Beta 35 starting problem

Jan 25, 2011
2,223
S2 11.0A Anacortes, WA
I’ve had this engine now going on two seasons. It has always had and has starting issues. It starts immediately and runs for about 30 sec and either dies or falters. If it falters, it will soon take off and all is well. If it dies, it will start immediately and all is well. The whole fuel system was replaced when the engine went in. I have pulled the fuel line off the tank and pressurized the line, racor, electric fuel pump, up to the plugged end of the line removed from the mechanical lift pump. It holds pressure well with no bubbling. The electric fuel pump helped it a lot. This is now happening about 1/3 of the time. Amongst my saildrive issues with Beta, I discussed this with them. I was told to turn the fuel pump on first before starting. If this alleviates the issue, then the problem is in the routing of the fuel return line back to the tank. So, I have been hitting the start button very momentarily before engaging the glow plugs and starting. This wakes the whole system up and pump starts ticking. No key switch. All buttons.. This procedure is working well. I cannot push the start button fast enough and it is immediately running at the correct speed depending on the throttle setting. No coughing etc. So, Beta says I need to route the return line from the engine down to below the bottom of the tank and then back up to the top of the tank. The tank has a “pickup tube” for the return. I can disconnect the fuel line and blow bubbles in the tank. SO... the big question is why would it be important for the fuel line to get below the bottom of the tank before routing back to the top? Beta says this is very indicative of this issue. I am failing to understand the theory behind this. When the engine stops, the injectors are closed and takes 2500psi to open them..why is this affecting the return line and why would the status of the return line determine the starting ability? If I reroute, I can get about 4” below which is about 7” lower than current. I would have to route in a narrow place and through to 90s to do a 180 back to the tank. The two 90s would be the lowest place and start dangling into the deep bilge. I don’t necessarily like fuel connection out of sight...
 
Feb 8, 2014
1,300
Columbia 36 Muskegon
Doesn't make sense to me either. Does the Beta have a quick bleed arrangement like some of the Universals where the injection pump bleed screw is connected to the return line? If that was not tight it would let air into the system which would quickly bleed out again, which sounds like what yours is doing.
 
Feb 8, 2014
1,300
Columbia 36 Muskegon
It works. Instead of a bleed bolt on the pump, there's a knob you turn to open a path from the pump input to the return line. Any air in the system gets pumped back to the tank. No rags need and no fuel escapes. You can even run with the knob partly open and it will continuously bleed the system. Handy if you have a pinhole leak you can't find. My Kubota tractor engine has the same thing except there's no knob, it's open all the time. It does let a little air in after shutdown so it's a little slow to start, but you never have to bleed it. Just crank and it will eventually start.
 
May 20, 2016
2,992
Catalina 36 MK1 94 Everett, WA
Mark can you run a wire from the glow plug solenoid to the lift pump - rather than hitting the start button to get the pump running a bit before starting.
 
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Jan 25, 2011
2,223
S2 11.0A Anacortes, WA
Then the lift pump runs only when glow plugs initiated...about 5 sec. I’m on the edge of the mechanical lift pump capability.
 

jviss

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Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Then the lift pump runs only when glow plugs initiated...about 5 sec. I’m on the edge of the mechanical lift pump capability.
So, you're saying your mechanical lift pump is at or near the limit of its performance in this installation, and you have installed an electric lift pump that only runs when the glow plugs are energized?

That's an odd installation. Why not run the electric lift pump whenever the engine is running?
 
Jan 25, 2011
2,223
S2 11.0A Anacortes, WA
If I run a wire from the glow plug relay to the fuel pump, the pump would only run when glow plugs are glowing. The panel has no key switch. It has three buttons, “heat”, “start”, and “off”..With a very quick poke of the start button, the panel wakes up and powers up everything including the fuel pump. Engine does not start and things stay powered and beeping etc until the off button is poked. After poking the start button, hit the heat button for five sec and then start the engine. So far, with only a few tests, this procedure works a lot better which is how I’m going to use it until Sept sometime and then reroute the return line. That will be the interesting test. Sorry, I should have included this description earlier..
 

Ward H

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Nov 7, 2011
3,123
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
It sounds like pushing the start button does two things:
1. trips a relay to power the panel until you press the stop button.
2. activates the starter button.

So it must be a double pole switch, right?

Is it possible to install another push button to activate the panel and fuel pump? Then you could use the original start button for the starter activation.
 
Jan 25, 2011
2,223
S2 11.0A Anacortes, WA
Probly more like a latching relay. But why do it? I’d have to break into the OEM panel and wiring just to add a duplicate function. If the root cause is fuel, then solve it there. Just not right now..
 

