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Engine won't start

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by John R, Feb 11, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. John R

    John R

    Joined Oct 9, 2012
    98 posts, 11 likes
    Catalina 36
    US Emeryville
    I have a 1998 Catalina 36 with a Universal M35b engine. Here's the issue:
    About a week ago I took the boat out. By the time I got back to the dock the fuel gauge registered about 1/8 tank, but my experience is that the gauge isn't that accurate so it might have been less, but there were no problems. Anyway, I put 12 gallons in.
    About a week later, my boat partner took the boat out. She reported that on two separate occasions the motor died but started right back up again.
    Yesterday, I was going to go out, but the engine wouldn't start at all. At one point it started up for about one or two seconds and then died. Other than that, it would cough a little but not start.
    I checked the sediment bowl, and there was some sediment (not a whole lot) in the bottom of the bowl, which I emptied. I'm planning on going to change the two filters. Could that be the problem? One thing: I do know that fuel is going through the first filter - the one above the sediment bowl. If that doesn't resolve the problem, do you have any suggestions for what else it could be? Is it possible that sediment got trapped in the valves? Also, I asked and my partner said she had not checked the temperature gauge, but the fact that the engine started right back up again leads me to suspect that it wasn't overheating that caused it to die on her. Does that sound right?
    Finally: To prevent sea water from running back up into the engine from cranking too long, can I just shut off the raw water through hull while cranking until the engine starts up?
    Thanks for any suggestions.
     


  2. Michael Davis

    Michael Davis

    Joined Jan 5, 2017
    384 posts, 122 likes
    Beneteau First 38
    Ca Saturna Island B.C. Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
    It's possible that you sucked in some air with the low fuel level. Change the filters and bleed. I've had that happen on my 4-108. Have also closed the seacock to prevent sea water running back. Don't let it run long before opening or you will fry the impeller.
     


    justsomeguy likes this.
  3. LakeOntario270

    LakeOntario270

    Joined Jan 4, 2013
    135 posts, 9 likes
    Catalina 270
    US Rochester, NY
    For a diesel engine 3 things could be wrong... fuel, fuel, or fuel.
    I would check the primary fuel filter very carefully for any air leaking into the system.
     


  4. LeslieTroyer

    LeslieTroyer

    Joined May 20, 2016
    1,156 posts, 293 likes
    Catalina 36 MK1
    US Sammamish, WA Everett, WA
    Yes you can shutoff the raw water intake and open right after it starts. If you impeller is more than a season old you might want to change it after it’s running. The drain on my muffler is toast and I suspect many are, so this is the way to prevent flooding

    The engine fuel filter would have prevented junk from getting to the injectors.
     


  5. leo310

    leo310

    Joined Dec 15, 2006
    49 posts, 15 likes
    Catalina Catlina 310
    CA Campbell River BC
    You may have fuel contamination from running the tank low and sucked junk that was on the walls of the tank. Change out all fuel filters and bled the lines as you stated close the water intake until is starts.
     


  6. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    1,448 posts, 389 likes
    Sabre 362
    US Fair Haven, NY
    The intake lines on many fuel systems have a strainer. This is supposed to keep junk out of the fuel filter, however, they become clogged. Remove the fuel intake line from the tank, remove the screen and put it back together again. While you have top of the tank open draw some fuel from the bottom of the tank and look at it. If it is not pristine, then you will have trouble again. Also try to keep more fuel in the tank. If there is crud on the bottom and the tank is low, the sloshing fuel will stir up the crud and then plug everything up.
     


  7. Don S/V ILLusion

    Don S/V ILLusion

    Joined Sep 25, 2008
    4,855 posts, 187 likes
    Alden 50
    US Sarasota, Florida
    I'm surprised that only one person suggested bleeding the system.

    That's a simple but often overlooked essential step.

    Assuming you know where the bleed screw is on the high pressure side, it's a 1minute process
     


  8. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    1,353 posts, 450 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH Littleton, NH
    Condensation leading to water in the tank?

