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Old 07-08-2015, 13:46   #1
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Yanmar 4JH2E ring gear (flywheel)

Our sailboat is powered by a 1994 Yanmar 4JH2E with 2880 hours on it. We have owned the boat since new. The engine runs flawlessly and starts in an instant if the starter spins.

At times, when I turn the key, I just get a click from the solenoid and the voltage on the 12V lead to the solenoid drops from 13.8V to 8.8V. The click and no starter spin began occurring, very infrequently about 100-engine hours ago, prior to replacing the starter/solenoid and key switch and has become more frequent in the last 18-months.

I made a small jumper with a switch in it to connect the battery lead to the solenoid lead (a safer version of the screwdriver trick). I get the same result when I turn on the switch: Ten times in a row the starter spins the engine. Then I get the “click” and no starter spin. That might happen just once or several times in a row. Eventually, the starter spins when I re-activate the switch.

In the last year, as a matter of preventative maintenance, I have installed (20-engine hours ago) a new OEM starter and solenoid, B-panel key switch, cleaned all starter circuit connections, and put new ring connectors on all wires. I have verified 0 (zero) ohms resistance in all the wiring from the key to both leads on the solenoid. The problem is now occurring quite frequently.

I imagine the problem is a bad tooth, or tooth with a burr, on the flywheel (ring gear in Yanmar terminology). The starter pinion gear hits the burr and can’t advance, thus the starter motor can’t be energized.

A common problem in the older cars I have worked on!

I have to remove the Yanmar alternator, exhaust elbow, and exhaust manifold (heat exchanger) to get to the starter and flywheel. I do not want to bother with all that work if there is little likelihood of being able to fix the bad tooth.

QUESTION:

Has anyone bothered to remove the starter from their Yanmar and mechanically rotate the engine while trying to find the bad tooth or burr?

Did you successfully smooth the tooth or burr?

Any other comments on the cause of the problem?
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Old 07-08-2015, 14:05   #2
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Re: Yanmar 4JH2E ring gear (flywheel)

If you had a missing teeth on the ring gear, the starter would spin like crazy. If the drive was stuck in the ring gear you would know because the starter would spin with the engine. That makes a nasty noise. Sounds like you have some sort of electrical problem not a ring gear problem.
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Old 07-08-2015, 14:07   #3
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Re: Yanmar 4JH2E ring gear (flywheel)

8.8 volts is much lower then I would expect to see. Have you checked, cleaned, and tightened the negative side of the starter circuit? I have seen loose/dirty connections to the motor and rusty starter mounting bolts cause this type of problem. Best of luck...
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Old 07-08-2015, 14:34   #4
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Re: Yanmar 4JH2E ring gear (flywheel)

I had the same problem with my 2 4jh2e. They ran 12v leads from starting panel to starter, over time they could not handle voltage. Installed relays on each starter going to panel.


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Old 08-08-2015, 19:12   #5
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Re: Yanmar 4JH2E ring gear (flywheel)

Ditto on installing an automotive cube relay at the starter solenoid to avoid the voltage drop in the wiring harness. If you only have 8v on the solenoid, it won't pull in far enough to engage the starter.
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Old 08-08-2015, 22:21   #6
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Re: Yanmar 4JH2E ring gear (flywheel)

I guess my OP was unclear.

I connected a 12" 10-gauge jumper wire from the 1/0 battery cable (where it connects to the B terminal on the solenoid) to one pole on a 15-amp SPST switch and a 12" 10-gauge jumper wire from the other SPST switch to the S terminal on the solenoid. New wire, clean, new spade connections.

There is no resistance in that circuit. When I activate that switch the solenoid clunks but the starter does not spin. There is is NO voltage drop in that circuit when the solenoid engages but the starter does not spin. The 1/0 battery cable is connected to a battery bank with 675 amp hour capacity that is being charged by 500 watts of solar panels making 25-amps at 14.3V as I do the testing.

Prior to this round of testing I removed the 1/0 ground cable that runs 36" from the engine to the battery bank. I cleaned the ground stud on the engine, cut a few inches out of the cable to get nice shiny copper strands, and crimped on a new ring connector. I consistently measure fewer than 1 ohm resistance from the starter frame to the negative battery terminal.

Does this help?
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Old 08-08-2015, 22:48   #7
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Re: Yanmar 4JH2E ring gear (flywheel)

If the voltage drops, then it's probably the pinion jammed on the ring gear. On an old Ford, you just dropped it into high gear and rocked the car, not so easy on a boat. A new pinion might help, or climb down and re-shape the bad ring gear tooth with a Dremel. If the voltage doesn't drop, it's probably the high current contact inside the solenoid. Try a new solenoid. You could try repairing it, but is it worth it?
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Old 08-08-2015, 22:49   #8
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Re: Yanmar 4JH2E ring gear (flywheel)

Yeah, your starter is probably dead. You know how to jump a starter with a screwdriver? It may sound primitive but it cuts to the chase. Knowing that your wires are good narrows it way down.
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Old 09-08-2015, 00:35   #9
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Re: Yanmar 4JH2E ring gear (flywheel)

"Yeah, your starter is probably dead. You know how to jump a starter with a screwdriver? It may sound primitive but it cuts to the chase. Knowing that your wires are good narrows it way down." That is exactly what my jumper wire with the switch does - it connects the B (battery) lead directly to the S (solenoid) lead - works exactly the same as the screwdriver but with no sparks.

The starter and solenoid are brand new OEM. The problem started with the old starter and solenoid and has now gotten worse with the new starter and solenoid.

" On an old Ford, you just dropped it into high gear and rocked the car, not so easy on a boat" Actually it is quite easy on my Yanmar - I just put a 19mm socket on the nut for the fan belt pulley and use a 2' breaker bar to rotate the engine a tooth or two. When I do that after the clunk from the solenoid and no starter spin - the next time I engage the solenoid the starter spins. (Of course I have the fuel shutoff pulled so the engine cannot start).

"A new pinion might help, or climb down and re-shape the bad ring gear tooth with a Dremel." I am asking if anyone has actually taken the time to do that? It will require about two hours labor on my part just to get to the inspection hole in the bell housing where I can see the teeth.

"If the voltage doesn't drop, it's probably the high current contact inside the solenoid. Try a new solenoid. You could try repairing it, but is it worth it?" The solenoid is brand new but the symptom is exactly the same as with the old solenoid.


has anyone actually replaced the ring gear on a Yanmar flywheel - it would take me a minimum of four hours (each way) to R&R the flywheel.
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