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Old 14-09-2019, 21:48   #1
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Westerbeke M40 won't crank

Title says it all, just curious if anyone has any insight that my (not very mechanical) self hasn't come across.

Back story is was a totally fine, all normal running motor as of last time I shut it off on Wednesday, ran totally normally the whole day (on and off a few times as we were day sailing but in light winds and heavier currents so motor sailing some). Came out to boat (on mooring at remote site) on Friday, everything looked fine, did normal fluid checks all good, went to crank it and nothing happens... no click, no turnover of engine nothing.

Turn key to ignition everything sounds normal (low oil alarm sounds because engine isn't running, glow plug switch works - big voltage drop as normal when hit glow plug switch) but when turn to "start" just nothing, no click of solenoid, engine doesn't try to turnover, and there is no drop in voltage (like I would expect if starter was trying to run but couldn't).

Things I'm pretty sure are good:
+ plenty of battery power... batteries were at 12.5-12.6 volts when I tried to start, used a jump start battery pack with no difference, we are now on a dock (thanks BoatUS / TowBoatUS!) with shore power and fully charged batts and still nothing, no crank at all.
+ I appear to get good voltage at the starter, 12.6, but haven't been able to test if that's there when key is twisted (on my own until tomorrow morning).
+ I don't think (but of course can't say for sure) that it's something like a hydrolocked cylinder / water in the fuel / something that makes the engine itself not want to run because I would think those things would allow the engine to crank but not catch, and it just won't crank at all


Things I've tried:
+ jump starter / etc above to make sure I have the juice, batteries are definitely good, of course could be wiring between batts and starter
+ tried, as best I could figure, to jump the ignition switch... three terminals on the back of ignition switch, one is 12v in from battery, one goes out to all the things that turn on when you turn the key to ignition, I assume third goes to solenoid, so I jumped power from 12v+ to the solenoid out and no change
+ banged on the starter to see if it would disengage / knock some junk off the brushes, no joy
+ someone mentioned an ignition interlock (won't start unless in neutral), I am pretty sure I don't have one but even so tried moving gear shift into forward and reverse slowly while turning key, nothing.

Things I wish I knew / did:
+ can't find any terminals that look like a solenoid, I'm guessing it's internal to the starter? so I banged around on the starter with a hammer like I was trying to hit the starter and/or hit the solenoid, but I don't have two fat terminals that I could jump with a big screwdriver or something... wish I did because with no click sound I highly suspect my solenoid
+ turn the crank by hand... honestly not sure if this is doable on this engine, but there's the end of the crank there maybe I could try that (to dislodge a stuck starter for example) but I don't have a socket that will fit over the crank shaft and if I did not sure if I have a long enough breaker bar to twist a 1.5 liter diesel by hand anyway?

I have mechanic coming Monday morning and hope he can help to sort it, putting crimp in our (always too short) vacation plans, although I realize things could have been much worse (we got towed in for free on our plan, and while we're not in our slip because they couldn't get us in there under tow we are on the guest dock, plugged in, all is well in the short term).

If there are any thoughts I'd be interested to hear, I personally feel like it's a solenoid (because I hear nothing when I turn the key and there's no voltage drop like I'd suspect with a frozen up starter) but I can't find it to jump it to test it, any other ideas appreciated.

As always (when I post these "why won't this work" posts) thanks in advance,

-- Bass
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Old 14-09-2019, 22:51   #2
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Re: Westerbeke M40 won't crank

Try to rotate the crankshaft using the alternator pulley while maintaining a bit of tension on the vee belt with your thumb. There is a substantial mechanical advantage by doing it this way. It IS important to quit any attempt to spin the engine using the electric starter until you establish that the crankshaft is able to be rotated 2 full turns with no lockup to avoid damage if it does have water in the cylinders
..... hopefully you only have a faulty starter or wiring.
Pete.
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Old 15-09-2019, 01:13   #3
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Re: Westerbeke M40 won't crank

In addition to what Skipperpete posted, most starter motors have the solenoid attached to the starter motor which is where you see the "two big fat terminals".

However from your description it would seem you have a remote solenoid and you should be able to find it by following the single big cable that will be attached to the starter motor. Just follow this cable back to where it meets the solenoid.
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Old 15-09-2019, 18:24   #4
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Re: Westerbeke M40 won't crank

My Westerbeke had a similar issue last year. Mine is a marinized Mitsubishi block. The solenoid on mine is integrated into starter motor. I can (and did) reach in with screwdriver to jump the solenoid and directly engage the starter. Just fair warning that this takes some mental preparation that there will be sparks and fear of being electrocuted lol.

I ended up replacing my starter as I did not have time to figure out solenoid the night before race. Once I had time, I found a suitable solenoid on Amazon and replaced to have a spare. If you have time, remove starter and confirm this, it's a lot cheaper.

I did the same debugging as you, jumped across the start switch and confirmed I had 12v at solenoid but nothing after that. The solenoid gets corroded from the arcing and that's what it feels like is wrong but the only way to confirm is to put a multimeter on the solenoid positive and then ground and bump the starter.

I found a new solenoid for $25. I believe a 40b is a marinized 4-107 so that should help you chase down a cheap starter
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Old 15-09-2019, 19:21   #5
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Re: Westerbeke M40 won't crank

Thanks skipperpete, Wotname, sailah, I appreciate your suggestions.

With a little more time on my hands, a wiring diagram, and your ideas I managed to figure out what the problem was, which was embarassingly simple... there was an inline fuse holder on the solenoid wire that had broken wiring inside it... when I went step by step and pulled on the wire on each side of the fuse holder one side of the wire popped out in my hand. Quick hand splice and test showed that was the issue. Sunday and my electrical toolbox is not on board (at our cabin which also has electrical issues ) so best I could do for now is solder in a new fuse and fuse holder from O'Reillys, will replace properly in next few days with good crimps etc. But all is well and engine fires up and starts no problem.

Couple of things that are good to note if someone else finds this thread... the shape and location of my solenoid was totally unexpected for me, it honestly looks exactly like a starter so I thought it WAS the starter... it wasn't until I just stood and thought about the wiring that I realized this object had to be the solenoid because it had large gauge always live wire to one terminal... after jamming my head down there I finally found a short large gauge connection between the solenoid and the actual starter (which was hidden) and realized what piece of equipment I was looking at. Reading the wiring diagram I then realized which wire was supposed to trip the solenoid and started to backtrack that to check it.


No idea what made the fuse holder fail although we'd been moored in a rolly moorage so maybe some wake just put it over the edge, fuse holder certainly seemed original (so from 1988).

I did realize that the way my solenoid connects to my starter I would never be able to jump with a screwdriver, so I will at least put together a jumper that would allow me to jump the solenoid if it ever failed.

Thanks again.

-- Bass
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Old 15-09-2019, 21:25   #6
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Re: Westerbeke M40 won't crank

Bass, thanks for the update. It is always good to hear about the outcome from these threads and especially when it is a positive result.
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Old 15-09-2019, 22:09   #7
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Re: Westerbeke M40 won't crank

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wotname View Post
Bass, thanks for the update. It is always good to hear about the outcome from these threads and especially when it is a positive result.

Well thanks for the input. At the time this happened I was on a timeline to get someone to the airport (never a good idea) and just had too much outside noise to look at it properly, the input from you and the other repliers put my mindframe back in place and let me go piece by piece and find the issue, so thanks!


And I was lucky in that the fix was very straightforward once I'd found the problem...



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