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Starting an engine that hasn't turned over in months


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Hello, long time lurker but new to the forum.

 

I haven't used my boat in about 6 months due to illness. I haven't turned over the engine in all that time. I serviced the engine (oil change, new oil & fuel filters, new belts, checking antifreeze) just two weeks before putting her into storage.

 

I realise I should have been visiting regularly to turn the engine over but what's done is done.

 

I've reattached the battery and charged it up with mains, so that seems to be fine. Someone recommended that I remove the glow plugs and pour some engine oil directly in to the cylinders because the oil would have drained down to the sump. but I am a bit afraid to do that?

 

As it's cold today I'm thinking I will put a heater in the engine bay for a bit and heat the calorifier with the immersion element in the hope that when the coolant starts circulating it can warm up the engine quicker. 

 

I have a full to the brim diesel tank as well (I left it full to try to minimise condensation). Should I be worried about that?

 

Is there anything else that you recommend I do before I turn the key and see if she starts??

 

It's a beta 38 diesel by the way, which never gave me any issues in the past 7 years.

 

Any advice appreciated!

 

Pete

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The most \i would do is operate the stop, so the engine won't start and spin it on the starter for a couple of 30 second of spinning on the starter. That should throw sufficient oil onto the bores. Then start normally but don't rev hard for a few minutes.

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25 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

 Then start normally but don't rev hard for a few minutes.

You make an interesting point, Tony. When I start the engine from cold, I generally gradually increase the revs until they reach maximum, then run it at full revs for 20 or 30 seconds, thinking that this will help get it to working temperature more quickly. Am I harming the engine by doing this? It's a Gardner 2LW, if that makes any difference.

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Just start it, ensure the warning lights go out and run it at a fast tick over not slow until it is fully warmed up and your batteries are fully charged.

Diesel engines sit in plant and tractors for years without running and they just start with no damage, your engine is a Japanese plant engine. 

Edited by Tracy D'arth
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Don't try to put oil in the glowplug holes or anywhere else, if you do get oil into the cylinders it is not compressible like air and could do a lot of damage.

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56 minutes ago, Athy said:

You make an interesting point, Tony. When I start the engine from cold, I generally gradually increase the revs until they reach maximum, then run it at full revs for 20 or 30 seconds, thinking that this will help get it to working temperature more quickly. Am I harming the engine by doing this? It's a Gardner 2LW, if that makes any difference.

I have a similar engine (2LW), I usually start it after turning it over a few times with the decompression lever open, it uses a thick grade of oil and this cold weather ...........also press the button for cold starts in the winter- that helps.

 

I do cringe when I hear people rev any engine hard on starting.

 

I did see a Gardner 6L2 with a small tray below the air filter which you could fill with meths to warm things for Cold Starting......

 

But Gardner 112695 always starts first touch of the button. 

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As already stated, 6 months without starting is nothing unusual in the world of boat diesels.

 

If your battery is fully charged and there is enough oil in the engine simply see if it will start.  If the engine is in good health, it should easily.

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17 minutes ago, LEO said:

I have a similar engine (2LW), I usually start it after turning it over a few times with the decompression lever open, it uses a thick grade of oil and this cold weather ...........also press the button for cold starts in the winter- that helps.

 

I do cringe when I hear people rev any engine hard on starting.

 

I did see a Gardner 6L2 with a small tray below the air filter which you could fill with meths to warm things for Cold Starting...

   Not sure how thick our oil is: Morris "straight 30"....

 

But Gardner 112695 always starts first touch of the button. 

105962 here. I do raise the decompressor before staring it from cold, but it usually snaps back down almost immediately (I think - of course I can't see the engine while starting it). It starts with a key rather than a button.

   In addition to the decompressor it has two levers near the top on what Mel Davis calls the "pretty side"; I think their function is to pump extra fuel into the cylinders , so I give each one a squirt before turning the ignition key.  

It generally starts first time, but after a long lay-off that "first time" can last up to 30 seconds as it gradually builds up towards ignition.

Edited by Athy
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1 hour ago, Athy said:

You make an interesting point, Tony. When I start the engine from cold, I generally gradually increase the revs until they reach maximum, then run it at full revs for 20 or 30 seconds, thinking that this will help get it to working temperature more quickly. Am I harming the engine by doing this? It's a Gardner 2LW, if that makes any difference.

 

The question was not about routine starting from cold, but starting from cold after several months of doing nothing. Apart from the fact a Gardner is probably built like the brick proverbial compared with modern engines so ha slower bearing loads my thinking in this case is that there are more than just the pistons and cylinders to consider, like the cam bearing, timing gears, cam followers, push rods cups & rockers, any of which may have lost residual oil, so one would want to give the engine a chance to ensure oil has got to everything it needs to before increasing the load. On a normal cold start I would start with the throttle set to full speed, but set back to idle the instant the engine starts, pause at idle for a few seconds and then, if not moving off soon, increase the revs to those that deliver maximum charge so the engine is under the highest load it can be. That will give the fastest warm up.

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7 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

The question was not about routine starting from cold, but starting from cold after several months of doing nothing. e. That will give the fastest warm up.

Thanks for your advice, Tony.

Yes, I too was referring to starting the engine after a long dormant period - typically from November to March for us. That's usually the only time during the year that it gets really cold.

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Ours sits 5-6 months in a non covid year.

First start.

check levels.

hand pump fuel pump.

