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Old 09-16-2015, 09:33 AM   #1
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1993 vintage Detroit starter will not start...

In this case a 12V71TA, but presume the smaller Detroits are similar setup. When I engage "engine on" breaker and then hit the "start" button a large relay clicks on in the engine room gauge cabinet...but nothing more. No sound whatsoever from starter solenoid or starter....dead as doornail. Engines have 290 hours since total overhaul and no hint of problems previously...in fact both engines would start instantaneously when pressing the start buttons, no turnover, just instant start the moment the button was pressed. Starboard engine still that way, but this port engine is suddenly dead at starter.

I suspect the problem is wiring related at one of the helm station toggles, which have both been messed with a little regarding other issues a few months ago. Not investigated that yet. (boat is at it's regular dock, no super hurry to fix this)

OTOH, there is a third station to run the engines directly from the engine room and same trouble there...so I wonder about the wiring from one of other helm stations effecting this. (OTOH no. 2, we once couldn't start the starboard engine even from the engine room, because the "engine stop" toggle was stuck "on" at the inside helm station. That time the starter worked fine but there was no compression due to that engine stop toggle being stuck....so the other station wiring can effect things in the engine room sometimes)

Anyhoo, would you guys agree the first and easiest step would be to see if DC voltage (12 or 24) is getting to the starter solenoid when I press "engine start" ? (after turning "engine on" breaker on of course)

And FWIW, battery voltages are perfect and no corrosion on starter solenoid terminals. (ironically the starboard solenoid terminals are downright rusty and yet it works perfectly)

If there is voltage at starter solenoid....ever had one go kaput with absolutely no warning prior to it going bad ? (seems like it would at least hum or something even if bad.... )
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Old 09-16-2015, 10:24 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Caladan View Post
In this case a 12V71TA, but presume the smaller Detroits are similar setup. When I engage "engine on" breaker and then hit the "start" button a large relay clicks on in the engine room gauge cabinet...but nothing more. No sound whatsoever from starter solenoid or starter....dead as doornail. Engines have 290 hours since total overhaul and no hint of problems previously...in fact both engines would start instantaneously when pressing the start buttons, no turnover, just instant start the moment the button was pressed. Starboard engine still that way, but this port engine is suddenly dead at starter.

I suspect the problem is wiring related at one of the helm station toggles, which have both been messed with a little regarding other issues a few months ago. Not investigated that yet. (boat is at it's regular dock, no super hurry to fix this)

OTOH, there is a third station to run the engines directly from the engine room and same trouble there...so I wonder about the wiring from one of other helm stations effecting this. (OTOH no. 2, we once couldn't start the starboard engine even from the engine room, because the "engine stop" toggle was stuck "on" at the inside helm station. That time the starter worked fine but there was no compression due to that engine stop toggle being stuck....so the other station wiring can effect things in the engine room sometimes)

Anyhoo, would you guys agree the first and easiest step would be to see if DC voltage (12 or 24) is getting to the starter solenoid when I press "engine start" ? (after turning "engine on" breaker on of course)

And FWIW, battery voltages are perfect and no corrosion on starter solenoid terminals. (ironically the starboard solenoid terminals are downright rusty and yet it works perfectly)

If there is voltage at starter solenoid....ever had one go kaput with absolutely no warning prior to it going bad ? (seems like it would at least hum or something even if bad.... )
Be sure your controls and tranny are in neutral.
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Old 09-16-2015, 10:40 AM   #3
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Usual cause is corroded battery terminals, weak battery, loose ground etc. Enough power gets through to close some solenoids and run gauges but not enough to turn starter.
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Old 09-16-2015, 10:40 AM   #4
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Be sure your controls and tranny are in neutral.
They are...I was hoping that was the issue but it isn't. In fact if they are not in neutral, even the big relay that is clicking will not click.
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Old 09-16-2015, 10:56 AM   #5
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Many boats of that type have a 12v/24v series/parallel solenoid that puts the batts in series for a start. If your starter is 24v and alternator and other systems are 12v, you have this. I don't think there are many 1271's that start on 12v, typical is 24v.

Go put a meter on starter lugs and get someone to push the button. If solenoid has failed, you will get either zero or 12v on starter lugs. Starter should have a tag id'ing it as 12 or 24v.
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Old 09-16-2015, 10:57 AM   #6
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Yep, break out the mulitmeter both voltage to and from and then to trace continuity.
Be careful, you need to make the assumption the thing will start any second!
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