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Old 29-09-2015, 14:31   #1
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How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

We just bought a 1975 Cal 2-27 that came without a key to start the engine. The engine, a gasoline Volvo Penta MB10A, is supposed to work fine.

We have have changed the oil, points, plugs etc but not sure how to start it without a key. We can get to the ignition from the back.

Any advice on how to start it would be appreciated, thanks.
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Old 29-09-2015, 14:51   #2
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

The back of the ignition switch has three wires on it. +12, Ignition, and Start. You may need to trace these back to figgure out what's what. Some switches have the connectors identified.

Put +12 on the ignition wire, and then momentarily put +12 on the start. The engine will turn over and would start if it's gonna. Take voltage off Ignition and it'll stop. Don't keep voltage on the ignition terminal without the engine running - it can burn out the points.

OTOH, get yourself to a West Marine (or equivilant) and pick up a new ignition switch - then you'll have keys too.
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Old 29-09-2015, 15:09   #3
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

Careful there. Diesels don't have points.

Richard, welcome, and wait for others to respond.
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Old 29-09-2015, 15:12   #4
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

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Careful there. Diesels don't have points.

Richard, welcome, and wait for others to respond.
OP said "The engine, a gasoline Volvo Penta MB10A"
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Old 29-09-2015, 15:19   #5
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

My bad, missed that. Didn't even know Volvo made a gas engine.

The advice given is likely correct.
My apologies jeepblue.
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Old 29-09-2015, 15:20   #6
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

Connect + from battery to the + on coil. momentarily connect the little terminal on starter solenoid to + to make engine turn over.there are a couple of different starter configurations if in doubt post a photo.

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Old 29-09-2015, 15:21   #7
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

Get a Cigarette type boat to type you at 15 knots. Drop transmission into gear and she should fire right up.
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Old 29-09-2015, 15:28   #8
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

Jeepblue is right, the switch is typically marked 'bat' for battery, 'I' for ignition, and 'S' for start. The battery wire is probably red, the start wire yellow or yellow with a red stripe, and the ignition wire white, though they may have been changed. The ignition wire must be hooked up to 12vdc positive for the engine to run, you can make a momentary connection to the S terminal from the battery terminal to turn the engine over with a short piece of wire.


Any automotive type ignition switch will work, though in a marine environment a marine switch might last longer. A pushbutton and a toggle switch will also work if you're prone to losing keys...
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Old 29-09-2015, 15:30   #9
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

I am thinking your gas fueled start procedure is the same as the diesel. There is a pull switch which should energize the excitor circuit on the alternator, the fume blower, the Hobbs meter and the ignition switch. The ignition switch is a push button. After this many years of exposure, the push button contacts often corrode.
I am unfamiliar with a Volvo gas engine. The original gas power was an Atomic 4. The diesel was a Farymann.

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Old 29-09-2015, 16:31   #10
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

Back in my younger & (more) mischievious days, we'd just use a screwdriver to connect the points on the starter solenoid. Although right now, the particulars (details) of such, escape me.
A little help, please...
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Old 29-09-2015, 16:39   #11
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

MAAKE SURE THERE AIN'T NO GASOLINE FUMES FLOATING AROUND! THERE WILL BE SPARKS !
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Old 29-09-2015, 16:42   #12
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
Back in my younger & (more) mischievious days, we'd just use a screwdriver to connect the points on the starter solenoid. Although right now, the particulars (details) of such, escape me.
A little help, please...
There used to be a terminal on the solenoid that would supply 12v straight to the coil while you were cranking Normally the points operate on 9 or 10v through a resistor. While you were cranking the volts would drop so low the engine would not start so they by-passed the resistor during cranking with that terminal on the solenoid.
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Old 29-09-2015, 16:48   #13
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

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There used to be a terminal on the solenoid that would supply 12v straight to the coil while you were cranking Normally the points operate on 9 or 10v through a resistor. While you were cranking the volts would drop so low the engine would not start so they by-passed the resistor during cranking with that terminal on the solenoid.

Exactly, and this is why you don't want to put the 14V directly to the coil, she will run fine until the coil burns out. Jumper the wires at the back of the switch and your using the system as designed, run a hot wire directly to the coil and you may burn it out, not all coils require external resistors as I recall though, no idea about Volvo.

I'd just buy a new switch with key and replace it.


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Old 29-09-2015, 17:57   #14
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

PLEASE make sure the blower is functional. The engine location is under the galley and below the fuel tank. If the fuel tank is original, it is probably leaking. And it is carburetored engine which had multiple points for vapor to escape, unlike fuel injection.

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Old 29-09-2015, 18:41   #15
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Re: How do you hot-start a sailboat engine

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I'd just buy a new switch with key and replace it.
That's a very good idea.

Standard gas boat routine, run the blower. If you can smell gas, don't do any of it. You should never smell gas at all.
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