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Old 12-02-2015, 08:37   #1
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Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

Hello;

Wondering if anyone out there has any useful advise, tricks, ect, to start an old Perkins when it is cold (south coast of BC, temp average of 5C to 15C. I used ether the other day as it hadn't run for several months. My Father Inlaw said he has always had trouble with these in tractors.

So please dispense with the wisdom.....


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Old 12-02-2015, 08:44   #2
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

First, make sure the engine turns freely by putting a wrench on the crankshaft. You should be feeling or hearing some compression as you turn the crank.

Does it have glow plugs? If so, make sure they work.

Is there any water in the lube oil? Emulsified oil is the color of a cafe latte, but does not taste as good.

Is the starter motor turning the crank fast enough?

There are downfalls of using starter spray (Ether) so try that as a last resort.

You may want to do a compression test to see if low compression is why the engine is difficult to start. The valves or rings or both may need to be replaced.

There is also the possibility of a blown head gasket. Sometimes that can be heard when cranking the engine.
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:00   #3
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

The beast runs so I'm sure it's not seized.

And it has no glow plugs. Perkins had a system of a coil that burned a small amount of diesel in the intake...it doesn't work.

Just looking for someone who has experience with these engines and has a way to start them.

As far as the ether I'm not worried about using it as there used to be diesels that came with an ether starting system (ie the screaming jimmy).


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Old 12-02-2015, 09:05   #4
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Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

If you have access to shore power a hair dryer blown into the intake while cranking can do wonders. I've also used a blowtorch in the intake (carefully) with great success.


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Old 12-02-2015, 09:08   #5
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

Still don't like ether.


In cold weather you have to heat the combustion chamber hot enough to light it off. If you can easily turn off fuel try cranking a few cycles then turning on fuel. Cranking will warm the cylinders. Warm air into the intake would help as would a pan or block heater , probably the best solution.
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:29   #6
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

I do use the installed manifold heater for 20 seconds then open up throttle about a third of the way.

With a well charged battery starts up with little issue. Perkins does state not to use either I do believe it is related to manifold heater that creates danger.

Perkins, I believe, was bought by Cummings a few years back.


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Old 12-02-2015, 09:38   #7
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

I have twin 6.354 Perkins in my trawler located in Maryland and have not encountered temperature lows as you experience, however, I have access to ac and use a small ceramic heater in the engine room which will heat to about 40 degrees F which helps the starters spin the big diesels.
As an added recommendation, if you have start/stop buttons on your panel, you should hold down both, with the key "on" until your oil pressure gauge shows some pressure to ensure the topside mechanicals get their share, especially if it hasn't been run in awhile.
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:39   #8
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by Campbellcruiser View Post
The beast runs so I'm sure it's not seized.

And it has no glow plugs. Perkins had a system of a coil that burned a small amount of diesel in the intake...it doesn't work.

Just looking for someone who has experience with these engines and has a way to start them.

As far as the ether I'm not worried about using it as there used to be diesels that came with an ether starting system (ie the screaming jimmy).


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Without a means to heat the incoming air, glowplugs, the old coil, etc it will be a dog to start.

They tend to get addicted to ether and this washes the cylinder walls of oil.

You can use any method to heat the incoming air. Then she'll start fine.

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Old 12-02-2015, 09:51   #9
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

Use gasoline on rag and hold over air intake, this is a lot easier on the diesel engine than ether.
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Old 12-02-2015, 10:05   #10
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

If all you need is heat--- why not put a hose on a hair blower and port it to the intake?




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Old 12-02-2015, 10:18   #11
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

hair dryer is a great idea


if you have shore power buy small UL approved heater set it on a low setting and put it under the oil pan. this will warm the oil and the block, mine cranks over on about the 3rd revolution without the glow plug. and starts right up. be sure to remove the heater before you start the engine
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Old 12-02-2015, 10:31   #12
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

The reason they get addicted to ether is that ether explodes rather then burning. A lot of people think that a gas/air or diesel/air mixture explodes to power an engine but in fact it needs to burn to produce any real power. Over time the ether explosions will break the top compression ring(s) which only makes matters worse. Ether should always be your absolute last resort and even then only in very small doses, preferably introduced while the engine is already turning over. Spraying a huge gob into the intake and then hitting the key is just asking for trouble.

As others have already recommended, figure out some way to introduce even a little bit of heat. For cold starts the batteries need to be in perfect condition. Warming the batteries can also make a huge difference. Oil gets thicker as it gets colder creating extra drag which slows the cranking and makes the engine less likely to start. The oldtimers used to drain the oil, warm it on the stove and dump it back in. That accomplished two things - it made the oil less viscous and helped warm the block. I have installed pencil heaters in the oil pan on diesel engines and it doesn't take much wattage to make a huge difference. I also run 0/30 or 0/40 synthetic oil in any diesel engine I expect to routinely start in cold weather.

Heat soaking is a technique whereby you crank the engine for maybe 30 seconds and then let it sit for a couple of minutes before cranking it again. The theory is that the heat of compression will spread through the block. It takes good batteries and lots of reserve battery power but it can be very effective if done a few times in succession.
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Old 12-02-2015, 10:47   #13
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

A new thermostart preheater is about $20. Think about replacing it. Bleed the fuel to it after replacement and before using it.

Check voltage at the start battery and then at the starter motor to see if you're getting significant voltage drop.
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Old 12-02-2015, 10:53   #14
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

I had a Perkins 4-108 in the Seattle area for years. It always started immediately. Never used a glow plug. (not sure it had one) I doubt I ever cranked it over 5 secs in the coldest weather while I had it. You couldn't bump the starter while working on it without it starting it seemed.
Which perkins do you have?
You could try just leaving a 150 watt bulb on in the engine room in the winter... amazing how much heat that provides in the enclosed space.
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Old 12-02-2015, 10:54   #15
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Re: Tricks on starting an old Perkins when cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crabby1 View Post
Use gasoline on rag and hold over air intake, this is a lot easier on the diesel engine than ether.
You could easily end up with a rag in the engine doing this!
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