Ward H

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Nov 7, 2011
3,123
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
I was just thinking of another way to follow Les’s idea of running the fuel pump without hitting the start button.
Why? To avoid adding more fuel line connections out of sight.
Of course never having never seen a Beta engine or panel I have no idea how difficult either solution would be.
 
Jan 25, 2011
2,223
S2 11.0A Anacortes, WA
No problem..I could add a separate switch for the fuel pump, but going to. Talking with some independent mechanics around here, they want to try a very weak check valve in the return line. I guess a few have done it with success. I keep trying to press them for the theory behind it but have not quite got there. The electrical side of things along with procedure works fine. I’ll reroute the return line later and see what happens. Meanwhile, if anyone has a theory, I’m all ears...
 
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Jan 27, 2008
3,008
ODay 35 Beaufort, NC
You have a siphon going that is draining your fuel line when the pump in turned off. The return line dumps fuel at the top of the tank and the pickup is at the bottom of the tank. Turn off the pump and the fuel flows backwards. I have a keyswitch on my beta panel and when I energize it the electric fuel pump starts up. I don't use the glow plugs as the new engine starts immediately without them. I think you should add a switch to turn on your electric fuel pump to start pumping fuel through the system before you start the motor. I let the pump run for about 30 seconds before I turn it over. Your switch doesn't have to be on the panel, You could put it in a locker where you turn on your raw water sea cock for instance. Just a simple toggle switch should work from any 12 volt source you want to tap into. You could also use an empty breaker location on your main electrical panel if you have an empty slot.
 
Apr 8, 2010
1,620
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 28400 Portland OR
Strictly to make bleeding easier when changing filters, I located out Facet electric lift pump right after our Racor filer. This then pushes the fuel onwards to the engine-mounted fuel filter and then to the hi pressure pump.
Our Beta 25 does have a mechanical lift pump, as well. New install for everything, 2018. Love the quiet Beta!
I also never use (or need) the glow plug circuit.
Our 12 volt lift pump is on anytime the key is 'on', just like my original Universal diesel.
 
Jan 25, 2011
2,223
S2 11.0A Anacortes, WA
You have a siphon going that is draining your fuel line when the pump in turned off.
To have a siphon, you need an inlet and outlet both free flowing. The end of the fuel line downstream are the injectors which are closed and take 2500# to open. Kinda like the finger over the end of a straw. Unless there is some circuit between the return line and the high pressure fuel line inside the injector..
Fast Olson, how much of a crank does it take to start?
 
May 20, 2016
2,992
Catalina 36 MK1 94 Everett, WA
To have a siphon, you need an inlet and outlet both free flowing. The end of the fuel line downstream are the injectors which are closed and take 2500# to open. Kinda like the finger over the end of a straw. Unless there is some circuit between the return line and the high pressure fuel line inside the injector..
Fast Olson, how much of a crank does it take to start?
I don’t know about Betas but I leave my bleed valve partially open to allow any air to bypass the injector pump - Beta May be doing something similar. With a cross bleed your open at each end.
 
Apr 8, 2010
1,620
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 28400 Portland OR
To have a siphon, you need an inlet and outlet both free flowing. The end of the fuel line downstream are the injectors which are closed and take 2500# to open. Kinda like the finger over the end of a straw. Unless there is some circuit between the return line and the high pressure fuel line inside the injector..
Fast Olson, how much of a crank does it take to start?
Takes a rev or three to light off. i.e. almost instantly.
Actually our prior Universal wast not doing too badly in spite of some hours and wear -- normally would fire after about 10 seconds of glow plug. Good engine for its era.
 
Last edited:
Jan 27, 2008
3,008
ODay 35 Beaufort, NC
If 100% of the fuel was going into the injectors then why do you have a return line? The system is pressurized and the injector pump gives a high pressure pulse that opens an injector momentarily. Otherwise the fuel pump is pumping fuel through the system. Take the hose off the return line at the tank, stick it in a mason jar and see if fuel comes out when you turn on the electric pump. Putting the return line below the level of the pickup line means the siphon will stop when the pressure head of the fuel in the return line is higher than the pickup line. This is from a Caterpillar manual on diesel fuel systems to help with understanding: " ...Fuel continuously circulates through the injectors, and the excess fuel that is not used for combustion cools the injectors and is returned to the fuel tank via the pressure regulating valve. This excess fuel also aids in the purging of air from the system...."http://s7d2.scene7.com/is/content/Caterpillar/CM20160713-53120-36634