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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 10-14-2009
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Volvo MD 11C hard to start

I have a 1981 Volvo MD 11C on a Contest sailboat I recently purchased. The diesel always started right up the several times I went to look at the boat.

After the purchase, I had trouble starting the diesel. The owner told me he used starting fluid. After the engine warms, it is fine and is easily restarted several hours later.

Is there an aftermarket warmer that I can connect to the engine. Any other ideas besides starting fluid (I have read this is bad for diesel engines).

Thanks
george
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Old 10-14-2009
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I've seen magnetic block warmers that you plug in to 110 volts to keep your motor warm real cold climates. Something like that might treat the symptom while you're plugged into shore power, but that motor really should start without starting fluid.
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Old 10-15-2009
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Starting issues

I assume this model does not use glow plugs. If it does then that is where I would look first.

Using starting fluid is bad long term as it contains ether (I think that is what is used) which washes the cylinder and is not good as you can imagine.

Most likely the cause of your problem is low compression which can be tested with a compression tester. My very old Volvo circa 1957 had similar problems and new rings helped but not for long.....it eventually seized on me......not as a result of low compression though.

In any event...low compression is either due to worn rings and cylinder bore or hopefully seized rings (compression rings).

Whilst warmers etc will sort out your starting problem it does not solve the running problem. Low compression mean power loss and long term that is not good for the engine as it making it work too hard....run hotter....and consequently shorten its life.

Regards

Alan
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Hello,

There are dipstick heaters that you can buy and install. I don't know if they run on 12VDC or 110VAC. You can also try using a hair dryer or heat gun to warm the intake manifold and engine block. Maybe a small propane heater in the engine compartment for 15 minutes before you try and start the engine?

IMHO using a quick shot of starting fluid to get the engine running is better than cranking it and cranking it for over a minute to get it going

Barry


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Old 10-15-2009
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the starter has to crank the engine fast enough to start. if it is slow and the batteries are up , check for voltage drop at the starter when cranking. that could be corroded connections. if the voltage is OK the starter could be the problem. if the engine is cranking OK it could be bad fuel that will not fire easily. if is a compression problem you do not have to use ether. a propane torch heating the air intake will assist the heat of compression enough so the engine will start without the damage that ether can cause. i am assuming you do not have glow plugs in this engine.
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Thank you for the responses. Unfortunately, the MD 11C does not use glow plugs. a mechanic will be out next week ($90/hr) to check the compression and valves.
The engine turns over quickly as I recently had to buy new batteries. I just filled the tank with new diesel. I will try the hair dryer idea.

thanks,
george
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Are you sure that you don't have a simple fuel leak? It sounds to me like the engine is loosing prime. Is the fuel tank higher or lower than the engine? If it is lower, any small air leak in the fuel system will cause the problem that you describe. If you fuel hoses are old, they could well be cracked but it will most likely not be visible. I am not familiar with your specific engine but there are probably things on it that could cause air leaks in the fuel systems as well.

The reason that I suggest looking at an airleak first is that the engine cranks for a long time(priming) when it has been sitting for a long time. You mention that if it sits for several hours it starts right back up and it should be cold by then. A slow airleak will take longer for it to turn into a hard start condition. One way to test this would be to run the fuel pump for a little bit if it is possible before starting the engine and seeing whether it starts any better.

Regarding ways to heat an engine, a marine diesel engine simply should not need it unless it is operating in the winter. Diesel engines should have no problem starting at typical down-below temps unless there is something seriously wrong.

If you need to use ether to start an engine, try wd-40. It works pretty well on engines and is not as bad(it isn't quite as explosive).
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Smile MD-11C Hard to Start cold

George,

Sorry I didn't see this post sooner. I have this engine and just in case you don't happen to know it has a cold start button near the fuel pump on the rear of the engine. You have to turn the engine over a few times, have the throttle 1/4 on and then push down on the spring loaded cold start button and it will engage and remain depressed until the engine starts. It is helpfull if you have two people, on on the key switch and one on the cold start button. There are no connects to this cold start feature at engine controls or anything to engage it. Mine has never liked starting cold either but with the cold start button it will. I have had mine since 1979 and worked on it myself for years. If you need more help post another message with MD-11C and I will get google alert. They won't let me post my home email due to not enough posts.

Carole
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We have a cold start lever that greaatly improves cold starting. It adds more fuel. We had a hard time starting until someone told me about the lever that the PO failed to mention.
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Thanks much for the recent info on the cold start button. I have a 1981 Contest 31 with a Volvo MD 11C. It has a strangler lever on the right side of the cockpit and another lever on the left hand side that is non-functional as far as I can tell. I had heard there may be a cold start button between the injectors but I could not find it. I will look near the fuel pump when I go down on Wednesday.

George
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