Starting a diesel engine after being laid up


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martintsmith@aol.com
martintsmith@aol.com
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We were cruising in the Eastern Caribbean when Covid struck and like so many other sailors, I had to quickly lay my boat up ashore in order to get one of the last flights back to the U K .

This winter I booked a flight and had made other arrangements to get back to the boat on January 2nd but I have had to cancel that trip due to a strict lockdown being introduced here in Wales.
It may well end up being nearly a year or more before I can get my engine fired up again so my question to the forum is:- Is there anything specific I should do before pressing the button to start the engine again ( other than turn it over by hand a few times with a socket on the crankshaft pulley nut like I usually do).
I did manage to change the engine oil before I left the boat and I will of course change the impellor and fuel filters.

Martin Smith

Katherine.Briggs
Katherine.Briggs
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We were cruising in the Eastern Caribbean when Covid struck and like so many other sailors, I had to quickly lay my boat up ashore in order to get one of the last flights back to the U K .

This winter I booked a flight and had made other arrangements to get back to the boat on January 2nd but I have had to cancel that trip due to a strict lockdown being introduced here in Wales.
It may well end up being nearly a year or more before I can get my engine fired up again so my question to the forum is:- Is there anything specific I should do before pressing the button to start the engine again ( other than turn it over by hand a few times with a socket on the crankshaft pulley nut like I usually do).
I did manage to change the engine oil before I left the boat and I will of course change the impellor and fuel filters.

Martin Smith
Hi Marin, Craig Briggs here. 
The purpose, of course, of turning the engine over before starting is to get lubricating oil circulating again. Rather than doing so by hand, which will not generate much pressure, you may simply want to hold the manual shut off so the engine won't start, while engaging the regular starting motor for 10 to 15 seconds or so. That will build up normal oil pressure and is short enough a time not to risk getting sea water backing into the exhaust system. 
Also, while one can never argue with preventive maintenance, the impellor is likely fine even though it may have take a bit of "set" which will quickly resolve itself and the fuel filters should also be pretty much as you left them - if they were close to needing changing, go ahead, it certainly won't hurt.  That the boat was in a benign climate is good,.
Best regards, Craig


Dick
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Katherine.Briggs - 6 Jan 2021
We were cruising in the Eastern Caribbean when Covid struck and like so many other sailors, I had to quickly lay my boat up ashore in order to get one of the last flights back to the U K .

This winter I booked a flight and had made other arrangements to get back to the boat on January 2nd but I have had to cancel that trip due to a strict lockdown being introduced here in Wales.
It may well end up being nearly a year or more before I can get my engine fired up again so my question to the forum is:- Is there anything specific I should do before pressing the button to start the engine again ( other than turn it over by hand a few times with a socket on the crankshaft pulley nut like I usually do).
I did manage to change the engine oil before I left the boat and I will of course change the impellor and fuel filters.

Martin Smith
Hi Marin, Craig Briggs here. 
The purpose, of course, of turning the engine over before starting is to get lubricating oil circulating again. Rather than doing so by hand, which will not generate much pressure, you may simply want to hold the manual shut off so the engine won't start, while engaging the regular starting motor for 10 to 15 seconds or so. That will build up normal oil pressure and is short enough a time not to risk getting sea water backing into the exhaust system. 
Also, while one can never argue with preventive maintenance, the impellor is likely fine even though it may have take a bit of "set" which will quickly resolve itself and the fuel filters should also be pretty much as you left them - if they were close to needing changing, go ahead, it certainly won't hurt.  That the boat was in a benign climate is good,.
Best regards, Craig


Hi Martin & Craig,
Below is something I wrote for a friend with the same question.
Craig, Agree about method to distribute oil, but would suggest changing impellors and putting on a new lubricated one: Yes the set will likely work itself out, but why take the chance of it breaking and pieces getting into the system or that raw water flow is compromised by vanes that stay bent. In any case, I put in a new impellor yearly prophylactically.

Hi all,
Some of us will have engines that have been in storage for at least a year and a half when we get to them. I have put together the following thoughts for a friend who asked, but really would like feedback/suggestions.
Thanks, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy


1.  New impellor.
2.  Check oil level (oil was changed as were the primary and secondary fuel filters and oil filter)
3.  Tighten pto/alternator belt which I loosen over the winter
a.  I might swap with new if left tight and put old in stores
4.  Ensure starter battery is charged
5.  Fuel:
a.  I have a system to take fuel from the bottom of my tank (below the pick-up tube), run it through a Racor filter and return it to the top of the tank. Do with both tanks.
b.  It might be wise to find some sort of cetane additive: perhaps someone has ideas/experience with this?
6.  Remove the rag from the hull exhaust discharge thru-hull
7.  Starting
a.  I am in a cold area. I will ensure that the engine is at least warm room temperature and try to ensure the oil in the sump is warmed (space heater in engine room?). This is likely needed to be started an hour or two before starting. I might even try to heat the engine room to 90 degF/30+C or more for a few hours before starting.
b.  Turning the engine over manually will ensure nothing is seized and will distribute oil a bit.
c.  I plan to: while holding down the manual “stop” button, hit the start button for a couple seconds. Let the engine sit for a bit and do again and again let sit (for oil to drip around)
d.  Then I will start as usual (while crossing my fingers)
Other possibilities include:
Remove injectors or glow plugs and dribble oil in and hand turn.
Fairly quickly in the season change oil and coolant: they may have depleted their detergent and anti-corrosion properties with the long time period and exceeded expiry (coolant) and sludge may have developed.
More:
Do not over-crank if the engine does not start right away and get water into the engine/exhaust system.






martintsmith@aol.com
martintsmith@aol.com
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I have just returned from the the Caribbean after a three week visit to check on the boat and do a few jobs, one of which was to start the engine.

  My boat has been laid up ashore since March 2019  so I changed both fuel filters and the impellor and turned the engine over by hand a few times before trying to start it. The fuel tap had seized but I managed to ease that open with a wrench. The engine battery was dead so the shunt switch was employed to use the domestic batteries  for starting.

I thought I had bled all the air out of the system after changing the filters but after briefly firing, the engine failed to start. I bled again and this time cracked open a couple of the gland nuts which connect the fuel pipes to the injectors. I  pressed the starting button to turn the engine over a couple of times then retightened the injector nuts. The engine started straight away with the next press of the button and ran sweetly until I turned it off.
Hopefully the long period of the engine being idle has not done it any damage.
Best of luck to all those OCC members whose boats have been left unused for more than a year as mine has been.
Martin
Simon Currin
Simon Currin
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Martin
I too warily started our engine last week after 2 years of abandonment. All good. Out 24 volt alternator didn’t work for a few days but I traced the fault to a poor connection on the relay which was easily sorted.
Simon

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