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Fuel pump/lift pump failure

Clydo

.
May 28, 2013
266
Catalina C310 SF Bay/Delta
Question is how long do our lift pumps last? Went back four years in archives and very few comments on this problem. One reply said replaced 6 o 7 in 4000 hours. When failure happens does pump just stop or will attempt to supply fuel at various pressures? Have been changing fuel filters each year
for five years. Our engines supposed to auto bleed but most of time I have to bleed. After replacing filters run eng for fifteen - twenty minutes.
If stops bleed if not ok.

Two weeks ago replaced secondary filter. Had to bleed. Last week replaced fuel/water sep ran at dock twenty minutes all ok. Yesterday ran
eng ten minutes at dock. Out for about forty minute eng run then eng started slowing down like fuel starvation. Run idle speed five minutes then
up to 2800 rpm for about minute (eng full throttle at all times). Back to about 600 rpm then about to die for ten minutes or more. Repeat.
Finally died after about fifteen minutes. No start again. While towed got stuck in mud. After much effort and time tried starting eng to help. Eng started right up got off mud ran about thirty minutes back to dock no problem. Some local dock mates think air in fuel some think fuel pump. 10.8 volts to pump. 500 hours on engine. Any thoughts?

Clyde Thorington
C310 # 245
I LEANTOO
San Jose, CA
 
Sep 15, 2013
624
Catalina 270 Baltimore
I just learned an awful lot about my lift pump last fall while troubleshooting my engine. It turned out to be the injector pump but I checked everything else before calling the mechanic. A couple of things:

10.8 volts seems very low. There is definitely a problem there. It should the same voltage as the battery. Definitely address this.

Also 600 RPM seems low. After the mechanic replaced my injector pump he did a few tweaks to the engine. One of them was lowering the RPM from 1000 to 700 RPMs. I would be really hesitant to make it any lower. That may be part of your problem in keeping the engine running.

You can check your lift pump. Disconnect the output and let it pump into a large can or small bucket. The output is not spectacular. I do not remember what the rated output is. Others here will know. It probably is a little square Facet type pump. I replaced mine for under 100 dollars.

What kind of engine do you have?

Hope this is helpful. There are folks on this forum way smarter than I that I am sure will provide wisdom also.
 

paulj

.
Mar 16, 2007
1,356
Catalina 310 Anacortes,Wa
Sometimes when the fuel tank get's down to 1/4 full or less ,the engine will have intermitent stalls. Just like you discribe.
Usually when a electric fuel pump fails it stops working completely, unless you have a loose wire to the pump.

To isolate problem check fuel pump flow at hose connecton at fuel fillter on engine.

Since you have a fuel return line from the injectors back to the fuel tank, air being traped should not be a problem.


paulj:hook2:
 

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Last edited:

Tom J

.
Sep 30, 2008
1,601
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
All your symptoms put together seem to indicate your lift pump is not working. The pump should be able to bleed your system after every filter change. Since our fuel tank is mounted somewhat above the engine level, the engine will probably run until the tank reaches half full or so if the pump is not working. An easy function check for the lift pump is to lift up the engine cover and while turning the ignition key all the way, listen for the clicking of the lift pump.
You don't mention where the reading of 10.8 volts for the lift pump came from. If you are reading the volt meter on the engine control panel while holding the key all the way on, then 10.8 is not unusual, since the glow plugs are also energized.
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,004
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Question is how long do our lift pumps last?
Mine is in for 10 years, the first one lasted 10 years and I'm in the process of putting in the third one, 1986 boat, 3600 engine hours.
Learn how they work, they're Facet pumps, can find them on Amazon or eBay.
They can fail completely or intermittently.
Just replace the pump. Like bawl's post earlier, start there, it's the easiest.
 
