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Old 03-06-2014, 13:27   #1
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Engine cranking difficult ...

at first I thought it was the starter ... turn the key, a clunk, no start, turn again, another clunk. After a few tries, it fires up.

Anyway, examining further, I found a few water droplets on the inside of the oil cap and the oil has a greyish tinge.

I have read the routine for getting the water out, my question is whether I -- who am no mechanic but fairly handy -- can do this myself or if I absolutely need to call in the cavalry.
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Old 03-06-2014, 13:37   #2
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

I don't see the connection between the two. One is a starter/electrical problem and the other is maybe a water leak into the engine problem (or just condensation how long has it been since the last time you changed the oil).

For the electrical check all the connections for corrosion (wiring harness plugs are common for corrosion and I had to jumper my last boats wire)
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Old 03-06-2014, 13:39   #3
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

Adding to electrical - there's usually an old fuse & fuseholder on the wire from the ignition key or button and the starter solenoid. Replace it.
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Old 03-06-2014, 13:46   #4
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

Well, my suspicion is hydrostatic lock that's taxing the starter. The oil was just changed a few months ago and has been changed at least once a year since I've owned the boat (sometimes twice).

So, here's some more info: the engine overheated earlier this season (post-oil change) and I fed poured water into the heat exchanger (as I didn't have any glycol immediately handy). It overflowed and spilled onto the top of the block. I'm wondering if I have a bad head gasket that allowed that water into the crankcase ...?
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Old 03-06-2014, 14:11   #5
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

More than likely you have a leak from either the heat exchange or a bad head gasket that allowed coolant into a cylinder. A bad head gasket wouldn't allow water spilled on the outside of the head to enter the engine. I guess it'd depend how milky the oil is. Is this a diesel or gas engine? Either way you need to look in the cylinder to see if there is water in there. You need to pull either the spark plug (gas) or the fuel injector or glow plug(diesel) to see. What make and model of engine do you have?

You may be correct thinking the two are related. However it could just be a coincedence that you have a small coolant leak as well as a bad starter or electrical issue. First you need to make sure you have good lubrication before trying to start the engine. If your cylinders are full of water you could be find the answer to both problems. If not you have two seperate problems.

If it's electrical you could have corroded wires and connections. You'd want to make sure where the cables meet any switches or motors that there is no corrosion it should be bright and clean. I also know some Catalina's and probably others had a very long wire length and too thin of wire for the circuit that sends the signal to the starter solenoid. It was over 40ft long. It would cause the starter to click but not engage. You'd have to try several times and it would finally go. The fix was to replace it with a thicker gauge wire.

It isn't uncommon for the underside of oil caps to collect condensation and oil and have a little bit of brownish greyish stuff on them. However if you pull a sample of oil or look at the dipstick and it's all brown/grey then you more than likely have a coolant leak problem. Good luck.
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Old 03-06-2014, 14:13   #6
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pirate Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

To me the clunk sounds like a power to starter problem.. disconnect connections at the battery and clean well.. re-connect making sure they're nice and tight.. repeat at the starter.. its amazing how just the tiniest bit of slack/grime in a connection point can affect things..
The other.. could be a coupla things I'll leave to better brains than mine.. head gasket..??
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Old 03-06-2014, 14:24   #7
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

Wonder why we couldn't have been told ALL the story to start with?

What is the level on the dipstick to support you new hydro lock theory? How does your hydro lock problem suddenly decide to allow the engine to turn over after a couple of tries?

Sounds like a fact you have water in the oil, start by changing it. Does the problem go away, does it come back later? Let us know.
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Old 03-06-2014, 14:29   #8
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

Thanks Boatman and Appick -- I originally thought it was a bad starter, too.

So, here's the particulars:

Isuzu C240 "Pisces" -- not too common, but it's a marinized marine diesel - 58hp, four cylinder.

I have had intermittent issues with overheating, so the heat exchanger could be in the equation; however I had it serviced/essentially rebuilt a few years ago.

Appick - thanks for the reassurance about the head gasket and the condensation. I wouldn't say the oil is exactly milky, but it does seem perhaps a bit greyish - definitely not the golden brown that I put in. I realize it does change color after some run time, but usually it goes black.
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Old 03-06-2014, 14:38   #9
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
Wonder why we couldn't have been told ALL the story to start with?

What is the level on the dipstick to support you new hydro lock theory? How does your hydro lock problem suddenly decide to allow the engine to turn over after a couple of tries?

Sounds like a fact you have water in the oil, start by changing it. Does the problem go away, does it come back later? Let us know.
Well, sorry about that ... I had thought I'd determined there was water in the oil and just wanted to cut to the chase, which was to determine if I could fix the problem myself. But all this helpful info is making me rethink the whole scenario.
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Old 03-06-2014, 14:47   #10
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

I'm going to put my money on electrical problem.

2 things to try if you are bored.

1) when this happens have someone hold the start button while you hit the starter with a hammer. If all of a sudden it works then replace the starter.

2) if it is happening try using a jumper box or jumper cables and powering the starter directly. If it magically comes to life then you have a wiring/connection/corrosion/too small of wire problem
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Old 03-06-2014, 14:50   #11
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by appick View Post
1. You may be correct thinking the two are related. However it could just be a coincedence that you have a small coolant leak as well as a bad starter or electrical issue.

2. I also know some Catalina's and probably others had a very long wire length and too thin of wire for the circuit that sends the signal to the starter solenoid. It was over 40ft long. It would cause the starter to click but not engage. You'd have to try several times and it would finally go. The fix was to replace it with a thicker gauge wire.
1. I agree. However, I have rarely heard of a "rebuilt" HX.

2. The real issue was twofold: 1) the old ammeter-in-the-cockpit panel issue; 2) wire harness trailer connections.

The REAL fix was not to oversize or replace the wire, but rather to replace the ammeter with a voltmeter, and diss the trailer connections, thus eliminating the long run and making real world instead of toy connections.
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Old 03-06-2014, 14:52   #12
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sneuman View Post
Well, sorry about that ... I had thought I'd determined there was water in the oil and just wanted to cut to the chase, which was to determine if I could fix the problem myself. But all this helpful info is making me rethink the whole scenario.
Not unreasonable. Just do as suggested: break it down to the two possible component parts.

Good luck.
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Old 03-06-2014, 14:53   #13
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

thanks Onetherocks83. Maybe I'm just being paranoid. I'll try a run-through on the starter/electrical connections first.
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Old 03-06-2014, 15:44   #14
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

sneuman-
You could do a load test (assuming you can get an ammeter) to see if the starter motor is pulling current and simply not able to move. Might be able to do just as well by looking for a voltage drop when it is supposed to be engaged.

You could also engage the decompression lever, or pull the injector, or glowplugs if you have them, opening the cylinders and manually turning the engine over, slowly, to see if any water pumps out of the cylinders. Or peeking into them.

If the cylinders are full...yes, time to think about a mechanic. But if they don't gush out a foul brew, then it is "just" a starter problem. Diagnose first, panic later.
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Old 03-06-2014, 17:36   #15
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Re: Engine cranking difficult ...

If the cylinders were that full of water it wouldn't start or would break something when cranking. There is no way that a cylinder filled with enough water to "lock up" an engine would then just start after a few clunks from the starter motor. He may have a second issue of water getting into the engine but I will put dollars to donuts that is not what is preventing the engine to turn.
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