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  #1   IP: 173.59.144.165
Old 05-07-2011, 08:15 AM
zeldalink zeldalink is offline
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Starting Troubleshooting

S/V = Columbia 8.3
Atomic 4 = Late Model
Starter = Delco
Alternator = Motorola

Why happened: Motoring out the engine stopped. Actually, I was switching on the depth gauge and it would not turn on. (This is a common issue due to a lose connection that vibrates lose.) Would not crank or re-start. Sailed back into slip. (thank goodness for proper wind direction)

Problem: She will not turn over. With key ignition, there is no indication of her trying to do anything. (i.e. no click, no starter turn)

Symptoms: Attempted to short the solenoid (crossing the "s" terminal with the battery cable terminal) and have received various 'symptoms.' First, just a spark. Next, nothing. Next, just a spark. So on and so forth for a minute or two. Batteries are fully charged at full float on charger. Pulled D cap and plugs off to reduce any 'resistance.' (not really sure why I did this...) Have not put them back on. Receiving power (light) to the key ignition instrument panel in cockpit.

Next, click. This continued for about two minutes or so. Next, nothing. Next, click and rumble (starter engaged-once). Next, nothing. Next, spark.

Ok, this is where I stand, just a spark, spark, no click. It is my understanding that if I am not hearing a 'click' then the solenoid is not engaging the starter. Thus, this is probably a bad solenoid, not necessarily a bad starter. I plan on taking the solenoid out and cleaning, and trying again.

Also, should I rule out a bad alternator or coil at this point?

Any thoughts on my situation? Am I on the right 'track?' Thanks in advance on any advise!

Steve

Last edited by zeldalink; 05-08-2011 at 11:23 AM.
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  #2   IP: 209.124.198.180
Old 05-07-2011, 01:02 PM
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Will Jacocks Will Jacocks is offline
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Make sure all the battery connections are clean and tight. Just because the battery shows 12 volts doesn't mean it will have the amp to turn the starter. Starter is easy enough to pull to get it checked, also take the batteries too. Have the local auto parts store check all of them and you can go from there.
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Old 05-07-2011, 02:49 PM
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marthur marthur is offline
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Will is right: check your connections and wires. You can check those by using your jumper cables to temporarily "hot wire" the starter. If it fires up, you have found the problem.

You should also check your ignition switch. You can check that by measuring the voltage at the solenoid with your multimeter when you hit the key.

Assuming those things are right and you have juice at the starter I would next look at the solenoid. No click at the starter is the classic "bad solenoid" symptom. Sometimes you can get it to start by the "broom handle" method--turn the key and have someone whack the solenoid with a broom handle. Give it a couple of good whacks but don't beat it to death!

I had a very similar problem while sailing in a remote corner of the Great Lakes. No click when the motor was hot, but it did start with a whack (my tool of choice: the handle of my biggest screwdriver). It was not a worrisome thing because I could always start with the hand crank, but we fixed it by disassembling the solenoid and cleaning it thoroughly. That plus a squirt of Sail Kote and it worked for two more years.

Good Luck!

Last edited by marthur; 05-07-2011 at 02:52 PM. Reason: grammar
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  #4   IP: 173.59.144.165
Old 05-08-2011, 11:21 AM
zeldalink zeldalink is offline
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Thanks for all of your help and great advise.

Follow Up: Gave her a whack with the good ole hammer and nothing. Ok, I pulled out the starter and solenoid, took it to the car, and jumped. It whirled like a champ with no indication of any problems.

Reinstalled her back on engine . Turned key and she engaged first time. Great, not sure what happened, but it is fixed.

Proceeded to reinstall rotor, cap, plugs, etc. However, needing to bump her to set the points, turned key, nothing. Ok, nothing? Attempted to short her for further diagnosis, nothing, no click. Arg. Does not make sense.

Batteries are brand new, just replaced 2 months ago for spring commissioning. Main cables are tight and clean. I am fairly certain that the batteries are in good shape. All lights are nice and bright, all other electrical components work well, battery charger is saying full charge, and voltage guage is showing 12.5 for both batteries (deep cycle.)

