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post #21 of 35 Old 07-24-2019
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Re: Westerbeke diesel will not start

I see you checked a lot of the right things. something effecting all 4 cyl. Air, Fuel, valve timing, injector timing. check air inlet, 4 hour sail mixed the fuel and water really good, try new fuel. fires on alternate fuel likely not compression but easy to check. valve timing easy to check with a degree wheel, a little off and still should try to fire. injector timing easy to check but on that engine you need timing pin to set timing. blocked fuel return line it should fire but not run good. bad fuel solenoid or electrical problem some of those engines have one. exhaust elbow could be get water back in cyl but not likely all 4.
My bet is on fuel bad or not getting to cyl.
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post #22 of 35 Old 07-24-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Westerbeke diesel will not start

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Originally Posted by davidpm View Post
I'm sure you check it already but I searched your posts and did not see any mention of just taking out the air filter completely.

Also, I think it would be safe enough, please check though, to disconnect the engine from the muffler to make sure there is no backpressure.

Also, the injector elbow has been known to be tricky. I heard one story where the guy boiled his out, the engine would not start so he replaced it and it started. It was something about the inside was hard to see and it wasn't really clear inside even though he thought it was.

If the timing is off I would think the compression check would tell you that.

The last thing you want to hear about that dam shutoff lever. But humor me and disconnect it and the throttle cable.
It may look like it has full throw but who knows. I'm thinking that your test with the injector out of the engine spraying fuel probably tested that but maybe the spray pattern was a little weak and not visible, I'm just thinking out loud here.

The throttle also. The engine may need, at least after all this fooling around to have the throttle wide open to start.

I must be insane because I have seen things on the fifth try that I just didn't see before.

What I'm afraid of in this kind of situation is that I might find the original problem and fix it unknowingly but introduce another problem so I still can't get it to work.


If it ends up being something dumb please let us know anyway as we have all been there. We learn from others mistakes.
Thank you for your response. You have some good thoughts. The air intake is a box that bolts to the intake manifold. Two sides of the box have panels with a matrix of 1/8 inch holes, no filter elements. Nothing looked out of the ordinary or blocked in the box or in the intake manifold. The exhaust is a series of heavy wall galvanized pipe elbows that have a Ĺ inch pipe welded as a water injector at the first elbow. A simple an effective design that has no hot spots and lasts about 10 years. Removing the hose didnít show any abnormal carbon build up. The throttle and shut off controls are levers on the injector pump that go against mechanical stops on both ends of travel. I have verified they operate stop to stop and are in the right position while cranking. I have wrapped different fitting and placed paper towels around to find hard to detect high pressure leaking or spraying of fuel. I considered that the mechanical lift pump could be intermittent so I replaced it with a spare one. When that did not help I added an electric pump so the mechanical lift pump got plus 10 psi. fuel instead of having to suck the fuel and possibly some air. No leaks were detected and bleeding was certainly easier than with a manual lift pump alone. Unfortunately it had no effect on starting.
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post #23 of 35 Old 07-24-2019
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Re: Westerbeke diesel will not start

My money is on compression. One of your cylinders might be pitted or have a worn out ring and voila! No starty! Only one way to find out....
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Only low compression in a cylinder and the other cyl will try to start
It has some compression it fires alternate fuel

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post #25 of 35 Old 07-24-2019
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Re: Westerbeke diesel will not start

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Originally Posted by raksail View Post
The exhaust is a series of heavy wall galvanized pipe elbows that have a Ĺ inch pipe welded as a water injector at the first elbow. A simple effective design that has no hot spots and lasts about 10 years. Removing the hose didnít show any abnormal carbon build-up.
I can only imagine your frustration.
But imagine this, once you figure it out there is going to be a reason.
It has to be fuel, compression or air.
The only choice is to keep going over it and simplifying if possible until the problem is found.

To me removing the hose doesn't rule out a clog further down the pipe. You said there are multiple elbows, maybe the blockage is further down.

I know each of my ideas take a long frustrating session of knocking knuckles, so far with no good result. But how about one more.


Disconnect the fuel input line and run it into a clean diesel container.
Disconnect the exhaust from the back of the motor.
Turn off the intake water to save the engine.
Bleed engine
Make sure the shutoff is not engaged.
Throttle to full.
Double bank of batteries.

Start motor

Don't forget that there is a fuel return line that pumps the extra fuel back to the tank. I don't know what will happen if this line is clogged.

I don't understand the lack of air filter thing. There should be a way to make sure that the engine is getting air. I would like to know what the point of all the little holes is.
I visualize a funnel with a honeycomb at the wide end all ending up to a hole that is somehow plugged where you can't see. What if you sucked in the sound insulation.


What happens when you spin the engine. Other than that one time does it even try to catch.

If that doesn't catch for you check compression and let's go from there.


Usually when we are stuck on something like this the answer is one of four things:
1. Something we didn't know about the setup. An engine I worked on last month threw all its oil out. Come to find out it had second dip stick that we didn't know about that lost its plug. In your case maybe some other cutoff, clogged return, Some kind of air cut off valve hiding on you.

2. Something we are doing just backward. Checking the fuel shutoff from the engine and pushing it off instead of on or something just silly but we are so tired and frustrated we can't see it.

