Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Engine reluctant to start after a few weeks - then reluctant to stop

When we visited Ally and Ben a couple of weeks ago I thought it would be a good idea to start the engine as it hadn't run for a few weeks.

It was a mild sunny day and, after the usual checks, I disengaged the gearbox, opened the throttle, moved the key to the glowplugs position, counted to five and turned the engine over. And over, and over. After twenty seconds I released the starter key to give the battery a rest, and tried again. Another twenty seconds or so - and perhaps another - and, eventually, the Isuzu burst into life (to my great relief).

In the past it's fired from cold after no more than two seconds. Why did it take so long this time? Had the diesel drained back into the tank such that it needed to "self prime"? Could water in the fuel have been the problem? I know there was plenty of fuel in the tank as the engine had barely been used since filling up, and the Webasto had hardly been used either.

Once running I left it recharging the batteries for an hour and a half, then completely forgot how to switch it off!

How embarrassing!

I turn the key to the off position. Engine carries on. How do I stop it? I remember Tony Brooks advising that you should see what moves when switching off - if the engine has a solenoid-operated stop. Of course, I hadn't done that, so I didn't know what to move manually. Aargh!

And then... I remembered. It really had been too long since the last trip. There is a push button on the control panel coloured red and marked STOP.


A couple of days ago Ally and Ben took the boat out for a short cruise - the engine behaved itself. Note to self: Do not leave it too long between runs.


Captain Ahab said...

Halfie - probably not the answer but in cold weather I heat my glow plugs for 10 seconds, not five.

Nev Wells said...

I always count to 10.......... unless it a warm restart. Need to get on it more, helps remember how it all works ;-) At Bancroft basin our Ownerships boat would not stop keys buttons tried it all - turned out it was a sticking solenoid, we turned off the diesel, ran for ages afterwards, than told off as it was not the best thing to do, but lucky it was a self priming engine....?

Bruce in Sanity said...


Beta now advises not to run the glow plugs for more than 5 secs, as they've had probs with them burning out…

You pays your money!

I've had our Beta reluctant to start twice in these circs - when the tank has been less than half full, I suspect the Hurricane, which shares a fuel feed, has pulled fuel out of the engine system. It's never been a problem otherwise.

A dodge to avoid it is to pump the priming button you'd use to bleed the system after changing the fuel filter a few times, just to shove diesel back into the injector pump.

I'm sure a query on CWDF would produce more authoritative responses!



Jim said...

The instructions for my Isuzu engine say to turn the key to the first position ( marked as "I" on your photo) for 5 seconds to pump fuel round the system then to turn it to the glow plug setting for "one minute"! In practice, unless it's been very cold for a long time I find 20 to 30 seconds sufficient.
I agree with your "note to self" though!

Halfie said...

Thanks for all the comments.

Andy, it was mild weather, and I think I did warm them up for longer the second time I tried starting.

Nev, you're right - more boating needed!

Bruce, I've also read somewhere about not having the glowplugs on for more than 5 seconds. Hmm - I haven't yet changed the fuel filter, and I don't know about a priming button. If the engine is self-priming - which I believe it is - would it have a priming button? You're right about CWDF, I might steel myself to try that... !

Jim, I'm not sure that the "I" position does anything other than energise circuits. I don't recall hearing a pump operating. One minute??? That seems excessive!

Bruce in Sanity said...


Don't know your engine specifically, but they are all pretty much alike. Self priming means that the injectors can self prime, but if you change the filter, you still have to pump fuel out of the tank into the new filter. On the Beta, there's a button on top of the filter housing, and a bleed screw just below. You open the bleed screw and pump away until air free fuel emerges.

After that, starting the engine will sort the rest out. What I'm suggesting is to leave the bleed screw alone and just pump the button - it normally feels quite hard to move, as you expect.



Halfie said...

Bruce, thanks for that. I'll have a look for the priming button next time I'm aboard (in a couple of weeks time).