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In my O'Day 31, I have 30 year old 2 cylinder Universal Diesel with an intermittent starting problem. Aftrer yard replaced: starter motor/solonoid (with "rebuilt" -no warrantee or paperwork), battery, and glow plug/starter buttons, the yard determined that pressing the glow plug heating button dropped the starting voltage to the starter to 10.8 volts which was insufficient to consistently crank the starter/motor. The yard ran a wire allowing the starter button to be pushed independent of the glow plug button and this seems to have fixed the problem ($1,000 and one tow later). A friend has Nonsuch manual which explains a voltage drop (to around 10 volts) is expected upon pushing the glow plug button. Any thoughts regarding this situation (and whether bypass wire is a long term solution)? Thanks.
 

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Sounds like your mechanic is fairly incompetent. Just a parts changer. But that is the biggest problem in the industry today, being unable to find capable, honest, knowledgeable help for repairing a/c, engines, gensets, electric, and plumbing systems aboard a boat.
For instance, a starter motor is not some magic bit of gear. It can be taken to one of at least several starter/alternator rebuild shops normally found in most areas in North America, and bench tested. That test will tell you if anything is wrong with the starter, solenoid or pinion gear. And it shouldn't cost more than $25.00 and a little time.
You should have your own shop manual for your engine (commonly available online as a download), and any mechanic worth his salt should ask to read it before performing any repairs if he doesn't have one of his own.
You do not need a mechanic specifically trained for your engine, as most diesels operate in the same way. The factory trained techs will know the shortcuts for your specific engine, but they may be just parts changers with not as good an understanding of the mechanics of diesel engines as that old guy who has been working on diesels ever since Moses parted the Red Sea.
Your assignment, Mr. Phelps, should you choose to accept it, is to do your very best to find honest, capable and knowledgeable service personnel to help you on your boat. Good luck with that; we've basically given up and do almost all of it ourselves.
 

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In my O'Day 31, I have 30 year old 2 cylinder Universal Diesel with an intermittent starting problem. Aftrer yard replaced: starter motor/solonoid (with "rebuilt" -no warrantee or paperwork), battery, and glow plug/starter buttons, the yard determined that pressing the glow plug heating button dropped the starting voltage to the starter to 10.8 volts which was insufficient to consistently crank the starter/motor. The yard ran a wire allowing the starter button to be pushed independent of the glow plug button and this seems to have fixed the problem ($1,000 and one tow later). A friend has Nonsuch manual which explains a voltage drop (to around 10 volts) is expected upon pushing the glow plug button. Any thoughts regarding this situation (and whether bypass wire is a long term solution)? Thanks.
My guess is that your Universal diesel has the same problem as thousands of other Universal's. Voltage loss in the factory wiring harness to the cockpit panel.
If you have already re-wired this (and if originally present) bypassed the original ammeter at the panel, stop reading now.

Check out the better-than-excellent tutorials at the Maine Sail web site for info your class of engine.

BTW, it's not unusual for your volt meter to momentarily read 10 (approx) volts under starting load. Ours used to, and it started immediately. We would glow plug it typically for 10 to 12 seconds. Separate glow plug momentary switch. If your panel has the switch combo that forces you to use the glow plugs with the starter motor instead of separate, this was changed by Universal, and it is a good idea to separate these functions.
This was on our M25XP with one more cylinder than your Universal. Due to an accumulation of maintenance and repair items I replaced that engine this spring with a new Beta 25, but could have spent somewhat less $ and continued on with the old Universal. It's all just 'choices and options' as the saying goes.
:2 boat:

Best of luck to you. I have a friend with an ODay 322 and another that put many hundreds of cruising miles on an ODay 34. Hope you continue to enjoy your boat.
 

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In my O'Day 31, I have 30 year old 2 cylinder Universal Diesel with an intermittent starting problem. Aftrer yard replaced: starter motor/solonoid (with "rebuilt" -no warrantee or paperwork), battery, and glow plug/starter buttons, the yard determined that pressing the glow plug heating button dropped the starting voltage to the starter to 10.8 volts which was insufficient to consistently crank the starter/motor. The yard ran a wire allowing the starter button to be pushed independent of the glow plug button and this seems to have fixed the problem ($1,000 and one tow later). A friend has Nonsuch manual which explains a voltage drop (to around 10 volts) is expected upon pushing the glow plug button. Any thoughts regarding this situation (and whether bypass wire is a long term solution)? Thanks.
Mainesail would be best for advice on this issue and why I did it on my boat.

I had the same engine, did you have an amp meter in the panel? if you do/did I can't stress this enough, replace the whole wiring harness between the panel and engine. will find most of the insulation has melted and become one mass of wires instead of separate wires. when you do this you will rewire the alternator and starter so they no longer go through the amp meter which is going to be changed to a volt meter.
 

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For your own self defense to avoid $1000 repairs learn to do it yourself. Rewiring (as described above) is not all that difficult, you'll learn something useful and be better able to troubleshoot issues in the future.
At the least get rid of the ammeter and remove the trailer type connector used in the wire harness. It may be disguised as a big ball of electrical tape - underneath is the most likely melted connector. If the wire is in good shape you can use good marine grade crimp connectors instead of repacing the entire harness.
A solenoid added to the glow plug circuit helps minimize voltage drop. It is an electromagnetic switch - a low amperage circuit between the glow plug switch and the solenoid turns on the higher amperage (and much shorter) circuit between the battery and the glow plugs.

Here is a link to Mainesail's page mentioned above
https://marinehowto.com/universal-diesel-engine-wiring-harness-upgrade/
(if you find the info useful as so many of us have you can make a small donation to keep his website going!)
 

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Could also be that your batts are shot and cant do the deed.
Lots of good model specific info has been given, and is worth heeding. In the general sense, I would second the quote above as a possibility. I have had several land diesels that were terrible to start. New batteries made a world of difference. In at least one case the batteries seemed to be ok (just checking voltage) but they needed to be replaced.
 

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This is not something that should be ignored it is a safety issue if the boat with the universal diesel has an amp meter there's a strong possibility of a fire in the future.

I was a non-believer, a strong non believer until I looked: sure enough Mainsail is correct.

what actually happens because the cables to the amp meter are under sized and they are so long they HEAT UP and actually soften the insulation of the other wires in the bundle!
 
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