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Old 17-05-2018, 12:43   #1
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Sticky Starter

I just bought a 1978 Columbia 10.7 with a Yanmar 2QM. The engine started fine the first time I tried, even though it's been on the hard for several years.

The problem I have is with the starter. If I turn the key the starter sometimes sticks and does not turn over. If I try a second or third time it does the same thing, turns partially and sticks.

I've had this issue in various cars I've owned and it typically derived from a couple of issues:

1. Low battery
2. Faulty starter.

But I have no clue if its the same with a diesel starter.

The batteries are all charged and one of them is brand new. The 2QM starts almost immediately if the starter works properly. So, I'm wondering if I just need to replace it, or could there be something else wrong.

Let me know what I should look at.

Thanks
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Old 17-05-2018, 12:51   #2
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Re: Sticky Starter

Check the brushes and bypass the solinoid, or vise versa
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Old 17-05-2018, 15:39   #3
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Re: Sticky Starter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigjim View Post
I just bought a 1978 Columbia 10.7 with a Yanmar 2QM. The engine started fine the first time I tried, even though it's been on the hard for several years.

The problem I have is with the starter. If I turn the key the starter sometimes sticks and does not turn over. If I try a second or third time it does the same thing, turns partially and sticks.

I've had this issue in various cars I've owned and it typically derived from a couple of issues:

1. Low battery
2. Faulty starter.

But I have no clue if its the same with a diesel starter.

The batteries are all charged and one of them is brand new. The 2QM starts almost immediately if the starter works properly. So, I'm wondering if I just need to replace it, or could there be something else wrong.

Let me know what I should look at.

Thanks
In essence, the starter motor in a small diesel (like your 2QM) is the same as a car.

Have you checked the wiring between the batteries and the starter (especially the engine ground wire)? On boats they are more prone to corrosion than cars.
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Old 17-05-2018, 17:56   #4
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Re: Sticky Starter

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Originally Posted by Wotname View Post
In essence, the starter motor in a small diesel (like your 2QM) is the same as a car.

Have you checked the wiring between the batteries and the starter (especially the engine ground wire)? On boats they are more prone to corrosion than cars.
Not yet. It just happened yesterday. So, I wanted to get some suggestions before I start looking it. Getting at the engine is a pain, so I'd like to know everything I need to look at the first time.
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Old 17-05-2018, 20:27   #5
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Sticky Starter

Small Yanmar diesel’s have a problem from time to time between the key in the starter solenoid. There is a connector on Yanmar that is located in the circuit between the key and the solenoid.

I’ve had to replace the connector several times and eventually put a small relay in the circuit so the keyswitch didn’t have to carry all the solenoid current.

West Marine cells a waterproof pushbutton you can wire between the big wire on the solenoid and a little wire on the solenoid.

You could push the button and bridge out the keyswitch and all the wiring. On my engines it started it every time. If that works for you it is most likely that
Connector that is corroded.
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Old 17-05-2018, 21:00   #6
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Re: Sticky Starter

Odds are the starter motor is good, they tend to either work or not. Intermitent failure to spin is likely something upstream of starter.

I would initially suspect the solenoid and thats easy to test. By pass the solenoid and see if starter consistently spins up. You can do this will any big chunk of metal, like a big ass screw driver, but you are jumping a lot of amps so sparks are likely to fly...especially since you need to do it repeatedly.

Since its not something you are familiar with, probably better to pull the starter and take it to an electric motor shop and have them test it for you (do not take to mechanic shop, they will just gouge you and then drop it off at the starter shop anyway). If the solenoid is bad, an electric motor shop can likely swap it out on the spot for not much money...or repair the starter if needed.

Next up the food chain, I would suspect the start relay or iginition tumbler.

As suggested, also check all primary cables from battery to motor/starter.

If none of the above, then likely an issue in the wiring harness...which can be tedious to isolate.
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Old 18-05-2018, 09:35   #7
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Re: Sticky Starter

Lots of great suggestions. Thanks.

FYI, we had to replace the ignition switch yesterday because someone broke off the key in the switch. It was probably 30 years old, so no big loss, luckily I had already ordered a new switch

I will definitely check the ground connection first. That's the easiest to do.

The rest is a bit harder.
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Old 18-05-2018, 11:14   #8
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Re: Sticky Starter

There is a difference between "starts then sticks" and "starts then quits".

You'll need to check the voltage at the starter, on the main terminal not just the solenoid.

But it is very common for folks to crank crank crank when a motor is reluctant to start, and very few realize that a starter motor is designed for "impulse power". That is, for very high power (for the size and cost) for a very short time. If you run a starter for 20-30 seconds in normal temperatures, that is often enough to overheat the coil windings. They then expand too much for the tight tolerance in the motor, and scrape against the frame windings. This scraping is enough to remove the insulating varnish from the wires (frame and rotor alike) and then the motor starts to short out and die. Among other things, it overheats more and typically gets STUCK at some high spot in the wiring. If you whap it with a hammer, it often gets unstuck enough to get one more start out of it.

But, if it is getting stuck, it needs to come out and be rewound or (better) remanufactured, not just repaired.

If the voltage is good when the starter is not in use, and the voltage drops (anywhere in the system) to something like 10 volts when the starter is sticking...that's the sign of a dead starter.

