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eliems 15-01-2013 11:12

Frozen North - lucky escape!
Woke up Sunday at the end of Indian Arm, (near Vancouver BC), and everything was frozen. Temperature was minus 4 degrees C, the furnace had stopped running during the night as the House Batteries got too low to run the fan. I scrambled out of bed at 7am to start the engine and found the throttle cable frozen.

Got the throttle operating but pushed the start button and it wouldn't turn over. (Even though the Crank Battery read 12.1 volts.) Lit the stove to warm the cabin and got on the VHF to call Van Coast Guard but no reception!

Boiled water and filled a hot water bottle and laid that on the starter battery and another on the engine block behind the starter/solonoid. Went back to bed and waited for the sun to come up setting my one solar panel to face it.

After another hour I tried again and it cranked a little but not enough.

Nobody down there but me but I fired off some 2006 Flares and found only one in four would light. (They all shot into the sky but would not flare).

Tried adding the House Batteries to the start procedure and the Yanmar started! Good thing or I might have been stuck there! On the way home I was breaking a layer of ice on the (salt) water as I came into the marina.

Questions: When the power drops does the radio weaken?
How does adding depleted House Battery bank help?
What other techniques are there for getting started?
Does anyone have a hand crank for a 2GM20F? (It is an option I don't have).
Three out of four flares don't work? (I didn't try my up to date flares as there really was no one around anyway.
This was the second day of running the furnace around the clock with a two hour run to re-charge everything but the house batteries still went flat. These are high qualiity 6 Volt Golf Cart Batteries that are four years old. Time to replace them?

Lastly, does it hurt the hull to break through a thin ice surface? (Makes a lot of noise).

azsailor12 15-01-2013 11:52

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
Answers to some of your questions:

Questions: When the power drops does the radio weaken? radio power is proportional to input voltage- less than spec voltage means less than spec power
How does adding depleted House Battery bank help?even though depleted still supplies more current than without
What other techniques are there for getting started? you did what I would have done- batteries put out less current when colder, so warming them helps
This was the second day of running the furnace around the clock with a two hour run to re-charge everything but the house batteries still went flat. These are high qualiity 6 Volt Golf Cart Batteries that are four years old. Time to replace them? 2 hours may not be enough to fully recharge, plus the issue of cold temps. You really need a battery monitor to determine the real issue.

ViribusUnitis 15-01-2013 12:15

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
Out of curiosity, what kind of amperage does your furnace draw when the blower is turning?

eliems 15-01-2013 13:03

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
Model D1LC 12 V = 250 w is what the manual says.

DeepFrz 15-01-2013 13:11

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
What size is your battery bank? What is the CCA rating of your start battery?

Next time put the hot water bottle near the bottom of the engine block and maybe another one on your HP pump.

jackdale 15-01-2013 13:13

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
Does your Yanmar have decompression levers? If you open up the cylinders you can get the motor spinning. Quickly close one lever, then as that cylinder fires, close the rest. You will blow a lot of smoke, but it will work.

I wish "modern" diesels had retained the the ability to decompress or even hand crank.

Older radios were very sensitive to voltage drops, you probably could not transmit.

bill good 15-01-2013 13:18

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
I have seen the super caps are being used for truck starting in the frozen areas with long returns on investment. Units being made up to replace one battery in a pack & by design this super cap bank cannot be discharged by other circuits. The LIFEPO4 may be another good choice for a starting battery in cold areas. The VHF aerial covered in ice may have caused problems.

Regards Bill & its hot here!!

Andrew Troup 15-01-2013 13:31

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
One possibility with your engine is to use the decompressors. (ON EDIT after reading what jackdale posted while I was composing my answer: the 2GM20F does have these -- at least mine does)
These are the folded sheetmetal levers at either end of the rocker cover. Push them upright (towards the gearbox) to decompress.

It might be necessary to improvise a link or links, say out of straightened-out wire coathangers, to be able to manipulate them from where you can reach the starter button.

I would decompress both cylinders, spin the starter, then flip one cylinder back onto compression (probably doing this suddenly would be best, to make best use of the flywheel effect).

I would guess that, unless it's too cold, the engine will run haltingly on once cylinder, given it's effectively the same as a 1GM with a passenger cylinder. Once it is firing more often than missing on that cylinder,either stop cranking and wait until it looks like handling starting the other cylinder, or just keep cranking and add in the second.

I'm guessing the second option would work better if you happened to guess wrong when you picked which cylinder to start first. (eg the injector is in better shape on the second cylinder, unknown and probably unknowable to you)

If the cranking amps are really marginal, a further possibility to ease starting (in conjunction with decompression) is to warm the engine.
You could drain the oil and warm it in a pot, then replace it. Meanwhile put hot water bottles around the block, or better yet drain the fresh water cooling circuit, heat the fluid, and replace it (gradually!)

In extremis, If you were prepared to sacrifice the future prospects of your engine, you could use starting aerosol (aka 'ether' or starting fluid). Some say WD40 or CRC sprayed into the air cleaner is better than nothing, but I have no experience and would not try it unless desperate.

Another option is to try and source a hydraulic starter motor. These have an accumulator to store oil under pressure, which is provided by a hand pump. The chances of finding one which could be adapted for your engine are probably remote; a similar effect could presumably be contrived by rigging up some sort of pedal drive which can be kludged to an alternator, so you can put some charge into a cranking battery. A fit human can pedal out maybe 30 amps at 12 volts for a while.

