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Old 02-09-2011, 07:48 PM   #1
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starting our Perkins in cold weather

So- we plan on leaving the dock each morning this weekend very early for our trip down the river. *Low temps are forecasted to be 25-33 in the mornings. *We have a bilge heater down in the engine room but I would not say it keeps things toasty. *Should I bother to get an oil pan heater or something or do you think it will be a non-issue? *This will be our first bigger trip with the trawler since we bought her last august- would hate to see it not happen due to not being able to get the engine to crank over due to the cold! *
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:12 PM   #2
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

Do you have a preheater? Mine starts (or did last winter) in pretty cold temps by having a nice warm charge ready for its first swallow.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:15 PM   #3
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

My generator panel has a preheat switch but don't think the main engine does.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:33 PM   #4
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

That's weird. I wonder if it's there, but not hooked up. Mine was like that for a while.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:59 AM   #5
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

Your engine should start at those temps. Crank it at full throttle, be ready to pull it back once it fires.
Might run a little ragged for a few seconds until all the cyls light up.
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:06 AM   #6
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

"Preheat " may have more than one meaning.

A block pre heater 120V will be installed in the engine coolant and if operated overnight will usually start in any cold .

THe pan magnets do work , but thy are tiny ( usually 500W) and the single spot may burn the oil.

Some engines are fitted with intake air pre heaters that attempt to make cold starting easier in modest ( just below freezing) temps.

Ether is fine , contrary to scare stories IF it is ONLY used as a starting aid.Low temperature cold engine ONLY!

The best technique seems to be to crank for 20 seconds , wait 60 seconds and crank again 20 seconds , wait again and most times 3rd time is lucky.

The 20 second limit is for the starter to not overheat, the 60secomds for the starter to cool.

The repeated cranking causes heat rise in the cylinders , when she fires there will be HUGE smoke from the unburned fuel.

Should 3 attempts not be enough the ether shot of ONE second will usually bring on enough cylinder heat to start.

In cold temps there is no danger BUT attempting to prime an engine out of fuel with ether can cause broken rings.
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:07 AM   #7
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

Get a heat lamp in one of those holders with a clamp bracket and wire guard. Make sure it is mounted where if it falls it won't be a problem and is not too close to hoses or other "soft" parts.

While it is not politically correct or nanny safe, a 100 watt incandescent bulb in a metal trouble light (not plastic) under the pan where oil or fuel leaks won't drip on it will keep the oil nice and fluid. It will pay for itself in starter and cylinder wear.

On big ships we used to have dozens of little heaters made from 100W bulbs mounted in coffee can shields lying next to every piece of gear we wanted to protect from condensation when the ship was in the yard or out of service for more than a few days.
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:16 AM   #8
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

We have two perkins 4.236 engines and even at 20 degree temps before sun up the engines still fire. They turn a little slower do to the cold on the batteries but do fire. I bump the throttle forward about an inch or at about where 1,000 rpm would be and light one engine let it settle down then do the other. Don't think you would have an issue. Keep the charger on all night to make sure you have a full charge. leave the shore power connected until you have fired the engines.
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:57 AM   #9
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

Thanks all. Sounds like it should be a non issue. Lowest I've cranked them was around 35 degrees. They fired up but they kind of were slow. I'll keep the bilge heater on and we'll be sleeping aboard the night before so maybe I'll just leave open an engine hatch so the cabin heat can keep the engine cozy too.
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:59 AM   #10
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

just crank it and hold the stop button for a minute and let it go,that way you dont put to much fuel in the cycls,but you build up heat,if you dont hold the stop button than you flood the cycls with fuel and it takes a lot of heat to start it up
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Old 02-10-2011, 08:06 AM   #11
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

Capt Jerry nailed it and that is what I was going to say. First off, the little space heater will likely keep it warm enough for the m to start just fine...although maybe not fire right off. ANd like capt Jerry said, by holding the start button(or pulling the lever if it is manual) it keeps the fuel shutoff so it does not spray atomized cold fuel into the cylinders. This way, heat can build faster and the engine will start easier.

From what I have heard, Perkins are considered high compression diesels(18-20:1) and rarely have preheaters installed on them. I have yet to see them. Whereas a lower compression diesel(14-16:1) will likely NEED them.
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Old 02-10-2011, 08:13 AM   #12
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

"This way, heat can build faster and the engine will start easier."

Actually adding fuel builds the heat.
That is why the operating instructions say push the fuel lever all the way then crank.
A couple of compression strokes this way will start the engine. No need to crank it for 60 seconds as previously suggested.
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Old 02-10-2011, 10:59 AM   #13
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

Perkins pre-heaters are not always installed, but when they are, they squirts a little fuel in a depression in the air intake tract, then light it on fire, thereby pre-heating the air entering the combustion chamber.* Look to see if there is a glow-plug screwed into the intake manifold right where the air enters at the intake screen.* Should you not have one, they are available, and easy to install.* To use, hold down the pre-heat button until the puddled fuel catches fire, then begin cranking. Be advised though that it's rather scary seeing flames coming out of the intake the first time you use it. Make sure nothing flammable is near the intake.

