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Old 04-09-2013
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Key switch gremlin??

I have an Endeavour 32 with a 27 Westerbeke. I think the key switch is 3 position Off-On-Start. The on position seems to work fine--the warning buzzer sounds--and the fuel pump runs. The problem seems to be with the start position, sometimes I have to turn the key from start to off and back to start several times before the starter will engage. Where should I look first to correct this problem? The switch, the wiring, the starter? I hate electrical gremlins!

Last edited by algee; 04-09-2013 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 04-09-2013
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Key Switch Gremlin

I have an Endeavour 32 wirh a Westerbeke 27. The key switch is a three position--Off-On-Start. The on position seems to work fine, the warning buzzer sounds and the fuel pump runs, The problem is the start position. Sometimes I have turn the key from start to off and back to start several times before the starter will engage. Where do you think I should look first to correct this problem-- the switch, the wiring, or the starter? I hate electrical gremlins!!

Last edited by algee; 04-09-2013 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 04-09-2013
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Re: Ket Switch Gremlin

Start with the most simple-to-correct problems first and work your way toward the hardest. I'd start with shooting some spray lube into the ignition switch and checking the contacts at the switch and the starter.
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Old 04-09-2013
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Re: Ket Switch Gremlin

Access the back of the switch for the actual contacts. Jump it with a jumper wire. If the starter spins up just fine with the jumper, you know the switch is bad. If the starter doesn't spin up even when you jump the switch or power it directly, you know it is the starter.
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Old 04-09-2013
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Re: Key switch gremlin??

Personally, I'd try the switch first if you can get it out, or get to the back of it, easily.

First, check that the wires are properly attached to the switch. If they look corroded, or if only one strand of wire is holding everything together, that's likely to be your culprit.

If the wires are properly attached, take a multimeter and put it on the diode test setting so you can hear the beep, or, if it doesn't have one, put it on the resistor test setting. You'll probably see three pins on the back of the switch. In the "off" setting, you should see an open circuit (i.e., very high impedence/high ohm value, to the point were most DMM's probably won't show a number) regardless of which combination of pins you try to read. In the "on" setting, you'll see an open circuit on the pin for the starter, but a closed circuit (i.e., close to 0 ohms) for the rest of the equipment that's tied to the "on" position. Turning to start will probably give you an closed circuit on both pins.

If the switch works reliably, then you know the problem is either the wiring on the starter end, or the starter itself. Check the wiring on the starter to ensure that it isn't corroded, and that you have good contact with the starter, and that the starter is properly grounded.

If the starter's wiring looks OK, then the problem is probably with the starter itself, and its time to have it rebuilt. I had mine rebuilt recently for just over $100, just to give you an idea of what that might cost.
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Old 04-09-2013
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Re: Key switch gremlin??

By the way, when you turn the switch to start, do you hear the starter motor turning? If so, then the switch is probably working properly, and you can skip ahead to having the starter rebuilt because something isn't allowing the solenoid to work properly.

See Chuck, I did pay attention!
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Old 04-09-2013
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Re: Key switch gremlin??

Jim,
Of course you did.

Algee - it's the switch (loose) or the starter positive/neg wire is loose. Even if they look good strip 'em back to bare shinny wire and reconnect.
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Re: Key switch gremlin??

If the wire was not tinned, and plain copper has punked out and gone green or black...I wouldn't even bother stripping it back, I'd just buy some new proper tinned marine wire and replace it.
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Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Key switch gremlin??

As side note to the commentaries on defective contacts and corroded wire:

The common Off-On (or Run)-(sometimes Heat)-Start switch on most boat/tractor engines relies on a coil spring inside the barrel of the switch assembly to push the switch back to the Run position when the pressure on the key is released. With this "return" action, the power to the starter solenoid is cut and the starter disengaged from the flywheel. If the starter remains engaged after the engine starts because power to the solenoid is not cut off, it's drive motor is transformed from a motor to a generator, pumping amps back into the electrical system which can quickly destroy wiring harnesses and batteries (BTDT).

Most "ignition" switches are sufficiently exposed that they are subject to moisture penetration in almost all cases. That can, of course, lead to corrosion of the switch barrel and enclosed spring. As a matter of routine, it is wise to occasionally inject a squirt of WD-40 into the key slot to displace moisture and wash out rust debris that could develop to prevent any issues with the switch.

When we first got our boat the switch failed in the foregoing manner the very first time we started the engine, causing rather extensive damage and destroying four very costly batteries before we were able to shut it down manually (which was necessary because the sudden power surge had fried the shut-off solenoid circuit).

FWIW...
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Old 04-12-2013
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Re: Key switch gremlin??

In addition, you could also build a Sunbrella cover over your cockpit panel to protect the key switch, even if you do have a plastic cover there.
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