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welshwind 06-16-2008 10:48 AM

3GM: Engaging the starter idiosycrasies
I have a 3GM with the following starting issue. Sometimes, when I press the starting button, I get absolutely nothing. I'll press it again a few times and then it fires off just fine.

The starter was replaced last year (because it seized up). I was experiencing the problem before the starter was replaced and I continue to experience it now. It is NOT every time. It seems to happen more when we have been sailing and I'm trying to start the engine to come into the marina then when I am at the dock starting the engine to go sailing. This, of course, is becoming somewhat disconcerting to the admiral (and, admittedly, is making me a bit nervous as well).

Thoughts/suggestions? Thanks in advance.

Vasco 06-16-2008 10:55 AM

Typical Yanmar starting problems. usually the result of wiring problems. Below is what I've accumulated over the years on this problem. Have had 2 3GM30's and one 4JH3E. Forget where I got all this from so please forgive the lack of attribution.

Don't swap starters. It's not the problem.
Sitting next to the starter are two molded connectors. The larger one has two larger pins in it. Spread the pins back apart. There is a similar connector about a foot off of the panel. Do the same there.
This is a normal problem with the older Yanmar panels and harnesses.
Pat McCartin

PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2005 7:41 pm Post subject: hard starting Reply with quote
The problem with aging Yanmars not engaging the starter is the wiring. Adding a relay to the starter solves the problem. You can use a continuous duty marine solenoid from West Marine or pick one up at NAPA for the purpose.

The solenoid should have four posts, two high amp, two low amp. On the low amp circuit, connect the starter key wire to one post, and ground the second post. Enaging the key will trip this circuit. On the high amp side, connect a #8 guage wire from the solenoid to the battey/alternator post on the starter motor. Then from the second high amp post run a #8 guage wire back to the post on the starter where the wire from the key originally came from.

Engaging the key will trip the low amp circuit which in turm engages the high amp connection which gives you a very healthy current to the starter solenoid.

Another thing you can do is add a remote start switch (for example near the engine) by connecting a second switch (make sure it is fused) beyween the battery side of the high amp circuit on the solenoid and the key side of the low amp circuit.
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 12:05 pm Post subject: starter problem Reply with quote
I had the same problem--each time I heard a click from the starter, but it wouldn't start turning the motor. I had to hit the start button multiple times, and eventually it would start. Last year I bought a new starter and replaced it, but still had the same problem. Then I read some of the other posts that mentioned that the wires were not sufficiently thick to handle the current from the switch to the solenoid, and they recommended putting in a second solenoid. I found it hard to believe that this would work because the wire seems to be around 12 gauge already which you would think is sufficient, but I figured I'd try it and I purchased a solenoid model COLE HERSEE 24117-01-BP 201337 from west marine, and installed it yesterday. I used thick cables 4 gauge from the battery switch to the solenoid, and 10 gauge from the solenoid to the starter (although you may want to go to 4 gauge for both). Then tested it 4 times-- each time the engine started on the first try. So this fixed my problem.
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Sorry to continue this thread on the Yanmar starting problem, but I'm 12 volt challenged as well, and a bit confused on how to rewire the problem away.

My 1988 IP31 has the 3GM30F engine, and I've had this oft-described starting problem for most of this boats life. I'm in agreement that the under spec'd wiring harness is the problem, and I would throw in the cheap 30 amp fuse holder, that appears to be 16 gauge wire between the 10 or 12 gauge wiring running from the key switch to the starter solenoid. I bought the Cole Hersee #24117 solenoid, and after tracing my wiring from starter button, key switch, alternator and starter solenoid, and then reviewing the wiring setup from "dgrosz" (4/23/05), and "mjs2" (5/26/05), I'm still confused.

