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A bit weird !!!


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Just went down to the boat to do the normal checks etc. As I was walking down I thought I heard one of my engines running - its strange how you can tell yours from others, but put it down to probably another boat just behind mine fishing perhaps.

As I got closer, it was in fact my port engine ticking away !! It had started all on its own !! The keys were not on the boat !! It hadn't used much if any diesel !!

There is only two solutions that I can think of:-

1) Someone has fitted some kind of electrical gadgetry to start the engine for 'some reason' if needed.

No idea what 'reason' would need the engine running. Or:-

2) There is an electrical fault.

Judging by the lack of used diesel, I would presume that the engine had only just started itself. The last time I checked on the boat was Friday - all ok.

When I put the keys in the ignition and turned them to the left the engine stopped as normal.

I have now turned off the battery isolators so in theory in can't happen again, but has anyone any ideas why this could of happened ?

There was an excess of water below the port engine (about 1 1/2 inches) which I am presuming the pump has been blocked somehow. Could this water short some terminals causing the engine to start ? (water now cleared and will look into the pump for problems later) BUT, when I put the key in the ignition and turned left, the engine stopped straight away (this was before I removed the excess water) so surely the 'short' would of still been there ? and the engine continued to run ?

If I can't sort this problem myself, can anyone recommend a suitable person to take a look - I'm in the Oulton Broad area...

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The engine would stop when the key was turned to the left regardless of any electrical issues Luke, turning the key that way operates a solenoid which stops the injector pump delivering fuel to the rail / injectors. That’s the only way to stop a diesel (apart from stalling it) as it has no external ignition source.

It is possible that a starter solenoid shorted and ran the starter motor but then again it would have continued to run because of the short and buggered itself. Whilst I’m not saying this can not be a fault I think I may well be looking for some other reason as well i.e. possible theft attempt.

Northgate marine, the Volvo Penta agents are in Lake Lothing, just a stone’s throw from you.

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The engine would stop when the key was turned to the left regardless of any electrical issues Luke, turning the key that way operates a solenoid which stops the injector pump delivering fuel to the rail / injectors. That’s the only way to stop a diesel (apart from stalling it) as it has no external ignition source.

That's what I thought. I started the engine again to see if it would start ok, ie, the starter motor was ok and it was.

It is possible that a starter solenoid shorted and ran the starter motor but then again it would have continued to run because of the short and buggered itself. Whilst I’m not saying this can not be a fault I think I may well be looking for some other reason as well i.e. possible theft attempt.

The boat is in view of the house so an attempted theft would be highly unlikely, especially during the day. Also, there was no evidence of anyone touching the control panel, and to get to the engines you have to remove the table (very heavy) and two of the seats. Although possible, this isn't the case here (thank God !)

In my limited knowledge of engines, I agree with you, the only answer I can think of is that the solenoid was shorted in the water, started the engine, (which only appeared to have been running for a short time) then the excess water dropped below the solenoid, thus not inflicting damage to the starter..... well, at least I hope this is the case anyway...

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If your tanks are full then the needles if they are anything like mine will not move for a very long time on tickover, possibly a day.

Could it have been that wind rocked the boat causing a short which started the boat then when the rocking stopped the water level was such that the short no longer exisisted and the starter stopped opperating.

Either that or I have a book on ghosts of the broads, dont remember anything about engine starting but I could check.

you haven't seen any luminous tall masted sailing ships around have you. The captain would be about 400 so would probably fancy something a bit more modern.

Ian

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LOL !!! Well, my father in law was here last weekend and I'm sure he is about 400 !! lol !!

I think that must be what has happened Ian. I'll have to find out where the starter solinoid is - if its near the bottom then that makes perfect sense !!

The port engine wasn't that hot (it was warm) which suggests that it hadn't been running for too long - lucky I checked today !

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I cant beleive your engine would have started on tickover from a shorted solenoid then unshorted and been ok.

I recon someone tried to nick your boat, shorted the solenoid to start her, freaked out because the house was close, did not want to start the second engine and did not have a key to turn it off.

:?

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Thats does make sense, but to get to the engine you have to remove two seats, lift a very heavy table and find a place to put all three items, then open the engine compartment, do what needs doing, replace engine compartment, seating and table THEN do a runner...... I think if that was the case then the person wouldn't of replaced everything prior to doing a 'runner'...

Just doesn't seem practicable really, especially as the boat is only about 50 metres away from the house and we are working in the kitchen at the moment which is facing the boat too... Our lounge also faces the boat.

Think I will leave the floodlights on for the night though, just in case !!

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You can actually take the keys out without turning her off - its a volvo !! lol !!

But, the last time we started her was about a month ago - been away etc, Claire also checked on the boat on Friday too so its not the case that we left her running. I wish it was that simple to be honest ! lol !!

No-one has access to the boat from the landside without us knowing (driveway and garden alarmed) - they could get here by boat but as I say we have been here all the time.

Just to be safe, I have now removed ALL keys from the boat, turned off the fuel switches etc etc, so hopefully there will not be a repeat until we find the problem.

Although I am presuming that the problem is this solinoid thing, I would of thought that I would of heard of someone somewhere having this problem, but a search on Google has revealed absolutely nothing.

