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Old 13-05-2015, 20:46   #1
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Starter fluid in diesel?

I haven't started my Westerbeke W58 for several months. Even with a new battery, she turns over slowly and won't fire. Is there a starter fluid I can spray into the air intake to get her going. Yes, I'm new to diesels but have a car background.
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Old 14-05-2015, 07:12   #2
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

There may be a 'cold start' procedure. If you don't have an operator's manual they can usually be downloaded for free from Weterbeke's website. And/or there may be a decompression lever that allows you to spin the engine up with no compression and then close the lever to restore compression allowing the inertia to start the engine.


Although almost every manual I've ever read says to not use starting fluid (a generally good idea), ether can be used, the difference is in the application compared to spark ignited engines. With the engine turning over, just a tiny spritz into the intake like a lady putting on perfume, (don't do it with the glow plugs energized), is often enough...


Also, before you start, make sure both the negative and positive cable are tightly connected at both ends, corrosion free, and that the cables themselves are not internally corroded. A good test for internal corrosion is the relative flexibility of the cables, stiff is generally not good.
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Old 14-05-2015, 07:26   #3
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

Too much ether can damage a diesel engine. In any event, do not use any starter fluid in conjunction with glow plugs! Much better to find and correct the cause; check the following in order:

1) Basics - Oil level and clean air filter

2) Electrical - Starter not turning engine over fast enough; low battery, bad connections, etc.

3) Cold Start Malfunction - Glow plugs not working.

4) Fuel Problems - Bad fuel, blockage, air leak, etc.

5) Engine Problem - Low compression.

Also, remember that the water pump">raw water pump is pumping while the engine is cranking and will eventually back up into the cylinders potentially causing lots of other problems. Close the through hull until the engine starts.
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Old 14-05-2015, 07:32   #4
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

Turning slow has nothing to do with the engine. Check all connections, and if they are fine, have the starter rebuilt. If you use starter fluid, you can bend a piston rod.
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Old 14-05-2015, 08:29   #5
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalinowski View Post
Even with a new battery, she turns over slowly and won't fire.
You need to fix your problem with the engine turning over slow WAY before you decide to blow yourself up with some starting fluid.
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Old 14-05-2015, 08:35   #6
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

WD-40 sprayed into the air intake is a much safer alternative to ether. Make sure you are not standing over the intake in case of blowback.
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Old 14-05-2015, 08:51   #7
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

Fix slow turnover first..if all connections are clean and tight, I would have the starter checked.
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Old 14-05-2015, 09:07   #8
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

The motor has to turn over at a fairly good clip in order to start, it won't start if it is only turning over slowly
Here's the steps that I would do to identify and fix the problem:
(1)---make sure that you are trying to start it while connected to shore power as that will supplement the starter battery's starting power --(2) don't necessarily assume that your new battery isn't defective (?) or run down--(3) if engine still won't turn over rapidly when connected to shore power charging then check connections from starting battery to the starter for tightness and corrosion --(4)if all is good then you will probably need to pull the starter and have it checked, it will probably be the starter motor---(5) but before you pull the starter motor also check the solenoid --(6)if engine finally gets to turn over at good rate and diesel still won't fire then (and only then) can you try the diesel starter fluid (but don't use too much!) --(7) if engine starts using the starter fluid then you probably have a problem with the glow plugs

Just my 2 bits...good luck
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Old 14-05-2015, 09:12   #9
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

Repeat on close raw water through hull until runs but open quickly and make sure water is flowing once it starts.
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Old 14-05-2015, 09:31   #10
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

I was always taught to never use ether on diesels with glow plugs and the 2 stroke Detroit diesels.
Some engines had cold start ether injection from the factory. The German designed Neuss enginse used it.
The best way to cold start a diesel is to warm the engine to about 70F.
Of course if the engine is in bad shape you do whatever necessary to get it going.
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Old 14-05-2015, 09:33   #11
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

A good set of jumper cables could help.

You can connect your engine and/or house batteries in parallel with your generator battery on order to boost it.

Alternatively, you can use the jumper cables to by-pass your battery cables and connect the battery directly to the starter solenoid or even directly to the starter itself.
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Old 14-05-2015, 09:43   #12
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

Did you change the oil before winter storage?

Is the engine in neutral?

Sounds like either lack of electicity (a bad connection which corroded over the winter) or you need a starter rebuild. It doesn't hurt to have a spare starter aboard...consider buying a new starter, swap it in, and if that wasn't the problem, keep the old one as your spare.
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Old 14-05-2015, 11:28   #13
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm berthed on O'ahu, so temp is no problem. I also replaced the starter about 8 months ago. I'll check all connections for corrosion. The jumper cable to the starter sounds like a great way to check wiring problems. Luckily, I'm at my slip.
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Old 14-05-2015, 12:19   #14
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

Before considering the replacement of your starter motor, check that the positive cable terminations at the battery, battery switch and the starter motor are clean and tight and that the ground cable terminations between the engine ground and the battery are also clean and tight.

You will also want to check that your battery still holds an adequate charge.
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Old 14-05-2015, 13:11   #15
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Re: Starter fluid in diesel?

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Originally Posted by David M View Post
Before considering the replacement of your starter motor, check that the positive cable terminations at the battery, battery switch and the starter motor are clean and tight and that the ground cable terminations between the engine ground and the battery are also clean and tight.

You will also want to check that your battery still holds an adequate charge.
Not just clean and tight where you can see them, disconnect each terminal and clean them with emery cloth until they shine. Put them back together, then spray with an anti corrosion spray. Do them one at a time so you don't get them mixed up and disconnect the battery negative cable before you start so you won't need a fire extinguisher later on.

Don't use starting fluid or WD40. Better to call in a mechanic than to risk blowing up your engine.
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