"mjs2" is running a wire from the "battery switch" (?) to the solenoid. I assume he meant the starter key switch. "dgrosz" describes grounding the CH solenoid on one low post, then connect the other low post to the starter key (assume at the red wire post). Then from the CH high post, run a wire to the starter solenoid post where the current red fused wire and battery cable terminal are attached. That would replace the red wire running up to the starter solenoid, via the questionable wiring harness and fuse connector. He then connects the other high post on the CH solenoid to the alternator battery ("BAT") terminal. I see were this takes the red wire and its fuse from the wiring harness out of the mix. I also assume that the existing starter solenoid mounted on the starter stays in place. Neither really states that. I assume the CH solenoid and heavier wire (I'll use 8 gauge) is doing nothing more than to get away from the wiring harness (at least the red wire key-to-starter solenoid part of it). If I'm correct up to this point, it would appear to me that I need to remove the red wire running from the alternator/BAT terminal to the battery power terminal on the existing starter solenoid. Do I have this right ? Are there different wiring harnesses by boat manufacturer ? (Note, a 1987 Cal 33 in my boat yard has same engine and wiring harness, and the same problem) If I'm wrong, can someone describe the setup simply for a boat with the Yanmar panel with a starter button and key switch ? Up here in RI, I will not be firing up the engine for another couple of weeks, and would like to avoid blowing out something.

Starter switch wiring...

This seems to be a common problem on Yanmars. I have it from time-to-time on my 4 cylinder 4JH-TE. I have done a whole bunch of research on it, and the general consensus is that the problem is caused by the wiring to the starter solenoid.
Yanmar starter solenoids have two windings, a high current coil that pulls the solenoid in (and then is turned off), and a lower current "holding" coil that holds the plunger in place. The result is a brief high current spike that happens as you push the starter button.
If the wiring to the starter button is too long, too smaller gage, or the starter switch has developed some contact resistance, the added resistance will not allow sufficient current through the solenoid to pull-in adequately during the initial current spike (Ohm's Law).
The general consensus (which I have not yet adopted) is to install an automotive type relay close to the engine, and use heavier gage wire from the battery, through the relay contacts, to the starter solenoid. In other words, the starter switch merely closes the relay, which then supplies the initial current surge through a low resistance path.
Whether this is your problem I can't say, but there are numerous threads around on various forums that indicate that this is the fix.

It's on my "to-do" list...

For the last few years I have had an intermittent starting problem. The boat would start every time while at the dock, while hooked into shore power. However, when out on the water for an hour or so, the boat may start or may not. I would then shut down all instruments, fridge, cabin lights or anything else that was ?on?. After a few minutes the boat might start or might not start. I started keeping track of temperature, humidity, length of time off the dock, etc. ? I couldn?t find a pattern. It was very frustrating; a few times I would have to wait 15 minutes before it would start.

I had the same problem this weekend in Raritan Bay, filled to the gills with fishing boats and then the wind died off, the perfect time to start the engine and dodge the always moving fishing boats. When I pushed the start button ? nothing! I had even removed the power for the fans and dash ? figuring I would get more power to the starter solenoid?still nothing. I was done; it had to be fixed ASAP.

I read several dozen articles regarding this problem, some of which suggested grinding down the pins on the starter and starter solenoid. Others, suggested it was due to corrosion on the wires in the starting loop, key switch, momentary on (push button) and the wire leading to the starter solenoid. I found no corrosion and replaced both the key start and push button ? no success, I still had starting problems. There were still more articles blaming the problem on the batteries - new AGM batteries installed and I still have the problem....

The solution: replace the 12 awg wire with a 10 awg wire from the key switch to the push button and replace the second 12 awg from push button to the starter solenoid. It was real easy and once you have all the necessary replacement parts, it takes about 15 minutes to fix.

From the key switch there is a 10 awg wire coming in, on the other terminal there are three wires, a solid red, red with black stripe and white. The red with black stripe and solid red are for powering the fans and dash (alarm, lights and gauges). The white runs to the momentary on with another white 12 awg wire, from the second terminal, running to the starter solenoid. The first step was to fish, using an electricians ?fish tape?, the wire through the console to the aft section of the boat. After fishing the wire thru, the connections were simple, 4 10-12 awg connectors with 8 awg rings.

I left the boat on for about an hour, with everything ?on? (water pumps, anchor lights, all cabin lights, radio?s, hot water heater, autopilot, etc). The boat started three times with ease. The true test will come later this week when I am out for a two hour sail and she either starts or doesn?t on the first try!

GM Starting Problems QED

As I had documented in an earlier post, I had intermittent starting problems, when you hit the push button to start the engine, nothing would happen. The solution was to replace the 12AWG wires from the key switch to the push button and from the push button to the starter solenoid with 10AWG wires.

