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Old 13-04-2018, 17:26   #1
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Westerbeke stops running mystery

I have a 2001 Gemini Catamaran with the 3 cylinder Westerbeke diesel motor. 30b. While motoring last week the motor died and my initial thought was fuel pump as this motor uses a electric fuel pump. I replaced the pump with my spare pump ( new in box). Unfortunately this did not fix the problem and after further examination I realized that the solenoid had gone bad. Luckily I carried a “new” spare solenoid. I replaced this and the motor restarted. So far so good.
Here where it gets kinda weird. The motor runs fine for a while and then acts like it is running out of fuel. If I push the preheat button the motor continue to run. (This seems to make the fuel pump run more). Sometimes this will “cure” the problem for several hours, sometimes for 5 mins. Truly odd sometimes it does this at idol sometimes at 2500rpms. Or anyplace in between.
The motor has been harder to start first thing but after the 1st start of the day it fires right up.
Also the start key “buzzer stays on for longer that it used to. I have no idea if these 2 problems have any connection.
Thanks for your help. This is my 1st time posting.
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Old 13-04-2018, 22:18   #2
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

Injector pump?

Here is a great book you could reference...

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/mar...SABEgJ6rvD_BwE
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Old 14-04-2018, 00:39   #3
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

Book available cheaper at Abebooks.
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Old 16-04-2018, 09:24   #4
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

Sound like you may have some air in the fuel line. The first thing I would do is bleed the fuel line...
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Old 16-04-2018, 10:00   #5
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

The pin on the control rack of my fuel injection came off the throttle notch when I force the throttle lever to far. Resulting in very erratic RPM behavior.
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Old 16-04-2018, 11:00   #6
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

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Originally Posted by salty_dog_68 View Post
Sound like you may have some air in the fuel line. The first thing I would do is bleed the fuel line...
Where would you suggest I bleed it? I.E. before 2nd fuel filter, before injectors ...? Woul “cracking “the injectors accomplish the same goal.? Last night it ran great for 3 hrs, NJext time I started it it died every 5 mins.
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Old 16-04-2018, 11:16   #7
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

I just had a similar with my port motor. After bleeding the lines I determined that the problem was between the racor and the fuel tank by dissconnecting the line from the racor to the lift pump and putting the fuel line in a jug of fresh diesel, engine ran fine. I started at the tank,disassembled the line at the tank and found a bunch of slime gunk stuff in the line and 90 degree elbow going to the racor. Cleaned, reassembled and bled. She fired right up and has been running fine. Good Luck
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Old 16-04-2018, 13:13   #8
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

Most likely air in the fuel system. Air can come in anywhere there is a connection, gasket, or where the line may rub. You bleed air starting from the tank and ending at the injectors. But usually, the injector pump 1st and then the injector nut.
If you can't find the leak, add a fitting and pressurize the fuel line with air and listen for the leak. Another way is to pressurize the tank, but limit the pressure to 5 psi.
I have an inline electric pump added to each engine for filling fuel filters and bleeding. It makes it easy. They serve as backup fuel pumps, too. Less than $20 on ebay.
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Old 12-05-2018, 19:23   #9
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

I had a similar problem last week with both my Westerbeke engine and Westerbeke generator having fluctuating RPM and sometimes stalling. Being it was happening to both engines it was likely the problem was not the engines. Like Phisher above I isolated the problem to the Racor filter. By bypassing it both engine ran fine. This is all easily said now, but it was a lot of troubleshooting to get to this. The fuel filters themselves are fine, there is some other internal clog that I haven't chased down yet.

One of the beauties of Westebeke engines (at least both of my models, don't know about yours) is the electric "lift pump", with an easy purge valve nearby. Nothing needs to be cracked open. Someone needs to hold the preheat button and you will hear the pump running. Then press the purge valve, cloth in hand, and air purges out. Simple. That said, even though I "ran out" of fuel several times I never had to purge. The pump just seems to handle the need and without the filter issue the started right up and ran fine.

By the way, the lift pump has its own filter. So you have three in the system - the main filter (maybe Racor), then big filter on the engine, and the very small filter in the lift pump.

Now on to the mystery as to why/how my Racor filter clogged. I have a double filter model, an 75/500FGX, and the whole thing shut itself down, with the vacuum gauge pegged to its limit. I do regular maintenance and always just trust this filter setup. It was big surprise it failed. I need to find a rebuild kit and give it an overhaul.

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Old 12-05-2018, 21:11   #10
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

We have a westerbeke 46. You also need to bleed the fuel filter unit on the engine... before the injectors. Although there is an fuel lift pump, I find that it doesn't get all the air out of the top of the fuel filter on the engine. I usually crack the nut where the fuel comes out of that unit and wait until the air bleeds out and THEN do the injectors.
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Old 14-05-2018, 10:00   #11
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

My Universal 5416 (Westerbeke M20) had fluctuating RPM and sometimes stalling.
After replacing the electric lift pump, I bleed the fuel at the filter, and at the fuel injector pump, and no start.
There was an air bubble in the tubes going to the injectors.
With the starter motor running, and full throttle to get the fuel injector pump to pump, I cracked the nut on top of the #1 cylinder injector, and no start.
With starter motor running, I cracked the nut on top ther #2, and air bubble & fuel squirted out the top of the injector, and engine started instantly.
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Old 14-05-2018, 10:44   #12
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

