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Old 08-07-2007, 20:35   #1
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Yanmar Starter Is Intermittent

I have a couple of Yanmar 1GM10's in my catamaran. This weekend something weird happened. Yesterday I was starting my starboard engine and all I got was a loud "click" from the starter when I pushed the starter button. The Port engine was running. The starboard starter didn't run at all, just a click. I did this 10 times or so. I then grabbed a volt meter and read 13.5 volts at the large 4 gauge wire bolted to the starter and the engine block. Ground wire appeared tight and I wiggled everything going to the starter or ground with no effect.

Next I dropped the starboard engine panel with the starter button on it and whammo, the engine started right up like nothing at all was wrong. Since yesterday afternoon I've started that engine 5 or 6 times and each and every time it starts right up.

The Mystery is that I didn't disconnect or disturb any connectors when I unbolted the panel. There's a part of me that doesn't believe unscrewing a Yanmar panel could have made any difference at all.

I've got a mystery and was wondering if anyone has been 'here' before.

Rick in Florida
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Old 08-07-2007, 21:17   #2
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There is a small ground wire from the panel

to the engine....check that it is not damaged
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Old 08-07-2007, 21:30   #3
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Starter motor brushes might be almost gone, or the solenoid contacts might be eroded to the point where it won't make contact.

My Chrysler 300M (car) had the identical symptoms and it was the solenoid contacts. If you are not where you can easily get parts, you can probably make the solenoid contacts from a piece of copper pipe mashed in vice grips and filed to shape. I did that for our old Acura starter solenoid several years back. Worked great.

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Old 08-07-2007, 21:39   #4
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I concur with Steve. If the cables are tight to the main terminals and the batteries are charged and you get nothing but a "click" it's probably solenoid.

The fact that you "banged" it and the solenoid works is another behavior of worn out/dirty solenoid contacts.
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Old 08-07-2007, 22:11   #5
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I have a spare starter and will swap it out (in my spare time (grin)) and drop it off at the local alternator shop.

Thanks guys

Rick in Florida
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Old 08-07-2007, 22:21   #6
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Sounds like a short in the wiring at the panel or switch when removing it you caused the wire to make inside the insulation which allowed continuity too the starter. Seems to me.
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Old 09-07-2007, 04:06   #7
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Rick,
Don't swap starters. It's not the problem.
Sitting next to the starter are two molded connectors. The larger one has two larger pins in it. Spread the pins back apart. There is a similar connector about a foot off of the panel. Do the same there.
This is a normal problem with the older Yanmar panels and harnesses.
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Old 09-07-2007, 04:15   #8
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Pat,

I know the connectors. When I was wiggling things in the engine compartment I unplugged that one a couple of times thinking there might be some dirt in it. OK, next trip to the boat, making better connections it is.

Thanks Pat
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:09   #9
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Yanmar starting problems are endemic! I've had 2 3GM30F's with this problem and my new 4JH3E has a starting problem too. In talking to a Yanmar mechanic I was mentioning it might be the wiring harness (on the 4JH) but was surprised to hear that Yanmar installs a "slave solenoid" before the starting solenoid on the 4JH. My problem with this engine was that the slave solenoid was sticking. Solution was to tap it with a hammer but I will swap it out in the fall.

Following is info from my files on the starting problems and fix. Cannot remember where I garnered it from so please excuse me if it's not properly attributed:









PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2005 7:41 pm Post subject: hard starting Reply with quote
The problem with aging Yanmars not engaging the starter is the wiring. Adding a relay to the starter solves the problem. You can use a continuous duty marine solenoid from West Marine or pick one up at NAPA for the purpose.

The solenoid should have four posts, two high amp, two low amp. On the low amp circuit, connect the starter key wire to one post, and ground the second post. Enaging the key will trip this circuit. On the high amp side, connect a #8 guage wire from the solenoid to the battey/alternator post on the starter motor. Then from the second high amp post run a #8 guage wire back to the post on the starter where the wire from the key originally came from.

Engaging the key will trip the low amp circuit which in turm engages the high amp connection which gives you a very healthy current to the starter solenoid.

Another thing you can do is add a remote start switch (for example near the engine) by connecting a second switch (make sure it is fused) beyween the battery side of the high amp circuit on the solenoid and the key side of the low amp circuit.
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 12:05 pm Post subject: starter problem Reply with quote
I had the same problem--each time I heard a click from the starter, but it wouldn't start turning the motor. I had to hit the start button multiple times, and eventually it would start. Last year I bought a new starter and replaced it, but still had the same problem. Then I read some of the other posts that mentioned that the wires were not sufficiently thick to handle the current from the switch to the solenoid, and they recommended putting in a second solenoid. I found it hard to believe that this would work because the wire seems to be around 12 gauge already which you would think is sufficient, but I figured I'd try it and I purchased a solenoid model COLE HERSEE 24117-01-BP 201337 from west marine, and installed it yesterday. I used thick cables 4 gauge from the battery switch to the solenoid, and 10 gauge from the solenoid to the starter (although you may want to go to 4 gauge for both). Then tested it 4 times-- each time the engine started on the first try. So this fixed my problem.
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Sorry to continue this thread on the Yanmar starting problem, but I'm 12 volt challenged as well, and a bit confused on how to rewire the problem away.