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I don't think shorting is to blame. Seems very unlikely and would the engine start on the starter with the ignition turned off would be very easy to nick. Has this engine got the hot water calorofier connected to it. Could some one have fitted a frost stat that starts the engine and protects the engine and hot water components it was cold enough at the WRC last night for a frost stat to kick in . I have an alarm on crackerjack which I can start the engine remotely by phone if I had wired it in. Could you have left the engine running last time you were on the boat.

Jonathan :Stinky

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Thats was my other initial thought Jonathon - but I have never head of a peice of equipment that starts the engine automaticly before.

From memory the port engine charges the port battery which is only used for starting of the engine. The starboard engine charges the other two batteries which run all the appliances on the boat - if it was something to do with heat then I would of thought the starboard engine would start, not the port one.

The boat is connected constantly to shore power, and the hot water heaters are turned off. If they are on while connected, the current is taken from the shore power and not the batteries - At least that is how I understand it. There is a switch on the 240v panel to turn on the water heaters.

HOWEVER, this does make sense !! If the temp around the boat fell below 0, then one of the engines would start, warming up the compartment.....

BUT, if someone has gone to this trouble, then why not just fit a frost stat connected to a small heater, thus not relying on the diesel for the engine... ? Perhaps no shore power available ? hmmm, getting complicated now and I'm starting to second guess myself.. So, say there is a frost stat connected to the engine - surely it would turn the engine on for virtually half the winter ?? And also, if the boat was in a marina then surely someone could just nick the boat after seeing it running for a long period with no-one on board..

I think I need someone down here who knows what they are doing !! HELP !!!

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Hi Luke

A bit weird! Bloody spooky if you ask me.

I would be very surprised if the starter motor shorted out, even if under water with a 12 volt system the solenoid would not activate. With the current ambient temperatures I would not expect a diesel to start without the assistance of glow/heater plugs. It could be a faulty starter relay. It's a good job your intake sea cocks were not closed, you could have been in real trouble.

Is it possible a remote engine start devise has been fitted that can be controlled remotely by a mobile phone. I have seen these installed on cars so you can start it up to warm the car up on cold days. Or it has some electronic wizardry to start an engine periodically in very low ambient temperatures.

cheersbar

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If it is fitted with a device like Colin describes, then I suggest you get it removed as it sounds bloody dangerous to me :o It would sure end in tears if you were checking the tension of your drive belt when the engine decided to start :cry

Bizzare is an understatement if such a device isn't fitted!

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That is very odd. I can't think of anything that would cause that, other than what has already been mentioned.

I thinks I'm right in saying, Col, that there are no glow plugs on these engines, unless they were specified as an optional extra. They rely solely on compression to start when cold. I'm also pretty sure there are no sea cocks on the water intakes, as the pipes fit directly to the transom sheilds.

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No glow plugs, its just twist and start, just like our diesel van - Duratec or something similiar.

I was thinking the same as you Paul. It looks like its going to be cold again tomorrow, possibly snow, and almost definetly snow on Thursday according to the BBC weather, so I might just try it.

The more I think about it the more I am getting concerned. If its nothing to do with the extra water shorting the solenoid then its something that could be possibly hard to trace. Obviously I won't leave the isolators in the on postion in future, but it is worrying that my boat could just start whenever it feels like it !! lol !!

I keep coming back to the idea that it is something to do with the cold - the engine starts for a while once a certain temp is hit - but surely that just can't be right.... it would be turning itself on nearly every night for the next three months or so ??!!??

Of course, the other thing that crossed my mind was that someone was winding me up - but I have the ONLY key to the boat, and no-one can get down the garden without everybody inside the house being alerted either. This, I have determined, is not a possibility.

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  • 2 months later...

Had an amazing stroke of luck yesterday !!!!

I had arranged a mechanic to service the Sealine. He said he wanted to come and have a look prior to actually servicing the boat so popped in yesterday morning.

While sitting there, with the engine covers off discussing what each part does (in very simplified terms for me of course) the port engine started all on its own !!!!!!!!

I had already explained to him what had happened prior and he was at a total loss to suggestions - but what a stroke of luck - it actually happened while we were sitting there !! Result !!!

Well, after about half an hour examining and tracing, he found the fault - there is a faulty keyswitch !! There was no way he could of found the intermittant fault unless it actually happened while he was there !

So, new keyswitch on order and should be fixed (and serviced) on Thursday. Then its coming out of the water at Beccles for the legs to be serviced too. The only other problem related to this was that the starter motor continued to run while the engine was running, so thats coming off on Thursday for an inspection to make sure its ok.

You should of seen the smile on my face when it happened - I was starting to think I imagined it and no one had heard of this before !

:dance:dance:dance:dance:dance

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Glad you found it Luke, could have been very nasty if it had happened at a different time, especially during maintenance.

Clanny is currently in Jims shed as well so will no doubt see you there. One thing to check and I think you will be fine on the dolly you will be on but make sure that your keel is sitting on the dolly. The front was fine on mine but the back was about 1 mm off with the weight of the boat sitting on the 2 chocks 4" away from the Keel, had to put 1/2" on the dolly.

Very nice warm, wind free, light and dry shed with plenty of room to work and what a nice chap James is.

Ian

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