Mar 6, 2008
280
Catalina 310 Scott Creek, VA
My first one lasted 13 years (700 hours), and crapped out in the middle of a cruise on a holiday weekend. Buy two while you are sitting at home in an easy chair and keep a spare onboard. The price is more than double if you end up getting a friend to buy the same pump from universal or a marine dealer and bring it to you. My engine will gravity feed and run without an operational fuel pump if the tank is topped up and the boat level.
 
  • Like
Likes: Tom J
Nov 18, 2010
2,370
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
I've probably gone through more lift pumps than most. My first (original Facet pump) died around 5-600 hours. This was entirely operator error. The previous owner used 2 micron filters in the Racor filter/water separator and I continued. Having a 2 micron in front of an electric lift pump is too small of a filter and will lead to the early death of the pump.

After that I used a series of cheap Amazon/eBay/auto store electric pumps. These cost around $30. A good Facet costs around $80 for the cube style that is original equipment on the 310. You get what you pay for. I have since gone to a Walbro pump that cost $180 and switched to a Racor 500 filter/water separator and I am very happy with this upgrade. I can change a fuel filter in under a minute.

As others have mentioned the tank will gravity feed until somewhere below half full. If you have your tank full all the time you may never notice the electric lift pump has stopped working.

As far as self-bleeding. If you push the key forward to activate the momentary switch this powers the electric solenoid on the engine. That activates the lift pump and the glow plugs. Hold it forward for 10 seconds before you start and the engine is bled. No need to crack and injector or the bleeding valve on the mechanical fuel pump (although I do when I change filters out of habit). You can use this momentary switch to fill fuel filters after a change too, just don't hold it down too long as you can burn out the glow plugs. I will hold it for a count of 30 and then rest if for the same.

You can test the electric lift pump by being next to the engine and having someone active the key momentary switch. If you hear the clicking and feel the pump vibrating it's probably working. Open the bleeder valve on the mechanical pump to be sure, if diesel is coming out under pressure while the pump is running then it's working.

Another potential issue that could cause the problems you are having is related to the pickup tubes in the tank. Last week I finally gave up on the little fixes and cut a hole in my fuel tank. The tank was surprisingly clean but I did find the source of my problems. Not only did Catalina install the pickup tubes all the way to the lowest part of the tank, they actually cut them too long so they were pushing against the bottom of the tank. The tank measures 11.5 inches deep where the pickups are located. The pickup tubes were cut to 13 inches long. So the small amount of sludge on the bottom and any water was always being picked up into the line. In addition they had cut the tube so there was only a small opening so it could easily get clogged by the sludge in the tank. Replacing these tubes only costs about $25 each and if you cut them so they are 1 inch off the bottom of the tank you will not have as much issues with fuel. This will cost you less than 1 gallon of the tanks capacity, I did the math. I will hopefully get to a full write up on the tank issue this week.
IMG_20200408_142200_01.jpg


Good luck and stay safe.

Jesse
 
Sep 15, 2013
624
Catalina 270 Baltimore
And just for the record. My facet pump did not need replacing. I replaced it out of process of elimination to troubleshoot a larger problem. They are actually very reliable.
 

Clydo

.
May 28, 2013
266
Catalina C310 SF Bay/Delta
I just learned an awful lot about my lift pump last fall while troubleshooting my engine. It turned out to be the injector pump but I checked everything else before calling the mechanic. A couple of things:

10.8 volts seems very low. There is definitely a problem there. It should the same voltage as the battery. Definitely address this.

Also 600 RPM seems low. After the mechanic replaced my injector pump he did a few tweaks to the engine. One of them was lowering the RPM from 1000 to 700 RPMs. I would be really hesitant to make it any lower. That may be part of your problem in keeping the engine running.

You can check your lift pump. Disconnect the output and let it pump into a large can or small bucket. The output is not spectacular. I do not remember what the rated output is. Others here will know. It probably is a little square Facet type pump. I replaced mine for under 100 dollars.

What kind of engine do you have?

