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Old 02-11-2013, 12:43 PM   #1
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Cold Starting Question

I had to go get a pump-out yesterday and had to, of course, fire up Dr. Perky on a 50-degree day. I know cold starts are hard in older diesels. Do it sound like a weak battery when you do it? Struggling to turn the rotating mass? Does the more dense cold are restrict the compression stroke?

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Old 02-11-2013, 01:01 PM   #2
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I know cold starts are hard in older diesels. Does it sound like a weak battery when you do it?
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Interesting you chose today to post this question. It was 51 degrees when I went to start up my engine, not really knowing what to expect. I turned the key, pushed the starter button and in less the one full revolution the engine came to life. It might as well have been 80 degrees as the engine started immediately. (whew!) Cummins 330B
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:12 PM   #3
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I keep an oil-filled heater in the engine room set to low during the colder months. This keeps a constant temperature of about 65 to 70 in the ER. Also keeps the ER dry. Our 27-year-old Cats are happy .
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:46 PM   #4
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We keep heat in the engine room in the winter. It keeps the space at about 55 degrees no matter what the outside temperature is. So the Lehmans start as quickly in February as they do in August. The engines have cold start knobs but we have never had to use them.

PS--- with regards to the OP's question, when we have started the engines with a cold engine room, low 40s for example-- there has been no noticeable reduction in the cranking speed of the starters. But the engines took longer to fire and "catch" to the point where they were running smoothly. The longer cranking time and the reluctance of the engines to begin running smoothly right away did not seem particularly "friendly" to the engines or starters so we started using the heater in the winter and have never had a "slow start" since.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:07 PM   #5
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A block heater is great if you can set one up.

The other is to use a muti-vis oil despite what some will say.

I had quite a few starts this trip where the engine room was in the 40's and it makes a difference unless you use 4 or 8Ds that are made for cranking and fully charged.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:28 PM   #6
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Hmmm... Mine struggled to turn over.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by GonzoF1 View Post
Hmmm... Mine struggled to turn over.
Starting battery maybe? Maybe a new battery or increase it's size? A 4D is recommended for the starting battery for our engine. I talked to a local, well respected, mechanic when we bought Hobo. His suggestion, since we were in AK and the PNW, was to use an 8D or equivalent. Even when the engine room was 45 degrees, the engine turned over like it was warmed up. Just a thought.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:45 PM   #8
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Hmmm... Mine struggled to turn over.
One thing that I suspect makes a big difference in our case is that older GBs like ours have a big combiner relay in the engine room the connects the "house" and "start" batteries together whenever a start button is pushed. I use the quotes because on these GBs any battery can be designated for either purpose (or combined) using the battery selector switch. So prior to our changing the battery system on our boat a few years ago pressing a start button sent the power of two fully charged 8Ds to the starter.

Today they get even more since the two 8Ds have been replaced by six 6vdc golf cart batteries, four in the "house" bank and two in the "start" bank. But the rest of the boat's electrical system is unchanged and the start combiner relay is still there. So now each starter is connected to the equivelent of three fully charged 8Ds whenever its engine's start button is pushed.

If our Lehmans were started by a single, smaller "group" battery line a lot of boats use they may well turn over slowly on a cold day as you experienced with your Perkins.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:54 PM   #9
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Someone has to say it. That's not considered cold.

Perkins, so I'm assuming indirect injection. Did the glow plugs come on? Too little might not get enough heat in the pre cups. Too much might draw down the battery.

For reference, my glow relay is only on for maybe 2 seconds even around the freezing mark.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:14 PM   #10
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No glo-plugs. It only has a preheater (little heating element that warms a small fuel vapor located it the intake) that creates a warm charge for the first compression stroke or two. TBH, I didn't check to see if it was working.

I do have a combiner switch... Didn't use it. I would probably only use it in an emergency.

Series 31 starter battery only about 1-year old.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:15 PM   #11
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I'vestarted my small Mitsu w outside temps near 0F but engine compartment temp a little above freezing.

Using an AGM start battery. The engine has pre chambers and glow plugs. I usually run the glow plugs 7 or 8 seconds but at less that 40 degrees I run the plugs 10 seconds. In any condition I've started the engine it's started just about instantly and cranked smartly.

I took out a glow plug once just to see how it glowed and found it got bright red .. Very hot after 10 seconds.

Of course most of you have large and old engines w reg lead acid batteries. So I imagine your systems must be in excellent condition to work well.

For lackluster performance starting condition, battery connections and length of and size of cables all play a part in the equation. I think the size of the battery is not as important as the ability for the battery to supply high current for brief periods of time. Specially designed "start" batteries are best at that. For an old boat w lead acid batts and a big engine a Trojan start battery in the system may be a minimal investment solution to marginal start performance.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:21 PM   #12
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I am certain that it's NOT the battery cables.

I suppose it could be my old direct drive starter. I have brand new a gear reduction starter that is a backup. Maybe now is the time to press it into service.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:38 PM   #13
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As stated 50 F is not cold.
How cold was the night before? The engine mass probably wasn't as warm as the ambient temperature.
What weight oil are you using?
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Old 02-11-2013, 04:34 PM   #14
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I start my Cat at or below 32 deg all the time. Sounds like a low battery to me.

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Old 02-11-2013, 04:38 PM   #15
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I start my Cat at or below 32 deg all the time. Sounds like a low battery to me.
Me too....I was wondering when one of you guys "up there" would chime in on this thread.
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Old 02-11-2013, 04:38 PM   #16
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Or straight SAE 30 weight.
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Old 02-11-2013, 04:47 PM   #17
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I am certain that it's NOT the battery cables.
I had a similar problem a few years ago on my Mainship 30. The cables were fine but the connection at the starter was not. After cleaning up the starter motor connection point & re- attaching the batt cable, she fired right up. (Pretty simple check to make before changing starter motors.) Good luck!
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Old 02-11-2013, 05:07 PM   #18
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I am certain that it's NOT the battery cables.

I suppose it could be my old direct drive starter. I have brand new a gear reduction starter that is a backup. Maybe now is the time to press it into service.
What makes you so certain it's not the battery cables? And how about the connections? How about the negative cable attached to the engine?

"Throwing" parts at a problem in the attempt to correct it is a very inefficient way of troubleshooting.

Monitor the battery voltage (at the battery) when trying to start the engine. Now monitor at the starter and engine ground when trying to start the engine.

I see three possibilities:
1) Battery doesn't have the necessary capacity to start the engine.
2) A voltage drop between the battery and the engine.
3) A mechanical problem with the engine making it harder to rotate than it's supposed to be.
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Old 02-11-2013, 05:12 PM   #19
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Yep. I would say low batt or bad connections. Check your charging system. You know make sure the charger is on that the shore power is working. Go below and rank on all your big cables make sure are all tight.

Just my thoughts. That's what I would do.

Check the simple things first.

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Old 02-11-2013, 05:19 PM   #20
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I think he had a big thread on how his "wiring project was done" not too long ago...
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