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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have Universal M25 in a 1985 Catalina 30.

Motorsailed to Catalina Island (4 hours) at a steady 2200 RPM (The throttle lever is at max forward, but only brings the engine up to 2200)

Stayed the night in Catalina, started up the engine and left, it was a 3.5 hour motorsail again at 2200 RPM, then I slowed it down in the harbor and went to the fuel dock. Engine off, filled the tank with diesel, then the engine would NOT start.

It sort of rolled over as if the glow plug wasn't ready. After 15 minutes trying a few times, I called for a tow - the guy said $300 (for a 100 yard tow to the slip) and put me on hold - while on hold, I tried the engine one more time and it fired right up as if nothing was the matter.

Any idea? Could it have been flooded, even though it was running fine during the 3.5 hour motor back from the island? Another dock-neighbor said something about "vapor lock" and I'm not even sure what that's about, but I nodded my head.

Thankful I didn't have to spend the money for a 2 minute tow.

Any insight or advice is appreciated!
 

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I'd be looking at the starter.. they can have a 'bad spot', or the solenoid can weaken and either can be intermittent problems..

Not enough breeze to turn the motor off altogether??
 

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If I were you, the first thing I would do is buy a towing policy from BoatUS (BoatUS Towing). Then, check your batteries to ensure they're good; your fuel filter to ensure that it's not full of gunk and/or water that settled a little while you were waiting and allowed fuel to pass through; and, your wiring to ensure the connections are sound to your starter. IF the engine is turning over too slowly, it won't start. Most diesel engines pop to life within two or three revolutions at good rotational speed, eh Faster?
 

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"Rolled over"? Meaning turning over very slowly? If the engine was warm, it should spin over rather quickly, assuming the battery is good? Maybe bad terminal connections?

Maybe check battery with a hydrometer? If reading is good, bad connections could be the next place to look. Might not hurt to disconnect all connections, clean with a wire brush & re-connect.

After cleaning & making sure the battery is charged, maybe the starter or solenoid is/are going bad? You could try jumping, with a heavy cable, directly from the battery to the starter terminal, but be ready for it to fire.

Sounds like it is getting fuel to run that long at speed. But as mentioned, debris could be floating around in the tank or the filter.

Paul T
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks these are great suggestions. I will do a good battery check and clean/maintenance asap. I was thinking fuel pump, but it was running perfectly well (and has for two years) and did after it started up again.

I would elaborate the "rolling over" as more of a chug chug chug and that was it, it didn't actually start. Just bizarre that it started as usual after waiting 20 minutes. My pilot friend that it's common on prop planes and probably flooded...

I HAVE THE BOATUS TOWING POLICY! Can you believe it? That's the number I called, for their seatow, and he said "okay with your insurance through us, and the $50 off, it will be $300.

I was blown away.

In most scenarios I would/could sail into the dock. Today was blowing a little stronger than I was comfortable - I'm glad I didn't try either because there was a boat blocking my dock area the first time around, I had to circle and go back, this would've been disaster under sail
 

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Thanks these are great suggestions. I will do a good battery check and clean/maintenance asap. I was thinking fuel pump, but it was running perfectly well (and has for two years) and did after it started up again.

I would elaborate the "rolling over" as more of a chug chug chug and that was it, it didn't actually start. Just bizarre that it started as usual after waiting 20 minutes. My pilot friend that it's common on prop planes and probably flooded...

I HAVE THE BOATUS TOWING POLICY! Can you believe it? That's the number I called, for their seatow, and he said "okay with your insurance through us, and the $50 off, it will be $300.

I was blown away.

In most scenarios I would/could sail into the dock. Today was blowing a little stronger than I was comfortable - I'm glad I didn't try either because there was a boat blocking my dock area the first time around, I had to circle and go back, this would've been disaster under sail
Ah... Phil... Seatow and TowBoatUS are not the same although, if you put a call out on 16 Seatow will often answer. For you, with a BoatUS policy, either call for TowBoatUS or Vessel Assist on VHF 16; or, if you are within Cell Phone Range, Call 800-391-4869 for Dispatch. BoatUS doesn't screw with their subscribers or, for that matter, with subscribers to other services. SeaTow...not so much in some areas. You (almost) got Hustled Dude! SeaTow "ain't" what you needed/wanted.

