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View Full Version : new battery, but starter won't turn over (doesn't make a sound)


ryangraham
08-04-2008, 11:55 PM
I've got an 86 PCM 351 on a 19' S&S. Electronic Ignition. I've been noticing an issue where my battery looses starting power by the end of the day. Seems to me like the alternator isn't keeping up. So I was going to pull it and have it tested. Oddly enough, on the last crank of the weekend, well, the starter stopped turning over. I've got power everywhere, but when I turn the key nothing happens other than a slight power drop in the system (the blower slows a bit). So it seems that the ignition key is doing it's job. I pulled the starter and I can spin the gear by hand (in other words, it's not bound up). So now I feel that I could be dealing with a starter solenoid issue, as well as an alternator issue. By the way - put a brand new battery in.

So my questions are:

1) can a dying or dead alternator cause the problem I'm experiencing? what I mean is, can a bad alternator prevent a starter from turning over, assuming everything else is fine? I've always been under the impression that a strong battery will turn a starter, and keep an engine running for some time. Am I wrong about that?
2) can a dying or dead alternator fowl out a starter solenoid or damage other parts of the system (other than the battery)? If so, what?
3) if it's a bad starter solenoid, shouldn't I be hearing a click or something? because I hear nothing. it makes no sound other than the slight power drop in the blower. Is this erie silence indicative of a failed starter solenoid?
4) is there something i'm not thinking of? something in the great mass of electrical components between battery, alternator, starter and distributer?

I really feel like it's either a bad starter solenoid, or a dying (or dead) alternator, and probably both. And one more thing, the starter solenoid is mounted to the starter, and that's the only starter solenoid, yes?

Now that I've asked 50 questions, hopefully someone will have the patience to help me.

Thanks,
Ryan

ryangraham
08-05-2008, 12:26 AM
is there really, REALLY a need to buy a "marine" sealed alternator and starter? aren't most all alternators and starters sealed? I know there's this fear of a spark igniting and blowing up gas fumes in the bilge, but aren't there dozens of potential spark sources in an engine compartment, thus you should always run your blower before cranking? If I'm being obtuse, please let me know, as I'm sure some will. it just seems a little silly and a bit like overkill to me. what does everyone else think?

-boom boom ryan
;-)

JimN
08-05-2008, 06:51 AM
"aren't most all alternators and starters sealed?"

No, they aren't. In a car or truck, there's no need for this and if the Coast Guard inspects your boat, finding a non-CG alternator or starter, they will fine you and tow you in.

"but aren't there dozens of potential spark sources in an engine compartment, thus you should always run your blower before cranking?"

'Should' and 'do' are two totally different things and when someone is "in a hurry", safety measures go out the window. Ever seen a boat that burned or had an explosion? They go up fast. If you need a starter or alternator, a good shop that rebuilds them will make them conform to CG spec.

kingu
08-05-2008, 09:59 AM
I have an '86 also and had some starter trouble this year. I think it was Jim who told me to make sure the solenoid was solidly grounded. Mine is mounted on the block. It was very rusty and not making a good connection so I sanded it (see pic). I also replaced all my battery cables. I would make sure all the connections are clean and rust/corrosion free before buying a new starter. Al bad connection can cause all kinds of problems.

38656

andyhoyt
08-05-2008, 10:42 AM
You absolutely, positively need a marine starter and alternator as well as fuel pump. These parts are designated to conform to SAE J1171 standards and there is nothing worth risking you or your families life over, especially to save a few dollars. When I was in high school, I witnessed my girlfriend burn in a boat that was outfitted with an automotive starter and trust me it is not worth the risk.

TMCNo1
08-05-2008, 10:51 AM
"aren't most all alternators and starters sealed?"

No, they aren't. In a car or truck, there's no need for this and if the Coast Guard inspects your boat, finding a non-CG alternator or starter, they will fine you and tow you in.

"but aren't there dozens of potential spark sources in an engine compartment, thus you should always run your blower before cranking?"

'Should' and 'do' are two totally different things and when someone is "in a hurry", safety measures go out the window. Ever seen a boat that burned or had an explosion? They go up fast. If you need a starter or alternator, a good shop that rebuilds them will make them conform to CG spec.


He's what one looks like, but now it's too late, for whatever reason it went POOF!
38659

ryangraham
08-05-2008, 03:34 PM
Alright, I really wasn't that serious about getting a non-USCG conforming starter or alternator. Really just wanted a little more understanding. Thanks for the pics and stories.

So if I promise everyone to buy USCG starter/alternator, will you guys help me out a little with my problem? First thing is to check all connections, alternator, and starter solenoid.

