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Old 07-16-2014, 08:46 PM   #1
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Perkins 4.236 bad starter?

Port engine starts fine, stbd just clicks. I cleaned all terminals then tried again still just a click. This time I held the key over for 4 seconds and went below. I noticed smoke from the end of the starter. Does this sound like a bad starter? Do we rebuild these or try to buy a new one?
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Old 07-16-2014, 08:59 PM   #2
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I'd start with the solenoid.
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Old 07-16-2014, 09:02 PM   #3
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I seem to recall an old trick we would do on old cars with a bad solenoid that involved jumping some posts. Is this something to try?
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Old 07-16-2014, 09:11 PM   #4
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I'd go for a rebuild if you have a competent shop in your area. I have just had the best luck doing this and I have tried it plenty both ways. I think he is past the solenoid if the starter is rolling smoke !!

Don't forget the local shop will test and may say it is good and to look else where but I doubt it.
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Old 07-16-2014, 09:29 PM   #5
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try and turn your stbd engine over manually, is it free to turn ?

are the port and stbd batteries separated or paralelled (by em op switch if fitted)? does the same thing happen in both cases ?

with the batteries not paralelled, when you turn the stbd engine switch to run position, check the volts on panel voltmeter, should be around 12 - 13, when you go to the start position what happens to the volts reading ? dont hold in start position if engine is not turning for more than a second or so, damage will result, should be around 10 when engine is cranking, if it dies battery may be undercharged or faulty or engine/ starter cant turn....when you said "a click" do you mean a single click or probably more a clunk!! as the starter engages or did it click repeatedly?? the latter is a sign the battery may be undercharged. if you are sure the battery is in good shape the engine may be siezed or the starter is siezed (unlikely). As you know the port battery is OK if you can parallel them this will remove the battery questions from the equation.

check also the port engine voltmeter readings in run position when first turned on and then while cranking as your meters are unlikley to be accurate so dont focus on the numerical value too much but you should see similar things happening on both sides

you mention smoke at the starter, if the starter body was very hot that sounds like you actually have plenty of power getting there and all electrical stuff is working but not enough power to turn the engine for probably a mechanical reason, thus the first question
However "smoke" can also come from the repeated operation, click click click etc without the starter casing getting hot this more typically points to a flat or faulty battery . check the engine is free to turn mechanically before anything else
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Old 07-16-2014, 09:43 PM   #6
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I seem to recall an old trick we would do on old cars with a bad solenoid that involved jumping some posts. Is this something to try?
Could be the starter, but more likely the solenoid. Probably a different model starter than the 6.354 Perkins. But I'm guessing the same style Delco solenoid. I used to go through solenoids like they were going out of style. It was because of the excessive length of the wire from the battery to the dashboard start key and back to the transmission neutral safety switch and then to the solenoid which caused a voltage drop when the starter was engaged. The contact points in the solenoid would "chatter" and arch which burns the contact washer face. Once the contact surface is degraded, it will no longer deliver enough current to engage the starter and the points just continue to arch, which is probably the smoke you are seeing.

The solenoid is easily rebuilt, the simplest kit is a new plunger, with copper washer and a new contact post (flat headed copper bolt.) If you like to tinker, you can actually take the plunger apart by compressing the spring and removing the Jesus clip, then flip the wash over and reassemble. Sand the face of the bolt head smooth and you're good to go.

The long term fix is to install a second automotive solenoid (like on a 80's Ford) ahead of the Perkins solenoid. The key actuates the Ford solenoid which powers the Perkins solenoid with high amp 12 v directly from the batteries.

Yes you can jump the solenoid with a screw driver or a start switch by crossing the large positive battery stud to the solenoid positive post. You have to be careful though, as at these amperage's you can weld metals. Not a good idea if you're not familiar with how it's done.
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Old 07-16-2014, 10:37 PM   #7
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I seem to recall an old trick we would do on old cars with a bad solenoid that involved jumping some posts. Is this something to try?
I had an intermittent start problem that I'd resolve using a screwdriver to jump from the hot to the solenoid. Then I learned about these remote start switches and dropped the screwdriver trick. Now it's a valued tool in my boat tool bag and no more sparks in the ER.

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Old 07-16-2014, 10:38 PM   #8
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I have a 4-236 and have been down this road. Remove the starter and take it to a repair shop for rebuild. They'll put a new solenoid on it plus make the starter like new. Seems like the whole deal cost me $125 or so, can't remember for sure. Plus the guy threw in a spare solenoid for free. Always good to have a spare.
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Old 07-17-2014, 01:02 AM   #9
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What is so hard to figure??

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Old 07-17-2014, 03:52 AM   #10
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The best is to take it off and get it rebuilt, the solenoid is sticking. Later models used (I think) an M90 starter which turned the engine over quicker, Depends on the age of your engine.
The new starter has a slightly different bolt length and you can use washers to pack it out and get you home, then go to a machine shop and get correct ones made.
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Old 07-17-2014, 06:15 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone! I'm on the middle of a battery refresh so I will pull it tomorrow. I just need to get out the phone book and find a good shop in the Annapolis area.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:06 AM   #12
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A wee tip to save you money.
Go to a Massey Ferguson dealer as the engines are used in tractors and y'know farmers have short arms and deep pockets so it should be cheaper.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:09 AM   #13
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Last but not least, insure your old cables are OK.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:45 AM   #14
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Do the rebuild. I had to have my 40 starter overhauled last year. A recommended local shop did a great job. I had them do my other starter this year before we left for the Erie Canal. Piece of mind for just a few dollars. Ditto about checking the cables and terminals.
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Old 07-17-2014, 05:04 PM   #15
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Sounds like either the starter or engine is frozen.
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Old 07-17-2014, 05:12 PM   #16
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4-236 are generally pretty bullet proof unless run without oil or coolant. My bet is on the starter .
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Old 07-17-2014, 05:38 PM   #17
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Take the starter off. Take the other starter off.


swap them. if the starter wont start the port engine, then get it rebuilt or buy a new one.

if it will start the port engine, then you may need more than a starter for the Stbd.

At this age, it's probably just a tired starter.
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Old 07-18-2014, 07:51 AM   #18
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Just dropped it off at Pasco and they bench tested it. Stuck solenoid is the diagnosis, it seems that $125 is the normal price to fix and rebuild these.

Thanks Everyone.
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Old 07-18-2014, 08:43 AM   #19
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Starters are one of the least expensive fixes on a boat. You probably just threw a brush or something and it's preventing it from spinning. Unless you cooked the coils, a $100 rebuild from a local starter/alternator shop should do the trick. Wouldn't hurt to do them both while you're at it. Our 6.354 starter did the exact same thing. Basically, because the starter isn't turning, the battery's current flow is being converted directly into heat.

Those old Delco direct-drive starters won't last forever. They are also pretty inefficient. There's a lot of pressure placed directly on the shaft and bushings. You might want to look at a drive reduction starter (I think that's the name) that uses a much smaller motor but uses a gear ratio reduction to still provide the turning force needed. Less power for the same amount of work (generally). Sometimes newer is better ;-)

If you want to stay on-the-cheap, you could ask the starter shop person if they have an old Delco starter lying around they could rebuild and sell to you. All the starter shops I have ever seen have hundreds of starter bodies and pieces-parts around they scavenge for parts.
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Old 07-18-2014, 09:55 AM   #20
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. Those old Delco direct-drive starters won't last forever. .
Only 30 years in a humid seasonally used marine environment.
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