Originally Posted by Edelweiss
That's a frequent problem with both the 6.354 and 4.2XX series Perkins. Could be a weak solenoid, but is most often the momentary push button or the wiring between the switch and solenoid.
The push button applies 12 volts to activate the shutdown solenoid. As LaBomba described below, work backwards from the solenoid. Start by attaching a temporary wire to the battery positive post and touch it too the terminal on the top of the solenoid. The solenoid is already grounded and if it's good, the solenoids will activate all the way. Then you will know it's in the switch or wiring. Then go to the dash and remove the wire from the push button shutdown switch. touch the wire end to a good 12 volt pos. source looking for the same result again. If it doesn't work, then it's the wire, otherwise check out the switch.
Last fall I had the same problem and that time it was the wire between the button and solenoid.
Great advice, Larry! That's a sensible, measured approach to troubleshooting and diagnosis.
I had the same problem and started by throwing parts at it. I now have a spare solenoid to attest to the foolishness of that approach.
Mine was the wire which was a simple repair. My troubleshooting step was to run a temporary wire from the switch to the solenoid to test the solenoid and the switch. A long wire with alligator clips is an essential tool on my boat.
If you're looking for a portable, independent and inexpensive 12V power source, consider a portable jump start battery pack. Taking a battery pack to the job is sometimes simpler than running a new wire to the ship's battery. Some can be bought in the $30-40 range.