Is there any additional insight out there?

Thanks
Ryan

andyhoyt
08-05-2008, 09:05 PM
What does the volt meter on the dash read when the motor is running? Do you have multi-tester? If not, you should consider buying one, they are not too expensive (starting at less than $20), it will direct you to your problem pretty quickly. You can test the output of your alternator. If your alternator checks out ok, you can check your new battery to make sure it is accepting a charge.....then you can move on to other things like your solenoid, bad ground, starter, etc. But I would start with a multi-tester and your alternator and the connections on your battery terminals.

ryangraham
08-05-2008, 10:38 PM
thanks andy, i've got a voltmeter. i'll get after it in the next couple days. thanks for the tip.

i'm considering a rewire job. does anybody know where to find the best wiring diagram?

-Ryan

ryangraham
08-05-2008, 11:04 PM
another thing: does anyone now a spot online to order replacement electrical wiring for an 86 pcm 351?

TMCNo1
08-05-2008, 11:50 PM
thanks andy, i've got a voltmeter. i'll get after it in the next couple days. thanks for the tip.

i'm considering a rewire job. does anybody know where to find the best wiring diagram?

-Ryan


This is from Ski King, he may have more, http://www.mastercraft.com/teamtalk/showpost.php?p=500962&postcount=3
38688

ryangraham
08-08-2008, 08:58 AM
i've been bad about posting problems, getting advice, and never posting my solution. i'm not going to be like that anymore. i fixed my problem, and this is what it was....

I had an older starter solenoid (some call them starter relay) that's mounted to the block next to the engine breaker, and it went bad at the beginning of this summer. I bought a new one and installed it being extremely careful to wire it back EXACTLY the same way the old one was wired in. Turns out who ever wired the old one did it wrong. For some reason there was a wire coming from one of the ballast resistor posts (the one that shares the wire with the coil) to the "I" post on the starter solenoid. I noticed that when the key was turned to the on position for only a short few minutes, the "S" and "I" posts on the starter solenoid got super hot to the touch. I noticed this while testing the voltage across the stater solenoid (of course finding that no juice was flowing through it. This was my first clue that something wasn't right. So I disconnected the errant wire and like that the starter turned right over. Apparently the incorrect wiring was causes a short in the starter solenoid that was preventing it from doing it's job of sending current to the starter.

Lesson learned: on an older engine, even if it's been working for a while and especially if you're not the original owner, it's a good idea to check all your wiring. It's amazing how simple the wiring for these old engines is. Thanks King for the wiring diagram! In about 15 minutes I was able to trace out the wires for the entire system and know exactly that everything was wired up correctly except for my one problem area.

Side note, and another question: I used the wire that was incorrectly installed as a jumper, to jump the ballast resister just as the wiring diagram shows and as instructions regarding EI suggest. The distributor does have EI in it. When I did that, the engine still runs fine, but the Tach goes hay-wire. It bounces all over the place, and obviously gives no accurate reading. Oddly, when I turn the blower on, the tach functions normally. It seems to me that when the ballast resistor is bypassed, too much current it flowing to the coil (where the Tach wire is connected and getting it's reading) and the Tach goes bonkers. When the blower is on, it draws down enough current to make the Tach behave normally. That's my theory anyway. So to get a couple runs in yesterday, I disconnected the "jumper wire" and had at it. My question for you guys is this: I know EI wants the ballast resistor bi-passed (jumped) I guess to get full juice in the coil, but is it necessary to do so? If so, then does anyone have a solution for my Tach? Is this Tach gauge rated for a lower amperage, therefore not behaving properly when the ballast resistor is jumped? If so, do I need to buy a new Tach? Is there a way to re-wire something to make the Tach work right?

Thanks again everyone!
Ryan

JimN
08-08-2008, 11:06 AM
The resistor needs to be bypassed only when cranking but the EI manufacturer may/may not need it- contact the company. I talked to Sierra a couple of weeks ago about this issue and the tech guy told me that it is needed, so....

