Blue Crab

Universal 5411 Very Reluctant to Start

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Tried to start after sitting at least 6 months of so. Plenty of battery and mechanic cranked it MUCH longer than I'd have ever dared, fearing  water getting in to block. Bled injectors and so on. Finally, and I do mean finally, engine started after blowing hot air into intake. Ran awhile, and again needed hair dryer to start. That time, he let engine run 20 minutes or so, and engine then started by itself.

Q: Isn't this an obvious case of glow plug failure? However, tach and ammeter didn't work either, and mechanic found no voltage out of alternator ... suggesting to me that glow plugs, tach, and ammeter likely all wired together.

Q: Is there a muffler drain? Mechanic removed what appeared to be a plug but announced there was no whole in bottom of muffler.

Q: Amount of water at stern never very impressive with new water pump. I've read a bunch on these thermostat circuits and so forth ... is this just biz as usual for a 5411?

Thoughts welcome.

 

 

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I'm not sure what temperatures you've had down there, but it's not uncommon for an old Universal to be reluctant in the cold weather.

I know for certain that my glow plugs are tired and my engine is rather grumpy about starting when it's cold. Mine was not as difficult as yours, however. It sounds like you had NO glow plug action at all. With no instruments working, you obviously couldn't tell if the plugs were drawing any current. On my system, it's blatant. The ammeter would dip bigly. Now that I've replaced the ammeter with a volt meter, there is still a dip but not as pronounced.

This article can help you trace the path for these circuits: https://marinehowto.com/universal-diesel-engine-wiring-harness-upgrade/

Also, here is a more detailed Universal diesel wiring diagram that shows complete paths:

 

wiringdiagram.gif

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Many thanks, Captain. It was cold cold cold yesterday in that mid-Atlantic way. 

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26 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

Many thanks, Captain. It was cold cold cold yesterday in that mid-Atlantic way. 

The fact that it started with a hairdryer is encouraging and also wise not to use ether or starting fluid. Fix the electricals, get some new glow plugs and you should be back in business.

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1 minute ago, Ajax said:

The fact that it started with a hairdryer is encouraging and also wise not to use ether or starting fluid. Fix the electricals, get some new glow plugs and you should be back in business.

Cool. As always, this Maine Sail article is dead on. 

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4 hours ago, Blue Crab said:

Q: Is there a muffler drain? Mechanic removed what appeared to be a plug but announced there was no whole in bottom of muffler

If you have to crank for any sort of extended period you should close the raw water intake until it starts.

Filling the exhaust and drowning engines is a very real thing.

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17 minutes ago, SloopJonB said:

If you have to crank for any sort of extended period you should close the raw water intake until it starts.

Filling the exhaust and drowning engines is a very real thing.

We did get it running. Is it safe to assume the engine is ok? This time.

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1 hour ago, Blue Crab said:

We did get it running. Is it safe to assume the engine is ok? This time.

Yeah, this time.

It's a pretty rude awakening when it happens. The piston slams into the water slug in the cylinder and stops. The connecting rod is often bent and...that's it. Rebuild or repower.

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If it was wired like our sailing co-op's Catalina 30 Universal M-25:

The glow plugs are powered by a circuit that goes through the instrument panel. If your instruments were not working then probably a fault in the wiring, not bad glow plugs.

On our boat, the connectors joining the wiring harness were totally ugly and the wiring was falling out of them.

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Two things on the Universal.

1.  Spray the back side of the Instrument Panel with WD40 and check for loose connections

2.  Check the kill switch.  On my old one it was a mechanical kill switch that got sticky.  It would not explain your electrical issues but would explain the starting issues.

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