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horsemel

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Engine Starting issue
« on: August 10, 2009, 04:46:42 PM »

In reading the latest post on the fuel gauge I am wondering if this might be related to an issue with starting my engine.  Here is what typically occurs.  The engine starts just fine when leaving the dock.  After we set the sails and turn off the engine I switch the battery to the house bank from the single starting battery a deep cycle battery as well.  When we are ready to start the engine, I set the battery switch to the starting battery.  Then sometimes, but not always, there is not enough juice to turn over the engine and start it.  (The last time we motored for 40 minutes because the wind was on our nose.  After we sailed  on a beam reach for about 45 minutes the engine would not start. (Does not seem to be related to time, I have had the problem after 45 minutes as well as 5 hours.) You would think it had plenty of charge.) In those instances I set the switch to all and the engine starts.  I replaced the starting battery a month ago, so I don''t think that is the problem.  My engine has never not started. My charger is a Xantrex Tru Charge 40.  When in port the switch is set to 2 (the house bank).  My fuel gauge has not worked for some time and am just monitoring the fuel level using the hour meter.  So much for what I know.  Here are my questions: 1.  Does the ground wires on the instrument panel that are linked together as described in the fuel gauge post also affect the starter button? 2.  Has anybody experienced this problem and how did you fix it?3. If I have the battery switch in the 2 position (house bank) does that also charge the starter battery?  I have little knowledge or experience with electrical problems, so I am not sure I am even asking the right questions.
Mark Mueller
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Mark & Melinda Mueller
Blue Moon, Hull #815
1988

Stu Jackson

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2009, 05:52:12 PM »

Mark,

The answer to your charging question is: "It All Depends on How It's Wired."

I recommend chekcing all the connections, especially your engine ground and see if your wires get hot.  Hot wires carry less current.

We need to "examine" your electrical system and I'm sure there are answers for all your questions.

I am on the road now and will be able to get to this in a few days, but in the meantime, please describe, as you best know it, how your boat is wired up.  A good way to figure this out is start with the masnual and if you know then draw it up.  I also suggest doing a search on that how it's wired phrase, just as I typed it, and you can begin to read up on the kinds of information we'll need to know to best be able to help.

More soon and undoubtedly, more respondents until I can get back to you.

Oh, it's all easily soluble, no major issues, easy fixes.  Right guys???
« Last Edit: August 10, 2009, 05:56:00 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Ron Hill

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2009, 06:42:43 PM »

Mark : I don't know how old your batteries are and how they are wired, but 90% of starting problems are BAD Connections!!  Either a poor connections (clean?) at the batteries, or at the battery selector switch, or at the starter solenoid. 
I'm a radical and crimp & solder ALL battery connections and have never had a a hesitation starting in 21 years.  There are few others that can say that.

I'll guess that you fuel gage inop is because the sender is worn out and needs to be replaced (from the age of your boat).  You can pull off the aft cabin port side panel and check the - & + connections, but I'll guess you need a new sender. 
A few thoughts
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Bill Asbury

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2009, 04:58:17 PM »

Mark,  I'm thinking it's possible your house bank is #1 as mine is, not #2.  If not sure, disconnect a cable from starting battery and check voltage meter.  As Ron says, a thought.
Bill
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horsemel

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2009, 06:36:56 PM »

Thanks for the initial input.  I will check the connections this weekend.  As to how it is wired, I will try to convey that informatioin after looking at it this weekend.  I don't know how to read wiring diagrams but will try and get some idea.  As to my battery age, the house bank is 2.5 years old and the starting battery is one month old.  What you all are saying makes sense at this point.
Mark
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Mark & Melinda Mueller
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horsemel

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2009, 06:52:49 PM »

Stu, You mentioned checking the engine ground to see if it gets hot.  Where is the engine ground and what does it look like?
Mark
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Mark & Melinda Mueller
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1988

Ron Hill

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2009, 07:02:16 PM »

Mark : For the life of me I've never understood why people use ONLY the starting battery to start the engine.
I've said many times that I use the ALL position - so that every battery amp is available from the house and starting batteries.  If I could, I'd even plug in my flashlight. Much easier on the starter!  

Your main ground (-) #4 wire probably isn't getting warm/hot, but it's connected to the bell housing (port side) just under the starter.  Get at it best from the aft cabin.  It's a double wire connection #4 and #12 from the engine instrument panel.

