I was a little surprised when, working on our new boat, a 1984 BaBa 35, I found equally confusing and incorrect ‘layers’. I’m surprised because Odyssey has had only three owners and was a very high end ocean yacht. So I repair what I can, replace what I must, and remove anything that has no purpose (remember the hose going nowhere?).
Caution: VERY BORING TECHNICAL STUFF
Someone in Odyssey’s past decided it would be really nice to be able to start her engine from the helm. This I agree with as her cockpit is small and the original engine panel with gauges and all are at ankle level. The Universal engine not only requires a key turned, but you must then press and hold the glow plug switch for ten or so seconds and then while still holding it, press the start button. The older you get the harder this is. I’m thinking you could hire a six year old to be the official engine starter, but what happens if he is taking a nap or something?
Ok. So the obvious solution is to piggyback another key/two button station up in a box at the helm. Heck, throw in a couple new instruments to make it look pretty. That’s exactly what someone did on Odyssey.
The only problem was, it didn’t work. Turn the key and the oil light goes on along with that high pitched buzz, as it should. Press the glow plug button and the oil light dims, press the start button and nothing happens. The engine doesn’t turn over, not even a click or clank. After a considerable amount of time learning about the engine starting circuit, reviewing the actual wiring against what I had learned, and then verifying what I had found was true and I wasn’t confused, here is what I discovered.
- I did find and identify the ‘new’ wiring.
- I assumed it was wrong since it didn’t work. After an hour or two I realized that I was mistaken.
- My troubleshooting was hindered by someone’s use of three conductor AC wire in the circuit.
- My ignorance of diesel systems required frequent research forays on the net. Do you know how many amps your glow plugs draw?
- In the end I concluded everything had been wired in a correct circuit.
The first clue was the dimming oil light when trying to start from the helm. It dimmed considerably. Then I found the long reach of wire (20 ft) to the helm and back was 16 gauge. So, a quick jump on the web and low and behold, the glow plugs draw between 20 and 30 amps. With a smile I put my meter on the correct leads and sequenced the start up. The voltage dropped below 8 VDC. For any of you who think wire gauge doesn’t matter, it does.
To finish this up quickly, I puzzled how many bruises, bleeding knuckles and sailor curses it would take to get #8 or #10 to the helm. I had to fix this because really hate bending over to start my engine!
In the end I just installed a relay in the engine compartment. The existing small wire could easily run the relay. The big wire ended up being only about 10 inches. No voltage drop worries. I even added a fuse.
It works like a champ. Yes, I would have loved to replace the wire with the correct colored ones, but as it was ABYC rated, I felt secure and made a note in the maintenance log as to the trespass.
Good luck with your onions and don’t be afraid to peal back all the layers to get to the root of the problem. Tears be damned!