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Old 03-17-2014, 06:26 PM
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Need help asap

Sorry for the dramatic title but I am in a precarious spot. I am in the bahamas and the A4 has been running like a top. Before I left 2 months ago, I installed a rebuilt the starter and replaced the entire ignition system, solenoid, points, condensor, etc. I have had no problem starting.

Today while anchoring the engine was running fine. We set the hook, I shut down the engine and a minute later I noticed some drag. I started the engine again and she wouldnt start.

I noticed the battery was drained (meaning it wasn't charging) but with my wind and solar cranking it was still at 12.6. I waited 15 minutes and tried to restart with batteries at 12.9 and still nothing. The solenoid IS CLICKING but that is all it is doing. I have 12v at the coil. Everything seems to be fine.

Do I need a new solenoid? I tried wacking it thinking it was stuck. No joy. There is nothing in the moyer manual about the solenoid or starter. Please help. We are in a tricking anchoring spot. I hooked the anchor on a rock which is holding for now. but I dont trust it all night.

THanks for your help! Jason
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Old 03-17-2014, 06:30 PM
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Have you tried jumping the terminals at the solenoid and are you getting power to the starter?
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Old 03-17-2014, 06:32 PM
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and make sure there is no other power drain on the battery while you are trying to crank it
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Old 03-17-2014, 06:53 PM
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I would think if the solenoid is clicking its OK but the starter isn't turning over
Maybe not enough juice . do you have a hand crank ?
don't panic
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Old 03-17-2014, 06:55 PM
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almost forgot try cleaning the battery terminals
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Old 03-17-2014, 07:14 PM
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At 12.9 volts static you should have plenty of battery power to start so as Dromo suggested carefully scrutinize the delivery system. Check and tighten all cable connections, grounds too.

An easy test to perform is the voltage to a good known ground on each high amperage post on the solenoid while the start button is engaged. The two posts I'm talking about are the one with the battery cable and the one directly under it with only the 5/16 machine screw through the strap going to the starter.
  • No voltage at the cable post = cable terminal problem.
  • Voltage at the cable post but not at the one below = internal solenoid contact problem.
  • Voltage at both posts = starter problem.
First I'd row out another anchor with the dinghy. Hang off of two hooks set at an angle.

Don't forget to be sure the ignition is switched off after every start attempt. The last thing you need right now is a cooked coil.
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Last edited by ndutton; 03-17-2014 at 08:51 PM. Reason: Added SOC chart
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Old 03-17-2014, 07:19 PM
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Thanks so far!

The battery has plenty of juice now. 13.1 The terminals are all clean (new wiring). I have tried jumping it at the starter, it clicks but that's it. Same as with the ignition key. I tried jumping at the coil and same result.

I do not have a hand crank unfortunately. IT's a V drive so the flywheel is backwards and in an awkward spot anyway. Dont thing I could crank it if I had to. Car I jerry rig a crank? (never tried).

Thanks for the help. The only sense of urgency is my anchoring predicament. We are not exactly "well set" and the winds are too high to try and use my dink to push it around! lol Always at the worst moment.

Would love more thoughts.
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Old 03-17-2014, 08:42 PM
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Any way to confirm that the engine will turn? Like for instance, grab the shaft and rotate it? Just want to make sure it's not locked up.

Back to the starter; can it be removed for "bench testing" out in the cockpit?
be careful if it comes to that. you will be making open sparks. Be fire safe.
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Old 03-17-2014, 08:47 PM
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If the situation has not changed this is what you can do now. First, every possible load on that battery should be eliminated and that means spending the night in the dark. If you have a wind generator that is your best hope now. Keep a deck watch and let the battery charge all it will. I would not make another attempt to start until daybreak unless you begin to drag. If you believe the alternator is not charging you should disconnect batt+ and cover the ring terminal on the wire with tape - it could be part of the problem. Solar and even wind chargers are of questionable value IMO. What you are seeing on the volt meter is likely a "surface" charge, not the real deal. You need time; hopefully the wind is spinning that charger. Nurse every milliamp until daybreak or you have no choice but to attempt a start.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:15 PM
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If you have not already done so, check battery water levels and replenish as necessary.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:43 PM
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sc, Double check every connection. I re-wired the entire engine harness, and found some loose screws a few months later. My issue was at the ignition switch...Plenty of juice in the battery, but similar intermittent start issue.

