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Old 05-02-2022, 09:07   #16
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Re: Dead in the water

Based on symptoms and having dealt with the same issues I would say 99% it's a fuel problem. Sometimes it can be tricky bleeding all the air out of the lines and sometimes on an older engine messing with it can result in an air leak that is hard to track down and fix.

First step, you need a way to charge the batteries. Once you take care of that, go through the whole bleeding process from one end to the other. Start at the filter end and work your way, step by step to the injectors.

If you can't fix it the only way to find it without going insane is to trouble shoot the system from one end to the other.

Get a completely clean, dry, new, clear bottle and put some new, clean fuel in. Make sure there is NOTHING in it. Get a clean, fuel hose, insert into the bottle and step by step connect the hose to the fuel system bypassing all but one stage and crank the engine. Move that back down the line until the engine no longer runs and you've isolated the problem.
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Old 05-02-2022, 09:19   #17
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Re: Dead in the water

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Originally Posted by Cap Morgan View Post
Glenn,

The engine is a 1980 Perkins 4-108 with about 1150 hours. It actually runs VERY smoothly and normally without a trace of a hiccup.
Well, you are going through the right issues. Definitely sounds like a fuel starvation issue.

The 4-108 should start right up just cracking the fuel lines at the injectors. I couldn't stop mine from starting if I wanted to just trying to turn the engine a rotation. Even after the head was off and put on, it started right up.
Everything in the fuel system must be clean.
It sounds like you need to have the fuel tank cleaned up though or you will be back where you started. You could put in a day tank temporarily if you have a spot for a fuel can...
Buy a battery charger and get your batteries charged up.
Have you replaced and cleaned the on-engine fuel filter? I had one that had sat and there was a big yellow mushroom in there of algae and fuel!
My 4-108 had nothing but a screen and a mushroom shaped metal cap on the intake. Boat engines dont really need filters for the air intake. It's a clean environment compared with a tractor or dusty road.

A) get everything in the fuel system pristine.
B) crack each injector line until fuel with no bubbles comes out while cranking the engine.
C) It should be running now. If it's not, try spraying some diesel into the intake. It should run for a few seconds with every spray. You can do this to help get the fuel system full and going.
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Old 05-02-2022, 09:20   #18
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Re: Dead in the water

Besides a known-good battery, cold drinking water and rags and containers for handling dirty fuel and filters. It might be worth having a who-is-bringing-what conversation with the mechanic.
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Old 05-02-2022, 09:22   #19
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Re: Dead in the water

"The boat has a solar panel that puts out about 360 AH" That would be a great panel. But before the electrically anal wording police show up, I'm sure you mean watts.
At the least I'd suspect a good fuel polishing is in order for your fuel tank/s
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Old 05-02-2022, 09:45   #20
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Re: Dead in the water

When turning over the engine to start it close the raw water seacock. To much starting turn over will fill up the water muffler with seawater not being expelled by the exhaust gases. Immediately open seacock when engine has started.
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Old 05-02-2022, 09:49   #21
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Re: Dead in the water

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When turning over the engine to start it close the raw water seacock. To much starting turn over will fill up the water muffler with seawater not being expelled by the exhaust gases. Immediately open seacock when engine has started.
This is with emphasizing if the op isnít aware of it. This is vital.
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Old 05-02-2022, 10:03   #22
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Dead in the water

One weird clue is OP said is that the engine races but boat speed didnít respond. Could be too short of a rev cycle to see boat speed increase- but could also be slipping transmission cone or disc clutch.

So the OP should check transmission fluid in case there are 2 problems- bad fuel and no fluid (or ancient fluid in transmission)
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Old 05-02-2022, 10:33   #23
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Re: Dead in the water

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The waves caused you to stir up the crud in the tank. Definitely. And it WILL happen again.

So what you need to do to move this boat (aside from properly having the diesel polished and cleaning the tank) is to buy a ton of the primary filter elements. Like 10? 12? Youíll stir up the gunk for sure again but youíll get good at changing the filter elements. You just change them each time they plug up. They last a fairly long time even with the worst crud in them. What micron is the primary and what micron is the secondary?

Also, be a little extra when bleeding the injector pump. Put a bucket under it and donít stop until you have lots and lots of completely red fuel pouring out with no air WHATSOEVER. Then squirt a little more out. Pour the bucket back in the tank.

If you have to bleed at the injectors (not usually necessary, but might be), do the same. Really let it pour out. Not a single bubble.

It will then start right up.

Get a fresh starting battery and charge it all the way somehow. Your engine should start after maybe 5-10 tries if youíve properly bled things out to the injector pump. Is the alternator working? It should charge the starting batter all the way up by the time you are at the inlet again.