    - Will (Dragonfly)
     


  9. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    4,136 posts, 1,076 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Will, it is more likely grunge at the bottom of the tank or air sucked in. In either case,
    1. change both primary and secondary filters.
    2. Bleed the fuel lines to the injectors using either an electric fuel pump or the manual lift pump. (If this is new experience read the engine manual on “Bleeding the fuel lines”.)
    3. Test start the engine. Often times when fuel is available to the injectors the engine will kick right over.
    4. If the engine does not immediately start, then close the water intake. Bleed the fuel liens again. You can use the engine to help you pump fuel but take care. If the engine starts while you are bleeding the lines, then tighten all the lines you have opened. Open the water intake line. Check that there are no fuel leaks from any of the fittings you adjusted.
    5. Try adding Diesel additives to your tanks to kill any bug or grunge still in the tank.
    6. Buy some new replacement filters and keep them on the boat.
    I have had this issue. I have gotten fairly good at recognizing it and shutting down the motor. Then it is a simple Primary filter change (Racor500). Refill the filter with diesel. Fire up the motor and continue on your way. Best time filter change while cruising 7 minutes. It helps if you know you have fuel in the tank. Did a filter change once only to learn the tank was dry. Then my 4107 took me about 20 minutes to correct the problem. It is a bugger to use the lift pump and bleed the system. I got to install an electric pump.
     


    JamesG161, Will Gilmore and Gunni like this.
  10. Michael Davis

    Michael Davis

    Joined Jan 5, 2017
    384 posts, 122 likes
    Beneteau First 38
    Ca Saturna Island B.C. Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
    :plus: From your pic we installed the same pump John. One of the many things done this winter to make life easier.
     


  11. Mark Maulden

    Mark Maulden

    Joined Jan 25, 2011
    1,458 posts, 96 likes
    S2 11.0A
    US Anacortes, WA
    So how does the electric pump work alongside the manual pump? Is it a selection of valves? I had an electric on the ol green beast but I removed the manual and put a cover plate on...
     


  12. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    4,136 posts, 1,076 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    My plan would allow me to pump fuel to the filter and beyond when bleeding. Then cut the pump out when the engine is running.

    Now I just need to get the materials. An the time for the project.
     


  13. Michael Davis

    Michael Davis

    Joined Jan 5, 2017
    384 posts, 122 likes
    Beneteau First 38
    Ca Saturna Island B.C. Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
    Same. Replaced all my fuel lines this winter. Made a by-pass circuit on the electric pump. Only use it when bleeding as it has a very small filter on it. My manual pump is somewhat difficult to get at. ( short guys have short arms)
     


  14. duality

    duality

    Joined May 25, 2004
    375 posts, 6 likes
    Catalina 400 mkII
    US Harbor
    why did you only put 12 gallons in the tank, i think you want to keep it more full than empty. if you have a partner you guys should require to fill upon return.
     


    Tricia likes this.
  15. John R

    John R

    Joined Oct 9, 2012
    98 posts, 11 likes
    Catalina 36
    US Emeryville
    Thanks for all the replies. I'm going down to the boat tomorrow (Monday) and will let you all know what happens.
     


  16. John R

    John R

    Joined Oct 9, 2012
    98 posts, 11 likes
    Catalina 36
    US Emeryville
    Went down to the boat and changed both fuel filters. Boat still wouldn't start. Bled the line and it started right up. I don't know if there was air in the line before, because on thinking about it, it seems to me that removing the filters would allow air to enter. But, to tell the truth, given my level of knowledge, I'm not sure I'd have thought of bleeding the line if you guys hadn't suggested that. (In fact, I wasn't really sure how to do it, so I just traced the fuel line and found a high spot where there was a little screw that I loosened.) So, thanks.
     


    Will Gilmore likes this.
  17. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    1,448 posts, 389 likes
    Sabre 362
    US Fair Haven, NY


  18. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    4,136 posts, 1,076 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    @John R Welcome to the "Wonderful World of diesel engines". No one is born with the knowledge of all this stuff. You'll gain the knowledge as you continue to explore. You chose a smart place to bleed the lines. So you can pick this stuff up.
    Keep at it.
     


  19. LeslieTroyer

    LeslieTroyer

    Joined May 20, 2016
    1,156 posts, 293 likes
    Catalina 36 MK1
    US Sammamish, WA Everett, WA
    There should be a knurled knob on the stbd front of the engine that let diesel circulate back to the tank. Other than that if you change the engine filter there is a bolt on the top of the filter to crack open and have a friend turn on the key. Turn off the key when you get diesel out. @Stu Jackson has a great engines 101 section on c34.org that explains with pictures. Lots of the 34 stuff applies to our 36’s. In the last Mainsheet I did an article on dual filters and how to bleed the engine filter without a helper.

    Les
    Mahalo
     


    Will Gilmore likes this.
  20. Daddio417

    Daddio417

    Joined Oct 29, 2016
    21 posts, 1 likes
    Pearson 31-2
    Ca Nova Scotia Bras D'or
    Can someone explain why shutting off the raw water intake while cranking is important, is this something that applies just to this motor.
     



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