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Old 30-12-2011, 10:23   #1
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Batteries too low to start the engine

I had a problem for the past 7 days. We ran the batteries to low to start the engine, regrig, computers and not paying attention. I figured no problem, the solar panel will charge them up. We were in Martinique, St. Pierre, it is overcast from the mountain and and not enough sun. We sailed out to head to Rodney Bay, and it was overcast and rainy. Twelve to 18 foot waves and great wind though!!

We finally took the batteies in to have charged and that got the engine running.

So, the question is, is there any way to turn the engine over to start without the baterries fully charged. We turned off all of the house batteries and only used the engine once a day to try. I am going to look into a wind gen now though as an alternative.

Secound question, any suggestions on a wind generator? That is not loud.
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Old 30-12-2011, 10:29   #2
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What type of engine? Many can be started by hand. You might want to look into a battery monitor too (Link, Victron etc). Are you set up with two banks (house/start)? These things can help you prevent this issue in the future. SC
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Old 30-12-2011, 10:30   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landonshaw
I had a problem for the past 7 days. We ran the batteries to low to start the engine, regrig, computers and not paying attention. I figured no problem, the solar panel will charge them up. We were in Martinique, St. Pierre, it is overcast from the mountain and and not enough sun. We sailed out to head to Rodney Bay, and it was overcast and rainy. Twelve to 18 foot waves and great wind though!!

We finally took the batteies in to have charged and that got the engine running.

So, the question is, is there any way to turn the engine over to start without the baterries fully charged. We turned off all of the house batteries and only used the engine once a day to try. I am going to look into a wind gen now though as an alternative.

Secound question, any suggestions on a wind generator? That is not loud.
Some engines can be hand cranked. It is not fun and not easy. A second charging source - solar or wind is a good idea. The main idea though is to isolate the start battery from the house batteries.

Sounds like you either can't or didn't isolate the start battery.
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Old 30-12-2011, 10:31   #4
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Re: Batteries to low to start the engine

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Originally Posted by sailcruiser View Post
What type of engine? Many can be started by hand. You might want to look into a battery monitor too (Link, Victron etc). Are you set up with two banks (house/start)? These things can help you prevent this issue in the future. SC
A small genset and a battery charger. We have a 2.4kva genset we can run if the batteries are down. Awkward, but better than being stuck with dead batteries. Even one of the little 750w ones would run a battery charger without a problem.

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Old 30-12-2011, 10:31   #5
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Re: Batteries to low to start the engine

in a emergency situation you can put two flat batteries together to start the engine.
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Old 30-12-2011, 10:36   #6
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Re: Batteries to low to start the engine

One of the reasons I put in a third battery up forward for the windlass. I'll always have a backup.
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Old 30-12-2011, 10:38   #7
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Re: Batteries to low to start the engine

We have a Volvo Penta MD2040. My fault in letting the batteries get to low. Yes, I can seperate the house from the engine, and yes they were not seperate at this time. I had run with both on and did not isolate the engine after that charging. Interested in the hand starting, could you explain a little more?
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Old 30-12-2011, 10:44   #8
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Re: Batteries to low to start the engine

Google is your friend.
Hand Cranking - Safe and Easy
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Old 30-12-2011, 10:51   #9
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Re: Batteries to low to start the engine

if you get real desperate you can go for this set up. Troubled Times: Hand Crank

On the front of the motor a one direction coupler that can be installed, with a hand crank supported farther forward. When the motor starts it kicks out the handle so it doesn't continue to turn. You just have to have room to turn the handle. Sometimes the length of it will get it high enough.

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Old 30-12-2011, 10:53   #10
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Re: Batteries to low to start the engine

make sure your chin is out the way cos when that handle comes flying off it will try to hit you in the face.
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Old 30-12-2011, 11:07   #11
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Re: Batteries to low to start the engine

I have an old 42 Farmall Tractor with a hand crank, boy does it kick.
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Old 30-12-2011, 11:18   #12
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Re: Batteries to low to start the engine

Having hand cranked more than a few tractor engines, you are exposing yourself to things like sprained wrists, bruised knuckles, broken arms or lacerations.

Practice in advance, and make sure you know when you need to let go. Hand cranking is sometimes necessary, but not without risks.
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Old 30-12-2011, 11:18   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landonshaw
We have a Volvo Penta MD2040. My fault in letting the batteries get to low. Yes, I can seperate the house from the engine, and yes they were not seperate at this time. I had run with both on and did not isolate the engine after that charging. Interested in the hand starting, could you explain a little more?
Our first sailboat as a kid had a single cylinder diesel that was started with a pull cord that was wrapped around the front pulley just like an ancient lawnmower.

The key is to have an engine with a decompression lever. That is the lever is flipped, compression is released. The cord is pulled and while the engine is spinning the lever is flipped. Hopefully the engine gets one compression cycle and the engine starts.

I have a Volvo MD2010. There is no decompression lever. I tried to hand start it once and was not man enough.

You can get your owners manual at Volvo's website but I doubt the 2040 can be successfully hand cranked.
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Old 30-12-2011, 11:25   #14
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Re: Batteries to low to start the engine

Can some diesels be started with an air compressor? If you had a lot of time on your hands you could use a bicycle pump to fill the air tank.
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Old 30-12-2011, 11:30   #15
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Break a wrist, break your arm, knock your teeth out with a flying handle......

Or just wire in an automatic system to isolate the start battery so you can't "forget about the switch" and be done with it. You should never need to use your start battery for house demands, if you need more capacity then add more house batteries and leave the start battery alone and charged.

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