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Dale Genther
09-08-2008, 11:35 AM
One of my boats has a circa late 70s Olds 403 V-8 gas engine in it. The engine is in good shape and runs fine. If I try to start it when the engine is cold it fires up just fine. When I run it for a while then shut it down to do some fishing for say a half hour or so, it barely cranks over. Sometimes I'm afraid it won't start. When it does start it again runs fine. If I leave it shutdown until it cools off a little, say an an hour of two it will crank and start just fine. Yes, the batteries are fully charged, all wiring and terminals are good.

I had this same problem with a Mach I Mustang I had back in the early 70s and if I remember right it was caused by the ignition timing being too far advaced. Could the ignition timing be causing the same problem this time. My old Mustang had points in the distributor while my Olds marine engine has electronic ignition.

Uncle Duke
09-08-2008, 11:40 AM
I would have said 'vapor lock', except for the 'barely cranks over' comment...
It would be interesting to know if the cranking speed was really the same in both conditions, but that you don't notice the 'slow cranking' when it's cold because it starts immediately... if so, I'd return to the vapor lock issue...

Hwyl
09-08-2008, 11:46 AM
I'd clean the connections on the starter motor, the resitance is higher when they're warm, for no more reason than -- just in case.

How are your engine zincs?

pcford
09-08-2008, 11:48 AM
I'll take a stab at it:

Sometimes when the starter bearing are worn out, the starter works when the engine is cold. However, when the engine oil is hot and thus thinner, the armature drags.

Dale Genther
09-08-2008, 11:57 AM
The differnce in cranking speed between cold and warm engine is easily noticed. BIG difference.

All the connections to batteries, starter motor, battery switch are clean as are the screw studs they attech to. Already did that a couple of days ago.

pcford - Any easy way to test your starter bearing theory?

No opinions on my advanced ignition timing theory?

pcford
09-08-2008, 12:05 PM
pcford - Any easy way to test your starter bearing theory?



Not an electrician, but I presume resistance would be much higher.

I would take the starter out and take it to a starter-alternator-generator specialist. Would not cost much to check it out.

Michael s/v Sannyasin
09-08-2008, 12:36 PM
It's been a while since I tried to trouble-shoot engines, but the first thing that came to mind for me was ignition timing... but, I would think that the timing was too retarded, not advanced. I think as the engine revves, the timing mechanically advances which might explain why it runs well. Should be easy enough to check with a timing light.

But, that shouldn't be affected by whether the engine is cold or warmed up should it?

When you say that it barely cranks, I think that has us all wondering if the starter is barely moving, or if the starter is going fine, just that the engine is not firing. A slow cranking starter is going to be something totally different than an engine not firing.

One other thing that you might look into is the gasket between the carburator and the intake manifold. I had a leaky gasket and when it was cold, the seal was good, but after the car warmed up, the leak was more pronounced and it would keep the engine from firing.

The way I tested for that was to start the engine (cold), then let it warm up, and then spray WD40 around the base of the carb. If you notice little bubbles, you've got a leak.

Gary E
09-08-2008, 01:17 PM
Dale

If it's not a worn starter as others have said.. the following might be happening..

How much time on this engine?
Total time, not just since the last tuneup...

Reason being is that same problem happened to a friend of mine who ran charters... a lot of charters... That boat ran almost every day in the summers, and 3 or 4 days a week in spring and fall.

It got so bad that the only way to start it was to twist the distributor one way or the other then put it back to "run" position after it started..

It turned out to be a stretched Timing chain... the chain that connects the crankshaft to the camshaft. This stretch was just enough to delay the timing and cause problems.. He bought a new chain, and when measured with the old worn out one, the difference was obvious. Put it back together with the new chain and everything ran fine.

Hwyl
09-08-2008, 01:24 PM
If it's not too much of a pain, you could try starting it when warm with the pugs out.

Make sure it's a ventilated space and no chance of a spark and the bilge blower is running.

Dale Genther
09-08-2008, 02:27 PM
Michael - The sound it makes when trying to start it when it is warm is the same sound that is made when you try to start a car whith an almost dead battery. Batteries are good and fully charged. You could be right my memony of 35 years ago of whether my Mustang timing was advanced of retarded could be wrong. As far as why it happens when warm but not cold is concerned, I was given an explanation way back then, but I've forgotten what it was.

Gary E - I've no idea how many hours are on the engine as it was installed in the 80s, several owners ago. It is the third engine in the boat.

