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Old 08-11-2012, 23:13   #1
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Dead engine tricks

I recently did a two day bareboat charter on a Leopard 38 out of San Diego. The first day, after sailing, the starboard engine was sluggish starting. Next morning in the anchorage, it wouldn't turn over. Listening at the engine while someone engaged the starter, there was an arcing sound (just one click) in the area of the alternator on each attempt. I spoke by phone to a mechanic who was familiar with this boat and he suggested jiggling the wires in that area during the attempts. This was probably the most reasonable advice under the circumstances (I also tried tapping it with my multi-tool), but are there any other suggestions for a quick fix in this situation? The port engine was running and the batteries were charged. In any case, it was good practice weighing anchor and later docking with one engine.
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Old 08-11-2012, 23:20   #2
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Re: Dead engine tricks

A loose conection is possible,but in my experiance the starter solenoid ,usually mounted on the starter is most likely the fault
You may get it to work by tapping on the solenoid
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Old 09-11-2012, 00:51   #3
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Re: Dead engine tricks

If it just clicked then I would lean towards the solenoid, but since it turned over slowly one day then clicked the next I would lean towards a high resistance connection or low or bad battery. Does each engine have its own start battery that is charged by its own engine and only cross connects by a manual switch?
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:10   #4
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The volt meter read over 12 volts for all batteries. The guy at the charter company said if the other engine was running, there should be juice to start, but he wasn't particularly familiar with this boat (he was filling in while the staff was at a boat show). I don't know of this is normal, but pushing the glow plug button dropped the volts to zero.
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:16   #5
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Re: Dead engine tricks

It's not the starter then
Either the battery has a dead cell and needs to be replaced or the connections are bad
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Old 09-11-2012, 09:14   #6
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Re: Dead engine tricks

What I usually do to check the starter solenoid is to take a screw driver or pliers and jump the two large terminals. If it then turns over, it's the solenoid or dirty connections to it
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Old 09-11-2012, 10:31   #7
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Re: Dead engine tricks

It seems like most of these type of problems originate with the ground connection for the starter. If the starter is grounded through it's mounting to the engine run a ground wire to the mounting bolt. If not check the ground cable terminal, remove it and clean it. I have seen the cable pull right out of the terminal using fingers alone.
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:44   #8
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Re: Dead engine tricks

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Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
What I usually do to check the starter solenoid is to take a screw driver or pliers and jump the two large terminals. If it then turns over, it's the solenoid or dirty connections to it
Good advice.
It's worth knowing how to do this. You jump the the main + feed and you can bypass all the ignition switch, or bypass the solenoid (in the latter case the starter will spin, but not engage the flywheel)

Has anyone a good website that explains this ? It is important information to have and it's much easier to explain with some diagrams.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:04   #9
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Re: Dead engine tricks

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Originally Posted by Q. Helm View Post
I recently did a two day bareboat charter on a Leopard 38 out of San Diego. The first day, after sailing, the starboard engine was sluggish starting. Next morning in the anchorage, it wouldn't turn over. Listening at the engine while someone engaged the starter, there was an arcing sound (just one click) in the area of the alternator on each attempt. I spoke by phone to a mechanic who was familiar with this boat and he suggested jiggling the wires in that area during the attempts. This was probably the most reasonable advice under the circumstances (I also tried tapping it with my multi-tool), but are there any other suggestions for a quick fix in this situation? The port engine was running and the batteries were charged. In any case, it was good practice weighing anchor and later docking with one engine.
One of the dangers of a charter is that you really have to call them for any issues or problems. If you start to 'fix' the boat, they can 'blame' you for doing something wrong. Trying to remove wires, or rewire, or jury rig something that you may feel good about doing on your boat can result in the charter company attempting to blame you for doing it incorrectly.

On your own boat, if you break something or try something it is your responsibility. On a charter, it is their responsibility, and they want you to let them have the opportunity to fix it. Jiggling wires (sounds like a possible loose connection) is ok, but ....

Of course, even if it is not my boat, and I am stuck in the middle of the ocean as something went wrong, I would do what I need to to preserve my life.... Otherwise... a quick call to the charter company, and if they want me to do something make sure that I have proof that they authorized me.. (even a recording of the VHF transmission) to insure that there is no blame game on me.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:46   #10
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Re: Dead engine tricks

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Good advice.
It's worth knowing how to do this. You jump the the main + feed and you can bypass all the ignition switch, or bypass the solenoid (in the latter case the starter will spin, but not engage the flywheel)

Has anyone a good website that explains this ? It is important information to have and it's much easier to explain with some diagrams.
This link doesn't have all the details in the wiring diagram, but from the diagram you can see if you short the two big posts together you supply power to the part that spins the gear. If you short the big post that is connected to the battery to the small post, you bypass the starter key and provide power to the solenoid which pushes the gear out to engage the flywheel and then connects the two big posts together to make the gear spin.

Starter motor, starting system
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Old 09-11-2012, 21:01   #11
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Does Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual have sufficient detail on this topic?
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Old 09-11-2012, 21:11   #12
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Re: Dead engine tricks

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Does Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual have sufficient detail on this topic?
Yes it goes into detail with pictures of where you put the screwdriver and how to take them apart and where to put multimeter leads, most everything.
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Old 11-11-2012, 17:25   #13
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Re: Dead engine tricks

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The volt meter read over 12 volts for all batteries. ....... I don't know of this is normal, but pushing the glow plug button dropped the volts to zero.
No, that is not normal. The voltage should never drop below 11.5 for the glow plugs. You have a dead starter battery. Sounds like you have separate batteries for each engine.
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Old 11-11-2012, 19:21   #14
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Re: Dead engine tricks

It depends on where you measured the voltage. If you were measuring right at the battery post then you have a bad battery. If you were measuring at the starter you could have a bad battery or a bad connection between the battery and the starter.
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