My 1988 IP31 has the 3GM30F engine, and I've had this oft-described starting problem for most of this boats life. I'm in agreement that the under spec'd wiring harness is the problem, and I would throw in the cheap 30 amp fuse holder, that appears to be 16 gauge wire between the 10 or 12 gauge wiring running from the key switch to the starter solenoid. I bought the Cole Hersee #24117 solenoid, and after tracing my wiring from starter button, key switch, alternator and starter solenoid, and then reviewing the wiring setup from "dgrosz" (4/23/05), and "mjs2" (5/26/05), I'm still confused.

"mjs2" is running a wire from the "battery switch" (?) to the solenoid. I assume he meant the starter key switch. "dgrosz" describes grounding the CH solenoid on one low post, then connect the other low post to the starter key (assume at the red wire post). Then from the CH high post, run a wire to the starter solenoid post where the current red fused wire and battery cable terminal are attached. That would replace the red wire running up to the starter solenoid, via the questionable wiring harness and fuse connector. He then connects the other high post on the CH solenoid to the alternator battery ("BAT") terminal. I see were this takes the red wire and its fuse from the wiring harness out of the mix. I also assume that the existing starter solenoid mounted on the starter stays in place. Neither really states that. I assume the CH solenoid and heavier wire (I'll use 8 gauge) is doing nothing more than to get away from the wiring harness (at least the red wire key-to-starter solenoid part of it). If I'm correct up to this point, it would appear to me that I need to remove the red wire running from the alternator/BAT terminal to the battery power terminal on the existing starter solenoid. Do I have this right ? Are there different wiring harnesses by boat manufacturer ? (Note, a 1987 Cal 33 in my boat yard has same engine and wiring harness, and the same problem) If I'm wrong, can someone describe the setup simply for a boat with the Yanmar panel with a starter button and key switch ? Up here in RI, I will not be firing up the engine for another couple of weeks, and would like to avoid blowing out something.

Starter switch wiring...

This seems to be a common problem on Yanmars. I have it from time-to-time on my 4 cylinder 4JH-TE. I have done a whole bunch of research on it, and the general consensus is that the problem is caused by the wiring to the starter solenoid.
Yanmar starter solenoids have two windings, a high current coil that pulls the solenoid in (and then is turned off), and a lower current "holding" coil that holds the plunger in place. The result is a brief high current spike that happens as you push the starter button.
If the wiring to the starter button is too long, too smaller gage, or the starter switch has developed some contact resistance, the added resistance will not allow sufficient current through the solenoid to pull-in adequately during the initial current spike (Ohm's Law).
The general consensus (which I have not yet adopted) is to install an automotive type relay close to the engine, and use heavier gage wire from the battery, through the relay contacts, to the starter solenoid. In other words, the starter switch merely closes the relay, which then supplies the initial current surge through a low resistance path.
Whether this is your problem I can't say, but there are numerous threads around on various forums that indicate that this is the fix.

It's on my "to-do" list...
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:35   #10
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I'm really glad to see this thread. My 4JHTe has this problem. I rebuilt the starter in Mazatlan with no improvement. I can always get started by tapping the solenoid, but usually it starts normally. If not, several turns of the key usually do it. If the engine is hot, the solenoid tapping always works. I'm actually relieved to find out that it is a common problem. Otherwise, I've never loved an engine so much.....
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:42   #11
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Richard,

I love Yanmars but why don't they fix this damn starting problem. Everyone seems to know about it. Maybe the slave solenoid on my 4JH3E is a fix but it's gone too!! And it went in the second year of its life. Really don't understand it!!
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Old 09-07-2007, 08:21   #12
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This is turning out to be an enlightening thread.

My helm position is on the port side of my cockpit. Consequently, wire runs from the Yanmar panels are short runs to the port engine ( 5-6 feet) and long wire runs to my starboard engine (12 -14 feet). Starboard starter has the problem

Rick in Florida
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:41   #13
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Hallelujah! I'm not the only one having this problem

My 4JH2-DTE never starts on the first try unless it's warm. Starter never engages, turn the key and nothing. Keep trying and she'll always start on the 4th - 6th turn of the key. Battery is fine, connections tight, have checked / experienced nearly all the things listed in this thread.

So now I need a starting solenoid to help fire the starting solenoid on the starter motor itself. KEWL!!!

Man, I love boats!!
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:14   #14
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Mark,

Join the club!! My wife used to insist thet there was a "sweet spot" on the starter button and you had to hit it just right!
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Old 09-07-2007, 15:00   #15
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This doesn't seem to be unique to Yanmar, we have a Universal M3-20 and it usually cranks as soon as I hit the starter button. But intermittently, we just get a click at the solenoid. There is a 20amp fuse in a cheezy holder in the line from the starter button to the solenoid and I suspect the fuse holder is the problem. This line is AWG 10 wire and not very long so I suspect it's got enough current carrying capacity. I know of at least one other person with the same boat as mine and same problem. We used to think it was only when the engine was cold it would do that because it has never done the "click" when warm, but 70% of the time it starts fine cold as well. The other guy figured it was a starter button "sweet spot" issue as well, but I've tried pushing the button every odd way and can't replicate it through that. I am going to revisit the fuse holder next week since it caused an issue once before when nothing would go through it. Or maybe my solenoid is about to die??
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