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Once known as Hartley18
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My Volvo MD2040A has been getting harder and harder and I've begun to dread these cold mornings, knowing that it is going to take lots of cranking to get the engine going.

I finally decided to get the professionals in and whadaya know, two out of three glow plugs ain't glowing, so I've now got a new set on order:



Hopefully that's all I have to worry about..
 

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A quick check with an ohmmeter is cheaper than replacing the starter motor. I live in fear of burning off a tip and it sticks in the cylinder. (again)
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
A quick check with an ohmmeter is cheaper than replacing the starter motor. I live in fear of burning off a tip and it sticks in the cylinder. (again)
Yes, indeedy.

I did check them with a multimeter last week and to say the results were 'inconclusive' would be an understatement: the one that was okay was reading about right, but the others were reading a bit high and not OC. When the mechanic pulled them out, he even said they looked ok and it took an actual glow test to determine they were gone.

Of course I could have done this all myself if it wasn't that the relevant pages on glow plugs just happen to be missing from my copy of the manual - and I don't like pulling things apart if I don't know exactly how they go back together again. :(
 

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The problem many make is "over glow". Modern glow plugs need only about 7-12 seconds on a normal starting battery and even less on a large house bank where voltage will sag even less.

With our Li bank I need about 3 seconds, course I kept pushing for the lead acid 10 seconds and burned out all four in a few weeks..... Once one goes the others heat up even faster and they they too get burned out.

I replace a lot of glow plugs and the owners are often pressing for 40 seconds or more......:eek:

Start with 7 seconds. If that does not work go to 10 then 12, then 15 etc... Do this over four or five consecutive cold starts. The least amount of glow that starts your engine quickly is what you want, and no more...
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
The problem many make is "over glow". Modern glow plugs need only about 7-12 seconds on a normal starting battery and even less on a large house bank where voltage will sag even less.

With our Li bank I need about 3 seconds, course I kept pushing for the lead acid 10 seconds and burned out all four in a few weeks..... Once one goes the others heat up even faster and they they too get burned out.

I replace a lot of glow plugs and the owners are often pressing for 40 seconds or more......:eek:
Righto.. I'll admit it. That was me!! :eek: :eek: ....although that isn't what killed my plugs.

I suspect they've been dead for a few years now and the extra-cold weather we've been having lately finally pushed me into doing something about it - before I burned out the starter motor! :eek:


And thanks for the tips on timing. The engine manual says "up to 60 seconds" (!) but I did notice the working one was up and glowing in less than 10 seconds, so I'll take your advice on that.
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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5,179 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
All fixed now. A new set of plugs and she starts no problems at all.. :)

Now for an oil change, filters change, drain and replace coolant hose.. and here I thought I owned a sail boat!!
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Well folks.. here I am again.

All was fine until about two races ago. It's been mighty cold here lately. Hopped on board, turned everything on ready to go, gave the engine some throttle and the now-routine 5 seconds of glow, hit the starter and.. cranking, cranking, cranking.. WTF?!? Repeat procedure.. and again.. and again. Long story short, after what seemed like eons it eventually struggled into life, but only after I shut off the fuel (I'd flooded it on the second or fifth go) first. "That's odd" says me. "Must make sure I give it plenty of glow next race.."

Next race arrives: This time I leave the throttle at idle and give it 30 seconds of glow. Same as last time.. cranking, cranking. Bloody hard on the starter motor, this! Engaging both House and Start batteries (nearly flat by this stage) made the engine spin over quicker and she eventually spluttered reluctantly into life. "Must be those darn glow plugs again!" Checked the plugs after the race: Power at the rail - ok. All three plugs open circuit!! #%*%%!!! :mad:

Question: Is it common to lose an entire set of glow plugs at once with no prior warning? And only just out of warranty too!!

The engine limped into life for yesterday's race on my single spare plug (the remains of the original set) blowing lots of smoke in the process - whilst I wait for replacements to arrive. :(
 

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On our boat (starting battery) there's enough of a voltage drop with all 4 glow plugs working that it slightly changes the tone of the alarm buzzer. If for some reason they don't kick in its apparent if the alarm doesn't react as usual.
 

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HANUMAN
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Well folks.. here I am again.

All was fine until about two races ago. It's been mighty cold here lately. Hopped on board, turned everything on ready to go, gave the engine some throttle and the now-routine 5 seconds of glow, hit the starter and.. cranking, cranking, cranking.. WTF?!? Repeat procedure.. and again.. and again. Long story short, after what seemed like eons it eventually struggled into life, but only after I shut off the fuel (I'd flooded it on the second or fifth go) first. "That's odd" says me. "Must make sure I give it plenty of glow next race.."

Next race arrives: This time I leave the throttle at idle and give it 30 seconds of glow. Same as last time.. cranking, cranking. Bloody hard on the starter motor, this! Engaging both House and Start batteries (nearly flat by this stage) made the engine spin over quicker and she eventually spluttered reluctantly into life. "Must be those darn glow plugs again!" Checked the plugs after the race: Power at the rail - ok. All three plugs open circuit!! #%*%%!!! :mad:

Question: Is it common to lose an entire set of glow plugs at once with no prior warning? And only just out of warranty too!!

