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Ā· Bombay Explorer 44
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What you call a heater may well be a CAV Thermostart. This drips diesel onto a heating element. When you crank the diesel ignites and the flames are drawn into the cylinders. This is an excellent cold start device and is still available.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Thermostart-Flame-Heater-Glow-Plug-Perkins-Case-Massey-CAV-1854050-0-131-54-/121218138141

Boring story. I was on a recovery in the middle of nowhere trying to pull a tracked vehicle out of a tidal channel. It had been submerged for 3 hours. We changed the oil and supplied fresh diesel plus a new battery but it would not start. [ It was brass monkey weather ] An Irish laborer showed us how to crumple up newspaper stuff it into the inlet manifold, pour on a little diesel and ignite the paper. We cranked and she fired up straight away. Exhaust was interesting for a few seconds.

But in answer to the OPs question, yes any heat source fed into the inlet manifold will help. I have used hair dryer, heat gun, butane torch etc over the years. If using a butane torch remove the air filter element. [ This is important! ]
 

Ā· Bombay Explorer 44
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3,618 Posts
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The link I gave includes a pic. There should be a small tank expresso cup size that gravity feeds the unit.

Energize the heater unit for 10 to 15 seconds before cranking.

The diesel does not 'catch' till you start cranking.
 
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