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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I cannot get my engine to start. I have a sailboat with a Westerbeke W50. Although the W50 has not been in production for many years, the power plant is a British Leyland 1.8 liter diesel that was used in taxi cabs, narrow boats, and tractors like the case DH4 trencher.

We recently went out for a sail. The engine started and ran flawlessly for about an hour after which time we did a normal engine shut down and sailed without the engine for about four hours. When it was time to restart the engine to power us back to our dock, the engine cranked like normal except it never fired. It acted like it wasn’t getting fuel.

In summary, the fuel is good, the vacuum gauge for the fuel filter is reading below 1 psi. and the lift pump checked good at +9 psi. I had the injector pump and injectors checked. The pump and injectors failed to meet spec. (Out of spec, but short of a catastrophic failure; the engine should have run.). I had the injector pump rebuilt and put in a new set of injectors, but this did not get my engine running. I also bench tested the glow plugs and monitored their voltage during the start cycle. The engine cranks like normal, but does not fire off. I’ve bled the system several times and checked that the valves are operating. I checked an injector connected to the fuel line, but not in the cylinder and confirmed it sprayed fuel in bursts like it should. I put a short squirt of brake cleaner in the air intake and got an encouraging short run of a couple of seconds, but the engine would not catch. The engine has 1000 hours since a major rebuild and had “like new” performance!

I’m humbled and baffled?? Is it possible for the timing chain to have jumped a tooth? Would the engine still crank the same, fire or pop or something? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also, has anyone found a source or cross reference to British Leyland parts since Westerbeke has limited support?
 

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GREETINGS EARTHLINGS : what make of fuel injector do you have as some of them have to lubricated once in a while some when they run out of diesel just try bleeding all the points on the injector pump before going down the expensive route look on the interweb for more information about it AS ALWAYS GO SAFE
 

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Based on the story that you tell it seems that something changed drastically during the 4 hour sail. I am not familliar with the W50 (must be a big boat) but my FIRST suspicion would be to look for a compression release lever - make sure that it has not moved to the wrong position. Don't shoot brake cleaner (or starting fluid) in the intake! WD-40.
 

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Once you figure it out let us know.

Here is the list: Some you have checked already but I've included for completeness.

Fuel Filter
Air Filter
Some engines have an air inlet emergency flap
Exhaust system and seacock.
Does it crank slowly, battery issues
Fuel level

That's the simple stuff

Bad stuff
Timing
worn fuel injector pump
damaged injectors

WD 40 not starting fluid
Shut off seacock when trying to start as you can pump water into the cylinder and ruin the engine.
If it catches you have plenty of time to open it.

I looked this up for you in the Calder book.

You will be really pissed if the battery is just a little low. Are you SURE it is cranking fast enough?

You may want to express ship yourself the Calder Book, Their is a whole chapter on exactly your problem.

And let us know for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for your post. The injectors Westerbeke uses for the W50 are CAV BDN0SPC6651, I had the old ones tested and replaced them. This engine has five fuel bleed points the last being at the injector input nuts. I even connected an injector to the line so that I could witnessed the nozzle spraying.
 

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If this was my problem I'd have a compression check done and while the mechanic was on board have him check the injector timing. Diesel need fuel, air, and time. You say it was running fine before the 3 hour sail (Que Gilligan's Island theme song now) so that tends to discount any exhaust blockage. Keep us posted as to the progress and solution. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for your post. I agree; I am coming to the conclusion something changed drastically. The engine did not give a clue that anything was amiss! This engine does not have a compression release lever. You are right about WD-40, I only used a very sparing amount of brake cleaner without preheating. That is why I was looking for feedback on the possibility the timing chain could have jumped a tooth?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Once you figure it out let us know.

Here is the list: Some you have checked already but I've included for completeness.

Fuel Filter
Air Filter
Some engines have an air inlet emergency flap
Exhaust system and seacock.
Does it crank slowly, battery issues
Fuel level

That's the simple stuff

Bad stuff
Timing
worn fuel injector pump
damaged injectors

WD 40 not starting fluid
Shut off seacock when trying to start as you can pump water into the cylinder and ruin the engine.
If it catches you have plenty of time to open it.

I looked this up for you in the Calder book.

You will be really pissed if the battery is just a little low. Are you SURE it is cranking fast enough?

You may want to express ship yourself the Calder Book, Their is a whole chapter on exactly your problem.

