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Old 17-03-2014, 05:49   #1
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Neutral safety switch on Yanmar SD20

I have a newly refitted Yanmar 3YM30 engine and SD20 Sail Drive. I am experiencing increasing difficulty in finding the Neutral to start the engine.
It is scary to have to fiddle for several minutes with the gear lever to get engine going. My two lever system with separate gear and throttle levers is not preferred Yanmar system. They recommend a combined single lever control. So I have very little sympathy from my installer.
My question to the Forum is how can I fix or by-pass this problem while not being able to get professional help for the moment. No electrical connections on the Saildrive other than water between diaphragms alarm. Any help greatly appreciated.
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Old 17-03-2014, 06:08   #2
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Re: Neutral safety switch on Yanmar SD20

I have installed an emergency bypass switch for quick starts. If your dragging and the solenoid or neutral switch is not cooperating, its one push and off you go. Its only for emergency starts.
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Old 17-03-2014, 07:46   #3
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Re: Neutral safety switch on Yanmar SD20

The neutral cutout switch is not installed on the SD20 or the engine - it is installed on the shift lever. All you need to do to disable it is to connect the terminals (or wires) together. There is no harm in doing this permanently, although you run the risk of trying to start your engine while in gear. A bypass switch is a good idea.

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Old 18-03-2014, 04:39   #4
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Re: Neutral safety switch on Yanmar SD20

Thank you for the replies. Any details where to connect the bypass switch, IdoraKeeper? As I mentioned, I could not find anything other than water alarm connection wire on the saildrive. Is there something I can find along the harness?
Also, colemjm, my shift lever (at the binnacle) does not have and never had any electrical wires connected to it. Are you referring to the shift lever on the saildrive? Thanks again but I need more details.
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Old 18-03-2014, 07:56   #5
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Re: Neutral safety switch on Yanmar SD20

Most of the safety switches are mounted on the gear shift lever. Since they are in-line with the starter relay, follow the wire out of the relay box on the engine until you find it. It seems like if it is not on the gear shift, then it must be located on the SD shift arm. I have only seen them mounted on the shift lever.

It also could be that you don't have a safety switch at all, but have a faulty start relay. Have you tried replacing that? They are very cheap and common.

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Old 19-03-2014, 06:20   #6
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Re: Neutral safety switch on Yanmar SD20

Thank you colemj. Unfortunately there must be such a switch since the manual says the engine won't start if in gear. This is a late model year SD20 and possibly they have made some changes and incorporated the neutral safety switch into some other circuit. Trying to get my installer to shed some light on this. So far no luck. Do you know of a direct line of communication to Yanmar tech support that actually responds to the users querries?
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Old 19-03-2014, 07:59   #7
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Re: Neutral safety switch on Yanmar SD20

AFAIK, Yanmar neutral safety switches are an optional extra and are always installed on the shift lever. I don't know of any installed in another place. If you do have one, and it is not on the shift lever, then it needs to be someplace that will activate it when you put it in gear. That means it would need to be next to the saildrive shift stub, and there would need to be two of them - one for each direction. These switches are very small microswitches, so I very much doubt it is located on the saildrive because it would be extremely difficult to mount there. Your single shifter would also require two switches, which would also be difficult to mount. This is why I think you do not have a neutral safety switch.

Again, go to an autoparts store and buy a $6 Bosch-type relay and swap it for your existing start relay. These relays do go bad, and they don't always fail catastrophically. They are cheap and you should have a spare anyway, so nothing is lost by trying this. Your starting problems may just be coincidental with getting the shifter into neutral.

If you are convinced that you do have a neutral safety switch in your system, then it must be installed in the starter relay circuit. Go to the relay box on the engine and follow the circuit wire back until you find it. If you don't find a switch, you do not have a switch - there are no central computer or electronic transducers here, it will be a physical switch mounted against something that can activate it.

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Old 19-03-2014, 08:27   #8
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Re: Neutral safety switch on Yanmar SD20

Thank you Mark again. What you say makes perfect sense as far as the existence and possible location of the switches. I do not have them neither on the SD nor on the lever.
So I am completely dumbfounded. The coincidental malfunction of the relay and shifting lever position makes also good sense. Once back to civilization (next week) I will get that relay. But why, on one hand, Yanmar says the neutral safety switch is optional and on the other hand, the engine won't start while in gear, beats me. BTW, after charging batteries yesterday, I left shift lever untouched and engine started right away. By this I mean, after pressing power button, the lights on the panel came up and buzzer (oil press) came on and I was ready to push the start button. In case of no start - after pressing power button, all lights come on for a second and then come off, deactivating the panel. It is a new type control panel and new version harness installation.
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