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Thread: Dura Mater's Universal M-15

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    2,215

    Default Dura Mater's Universal M-15

    The issue: Push down the glow plug button, turn the key: Nada.

    Mechanic replaced the starter. Worked for a couple of weeks, then turned the key: Nada.
    Mechanic said there might be an internal leak that lets water into the bell housing which causes the starter to rust inside and seize up.
    Mechanic replaced the head gasket, also replaced the new starter with the original starter. Engine started, ran great. Next day, turned the key: Nada
    Mechanic said maybe the exhaust system wasn’t set up appropriately, added a 90 degree elbow hose higher up. Engine started, ran great. Next day, turned the key: Nada.
    I got mad, smacked the starter with a rubber mallet. Engine started. But that was Thursday and I'll bet it won't start when I go there tomorrow.
    I dread going to Dura Mater. It is not good to dread going to my boat.
    Mechanic says he's stumped. Any advice from my knowledgeable singlehanded colleagues?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Montara, CA
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    733

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    He keeps replacing parts when it sounds electrical to me...so perhaps you can go back to square one and check all the wiring to the starter. I had a somewhat similar issue and installed a relay, which is kinda like a booster seat for the amps going to the starter.

    Can you get a new mechanic? It should not be that hard. It's only a diesel

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    San Francisco Bay
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    156

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    I agree. Look into the electrical. Also, get a better mechanic. This ain't rocket surgury.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2014
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    Arnold, CA
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    I agree, it sounds electrical.

    During all the fussing about the offending circuit gets manipulated enough to make a good connection.
    After it sits, corrosion sets in and, nada.

    The proper procedure is to check the voltage drop in each circuit to the starter.
    Battery+ to starter
    Battery+ to switch
    Switch to starter
    Battery- to engine
    Use a digital voltmeter, set to DC, with the leads attached at each end of the circuit. (to form a parallel circuit with the meter)
    Energize the circuit, turn the key, and look for a voltage reading at the meter. Any reading over 1.5 volts DC indicates a poor connection, dirty connection or crimp.
    Reading of 12 volts, or battery voltage indicate an open, broken circuit.
    Do this for each circuit.

    Hopefully this makes sense.

    Also verify the engine crankshaft can be rotated manually when the starter is not working.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    70

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daydreamer View Post
    I agree, it sounds electrical.

    During all the fussing about the offending circuit gets manipulated enough to make a good connection.
    After it sits, corrosion sets in and, nada.

    The proper procedure is to check the voltage drop in each circuit to the starter.
    Battery+ to starter
    Battery+ to switch
    Switch to starter
    Battery- to engine
    Use a digital voltmeter, set to DC, with the leads attached at each end of the circuit. (to form a parallel circuit with the meter)
    Energize the circuit, turn the key, and look for a voltage reading at the meter. Any reading over 1.5 volts DC indicates a poor connection, dirty connection or crimp.
    Reading of 12 volts, or battery voltage indicate an open, broken circuit.
    Do this for each circuit.

    Hopefully this makes sense.

    Also verify the engine crankshaft can be rotated manually when the starter is not working.
    Thats all good. Is there a start relay between the key switch and the starter (turns on the power to starter motor )? My guess the problem is there - either the switch or the relay. Whacking things finds intermittent connections sometimes...maybe you were close.

    You might want to see if there is an online forum for that engine- see what they think. I fixed an outboard that way.

    Good luck- intermittent electrical problems can be crazy- I had a car where the power lead to the engine computer was nearly touching a metal panel- over time the insulation wore through (and some paint)- certain bumps killed power- rain was worse. Finally made the mechanic trace the circuit by eye...voila!
    Last edited by K38Bob; 06-13-2016 at 11:21 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    95

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    Jackie,

    I too have suffered engine dread - will it start or not? Will I have to sail my boat SH into my downwind slip in 20 knots of wind? It can completely destroy any joy you take from sailing alone and discourage you from inviting any other poor souls aboard.

    I agree with the others that it sounds electrical and you should look for another mechanic (replace the head gasket? a new elbow joint on the exhaust? WTF?). I had a similar problem and was able to identify the culprit by hot wiring the starter. It sounds a bit sketchy, but it is actually a useful thing to know how to do. I keep a special wire with two alligator clips in the engine compartment just for this purpose. A description of the process can be found here: http://svlux.blogspot.com/2014/01/em...-starting.html, as well as elsewhere on the web. Given how exposed my engine starting panel is (six inches from the bottom of the cockpit) , I am generally concerned about corrosion and the dreaded "nothing happens when I push the button".

    Let me know if you want any help - I love working on (other people's) engines.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2010
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    2,215

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    Quote Originally Posted by tboussie View Post
    Jackie,

    I too have suffered engine dread - will it start or not? Will I have to sail my boat SH into my downwind slip in 20 knots of wind? It can completely destroy any joy you take from sailing alone and discourage you from inviting any other poor souls aboard.

    I agree with the others that it sounds electrical and you should look for another mechanic (replace the head gasket? a new elbow joint on the exhaust? WTF?). I had a similar problem and was able to identify the culprit by hot wiring the starter. It sounds a bit sketchy, but it is actually a useful thing to know how to do. I keep a special wire with two alligator clips in the engine compartment just for this purpose. A description of the process can be found here: http://svlux.blogspot.com/2014/01/em...-starting.html, as well as elsewhere on the web. Given how exposed my engine starting panel is (six inches from the bottom of the cockpit) , I am generally concerned about corrosion and the dreaded "nothing happens when I push the button".

    Let me know if you want any help - I love working on (other people's) engines.
    Thank you Tom and Greg and Bob
    I have printed out all these suggestions and will offer them up to my mechanic, who I am meeting today. In my experience mechanics really like suggestions from other people. hahaha Apparently I can not hand start my engine. I feel like throwing it overboard and buying an outboard, but it is bolted down and very heavy.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    517

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    Another possibility is that the starter motor brushes are worn down so that they don't reliably contact the commutator.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Critter View Post
    Another possibility is that the starter motor brushes are worn down so that they don't reliably contact the commutator.
    Thanks, Max. Both starters are brand new. I keep switching 'em out.

    We suspect that water was leaking into the engine because of the insecure head gasket (physically insecure, not psychologically). Now the head gasket is keeping water out, but raw water remains in the bottom of the bell housing. When the engine runs the thruster part of the starter then gets salt water on it, it rusts and the inside of the starter jams/seizes. I spent the day painstakingly rotating the crankshaft inch by inch, dragging a long piece of thin, silicone soaked lightweight cloth in the inside jaws behind the starter in order to soak up any water left in there, and cleaning up the rusted jaws. Hmmmm. Yes, fun fun fun! After that I carried my porta potti up to the marina bathroom and spilled half of it on my shoes. Ah, sailing. Such a classy pastime.
    Last edited by Philpott; 06-13-2016 at 07:39 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Arnold, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philpott View Post
    Thank you Tom and Greg and Bob
    I have printed out all these suggestions and will offer them up to my mechanic, who I am meeting today. In my experience mechanics really like suggestions from other people. hahaha Apparently I can not hand start my engine. I feel like throwing it overboard and buying an outboard, but it is bolted down and very heavy.
    Yes, I love helpful suggestions from people who know half the story!

    Engines are evil, period.

    I am happy to let you try Nightmares outboard to see if that's the way to go.
    Personally it is a PITA.

    Raw water on electrical components will certainly cause problems. I suspect that is what he is trying to fix first.

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