While I may be misinformed (and others here abouts will surely correct me if I am) I have never heard of a "Vapor Lock" on a diesel although that problem, in a carburetor, was not uncommon on gasoline engines because the fuel was so volatile and carburetors, sitting on intake manifolds on top of the cylinders could get hot enough that fuel in the carburetor bowl could vaporize and lock-up the fuel distribution system. "Side draft" carburetors supposedly overcame that problem but, frankly, not too well (ask anyone that owned a mid-60's era MG/MGB/Jaguar. (BTDT) I suspect the problem is crap in your fuel filter, and particularly water. By your description of the starting effort, however, it certainly sounds like your starter was spinning awfully s-l-o-w-l-y which "ain't" normal either.

FWIW...
 

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Phil,
I know nothing about your diesel problem but do have a comment on your towing insurance.
Check your TowBoatUS coverage. There are a couple of levels. Sounds like you have Basic which costs $24. Pays first $50 of a tow.
Unlimited or Gold would be needed to completely cover a tow. I think the difference is both would cover towing from a restricted dock to your home slip but Gold includes that plus covers towing from your home slip to a repair facility. I seem to remember when I spoke to them that that was the only difference between Unlimited and Gold. They told me I didn't need Gold since I had an OB that the yard would work on in the slip and would move it to the lift if needed.

Worth checking before you need it.
 

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HyLyte you are not wrong about the vapour lock thing.Beat me to the comment. You didn't mention the cure for it. Cool the carb and/or fuel pump. Tried and true method is to stand on the fender and whizz at the parts. worked best on the fuel pump of the flat head V8 Ford. On the 6's hard to avoid the exhaust manifold with awful results Diesel problem nearly always stem from air sucking in somewhere or dirt./water. Old starters can get tired before they fail. sometimes just need new brushes.and a clean commutator .Worked for me and my starter is OK too.
 

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Had a similar issue a while back. Fought it for months before we finally thoroughly checked the fuel tank vent hose. Ours was routed so as to allow overfilled or sloshed diesel to accumulate in a low spot until it completely blocked the vent. A blast of air to remove the diesel from the line followed by rerouting it solved the problem.
 

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I think we're all missing the elephant in the room. According to the OP, the motor is only making 2200 rpm at wide open throttle. According to a quick google search, the M25 should make 3000rpm at WOT.

That's a basic test of prop pitch or engine health and it's failed. I would want to know why.

Prop pitch is always my first guess, unless the condition changed and the prop hasn't been touched. However, if one has an adjustable folding/feathering prop, it may be hung up all of a sudden.

If not the prop, there is a problem with its internal organs somewhere. Fuel, air, compression. Check 'em out.
 

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Intermittent failure of the glow plug button? I've heard of these going bad but not totally failing.

Is your battery switch in the ALL position? I've been unable to start my M-18 when battery switch is on 2 which is my "house battery". I believe this is a wiring issue on older Catalina's.

Josh
 

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I think we're all missing the elephant in the room. According to the OP, the motor is only making 2200 rpm at wide open throttle. According to a quick google search, the M25 should make 3000rpm at WOT.

That's a basic test of prop pitch or engine health and it's failed. I would want to know why.

Prop pitch is always my first guess, unless the condition changed and the prop hasn't been touched. However, if one has an adjustable folding/feathering prop, it may be hung up all of a sudden.

If not the prop, there is a problem with its internal organs somewhere. Fuel, air, compression. Check 'em out.

Prop pitch and/or other drive train problems are irrelevant to starting while fuel supply, filtering, distribution is not and could, likewise, limit the range of engine speed despite what a governor might allow. It is the s-l-o-w spin of the engine in the starting sequence that I would be looking into.

FWIW...
 

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......
If not the prop, there is a problem with its internal organs somewhere. Fuel, air, compression. Check 'em out.
... and the ever-popular mixing elbow!
 
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Thanks these are great suggestions. I will do a good battery check and clean/maintenance asap. I was thinking fuel pump, but it was running perfectly well (and has for two years) and did after it started up again.