Hope this is helpful. There are folks on this forum way smarter than I that I am sure will provide wisdom also.
I just learned an awful lot about my lift pump last fall while troubleshooting my engine. It turned out to be the injector pump but I checked everything else before calling the mechanic. A couple of things:

10.8 volts seems very low. There is definitely a problem there. It should the same voltage as the battery. Definitely address this.

Also 600 RPM seems low. After the mechanic replaced my injector pump he did a few tweaks to the engine. One of them was lowering the RPM from 1000 to 700 RPMs. I would be really hesitant to make it any lower. That may be part of your problem in keeping the engine running.

You can check your lift pump. Disconnect the output and let it pump into a large can or small bucket. The output is not spectacular. I do not remember what the rated output is. Others here will know. It probably is a little square Facet type pump. I replaced mine for under 100 dollars.

What kind of engine do you have?

Hope this is helpful. There are folks on this forum way smarter than I that I am sure will provide wisdom also.
Eng M25XPB Usually idle 1100 -1200 any lower and engine vibrate pretty bad. Thank you for your reply.

Clyde Thorington
C310 # 245
ILEAN TOO
San Jose, CA
Sometimes when the fuel tank get's down to 1/4 full or less ,the engine will have intermitent stalls. Just like you discribe.
Usually when a electric fuel pump fails it stops working completely, unless you have a loose wire to the pump.

To isolate problem check fuel pump flow at hose connecton at fuel fillter on engine.

Since you have a fuel return line from the injectors back to the fuel tank, air being traped should not be a problem.


paulj:hook2:
Had full tank. Thank you.

Clyde Thorington
C310 # 245
ILEAN TOO
San Jose, CA
I've probably gone through more lift pumps than most. My first (original Facet pump) died around 5-600 hours. This was entirely operator error. The previous owner used 2 micron filters in the Racor filter/water separator and I continued. Having a 2 micron in front of an electric lift pump is too small of a filter and will lead to the early death of the pump.

After that I used a series of cheap Amazon/eBay/auto store electric pumps. These cost around $30. A good Facet costs around $80 for the cube style that is original equipment on the 310. You get what you pay for. I have since gone to a Walbro pump that cost $180 and switched to a Racor 500 filter/water separator and I am very happy with this upgrade. I can change a fuel filter in under a minute.

As others have mentioned the tank will gravity feed until somewhere below half full. If you have your tank full all the time you may never notice the electric lift pump has stopped working.

As far as self-bleeding. If you push the key forward to activate the momentary switch this powers the electric solenoid on the engine. That activates the lift pump and the glow plugs. Hold it forward for 10 seconds before you start and the engine is bled. No need to crack and injector or the bleeding valve on the mechanical fuel pump (although I do when I change filters out of habit). You can use this momentary switch to fill fuel filters after a change too, just don't hold it down too long as you can burn out the glow plugs. I will hold it for a count of 30 and then rest if for the same.

You can test the electric lift pump by being next to the engine and having someone active the key momentary switch. If you hear the clicking and feel the pump vibrating it's probably working. Open the bleeder valve on the mechanical pump to be sure, if diesel is coming out under pressure while the pump is running then it's working.

Another potential issue that could cause the problems you are having is related to the pickup tubes in the tank. Last week I finally gave up on the little fixes and cut a hole in my fuel tank. The tank was surprisingly clean but I did find the source of my problems. Not only did Catalina install the pickup tubes all the way to the lowest part of the tank, they actually cut them too long so they were pushing against the bottom of the tank. The tank measures 11.5 inches deep where the pickups are located. The pickup tubes were cut to 13 inches long. So the small amount of sludge on the bottom and any water was always being picked up into the line. In addition they had cut the tube so there was only a small opening so it could easily get clogged by the sludge in the tank. Replacing these tubes only costs about $25 each and if you cut them so they are 1 inch off the bottom of the tank you will not have as much issues with fuel. This will cost you less than 1 gallon of the tanks capacity, I did the math. I will hopefully get to a full write up on the tank issue this week.
View attachment 177726

Good luck and stay safe.

