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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 09-09-2006
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Diesel Engine Problem

On my first day of solo sailing (would it happen any other way?), as I'm backing out of the slip, once I place the diesel engine in reverse, she dies on me. I tried a couple of times, and no avail. I then attempted in forward, again she dies. I never had a problem prior to this instance.

I waiting about 15 minutes (engine off), tried again and she ran fine.

Any ideas of what caused this?

Thanks!
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Old 09-09-2006
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You can always go back to the age old rules about diesels. There are 3 things that will make a diesel die. Fuel, Fuel and Fuel.

I would look at the fuel.
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Old 09-10-2006
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is there anything fouling the prop or the prop shaft? IE: can you turn the shaft by hand (with the engine shut off and out of gear)
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Old 09-10-2006
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Assuming your fuel system is good, filter clean etc, the one other thing that stops a diesel running is air in the fuel line. You may need to bleed air from the system.
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Old 09-11-2006
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A line wrapped around the prop could do this although usually in only one direction.
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Old 09-12-2006
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As this only happened when he put it in gear it doesn't sound like a motor problem. The chance that fuel problems would only occur when put into gear are very remote. Something around the prop or drive shaft sounds far more likely. As pigslo said a line would usually do this in one direction which may account for why it didn't occur when he tried it the third time - he unwrapped it when he put it in forward. The other problem that might cause this is a transmission problem.
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Old 09-13-2006
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Does the fuel have a history of being treated with a biocide for black algae? If not, the algae can clog the pick up line in the fuel tank. The vacuum on the diesel engine is very powerful and if it's not getting fuel due to a clog it can suck in air through a loose fitting. When an air pocket hits the injectors the engine dies. If you bleed the diesel when it dies, foamy fuel means it has air in the fuel. If it hasn't been treated with a biocide, it's a good time to start. FPPF makes a good product and I think Starbrite makes one, too.

Also condensation or water in the fuel due to a leaking deck fill can kill the engine. Check the o'ring on the deck fill to make sure it's there and not cracked and damaged from spilled diesel. What does the exhaust look like? Theoretically diesel exhaust is clear. A white exhaust can indicate moisture in the fuel.

Just a couple thoughts from personal experience. I believe that to be a good sailor in the 21st century you have to be a good mechanic. Good luck!
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