I would elaborate the "rolling over" as more of a chug chug chug and that was it, it didn't actually start. Just bizarre that it started as usual after waiting 20 minutes. My pilot friend that it's common on prop planes and probably flooded...

I HAVE THE BOATUS TOWING POLICY! Can you believe it? That's the number I called, for their seatow, and he said "okay with your insurance through us, and the $50 off, it will be $300.

I was blown away.

In most scenarios I would/could sail into the dock. Today was blowing a little stronger than I was comfortable - I'm glad I didn't try either because there was a boat blocking my dock area the first time around, I had to circle and go back, this would've been disaster under sail
"Probably flooded"? Unless it is blowing a lot of black smoke on re-start, probably not.

"Chug, chug" means "slow"? Slow turnover probably caused by battery/connections/starter/solenoid problems? 2,200 max RPM is likely another issue? Too much pitch, dirty prop/bottom, clogged filter/vent problem, mixing elbow, & the list goes on. :D

Paul T
 

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Prop pitch and/or other drive train problems are irrelevant to starting.........
Wasn't suggesting otherwise. I am suggesting there is something wrong beyond figuring out how to get it to start.

A motor that won't make max RPM at WOT, even if it starts, is doing something bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
BATTERIES: The batteries were on ALL, however the sound it made was as if I accidentally left it on "house" (which I've done after anchoring for long times) however I am going to test them all - there's 4 batteries.

THROTTLE: The wide-open-throttle problem isn't that the engine can't do it (Also the propeller is fine, new cutlass and shaft 2 years ago, less than 20 running hours) - I could go down there and tug on the throttle cable if I wanted to open it up more- it's that the throttle HANDLE up on the pedestal steering reached its max FWD position, it's pinned as far forward as it can be pushed and was only getting the throttle open to let the engine go 2200 RPM. It's very responsive to the throttle handle, up until that point. Definitely helpful to know the cruising RPM is 3000, so I need to adjust the cable somewhere. Any suggestions to adjust that would be awesome.

INSURANCE: I do have the BoatUS gold membership, and I did call the 800 number on the card and the sticker they gave me, I mis-spoke when I said Seatow in my post.
Still though, the guy said $300. I'm going to call when I have the time to sit on hold for awhile and see why that would have been.

I'm still betting on the Starter or the Fuel line/ Fuel pump ideas, too.

Thanks everyone so far!
 

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Had a similar issue a while back. Fought it for months before we finally thoroughly checked the fuel tank vent hose. Ours was routed so as to allow overfilled or sloshed diesel to accumulate in a low spot until it completely blocked the vent. A blast of air to remove the diesel from the line followed by rerouting it solved the problem.
This sounds like a real possibility. Perhaps with the 20 minuets it settled back down the vent, and could have even been foamed up if the fuel went in really quickly. Especially if there was any "topping up" at the end. I agree there is something else that may be bad, if it was not getting to speed. Is that something recent? If so I would also suspect the mixing elbow.
 

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.....The wide-open-throttle problem isn't that the engine can't do it (Also the propeller is fine, new cutlass and shaft 2 years ago, less than 20 running hours) - I could go down there and tug on the throttle cable if I wanted to open it up more
If that's true, you still need to adjust to WOT to know that the engine makes max RPM. The cutlass and shaft are not usually an issue with it. Prop pitch is usually the culprit or the engine has a serious power problem. Has the boat always had this improper throttle cable problem? That's fairly unusual, unless incorrect mods or replacements have been attempted. It's the throw of the throttle that's the issue. It has to travel the proper length from idle to WOT. If it comes up that short on WOT, one would think that idle would be too low as well.

Btw, its not inconceivable that it's your tach that's the problem.

Anyway, I only offer this as a potential cause of the trouble you're having, not the starting trouble itself. Having the wrong power/rpm is like driving your car on the highway in first gear or pulling away from a stop sign in 6th gear, all the time. Bad.

....helpful to know the cruising RPM is 3000....
Max rpm is not cruising rpm. It's max.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
According to a quick google search, the M25 should make 3000rpm at WOT.
Got it - Thanks. Sorry I tune into at work to check responses and read that too fast the first time, responded and submitted before my manager came back from lunch without double-checking.
 
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