Hwyl - I assume you mean "plugs" not "pugs" as this particular engine has no dogs in it. Anyway I don't understand you reasoning, as it won't start with the plugs out, it will however crank pretty quickly. I know this as I checked the compression when I changed the plugs a month ago.

Gary E
09-08-2008, 03:01 PM
Here is a picture of the typical starter....


http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:RO7UWDq1oGILYM:http://www.aa1car.com/library

another picture...

http://www.aa1car.com/library/2002/starter_cutaway.jpg

See the gear that engages with the flywheel? and the support bushing outboard of that ?

I would remove your starter from the engine and look very carefully at that bushing... If it looks the least bit worn, rebuild the starter.

Reason is that when the starter is turning the engine it is under very high load. And that load creates a seperating force between the gear on the starter and the gear on the flywheel... If there is any wear in that bushing it will allow the starter shaft to move away from center and since there is not much clearance between the starter motors armature and stator coils, it starts to rub... and that slows down everthing.

jerry bark
09-08-2008, 06:01 PM
I'd bet on a bad starter, in fact if it were mine I'd go ahead and buy a new starter and just change it.

when you run your engine there is heat building up and some ventilation going on due to the movement of the boat. then you stop the motor and the heat soaks into the starter making it hotter. the internal resistance of the starter windings increases with heat. if the starter is worn, the bushings mentioned or otherwise, it will take more power to crank. but being hot the resistance is higher and your battery cannot provide enough power to make it happen.

for a comparison, there used to be a heat shield on all big block chevy starters back in the 60' & 70's to keep the starter from getting heat soaked and failing to spin the motor. I don;t know if they still use the shields or not, but the symptoms were exactly the same: slow or no crank after sitting hot, cranks again after cooling.

I'd go buy a starter, or take your's in for a rebuild.

good luck,
jerry

paladin
09-08-2008, 06:58 PM
Boy oh boy.......hotrods.......lessee........that engine was famous for overheating. The bore is so large there was no room between the cylinders for coolant flow.....head gaskets.....famous for blowing head gaskets........I don't remember whether it used a timing belt or chain....but I do remember as that being one of the problems.....blasting full bore in a 442, speed shifting with a straight line shifter....and the engine suddenly deathly quiet......timing gear gone.....the crankshaft was another problem but doesn't sound like yours.....
I would check the starter/solenoid/bushing as referenced above.....and that was one of the last normally aspirated engines in that series....used in Buick and Chevies in different configuration....would have been painted only in two colors originally....what color is yours, if it's original?

carioca1232001
09-08-2008, 07:47 PM
.....when you run your engine there is heat building up and some ventilation going on due to the movement of the boat. then you stop the motor and the heat soaks into .......for a comparison, there used to be a heat shield on all big block chevy ....... I don;t know if they still use the shields or not, but the symptoms were exactly the same: slow or no crank after sitting hot, cranks again after cooling.

I'd go buy a starter, or take your's in for a rebuild.

good luck,
jerry

I feel you may just have hit the nail on the head !

I donīt have starter problems on the F-head, 6-cylinder 'Willys' engine in my CJ-6, but the fuel pump plays up just as the starter does on Chevy engines.........even with a new fuel pump, and after 50 hours of use, you get a repeat performance of engine cutting out.........a flawed design .......solved it switching to a Carter electric fuel pump installed on the inside of the mud-guards in the engine compartment, in series with a fuel-pressure regulating valve.......

John B
09-08-2008, 07:51 PM
Retard it a notch or two and start it hot, just to see.

Dale Genther
09-08-2008, 09:12 PM
Palidadin - The engine is a medium blue as far as I know that is the origianal color. The boat it is is a Chesapeake Bay built workboat that is commomly called, in these parts, a "deadrise". She was built here in Rock Hall Harbor by one of the local Good Ol Boys". She was the last of 13 he built. As far as the engine is concerned, the watermen around her preferred the Olds 403 and her bigger sister the 455 because they counldn't kill them. There is still a good number of workboats here that have these engines in them. The rest have converted to diesel. Originally it was Detroits, now it is more likely a John Deere. When you are working 300-500 crabpots, going from almost full throttle forward, to almost full throttle reverse twice a day at everyone of them you get to know what lasts.

John B- Just what I'm planning on doing. Problem is Hurricane Isabelle, back in Sept. of 2003 did in my timing light. I'll just have to try it by "ear"

John B
09-08-2008, 09:32 PM
Do it by eye and a screwdriver Dale. Scratch a mark from the distrib timing tab/clamp/ graduations across onto the block so you have your datum and back it off a mark or two. Or your way.. yeah thats what I'd do:D. just make the mark first.