Just remember that you have a SMALL engine and if the starter doesn't kick it over immediately, you probably have a poor connection.  A few thoughts
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2009, 11:12:12 AM »

Mark,
The conditions that you originally described and later added to:

Engine starts fine when cold.  Starter cranks normally, batteries are charged.  Engine won’t start again after being run for 45 minutes, or at least up to “cruising temperature” ON THE START BANK which is new.  It WILL start when the engine is hot AND BOTH banks are connected.  You have a good reliable charger.  You leave the 1-2-B switch in the “2” position when “in port.”

Your original questions:

1.  Does the ground wires on the instrument panel that are linked together as described in the fuel gauge post also affect the starter button?   ---- The negative or ground wiring on our boats all come back together, eventually, to the engine.  If a ground is “missing” or unintentionally disconnected from a switch or a device, the switch or device won’t work.  If intermittently disconnected, the device will work sporadically.

2.  Has anybody experienced this problem and how did you fix it?  ----  In this case you seem to have 2 questions:  the inoperative fuel gauge and the non-re-start of the engine.   Yes, many people have experienced these “kinds of” issues and reported it earlier.  In most cases, the non-re-start engine solution was determined to be a poor connection, usually the “main” ground wire from the batteries to the engine.  It SOMETIMES was the starter button or the wiring to the start button, but RARELY.  In Reply #6, Ron described the location of the “main” engine ground as installed by the factory.  That’s where mine is, too.  I find it easier to get to that connection by popping the hatch to the engine and working from above.  What we’ve found is that the connection(s) LOOK OK but can be seriously corroded internally or just physically loose between the factory-installed lug and the wiring.  Remember, that connection is a tad over 20 years old on your boat, in a pretty harsh environment.  The best bet is to take those connections off the engine and inspect them carefully, and clean or replace them, clean the engine side, too, and put them back.  There’s probably still electrical tape holding the connections together from the factory on the main engine ground.  The fuel gauge issue is rarely a bad fuel gauge, but is usually the fuel sender in the tank, which needs to be replaced as described.

3. If I have the battery switch in the 2 position (house bank) does that also charge the starter battery?   ------ This is where I said earlier that “It All Depends on How It’s Wired” because the answer to the question is dependent upon two things:  a)  How it is actually wired between the charger output(s) and the batteries and the 1-2-B switch AND  b)  How you choose to operate your boat, i.e., keeping it plugged in, what your previous owner or your electrician told you about how the boat was wired, and how it is actually wired.  You say “when in port” – what does that mean?  When you’re on the boat or when you leave it alone for the week?   Putting the switch in position “2” simply means your house bank is being used for whatever D.C. loads are being used.

You mentioned “I don't know how to read wiring diagrams but will try and get some idea.”  Wiring diagrams can initially be very confusing for the “uninitiated.”  Mark, try this approach:  Take one wire at a time, and recognize that there are ONLY two ends to a wire:  the start and the end.  Wires connect devices to the batteries for power, and run through protective devices (circuit breakers (CB), and fuses – CBs are simply resettable protective “strategies” instead of the ‘replacement-is-necessary’ fuse ) and/or switches (which simply turn stuff on or off ).  I suggest, if you haven’t yet, that you pick up a basic boat electrics book, like one written by Don Casey “Sailboat Electrics Simplified,” or something like that.  The books explain electrical circuits, how and why they work, and basic boat electrical systems, much better than we can do here, and are pertinent for your investigation.  That’s why they write books!   :D

Once you’ve grasped those concepts, you will be ready to deal with the answer to your question about what happens on YOUR particular boat based on the position of the switch and the way the charger is wired TO your batteries.  ONLY you can figure this out because we’re not there with you to trace the wires.  Also, most boats of your “vintage” did not come with battery chargers from the factory, and, certainly, in your case, the Xantrex True Charge 40 was added later, either by a PO or by you.  If you added it, it seems an electrician might have done it for you, in which case he should have explained how it is wired and how to use it.

Here are some basics:  The Xantrex True Charge 40 has multiple outputs, and what MOST folks have done with these chargers is to wire the multiple outputs of the charger DIRECTLY to each of the boat’s two battery banks, the (misnomer) “start” (should be “reserve”) bank and the house bank.  The REASON for this is it is simple:  you can leave the 1-2-B switch in the OFF position when you leave the boat, plug the shorepower in, go home, and still have the shorepower going to charge the banks.   Some people have wired the outputs of the charger to the “1” and “2” positions at the back of the switch, which is, electrically, exactly the same as wiring to the banks themselves, because it is simply connecting to the other end of the same wire – the one between the bank and the switch!  So the only way to answer your question is for you to do the field work that is required to find out how YOUR charger is wired on YOUR boat.  Actually, almost the easiest first step wire-tracing exercise is following the charger outputs and learning where they go!

