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Old 20-09-2019, 08:22   #1
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Help stuck in port

Help stuck in port can't get engine to start. 1989 catalina 34 universal engine. When turn key oil pressure buzzer comes on. After pressing the starter button a separate warning buzzer and light next to key comes on. This happened after 8 hrs cruise. Engine cooled off overnight.
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Old 20-09-2019, 08:43   #2
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Re: Help stuck in port

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Help stuck in port can't get engine to start. 1989 catalina 34 universal engine. When turn key oil pressure buzzer comes on. After pressing the starter button a separate warning buzzer and light next to key comes on. This happened after 8 hrs cruise. Engine cooled off overnight.
Need a bit more information, pictures etc.
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Old 20-09-2019, 09:06   #3
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Re: Help stuck in port

You will get much more knowledgeable responses than from myself, but here's my best thinking to get you started.

Engine needs relatively clean diesel and compression to run. But to start, it also needs sufficient juice to the starter. Your post does not contain enough information to even start to guess where the problem lies. In no particular order (mostly easy to hard), here's what my approach would be:

1. Make sure gear shift is in neutral - there is an interlock to prevent starting in-gear.
2. Check your battery voltage and connection. If your starter battery is low, it will not provide sufficient cranking amps to the starter even though the idiot lights are on. If battery connection is loose, the big pull of amps will break the circuit.
3. I have no idea what the second idiot light is. Low oil pressure and high water temp are about the only normal idiot lights. Clearly not high water temp on a cold engine. On an older Universal, these are alerts only and will not prevent the engine from starting.
4. If the engine cranks but doesn't start, first check on injection pump to see if there is a broken or loose linkage. Whatever shuts-down fuel to the engine may have broken or a clevis pin worked loose. Look for a linkage off a push-pull solenoid
5. If starter motor engages but does not crank-over engine, see if you can manually turn the engine (large wrench off pulley on crankshaft). If it is hydro-locked or something, well, another story. Check your oil for moisture/hi-level/foam/chocolate milk (all bad signs, but not likely).
6. If the engine seems to be okay, could be a starter switch or something like the interlock from the gear to prevent accidental start. Take a decent sized wire and jump across the solenoid terminals to energize the starter.

As always, be careful about over-cranking the engine and filling-up the exhaust muffler, which risks flooding your exhaust manifold and seriously damaging your engine.

Good luck!

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Old 20-09-2019, 10:19   #4
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Re: Help stuck in port

Aside from the above mentioned battery condition, with the key and push button ignition setup there is also most likely a relay between the two, check all connections and also a good idea to test the push button. A piece of wire to bridge the connections will easily do the trick.
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Old 20-09-2019, 10:27   #5
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Re: Help stuck in port

On our boat oil alarm ALWAYS goes ON prior to starting.


I do not get what the problem is.


Does the engine NOT start?


Do the lights REMAIN on?


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Old 20-09-2019, 16:05   #6
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Re: Help stuck in port

There are two separate, independent "no start" conditions you need to investigate and correct as necessary.

1) When turning the key to the "Start" position, the starter motor does not crank the engine, though you may hear clicking in addition to the "Low Oil Pressure" horn. This will be a case of insufficient VOLTAGE being furnished to the starter motor by the battery(ies) via the connecting wiring. This could be due to a battery not having sufficient residual voltage due to having been drawn down by various loads. Remedial action will be discussed separately if you like.

2) The starter motor cranks the engine, but the engine does not fire. This is far less likely than #1) above, but also more serious. Generally, this condition will be due to fuel not being injected into the cylinders. Again, let's identify whether you have condition #1) or condition #2). Having made this identification we can carry on with remedies in a systematic, useful way.

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Old 21-09-2019, 09:35   #7
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Re: Help stuck in port

Check that the electrical paths are tight & corrosion free. Had a similar problem several years ago. Starter would not crank the engine. Good voltage on the start battery. Had corrosion & a loose connection on the engine block to battery negative. Cleaned & tightened the connection, starter was happy!
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Old 21-09-2019, 20:39   #8
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Re: Help stuck in port

My 1984 Universal M-25 had the glow plug switch in series with the "Start" button. So I would have to hold down the glow plug button for 10 - 15 seconds and then, while still holding the glow plug button down, would also press the start button. After starting problems developed, I replaced the starter motor and the key switch to no avail. Finally, after much research, I disengaged the glow plug switch from the start button so that I would not be drawing voltage for both glow plugs and starter motor at the same time. And the most important change was replacing the small wire from the starter button to the starter solenoid with a heavier, 12-gauge wire. Now I light the glow plugs for 10 - 15 seconds, release and hit the starter button and she cranks vigorously!
Good luck!
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Old 22-09-2019, 00:40   #9
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Re: Help stuck in port

If you have a multimeter or there is a volt meter on panel look at the battery voltage when you press the star button. It will normaly drop to about 10v.
If it does not drop at all you have a fault in the starter curcuit or starter motor
If it drops to about 8v or less you have a battery problem, flat or not charging so check the state of charge with a hydrometer, or by using some other high power device like an inverter

If less than 8v and the main wire gets warm or you have confirmed a charged battery you have a stuck starter motor
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Old 22-09-2019, 06:44   #10
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Re: Help stuck in port

Two things to check. My 1987 C36 has two negative ground wires. When I installed 4 new 6volt batteries, it hardly cranked. I had forgotten the second ground, buried under the new batteries.
Also I had starting problems, replaced the starter button, purchased in the marine section of Ace Hardware, no problem since. Good old corrosion...You can jump the starter button with a screwdriver from inside the lazarette to see if it makes a difference.
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Old 22-09-2019, 06:49   #11
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Re: Help stuck in port

If your battery is OK, try using jumper cables as on a car. Otherwise take an external battery for test purposes.
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Old 22-09-2019, 07:10   #12
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Re: Help stuck in port

Haven't heard from OP in a couple of days.

I guess he shifted to neutral.
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Old 22-09-2019, 07:34   #13
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Re: Help stuck in port

There's a fuse on the wire from the start button to the solenoid. If it dies, no start, no noise, no nuttin'.


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Old 22-09-2019, 08:03   #14
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Re: Help stuck in port

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Haven't heard from OP in a couple of days.

I guess he shifted to neutral.


I love these sorts of hit and run posts. And that they still get 10+ replies, and sometimes a debate about some of the suggestions. You know you're a boatie when...
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Old 22-09-2019, 08:12   #15
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Re: Help stuck in port

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Originally Posted by Carribbean554 View Post
Help stuck in port can't get engine to start. 1989 catalina 34 universal engine. When turn key oil pressure buzzer comes on. After pressing the starter button a separate warning buzzer and light next to key comes on. This happened after 8 hrs cruise. Engine cooled off overnight.
So the engine does not turn over? or it does... but won't start? Assuming it doesn't turn over, Maybe you can bridge the solenoid with a big screwdriver to activate the starter motor...
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