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Old 06-07-2020, 06:19   #1
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Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

Hi. On my previous boat the engine would only turn over and start if I was in neutral. On my new boat, if I'm in gear the engine will still turn over if I press the start button.

Someone mentioned that there was a way to lockout the engine from starting unless the transmission is in neutral. I've tried various searches on the interwebs but have not been able to find any info. Any thoughts on how I can make sure the engine only starts while in neutral?

The boat is a J/112E and the engine is a Volvo Penta D1-30F.

Any help is much appreciated!
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Old 06-07-2020, 08:30   #2
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

I added a NSS to my Universal M25. I have a magnet on the trans shift lever, and mounted an encapsulated reed switch on the trans. The reed switch activates a relay - mine runs a horn if glow plugs are on but you could use relay to interrupt the wire to starter solenoid
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Old 06-07-2020, 08:38   #3
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

There is, or SHOULD be, terminals in the guts of the single stick control which should be wired in series (in line) with the start solenoid circuit. These terminals are closed when the transmission lever is in neutral, but open when the transmission is in gear. Nothing to do with the boat or the engine, it's the gear shift lever.
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Old 06-07-2020, 08:48   #4
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

In other words, rig your own, using any moving part that is in one position in neutral and another when in gear. Cat36's design is nicely sophisticated, Parkstone's is simple and near the existing start solenoid circuit at your starter switch. Even a momentary push button that gets pressed when you move the lever to neutral would work. Cat36's does have the theoretical advantage that it uses information from the tranny lever rather than the shift lever at the helm; the former still works if the cables stretch out of adjustment.
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Old 06-07-2020, 09:11   #5
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

Called a neutral safety switch, in my opinion a useless complication and will most likely one day have you trouble shooting a no start problem. Automatic transmission cars usually have one, manual ones usually do not, but many require the clutch to be pushed in, same thing.
Don’t forget about it, and make it easily bypassed.

A reed switch is completely sealed from the environment and if speced correctly will last millions of cycles, a regular switch may fail due to corrosion.
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Old 06-07-2020, 09:28   #6
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by parkstone bay View Post
There is, or SHOULD be, terminals in the guts of the single stick control which should be wired in series (in line) with the start solenoid circuit. These terminals are closed when the transmission lever is in neutral, but open when the transmission is in gear. Nothing to do with the boat or the engine, it's the gear shift lever.
This system is required in small run about type boats, as you could get thrown out if you weren't expecting it to be in gear. So any gear selector marketed for those boats would have the switch. On a heavy, low powered sailboat, that danger doesn't exist so the switch isn't necessary. My selector has the switch, but I didn't connect it. Not needed.
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Old 06-07-2020, 09:33   #7
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

If you start your engine In idle why would it matter?
I usually start mine with a little throttle but pull the knob out that disengages the shift part so you can advance the throttle Just a little to about 1000 RPM, you can only pull the knob out when the transmission is in neutral, so it is in effect a neutral safety interlock.
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Old 06-07-2020, 10:41   #8
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

On one occasion on a charter boat, someone put the transmission in reverse while sailing (seemed like a good idea at the time ...) and it jammed there. The only way to get it back into neutral was to start the engine in reverse.

NOT trying to generate another "what tranny position while sailing" discussion, just pointing out that it can happen that you need to start while in gear.
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Old 06-07-2020, 13:37   #9
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
If you start your engine In idle why would it matter?
I usually start mine with a little throttle but pull the knob out that disengages the shift part so you can advance the throttle Just a little to about 1000 RPM, you can only pull the knob out when the transmission is in neutral, so it is in effect a neutral safety interlock.
I have a Gori folding prop, and the throttle needs to be in Reverse to get the two blades to fold up. So, under sail the boat is “in gear”. The SOP before starting the engine is to put the throttle into neutral and then press the on button, then the start button, but occasionally in the heat of the moment I have forgotten to take her out of gear and tried to start it while in reverse. So I am weighing the pros and cons of making it impossible to start while in gear by adding this “neutral safety interlock”.
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Old 06-07-2020, 13:43   #10
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

So why would it be so bad if it started in gear in reverse while sailing ?
Trying to understand the need, it’s a simple thing to install a safety neutral switch, likely the proximity reed switch is the most reliable, but what’s the need is what I’m questioning?

