Ever since my purchace two months ago, I've been plagued by engine
stalling (First stall: on the first day of a one hundred mile, two-day, single-handed delivery
from San Diego
to San Pedro, CA). The fuel
filters were absolutely muddy, so I thought after those were replaced and I'd scrubbed out the tank, I'd be fine.
So such luck. Run five hours, then starve. Next day, start right up, run half an hour, then starve. Let it set a week: run fine two hours, then starve.
Oh, yeah: Catalina 30, Universal (Kubota) M25-XP. Facet electric lift pump (yes, they handle diesel just fine), Bosch manual injector pump.
After two months of frustration, diesel-impregnated hands at work, and sailing on and off my anchor
and into the slip (I'm getting pretty good at it now), and burping and bleeding (isn't that what killed George Washington, too much bleeding by his doctors?)
chasing ghosts I can't see, I finally traced the problem back to a clogged screen at the end of the pick-up tube in the fuel tank
; a tank I'd scrubbed out as my first chore in solving my problem. I never thought of the screen
as a possibility until later.
Today, I started off by cracking open fuel lines to injectors while cranking engine
, to check for air: one dripped instead of spurted, and two were dry! Started tracing backwards: removed each piece of fuel line and blew through it. Secondary filter full of fuel. Line from the lift
pump to secondary not clogged. Once I saw the lift pump, that I had cleaned thoroughly a month ago and bench-tested for flow rate, then re-installed, had virtually zero output, I threw my head
back and howled like a hound who's picked up the scent of a coon. It was a simple task then to trace the problem back to the tank.
The screen, just a two square-inch patch of aluminum
screen door material, rolled up, shoved in the tube, and crimped over at the end, was about 97% plugged with dirty, diesely mud. After it was washed off with gasoline and re-installed, Kubota-San cranked five seconds (remember those empty fuel lines near the engine) then fired right up and ran smoothly. I even thought I heard a sigh of relief.
Fuel/air/compression. The magical combination restored.
If I'd only checked the screen while I was there six weeks ago (I didn't even know there was
a screeen), I'd have saved myself a lot of mild cursing and canceled daysails with friends (and about $50 in extra filters I didn't really need). Oh, the hours I spent, sipping beer
and staring dejectedly at that gold-painted block!
On the plus side: I now have a starter set of tools for the boat; I know I have a clean tank, hoses, and filters and can now keep it that way with a regular service
schedule; I've identified many parts
of a diesel
engine I had no clue about before (decompression lever, injector pump
, & cetera) and I know more about one of the systems of my boat. And summer is still in front of me. The California
coast is singing its siren song: coaxing me, beckoning me, and I cannot resist it.
Now I can turn my attention to more mundane things, like memorizing where my five through-hulls are (I actually worry about the boat, which represents my life savings, sinking at the slip or while I'm sailing it); replacing the water
pump impeller, changing the oil
by sucking the old stuff out of the dipstick tube for the first time, changing out the old batteries (how can the manufacturer get away with putting in two group 24s!); updating my electrrical panel (analog volt meter? What good is that
?); buying/installing the wheel
for the inflatable
, beefing up my icebox insulation
, getting up the stick to replace the masthead light, & cetera, & cetera. You know, the "fun stuff."
Thanks for reading, and you can smile at my place on the learning
curve all you want: I sure am. I just had to tell someone