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Engine and starter battery questions


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Hello!

I have a couple of engine questions!

Everything I know about engines I've learned when something has gone awry with my engine over 5 years of boating. I must have been very lucky as I'm still quite ignorant.

I nearly killed my starter battery by leaving the key in the IGN position when I turned off the engine yesterday. I only noticed because the dedicated solar charge controller for the starter was making a ticking noise. I jump started the engine and fortunately the battery is now OK. Which leads me on to my first questions:

1) Should there be a deafening beeping as soon as the key is in the IGN position and the engine's not running? If so, is it possible that something has come unplugged, or is there a missing component?

2) What is actually draining the battery when it's in this position?

This is the second time this has happened, last time I wasn't so lucky and the starter battery was shot. Luckily though, I had a semi-dead leisure battery that I managed to bring back to life. It now always reads 13V. This first instance happened only a few weeks into owning this boat, so for the most part I've been using said leisure battery as a starter. The engine always struggles to turn on - I warm the plugs for a good 20 seconds, try to start her in neutral with the clutch, then try giving some revs, then engage the engine, give it some revs, then it gets going - maybe none of this helps, it just needs a lot of encouraging. 

3) If my engine struggles to turn on, would it likely start better with a made-for-purpose starter battery?

I also have an issue with the fuel line right at the tank - actually I just need to get the tank cleaned. This means that the engine won't run or start unless it's on high revs (no RPM gauge so can't say exact how high) and cuts out in neutral/low revs even when warm. Is this more likely the culprit? (I still had the same issue before this problem developed).

I'll be very grateful for your input before I roll up my sleeves and get oily/diesely.

:)

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Why does it go flat? Because of the ign light. Maybe other stuff too like electric fuel pump. 

Is a starter battery better for starting than a leisure battery? Yes. Although many so-called 'leisure' batteries are only re-badged starter batteries. 

Tank needs cleaning? Clean it ;)  Also change filters. 

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1; Usually the alarm goes with a warning light like Battery / Oil, etc.  Do these lights light up when engine not running but IGN on?

2; I would have thought very little, but if your battery is low on capacity and has been already discharged heavily it could need a really good charge (5-9hrs worth) or replacing.  13v will be surface charge, you really need to leave it rest for around 2 hours before checking the voltage to confirm the DoD.

Leisure type batteries are really no different from starter batteries as they can provide the CCA amps quite well as well.   Trojans and the like would be bad choice as they can't provide the amps.

3;  If struggling to turn over, then your battery may be low on capacity/discharged  as the voltage drops significantly on Wet cell batteries.   If it turns well from a good battery then thats it.  (also no harm in checking connections from battery to starter motor and the neutral connections as well.)

Edited by Robbo
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2 minutes ago, WotEver said:

Tank needs cleaning? Clean it ;)  Also change filters. 

Will do asap. Filters already changed. 

2 minutes ago, Robbo said:

1; Usually the alarm goes with a warning light like Battery / Oil, etc.  Do these lights light up when engine not running but IGN on?

Yes

2 minutes ago, Robbo said:

2; I would have thought very little, but if your battery is low on capacity and has been already discharged heavily it could need a really good charge (5-9hrs worth) or replacing.  13v will be surface charge, you really need to leave it rest for around 2 hours before checking the voltage to confirm the DoD.

Yep, I was talking prior to this discharge. I'll look again in a few hours, it's also being charge by the solar panels.

2 minutes ago, Robbo said:

 

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2 minutes ago, imranino said:

 

Will do asap. Filters already changed. 

Yes

Yep, I was talking prior to this discharge. I'll look again in a few hours, it's also being charge by the solar panels.

If it's getting charged by the solar then you'll need to disconnect (for 2hrs) to get a true reading of DoD by using the voltage.

For the alarm, it may be just a feature that if you stop the engine it doesn't alarm.  Mine still sounds the alarm (I think).

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2 minutes ago, Robbo said:

If it's getting charged by the solar then you'll need to disconnect (for 2hrs) to get a true reading of DoD by using the voltage.

For the alarm, it may be just a feature that if you stop the engine it doesn't alarm.  Mine still sounds the alarm (I think).

This depends on what the alarm is connected to.

Mine goes off if oil pressure drops, or water temperature is  too high.  The former makes the buzzer sound every time the engine is started or stopped.

I test the water alarm circuit from time to time by removing the cable and grounding it, while the engine  is running of course.

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14 minutes ago, Scholar Gypsy said:

This depends on what the alarm is connected to.

Mine goes off if oil pressure drops, or water temperature is  too high.  The former makes the buzzer sound every time the engine is started or stopped.

I test the water alarm circuit from time to time by removing the cable and grounding it, while the engine  is running of course.

The alarm should also sound if the starter battery is not charging, which also causes the alarm to sound with the ignition on and the engine not turning. The alternator for the starter battery often shares a belt with the water pump so its a very good to have an alarm on this in case the belt fails.

....................Dave

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9 minutes ago, dmr said:

The alarm should also sound if the starter battery is not charging, which also causes the alarm to sound with the ignition on and the engine not turning. The alternator for the starter battery often shares a belt with the water pump so its a very good to have an alarm on this in case the belt fails.

....................Dave

This will I think vary between engine installations? My cabin radiator pump only runs when the alternator is working (off the central terminal on the blocking diode), so I could wire up a little relay (energize to break) to the same place, to sound the buzzer if the alternator packs up. Thanks for prompting the idea!

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2 minutes ago, Scholar Gypsy said:

This will I think vary between engine installations? My cabin radiator pump only runs when the alternator is working (off the central terminal on the blocking diode), so I could wire up a little relay (energize to break) to the same place, to sound the buzzer if the alternator packs up. Thanks for prompting the idea!

I was talking about the main mechanical water pump that is an integral part of the engine.:rolleyes:

A diode from the alternator warning lamp to the buzzer should do the job, no need for a relay.

.............Dave

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50 minutes ago, Robbo said:

1; Usually the alarm goes with a warning light like Battery / Oil, etc.  Do these lights light up when engine not running but IGN on?

Yep and they turn off once the engine is runnning

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2 hours ago, dmr said:

I was talking about the main mechanical water pump that is an integral part of the engine.:rolleyes:

A diode from the alternator warning lamp to the buzzer should do the job, no need for a relay.

.............Dave

Sorry to be unclear, so was I.

My point was that I run a couple of bits of equipment (including the radiator pump) off the central terminal on the blocking diode, so they only work when the alternator is pumping out juice.  I'll go back and think some more about the diode option, and work out if I need a second buzzer. I don't think I do, though there is advantage in having two in order to test the detection of both ... 

The two approaches would I think sense slightly different faults: 1) the "ignition" circuit not doing its job ie making the light go out and 2) the alternator not generating output.  The two are normally related, but not always??

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7 hours ago, imranino said:

 

1) Should there be a deafening beeping as soon as the key is in the IGN position and the engine's not running? If so, is it possible that something has come unplugged, or is there a missing component?

2) What is actually draining the battery when it's in this position?

1) Is this new behaviour or has there never been a buzzer/alarm?  It is possible that your installation has never had an alarm fitted.  If you leave the key on the ignition/charge warning light should come on.

2) if you leave the ignition on, the alternator field coils will be drawing current continuously (via the warning light). This will in time flatten your starter battery, particularly if it is on its last legs.

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