Back to your question:  “If I have the battery switch in the 2 position (house bank) does that also charge the starter battery?”    If the multiple outputs are from the charger are wired directly to the banks, then the switch position shouldn’t matter at all, AND the reserve bank IS being charged.  If the Xantrex is wired to ONLY the house bank, then YES the switch will have an impact on which bank is being charged.  However, with only one charger output connected to the house bank, putting the switch on “2” will NOT charge the reserve bank, you would need to put the switch in “B” to do that.  Think of it this way:  charger wired only to the house bank, the ONLY thing that would electrically “connect” the two banks is the “B” or BOTH position;  then the current would flow like this:  charger to house bank, from the house bank through the #4 red wire to the “2” connection post on the switch, then ONLY BECAUSE the switch was in the “B” position, from the switch to the reserve bank.  See reply #3 here: http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,4594.0.html which describes the basics of how the switch works, and the important difference between “posts” and “positions” on the switch.

What does the 1-2-B switch do, and how does it work is a basic question often asked.  Basically, it was originally designed to decide which battery bank to TAKE the power from and use.  A discussion of how it works with some simple wiring diagrams you can use for understanding is on the Message Board here:  http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,4949.0.html   This topic discusses the switch, how it works, and what the wires to and from the switch actually do.  It should help clear up a lot of your questions. You may want to also read the links embedded in that topic.  Here’s a topic with my boat’s wiring diagram:  http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,4623.0.html  Another one is this: http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,4594.0.html. The new wiki section of the website has a lot of very good electrical system information, too.  Easy to get to!  Just click on C34 Knowledge Wiki at the top of the MB screen.  Here’s a basic “starter” article with another wiring diagram included:  http://www.c34.org/wiki/index.php?title=Catalina_34_Electrical_System_Upgrade 

I earlier suggested that you do a search on the phrase “It All Depends on How It’s Wired,” but I just tried that and it doesn’t work; sorry about that.  What I now recommend you do is a search on “1-2-B switch” which does work!!!, and that search brings up a variety of topics on this subject which will be helpful to you, some of them are included in the references above.  Because of the way the Message Board is structured, I can’t give you a link to the results of that search, so you’ll have to do it yourself, if you choose to.  Use the quotation marks around the phrase and it will give you lots of reading!   :D

Ron wrote, in Reply #6:  “For the life of me I've never understood why people use ONLY the starting battery to start the engine.   I've said many times that I use the ALL position - so that every battery amp is available from the house and starting batteries.  If I could, I'd even plug in my flashlight.  Much easier on the starter!”   I simply disagree, and believe that, with proper design including wire sizing, the house bank should be used for everything on the boat with the separate bank used only as an emergency, backup, or RESERVE bank for a “just in case the house bank fails” scenario.  In many cases it does depend on how it’s wired, and in other cases is depends on how the skipper chooses to operate his particular boat.  If you do a search on world “reserve” or the phrase “reserve bank” you’ll find many earlier discussions on this issue.

To summarize: 

1.  Engine restart problem:  Check your connections, especially the main engine ground.  We believe that this is the source of the engine restart problem you have, based on our earlier experiences with these questions.  It could also be the start button, Ron usually recommends “Tuner Cleaner” from Radio Shack to be sprayed on the button, and check the connections at the back of the button – a mirror should help you see around the corner from the lazarette to behind the panel, you don’t have to take the panel apart just yet!.  Check the connections at the batteries, too, AND at the switch.  Yes, open up the electrical panel – eventually you will HAVE TO DO THIS to draw a wiring diagram.  It appears intimidating at first, but unless you START getting comfortable working back there, you will have great difficulties in getting to learn about your electrical system.

2.  Wiring & Wiring Diagrams:  Start tracing your wiring and make diagrams, bit by bit.  Don’t think you have to come up with the ‘world’s best wiring diagram’ right away.  Take some paper with you and do a little bit at a time as you gain understanding of what is connected to what.  Once you have the ends of the wires connecting to the devices and switches, you will start to understand how it is supposed to work.  The referenced wiring diagrams will give you a start in terms of what a final product could look like.  Some choose to do it based on how the boat is physically laid out (like my diagram) and others use a more schematic approach.  Your boat, your choice.  A search on “wiring diagrams” on the MB will turn up a lot of samples.

3.   Switching:   The 1-2-B switch is an interesting topic.  There’s a lot of info on how it works on the Message Board.  Look around, do your own searches, and read the links I’ve provided.

