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Old 28-05-2012, 06:28   #1
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Starter Push Buttons - Beware!

So I burned up my starter Saturday morning, pretty much ending my 3 day weekend I had been thinking about all week. I did manage to get around 30 feet from my mooring before I knew there was an issue, if that counts as a "trip".

When I checked the starter there wasn't much doubt in my mind it was fried as I had to wait 30 minutes to even touch it. Afterward while checking all the circuits I found with the key on there was power after my start relay so followed that up to the instrument panel to the start button that I found was still closed. So This kept power to the relay and starter for 10 minutes from the time I started the engine till I turned the key off.

When I went to remove the switch from the panel it basically just broke apart because it was corroded so much. I put my ohm meter on it and pushed it a few times, sometimes it would shut then open, other times it would just stay closed

So a $3-5 push button burned up a $71 starter ($109 with 2 day shipping so I can have in time for next weekend) and ruined my weekend. So if you have push button switches I highly recommend you clean and check them regularly, and even just replace every 5 years or so maybe (I'm now only a couple of things away from almost having rebuilt my engine panel).

PS - while calling around looking for someone who may have had a starter in stock on Saturday morning of a the 3 day Memorial Day weekend; one shop told me they could rebuild my starter for $200 and have by Wed and than that would be a much better deal than buying a new starter for $400 and waiting till Friday to get it. Too bad I guess for them that I already had seen I could get a new one on-line from lots of places for $71. Talk about trying to rip me off!
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Old 28-05-2012, 06:34   #2
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

Hey Don,

Sorry to hear about the starter. One more little gotcha you just learned about your boat. All in all a cheap lesson.

So how come you didn't go out anyway? Isn't that a SAILboat?

Regarding the ripoff from the local shop, are you surprised. After all you are in New England, home of the $75/night moorings (Nantucket) and $150/night transient docks (most any marina I checked).
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Old 28-05-2012, 07:05   #3
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post

So how come you didn't go out anyway? Isn't that a SAILboat?

I tired the same line and the "boss" didn't go for the idea.
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Old 28-05-2012, 07:19   #4
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

FYI for all those with a Yanmar 3GM30. Be very careful installing the hot lead to the starter and keeping the nut tightened on a Yanmar 3GM30 factory starter. The stud for the hot lead and and a bolt that will engage the starter if touched by the hot lead are right next to each other. When you feed the hotlead in from the bottom only about a 1/4" separates the end of the hot lead from this bolt. If you don't force the lead outboard while tightening the nut on the hot lead stud or the nut comes loose in use, the hot connector will contact this bolt and engage the starter. Found this out after doing a reinstall on my 3GM30. Turned the battery switch on and the engine started. I was grateful that the engine started right up after pulling it out and reinstalling it but perplexed on why it happened since the ignition was off and starter button not pushed. Took me more than an hour of disconnecting and reconnecting all the leads to the starter and control panel before I accidentally touched the hot lead to this bolt after I forgot to turn off the battery switch while reattaching the wires.
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Old 28-05-2012, 08:18   #5
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

on the plus side you now know how to jump your starter which is worth knowing
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Old 28-05-2012, 08:38   #6
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

I suffered the same type of failure with the starter switch on our 4-108 the very first time we tried to start the engine to move the boat to our slip from the boatyard that launched her after shipping from Annapolis to Florida. The switch was (unbeknownest to me) corroded and failing and the return spring failed, leaving the starter engaged. A starter remaining engaged becomes a generator and the resulting power literally melted down the starting battery and burned up the wiring harness before we were able to get the engine shut down. The resulting damage ended up costing us over $1,800 to correct and another month at the Boat Yard--new starter, batteries, power cables, wiring harness, switches etc..

Since then, I have improved the weather seal surrounding the instruments and we routinly put a squirt of Boe-Shield into the key slot of the replacement starter switch and work it back and forth a few times (with the power off) to ensure we'll not have a problem again. Never-the-less I still keep my fingers crossed every time I start the darned thing.

FWIW...
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Old 28-05-2012, 08:51   #7
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
I tired the same line and the "boss" didn't go for the idea.
In that case you have a valid excuse.
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Old 28-05-2012, 08:55   #8
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

Thank heavens this hasn't happened to me, yet, but it sure could happen to anyone. And, not just with push button starter switches. The rotary, momentary kind could short out, too.

I'm wondering if it wouldn't be prudent to wire a bright 12V LED to the solenoid side of the starter switch? That way, if the red light continues to burn after you've released the push button or starter switch, you'd know that the switch had remained closed and power was still going to the solenoid.

