Is electric fuel pump supposed to click continuously?

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  • DickBennett
    Senior Member
    • Aug 2008
    • 21

    Is electric fuel pump supposed to click continuously?

    Hi all,

    I have a 1979 Catalina 27 with later model Atomic 4 and electric fuel pump.
    My executive summary question is:
    With the ignition key in the ignition on position (not start position) I know the pump should start clicking to feed gas to the carb and build a pressure, but shouldn't it stop clicking after 10 or 20 seconds due to something (carb or pump) detecting sufficient pressure? mine keeps clicking forever.

    Details for anyone interested in my real problem:
    The engine was running fine, but no alternator charging. I noticed the belt had broken and fallen off. I ordered a new belt from Moyer Marine and it came in two days. I had to cut 6 teeth off in order to fit it between the block and the outside rim of the driving pulley, but in the process, the 6 inch long 1/8th diameter aft drain block tube came off in my hand. I thought that maybe only a dribble would come out if I started the engine to check that the new belt worked and also to see how much water would come out. The alternator was pumping out lots of amps, but when I went back down to check the water leak, water was spraying everywhere and the engine slowly died before I could get back up to the cockpit to shut it off. It has never restarted since. I took out the distributor (trying to be very careful not to turn the gear at the bottom and marking the location of the number one lead on the cap. I used an easy out to take out the threaded end of the broken tube and replaced it with a plug of the correct thread and size which I luckily found in my toolbox. The next day (a sunny day) with hopefully the wires all dried out and the distributor back in place carefully, I tried several time (4 or 5) no start. So I assumed (possibly incorrectly) that I moved that gear at the bottom of the distributor. So I took out the four plugs, spent two hours trying to be sure I felt pressure on my finger in the number one plug hole as I turned the flywheel and then checked that the roll pin was vertical. It wasn't quite, so I turned the flywheel just a few degrees more till the roll pin was vertical. The I set the rotor to the number one contact and carefully reinstalled the distributor again. Still no start. I noticed that the fuel pump was not clicking at all. I traced the wires. There is a wire from the positive terminal of the ignition coil (+12v) to one side of the oil pressure safety switch. The other terminal of the oil pressure safety switch has two wires in it. One goes to the fuel pump, the other goes to a quick disconnect up on top of the flywheel and from there to the ignition on terminal of the ignition switch. I noticed that it was disconnected and assumed (possibly incorrectly again) that I had inadvertently disconnected it by leaning my elbow on the harness while trying to force that *#*!# belt under the pulley.
    With the ignition key in the ignition on position and the quick disconnect connected, the fuel pump clicks forever. With the quick disconnect disconnected it never clicks.

    BTW, my oil pressure has always (I have had the boat for three summer seasons) been about 10 to 15 psi). Just prior to that last running of the engine when it died, I drew 3.3 quarts of oil out of the dip stick opening and it looked ok (no water or gas that I could tell) and I put in 3.3 quarts new oil. After the engine died I turned the oil pressure adjusting screw one full turn clockwise, but the engine has never started since then so I don't know what effect that has had and I think I will turn it back today just in case.

    I have turned the engine for 10 to 15 seconds trying to start it perhaps 20 to 25 times over five days since this episode started and the batteries have drained so low they would not turn the engine yesterday so I took them out and am recharging in my cellar today.

    Any ideas, comments, help?
    Thanks
  • Don Moyer
    • Oct 2004
    • 2823

    #2
    Dick,

    Suggestion #1: Review the attachment regarding the tendency for Catalina 30s to get water back into the manifold by overcranking. You don't indicate that you've gotten water back into your cylinders, but if you've been cranking with the through-hull open all this time you must be getting close.

    Comment #1: The second wire on the outlet terminal of your oil pressure safety switch bypasses the function of the safety switch, which is why the pump runs whenever you turn on the ignition switch. In this configuration, the pump will run forever since it maintains pressure through an internal spring loaded bypassing recirculating valve. This is perfectly OK, except for the fact that it violates a Coast Guard requirement for an oil pressure safety switch.