Spring starters are available for many modern engines. Unfortunately the only one I'm familiar with does not list your engine. Spring starters Simms, Lucas, CAV mechanical starter motors from Kineteco Home Page

Hand cranking a 2GM is probably beyond most people. A 1GM is doable, but (for most people) not with the supplied crank handle: generally you need the handle higher off the cabin sole so you can use your back and leg muscles, not just your arm muscles.

Yanmar (AFAIK) still make a 2GM, a special build, for the sole reason it can be handcranked, unlike the newer 2YM.

I think it's designated as 2GMY. It's built for commercial shipping lifeboats, with a higher starting handle on a dedicated layshaft above the engine, chain driving the camshaft.

You could retrofit something along these lines: There's a sheetmetal cap over the end of the camshaft, on the 2GM, onto which you could fit a sprocket. I think you'd want to gear it down (as Yanmar do on the 2GMY) by using a sprocket maybe twice as big on the layshaft, because the camshaft spins at twice the speed of the crank, and these engines don't have much of a flywheel.

What this means is that unless you're built like an America's Cup grinder, you're not likely to be able to pull it through the compression stroke when you decompress even one cylinder, if you're at a mechanical disadvantage as you are on the 1GM.

When fitting a hand crank, you must fit a one-way coupling or sprag clutch or similar to stop the handle spinning when the engine does start. Contrary to what some people tell you, this will not protect you from backfire: safe technique (never straighten arms completely, do not wrap thumb around handle) is the only safeguard here.

What many people don't realise is that a hand crank can be used to assist cranking using the electric start, and this can be a major help in marginal charge conditions. Every little helps.

Pete7 15-01-2013 13:41

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
There is an interesting story in David Scott Cowper book of starting the engines by first draining out the engine oil into a pan, heating it then pouring it back into the engines after they had sat for the whole winter in the Arctic whilst trapped for 2 years trying to get through the NW Passage.

David Scott Cowper - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Andrew Troup 15-01-2013 13:52

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
There are those who say even a 1GM10 cannot be hand started, even though they are fitted with provision to do so. "The flywheel is not heavy enough ...."

I have not yet managed to handstart a 1GM10 in good condition, even in earlier years when I was plenty strong enough, because I'm too tall.
However the owner of the boat concerned, who is short and strong, and my sister in law, ditto, have both done so in my presence.

There are plenty of short, strong people in Japan, where this engine was designed.

If the same motor was up on a bench, instead of level with the sole, I'm sure it would be a different story; many people would manage the job, despite the unfavourable mechanical disadvantage of 1:2 (because the starting handle drives the camshaft, not the crankshaft).

An idea I thought of for this vessel was to fit a flat-belt pulley onto the crankshaft pulley, to take a length of webbing (like climbing tape) wound around it.
The pulley would have a flat machined across it, to take a folded tab on the end of the tape to provide a positive drive, but kick the webbing away when the engine caught. A shroud would be necessary to keep the webbing away from the V belts and pulleys....

The idea would be to fit a T handle to the end of the tape, stand above the engine with knees bent and pull upwards by straightening the legs explosively and bending the arms. You'd need to preposition the engine so the compression stroke came at the strongest moment in this move.
A hollow crossbar on the T would allow inserting a long metal bar, so two people could combine their strength, but they'd have to be fairly well matched...

I haven't yet got around to trying it but will report on this forum if and when I do.

If it doesn't do the trick, the same pulley could be used for the old "rope start by gybing the main" trick, using judiciously placed snatch blocks

Or, much less practical but more fun, the old "rope start by dragging a bucket when running hard".... which is the sort of ruse people formerly resorted to, to light up the diesel when approaching a landfall after a long passage where the batteries had gone flat.

Reefmagnet 15-01-2013 14:33

With flooded batteries it's possible to tip the electrolyte into a pot, heat it on the stove and then pour it back into the battery. This is an old bush mans trick to get a discharged or cold battery to punch put more juice. Never tried it personally but it is supposed to work.

Lagoon4us 15-01-2013 14:47

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
Head for warmer Latitudes, the problems will disappear :thumb:

DeepFrz 15-01-2013 14:55

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
Come on folks, we are not talking about arctic temperatures here. The OP didn't give us much to go on but he should have been able to start his engine if his battery and starter were up to scratch. My car starts with no problems at -25 c after sitting all night even if the block heater is not plugged in. If his battery is big enough, in good shape, the wiring is good, compression good, injectors good and the starter is good, the engine should have started. The only thing that may have been worthwhile heating up would be the diesel oil. Oh, one other thing, I hope the OP is using multigrade oil, like 10w 40 or so.

Jim Cate 15-01-2013 15:09

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!

Originally Posted by eliems (Post 1130872)
Model D1LC 12 V = 250 w is what the manual says.

Well, if this is true you need to rethink your heating system! That's a 20 amp load (more or less) and if run all night... no wonder your batteries were flat.

Further, even with good quality golfcart batteries, four years of abuse will very likely have reduced their capacity significantly.

And finally, the idea of decanting the electrolyte and heating it on the stove does not sound like a practice approved by OSHA (or me!).



MarkSF 15-01-2013 15:09

Re: Frozen North - lucky escape!
12.1 volts at rest on a lead-acid battery is only 25 to 30% charged, so your starting battery was low on charge. Still, it should have started the engine (maybe reluctantly).

So what you need to address is how the starting battery got so depleted, and why it wouldn't start the engine anyway. Maybe it's old and/or undersized? Is there a charging problem?

At the risk of stating the obvious, you need to be able to rely on the starting battery, as house banks can get run flat easily.

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