While exact numbers will vary, typically I've been told if you use a starter for 20 seconds, it needs to rest 20 minutes before you can use it again. Or you start to risk the thermal expansion and scraping, all depending on tolerances and environment.
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Old 18-05-2018, 11:19   #9
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Re: Sticky Starter

You can try to "gently" hit the solenoid with a hammer...
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Old 18-05-2018, 13:06   #10
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Re: Sticky Starter

You can narrow this down with a few quick checks. If it just stops cranking with the key held on, does the voltage come back up? If it does then starter is not stuck internally. If it was stuck, it would have a melt down. If it stops and is not stuck, then it will be something starting with the brushes and then the contacts in the solenoid and then the solenoid itself. If you use a screwdriver as suggested you can jump around both features inside the solenoid. This will also probably let you know how much juice you have as you should get a serious spark. The brushes are more trouble.
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Old 18-05-2018, 13:39   #11
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Re: Sticky Starter

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
There is a difference between "starts then sticks" and "starts then quits".

You'll need to check the voltage at the starter, on the main terminal not just the solenoid.

But it is very common for folks to crank crank crank when a motor is reluctant to start, and very few realize that a starter motor is designed for "impulse power". That is, for very high power (for the size and cost) for a very short time. If you run a starter for 20-30 seconds in normal temperatures, that is often enough to overheat the coil windings. They then expand too much for the tight tolerance in the motor, and scrape against the frame windings. This scraping is enough to remove the insulating varnish from the wires (frame and rotor alike) and then the motor starts to short out and die. Among other things, it overheats more and typically gets STUCK at some high spot in the wiring. If you whap it with a hammer, it often gets unstuck enough to get one more start out of it.

But, if it is getting stuck, it needs to come out and be rewound or (better) remanufactured, not just repaired.

If the voltage is good when the starter is not in use, and the voltage drops (anywhere in the system) to something like 10 volts when the starter is sticking...that's the sign of a dead starter.

While exact numbers will vary, typically I've been told if you use a starter for 20 seconds, it needs to rest 20 minutes before you can use it again. Or you start to risk the thermal expansion and scraping, all depending on tolerances and environment.
The starter usually works the first time I use it. I crank the engine for a few seconds. Much less than 20. My 1GM would have to be cranked for 20 seconds.

In some cases, the motor starts right away. A couple of times, I had the throttle down too much and the engine sputtered and stopped.

The next time I turn the key you can hear the start engage, but it does NOT turn. It will do the same thing two or three times, and then it will turn again.

The trick is to keep cranking until the engine starts. If I had given it enough gas, it would have started the first time. The 2QM is solid and starts every time when the starter works. I just have to remember to give it enough gas in the beginning.
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Old 18-05-2018, 14:23   #12
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Re: Sticky Starter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigjim View Post
The starter usually works the first time I use it. I crank the engine for a few seconds. Much less than 20. My 1GM would have to be cranked for 20 seconds.

In some cases, the motor starts right away. A couple of times, I had the throttle down too much and the engine sputtered and stopped.

The next time I turn the key you can hear the start engage, but it does NOT turn. It will do the same thing two or three times, and then it will turn again.

The trick is to keep cranking until the engine starts. If I had given it enough gas, it would have started the first time. The 2QM is solid and starts every time when the starter works. I just have to remember to give it enough gas in the beginning.
This indicates there is a high resistance in the wiring to the solenoid / starter / ground etc or inside the solenoid or a crook battery

As an aside, don't forget you can use the decompression levers to good effect if your starting circuit is playing up. Decompress the engine, spin it over with the stater and when spinning nicely, pop the levers back to normal (one at a time) with starter still engage. The momentum built up in the flywheel will aid the lazy stater.

A starter motor only draws enough current for the load placed on it, by using the decompression feature, it needs less current to spin up the engine.
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Old 18-05-2018, 14:27   #13
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Re: Sticky Starter

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Originally Posted by Tricolor View Post
You can try to "gently" hit the solenoid with a hammer...
+1.

But tap the body of the starter motor itself as a sticky brush will cause these symptoms, too.

It could be a faulty solenoid, but if you hear a distinct click this should rule it out. Sticky brushes, otoh, will exhibit pretty much the exact symptoms described.
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Old 18-05-2018, 14:37   #14
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Re: Sticky Starter

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
+1.

But tap the body of the starter motor itself as a sticky brush will cause these symptoms, too.

It could be a faulty solenoid, but if you hear a distinct click this should rule it out. Sticky brushes, otoh, will exhibit pretty much the exact symptoms described.
^^ and very worn brushes.

FWIW, a clicking solenoid can still give trouble if the heavy duty contacts are burnt / corroded.

As several posters has stated, the both the coil and contacts of the solenoid can be ruled in or out with the big screwdriver placed across the big terminals.
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Old 18-05-2018, 19:12   #15
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Re: Sticky Starter

If by "sticking" do you mean "not turning" or "starts to turn, but does not disengage" the latter is more serious, but may be as simple as removing the starter and cleaning and lubing the Bendix.

If the former, I had a similar problem with a Volvo starter. Turned out to NOT be the starter, but the fuse in the engine circuit. Corrosion in the fuse connectors.
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