    Idea #1: Your prior owner probably "hot-wired" the fuel pump in this manner because he/she was getting nuisance shutdowns due to oil pressure dropping below 10 psi at idle now and then.

    Suggestion #2: Try adjusting your oil pressure. Loosen the 3/4" locking nut, turn the 1/2" threaded rod in (clockwise) at least one complete turn and then try the engine. Continue this process until your oil pressure indicates between 35 and 40 psi at your favorite cruising RPM and anything above 10 psi at idle.

    Suggestion #3: Install a 5 amp fuse in the line between the positive terminal of the coil and the inlet terminal of the oil pressure safety switch. Disconnect the quick-disconnect on the outlet terminal of the safety switch and use it only for troubleshooting, etc.

    I see nothing in your report to indicate that after your batteries are recharged, your engine shouldn't restart, unless your plugs may have fouled in the process of failed attempts to start previously for other reasons.

    Don
    Attached Files

    Comment

    • DickBennett
      Senior Member
      • Aug 2008
      • 21

      #3
      Thanks very much Don,
      I will follow all of your suggestions and report back.
      P.S. This is a great site and service thanks for being there.
      /Dick

      Comment

      • DickBennett
        Senior Member
        • Aug 2008
        • 21

        #4
        Well, she's running again. Thanks so much for your help.

        In brief, here is what I did. After I made sure the through hull sea water valve was closed, I got myself one of those remote start push buttons with clips to clip onto the +12 and S terminals of the starter solenoid. I used it to test for spark at the center wire of the distributor and all four plugs. Since I had spark everywhere, I put back the old plugs and switched to the other side to check fuel. I used the same remote start push button to clip from +12 at the ignition coil to the fuel pump side of the oil pressure safety switch. I took out the plug at the bottom of the carb. bowl and collected what came out in a small clear plastic cup (potato salad removed first and washed). It looked bad to me at first glance, maybe water and cloudy) but before I could bring it up into the sunlight for a good look, I spilled it. It is really cramped and dark down there hanging upside down in the space under the cockpit seat to see and work on the carb. I then used the push button to pump about 1/2 pint through and that looked real clean. I tried again, no start.
        So I went back to the other side, took out all plugs and tested compression using my thumb or finger in each spark plug hole and the push button start. All cylinders o.k. I used a mirror and flash light to look in cylinder four for water and what I could see looked dry to me. I manually cranked the flywheel with a big screw driver between the nuts and the center axle and tried once again to find TDC of cylinder one. This is not very definitive, but I felt some pressure on my finger in the spark plug hole after going round and round several times counterclockwize. the roll pin was at 1 oclock at this point so I continued to 12 o'clock. I then removed the distributor cap and saw that the rotor was not on the cylinder one contact. Instead it was just past cylinder 4 contact. I took out the distributor. fingernail filed the contacts a bit and set the rotor directly on cylinder one contact and reassembled the distributor. I gapped .035 four new plugs and installed them and the distributor. Turned the key and varoom!
        Turned the sea water valve back to open.
        Tried to adjust timing by turning distributor body, but only got worse in one direction and would not turn at all in the other, so I locked it down there.
        35-40 PSI oil pressure, Ampmeter showing charging 1 or 2 amps and voltage 13.5v, and temp about 158. Ran it for about an hour on the mooring. Will take her out for a spin tomorrow.

        Thanks very much Don, The manual is great!
        /Dick
        Last edited by DickBennett; 08-13-2008, 11:14 PM.

        Comment

        • Don Moyer
          • Oct 2004
          • 2823

          #5
          Dick,

          Textbook troubleshooting! Congratulations!

          Don

          Comment

          • SEMIJim
            Senior Member
            • Oct 2007
            • 129

            #6
            Excellent work, Dick! Congratulations

            Jim

            Comment

            • msauntry
              • May 2008
              • 507

              #7
              If your distributor wouldn't turn at all in one direction, you might be hitting the side plate access bolts or the alternator. Check to make sure you're not rubbing through the distributor cap.