Follow Up Questions: The marina mechanic is saying the it must be the starter or solenoid and I should replace both. I am leaning towards a wiring, lose connections, not grounding properly, issue. (I would hate to spend $300.00 on a new starter/solenoid when I might end up being a wiring issue.)

Anymore thoughts/ideas would be greatly appreciated. Rain today, so I probably will not get to her until middle of next week. I do not have and have not used a multmeter. I am fairly clueless when it comes to electrical issues. Is there a reference that would guide me to understanding how to use the multimeter and what to look for when troubleshooting (resistance vs amps vs volts.)

I will start by 'jumping' the starter from the boat batteries. This should tell me whether the batteries have enough amp to turn starter. Will this also be an indication of a lose connection issue? Or a ground issue?

Thanks again for all the help. I might just have gremlins living in the boat.....

Steve

Last edited by zeldalink; 05-08-2011 at 11:25 AM.
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  #5   IP: 24.152.131.220
Old 05-08-2011, 11:26 AM
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ndutton ndutton is offline
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I really think it's a wiring issue and something primal like a battery cable. When checking things out, be sure to pay attention to the ground cable and its connection too. It's half of the circuit and equally important.

A starter that bench tests successfully does not need replacement.
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  #6   IP: 24.136.67.99
Old 05-08-2011, 11:59 AM
Dave Neptune Dave Neptune is offline
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Z, as stated previously check the connections to the starter and batteries. Most important is to check the ground path from the bolck to the batteries. A loose or coroded connection will not let enough "juise" to pass to turn the starter or to engage the solenoid.
It is easy to have the starter bench tested to eliminate it from the equasion.

Dave Neptune
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  #7   IP: 75.5.229.21
Old 05-08-2011, 04:08 PM
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marthur marthur is offline
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I agree that you should definitely check the wiring / connections. The starter solenoid my stick intermittantly, but it checked out in your bench test.

Especially look for corroded wire / terminals and dirty connections. Consider the ignition switch itself (they do go bad). Keep in mind that wire can break or corrode inside the insulation and this will be tricky to spot.

Some people use a multi-meter to help diagnose starter issues. The easiest way to do this is to use it to check for contintuity (e.g. through the ignition switch and each wire) and voltage drop. To check for voltage drop, hit the switch and use your multimeter to check the voltage at the starter terminals. It should be the same as the voltage at the battery or just a little lower. If it is significantly lower, check the voltage drop across any suspect wire or connection. You shouldn't see anything bigger than .1 or .2 volts.

I had a car with a bad ground cable, if you moved the wire it ran like a champ. Naturally touching the wire during the troubleshooting process made the problem go away. It took a while to figure that one out!

Using your jumper cables to jump the ground wire, big wire to the starter and wires from the ignition cables can also help spot a bad one.

If the wires check out, the starter solenoid is much cheaper than the entire starter and more likely to go bad. It would explain why you have no click.

Good Luck!
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  #8   IP: 209.124.198.180
Old 05-08-2011, 05:17 PM
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Will Jacocks Will Jacocks is offline
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Could be something as simple as a loose wire at the ignition switch, I would double check that as well as checking the ground wire at the block. If there is corrosion, it will mess with the starter circuit.
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  #9   IP: 74.110.198.83
Old 05-08-2011, 08:50 PM
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ILikeRust ILikeRust is offline
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Did you check all fuses also? It does sound like a bad connection somewhere. Could be a bad ground. I had a similar issue with my 1990 Mazda Miata. Turned out the ground wire to the battery was a little loose. I shimmed the terminal clamp with a bit of copper pipe and made it nice and tight and all was right as rain after that.
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  #10   IP: 193.253.220.149
Old 05-09-2011, 05:20 AM
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Solenoid solutions

This may be more than you ever wanted to know but like you, I hate to replace something if a simple repair will suffice. In addition to a very good connection to ground, you may want to see some of the repairs detailed here.

Solenoid thread.

Good luck
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  #11   IP: 173.189.171.106
Old 05-10-2011, 09:24 PM
joehinvt joehinvt is offline
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just a side note,check the wire from the starter to the alternator. ours the lug came loose from the wire at the starter. no click,no turn. just a thought...
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