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ivan&alice

Diagnosing a Beta 38 engine that won't start

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When it rains it pours! (water out of the calorifier anyway!)

 

Cruising along yesterday, engine cut out abruptly. Thought it might be something caught round the prop, but put it in neutral, cranked it for 20 seconds but it wouldn't start.

 

Pulled the boat over to the bank and tied it up for the night. Cranking the engine in 30 second bursts, every 3rd or 4th time results in the engine turning over for a matter of seconds (once as long as 30 seconds) but then cuts out abruptly again.

 

Checked to see if I was out of diesel - my measuring stick is still showing an inch of diesel in the tank, but I don't know how low is too low as I've never run out of fuel.

 

Symptoms were very similar to air in the fuel system that I got when trying to change the fuel filter (https://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?/topic/102893-bleeding-the-fuel-filter-of-my-beta-38-engine) so I tried to bleed the fuel system again. I got fuel out of the top of the filter but I didn't see any fuel coming out of the bleed nuts on the cylinders. I feel like it's likely it's something wrong with the fuel system - blockage perhaps?

 

I realise this is one of those annoying "Help! X is broken!" threads without much to go on, but does anyone have any suggestions for how to diagnose the problem?

First plan is to go and put 20 litres of diesel in the tank to make sure I'm not simply out of fiel. Next I'll remove and clean the fuel filter. At this point my batteries are taking a serious beating and I may need to beg/plead/pay for a charge somewhere. Anything else I can try?

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Perhaps the low fuel level has pulled some crap in. Check your filters and top up tank.

As you have suggested.

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With a normally working diesel engine all you need for it to run is a good charged battery and fuel. I suspect you have not got the later and shortly will not have the former if you continue to try without simply fixing what is wrong.

  • Greenie 1

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4 minutes ago, Boater Sam said:

With a normally working diesel engine all you need for it to run is a good charged battery and fuel. I suspect you have not got the later and shortly will not have the former if you continue to try without simply fixing what is wrong.

Would you guess that an inch in the bottom of the tank is not enough to get through the system? Even though I'm seeing fuel coming up out of the top of the filter when I prime on that bleed nut? It's a 230 litre tank, if that makes a difference.

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An inch of diesel in the tank? You are out of fuel. But as said you will probably have pulled all the crap from the bottom of the tank. Hopefully the height of your fuel out pipe is sufficient so that the crap has stayed in the bottom of your tank but you may have to bleed the fuel system.

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Just now, ivan&alice said:

Would you guess that an inch in the bottom of the tank is not enough to get through the system? Even though I'm seeing fuel coming up out of the top of the filter when I prime on that bleed nut? It's a 230 litre tank, if that makes a difference.

Leaving it that low risks pulling through muck at the bottom of the tank, as I suggested.

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An inch of fuel in most tanks is an empty tank. The pick up pipe will stop short of the bottom to avoid sucking water and sludge.

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If you only have a inch of deisel in the bottom of the tank then you have run almost certainly run out.  You will probably want to clean/change the fuel filters once you have refilled.

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Out of fuel seems the most likely explanation and consistent with the symptoms. Also easiest to test for and fix! Yeah I know it is a Bad Thing to let your diesel get low - this is a first for me and we all make mistakes. With a 230 litre tank I normally never think about it, topping up when I pass a fuel station and I've never been lower than 100 litres from the top. I should have paid more attention though. I'll see if filling with fuel doesn't help.

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17 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

Checked to see if I was out of diesel - my measuring stick is still showing an inch of diesel in the tank, but I don't know how low is too low as I've never run out of fuel.

An inch measured from the bottom of the tank? That’s quite likely the source of your problem. Fuel feeds from typical stern tanks either come from near the bottom, or from a dip tube through the top of the tank. Neither will reach the very bottom of the tank. My first suggestion would be to add some fuel, bleed, and see if the problem goes away.

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2 minutes ago, AndrewIC said:

An inch measured from the bottom of the tank? That’s quite likely the source of your problem. Fuel feeds from typical stern tanks either come from near the bottom, or from a dip tube through the top of the tank. Neither will reach the very bottom of the tank. My first suggestion would be to add some fuel, bleed, and see if the problem goes away.