The engine limped into life for yesterday's race on my single spare plug (the remains of the original set) blowing lots of smoke in the process - whilst I wait for replacements to arrive. :(
I recently helped a friend with his Universal and noticed really cheap glow plugs available online. He went with some parts from Amazon.com that cost about a 10th of what would cost to buy from the local Universal dealer.

Could it be that you ended up with an inferior aftermarket product. I say this because less than a year later and he is having starting problems again. Your question is making me wonder...
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I recently helped a friend with his Universal and noticed really cheap glow plugs available online. He went with some parts from Amazon.com that cost about a 10th of what would cost to buy from the local Universal dealer.

Could it be that you ended up with an inferior aftermarket product. I say this because less than a year later and he is having starting problems again. Your question is making me wonder...
Interesting!...

I need to make some calls and find out where my mechanic is getting these things from.
 

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Interesting!...

I need to make some calls and find out where my mechanic is getting these things from.

Almost any glow plug can be crossed over to an NGK # and most are about $6.00 - $10.00 at NAPA.. if you start while still plugged in, on a large bank, and while still charging even 5 seconds may be too much... The more likely cause is a sticky glow switch that is not turning off every time you think it is....
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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At least you have glow plugs. With my Yanmar, I have to resort to all kinds of alternate starting methods when it's below around forty degrees. I don't know if yours has a solenoid for the glow plugs but on my Kubota, sometimes I need to re-click the glow plug solenoid a couple of times to get it to make contact. Then it requires around thirty seconds of glow time. Has been like this since new, around 20 years ago. The original glow plugs still work fine and has been started way more times than on a typical pleasure boat.
 
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Glow plugs have different glow times. My Ford is 5 sec. I count chimpanzees for duration. Too long easily burns out the weakest and then you add a chimp and that puts extra load on the others and so on. Check with a meter to ground once in a while just to know how many are kaput before it gets nasty. Cheaper(and easy) to replace than towing off the beach. If not operated thru a solenoid they may not be getting enough zip and just pretend to do their job. If the solenoid (or controlling switch) sticks they are toast pretty quick. A major burnout can leave the tip separated and stuck in the cylinder ,,Not good.Just a few thoughts about glow.
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Almost any glow plug can be crossed over to an NGK # and most are about $6.00 - $10.00 at NAPA.. if you start while still plugged in, on a large bank, and while still charging even 5 seconds may be too much... The more likely cause is a sticky glow switch that is not turning off every time you think it is....
Thanks for the lead, MS. :) There isn't much in the way of markings on these things (only one number) but I'll see where NGK leads to. All I can say is that these plugs were significantly more than 6-10 bucks...

My battery banks are charged from solar that gets disconnected as part of our preparations for sea - so battery volts are never much more than 12.9 or so at start time... but on the "sticky glow switch" thing: Once the plug was glowing, doesn't the heat of the engine (once it fires) keep it glowing? If so, surely a sticky switch would make no difference? If it does, how much "sticky" time are we talking about before damage occurs - less than a second?
 

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Once the engine fires, heat of compassion keeps thing going and glow plugs are on a designated circuit (Button or turn key to the left .Most will burn up pdq if left on.Pretty hard to do if activated by key unless wiring shorts or switch is really frapped. or you can't count.
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Once the engine fires, heat of compassion keeps thing going and glow plugs are on a designated circuit (Button or turn key to the left .Most will burn up pdq if left on.Pretty hard to do if activated by key unless wiring shorts or switch is really frapped. or you can't count.
Mine are driven by a separate toggle-switch next to the starter button - and kinda relies on you letting everything go all at the same time. Hence my question on how long is pdq, 'cause letting go a moment too soon means the engine don't start either..
 

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The plugs won't cool the instant you release the switch, and if the glow plug current is off the glow plugs your starter will have more 'oomph'. Our glow plugs are run off the same switch as the starter, as Len mentioned, turn left for preheat, right to crank.

We've been running (in two different boats) marinized VW rabbit diesels for over 20 years. I've never had to replace a glowplug yet. (knocking on forehead) Our normal process is a slow ten count for preheat.. probably not quite 10 seconds.
 

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Go ahead, say it. One chimpanzee, two chimpanzee ,three chimpanzee. Use a stop watch. Works for flashing light house too.
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Guys, all I'm doing is following the Engine Manual to the letter. It says - and I quote:

1. Disengage the control lever. Place the lever in the full speed position.
2. Press the "Power ON/OFF" switch (instrument panel comes on). Push the toggle switch down ("Alarm test") and check that the alarm sounds.
3. Push the toggle switch up to the "Glow" position and hold it there for about 20-30sec. (max 60 sec.)
4. Press the start button at the same time. Let the button and the toggle switch go when the engine starts.


Even though the length of time the Glow should be engaged has been debated here already, I'm fairly sure they have good reasons to say what they have for the rest of it.
 
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