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Old 16-09-2009, 09:44   #1
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Starter or Solenoid or....?

Two questions....
1. The last few times I have started the Westerbeke 30 (4-91) in my 1978 Cal 34, I get silence when I hit the start button. After a few attempts, the starter kicks in just fine. Is this the starter failing? Solenoid?
2. Can they/it be rebuilt? Can I replace with an automotive model if I can figure out the model, or anyone have suggestions for reasonably priced sources? The Torreson website says the starter is Westerbeke pn 16762, crossing to an Arco 12101 and is $325! 10 tooth gear, counter-clockwise rotation.
Thx
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Old 16-09-2009, 09:51   #2
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Check the wiring first, this is a symptom of a poor ground or bad connection.
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Old 16-09-2009, 09:59   #3
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Just had the same situation on my Perkins 4.236. If you short the solenoid across the pos. battery cable and the small wire connection (can't remember what this is called ), and the starter engages it is the solenoid that is bad. If nothing happens, most probably the starter is shot or going.
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Old 16-09-2009, 10:18   #4
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It can often be wiring. The above shorting test just circumvents the wiring right? so it might still be the wiring, or as stated it might be the solenoid. My perkins used to do that occassionally, there was a plastic multi wire connector near the back of the head. It had some light corrosion on the pins inside the plastic connector. Eventually I replaced the connector.
If it clicks when you turn the key or push the start button, the solenoid is activating but something in the starter is stuck. Could be dirty and greasy inside etc. IF the solenoid is not moving at all, then it is either bad or the not getting enough juice from the switch. Make sure all terminals are clean and tight.
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Old 16-09-2009, 11:38   #5
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As vasco said check all wiring connection that has to do with starting. With a test light you can check to see if the switch is sending power down to solenoid. My though is if it turns over good when it dose start then the motor part of starter should be fine.good luck and let us know what happens.
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Old 16-09-2009, 12:49   #6
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Courageous cat...test light?

I don't have a test light, but I do have a digital multimeter. How might I use that to check the wiring, and please be very specific as I am not very skilled with it. Thanks.
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Old 16-09-2009, 12:50   #7
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Yes you can get them rebuilt. There is a starter/electric motor repair shop in town that rebuilt my windlass motor (similar to a starter) cost was $110. I agree with checking the wiring first though. Nigel Caulder has a very good section on inspecting/testing starters and solenoids.
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Old 16-09-2009, 12:56   #8
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If you don not have the skills and can easily pull it out just remove it and have it tested. My starter/rebuilder only charges 5 dollar to test.
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Old 16-09-2009, 12:59   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewingengr View Post
If you don not have the skills and can easily pull it out just remove it and have it tested. My starter/rebuilder only charges 5 dollar to test.

Do not go to this extent before you have tested the wiring. You'll be wasting your time and might be doing more damage if you undo everything and are not too familiar with re-installing.
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Old 16-09-2009, 13:45   #10
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Rick is correct - I had a similar sporadic starting problem on one of my Yanmar 3gm30's and, after replacing the solenoid, found out that it was the wiring (in fact, a common problem after some yeasrs because Yanmar, at least, had wire that was non-tinned and of an insufficient gauge from the starter button to the solenoid).

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Old 16-09-2009, 14:07   #11
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Breakaway:first look at the connectors on the wire from the start button to the solenoid. make sure that there is no corrosion or broken wire. next set you multi meter to ohms(the greek omega sign) or it might have a continuity setting that beeps when the two leads are touched together. connect one lead to one end of the wire and one lead to the other.if using the ohms setting you should get a very low reading .000 to .002. if the wire is good. if you have the beep setting it should beep if good. if your leads are not long enough add a jumper wire.
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Old 16-09-2009, 14:27   #12
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Use your VOM to check DC voltage at the Solenoid. one end to ground and one end to the wire that has no juice until the switch is turned. Have someone turn the switch. then test the voltage at your batteries, you should see pretty close the same in a tight system. If it is low at the solenoid track back the wire...
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Old 16-09-2009, 15:28   #13
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Breakaway,

As most of the others have said, it's very likely to be a wiring problem and not a solenoid or starter problem. You need to check this first.

A multimeter is of some value in checking, but it won't tell you everything. This is because the meter needs only a tiny current to measure voltage, while the solenoid and -- especially -- the starter require a lot more current to operate.

It is possible to measure current drop in several places and ways, but as you said you're not really familiar with the use of the meter I'd approach the problem in a very simple, brute force way.

Be sure the battery switch is OFF. Then:

Check every bit of wiring, both to the solenoid and to the starter. Common problem: a bad ground. Check the big ground wire going to the engine. Take it off carefully, clean it, and reattach it. Ditto for the big red wire going to the solenoid (that provides the juice for the starter). Be sure the smaller wires going to the solenoid are making good connection, both with the posts on the solenoid and within the ring terminals themselves. Are they clean and tight? Replace any suspicious terminal.

Check the ignition switch terminals as well. If there's a connector block in the wiring harness somewhere, open it, squirt some de-ox in, and reassemble a few times to get thru the surface corrosion.

Check the battery cables where they attach to the battery, and to the battery switch. You're looking to find clean, tight connections.

Now, use your multimeter to check battery voltage. It should be 12.6V minimum with the batteries resting. Turn on the battery switch. Test the voltage at the large solenoid post (red wire). It should be the same as at the batteries. While you're measuring that, have someone turn on the starter for just a few seconds. If the voltage falls below 10.5V, either your battery is bad or the wiring is too small or there's still a bad connection somewhere or the starter itself is bad.

There are some excellent troubleshooting scenarios in Nigel Calder's books, and in Charlie Wing's book. They would make good reading this winter :-)

Let us know how it turns out, OK?

Bill
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Old 16-09-2009, 15:42   #14
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Thanks. I should get down to my boat this weekend and I will report back. BTW, I have 2 of Calder's books, and while they are helpful, he assumes I know more than I do!
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Old 18-09-2009, 16:48   #15
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I posted a simlar thing a while ago and last weekend mty engine did nothing and I had to jump the termials. Today I was on boat to trouble shot and if I had to place a bet I would have said it was thge switch. But after some multi-meter testing etc I traced my problem doen to ther wiring harness connection on the hot lead that comes from the switch to the starter soleniod. In the end I cut the wire on the harness plug at each end and installed a jumper to replace the harness. And the baby started up like a champ. Of course now for some reason my alarm busser and tach don't work (electrical problems, fix 1 and make 2 doing it)!
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