Spend an hour in daylight to confirm every connection at the panel, battery, engine, starter, etc. are good and tight.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:49 PM
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You can jerry rig a hand crank if you have some deep well sockets, a ratchet and a hacksaw. I think the nut on the end of the crankshaft is the same size as a large spark plug socket. Cut 2 V shaped grooves in the open end of the socket with one side of the V straight up and down so it will catch the roll pin, and the other side of the V at an angle so when the engine starts it will kick the socket out-- this is a backup safety in case your ratchet doesn't "ratchet".
Even with this setup be careful- turn the crank with an open hand, don't wrap fingers around the ratchet handle.
It takes very little swing to hand crank- just a few degrees is enough.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:51 PM
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check the voltage at the starter terminal.

You want to do this with the key in start position and in run position. This would help to tell if the starter motor is getting juice and trying to turn the engine.

If the voltage drops significantly, it would mean that the motor is trying to spin the engine.

No drop would mean the starter motor is not getting any juice.

As a last chance, I would think about putting the cable from the battery right to the motor terminal... BY hand. Make sure the ground is hooked up and clean.
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Old 03-18-2014, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
I think the nut on the end of the crankshaft is the same size as a large spark plug socket.
I can confirm that a spark plug socket works well for this. I adapted a socket to roll (but not start) my spare engine in the garage. I have an actual hand crank for starting, though.

Think of this like a kick starter for your motorcycle. I have hand started a fair number of times (to practice and expirement). In all of my hand starts, the engine fires when one cylinder goes "over the top" of the compression stroke with any decent speed. Some times it would take a couple revolutions of the crank to get a couple of compressions in, but it might be do-able with a ratchet. For you the biggest issue is access.

My biggest worries when hand starting include backfires (not usually a problem with the a-4). Keep the mixture rich by using choke to help prevent this. The old timers I knew (now all sadly gone) who started model T's back in the day said to use your fingers but keep the thumb on the same side of the crank to help with safety.

The other issue is the starter disengaging from the crank. Be extra careful about this. Use a little grease or oil to help out.

Let us know how things turn out!

Mike
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:33 AM
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Lightbulb Smack it right

Sailingchance, did you smack the starter with the key held to "START" when smacking it?????
Did you short across the solenoid directly with a screwdriver or such? I do not mean a jumper to activate the solenoid itself. Just because it's clicking does not mean it is making contact~~do it manually with the big screwdriver!

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Old 03-18-2014, 10:18 AM
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My boat suffered from exactly this issue. Not enough current made it through about 8 feet of 16 gauge wire, a starter button exposed to salt water, and back through another 8 feet of thin wire to reliably pull the solenoid all the way in. It would just click and not start.

I solvled it with another relay - a solenoid-solendoid if you will.
The starter button activates the relay and the relay activates the solenoid. This has worked perfectly ever since

How you find out if this is the issue: Get a short piece of wire and jump between the battery wire on the back of the solenoid and the connection for the wire that goes to the starter button.
WARNING: This will make a spark or two. This is the ultimate in non-ignition protected. Make sure no gas fumes are present before trying this trick.
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Old 03-18-2014, 03:18 PM
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Still stuck - but situation improved

Thanks everyone for all the responses. I have tried just about everything and still no go. I am now of the opinion the starter coil has blown.

I tried jumping with a screwdriver. I rechecked all the wiring. (I typically use slightly oversized wire and it is all brand new. All connections were clean, tight and correct. Fuses were all intact. I tried starting and jumping and whacking things again when the battery was at a sustained charge of 13.5 for more than 4 hours.

At first I thought it was the bendix that may have gotten stuck. So I removed the started, bench tested it on another battery that had a resting charge of 12.71A (my windlass battery) and still no change. But I CAN mechanically move the gear and spring freely and easily. I also confirmed that the engine isn;t seized - although I havent tried hand cranking it yet.

MY "Self-diagnosis" is that while the engine was running the starter somehow blew or surged or the bendix got stuck and didn't retract. That alone would have cause a large surge in power that would drain faster than my little alternator could put out. My wife did hear or "pop" or bang" before I turned off the engine.

After a few hours of fighting the bottom and the anchors in 35mph winds, I was able to get a fellow boater to tow me into better protection and have taken the starter in to get check by a local mechanic in Spanish Wells.

I cant think of anything else that could have caused this. It was literally 60 seconds between starts. and this had never happened before.
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Old 03-18-2014, 03:30 PM
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Usually if the starter stays engaged with the engine running it becomes a generator and you suffer from HIGH voltage

I would loan you a spare if you were here, but not as easy in Spanish Wells. If you get over to Harbour Island say hi to Ruby for me!

