Fuel starvation cause? - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 05-16-2009
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Fuel starvation cause?

I've got a 1993 Universal M4-30, 25hp in my 1972 Hughes/Northstar 38. A few years back I replaced the fuel 'lift pump' assuming it was the cause of intermittent engine failures after long running.

The failures continued. So I rewired the circuit, replaced all the lines, changed all the filters and had the tank professionally cleaned. I even installed an in-line squeeze ball as a work-around so if I get in a pinch I can keep the engine running. A few squeezes and I can keep the engine from slowing running down to a stall. In fact, a few sqeezes returns the engine to normal operation for about 5 minutes...then it's back to squeezing.

Last night on my shakedown cruise it happened again, after about 4 hours of operation. I tried openning the fuel tank cap thinking it was possibly a clogged breather that might be creating a vacuum - no luck. It was back to squeeze-ball life-support. The next day, today, the boat ran fine on a 3 hour motor sail. But I am near certain it will happen again.

Before I go and do exploratory surgery on the pump, or ultimately throw it away and buy a second replacement, can anyone else think of anything it may be?
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Old 05-16-2009
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Even though you have had the tank professionally cleaned, if the fuel pick-up tube was not removed it may have a mesh filter fitted to the end, remove it, they can be a cause this, better to let the primary filter catch any particulates. Also check the breather/overflow line for blockage, mud daubers or other insects find them ideal places to live.

Finally, most on-engine mechanical fuel pumps on small diesels (engines originally used for small tractors with above engine fuel tanks and marinized for marine use) are only good at 'lifting fuel' over 10" or 12" or so, if your fuel tank is well below the engine I would recommend supplementing the on-engine mechanical pump with a low pressure electric pump.
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Old 05-17-2009
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It seems you have eliminated most everything.

After the engine quits after the long run and you pump for the 5 min run is that all you get over and over, just 5 min at a time? Does everything reset after the engine sets and cools over night.

I would take a close look at any rubber hose on the suction side of the lift pump for air leaks and loose fitting. Maybe a hose was removed from a fitting by cutting and left a small leak. Maybe a loose clamp.

I would be looking for something that might change position or size from the heat or viberation of an engine running for 4 hours.
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Old 05-18-2009
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Thank you both. I'll let you know what I find.
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Old 05-18-2009
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After cleaning my tank I replaced tyhe access panel by using a thin bead of silicone. The panel screwspicked up the silicone creating a tiny pin hole sized ball which b ecame lodged in the fuel petcock.Under heavy load the ball would get sucked up and block the fuel line causing the engine to return to idle thereby eliminating the problem . Of course the next time it was under load itwould happen again. It's a longshot but disassemble the fuel petcock and check it out
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Old 05-20-2009
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I wouldn't assume the problem is only on the delivery side even if you pumping makes a temporary difference. I would install a fuel pressure gauge. That will tell you if it is fuel delivery or in the injector pump. You can buy a cheap fuel pressure gauge for around twenty dollars.
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Old 05-20-2009
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Good point Careless....although I suppose I could just pull the output side line off the pump when it's happening and see what gives. Thank you for the beneficial outside look - too often you stare at the wall so close you can't tell there's a mural on it.
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