3. A combination of things. Compression is a little low and there is some water in the fuel and cranking is a little slow.

4. Something extremely rare. A broken tooth on the flywheel. Impossible stuff happens every day. I chartered a boat in St. Vincent. Motored into an anchorage and shut off the engine. Two days later stated the engine and the shaft had snapped off. The shaft was good enough to get me to the mooring but snapped off by itself two days later. Some things are just hard to explain.

Sometimes you just need another set of eyes.

Good Luck.

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Re: Westerbeke diesel will not start

IDK, The fact that it ran perfectly before you shut it down and now it doesn't, I just find it difficult to believe that it's some sort of sudden catastrophic failure. I like the idea of trying fresh fuel. I know you've said the shut off cable is going block to block but is it actually doing anything? Is there some kind of air lock? Do you have a Hot water heater that has a heat exchanger? Any chance of an air lock in there? Just some more WAG's
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post #27 of 35 Old 07-25-2019
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Re: Westerbeke diesel will not start

Water in fuel.
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post #28 of 35 Old 07-26-2019
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Re: Westerbeke diesel will not start

I'm surprised no one has mentioned anything electrical yet as a possible cause (unless I missed it). I have two Westerbekes (engine and genset) that I know really well but I am no expert. In both cases the engine is shutdown if the temp sensor reports high temp or the oil pressure sensor reports low pressure. These are easy to troubleshoot and/or temporarily bypass.

I recently had a sudden shutdown and no-start problem that really perplexed me. To make a long story short the culprit was my automated fire suppression system. It went off for an unknown reason but I didn't know it went off. As part of it's process it kills the engine as it is releasing the halon. To do this is uses the same circuit as the temp and oil sensors. There is a bypass switch to allow the engines to start up again, but I didn't even think of it until I ran through lots of other possibilities like the OP has done. Once I flipped the switch the engine and genset started right up. Boy did I feel stupid!

Owing to the instant trouble of non-starting the OP has experienced I'm in the camp that it's not as complicated as sudden loss of compression, loss of air, bad/loss of fuel, etc. I'd be looking deeply at the electrical side. A loose wire or failed sensor could be it.

Good luck
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post #29 of 35 Old 07-26-2019
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Re: Westerbeke diesel will not start

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Originally Posted by jr_spyder View Post
I'm surprised no one has mentioned anything electrical yet as a possible cause (unless I missed it). I have two Westerbekes (engine and genset) that I know really well but I am no expert. In both cases the engine is shutdown if the temp sensor reports high temp or the oil pressure sensor reports low pressure. These are easy to troubleshoot and/or temporarily bypass.

I recently had a sudden shutdown and no-start problem that really perplexed me. To make a long story short the culprit was my automated fire suppression system. It went off for an unknown reason but I didn't know it went off. As part of it's process it kills the engine as it is releasing the halon. To do this is uses the same circuit as the temp and oil sensors. There is a bypass switch to allow the engines to start up again, but I didn't even think of it until I ran through lots of other possibilities like the OP has done. Once I flipped the switch the engine and genset started right up. Boy did I feel stupid!

Owing to the instant trouble of non-starting the OP has experienced I'm in the camp that it's not as complicated as sudden loss of compression, loss of air, bad/loss of fuel, etc. I'd be looking deeply at the electrical side. A loose wire or failed sensor could be it.

Good luck
Sorry for the long quote and short question. The OP reported he had a fuel spray from the injectors. How does the oil/temp warnings shut the engine down if not by shutting off the fuel?

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post #30 of 35 Old 07-27-2019
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Re: Westerbeke diesel will not start

Fair question, not sure. One idea. If the OP tested the fuel flow/spray by running the lift pump or his new bypass pump connected directly to power, not while the engine was actually cranking, then the sensor fail-safes were out of the loop. This would possibly explain why a squirt of any sort of starter fluid would get a brief ignition. The engine wants to start but it isn't getting fuel while cranking, maybe because the oil pressure failsafe circuit is saying shutdown.

Another lesson from my (stupid) incident above. My main engine wouldn't start at all, but the genset would start and run as long as I held the "preheat" button down. When I let go of the button it stalled. The main engine does not have a separate pre-heat button, just a rocker switch with one side as preheat and the other as crank the starter (which also lights the glow plugs during the cranking). These two different behaviors taken together confused the heck out of me for a while (and eliminated fuel as a problem). The lesson is that while in preheat and while cranking the oil pressure failsafe is bypassed so the engine can start (I knew this before but it just wasn't clicking in my brain then). So my genset kept running if I held down the preheat button because it had taken the oil pressure failsafe out of the loop, and the fire suppression system uses the same failsafe circuit, so when I let go of the button the fire suppression circuit killed the fuel flow. I'm sure the main engine would have behaved exactly the same way if it had a separate pre-heat button.

In my system the low oil pressure switch (different than the oil pressure sensor) is normally closed when the engine is cold and has no pressure. In this position it sounds the low pressure alarm and kills the fuel pump (except while bypassed in preheat/crank). When the oil pressure builds (almost instantly) the switch opens and the circuit is happy and the fuel pump gets power. The super easy way to test this is just take the wire off the oil pressure switch making it open. Then crank. Of course other engines might be different.
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