Universal 5411 diesel RPM issues - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 09-03-2013
LJP LJP is offline
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Universal 5411 diesel RPM issues

My 1983 universal M15 diesel acts up every once in a while. Just brought a 27 Catalina, know how to sail but Diesel engines are new to me. She seems to run fine most of the time. I use the engine for about 15 minutes to reach open water and return back to the dock on a lake. Out of the 20 times she has ran she runs fine. But about 4 times she starts fine for about couple of minutes then seems to lower the RPMs. Than revs back up than down almost stalling, but never stalls. Revs back up & down. We reach our destination ok but worry she'll cut out totally. We maybe on our way out, put up the sails, sail for a couple of hours, head back to the marina and the engine works fine. After it happened the first couple of times I completed a much needed oil change thinking that could be the issue. The engine sounded and ran much better after the new oil and filter. I've ran the engine three times since the oil change and it happened again on the way into the cove. The fuel tank had about 3 gallons when I bought her. I put another 5 gallons of diesel. (Not sure how old the deisel was that was in the tank. Am thinking the previous owner may have put in fuel for our suvery, as the boat was not run and on the hard since last fall.)Thinking I would use that much fuel before the season here I Maine ends. The engine does not have a water separator yet. It was on the suvery to install one. A winter or spring project. Any suggestions you can offer would be appreciated. Thank you
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Old 09-28-2013
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Re: Universal 5411 diesel RPM issues

Sounds like it could be sludge in the fuel. You don't mention replacing the fuel filter. Diesels are insanely simple devices, and if you're getting air the other component is fuel, and what you describe sounds like starvation. Check the old filter for clues as to what's being caught: Grit? Rust? Slime? This could lead to you deciding to have the tank cleaned out.
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Old 09-28-2013
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Re: Universal 5411 diesel RPM issues

I'd change your fuel filters first; cheapest and easiest thing to do. Check the fuel/water separator filter for water; you might have some water in the tank.
Then I'd put some more fuel in the tank (fill half way or more) to dilute that old fuel, but draining the tank first would be a better solution if at all possible. At least you don't have a 170 gallon tank.
Star Tron products have been a god send for us with a 30 year old tank. Use a fuel treatment product.
Check that the tank vent is not blocked.
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Old 09-29-2013
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Re: Universal 5411 diesel RPM issues

Is this happening at idle or when under load? Not quite clear. Does sound like a fuel issue. I'd try the filter change and fuel additive as suggested and see how it goes. If it was air and the engine fuel system needed bleeding is probably wouldn't start and run well most of the time. Might be worth doing it just to be sure however.
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Old 10-09-2013
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Re: Universal 5411 diesel RPM issues

I have a 25 HP Universal Diesel and having similar issues with lose of power after engine runs a while. I can start out motoring at 2500 RPM's and after about 10 minutes it drops to 2200 RPM's losing speed. I changed the fuel filter and bled the lines, added 10 gallons of fuel with proper additive and it still seams to be losing power when engine warms up.
Any other suggestions?
Thanks in advance
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Old 10-09-2013
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Re: Universal 5411 diesel RPM issues

Seafoam is a good tonic for older diesels. In the fuel and crankcase.
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Old 10-17-2013
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Re: Universal 5411 diesel RPM issues

In addition to checking the fuel filter, I would also look @ the air filter. But it sure does sound sound like a fuel issue.

Good luck keep us updated.
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