And as mentioned previously, change the fuel filter

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As has already been said (a number of times) you have run out of fuel.

 

The pick-up pipes in the tank are normally at least 1" above the bottom of the tank to avoid picking up '100s of years' of muck sludge and water (very few folk actually give their tank a yearly drain and steam clean).

 

You may well have also sucked up some 'disturbed' muck from the bottom so I'd suggest that you do a full filter change as well.

 

Put fresh fuel in, leave it a few hours for the muck to settle, (pouring fresh diesel will disturb the sediment in the bottom of the tank) put in new filters, bleed and start the engine.

 

Edit to add :

 

As an interim 'trial', disconnect your fuel pipe from the engine, run a rubber pipe from a Jerry can (full of diesel) and connect it to the engine (past the filters)

Start engine.

 

If the engine runs then fuel was the problem

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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I haven't been able to source a new fuel filter yet as its non standard. But I'll clean it with some fresh diesel.

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1 minute ago, ivan&alice said:

I haven't been able to source a new fuel filter yet as its non standard. But I'll clean it with some fresh diesel.

I'd suggest, in that case, when you find them, source half-a-dozen.

You should always carry spares on board.

 

If it is that 'special' then you could be stuck waiting for days, when with a bit of planning, you could be underway in the time it takes the kettle to boil.

 

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

  • Greenie 1

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5 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

I haven't been able to source a new fuel filter yet as its non standard. But I'll clean it with some fresh diesel.

There are very few 'standards' in the narrowboat industry.....

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5 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

I haven't been able to source a new fuel filter yet as its non standard. But I'll clean it with some fresh diesel.

Certainly always have 2 spares and a source of more to hand. There are no non standard filters unless you make your own using aquarium socks.

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33 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

I haven't been able to source a new fuel filter yet as its non standard. But I'll clean it with some fresh diesel.

The fuel filter for a Beta 38 is very common, although there are two different ones depending on the age of the engine.  One is quite short and the other is a similar size to the fuel filter.

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8 minutes ago, john6767 said:

The fuel filter for a Beta 38 is very common, although there are two different ones depending on the age of the engine.  One is quite short and the other is a similar size to the fuel filter.

I think (dangerous) that Ivan is suggesting that it is not a 'standard' Beta filter (possibly a 'home' bodge / adaption ?)

 

Ivan - does it look like this ? :

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Beta-Marine-Beta-28-30-35-38-Filter-Service-Kit-Kubota-05/151276520661?_trkparms=aid%3D555018%26algo%3DPL.SIM%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D20160908110712%26meid%3D5099292ddc5f44d29df9945e8f7528f8%26pid%3D100677%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D30%26sd%3D161678864011%26itm%3D151276520661%26pmt%3D1%26noa%3D0%26pg%3D2386202&_trksid=p2386202.c100677.m4598

 

s-l1600.jpg

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Sorry no, all I meant was that I bought the "long" type filter for the Beta 38 engine (Beta branded part) and was dismayed to find that it did not fit (neither in length nor the screw thread). I returned that filter and have not yet sourced a replacement for mine.

 

The one I currently have is a Fram P4766. Thanks for the links, I must just apply myself to are if I can find one of those equivalents.

 

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3 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

I think (dangerous) that Ivan is suggesting that it is not a 'standard' Beta filter (possibly a 'home' bodge / adaption ?)

 

Alan, see #52 on my link above. (Oh, I see you already are):blink:

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1 minute ago, rusty69 said:

Alan, see #52 on my link above. (Oh, I see you already are):blink:

Yes - seen it now.

 

Maybe would have helped if Ivan had posted that picture in this thread.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

Sorry no, all I meant was that I bought the "long" type filter for the Beta 38 engine (Beta branded part) and was dismayed to find that it did not fit (neither in length nor the screw thread). I returned that filter and have not yet sourced a replacement for mine.

 

The one I currently have is a Fram P4766. Thanks for the links, I must just apply myself to are if I can find one of those equivalents.

 

Why not call Beta and quote the engine serial number to them, they can then send the correct filter. Their postage charge is a bit steep, but it's the same regardless of what you buy so I just buy 6 oil filters and 2 fuel filters from them once every year.

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