Twins That Don’t Match

QuestionI have twin diesels. When I went to my boat to run the engines during the off-season, I could start the port engine but not the starboard. What should I do?

AnswerI don’t know what engines you have, but if an engine will not start, there are some basic questions. Did the engine turn over? If so, the starter is good. In colder temperatures, diesel engines can take longer to start. However, you said that one engine did start, so let’s try to rule out temperature as the problem.

If one engine has heat — either through preheat or air heaters — but the other one doesn’t, that could be the problem. So check to see if the air heaters are working on one side or the other. The easiest way to check is to watch voltage meters. If the voltage drops because the air heaters are drawing huge power, you can assume the heaters are working, especially if you see the power draw on the engine that does start. If you have engine heaters on both engines, feel or measure the temperature of the two blocks to see if one is colder than the other.

Assuming the heaters check out and only one engine starts, the next thing to look at is the fuel. Obviously, the starting engine has fuel. So how do you figure out if the non-starting engine has a fuel problem? This is not so simple. I would start by replacing all the fuel filters. Including the good engine? Why not? Get it done now. Then, read your engine manual and find out how to prime the engine to see if fuel is getting to it. Usually, this is accomplished by manually pumping the fuel after disconnecting a line to one of the injectors. Once you see fuel coming out of the line, reconnect the line and give it a try.

My guess is that the engine will start now, and you will have discovered and corrected a fuel clog.

Author:John Temple

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