Canoeyawl
09-08-2008, 09:48 PM
Before you change the timing try just pulling the coil wire , if it still cranks slowly with NO spark it's not a timing issue.

capt jake
09-08-2008, 10:10 PM
I would bet on the starter. As already stated, those motors were known for running hot. Combine that with the close proximity of the starter to the exhaust manifolds and questionable bushings in the starter. There are very tight tolerances in a GM starter and the armature with swell with excessive heat. When the armature does swell, it will drag on the field windings, thus drawing more current and turning over slower and it is a vicious cycle until it cools. They usually cure themselves when they cool.

New starter is my bet.

Added: there are high heat starters available for GM's after market.

Excalibur
09-09-2008, 07:42 AM
Before you change the timing try just pulling the coil wire , if it still cranks slowly with NO spark it's not a timing issue.

That's what I would do as well. Having the timing advanced too much can cause hard starting when hot, and pulling the coil wire is a free way to test the theory. If the engine still turns over slowly when hot with the coil wire off, change the starter. Vapor lock will keep as engine from starting, but won't cause it to crank slowly. The 403 is not like the 'ol mustang motor; it's really a small block bored out to big block size, and such has siamesed cylinders and limited cooling. So, if the rad is not in great condition, it could simply be too much heat. I'd bet on the starter though.

Plover
09-09-2008, 08:08 AM
Dale,
There are a lot of things to check! You can put a vacuum gauge on it and check it for lag. It should have very steady vacuum! If not, then the problem is something else. Paladin is right about the heating issues and if it is so, what is happening is the fuel is vaporizeing from the heat and as it cranks it is firing and that could be why it seems locked up when its hot. Timing on almost all engines is BTDC (Before top dead center) fuel doesn't burn instantaniously, its at the middle of its burn at TDC and that can be a problem in a hot motor! It can be something as simple as an advance counter weight hanging up in the distributor. As far as the timing chain, just reach down and grab both sides (Key off mind you!) of the harmonic balance and see how much it it moves back and forth, if the chain is good it shouldn't move that much at all! If it slops back and forth and inch or 2 you've got a bad chain! And I also agree with the windings in the starter being bad when they get hot they tend to fight them selves and that can be an issue as well. A slightly blown head gasket can be the culprit too! As Paladin has mentioned that those engines are a little notorious for that. it can seep a little water in one cylinder and screw the whole thing up, and as it cools the little bit of water that's in there either evaporates off from the heat or drains down thru the rings. check your oil for a milky appearance. That can also cause it. Sometimes its hard to spot a slightly blown gasket with a compression test, if they are all within 30 lbs of one another it should run fine. Less is better of course, but marine engines run at a steady RPM and are afflicted with heavy duty wear for it.
My bet on it with out looking at it is to say that it is probably heat that's causeing it, or starter windings. If it is raw water cooled you may well have a build up of some kind of sludge that is restricting water flow or a lazy thermostat. If it has no thermostat that as well can be your problem! Without it you do not have proper water control thru the engine and exhaust. If it does have one change it for a cooler one (instead of 180 go 160) The other thing you can do to check heat is to get a RAYTEC thermometer and shoot the cylinder heads and look at the variations, see if there are any really hot spots. I wish you the best of luck with it!
Paul

Dale Genther
09-10-2008, 07:39 PM
Upate- We took the boat out to dinner tonight, which gave me a chance to try a couple of things.

- With the engine warm after having run for about an hour, I shut it done for about 2-3 minutes. When I tried to start it it cranked fine and started immediatly.
- Docked at the resturant. After about 15-20 minutes I cranked it, but it cranked slowly. It still started.
- About 15 minutes later I cranked it with the coil wire off. It cranked slowly. Of course it didn't start.
-Reconnected the coil wire and it cranked slowly but it started.
- After dinner and several drinks (approx. 1 1/2 hour after arrival) I started it to go home and it cranked fine and started.
- Got home and called the previous owner. He said he had this problem in warmer weather ever since he got the boat back it '94. He didn't think it was important to mention since always started and didn't happen in cooler weather.

Diagnosis: Timing is NOT the problem. The starter motor is getting too hot after the boat sits from the engine heat. This was mentioned as a common problem by somebody.

Possible solution: Fabricate some sort of heat shield between the starter and the engine block. I don't think the starter is weak as this has apparently been going on for at least 13 years. In fact I've been running the boat for over a year and never noticed it until the last week when we started fishing for blues. Because I had never stoped the engine and tried to start it 15-30 minutes later.

What thinks you all about a heat shield?