Another vote for air in the line. HOWEVER .... I fought with this kind of thing for over a year before I finally (I hope, knock on wood) have found the issue. It was a crack in the fuel line. Yes, air got in. Yes I could bleed it all I wanted (the engine is self bleeding too) and it would temporarily fix it. Sometimes it would run for many hours, other times it would run for 30 seconds before dying. It was the single most frustrating thing in my entire sailing experience. I even tangled with a breakwater due to engine troubles (and my inexperience which caused me to delay dropping the anchor).
The fact that the problem seemed to be more pronounced at low fuel levels confused the issue even more (low fuel in tank means higher vac levels in the fuel line which results in a higher possibility of air being sucked in).
I concentrated a lot of time and effort on the fuel system between tank and electric lift pump. Even thought the pump was intermittent. As it turned out, at one particular point with the rubber fuel hose by the fuel pump bent 'just so' I noticed a crack in the rubber. Totally invisible under normal circumstances.
My engine had been super reliable up to that point. It will take some time before I will get my confidence back in the engine as I thought I had things fixed several times before only to have the problem creep up again. I have insufficient time on the engine after the latest fix but have high hopes.
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Old 18-05-2018, 19:42   #13
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

I'm using a WB 35 B Three lately w a similar prob, just shuts down sometimes,, never know when, but starts up after it cools off and runs. Now after 6 hours of expensive diagnostics w what seems like fairly sophisticated equipment (isolates diff parts of fuel system to check for air in line, only to find none) the mechanic is now talking low compression, possible salt water intrusion ruining valves, very small metal flakes on a glow plug, poss prob w injector pump after it warms up, i.e., he wants to sell me a new engine. Another mechanic suggests a head gasket prob which may be allowing exhaust to cross over to center cylinder and extinguish combustion in center cylinder on occasion,, the occasion that engine stalls. I'm about to take the head off and have a look around for myself.
Question: Did you ever solve your problem.. if so how? Thanks, Pappy
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Old 18-05-2018, 20:46   #14
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

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Originally Posted by PappysSailing View Post
I'm using a WB 35 B Three lately w a similar prob, just shuts down sometimes,, never know when, but starts up after it cools off and runs. Now after 6 hours of expensive diagnostics w what seems like fairly sophisticated equipment (isolates diff parts of fuel system to check for air in line, only to find none) the mechanic is now talking low compression, possible salt water intrusion ruining valves, very small metal flakes on a glow plug, poss prob w injector pump after it warms up, i.e., he wants to sell me a new engine. Another mechanic suggests a head gasket prob which may be allowing exhaust to cross over to center cylinder and extinguish combustion in center cylinder on occasion,, the occasion that engine stalls. I'm about to take the head off and have a look around for myself.
Question: Did you ever solve your problem.. if so how? Thanks, Pappy
I think you are being fed a lot of bull because the mechanic hasn't got a clue.
Low compression would mean the engine would not start at all - if it did start, it would not quit.
Salt water ruining valves ? That would result in low compression - see above.
Small metal flakes on a glow plug ? Again, this would only cause poor starting - the glow plugs have no function once the engine starts!
Exhaust gases crossing over to center cylinder and extinguish the combustion ??? Yeah, right ....

I am not sure if your question was directed at me but if it was, I am a firm believer in an air leak and hope to have solved my issues.

BTW, one trouble shooting method I have not yet used but that has a lot of promise is to set up a temporary day tank elevated above the engine and feed fuel into the fuel system (gravity feed) directly at the engine and bypassing most of the fuel system. Make sure your regular tank has enough capacity to accept the return fuel flow from your temporary day tank!
If you need to do longer duration testing then I would set up some temporary feed from the main fuel tank to the temporary tank and filling up the day tank whenever it gets a bit low. Note that I do not know how much fuel flow is bypassed - it could be a large amount meaning that it will be difficult to keep the day tank full.

I have also been toying with the idea of installing a pressure gauge that can display both positive and negative pressure (needle centered in the middle of the gauge travel). This would tap into the fuel system just before the injector pump. It will always show you what the status of the fuel system, filters and lift pump are. Of course it will not help if you have an injector pump failure or more serious engine problems.

Good luck !
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Old 21-05-2018, 15:21   #15
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Re: Westerbeke stops running mystery

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
I think you are being fed a lot of bull because the mechanic hasn't got a clue.
Low compression would mean the engine would not start at all - if it did start, it would not quit.
Salt water ruining valves ? That would result in low compression - see above.
Small metal flakes on a glow plug ? Again, this would only cause poor starting - the glow plugs have no function once the engine starts!
Exhaust gases crossing over to center cylinder and extinguish the combustion ??? Yeah, right ....

I am not sure if your question was directed at me but if it was, I am a firm believer in an air leak and hope to have solved my issues.

BTW, one trouble shooting method I have not yet used but that has a lot of promise is to set up a temporary day tank elevated above the engine and feed fuel into the fuel system (gravity feed) directly at the engine and bypassing most of the fuel system. Make sure your regular tank has enough capacity to accept the return fuel flow from your temporary day tank!
If you need to do longer duration testing then I would set up some temporary feed from the main fuel tank to the temporary tank and filling up the day tank whenever it gets a bit low. Note that I do not know how much fuel flow is bypassed - it could be a large amount meaning that it will be difficult to keep the day tank full.

I have also been toying with the idea of installing a pressure gauge that can display both positive and negative pressure (needle centered in the middle of the gauge travel). This would tap into the fuel system just before the injector pump. It will always show you what the status of the fuel system, filters and lift pump are. Of course it will not help if you have an injector pump failure or more serious engine problems.

Good luck !


If you install a gauge it would work best plumbed in between the primary and the secondary fuel filter. I’am not familiar with your engine but in my experience all of the diesel fuel systems I’ve worked on the lift pump sucks fuel thru the primary and pushes it through the secondary.
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