4.  Fuel Gauge:  I agree with Ron that the fuel sender is most likely the source of your original problem.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 11:14:05 AM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Mike and Joanne Stimmler

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2009, 12:04:13 PM »

Guys,
One possible reason for using the reserve bank to start the engine is to isolate any electronic "stuff" you may have running at the time. Some are sensitive to voltage drops.

Just a thought.     :D
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2009, 12:46:37 PM »

Mike, I agree, that's very true.  There are a number of different ways "around" that issue.  Some of us do not interface stuff and are still in the dark ages when it comes to electronics:  battery powered!  My GPS never goes dead when I start the engine simply because it's battery powered.  Many, if not most, others have their instruments connected to ship's power.  My autopilot (ST3000) always dies when I start the engine, so I understand what you mean.  Others have added separate electronics battery banks.  Some choose to use their reserve bank to start the engine all the time to do that "isolation" - Ken Juul's new electrical system does just that.  So, it's design, installation, criteria and operation.  I think, in Mark's case, he's still learning just what it is he has.

And, Mike, even if the start bank is used, the electronics will drop out because they output power is running through the 1-2-B switch and the DP.  Won't make ANY difference.  Only Ken Juul's separate design will do that, and Jim Moe's, too.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2010, 03:16:58 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Ron Hill

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2009, 06:22:19 PM »

Guys : If your warm engine will not turn over after you try to restart it, you've got a poor battery wire connection (plus and/or minus). 
I've been thru this same symptom with at least a dozen C34 owners - simple as that. 
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horsemel

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2009, 07:46:12 PM »

Wow!!  What a bunch of great help!!  I can't believe the well thought out answers i have received.  Stu, your response should be on the WIKI.  I will check for loose connections and see how that goes.  I will be a bachelor for half the weekend, so will have time to do that at my pace and not worry about what the admiral wants to do.  Stu, my battery charger was installed by the previous owner.  There are two red wires that come out of it and go to the batteries.  One goes to what I call the starter battery and the other to the house bank.  I will try to isolate that so I can have a better understanding of how that is set-up.  I do have wiring diagrams that were sketched by the PO, but they are greek to me.  I will get a good book on the subject as well.  I am going to worry about the fuel sending unit later.  I still have a chain plate to rebed and blisters on the to handle after pullout and a water heater to replace.  The admiral wants the bright work refinished as well.  Do owners of older boats ever get to go sailing?  I will update you on my progress after this weekend.  I am discovering a little more each visit to the boat, even after owning her four years. Again, this organization is the best boating money I ever spent.
Mark Mueller
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Ron Hill

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2009, 08:10:37 AM »

Guys : I make sure that there is NO other electrical draw from the batteries when I start the engine.  After the engine is running, then I turn on the instruments, etc.  A thought
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2009, 09:42:34 AM »

In earlier discussions about the topic of engine starts interfering with electrical instruments, and in helping Ken Juul design his new electrical system, he mentioned that it is just possible that folks actually need to start their engines again later in a sailing day and don't like the fact that when they restart their engines all the electronics go bloowie.  I learned that my autopilot goes out when I restart my engine just that way: when I started the engine coming back to my slip.  BTW, my slip is 40 minutes away from where we restart our engine, so it's not within hailing distance. 

I suppose there are other times when engine restarts are also necessary, like avoiding traffic on a foggy or windless day, etc. 

Ken's design separates the reserve bank and the house bank (with a switched crossover just-in-case) and the reserve bank is always used for starting the engine.  It is one of the OPTIONS in electrical system design and has great merit as compared to my design which uses the original 1-2-B switch with the house bank used for everything, and keeps the reserve as the reserve.  Yes, my design has it's limitations, and because I do not have critical instruments (i.e., chartplotter, GPS, other electronics) connected, it works for me.  Your boat, your choice.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2009, 09:48:01 AM by Stu Jackson »
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Ken Juul

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Re: Engine Starting issue
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2009, 03:05:56 PM »

Another contributer to hard starting, especially on a hot engine is the increased compression.  Any air trapped in a cylinder on shut down is going to heat up and increase the internal pressure.  On the next start the starter has to push against this increased pressure.  Before I changed my electrical system I too had hard time starting when hot.  I found it took too or three partial revolutions (push the button, wait a couple seconds, push again) to get some cool air in the engine then it would start right up.  I replaced most of my battery cables/ends when I did the upgrade.  Starts right up now.  My guess at the cause is the hard to reach/keep clean ground wire/connection at the engine.   I basically copied Jim Moe's upgrade, I chose to use some different components but the wire runs are the same.  It is available for viewing on the wiki.
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