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post #1 of 9 Old 07-13-2015 Thread Starter
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Fuel flow question Universal diesel

I got my 1981 Tartan 33 a few months ago, just motored (a little sailing) 110 miles down the ICW with no issues. After sitting for a month (has sat for a month at a time before, no problem) and adding about 10 gals of highway diesel to the tanks, the engine now won't run.

It initially started and ran for a few seconds, then won't run. Here are a few things that make me think it's fuel flow:

- If I pump/prime with the throttle several times (10-15), the engine will run for a few seconds, then stall out.

- Typically when starting my engine, I have the throttle just slightly up and it starts. Now, it doesn't get close to sounding like starting, but with throttle on max, it sounds closer to getting up to starting speed.

- Doesn't seem like it would be a glow plug issue since it will start and run for a bit.

So, I have replaced the fuel filter. Let me say again, diesel engines are new to me (or I'm new to them). I'm guessing either fuel pump, or perhaps a short in the wiring that powers the pump?

So, questions

- are there any other tests I can perform to isolate the problem?

- priming? I called a diesel marine shop and they said it may just need primed after sitting (I should add that temps here in NC have been in the 90's with higher humidity, whereas when I've let it set before, much cooler and less humid - don't know how that would influence the system). But, if I can get it to run briefly, doesn't seem to me like it would be a priming issue, more of a flow issue.

- Is there a pump/lift inside the fuel tank, or just on the outside? (attached pic)

- Are there any other factors I should be considering?

If you've made it through, thanks for your time! And, thanks in advance for your expertise.

Randy
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-13-2015
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Re: Fuel flow question Universal diesel

New fuel filter was a good idea. Sounds like you just got air in the system now. Just do a google search on how to bled a diesel engine and I'll bet you'll be on your way.

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Re: Fuel flow question Universal diesel

Thanks, I'll look that up! I didn't change the filter until after the problem happened - so would air in the system be just from sitting, as it wouldn't have been from changing the filter since it occurred before? Thanks.
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Re: Fuel flow question Universal diesel

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Originally Posted by Silverton10 View Post
Thanks, I'll look that up! I didn't change the filter until after the problem happened - so would air in the system be just from sitting, as it wouldn't have been from changing the filter since it occurred before? Thanks.
Yea it's possible to get air from sitting or it could have been clogged. It definitely needs to be bled good since its been changed. Those old diesels are tough and it was running good when you left it. Most likely something simple like air in the lines.

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Re: Fuel flow question Universal diesel

Two questions, do you have a water separator? And did you pre fill your fuel filter before installing?

To purge your fuel line start from the fuel tank and follow the fuel lines all the way to the injector heads. Some fuel systems have a fuel separator/ RACOR filter before the fuel pump and filter. Anyway make sure that you pre fill your fuel filter with clean diesel and install. Then open the bleed screw/ nut that is usually located just above the filter assembly. Make sure your compression lever is in the "Off" position. Then have someone crank the starter from the cockpit - or have someone turn the flywheel until diesel squirts out of the bleed screw. Tighten the bleed screw. Wipe up the mess and move along the lines to the injector heads. Open the bleed screw at the injector head and again crank the engine. Again there should be a squirt of fuel coming out the bleed screw. Tighten. DO NOT OPEN THE INJECTOR LINE NUTS- they should only be tampered with by an experienced mechanic.

Re engage your compression handle, glow your engine, and fire it up. The air should be purged out and your engine running back to normal.

Hope that helps- good luck sir and happy boating.
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Re: Fuel flow question Universal diesel

yes,it can get air in the system from sitting. the injectors will leak a little fuel and then air gets in the hot summer makes the air and fuel expand and the injector squirts out fuel. then it cools at night and sucks in more air. and so on. if it starts and then stops you most likely have air.
Looks like you have an electric lift pump. turn it on and bleed the system at the injection timing pump. then turn over engine and if it does not start you can bleed the injectors by cracking the line nut at the injector loose until you see fuel.

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Re: Fuel flow question Universal diesel

Thanks, all, for the input. I don't know where to find the like/thanks buttons with the new format, but thanks! Looking forward to learning more about the engine and fuel system as I try these out.
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Re: Fuel flow question Universal diesel

OK, I'm no mechanic, but here's what happened with my Universal this summer. After changing my fuel filter, the engine ran fine a couple times I started it up. Then I started having problems getting it to run and keep running. after playing with it, I thought my electric fuel pump was going bad as it was doing a lot of chattering as opposed to the usual tic, tic, tic.
I bought a new fuel pump and had the same chattering.

I started thinking about my problems. Since my engine has a return fuel line going back to the tank, I turned the key on which kicks in the fuel pump. After letting the pump run for a few minutes, the chattering started to slow down to tic, tic, tic. Apparently, air was in the line and just letting the pump run by itself, cleared it out. I hit the start button. the engine was a little rough for maybe 5 seconds and then settled in running as good as ever.

So, if you have an electric pump and a return fuel line, just try turning on your pump for a few minutes and see what happens.
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-14-2015
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Re: Fuel flow question Universal diesel

Universal made a LOT of diesel engines. Would you mind being more specific?

If it's an M25, here's how to bleed it:

Bleeding 101 Bleeding M25 Series Engines 101- A Summary of Links for You

Stu Jackson, Catalina 34, 1986, M25 engine, Rocna 10 (22#), Maple Bay, BC, Canada
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