Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 03-16-2020, 02:02 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
City: Grenadines
Country: aboard
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 137
Starting a diesel with "dead" batteries

I was going through a locker on the boat full of "stuff" today, trying to clean out some of that junk we boaters collect as we go through life, and I found four US dimes (a 10 cent piece for those unfamiliar with the term dime), neatly wrapped and shiny new.
For those of you who do not have a compression release on your diesels (propulsion or genset) here is an old engineer's trick that may one day save your bacon.
When you find yourself with "dead" batteries, you should stop cranking immediately. Next, take off the valve cover and insert one thin dime (and only a dime if you do not want the possibility that the pistons will hit the valves) between the rocker arm and the exhaust valve stem. This will essentially release all compression and what power is left in your batteries should be able to turn the engine over fairly easily.
As the engine turns over, pull out one dime (in the proper firing order) using needle nose pliers and she should begin to run on that one cylinder, perhaps still requiring a bit of help from the starter. As you continue to remove dimes in the correct firing order, your engine should run on 2 or 3 cylinders well enough to get all the dimes out and be running on all cylinders.
Without a valve cover there is obviously going to be quite a bit of oil squirting out, but what's a bit of clean up compared to what could happen if you can't get your engine started?
I hope this will help at least one of you out one day.
p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 115%; }
__________________
Advertisement

__________________
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
-Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
foreverunderway is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 03:05 PM   #2
Guru
 
City: gulf coast
Country: pinellas
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 2,910
You will need to be able to compress the exhaust valve spring to get the dime in.
__________________

bayview is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 03:34 PM   #3
Guru
 
syjos's Avatar
 
City: Gig Harbor
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Sandpiper
Vessel Model: Bluewater 40 Pilothouse Trawler
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 1,310
Most boats have cross over switches to parallel batteries for emergency starting and if not, jumper cables.

And if not a small battery powered "Jump Starter" is an easier way to start an engine than taking the valve cover off, getting oil all over and trying to insert and remove coins.
syjos is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 03:43 PM   #4
Guru
 
City: gulf coast
Country: pinellas
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 2,910
Start the genny and charge the batteries or use jumper cables from the genny battery
bayview is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 03:47 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
City: Grenadines
Country: aboard
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by bayview View Post
You will need to be able to compress the exhaust valve spring to get the dime in.
Yep, you sure will, or back off on the adjusting screw, but in an emergency one does what one must.
__________________
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
-Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
foreverunderway is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 03:54 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
City: Grenadines
Country: aboard
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by syjos View Post
Most boats have cross over switches to parallel batteries for emergency starting and if not, jumper cables.

And if not a small battery powered "Jump Starter" is an easier way to start an engine than taking the valve cover off, getting oil all over and trying to insert and remove coins.
I suppose if one had a genset or any other method to start the engine/genset then one wouldn't do this, would one? Duh.
__________________
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
-Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
foreverunderway is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 04:09 PM   #7
Guru
 
jleonard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,732
Quote:
Originally Posted by syjos View Post
Most boats have cross over switches to parallel batteries for emergency starting and if not, jumper cables.

And if not a small battery powered "Jump Starter" is an easier way to start an engine than taking the valve cover off, getting oil all over and trying to insert and remove coins.
Can't we just use a credit card with a chip? Who carries cash any more.
__________________
Jay Leonard
Attitude Adjustment
40 Albin
Mystic,Ct. /New Port Richey,Fl
jleonard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 05:46 PM   #8
Guru
 
Simi 60's Avatar
 
City: Queensland
Country: Australia
Vessel Model: Milkraft 60 converted timber trawler
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 2,428
Quote:
Originally Posted by foreverunderway View Post
I suppose if one had a genset or any other method to start the engine/genset then one wouldn't do this, would one? Duh.

Doesn't everyone?
Simi 60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 06:07 PM   #9
Guru
 
BruceK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 10,591
Years ago in a sailboat I had a single cyl Volvo with a very helpful decompression lever.
__________________
BruceK
Island Gypsy 36 Europa "Doriana"
Sydney Australia
BruceK is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 06:14 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
City: Maple Bay BC
Country: Canada
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 150
Gardners have a compression release lever for each cylinder. I recall starting a 6 cylinder by hand one day just to see if it could be done. Difficult for sure but we were younger and dumber, it was a lot of years ago. With a different boat I recall passing jumper cables out a porthole to another boat.

I think the trick with the dimes is just great. It's called "planning for the worst and hoping for the best".
Greg S is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 07:00 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
City: Grenadines
Country: aboard
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simi 60 View Post
Doesn't everyone?
Wow.

It's folks like you who make me wish I'd never posted this.

Obviously, this site is a waste of my time 'cause you all got all the answers and so much experience you can't even imagine a worst case scenario.