And let us know for sure.
Thank you for your posts. Insanity is when you do the same over and over expecting to get a different result. I took a couple of days to review what I did, study the posts and review some diesel troubleshooting books (Paul Dempsey, Andrew Simpson and Nigel Calder). I Have three battery banks and been putting two in parallel to insure I have a rapid cranking speed, something I would not normally do for safety reasons. I’ve done all the easy stuff repeatedly. Unfortunately I’m into the bad stuff, a rebuild of the injector pump and installation a new set of injectors did not help. As you can guess from my original post I’m heavily invested in this repair. Unfortunately I’m coming to the conclusion it is the timing. I was looking for feedback on the possibility the timing chain could have jumped a tooth? None of the three trouble shooting books really address this in detail. I’ve never heard of it happening on a marine diesel. I have heard it happened on cars but their parts are not nearly as robust. I have the additional issue of cross referencing to locate parts that fit a W50 if it is the timing. I’m hoping to find one over looked item or way to test the timing short of removing the front cover housing from the engine to get to the timing mechanism.
 

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I like @NCboatrx 's point about the shutoff cable because it would fit the sequence. After all, the last thing you did while the engine was running well was pull the shutoff. Even if the handle is in the correct position, I'd check that cable and actuator. Slightly related: last time I was out, I had someone else shut off the engine when we started sailing. A few hours later, I went to start the engine...plenty of cranking, no firing. Luckily, I looked over and saw that my crewmember hadn't pushed the shutoff back in. That's all it took in my case, but maybe yours stuck elsewhere.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If this was my problem I'd have a compression check done and while the mechanic was on board have him check the injector timing. Diesel need fuel, air, and time. You say it was running fine before the 3 hour sail (Que Gilligan's Island theme song now) so that tends to discount any exhaust blockage. Keep us posted as to the progress and solution. Good luck.
Thank you for your post. No I did not do a compression test. Since the engine started up on the first attempt after siting for weeks but would not start after being off for a few hours and was still warm the compression should have been better for the restart. Just to finish checking all the boxes I will do a compression test before I get into some serious disassembly. Unfortunately I’m coming to the conclusion it is the timing. The only way I know to check the timing is to remove the engine front cover assembly to get access to the chain and timing marks on the sprockets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I like @NCboatrx 's point about the shutoff cable because it would fit the sequence. After all, the last thing you did while the engine was running well was pull the shutoff. Even if the handle is in the correct position, I'd check that cable and actuator. Slightly related: last time I was out, I had someone else shut off the engine when we started sailing. A few hours later, I went to start the engine...plenty of cranking, no firing. Luckily, I looked over and saw that my crewmember hadn't pushed the shutoff back in. That's all it took in my case, but maybe yours stuck elsewhere.
Thank you for your post. Good thought, one of the first things we checked were the cables and they were good; operating stop to stop on the injector pump.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Are you 100% certain that the shut off cable is returning to the run position at the injection pump?
Thanks for the post. We checked the cables both shut off and throttle before and after the rebuild and they work stop to stop.
 

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I would not start tearing it down, without having a pro look at it for an hour. The jumped chain sounds very, very unlikely.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I would not start tearing it down, without having a pro look at it for an hour. The jumped chain sounds very, very unlikely.
Thanks for the reply. My thoughts exactly, a jumped chain is unlikely. Good suggestion about having a pro look at it. I’m new to this area so I not established a network of associates to use yet, but I’m looking for an experienced small diesel mechanic.
I’ve done some additional things. 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. I’m hesitant to use starting fluid in that engine, WD 40 didn’t do much but a short shot of brake cleaner got some quick revs but the engine would not catch.
 

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Did a google search for diesel compression checker, comes up with some units less than $50.00. I suspect they screw into the injector port. Might pay to get one.
 

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I have the additional issue of cross referencing to locate parts that fit a W50 if it is the timing. I’m hoping to find one over looked item or way to test the timing short of removing the front cover housing from the engine to get to the timing mechanism.
I feel your pain. You are certainly following the steps.

I found this:
Chain Elongation and Engine Timing

Apparently, the chain can wear and not really but effectively stretch.

One would think that would be a gradual process though.
 

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I’m hoping to find one over looked item
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.
 

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Its threads like these that keeps me coming back to Sailnet. My money is on timing.
 
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