De compress 

egg cup of oil on rockers

Spin on starter till oil pressure shows

close compressors

turn throttle to fast idle

Start normally . Fast idle for 2-3 mins.

Check for leaks oil and fuel

Turn on domestic batteries.

 

Boat. 

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Thanks - you all gave me the confidence to go ahead and give it a bash.

 

First attempt was not successfull, however. Here's what I did.

  1. Powered on glow plugs for 10s or so (I can hear the relay click on and see my voltage dip slightly, so I'm sure they're working).
  2. Held in start button and cranked the engine for 10s or so.
  3. Battery voltage was dipping below 11V while cranking so decided to not do that any more.
  4. I attached my external workshop battery charger to the starter battery +ve and the starter motor -ve
  5. I set it to its 80A "Jump Start" setting.
  6. Cranked the engine again. It turns over, but never fires up.

Any suggestions for what's next?

 

Maybe a red herring, but I did notice that my water level was quite low - it took about 2 litres of water which seems quite alarming, I don't know how it could have lost that much water just sitting idle.

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5 minutes ago, Pete Morrison said:
  •  
  • I set it to its 80A "Jump Start" setting.
  • Cranked the engine again. It turns over, but never fires up.

That Jump Start setting is probably OK for a petrol engine, but unlikely to start a cold diesel engine.

Get the battery properly charged (or replaced) and try again.

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12 minutes ago, Pete Morrison said:

Maybe a red herring, but I did notice that my water level was quite low - it took about 2 litres of water which seems quite alarming, I don't know how it could have lost that much water just sitting idle.

Do you know that it was full when you last put the engine to bed?

 

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8 minutes ago, David Mack said:

That Jump Start setting is probably OK for a petrol engine, but unlikely to start a cold diesel engine.

Get the battery properly charged (or replaced) and try again.

 

I tried connecting my domestic battery as well to give it a bit more, but that also didn't seem to help. If there aren't other suggestions I'll go and buy a new starter battery.

 

 

5 minutes ago, Rob-M said:

Have you checked under the engine to see if that 2 litres of water hasn't disappeared through a broken pipe.

I can't tell from the water unfortunately, as there's rainwater in my bilge in any event. I can try to inspect the pipes though and see if there's anything.

 

 

 

4 minutes ago, David Mack said:

Do you know that it was full when you last put the engine to bed?

 

Yes - I recently serviced the engine so I'm 99% sure that it was full. I hope that the leak is external rather than internal to the engine...

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3 minutes ago, Pete Morrison said:

I tried connecting my domestic battery as well to give it a bit more, but that also didn't seem to help. If there aren't other suggestions I'll go and buy a new starter battery.

First you could try charging the starter battery with the workshop battery charger on a normal charge setting for a couple of days. 

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If that 11V is during cranking, then it is fairly normal, and it should recover to 12V plus after resting for a few minutes. The Minimum voltage during cranking according to Lucas is about 10V, although I have found you can go a LITTLE lower than that in extremis. The important value is what it recovers to in a very short while.

 

How did you connect the domestic battery? If it was by using easily available jump leads, they are all too often made down to a [price rather than to a standard that actually allows them to jump starts rather than using a running donor vehicle to put a bit of charge into the battery and up the voltage a bit. Some I have seen seem as if they are copper plug lead with very flimsy clips.

 

I suppose you did not turn ff the fuel tap when you left the boat and forgot to turn it back on.

 

Without hearing the attempt to start, it sounds to me like lack of fuel. Try loosening the big pipe nuts on the injectors a turn or two, and then crank the engine. You should get a little spit or drip of fuel from each loose nut. If you do tighten up and try to start again, possibly with a blowlamp in the METAL air intake. If there is no fuel then it indicates a fuel problem, so despite Betas being self bleeding (given time) try bleeding the system.

 

No or a few wisps of "smoke" from the exhaust while cranking indicates a lack of fuel. Plenty of smoke indicates a low cranking speed, failed  glow plugs or a low compression

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I just check the  oil and check for any leaks an then turn the key.

I don't believe in revving engines under no load and I don't start the engine  and run it without going out for a trip other than exceptional occasions . As an example I ran the engine after changing coolant in the autumn. 

I may well do a test start up a week or two before our first trip out in the spring and after checking the impeller. I may well need a new impeller .

 

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3 minutes ago, MartynG said:

I just check the  oil and check for any leaks an then turn the key.

I don't believe in revving engines under no load and I don't start the engine  and run it without going out for a trip other than exceptional occasions . As an example I ran the engine after changing coolant in the autumn. 

I may well do a test start up a week or two before our first trip out in the spring and after checking the impeller. I may well need a new impeller .

 

 

Note to others. Martyn's boat must have raw water pump as well as an engine water pump or is direct raw water  cooled engine connected to a skin tank. Most canal boats are not like that, so do not normally have an impeller that needs checking.

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39 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

Note to others. Martyn's boat must have raw water pump as well as an engine water pump or is direct raw water  cooled engine connected to a skin tank. Most canal boats are not like that, so do not normally have an impeller that needs checking.

Mine does and apart from the sound of the water from the exhaust it's a very quiet boat. Mind you I do have to fill the exhaust system with antifreeze every autumn 🤔

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We nearly all did this after Boris had us under house arrest. I didn't tell my Beta 43 how long it had been and it seemed not to notice. If you sneak up on it, I doubt the Beta 38 will be any the wiser either. ;)

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