Starter? I Hardly Knew Her.

24 Oct

 

From Andy,

Since the day we bought Tango we have always had a nagging problem with our ignition system. The two Yanmar diesel engines have both displayed the same crazy frustrating behavior. Turning the key an pushing the starter button always yielded varying degrees of success. Generally one would have to push the starter button around 15-20 times to finally hear the reassuring sound of the solenoid engaging the starter followed by the even more reassuring sound of the engines roaring to life. That nagging problem ended today. Well, on the starboard engine anyway.

Before we left Maryland we had a diesel mechanic come aboard and check out the engines. We told him about the issue and he kind of hmm’d and hawed, but couldn’t figure out what the problem was. We should have been persistent, but, I think at the time we just thought we could live with it. For the years that we have cruised on Tango, we have done just that. Lived with it. However, living with it has always kept me up at night. What if we are drifting towards a bridge or trying to get out of the way of an oncoming cruise ship? Pressing the starter button in the hopes that it would kick over is, ultimately, not a satisfactory answer when lives are at stake.

So, scouring the internet for many days, I finally came across a possible solution. Apparently there are two wires that run from the key switch and the starter button that tend to degrade quite badly over time. This degradation increases the resistance and when that happens, there are not enough amps to kick over the starter motor. Solution? Replace the two wires with some shiny new wires and a new 30 amp fuse.

Since running wires on Tango is a major pain in the arse, I started the experimental fix on the starboard engine first. (Why do they make some boats so hard to work on?) The run between the key switch and the starter is only a few feet on the starboard side and, within a few minutes I had the wires running from the source to destination.

Long story short, I just ran the wires along the pathway for the existing wires, cable tying as I went along. A few splices and connections later, the time came to test the system out. First press of the starter was a success. Could be a fluke, though. Second time? Success! Third, fourth and fifth time? Great success! The fix was remarkably easy and I feel stupid that I let self doubt of my abilities get in the way of fixing something important.

Bad Andy.

 

If you happen to have the same issue, here is a link to the original article that I used for this fix.

 

Now, on to the port engine. This one will be much trickier as there is quite a long and convoluted run from the ignition switch to the starter. Onward and upward, as they say.

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