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Old 15-07-2014, 11:32   #1
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Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

Hello,

My question is "is it time to pull the engine and send it for a rebuild?


I purchased a 37' Gulfstar and the Perkins 4-108 engine was not running when I bought it. Their was water in the fuel tank and the fuel/water separator had not been drained to water got into the cylinders and caused the pistons to be stuck.

I liberally sprayed PB Blaster and WD-40 into the air intake to ensure I had good lubrication in the cylinders heads then taped a funnel onto the dipstick tube and filled the engine all the way to the top with lightweight oil. I let it sit for about a week then slowly started working the engine loose by putting a wrench onto the large nut on the front pulley.

After I got it freed up and it was turning well I drained the oil and refilled it with 5-30 oil, put a new oil filter and fuel filter on, new impeller in. I disconnected the fuel/water separator and cleaned it up but then put fresh diesel into a plastic container and dropped the fuel line into that container.

I tried to bleed the fuel system, don't know how much luck I had so I called a buddy who has worked on quite a few diesel engines. He sprayed some brake kleen into the air intake. When it wouldn't start using the brake kleen he proclaimed that "their MUST not be enough compression, you should pull the engine and have it rebuilt". He did not do a compression test and I thought his statement was premature.

I had the valve cover off when I was trying to free the engine and was spraying lubricant into the valve spring and rocker area to ensure I was getting lubricant there. They all appeared to me moving normally.

I have another diesel mechanic scheduled to come look at the engine but It is going to cost me at least $300 and don't know if I am wasting my money and his time!

SHOULD I PULL THE ENGINE AND SEND IT TO SOMEONE TO REBUILD????

Your opinions and advice please.
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Old 15-07-2014, 11:43   #2
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

A second opinion will be nice but the first guy was probably right.
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Old 15-07-2014, 11:51   #3
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

Did you do anything with the injectors or injector pump to see if they were working?

Off hand, for an engine that had been sitting with water in the cylinders, I would certainly consider having the engine completely rebuilt and tested by a shop.
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Old 15-07-2014, 11:55   #4
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

Hello Astrid,

No, did nothing to the pump or injectors. The guy that said to pull it told me that if the brake kleen did not at least make it TRY to start that even with good fuel getting to the cylinders it would not fire. Apparently the the engine should have run from the brake kleen even if it was getting no fuel.

I am beginning to think it might be prudent to pull it and have it gone over regardless of weather it could be made to run as-is.
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Old 15-07-2014, 11:59   #5
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

Pull it and re-build, even if you get it running, it's likely it may not be for long as lord knows what's corroded and may soon cause galling and seizure.
If money's tight, at least pull it, clean, inspect and replace only what's necessary.
Majority of the money in a re-build is paying someone else to do it, if you do it your self you will save a bundle.
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Old 15-07-2014, 12:05   #6
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

Ah, no not yet. Really need to bleed the HP side well first. You have to assume that water is still in the fuel lines, So you need to do a serious bleeding on that engine. That takes lots O time.

After doing the bleeding and checking valve clearances then there is one more test you can do.

If you have a spare head gasket, you can do the poor girls compression test.

The poor girls compression test, requires that you pull the head and put 1/3 cup of oil in each cylinder and let it sit overnight. Ideally after 8-12 hours there should be no measurable drop in the oil level. This tells you the rings are still sealing. If one or more cylinders are low or empty, then you have bad /broken rings and its time to pull the engine.

I was Bored so Pulled the Head on my Yanmar

If the oil does not leak out then have the injectors pop tested/rebuilt.
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Old 15-07-2014, 12:09   #7
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

Sounds like the engine has been submerged.
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Old 15-07-2014, 12:14   #8
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

I agree it would be prudent to have it overhauled. I bet the compression is bad because of stuck rings.
Do you want to trust your boat and your life to an engine with this history? I guess the Brakleen would act like starting fluid ( ether). If it was cranking well and wouldn't fire on that, bad compression is probably the reason.
I got a diesel compression tester from Harbor Freight for I think about $30. Probably cheaper than a new head gasket, but by pulling the head you get to look in the cylinders...
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Old 15-07-2014, 12:29   #9
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

I think I remember BrakeKleen as being non-flammable; although, at the compression of a good diesel, who knows?
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Old 15-07-2014, 12:39   #10
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

SC,
I bet either the rings are simply stuck, or there are stuck valves or both, but if there is corrosion on the cam or crank, then when she comes back to life, she will start "making metal", this metal will likely eat out all the babbitt bearings in the engine and quite possibly do so much damage it's no longer cost effective to re-build.
I've seen it a few times, at first you congratulate yourself for saving an engine and money, then an hour or so later that deep, hollow knock starts
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Old 15-07-2014, 12:44   #11
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

The injectors are likely fouled also from moisture etc. I would rebuild it. even if you get it running, you could be damaging the cylinder walls in doing so. Although I think the 4-108 rebuild includes new cylinder sleeves so maybe not a big concern. Depends on your plans. If just local sailing maybe worth trying to get it going. If long cruising... rebuild it.
Another option, if you are handy, is to remove the head, have it inspected or rebuilt, check the cylinder walls etc while it's off, have the injectors tested and go from there. Trouble is... even if the cylinder wall are not getting damaged... you have no idea if the rings are al frozen up or not. You could get a compression test but most mechanics wont have the adaptor needed... maybe will if you are lucky.
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Old 15-07-2014, 12:46   #12
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

Brakleen is "extremely flammable" according to their website.
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Old 15-07-2014, 12:48   #13
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

I would try to start it again, this time with starting fluid. If it doesn't start with that (and the battery is spinning it fast enough to start) then you might very well have too low compression for it to run. A compression test will tell you for sure.

If the engine has been submerged, like everyone said, it's best to rebuild the engine. Doing it yourself will save a bundle, and give you the confidence to tackle anything engine wise in the future.
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Old 15-07-2014, 13:08   #14
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

Something to keep in mind with diesels is the kill mechanism, mechanical or electric, they can be devils. On boats its easy to put a foot or elbow on the wrong spot and a brand new engine is down. A compression check will verify the engine is not better as an anchor. Pulling an injector and squirting some marvel mystery oil in a cylinder should increase compression enough for combustion. Clean the injector area well with a toothbrush and shop vac first. A really well charged battery that is rated for a gas engine might start a diesel but not an older one. Pay attention to how fast the engine turns before and after oil is in the cylinder. Good Luck
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Old 15-07-2014, 13:13   #15
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Re: Perkins diesel will not start even when using starting fluid, need your opinions!

Before you do anything, read this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorchic34 View Post
Ah, no not yet. Really need to bleed the HP side well first. You have to assume that water is still in the fuel lines, So you need to do a serious bleeding on that engine. That takes lots O time.

After doing the bleeding and checking valve clearances then there is one more test you can do.

If you have a spare head gasket, you can do the poor girls compression test.

The poor girls compression test, requires that you pull the head and put 1/3 cup of oil in each cylinder and let it sit overnight. Ideally after 8-12 hours there should be no measurable drop in the oil level. This tells you the rings are still sealing. If one or more cylinders are low or empty, then you have bad /broken rings and its time to pull the engine.

I was Bored so Pulled the Head on my Yanmar

If the oil does not leak out then have the injectors pop tested/rebuilt.
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