I used to sail in reverse myself and have started it in reverse, you figure it out when the boat slows down, but it doesn’t hurt anything.
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Old 06-07-2020, 13:54   #11
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

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So why would it be so bad if it started in gear in reverse while sailing ?
Trying to understand the need, it’s a simple thing to install a safety neutral switch, likely the proximity reed switch is the most reliable, but what’s the need is what I’m questioning?

I used to sail in reverse myself and have started it in reverse, you figure it out when the boat slows down, but it doesn’t hurt anything.
I am assuming trying to start any engine while in gear is not the best thing for it. Am I wrong? I remember rolling my 1973 Saab 9-5 down a hill in neutral, jumping in, putting it in gear and popping the clutch when the battery was dead, and it always seemed like that was pretty brutal on the whole system.

Are you saying that no damage is done by starting the engine while in gear??
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Old 06-07-2020, 13:58   #12
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
So why would it be so bad if it started in gear in reverse while sailing ?
Trying to understand the need, it’s a simple thing to install a safety neutral switch, likely the proximity reed switch is the most reliable, but what’s the need is what I’m questioning?

I used to sail in reverse myself and have started it in reverse, you figure it out when the boat slows down, but it doesn’t hurt anything.
Exactly what I was going to say. We also have the problem of the gearshift jamming in reverse while sailing. If we had a neutral interlock, we’d have to heave the boat to to be able to get the transmission into neutral to start the engine

I suppose if one doesn’t engage the transmission while sailing this would not be an issue but like you say, where’s the need?
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Old 06-07-2020, 14:54   #13
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

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Originally Posted by BostonZee View Post
I am assuming trying to start any engine while in gear is not the best thing for it. Am I wrong? I remember rolling my 1973 Saab 9-5 down a hill in neutral, jumping in, putting it in gear and popping the clutch when the battery was dead, and it always seemed like that was pretty brutal on the whole system.

Are you saying that no damage is done by starting the engine while in gear??
I believe the difference is that water slips if you will and pavement doesn’t.
I don’t see how anything would be damaged, the starter is under a slightly higher load as it’s trying to turn both the engine and propellor, but again I don’t think it’s significant.

To be honest I don’t think it was bad for the car either, you shouldn’t have needed to dump the clutch, but still it ought to be well within the limits of the drive train.

Now someone could argue it’s a safety issue like cranking the motor with a diver near etc., but then even if your sure your in neutral I don’t think you should crank with a diver near.

If you want the switch, fit one, but as I said understand how to defeat it, so that one day when it’s bad you will know how.
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Old 06-07-2020, 16:35   #14
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

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Originally Posted by AnglaisInHull View Post
On one occasion on a charter boat, someone put the transmission in reverse while sailing (seemed like a good idea at the time ...) and it jammed there. The only way to get it back into neutral was to start the engine in reverse.

NOT trying to generate another "what tranny position while sailing" discussion, just pointing out that it can happen that you need to start while in gear.

There is an easier way out.


You can just 'kick' the transmission with one touch of the starter. A short maybe 1 second pulse is enough. Now move the lever into neutral.


Ours also jams while sailing with neutral engaged. I unlock it just like above.


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Old 07-07-2020, 03:03   #15
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Re: Preventing the engine from starting while in gear

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Called a neutral safety switch, in my opinion a useless complication and will most likely one day have you trouble shooting a no start problem. Automatic transmission cars usually have one, manual ones usually do not, but many require the clutch to be pushed in, same thing.
Don’t forget about it, and make it easily bypassed.
.

Yep, a flagrant violation of the KISS rule.

I would REALLY not want something that could fail and prevent me from starting the engine in a hurry. I just trained myself to look at the throttle lever before I turn the key.
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