Thoughts?

Bill
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Old 28-05-2012, 09:00   #9
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
A starter remaining engaged becomes a generator and the resulting power literally melted down the starting battery and burned up the wiring harness before we were able to get the engine shut down. The resulting damage ended up costing us over $1,800 to correct and another month at the Boat Yard--new starter, batteries, power cables, wiring harness, switches etc...
Sounds like a pretty exciting first trip in the boat. Had not thought about the generating thing but now that you mention it, it's obvious that could happen. Wonder what sort of voltage the starter was putting out? Don't suppose you want to try that again to find out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Since then, I have improved the weather seal surrounding the instruments and we routinly put a squirt of Boe-Shield into the key slot of the replacement starter switch and work it back and forth a few times (with the power off) to ensure we'll not have a problem again. Never-the-less I still keep my fingers crossed every time I start the darned thing.

FWIW...
So did you fuse the new system? My new dedicated starting battery will be fused at the battery, then to a switch, then to the starter, giving me a couple of options for interrupting power to the starting system.
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Old 28-05-2012, 09:33   #10
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Thank heavens this hasn't happened to me, yet, but it sure could happen to anyone. And, not just with push button starter switches. The rotary, momentary kind could short out, too.

I'm wondering if it wouldn't be prudent to wire a bright 12V LED to the solenoid side of the starter switch? That way, if the red light continues to burn after you've released the push button or starter switch, you'd know that the switch had remained closed and power was still going to the solenoid.

Thoughts?

Bill
I think I wish you hadn't mentioned it. I does seem to be one of those low probability happenings but with a potentially large negative impact.

So a warning light would be a good idea, BUT, now I have one more little thing to put on my list.
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Old 28-05-2012, 09:39   #11
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
So a $3-5 push button burned up a $71 starter
Good quality push buttons cost much more than $5. A more industrial type moisture proof switch is a smart investment compared to cheap Radio Shack type gear.
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Old 28-05-2012, 09:50   #12
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Thank heavens this hasn't happened to me, yet, but it sure could happen to anyone. And, not just with push button starter switches. The rotary, momentary kind could short out, too.

I'm wondering if it wouldn't be prudent to wire a bright 12V LED to the solenoid side of the starter switch? That way, if the red light continues to burn after you've released the push button or starter switch, you'd know that the switch had remained closed and power was still going to the solenoid.

Thoughts?

Bill
Could just be a Jules Marshall thing but my 87 Californian has a push pull mushroom switch that kills all ignition power with a red light marked "stop engine starter engaged" above both momentary key switches. It also feeds the audible alarm.
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Old 28-05-2012, 09:59   #13
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Sounds like a pretty exciting first trip in the boat. Had not thought about the generating thing but now that you mention it, it's obvious that could happen. Wonder what sort of voltage the starter was putting out? Don't suppose you want to try that again to find out?



So did you fuse the new system? My new dedicated starting battery will be fused at the battery, then to a switch, then to the starter, giving me a couple of options for interrupting power to the starting system.
Skip--

If the starter sticks while engaged shoot happens so fast that one has little time to respond. A warning light as Bill describes would be wise as one would know to shut the engine down as quickly as possible. I tried, but could not because the power surge killed the shut-off solenoid at the injection pump and I did not then know enough about the engine to know how to shut it down manually. I do now and everyone should learn how to do so when they first get their boats/engines. I also have a manual kill cable rigged for use in extremis. The warning light is a good suggestion and I will look into it.

FWIW...
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Old 28-05-2012, 11:07   #14
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

Don-
With the help of a zen master (well, actually five zen masters, four to hold me down while the fifth gave instruction) and many years of practice, I've come to appreciate those moments and realize that a breakdown "at home base" is way way better than a breakdown far away from home. Way more convenient. So, you thank whatever broke down for being so nice and breaking down in the most convenient place it could have chosen to do so.

Does your starter button carry the full power to the starter? Or does it just engage a starter relay? I only ask because of there's no relay, the starter button itself has to be way more robust, making arcing and failure all the more likely. And a relay can always be added if it isn't already there.

Speaking of which, if that button fell apart from exposure and old age...it might also be time to examine the whole panel, see if there's anything else from the same vintage that needs to be on the ToDo list.
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Old 28-05-2012, 11:21   #15
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Re: starter push buttons - beware!

If you don't want junk, then get the Cole-Hersee's with the brass bodies. They cost 15 bucks but that is less expensive than a new starter motor. They are very corrosion resistant.
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