Universal 5411 diesel RPM issues - SailNet Community
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 7 Old 09-03-2013 Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Casco Maine
Posts: 3
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
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
LJP is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 7 Old 09-28-2013
Junior Member
rafael block's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 11
Thanks: 0
Thanked 2 Times in 1 Post
Rep Power: 0
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.
rafael block is offline  
post #3 of 7 Old 09-28-2013
Master Mariner
capta's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: somewhere south of civilization
Posts: 7,805
Thanks: 167
Thanked 413 Times in 401 Posts
Rep Power: 9
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.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

capta is online now  
post #4 of 7 Old 09-29-2013
Senior Member
JimsCAL's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Glen Cove, NY
Posts: 4,558
Thanks: 5
Thanked 205 Times in 197 Posts
Rep Power: 13
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.
JimsCAL is online now  
post #5 of 7 Old 10-09-2013
Junior Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: CT
Posts: 1
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
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
windsplitter is offline  
post #6 of 7 Old 10-09-2013
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Posts: 364
Thanks: 0
Thanked 14 Times in 13 Posts
Rep Power: 8
Re: Universal 5411 diesel RPM issues

Seafoam is a good tonic for older diesels. In the fuel and crankcase.
sony2000 is offline  
post #7 of 7 Old 10-17-2013
Junior Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 24
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
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.
rnuzzolo is offline  

Quick Reply

By choosing to post the reply above you agree to the rules you agreed to when joining Sailnet.
Click Here to view those rules.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
water leaking in oil - Universal Diesel 5411 stef9 Gear & Maintenance 21 11-24-2013 01:55 AM
Universal 5411 or M15 Donaldpeter Diesel 6 06-01-2012 08:42 PM
Universal 5411 diesel problem Texfreebird Diesel 5 08-06-2011 09:21 PM
universal diesel issues....hot, leaky etc degreeoff Diesel 3 05-22-2010 11:31 PM
Universal diesel 5411 rmiille Gear & Maintenance 1 12-30-2001 06:01 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome