter.
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Old 05-13-2010
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12.5 volts should be plenty for an engine start. A fully charger battery is about 12.9 volts - unless on a shore charger. And a voltage check at the starter won't really prove much either. If there is a bad ground there could be good voltage at the starter but when you turn the key the current can't flow. Check all connections between the battery and starter, take apart and clean, and then try again.
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Old 05-13-2010
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There is a fuse in the wire between the start button/switch and the starter solenoid. With no sound as you described, either the fuse holder disintegrated, one or both ends are corroded or the fuse blew. Bring a new fuse holder down with you next time, find it and replace it.

How long to run? You need to know about your energy budget (what comes out) and how large your alternator is, and then do the math.

Energy budget forms are available here: Energy Budget West Marine used to have one on their DIY page, but I just checked and it disappeared! Dratz, they used to be good...
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