Good luck with your boating.
__________________
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
-Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
foreverunderway is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 07:47 PM   #12
Guru
 
syjos's Avatar
 
City: Gig Harbor
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Sandpiper
Vessel Model: Bluewater 40 Pilothouse Trawler
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 1,310
Quote:
Originally Posted by foreverunderway View Post
Wow.

It's folks like you who make me wish I'd never posted this.

Obviously, this site is a waste of my time 'cause you all got all the answers and so much experience you can't even imagine a worst case scenario.

Good luck with your boating.
Thanks,

Most of us are either experienced or smart enough to have redundant or back up systems for "worst case scenarios". And simpler solutions than to be running an engine with valve cover off and placing my fingers or pliers near rapidly moving machinery.

Sorry we didn't drop to our knees and praise your post and heap adulation.
syjos is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 07:51 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
City: Maple Bay BC
Country: Canada
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by foreverunderway View Post
Wow.

... wish I'd never posted this. ...
It is tips like yours that help make this forum so worth my time. Many members on this forum represent a great source of knowledge and some of us appreciate the generosity of you who pass it on. Especially little tid bits that are essentially lost to time.

Thanks for posting.
Greg S is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 08:37 PM   #14
Guru
 
OldDan1943's Avatar
 
City: Aventura FL
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Kinja
Vessel Model: American Tug 34 #116
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 4,996
Quote:
Originally Posted by jleonard View Post
Can't we just use a credit card with a chip? Who carries cash any more.
Reminds me of an old story..... The original VW bug points, one could use a dime to get the "good enough" clearance in an emergency.
Okay, now the story.... could not fine a dime so he used 2 nickels, with the predicted results....
__________________
Did Noah have a get home-engine?
OldDan1943 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 10:16 PM   #15
Guru
 
BruceK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 10,591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg S View Post
It is tips like yours that help make this forum so worth my time. Many members on this forum represent a great source of knowledge and some of us appreciate the generosity of you who pass it on. Especially little tid bits that are essentially lost to time.

Thanks for posting.
Agreed. Let`s ignore syjos.
__________________
BruceK
Island Gypsy 36 Europa "Doriana"
Sydney Australia
BruceK is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2020, 11:25 PM   #16
Guru
 
C lectric's Avatar
 
City: Gibsons, B.C.
Country: Canada
Vessel Name: Island Pride
Vessel Model: xxxx
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 2,746
I personally would not try the dimes with my V-8. It either starts from the batteries or it doesn't . I am very carefull about those starting batteries for that reason.

However, I for one, appreciate tips like that because who knows. If stranded I might. go that route. Even if one doesn't use a tip knowing it is a huge plus.
C lectric is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-2020, 01:32 AM   #17
Guru
 
Simi 60's Avatar
 
City: Queensland
Country: Australia
Vessel Model: Milkraft 60 converted timber trawler
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 2,428
Quote:
Originally Posted by foreverunderway View Post
Wow.

It's folks like you who make me wish I'd never posted this.

Obviously, this site is a waste of my time 'cause you all got all the answers and so much experience you can't even imagine a worst case scenario.

Good luck with your boating.
Well, some things just sound bloody dangerous compared to simpler alternatives.

I would also think that someone who had the skills and knowledge to pull valve covers off etc etc etc would also be smart enough to have thought of a safe and easy backup to what is at the end of the day, a relatively easy fix.

Sorry if that sort of thinking upsets you.
It was not my intention.
Simi 60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-2020, 02:57 AM   #18
Veteran Member
 
crashley's Avatar
 
City: hazelwood north
Country: australia
Vessel Name: GULL
Vessel Model: WW2 Work boat
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 37
decompression

Thanks I will try and remember that, it is a great idea and when you are stuck you need these remedies to get you out of trouble
I used to have a boat with a two cylinder diesel that had a decompression lever but to crank it you had to use both hands so unable to operate the lever whilst cranking the problem was solved by tieing a rope between the lever and a handy cupboard door when up to speed I just kicked the door and it dropped the decompression lever and the engine would start
crashley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-2020, 03:51 AM   #19
Senior Member
 
City: Hervey Bay
Country: Australia
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 119
I would be concerned that by putting such a thick shim in place you may cause contact between the pistons and valves.
D.Duck44 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-2020, 06:14 AM   #20
Guru
 
City: Rochester, NY
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Hour Glass
Vessel Model: Chris Craft Catalina 381
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 1,123
It's an interesting trick for sure. But between the inconvenience and risk of injury, I'd consider it a dire last resort. As in, only something to consider after exhausting all options for getting enough power to the engine (and if I can't manage that, either the boat's systems are deficient or multiple things have gone wrong). And even then, in many cases I'd rather wait for another boat to lend a hand with jumper cables or something.
__________________

rslifkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off





All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:00 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
Copyright 2006 - 2012
×