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Old 27-07-2021, 14:10   #1
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Westerbeke Generator Problem

I have a 8kw Westerbeke generator. It has started and run perfectly for the 1 year I've owned the boat it sits in. It has an emergency stop switch and just below that switch is an 8 amp fuse.
The start sequence normally goes like this: First you hold down the preheat switch. As soon as you do this, the gauges light up and you can hear the preheat solenoid doing it's thing. Then while still holding down the preheat switch, you depress the start switch. Once the motor is running, you let go of the start switch, but continue holding down the preheat switch for a few more seconds until the oil pressure reaches some predetermined point. At that point, you can also release the preheat switch and use the generator.
The other night I followed this sequence as usual, but after turning over a couple times, instead of firing up, everything just stopped. No clicking of the preheat solenoid, no lights on the instruments. Totally dead.
After troubleshooting for a bit, I found the 8 amp fuse below the emergency kill switch was blown. I replaced it and it immediately blew again. So obviously there's something more going on than a blown fuse.
I spent several hours today trying to find the problem, went through lots more fuses, and got nowhere?
The wires all look to be in good condition. Nothing frayed, no worn insulation. Connections at all switches look good.
Where do I go next? Any ideas what the most likely culprit's might be? Can there be a dead short internally in the starter? A solenoid? A switch?
I'm in a remote area in the Bahamas, so I need to figure this one out myself.
TIA for any help offered.
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Old 27-07-2021, 15:26   #2
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

I'm curious about what model you have? I have the 8.0 BTD and there is no fuse - downstream from the kill switch, there's a 20A breaker. There's also another 10A breaker between the preheat and fuel solenoids, that's described in a service bulletin affecting WMD BTD BTDA and BCD models. If you have a similar modification, I would check that wire first to see if the insulation has worn/melted somewhere and it's grounding. If nothing there, I'd look at the rest of the wiring for same; might be easier if you have a wiring diagram.
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Old 27-07-2021, 16:18   #3
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

Should have been more specific that you should check the pre-heat and run circuits for grounds. Following that replace the pre-heat solenoid - you should be able to find one in an auto-parts or hardware store.
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Old 27-07-2021, 16:18   #4
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

I have the BTDA. The wiring schematic in my manual shows the fuse. I'm not great at reading schematics, or I should say, seeing it organized on paper doesn't always translate what I'm looking at on the motor for me. The manual mentions a 20 amp breaker, which appears to be just a reset button type. As I ran out of the correct size fuses I put in an oversized and the breaker tripped instead of the fuse blowing.
As for a 10 amp breaker, I have not seen that.
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Old 27-07-2021, 16:22   #5
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

Here's the service bulletin that explains it. Later models are wired this way. The diagram should make it clear where it would be.
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Old 27-07-2021, 17:19   #6
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

I do not have that breaker installed. There is nothing on that post of the solenoid. Do you know if there's a way to test the solenoid? By pass it to see if that's the problem?
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Old 27-07-2021, 17:42   #7
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

Don't try to crank again or the next thing to go may be the starter wire or winding. Suggest for next step you check all grounds and battery level, if sufficient, remove starter and verify solenoid operation and starter rotating. If ok check that the engine has not become water locked. This can happen fairly quickly with some exhausts. It sounds like the starter or start circuit is pulling high amps immediately idicating something may not be able to move.
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Old 27-07-2021, 18:15   #8
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

I looked at the wiring diagram in the tech manual, and see your 8A fuse. Been awhile since I've been on my boat (covid) but I just can't picture where it is. When you energize the pre-heat you should hear the solenoid click, and the right-side post (the one that goes to the glow-plugs) should become energized - so you could measure that with a voltmeter. Don't know if there's any other way to bench-test it.
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Old 28-07-2021, 10:12   #9
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turtle Blues View Post
Don't try to crank again or the next thing to go may be the starter wire or winding. Suggest for next step you check all grounds and battery level, if sufficient, remove starter and verify solenoid operation and starter rotating. If ok check that the engine has not become water locked. This can happen fairly quickly with some exhausts. It sounds like the starter or start circuit is pulling high amps immediately idicating something may not be able to move.
Turtle Blues,
You don't understand, I'm not getting to the cranking part. The fuse blows as soon as I turn on the battery switch. This is an electrical problem.
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Old 28-07-2021, 17:11   #10
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

I assume by what you say, is that you aren't even getting to pressing the pre-heat switch before it blows. I am by no means an expert, but it appears to me to be a short in the "run" circuit. So there should be a red wire from the emergency stop switch to the 20A breaker, and then it runs to the starter solenoid. On that same post on the solenoid, there should be a red wire that runs to the left post on the pre-heat solenoid and an orange wire that runs to the alternator. Disconnect both of them (leave the red wire from the 20A on the post) then switch on the battery. If the breaker trips/fuse blows then the problem is likely the starter solenoid. If not, reconnect the two wires one at a time and see which one blows the fuse.
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Old 29-07-2021, 05:59   #11
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

Sorry I misunderstood. Fault is before energizing starter. Does post #10 identify issue? If not do you have ohm meter to take some resistance readings?
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Old 29-07-2021, 07:17   #12
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

Looking at the schematic for that unit it looks as if there are only a few points that can cause the problem.

After the key switch the positive lead goes to:

1. Alternator
2. Fuel Sol Valve
3. Oil Pressure Switch
4. All the Instrument Displays
5. Alarm

These get "power" when the key is turned on. if the fuse is blowing at key on and no other actions then the short must be in one of the five items. Take an ohm reading at the key switch to a solid ground. If its blowing fuses the resistance will be almost nothing. (OL on most electronic VOMs)

Now disconnect the above five items one at a time and take another reading from the key switch to ground. When you suddenly see a change in resistance (more ohms) you have located the problem circuit.

EXAMPLE: Lets assume the problem seems to be the instrument display. You have disconnected the power lead to them. The problem could be in the wire between the key switch and the instruments, or if could be in the instruments. Test both sides of the circuit for resistance to ground.

Again, it could be in any one of the five (5) circuits (items) I listed above. Each will have to be checked.

Good luck
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Old 29-07-2021, 08:19   #13
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Re: Westerbeke Generator Problem

I have had my Westerbeke trip its circuit breaker when I ran the engine after I had removed a burnt-out light bulb from the instrument panel without replacing the bulb. I didn't have a spare on aboard and planned to take the old bulb with me later to find a match at the auto parts store.

The vibration from running the engine caused the thin brass plates that serve as contacts in the instrument panel to come loose and make contact and short the circuit. The breaker tripped and the engine shut down immediately. Fortunately, this happened while tied to the dock.

It took some head scratching and review of the wiring diagram to figure it out. When I checked the instrument panel there were some burn marks on the brass plate which revealed the short. I was able to duplicate the short by jumping it to trip the breaker for confirmation of the cause. I replaced the bulb and have been running happily ever since.

Lesson learned: If an instrument light burns out, leave the bad bulb in place until it can be replaced to prevent a possible short which can trip the circuit breaker and leave you dead in the water.
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