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Old 08-04-2008, 11:55 PM
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ryangraham ryangraham is offline
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Boat: 1986 Stars and Stripes, 351W PCM
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new battery, but starter won't turn over (doesn't make a sound)

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
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  #2  
Old 08-05-2008, 12:26 AM
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ryangraham ryangraham is offline
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one more question

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
;-)
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  #3  
Old 08-05-2008, 06:51 AM
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JimN JimN is offline
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"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.
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:59 AM
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kingu kingu is offline
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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.

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  #5  
Old 08-05-2008, 10:42 AM
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andyhoyt andyhoyt is offline
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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.
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Old 08-05-2008, 10:51 AM
TMCNo1 TMCNo1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimN View Post
"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!
Attachment 38659
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Last edited by TMCNo1; 09-16-2008 at 04:44 PM.
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  #7  
Old 08-05-2008, 03:34 PM
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ryangraham ryangraham is offline
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OK OK, I wasn't that serious about it

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
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  #8  
Old 08-05-2008, 09:05 PM
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andyhoyt andyhoyt is offline
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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.
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  #9  
Old 08-05-2008, 10:38 PM
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ryangraham ryangraham is offline
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Boat: 1986 Stars and Stripes, 351W PCM
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voltmeter is the key

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
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  #10  
Old 08-05-2008, 11:04 PM
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ryangraham ryangraham is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Boat: 1986 Stars and Stripes, 351W PCM
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another thing: does anyone now a spot online to order replacement electrical wiring for an 86 pcm 351?
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