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engine will not remain running when shift into gear

Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
I'm also going to remove the gas and replace with fresh fuel
@buddyshea reading over your thread, two things caught my eye. Not sure but offered here as possible issues.
  • Engine runs when not working (in neutral). When load is applied it stalls.
  • I added Diesel 911. I read this on line when researching Diesel 911. Treating Your Diesel Fuel Regularly Without Over-Treating - FPPF Chemical
  • Assuming you will be removing the fuel in the tank and replacing it with fresh diesel fuel not “gas”
  • While you cleaned the “filters and fuel lines on the engine” are the lines from the Racor filter to the tank clear? I found a glob of goo in the 90 degree fitting when cleaning my fuel lines of debris that had developed from bad fuel contamination
  • Some boat companies installed screens on their diesel tank pickup tubes. These screens can become partially clogged when under higher fuel demand
  • Is there a clogged air filter.
Your engine seems to be acting as it is possessed, but really they are simple animals. They want Air, Fuel, good compression and a way of exhausting what they consume.
May 26, 2004
Catalina 380 New Castle, NH
What about the alternator load vs. battery charge condition? Did you put a new alternator in the boat recently?
Feb 8, 2014
Columbia 36 Muskegon
Catalina 27 1985 with M18 Universal engine starts and sounds normal.. When I shift into forward or reverse, engine stalls out. I've changed fuel filter once and Racor filter, twice, removed fuel lines from both injectors and I can blow air through the lines, so not clogged. turned engine on and bled air out of fuel line at the fuel filter; racor filter- bled out water and added Diesel 911 to Racor filter and additional Diesel 911 to fuel tank. It still stalls out when I put engine into gear. WHY? Is there a governor on this engine and does it interact with the Transmission and engine at the same time? Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Buddy Shea
All diesels have a governor, it's the speed control system with the lever that your throttle cable connects to. If you mean a safety interlock that prevents the engine from starting in gear, it didn't come with one but could have been added later. Anyway, an interlock can only prevent the engine from starting by interrupting the starter circuit. It cannot affect the engine once it's running.

As others have said, see if you can turn the shaft by hand with the gear in neutral. If that's ok, with the engine off, put the trans in gear and see if the starter will turn it over. If you have a compression release (a small lever at the aft top of the valve cover) engage that while cranking. If the starter doesn't turn or turns slowly the problem must be the trans. (If there is a starter interlock this won't work, but I really doubt there would be one). The Hurth gears that came with these engines aren't very reliable. They're very prone to clutch wear which makes them slip, but I've never heard of one locking up.
Feb 8, 2014
Columbia 36 Muskegon
If the problem ends up being the Hurth trans, consider replacing it with a NewAge PRM60D. It's a near drop in replacement, the only difference is the shift lever is on the other side. I got one last year from ASAP Supplies on the UK, less than $500 US delivered. That's about the same as the rebuild kit for the Hurth, if you can even find one.
Feb 22, 2015
Catalina 30 Redondo Beach
Perhaps blocked fuel tank air vent. Blocked creates a vacuum stopping fuel flow.

Test by opening fuel tank fill cap.
  • Helpful
Likes: jssailem
Feb 17, 2006
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Sounds like a load issue. Prop too big causing the engine to work harder torque wise, or possibly the battery is being drawn too hard and can't keep up.
Jun 2, 2013
Catalina 27 boston
To be sure... The engine will start and idle for a long period of time w/o stalling... once the transmission is engaged the engine immediately stalls. Does that sum it up ?
yes, you are right on the button.
Jun 2, 2013
Catalina 27 boston
A governor fault is usually accompanied by fast engine speed which migh fail to return to idle. A failure to maintain stable RPM. If your engine runs well in neutral and accelerates well and returns to idle, I don't think the governor could be the cause of your problems. Run a little test to ascertain the compression of your engine, run at idle in neutral at normal operating temperature, take a rag and remove the oil filler cap. Hover the palm of your hand about 2 inches above the opening and feel for back pressure. Back pressure is the amount of compression leaking past the piston rings into the crankcase. You should feel some light and even pressure. I you feel a cyclical strong thump your engine could be weak in compression in one or both cylinders. For right now just see if the shaft turns freely by hand with the transmission in neutral.
thanks for ideas. I'll try this on Wednesday and get back to you
Jan 7, 2011
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
Perhaps blocked fuel tank air vent. Blocked creates a vacuum stopping fuel flow.

Test by opening fuel tank fill cap.
I was having trouble with my John Deere tractor recently....could run it for about 20 minutes, and then the engine would start to falter and eventually die. I suspected the fuel filter, so I popped it off to blow through it...and when I did, I could hear fuel back flowing into the tank.

The fuel tank has a vented cap, with a small hole in the middle (with some sort of valve) to vent the tank. The vent was plugged, and it caused a vacuum...and in about 20 minutes, the fuel pump could not overcome the vacuum, and the engine would die. A tooth pick to clean out the vent hole, and she hasn’t faltered since.

It doesn’t take much to mess things up...