I had this engine before. Speaking from experience with it.
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The primary filter is 10 micron. I donít know what the secondary is since I took the old part number to NAPA and bought their equivalent. I didnít think that filter would be measured in microns anyway since itís a different type of filter. Hereís a question that I have for you. When you bled yours was the engine already running? Every video that Iíve watched on bleeding shows it being done while the engineís running. How does one bleed anything but the secondary filter without the engine running? Also, should I be bleeding the top screws on the injectors themselves?
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Old 05-02-2022, 10:35   #24
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Re: Dead in the water

I actually topped up the transmission fluid prior to leaving Canaveral. It worked beautifully all the way down ICW until I hit the rough water.
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Old 05-02-2022, 10:44   #25
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Re: Dead in the water

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Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
"The boat has a solar panel that puts out about 360 AH" That would be a great panel. But before the electrically anal wording police show up, I'm sure you mean watts.
At the least I'd suspect a good fuel polishing is in order for your fuel tank/s
Thanks for the correction. The fuel polishing is something I plan to do if I could just get the boat to Miami where I have more resources at my disposal. My plan is to continue down the ICW when I get started again to Boca Raton then pick very smooth sea conditions to get down to Miami where Iíll have the fuel extracted, polished, tank cleaned then replace fuel. Palm Beach area just seems completely devoid of any services for my level boat if you know what I mean.
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Old 05-02-2022, 12:00   #26
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Re: Dead in the water

Worst case: Have Towboat drag you out, sail to Miami (home, I assume), and then have them tow you in.
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Old 05-02-2022, 12:01   #27
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Re: Dead in the water

Cap Morgan.. You can run your engine temporarily off a jerry can which eliminates any issue with dirty tanks. Just pull the fuel line off the tank, or a racor and run it into the jerry can. you can add a connector and extend the line if needed. Keep in mind the fuel return is still going to the tank, so this won't work to motor all the way to Miami unless you route the return line to the jerry can as well. Not a big deal to do and a possible work around to get you going. You should of course fill everything with diesel to minimize air in the system and bleed it.

You should get a new battery, charge it and connect it to the solar so it doesn't die. yes, a honda 2000 would work too and they are carry-on suit case size, so any dinghy that gets you to the boat will move the generator too. though I'd prioritize getting the solar charging working as it is a long term solution.


EDIT: thinking about this and the quick conclusion it is dirty fuel... just not adding up. Why would the RPM surge and the boat not move forward unless not in gear? If he wasn't in gear could the over-rev seized it up? probably not, but has the OP gotten the engine to turn over at all? You should be able to turn the engine manually with a socket/breaker bar on the main pulley nut. And if he was motoring, why would the batteries be dead unless the alternator or something in the charging system die? And could this dead battery issue be related to the engine not running?? Something in the electrical system? Is this a newer common rail engine with electronic control?
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Old 05-02-2022, 12:19   #28
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Re: Dead in the water

I think Bellinghamster has it right. Rev.s increasing for a few seconds before the engine quits has been recognized since Otto's time as a sign of fuel starvation.

Your "no crank" condition is, as you said, a result of "faulty battery management". Specifically wasting juice on cranking an engine that could be anticipated to refuse to start due to dirty fuel and blockage of the injector system.

Once you've cleaned the fuel storage and delivery systems thoroughly, AND cleaned the HP pump and injector system you engine is likely to start and run just fine.

The starter battery can be charged ashore, even by your car if needs be, or the car's battery can be taken aboard and used to start the boat's engine. A fifty horse Perkins doesn't take much to start if it's generally in good condition. Put a hydrometer to the battery to verify State of Charge.

Cleaning the fuel delivery system should, IMO, precede cleaning the injection system, so that once you've got the engine running "new" dirt is not introduced into the injection system. If you don't do a THOROUGH cleaning of the storage and delivery system BEFORE you start the engine, you can wind up cleaning the injection system time after time after time.

All the best.

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Old 05-02-2022, 12:32   #29
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Re: Dead in the water

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cap Morgan View Post
Thanks for the correction. The fuel polishing is something I plan to do if I could just get the boat to Miami where I have more resources at my disposal. My plan is to continue down the ICW when I get started again to Boca Raton then pick very smooth sea conditions to get down to Miami where I’ll have the fuel extracted, polished, tank cleaned then replace fuel. Palm Beach area just seems completely devoid of any services for my level boat if you know what I mean.
There were services around Palm Beach when I was there. Maybe ask around. Crackerboy's yard may know. Also a couple of brokers on the waterway.

The primary filter is 10 micron. I don’t know what the secondary is since I took the old part number to NAPA and bought their equivalent. I didn’t think that filter would be measured in microns anyway since it’s a different type of filter. Here’s a question that I have for you. When you bled yours was the engine already running? Every video that I’ve watched on bleeding shows it being done while the engine’s running. How does one bleed anything but the secondary filter without the engine running? Also, should I be bleeding the top screws on the injectors themselves?

As I said earlier, usually you only have to crack the fuel line at the injectors. You need someone to crank the engine while you do it.
-Dont crank too long and overheat your starter cables (15 seconds at a time?)
-Dont flood the engine by cranking too long with the seawater intake open.

When a boat revs up and down from fuel starvation, the boat doesn't really speed up or down noticeably. I wouldn't even start wandering down that path.
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Old 05-02-2022, 12:37   #30
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Re: Dead in the water

I had this problem recently with a 1983 Perkins 4.236 in my boat.
It was a bear to find but I finally discovered that the final Racor filter (not the engine filter, but the one just before it) was clogged. Not fuel filter element, but the filter body itself.
Racor filters have a check valve in the body and it was stuck closed surrounded by a bunch of gunk. I removed the filter, disassembled it and cleaned all the gunk out of it with solvent. I reassembled it, put a new filter element in, filled it with fuel, primed the engine and everything was fine.
The problem was that the lift pump was trying so hard to pull fuel that it was sucking in air from somewhere and I looked everywhere for an air leak and could not find it. Finally I used the bucket full of fuel trick and realized that it was not Air but a fuel problem.

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