Question: new or old model starter?
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Old 03-18-2014, 03:39 PM
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Ha! Thanks. It is an old model starter. Now I am really confused. Hopefully the mechnic has something to say. Because if he doesn't I am at a TOTAL loss.

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Originally Posted by joe_db View Post
Usually if the starter stays engaged with the engine running it becomes a generator and you suffer from HIGH voltage

I would loan you a spare if you were here, but not as easy in Spanish Wells. If you get over to Harbour Island say hi to Ruby for me!

Question: new or old model starter?
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Old 03-18-2014, 03:57 PM
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Jason,

As I recall, you had an incident last July where a stuck solenoid kept your engine cranking for 3 minutes until you removed the battery cable. I know you said you had the starter rebuilt, but is this the same starter you have now? If it is, I would strongly suspect that one or more of the starter's coils, or the brushes & contacts, were damaged in that incident, and have finally failed now.

Be sure to mention this event to the mechanic you bring it to.
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Old 03-18-2014, 04:15 PM
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Smile Been there, done that

Jason - I have been in exactly the situation you were in last night - on the hook, dragging in high wind, no engine... it's not an experience you want to do a second time. I don't think I need elaborate on the value of carrying a spare complete starter that is known to be functional. You may find that the problem is just as silly as dirty, worn brushes/commutator. We are all relieved that you and your boat are well. Regards, Hanley
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Old 03-18-2014, 04:18 PM
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You are (sort of) in luck!
The old starter solenoid is literally an electically activated switch. It does not engage the starter. You can replace it with another one if it is the issue and you can do an easy test. Take a HEAVY wire - like a jumper cable - and connect from the starter side of the solenoid straight to the battery side of the solenoid*. If this works, then starter = good. If not, then the starter itself has issues.



The current goes from one large bolt to the other. The small bolt on top is from the starter button. This activates the solenoid and connects the two large bolts together.


* don't jump straight to the battery. On the off chance the jumper you are using welds itself on you want to be able to turn off the battery switch.

EDIT: I am amazed at an internet connection to Spanish Wells. When were were down there back in the day a PHONE call was iffy, let alone anything involving data or other 20th century concepts.

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Originally Posted by sailingchance View Post
Ha! Thanks. It is an old model starter. Now I am really confused. Hopefully the mechnic has something to say. Because if he doesn't I am at a TOTAL loss.

Last edited by joe_db; 03-18-2014 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 03-18-2014, 06:33 PM
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Jason,

Good to know you made it to a better place.
Also glad to hear you could remove the starter to work on.

If your mechanic has to order parts from the states, remember a whole "new" one from Moyer's is $310 and that includes the $100 core charge. Just sayin'

This is kinda like Apollo 13.

So…This got me thinking'
Here's my photoshop efforts for the day. An Evinrude recoil salvaged from a Big Twin 40-hp. scabbed on to the flywheel of an Atomic-4

I found your facebook page. Cheers,
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Old 03-19-2014, 12:55 PM
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Woah... I'm not really sure what that is, lolol. Is that to work as a manual crank of some sort? Please elaborate. One thing I am not short of in the bahamas is outboard parts.

Thansk!! Jason

Quote:
Originally Posted by lat 64 View Post
Jason,

Good to know you made it to a better place.
Also glad to hear you could remove the starter to work on.

If your mechanic has to order parts from the states, remember a whole "new" one from Moyer's is $310 and that includes the $100 core charge. Just sayin'

This is kinda like Apollo 13.

So…This got me thinking'
Here's my photoshop efforts for the day. An Evinrude recoil salvaged from a Big Twin 40-hp. scabbed on to the flywheel of an Atomic-4

I found your facebook page. Cheers,
Russ
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Old 03-19-2014, 12:59 PM
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Thanks!

So far, it seems to be the starter itself. We can get it to move with a high amount of current but that's it. taking it to a specialist on mainland Eluthera today via ferry. Hopefully it is just the brushes or contacts and not the coil (fingers crossed).

If anyone has a spare used old model starter they are willing to sell. I can paypal and include shipping instructions to a friend in the states for forwarding on to me. I have a spare for just about everything else, I thought that when I had the Starter checked out and rebuild before we left, It would give me at least a year of good service. They dont often go bad. Oh well. Live and learn.

Thank you EVERYONE for you quick responses, concern and help. It is this community that made me feel safe and comfortable with my a4 purchase to begin with. Hope one day I can provide the same assistance.

Cheers, Jason
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