              Very satisfying sound, isn't it? That first rumble of a reborn engine...
              Well done!

              Comment

              • Bill Rathbun
                Member
                • Sep 2008
                • 4

                #8
                fuel pump runs continuously - engine floods

                I have a similar problem on my Islander 30; my electric fuel pump used to shut off whenever the float bowl filled, now it runs continuously whenever the key is on, and the engine apparently floods out after about 15 minutes of running. (you can smell the raw gas) It eventually will start again if I apply full choke, but will cut out again after running about ten minutes - with full choke on! The carb is a new Zenith recently purchased from Moyer and the float valve seems to be working properly. Shouldn't the fuel pump stop pumping when the float bowl is full? The pump will still keep ticking if I remove the gas hose from the carb & block/clamp the hose shut. Doesn't the fuel pump have the 'smarts' to stop pumping when the line is pressurized? & should I just buy a new fuel pump to replace the 35-year old one?
                Bill Rathbun
                ISLANDER 30 Rhumb Line

                Comment

                • Don Moyer
                  • Oct 2004
                  • 2823

                  #9
                  Bill,

                  Sorry, but you're fingering the wrong culprit! Your carburetor is the component with the mental retardation in this situation, not the fuel pump. The pump is designed to continue pumping and maintain a set pressure at the inlet of the carburetor (a nominal 3 psi).

                  Leaky float valves are usually the result of dirt stuck between the needle and the seat, so I'm attaching a short tech note for you to try before replacing anything else.

                  Don
                  Attached Files

                  Comment

                  • sastanley
                    Afourian MVP
                    • Sep 2008
                    • 7035

                    #10
                    clarification

                    Don,

                    In your attached PDF, when you refer to 'bluntly pointed' dowel rod, do you mean like a freshly sharpened pencil (which is sharper than blunt to me), or a pencil with the lead broken off (maybe too blunt), or a pencil that has been sharpened but with just a hint of (not sharp) lead still showing ???

                    Maybe when I am staring at the float valve assembly this will be more obvious..it is hard to visualize these things sitting here at work, as I add to my 'winter to-do list'!
                    Thanks!
                    Shawn
                    -Shawn
                    "Holiday" - '89 Alura 35 #109
                    "Twice Around" - '77 C-30, #511 with original A-4 & MMI manifold - SOLD! (no longer a two boat owner!!)
                    sigpic

                    Comment

                    • tenders
                      Afourian MVP
                      • May 2007
                      • 1452

                      #11
                      I'd describe Don's "bluntly pointed" dowel rod as just a bit sharper than a retracted ballpoint pen, or a little bit duller than an extended ballpoint pen.

                      Comment

                      • Don Moyer
                        • Oct 2004
                        • 2823

                        #12
                        Shawn,

                        The sides of the blunt point on a perfectly prepared 3/16" wooden dowel would have approximately a 45 degree slope.

                        Don

                        Comment

                        • sastanley
                          Afourian MVP
                          • Sep 2008
                          • 7035

                          #13
                          Great, thanks for the details!
                          -Shawn
                          "Holiday" - '89 Alura 35 #109
                          "Twice Around" - '77 C-30, #511 with original A-4 & MMI manifold - SOLD! (no longer a two boat owner!!)
                          sigpic

                          Comment

                          • sastanley
                            Afourian MVP
                            • Sep 2008
                            • 7035

                            #14
                            I made up my dowel this weekend since i have the carb apart.
                            Looks good to me.. I just winged it with sandpaper!
                            Last edited by sastanley; 07-25-2016, 10:36 AM.
                            -Shawn
                            "Holiday" - '89 Alura 35 #109
                            "Twice Around" - '77 C-30, #511 with original A-4 & MMI manifold - SOLD! (no longer a two boat owner!!)
                            sigpic

                            Comment

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