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Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:21pm

Post Subject: starting problem

Hi, My narrowboat has a Vetus 14-4 engine with Vetus rev counter/warning light panel fitted. When starting the engine, upon turning the key from "heater" to "start" occasionally the volt meter drops to zero and the starter does not engage, however, if the key is returned to the "run" position and then rotated back to "start" two or three times the starter will engage and the engine will start. This fault is occurring more often and is making starting/restarting a chore. I have removed the starter motor/solenoid unit and they have been checked by an auto electrician and no faults were found. I have checked the switch functions ( continuity/Resistance )with the switch unplugged from the wiring loom, and again, no fault found. I Have checked the continuity of the wires in the loom and inspected the loom for any signs of damage and cannot find any fault. In order to make starting a more certain event I have run a wire from the switched side of the engine battery isolator switch to the starter solenoid via a press button switch (that is, in parallel with the key switch operated circuit ).This button works first time every time.Could you please make any suggestions as to the possible cause of this fault. Could the key switch be "giving up" under load? and if so where can I purchase a replacement switch ( preferably with the same positions for all five functions).

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:35pm

Post Subject: starting problem

Dear ..........., As this is a Vetus look at the back of the cylinder head and you will often find either a fuse holder or a circuit breaker plus possibly a relay. The circuit breaker/fuse is there to protect the engine electrics in the case of a short circuit and they often fall apart or fail in some other way. Try bypassing whichever you have but if that cures the problem please make sure you repair the faulty item so the protection is operative. If that is not the problem search along the main wiring harness running form engine to control panel. You are likely to find a large multiway plug. Make sure all the connections in here are sound, especially any thick cables. Finally if there is a relay at the back of the engine take it to a motor factors and buy a new one (motor factors will be far cheaper then Vetus). Only after you have checked all that stats to think about the switch but it is rare for them to go open circuit so you have no voltage, they more often go resistive so the instruments work but the starter does not. Tony Brooks

1mrfestus
1mrfestus

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:11pm

Post Subject: starting problem

Hi. Thanks for the promp reply. I will follow you advise and check the parts you mention next time I go the the boat and I'll let you know what I find. Many Thanks. sorry about no I.D. but I'm still learning how to use this computer and I thought it sent I.D. automatically with every message.

1mrfestus
1mrfestus

Posted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:48pm

Post Subject: starting problem

Hi, I have now checked both multi-way plugs and all the pins and sockets are clean and are making good connections. The engine fuse holder is OK and all its' connections are OK. I checked the relay and found pins 87 & 87a dirty. I have cleaned them and I will replace the relay on my next visit.I am sorry to say that I gave you some wrong information in my first post,I Said the voltmeter went to zero when the fault occurred but on closer observation I notice full deflection clockwise to be the 16 volt end of the scale NOT zero.Thanks again.

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:23pm

Post Subject: starting problem

Now that has put a totally different slant on the problem. I now suspect a poor negative connection somewhere. Clean the battery posts and clamps to bright metal and coat with Vaseline before refitting and tightening. Then start to work you way down the engine battery negative cable checking each connection you come to fro cleanliness, correct crimping of the terminal onto the conductor and tightness. Include any cables connecting the starter motor to the engine block or the hull. Normally I would suspect a bad connection behind the instrument panel but that should not cause the failure to start. I do wonder if you have two faults here. The failure to start being starter circuit related and the instrument reading being something different. If there is not one fitted already please fit a heavy (starter cable size) between the starter motor body (say a mounting bolt) and the engine bed because I am wondering if there is a poor negative connection between the engine/hull/instrument panel. Tony Brooks

1mrfestus
1mrfestus

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:37pm

Post Subject: starting problem

Hi, once again thanks very much will check all neg leads on my next visit. thanks again.

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:25am

Post Subject: starting problem

I am still thinking about this problem because something seems odd and I really need to know the technology inside the voltmeter. I have assumed it's two coils because I can not think of any other type that even might register more than battery voltage, but I am not sure I have ever come across such a design. Are you by any chance starting it with any sort of battery charger connected. If you are I there is a chance that the starter load might cause the charger to raise its voltage so the meter is correct - but its a long shot! If this is the case I have already pointed to the relay and after that it may well require the starter checking for operation and the starter & flywheel teeth checking for burs. Tony Brooks

1mrfestus
1mrfestus

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:00am

Post Subject: starting problem

Hi,sorry for the delay in answering but I haven't been to the boat until last week. I've checked all the earth connections and again I Cannot find any faults,the Vaseline on the battery terminal is still clean from the last battery check. Reading you last comment The 240v battery charger is sometimes left on though the 240v mains lead is always disconnected before starting. The fault has not occurred since I first sort your advise about it,but like buses you go ages without one then get several together. Thanks very much for your help.cheers

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