Bad Starter? Ignition Switch? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 07-23-2007
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Bad Starter? Ignition Switch?

Often after spending the day sailing, my Universal 5416 will not turn over when it is time to head back to the dock. I press the start button several times and it does not turn over. Each time I clean the connection at the battery terminal and it starts right up. The last couple times, the connection looked perfect - cable clamped tightly with a thick coat of non-conductive grease on top. In spite of this, I removed, cleaned, reattached and the boat started right up.

Sunday, the same thing happened. I was ready to clean the battery terminal again but, I put the key back into the switch, turned to the "on" position, pressed the start and glow plug button, and it started right up. This problem has never occurred at the dock but often after sailing. I don't think this is the connection at the battery terminal anymore. Somehow removing and re-inserting the key fixed it. What do you think is going on?
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Old 07-23-2007
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I am not a mechanical genius and can be way off base. . . but you may have a short in the starter cellanoid. Turning off the key and disconnecting the terminals both would break the electrical connections and then allow it to work , as has been happening. if I'm on track an OHM meter to the starter wires may show a load after you're sailing and have run the engine. I would also expect to not hear the cellanoid click.
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Old 07-23-2007
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Be sure to check that connection with a VOM set to VOLTS & not OHMS! Voltage running through an ohm meter will likely kill it. Your solenoid/relay switch to the starter should only show 12v to the small terminal when you turn the key and if it doesn't, your solenoid could be bad. If you place an insulated screw driver between the large terminals of the solenoid, you can bypass it to start your engine, but be prepared for a fat spark when you make the connection.
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Old 07-23-2007
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Arch- It could be the starter solenoid as suggested above, or it could be your switch. Check your switch with a voltmeter, if you ALWAYS get voltage to the start terminal when you turn the switch it's OK, then check all connections to the starter, and also check the negative terminal on your battery and ground from the engine. The more I think about it, clean the negative terminal on the battery, even if it looks good, make sure it is shiny clean. If it still does not start I'd suspect the solenoid or the windings in the starter are going bad.
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Old 07-23-2007
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It's most probably caused by a drop in voltage due either to a long wire run or corrosion, or both. Not enough juice is getting to the solenoid. Having had three Yanmar engines I'm very familiar with this problem as it's endemic with Yanmars. It also happens with Universals and some Westerbekes. You can either install a relay or increase the wire size. The reason it doesn't occur on the dock is that the voltage is right up as you have or have had the charger on. If you need more info I can email you my file with all the details on how to fix it. There's usually nothing wrong with the switch, starter, or solenoid. It's the wiring!
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Last edited by Vasco; 07-23-2007 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 07-23-2007
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Thanks everyone for your replies. I think that Vasco is on the money. I found a service bulletin from Universal regarding this issue. I am going start with replacing the wire from the start button to the "S" terminal on the starter solenoid with #10 AWG.
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Old 07-23-2007
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Vasco -

I'd love to get your file on the topic. I have a Yanmar 3GM30F which causes the admiral a lot of concern when it doesn't fire off the first 2-3 times the starter switch is depressed after a wonderful day of sailing. Please forward it to dkrunnfusz@gmail.com.
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Old 07-23-2007
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I would agree with Vasco. Its the same problem I have on My CS34. The run that was the original design was too long, going from the switch to the starter to the battery back to the switch...or some odd combo. Most owners put a relay and upped the wire gauge.
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Old 07-23-2007
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SanderO is an unknown quantity at this point
The connections for any wire has two ppoints. Did you check both ends of ALL leads on the starter circuit? Even if ONE side is clean as a whistle, the other might be corroded and a disaster.

You should hear the solonid click if it is receiving current even if the starter is not working for any reason... The starter motor might have a "dead spot" so it appears to work intermmitantly.

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Old 07-23-2007
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I doubt very much that it is because of voltage drop due to a long wire run. What you have been doing to get the starter to kick in would not rectify a wire that's too long. It sounds to me like you have a bad connection somewhere. Intermittent problems are the hardest to solve because you are often not sure you have found the problem.
There are four electrical connections on the selenoid. Make sure they are all clean and tight. Make sure the other ends of these wires are clean and tight. Check the start switch to make sure it's providing power in the "on" position.
My guess is that the wire from the battery to the selenoid is loose at the selenoid and the key thing was just a fluke.
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