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Old 17-05-2011, 12:12   #16
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Re: Perkins 4-108 Power Loss and Shutdown

Well, I'd like to say that I solved the mystery and got the engine running; I did get the engine running, though, finally, using starting fluid. The engine runs just fine, but the mystery remains. I didn't actually fix anything. I just fiddled around with stuff, and about the time I was ready to tackle the injection pump, the engine finally started, on about the 500th attempt. I don't have an explanation, but I do have a couple of observations.

I had switched the racor to the 30 micron filter right after the engine died, just in case, but switching back to the 2 micron filter after the engine was finally running again didn't cause any power loss, and there was negligible pressure on the vacume guage. I then changed the 2 micron filter just for the heck of it, and noticed that only the lower half of the element looked dirty. Apparently this is fairly commonplace, and it seems that the fuel level, even after topping the filter off after changing it, tends to 'settle' to an inch or so below the top of the filter after a while. I've heard that topping the filter off with fuel again after running the engine for a while is a good idea following a filter change. I'll give that a try

I also changed the secondary filter (Baldwin, 10 micron) while I was troubleshooting, although it's hard to see how this one could have been clogged with the 2 micron Racor filter upstream. Moreover, the abrupt nature of the power loss and shutdown (it quit as if I had pulled the engine shutoff cable, and I was motoring along at around 3000 rpm, with half a tank of diesel remaining) didn't seem to me to be typical of the gradual power loss associated with dirty fuel filters. Anyway, it still wouldn't start after changing this filter and bleeding the system, until days later, when it finally started with the spray. During all of the troubleshooting, and again after changing the secondary filter, bleeding the fuel system produced apparently clear fuel all the way to the injectors.

Perhaps it was just a glob of junk from the fuel tank momentary clogging the line. I did attempt to clear the fuel line by blowing 'backwards' into the line from the engine compartment to the tank, but there was no significant resistance. Moreover, we had run the engine about 100 hours or so recently, bashing our way up from Mexico, and had thus put about 100 gallons of fuel throught the tank, so a lot of sediment in the tank after all that seems unlikely. But I'm sure glad the thing didn't quit 2 weeks earlier, off Point Conception. Yikes!

Anyway, as you can see, I really have no friggin' clue what happened, but the thing is running great now, and I'd like to thank everyone for all of the excellent advice and suggestions.

Thanks again-

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Old 17-05-2011, 14:46   #17
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Clear Lake Marine Services - Seabrook, Texas
Boat: Gulfstar, Mark II Ketch, 43'
Posts: 2,359
Re: Perkins 4-108 Power Loss and Shutdown

Didn't read all the post above, but you can check this out. Pull the floor board up over the tank and remove the fuel supply line from the tank, then remove the p/u tube and see if the screen is dirty or if the tube is cracked.

If that is okay, get a low pressure air gauge at the end of the line at the tank, pressurize, and see if it holds pressure, if not you have a leak. GOOD LUCK

Replaced all my lines on my 1976 Gulfstar. Had an illusive leak and decided to take the easy way out and replace them all.

Formerly Santana
The winds blow true,The skies stay blue,
Everyday is a good day for SAILING!!!!
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Old 17-05-2011, 15:50   #18
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Kea'au, Big Island, Hawaii
Boat: Cascade, Sloop, 42 - "Casual"
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Re: Perkins 4-108 Power Loss and Shutdown

Congratulations! I think the bashing through the seas from Mexico dislodged some gunk in the bottom of your tank and put a bit of clog in your lines.
Hope you don't have the same problem again. Like I said. It happened to me when I sucked a tank dry and the junk in the bottom of the tank got sucked up into the filters. That was at the end of a 2500 mile sail from Hawaii and in the ferry lane to Bremerton. Took me 45 minutes to diagnose the the problem, change the filters and bleed the system to get the engine running again. 45 minutes ghosting along under sail in the ferry lane does put some pressure on you.
kind regards,

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