If your engines are in good tune, your batteries fully charged, and the battery cables in good shape (very little voltage drop allowing proper cranking speed) she should start right up.* Starting problems may indicate low compression, slow cranking speeds, injectors needing service, valves out of adjustment, or simply very cold engine temps.* If you have a switch to parallel the start batteries, connecting the two together may help if she is reluctant to start....................Arctic Traveller
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:05 PM   #14
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

That's one of the main reasons I bought a new Mitsu for Willy. Our old Perky had provisions for that bonfire in the intake manifold starting aid but that sounded at least a bit Micky mouse so I only looked at engines that had glow plugs installed in the head.
With the Perkins we always had to crank and crank and I assumed the starter would'nt last long w that much abuse. Now I run the glow plugs 7 to 10 seconds and Mitsu starts almost instantly in any weather up here that it's been exposed to. I took one of the glow plugs out and fired them (turning the key) off and in 7 or so seconds it was bright red. Incidentally it's more of a glow bar than the coil shaped "plug" I envisioned. About 1 1/4" long and 1/8" square. We keep our engine compartment in the high twenties absolute minimum so it dosn't really get cold. Right now we're spending a bit more for electricity on the boat than in the house but we only have lights, TV, computer and like stuff on electricity in the house. We may be through the worst of winter***** ......do ya think???
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:09 PM   #15
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

Quote:
jleonard wrote:Actually adding fuel builds the heat.
That is why the operating instructions say push the fuel lever all the way then crank.
Well, actually ... adding fuel to the cold cylinder just makes the air charge cooler. It takes heat to vaporize a liquid fuel and that heat comes from the air in the cylinder.

All mechanical or hyraulically governed diesels default to maximum fuel delivery when they stop. Moving the throttle lever all the way forward as Perkins suggests moves the fuel control rod (the rack) to the "cold start" position and supplies just a little bit more fuel than is permitted by the governor fuel stop.

That only applies to the CAV governor fitted to those engines, not all mechanical governors have this feature. Some have a push button "cold start" on the fuel pump housing*as has been discussed on this site before, some don't have any such feature at all.

This does provide more fuel until the engine begins to accelerate but it does not add heat, it just works on the principle that only vaporized fuel can burn at the start and the more fuel you inject the more vapor is (hopefully)*available to burn. The increase in vapor trumps the temperature decrease it causes. The increase in unburned fuel is another issue altogether.

*
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:14 PM   #16
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

FL 120s do not have glow-plugs or any other sort of built-in, pre-start heat system. They do have a cold start control but very few people use them according to our diesel shop. We've never used them. We keep an electric oil heater in the engine room during the winter--- the kind that looks like a little steam radiator. Set on the lowest of the three settings with the thermostat halfway up this keeps the engine room at about 50 degrees all the time. So even in February on a below-zero day the engines fire as fast as they do in the middle of summer.

That's at the dock with ground power available. We've only had a few occasions to have to start the engine out at an anchorage in very cold conditions but in those cases, while the engines had to crank longer before they fired, they fired up pretty smoothly. The boat is sitting in water that's 40-something degrees and we have heat going in the cabin so it's not super-cold down in the engine room on these occasions. But if we were out with no ground power to put heat in the engine room and the engines had gotten cold-soaked in the anchorage after a few days we would probably start the generator (which has glow-plugs and an intake air pre-heater) and then run a small electric ceramic heater on high in the engine room for awhile to get the temperature up.
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:06 PM   #17
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

Quote:
nomadwilly wrote:

That's one of the main reasons I bought a new Mitsu for Willy. Our old Perky had provisions for that bonfire in the intake manifold starting aid but that sounded at least a bit Micky mouse so I only looked at engines that had glow plugs installed in the head.
Glow plugs are used in engines that have something called a "Pre-combustion chamber"* It's a totally different design that has a small, second chamber in the head, separate from the main combustion chamber.* Ignition of the fuel starts in the first chamber, then squirts out to the main chamber.*

The "flame primer" used on the Perkins is due to the lack of a pre-combustion chamber, and while a bit un-nerving at first, they work just fine.* Hell, they are made by Lucas, what could possibly go wrong?

As for winter being over, I hope your right.* I hear the power is out on my boat, and I won't be back for a few weeks.* Good thing it's winterized................Arctic Traveller

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Old 02-11-2011, 06:32 PM   #18
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

Tony, you're probably already gone by now but...

We had no trouble with ours in December and January, and it was very cold.* I keep a heater as well.* Even when it was on the hill without the heater they fired right up.* I have the same Perkins you do X2 so don't worry.*
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:41 PM   #19
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

Good to hear that Woody! We're spending the night @ the dock tonight and plan on untying the lines in the early a.m. to start the 125-130 mile run. My dad and my son are with me so 3 generations together without the womenfolk- should be a fun trip though not so sure the food will be as yummie without my wife here!
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:36 PM   #20
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RE: starting our Perkins in cold weather

AT,
You're so right. My Mitsu has pre-chambers. The Albin we had before was a Yanmar w direct injection and started really quickly in any weather. I think the direct injected engines do make more noise though. Do you know which type is more efficient?
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