Jesse
Thank you and all others for all your help. This is a great list.

Clyde Thorington
C310 # 245
ILEAN TOO
San Jose, CA
 

Tom J

.
Sep 30, 2008
1,601
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
Eng M25XPB Usually idle 1100 -1200 any lower and engine vibrate pretty bad. Thank you for your reply.
I am happy that you mentioned this. The M25xpb is unusual in that the Universal manual calls for idle rpm at 1200-1250, and the engine is happy with this. With the three cylinder configuration and light weight flywheel, any less rpms and the engine vibrates too much.
 
Apr 17, 2013
74
Catalina 310 Pompano Beach, FL
Mine has lasted 17 years, and about 1850 hours.
Bought boat 2012 683 hours on engine now have 2486 hours never an issue with the fuel pump. To bleed I just open the bolt on the top of the secondary filter which is attached to the engine and when the engine starts tighten it.
 
Dec 25, 2008
1,566
catalina 310 Elk River
Check for corrosion on the shovel connector that feeds the current to the fuel pump. It is the wire right on top of the pump.
An indication of high resistant to the power feeding the pump (possible caused by corroded connections) is that your buzzer will not sound if you turn your key in the on position (not the spring loaded position). This a little known diagnostic feature letting you know there is a problem. The ground for the buzzer circuit is through the induction coil of the fuel pump. The fuel pump will not run until you have oil pressure, or if you turn the key to the spring loaded position. Once the engine has oil pressure then +12v will be applied to the pump through the oil pressure sensor. This also has the effect of turning off the buzzer as now it has no ground.
Hope this helps.
 

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Likes: Tom J
Nov 16, 2012
897
Catalina 310, 2000, #31 Santa Cruz
Just curious if anyone has the Facet part number for the lift pump? I've got the Westerbeke #, 039275, I think. Ours was replaced by the PO so I don't know how long it's been working, or if that was the first replacement, but having a spare on hand seems wise.

Thanks.
 

KZW

.
May 17, 2014
698
Catalina 310 #307 Bluewater Bay, FL
Check for corrosion on the shovel connector that feeds the current to the fuel pump. It is the wire right on top of the pump.
An indication of high resistant to the power feeding the pump (possible caused by corroded connections) is that your buzzer will not sound if you turn your key in the on position (not the spring loaded position). This a little known diagnostic feature letting you know there is a problem. The ground for the buzzer circuit is through the induction coil of the fuel pump. The fuel pump will not run until you have oil pressure, or if you turn the key to the spring loaded position. Once the engine has oil pressure then +12v will be applied to the pump through the oil pressure sensor. This also has the effect of turning off the buzzer as now it has no ground.
Hope this helps.
Great information. Thanks. Now maybe I can get my buzzer to work all the time!
 
May 20, 2016
2,911
Catalina 36 MK1 94 Everett, WA
Don’t forget many of these pumps have filters that can get clogged and inhibit flow. These are external on cubes and turbine pumps, and internal (bottom of pump twists off to access filter).

Also make sure tank vent is not clogged open fill next time it dies - if air rushes in - your vent is clogged
 

Clydo

.
May 28, 2013
266
Catalina C310 SF Bay/Delta
Don’t forget many of these pumps have filters that can get clogged and inhibit flow. These are external on cubes and turbine pumps, and internal (bottom of pump twists off to access filter).

Also make sure tank vent is not clogged open fill next time it dies - if air rushes in - your vent is clogged
Good idea. Hadn't thought of that one.

Clyde Thorington
C310 # 245
ILEAN TOO
San Jose, CA
 
Nov 16, 2012
897
Catalina 310, 2000, #31 Santa Cruz
this is the one i have used over 15 years replaced twice.

Thanks. Ordered one to have as a spare.

Any thoughts on using a quick disconnect plug on the pump(assuming I could find a secure, waterproof one)? Certainly would make swapping it out easier, but maybe I’m overthinking it.