I had the boat out recently and the problem seems to be resolved. I actually started the boat several times during a recent cruise. It’s really nice to know that you engine is there right when you need it.

Chris - the 8AWG ring connector is a size measurement – you have a 10AWG wire connection with an 8AWG ring connector, if the ring connector is to big you won’t get “full” contact on the keyed and push button wire posts.

welshwind 06-16-2008 11:47 AM

Vasco -

Thanks for the quick reply and all the information. Did you actually employ one of these suggestions to fix an issue you had or were you just collecting 'in case'.

Thanks again.

Vasco 06-16-2008 12:00 PM

Yes, the problem is especially vexing in the 3GM series. I now have a similar issue with the 4JH but Yanmar got smarter and put in a slave solenoid but my slave solenoid is now sticking! Will replace it in the fall when i go cruising.

hellosailor 06-16-2008 12:08 PM

Sounds like Yanmar copied the old Ford design: Solenoids that were coinsumable parts and needed replacement regularly. If you have an external solenoid, that's easy, you can jump it directly to test/eliminate it as the problem.

"Pushed the button, no click, no whir" usually means no power to the starter solenoid or the starter itself. Clicks mean the solenoid is working but the starter is either getting no power, or is frozen. (Or sometimes the solenoid throw-out is frozen in the starter, from road dirt and congealed grease--unlikely in a boat.)

If your starter solenoid is external, and located someplace where it gets heat-soaked, you might consider relocating it to a cooler location, or arranging some ventilation on it. It is easy to test a solenoid with a multimeter, you apply power to the relay terminals, and see if it clicks and conducts across the power terminals. No click? Replacement time.

FWIW, no-name parts and counterfeit parts are a problem worldwide with things like external solenoids.

welshwind 06-23-2008 10:40 AM

One other interesting point ... I'm curious from those more knowledgable than I regarding 12v electricity if this supports the 'diagnosis'.

When I tried to start on Battery 1 this weekend, nothing. Tried numerous time and nothing. The oil pressure alarm was bright and clear, but not a budge out of the starter. When I added Battery 2 to the mix, it fired right off.

Consistent with the 'voltage' theory?

hellosailor 06-23-2008 11:00 AM

Doesn't really tell you anything. Adding two batteries would mean there is more power (watts, not just volts) available to the starter. If something was stuck, more power could unstick it. Or, battery #1 might be low and battery #2 was simply enough to fire up a perfectly good starter. Or, an intermittent fault might have just co-incidentally been passed when you went to both batteries.

JimsCAL 06-23-2008 11:03 AM


Originally Posted by welshwind (Post 332371)
When I tried to start on Battery 1 this weekend, nothing. Tried numerous time and nothing. The oil pressure alarm was bright and clear, but not a budge out of the starter. When I added Battery 2 to the mix, it fired right off.

Sounds like a bad connection in the Battery 1 circuit. Try cleaning the battery terminals. If that doesn't fix things, try cleaning other connections like at the battery switch.

jr438234606 06-23-2008 11:06 AM

I had a similar problem once, and it turned out to be the starter switch. Inside the key mechanism, there was some corrosion. It caused a voltage drop to the solenoid, which then only partially deployed and caused a voltage drop to the starter. People often don't think the key switch could cause such a problem, but think about it: That switch is generally located in the cockpit and subject to salt spray. The other components are tucked away safe inside.

welshwind 07-07-2008 11:48 AM

An update -- After doing some additional investigation and cleaning of simple connections from starter button to starter, we got it to where it never failed on one battery but always failed on the other. So I decided to take the cables off the switch posts (one post at a time) and wire brush them. As I took off the cables from one of the posts of the switch in question (the one attached to the battery that won't start -- we did switch the battery cables and convinced ourselves both batteries were good), I noticed that the actual post was quite loose. I tightened up the post first, cleaned it, cleaned the cable connection, and then fastened them to the post. I also found the one of the ground post was slightly loose (not nearly as loose as the other). Anyway, with everything tight and cleaned, it starts on both batteries now. I'd love to say it fires right up, but you know is not like starting a gas car engine. I'm a bit leery about whether this truly has resolved the issue. However, I've tried several times over the weekend to reproduce it and haven't been able to so ... time will tell.

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