Gary E
09-10-2008, 07:50 PM
A heat shield cant hurt...

But this still puzzles me.. I get the impression that your sorta babying the boat... not pushing it to anywhere near rated HP output.. And this leads me to think that if you did, the heat would build up to a very high level and then you'd be in real trouble if it required a start. Is it freshwater cooled?.. Sendure or Keel cooler?.. Are the manifolds Freshwater cooled? What's the operating temp? What does it rev up to at wide open throttle?

Dale Genther
09-10-2008, 08:18 PM
Gary - Yes I do baby it a little as the engine is about 30 years old. The boat is a Chesapeake style workboat. LOA 29 ft. about 10,000 lb. displacement. This is not really a planning style boat, unless you really throw the HP at it (and the fuel). The engine is rated 260 hp at about 4000 RPM. I normally run it at 2200-2400 RPM, which gives me 8-9 knots. This is fine with me as I'm only burning about 4.5 GPH and if I was really in a hurry I'd use our Chris Craft Sea Skiff. The max. RPM I can get out of the engine is 3200 and this only gives me about 10-11 knots, so anything above about 2500-2600 RPM doesn't get you much speed, it just wastes fuel.

The engine is raw water cooled, at 2400 RPM is runs at 145 deg F. I had the engine checked with a radiation pyrometer a while back and all was good. Manifolds probably only have about 40-50 hours on them.

Gary E
09-10-2008, 08:37 PM
Ok..I'm familiar with the boat style, I ran around with a fellow who had a friend who kept a boat built like that in Rock Hall...It had twin 4-71 Detroits in it and he was a comercial guy, clams and other things... It did not take long to get from Rock Hall down to the Bridge to catch "rockfish"

Anyway... your geared or prop pitch a little off of ideal.. Thinking the engine should rev to over 4000 maybe even 4500 at wide open.. that would put your cruise at 2200 to 2500 and a little less load on the engine which would result in less heat.

I know what you mean about the boats, they start to get on plane and that's about it unless you have the more power to push it...

If you put in the heat shield and it helps.. good...
Next haul out have a 1/2 in of pitch taken out of the prop. Or a spare prop?

Ohh and the raw water cooling hurts you to. Have to keep it at the 145 area or the salt, what little of it is in the area will start to stick to the manifolds hot spots.. Then your really screwed, so keep it cool and it will last longer.

So.. a summary.. take a little pitch out of the prop will let the engine run a little faster with less loading and pump a little more water all the while pushing the boat maybe a little easier, and the more water the engine pumps will keep the engine a little cooler... see this is a circle... and a lot of experimenting to get it just right.

Good luck

Lew Barrett
09-10-2008, 10:52 PM
Why not take the twenty minutes and fifty bucks to go get your starter checked? It seems so easy as the next logical step towards solving the immediate problem. I'd never argue with Canoeyawl, Paladin, or Cap't Jake, although I have been seen walking down the street arguing with myself. Or so I've been told.

Anyway, quite a few of the smart guys on this forum have checked in on this already, and I should add that you heard it from PC first. A rare case where all the stars are in alignment.


Word to the wise, except they don't need the words. It's us dumb ones that need the help.

pcford
09-10-2008, 11:12 PM
Anyway, quite a few of the smart guys on this forum have checked in on this already, and I should add that you heard it from PC first. A rare case where all the stars are in alignment.




You can lead a horse to water....

Oh well, some people prefer killing electrons to getting the problem solved.

Canoeyawl
09-10-2008, 11:34 PM
You may benifit from a gear reduction (modern) starter.
Any standard starter you can get for that engine will have been rebuilt a half dozen times and may not have quality components. This is a problem with older high compression V-8's
Look here (http://store.summitracing.com/partdetail.asp?autofilter=1&part=SUM%2D820311&N=700+115&autoview=sku)

Dale Genther
09-11-2008, 11:16 AM
OK, OK, you guys win!! I took the old starter out this AM and ordered a new one. It should be here tomorrow. Jeeze, a guy can't have any real fun anymore by messing about pointlessly with things.

Michael s/v Sannyasin
09-11-2008, 11:35 AM
yea, the slow cranking "like an almost dead battery" would point to the starter for me. There are so many things that can go wrong inside a starter, internal shorts, bad brushes etc, that replacing it, or rebuilding it, almost always makes sense (though it was painful on my Volvo Penta a few years ago).

