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About to purchase a 27' boat w/ a late 80's diesel engine.
I have had enough experience w/ gas powerboat engines (i/o's mostly),but i am not familiar w/ diesels.

What is the procedure to start and maintain a diesel engine? Is there a good detailed web site out there?
 

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Best bet is to go by the maintenance manuel.
But if you don't have one then change Lube at the end of the sailing season or every 250 hours also change out the coolant once a year (end of season)
The reason for the end of season change out is because as your boat sits on the hard the solids settle out and you have a gunk build up. Be sure that you have just ran the engine for a half hour to have those solids and LO well mixed then change the oil.
While you have the engine compartment open check all of your electrical connections for corrosion and failing connectors. Do check the battery also.
Proper maintenance and your engine should last your a life time. Check the coolant zincs also.
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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The basic difference is that there is no electric ignition system on a diesel (although the new ones have a lot of electronic controls). Diesels are very fussy about having clean fuel because it is injected at very high pressures through very small orifices, which means changing the fuel filters often (follow manufacturers recs). On a used boat it's usually a good idea to have the fuel tanks "polished" before using the boat if it has been sitting for any length of time. Bacteria can grow in diesel and it will clog filters and injectors (always at the most inconvenient times). Buy Nigel Calder's book "Marine Diesel Engines", it's a good reference and covers almost everything you need to know (his other books are excellent too BTW).
 

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Check out the diesel engine classes for sailors at Mack Boring, several locations in the US.

The good news is that diesels don't have carbs or ignition systems. The bad news is that they have damn finicky high pressure fuel injection systems, which can be just as problematic if air gets into the lines or the fuel is contaminated, and fuel tanks will breed problems all by themselves.

You'll see plenty about that by using the search engine in this and other forums. Diesels are neither better nor worse, just different. Except, of course, to some of us they simply stink all the time. I've never met one that I couldn't smell, and I can't stand the smell of them.
 

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diesel newbie

I've learned lots from the Nigel Caulder "Marine Diesel Engines", and from Charlie Wing's "How Boat Things Work". Great advice on maintaining and troubleshooting.
 

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I am a newbie to diesels myself but I find that mine is difficult to start when cold if batteries are low on charge. Once warm the horrible thing starts fine.
 

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I am a newbie to diesels myself but I find that mine is difficult to start when cold if batteries are low on charge. Once warm the horrible thing starts fine.
For this reason and others, we dedicate each of our batteries as "House" and "Starting" and label the battery switch accordingly. This way we can assure ourselves of a fully charged battery to start the engine with. After starting the engine, we throw the battery selector to "All" to charge both. When the engine is shut down, we have only the "House" battery selected.

Glow plugs and starter motors both take a LOT of power. And if it's cold out, you want to keep the glow plugs glowing for longer before cranking, taking even more juice. And batteries don't like providing a lot of juice when cold. It all adds up :(
 

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And if you are not using a 0W- or 5W- winterweight oil, anything like a "straight 30" will be congealing and making cold starts much much harder than they need to be.
 

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An Aussie Sailor
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If your motor does not have glowplugs. Some don't, Crank the engine over a few times with throttle closed and holding the idle cut-off lever open, the one that stops fuel to the injector pump.
The rational is that it generates some heat in the combustion chambers by not allowing fuel in to cool things.
Then set your throttle, release the cut off leave, crank again and it should be a goer.
I was taught this trick and it made so much difference to the starting.

Mychael
 

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I have to take exception to the remark that there is no difference between diesel and gas engines. Firstly, I have seen too many violent holes in the water with gassers being started without operating bilge blowers both fitted and operated for at least 10 minutes before starting. Also having an ingition system (read spark plugs and wires) gassers are not happy with even splashes of any water, raw or fresh. Except as noted in previous posts, most marine diesels once started need no electricity to run. Yes, injector systems are expensive but as long as you are religious with your filter maintainence will give long and trouble free service. Read the manufacturers instructions and keep them holy. Diesels rule....Cheers,Dumah, Halifax, NS
 
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