The solenoid will have a crank wire and another that goes to the coil, which is the bypass wire. If the coil has another purple wire, the resistor usually goes to the end of the wire and the coil. That should keep the tach and EI happy. If the EI doesn't have the resistor, the wire from the coil can fuse, which is what happened to the boat I called about.

ryangraham
08-11-2008, 12:39 PM
electrical issue persists: I was out this weekend with the engine running pretty good, tach issue gone. Mid day Sunday, I cranked it and the starter wouldn't stop turning. Pulled the battery cable. I had kept the replacement starter solenoid, so I took 15 minutes to replace the old one. I I wired everything up exactly as the wiring diagram above shows, and cleaned all the wire connection points and scrapped clean the block where the solenoid mounts. Engine cranked stronger and faster than it has in years. So the problem seemed fixed, but later that day, it did it again (starter kept running). I disconnected the battery, gave the starter solenoid a couple taps with a screw driver handle, all seemed fine. I know it is possible that I could have purchased 2 bad starter solenoids in a row, but that seems a bit suspect. I'm starting to wonder about the wiring. maybe an incorrect wiring issue is burning up the solenoids. is the "I" post supposed to be used? the above diagram only shows the "S" post in use. Jim, you mentioned the solenoid having a crank and coil wire. It makes sense to me that the crank wire would be the "S" post (starter) and the coil wire would be the "I" post (ignition). Since my Tach issue is resolved (I blame it on a bad starter solenoid), I'm now trying to figure out this new starter issue. I think it's either that my wiring is off, or I have another bad starter solenoid. The later seems less likely, even though it is possible. Does anyone have any insight on my wiring question, or just this issue in general?

Thanks,
Ryan

JimN
08-11-2008, 01:13 PM
Did you remove the starter when you replaced the solenoid? Has the starter been removed sine you bought the boat? Did you know that the Bendix gear and shaft are supposed to be lubricated annually?

If the Bendix shaft rusts, and I will assume it has because of the rust I saw on the head in the photo of the solenoid, the gear will bind when it cranks. You won't have any idea when, until it does, either.

ryangraham
08-11-2008, 01:21 PM
the photo posted was not of my boat. my solenoid is actually the older style that is bracket mounted so the solenoid sits away from the engine block. there was a little bit of rust that cleaned off easily, but not nearly as rusty as that photo. yes, i pulled the starter off just last week. did not lubricate it, but i will. what kind of lubricant and where do i apply?

still, the Bendix shaft could be rotated by hand, so I'm not concerned about the starter. i bought the boat about 8 years ago, and replaced the starter about 4 years ago. I keep the boat pretty darn dry in storage, therefore the engine is not that rusty and pretty clean over all. again, i really do not suspect the starter as being the culprit. however, i read someone say that the starter gets its ground from its contact points with the flywheel case. while i think this too is clean and not the issue, i will check it and sand/clean as needed.

any thoughts out there on my wiring question and why my starter sometimes keeps cranking?

JimN
08-11-2008, 01:42 PM
White lithium grease is fine. Marine grease but NO WD-40! That has cutting oil in it.

Rotating by hand is one thing, climbing up the shaft is another. You'll need to turn the gear in the opposite direction of what you do to just rotate it. It will automatically move up the shaft when you do this.

You may keep the boat dry in storage but you can't really do much about condensation when it's experiencing a temperature inversion.

ryangraham
08-11-2008, 06:38 PM
Jim, are you trying to tell me that my starter may be the cause of the starter continuing to run after the key has been returned to the on position (from the start position)? To me, greasing something sounds mechanical in nature, while the starter not shutting off seems electrical.

Anybody know what the "I" post on the starter solenoid is used for?

mad-dog1
08-11-2008, 07:05 PM
Ignition but nothing goes to it....I had the same problems and I just replaced the starter relay and problem solved....look at the diagram again and you'll see....

JimN
08-11-2008, 08:38 PM
Without being there, it's hard to say exactly what is happening. If the starter motor draws excessive current, the contacts will stick together, as if they were welded, which can happen. It could be the ignition switch, too. If that shorts or the terminals touch, it'll do the same thing. The only way to come up with a definitive answer is to test for voltage before cranking, while cranking and after releasing the key.

ryangraham
08-12-2008, 01:04 AM
i was looking on the skidim.com site and noticed this note on their relay:
"If starter stays engaged, it is an indication of a low amperage problem. Check both ends of the battery cables and main grounds."
Time to get the volt meter out again......

ryangraham
09-06-2008, 03:52 PM
just wanted to get back to this post for the benefit of others. It appears my electrical problems have been cured. The initial culprit was a combination of incorrect wiring and a bad starter relay (solenoid). I believe the incorrect wiring caused the relay to go bad. It appears to me that the wiring configuration was not updated when the boat was switched from points to EI. I replaced the relay (the one mounted to the engine block), re-wired per the correct wiring diagram for EI, and cleaned all wire ends and connections, including connections to the engine block. Of note, my connections were not what I would consider terrible having only a minimal of rust. However, a bit of cleaning never hurts. I am no longer experiencing hot start electrical issues. Thanks to the Team Talk forum for all the help.