I'd still look at fabricating some sort of heat shield between it and the block. Chuck is never wrong.

nedL
09-11-2008, 12:30 PM
As I was reading down the thread I was wondering - raw or fresh water cooled, and then found my answer. If the starter checks out OK I have another thought (related to the raw water cooling), but won't elaborate quite yet. Though the length of time the issue has persisted casts some doubt on my idea. Lets wait & see if hopefully it is just a starter problem.

pcford
09-11-2008, 12:33 PM
OK, OK, you guys win!! I took the old starter out this AM and ordered a new one. It should be here tomorrow. Jeeze, a guy can't have any real fun anymore by messing about pointlessly with things.

?????!!!!

Why didn't you take it to a starter/alternator specialist first?

Why do I bother?

Dale Genther
09-11-2008, 03:30 PM
pcford - The nearest starter testing/repair shop to here is a 45 minute drive, one way. Let's see 45 minutes to get there, 45 to get home, say 30 minutes there. Plus if I had to leave it overnight it would be double that. Thats a minimum of 2 hours out of my day, plus gas at 13 mpg, plus whatever they charge for the test/repair. New one cost me only $55.

Tell me, please, where did I go wrong??

capt jake
09-11-2008, 04:25 PM
There were heat shields available for some of those starters, until they improved the windings.

pcford
09-11-2008, 05:08 PM
pcford - The nearest starter testing/repair shop to here is a 45 minute drive, one way. Let's see 45 minutes to get there, 45 to get home, say 30 minutes there. Plus if I had to leave it overnight it would be double that. Thats a minimum of 2 hours out of my day, plus gas at 13 mpg, plus whatever they charge for the test/repair. New one cost me only $55.

Tell me, please, where did I go wrong??

A few points:

Your replacement starter is, I presume, a marine starter? Let's start there. I infer from the price that it is an automotive starter. An explosion and fire on a boat will spoil your whole day.

Rebuilt starters are notoriously bad unless you know the builder. My son paid $700 for rebuilt starters last year for his Land Cruiser. Finally took the starter to Acme Electric on Aurora and they replaced the crap parts.

Oh, and electric shops, in my experience, do the repair while you wait.

Sorry about your mileage.

Dale Genther
09-11-2008, 06:55 PM
pcford - The replacement is a marine strarter, it is a remanufactured Arco unit. Normally retails for about $139. The guy who owns the parts shop where I bought it owned me a favor so he charged be for an automotive unit. If it doesn't work properly I'll simple have him get me another one.

I agree the gas milage on our company truck is bad (Gas F250) but sometimes we have to tow some pretty heavy boats to our shop for us to work on.

Even at the normal price of $139 I'd still have bought a new (remanufactured) one as this time of year we are entering our pre-winter busy season and my time to work on our own boats vs. customers boats is very limited.

pcford
09-11-2008, 07:02 PM
pcford - The replacement is a marine strarter, it is a remanufactured Arco unit.

Good price.

capt jake
09-22-2008, 09:32 AM
Did the new starter cure the problem?

Dale Genther
09-22-2008, 11:00 AM
Yup, problem solved. Also when digging about the wiring, I noticed that the negative cable from the battery negative to the engine was about 12 feet long. Five feet would have been plenty. I suspect I was also getting some excessive voltage drop in the cable. So I shortened it to about 5 ft. This also helped.

capt jake
09-22-2008, 12:40 PM
Yup, problem solved. Also when digging about the wiring, I noticed that the negative cable from the battery negative to the engine was about 12 feet long. Five feet would have been plenty. I suspect I was also getting some excessive voltage drop in the cable. So I shortened it to about 5 ft. This also helped.

Sounds like a good plan. :)

I am glad it all worked out. :)

paladin
09-22-2008, 12:47 PM
Dale...use the excess cable length to double the cable from the battery ground to the starter...cuts the resistance in half, reducing the voltage drop.....

MiddleAgesMan
09-22-2008, 12:53 PM
Good suggestion, Pal. A good idea for new home or commercial construction as well. One of the world famous eco-advisors specifies oversize wiring for all his projects. He says the extra cost is paid back in a year or two with lower electric usage.

georgel
09-22-2008, 12:58 PM
I had that problem many years ago with a Leece Nevell starter. turned out that the wrapping on the fields was shot and there was a hi resistance "short " . I replaced the fields. Glad you got it solved.

Lew Barrett
09-22-2008, 12:59 PM
OK, OK, you guys win!! I took the old starter out this AM and ordered a new one. It should be here tomorrow. Jeeze, a guy can't have any real fun anymore by messing about pointlessly with things.

A great pun, by the way!

Dale Genther
09-22-2008, 02:46 PM
Paladin- Already did the double cable thing with the extra piece. I still have two feet left over.