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Old 02-12-2011, 14:50   #1
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Diesel Starting Issue After Sailing

My Alberg 37 is powered by a Vetus 41 hp. This engine normally starts without problems. After sailing in moderate winds and heeling 15-20 degrees the engine occasionally develops a starting problem. The engine clearly doesn't get enough fuel and only after two or three times starting does the engine start. Apparently after getting air out of the system. We have the whole system checked and cannot find anything wrong. After two weeks in the slip the engine starts immediately. It seems that the problem is more pronounced when sailing on port bow this is where the air vent and fuel cap are located and we do sail the toe rail under water. Filters clear, tank full, no leaks. Any ideas?
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Old 02-12-2011, 14:55   #2
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Re: Diesel starting issue after sailing

You could be stirring something up in the fuel tank while sailing and it causes a blockage of the fuel pickup line. It might be something substantial enough not to go through the pick up line or through its strainer if the line is so equipped, thus nothing to show in the filter. Once back in port what ever it might be settles out and lets the engine start normally.

When was the last time you had the fuel tank thoroughly cleaned out?
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Old 02-12-2011, 14:59   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astrid
You could be stirring something up in the fuel tank while sailing and it causes a blockage of the fuel pickup line. It might be something substantial enough not to go through the pick up line or through its strainer if the line is so equipped, thus nothing to show in the filter. Once back in port what ever it might be settles out and lets the engine start normally.
Thought about that but in that case the engine would not start at all. After a couple of tries though the engine starts and runs normally even when heeling.
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Old 02-12-2011, 14:59   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astrid
You could be stirring something up in the fuel tank while sailing and it causes a blockage of the fuel pickup line. It might be something substantial enough not to go through the pick up line or through its strainer if the line is so equipped, thus nothing to show in the filter. Once back in port what ever it might be settles out and lets the engine start normally.

When was the last time you had the fuel tank thoroughly cleaned out?
On cleaning out: that is sometime ago.
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Old 02-12-2011, 15:07   #5
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Re: Diesel starting issue after sailing

Well, test it then!

Get a 5 gallon jerry jug, half fill it with diesel, insert fuel feed and return hoses in there (just take them off the tank connections if you don't had extra hose... I use cheap transparent vinyl hoses for tests like these), making sure the fuel feed hose opening is t the bottom. I use a wooden conical plug (from nearby seacock for emergencies) in jerry jug opening to keep hoses tight. Tie jug securely down.

You have to prime/bleed the system but after that you have clean emergency tank to test with.

ciao!
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Old 02-12-2011, 15:18   #6
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Well, test it then!

Get a 5 gallon jerry jug, half fill it with diesel, insert fuel feed and return hoses in there (just take them off the tank connections if you don't had extra hose... I use cheap transparent vinyl hoses for tests like these), making sure the fuel feed hose opening is t the bottom. I use a wooden conical plug (from nearby seacock for emergencies) in jerry jug opening to keep hoses tight. Tie jug securely down.

You have to prime/bleed the system but after that you have clean emergency tank to test with.

ciao!
Nick.
Indeed for testing that works. It doesn't work when sailing in 15knot breeze.
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Old 02-12-2011, 15:23   #7
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Re: Diesel starting issue after sailing

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Indeed for testing that works. It doesn't work when sailing in 15knot breeze.
Why not? I did that in way more than that... You must equal the same circumstances where you get the problem while using the normal tank.

If you tie the jerry jug down against the real fuel tank or close-by and only fill it halfway, you will not have trouble. I wrap a cloth around the jug opening but hoses and plug close the opening for 90% already.

ciao!
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Old 02-12-2011, 15:26   #8
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It's an idea to consider. Thanks.
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Old 02-12-2011, 22:12   #9
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Re: Diesel Starting Issue After Sailing

If your tank vent is underwater or is unable to vent for some reason there might be quite a suction on the tank for a bit and not allow the engine to start as easily as if it were clear. Just a thought!
kind regards,
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Old 02-12-2011, 23:00   #10
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Re: Diesel Starting Issue After Sailing

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Originally Posted by GalvestonBay View Post
My Alberg 37 is powered by a Vetus 41 hp. This engine normally starts without problems. After sailing in moderate winds and heeling 15-20 degrees the engine occasionally develops a starting problem. The engine clearly doesn't get enough fuel and only after two or three times starting does the engine start. Apparently after getting air out of the system. We have the whole system checked and cannot find anything wrong. After two weeks in the slip the engine starts immediately. It seems that the problem is more pronounced when sailing on port bow this is where the air vent and fuel cap are located and we do sail the toe rail under water. Filters clear, tank full, no leaks. Any ideas?
Hey I have been experiencing similar problems with my port tank, difficult to start and unwanted stopping. Finally bought myself a fuel transfer kit and a water separator/filter that I attached to the suction side of the pump, fitted a wand to the suction hose, pumped the fuel out through an inspection port and back into the filler effectively vacuming the bottom of the tank. I couldn't believe the crap that came out, no wonder it didn't want to run. Worth the effort!!
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Old 03-12-2011, 00:11   #11
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Re: Diesel Starting Issue After Sailing

It may be a long shot but it's a remote possibility that you're getting raw water up your exhaust hose and creating too much back pressure. Something to consider if all else fails. Good luck.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 03-12-2011, 00:13   #12
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Re: Diesel Starting Issue After Sailing

Might be air flowing back the fuel return line. Best practices have the return line extended to the bottom of the tank. But this is often not done. With healing the fuel can run out of the line and air enter all the way to the injectors or pump. Maybe re-route the line with a low loop ... or something.
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Old 03-12-2011, 09:13   #13
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Re: Diesel Starting Issue After Sailing

You might want to considers a fueltank check valve.

I see this in a lot of gasoline tanks that have a long run to the engine. It assures that fuel is always in the line and doesn't drain back to the tank
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Old 04-12-2011, 05:41   #14
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Re: Diesel Starting Issue After Sailing

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You might want to considers a fueltank check valve.I see this in a lot of gasoline tanks that have a long run to the engine. It assures that fuel is always in the line and doesn't drain back to the tank
In fact it is common and even provided by diesel manufacturers for small engine (Perkins) it consist of a squeeze bulb similar to the one used on outboard engine. Make sure to buy the good quality one, the cheap one the checks valves do not work so well. I have one on each of my two diesel.
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Old 04-12-2011, 05:56   #15
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Re: Diesel Starting Issue After Sailing

Do you have a racor on your boat? First thing I would do is check the filter. If it is filthy, 99% chance that is your problem. I had a boat with a fuel issue once and acted up in a way similar but not identical to what you are describing. I cured the starting and stalling problem by emptying the tanks on the boat. Having inspection plates cut into the boat, having the tanks vacuumed, then wiped clean, resealing the inspection ports, polishing the fuel taken off, replacing the engine and racor filters, and adding an electric fuel pump to give the lift pump a little uummmpphh! Then I pulled the injectors and had them checked to see if they matched spec. After I replaced a couple of the injectors, I cleaned a little corrosion off of the starter wiring, and bleed the engine, then it started happily ever thereaftrer.
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