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Old 19-05-2015, 09:59   #1
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Shutdown Cable

I'm looking for a sanity check.

The boat I recently purchased was in charter for 5 years and as a result, there are some "interesting" repairs.

One of the repairs was to the diesel engine shutdown cables. Over time, they corroded up and became hard to pull. Eventually they stripped the handle completely off one. They couldn't find exact replacements so they just usd what they had. Of course they didn't reach the helm so they just installed the handles where ever they could. Not fun running around the boat to kill the motors. Long story short, I need to replace both cables.

So I'm pondering the idea of eliminating the cables and replacing the system with a 12v solenoid that will pull the lever. Seems pretty simple to fabricate a bracket to hold the solenoid, then run wires up to the helm and have "kill" buttons. I'm thinking this will be more reliable then having LONG cables running through the boat. Price is about the same when you factor the wire, buttons and solenoids.

So what am I not seeing? What is the downside of an electrical system to pull the kill lever?
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Old 19-05-2015, 10:23   #2
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Re: Shutdown Cable

May work, but may be more difficult & expensive than you think.

Almost 20 years ago in the Caribbean the stop solenoid on my Perkins 4-108 went bad. I found an "exact replacement" from a Perkins dealer.

Problem is, the "exact replacement" mount was different from the original mount. It wouldn't fit.

So I gave it to a good machinist on Tortola (yes there are some). He did a beautiful job of modifying the mount so the new stop solenoid would fit.

I installed the new solenoid. Guess what? It didn't have enough "oomph" to activate the stop lever, no matter how I tried. I took it out.

I removed a white wire coat hanger from my hanging locker, opened it up, and put a little hook on the end to go thru the stop lever on my engine. Ran the hanger forward (on my boat which has a V-drive) to just above the transmission, where I put a good size loop in the end.

To stop the engine, I just swing open the companionway ladder which gives access to the engine compartment, grab the loop on the white coat hanger, and gently pull until the engine stops.

That has worked flawlessly for over 20 years now. I've replaced the coat hanger only once -- last year -- and while I have a manual throttle-pull cable aboard which I'd intended to fit to the stop lever, each time I thought about doing it I thought better of it:

Why in the world would I want to replace a simple system which has worked positively and perfectly for over 20 years?

Bill
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Old 19-05-2015, 10:37   #3
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Re: Shutdown Cable

Bill - Thanks for the input.

I hear what you are saying, keep it simple. Unfortunately I have a cat and the distance from the motors makes a simple solution very inconvenient. Running back and forth to kill engines is not my idea of fun.

Its interesting the solenoid didn't have enough power to pull your kill lever. I have used both solenoids and "door lock actuators" in ATV and small engine applications for years. We commonly use them to automate manual chokes when fitting remote starts on generators. The big solenoids can pull about 35lbs of force and door lock actuators can pull 15. I would be shocked it my levers required more than 5lbs to actuate.

As to the bracket, I would fabricate it myself.
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Old 19-05-2015, 10:55   #4
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Re: Shutdown Cable

I would make the solenoid fail safe, other wise, have it energized to allow the engines to run. Would probably some kind of return spring on the shut off lever so it would function as a dead man's throttle shutting off when power is lost. Should be easy to tie it into the starter circuitry to it would automatically activate allowing the engines to run when the key is turned on.
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Old 19-05-2015, 11:22   #5
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Re: Shutdown Cable

I would do the exact opposite of Roverhi. The last thing you want is a solenoid failure shutting down your engine.
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Old 19-05-2015, 11:31   #6
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Re: Shutdown Cable

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
I would do the exact opposite of Roverhi. The last thing you want is a solenoid failure shutting down your engine.
I tend to agree and the existing system was opposite (you need to pull a cable to kill the engine). I will simply replicate it will an electrical solenoid or actuator!
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Old 19-05-2015, 13:52   #7
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Re: Shutdown Cable

Propulsion engines are usually set up in an " energize to stop" mode, so that a power failure or dead battery will not kill the engine. Everyone knows that Murphy's Law virtually guarantees that the power failure will occur while docking in a vicious cross current or running a bad inlet.

Generator set engines, on the other hand, are set up with "energize to run" solenoids. The power lead to the solenoid is routed thru the temperature, oil pressure and sea water flow safety switches in series so that if any one of the safety switches opens, the engine will be shut down and not be damaged.

There isn't a real downside to a solenoid pulling the stop lever......most of today's sailboat engines have them.

DougR
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Old 19-05-2015, 14:09   #8
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Re: Shutdown Cable

What engines? Many engines have solenoid stop arrangements from the factory . maybe they are available for your engines. Good cables, even though long on your cat, should be fine if you renew them.
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Old 19-05-2015, 14:15   #9
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Re: Shutdown Cable

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
What engines? Many engines have solenoid stop arrangements from the factory . maybe they are available for your engines. Good cables, even though long on your cat, should be fine if you renew them.
They are Volvo MD2030s. I have done some preliminary search and can't find a factory Volvo part. Not sure I would want a factory part due to Volvo pricing. I can fit a generic solenoid for well under $100. I can only imagine what Volvo would want for them.

I realize that cables are fine (they were fine for 8 years). I just feel an electrical connection is less prone to failure due to corrosion. I was just looking for validation that I wasn't overlooking something.

I appreciate all the responses and now have my answer. Thanks all..
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Old 19-05-2015, 14:35   #10
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Re: Shutdown Cable

I have sent you a PM.

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