Item posted: Friday 20th July , 2012
So, over the past few months, Miley�s engine has been a bit temperamental. This is the first time since I�ve had her (Dec 2008) that she hasn�t started instantly every time. Sometimes absolutely nothing happened when you turned the ignition key, other times the engine would turn over but just fail to start.
In the end, with the help of the kind fellows at Mick West Marine in Brighton (who charged nothing for 20 minutes of their time and advice) we traced the route of the problem by process of elimination. Fuel was present and getting through, and the starter motor was trying to start the engine, but the glow pins weren�t getting enough voltage to warm up properly and thus start the engine.
That the glow pins weren�t getting enough voltage meant it was an electrical problem � and this also resonated with the fact that sometimes turning the ignition key would do nothing at all, whereas other times it worked fine, but it was very intermittent. It became obvious where the electrical fault was: in the main wiring loom going from the engine, there was a connector block dividing the loom in two halves, in case you needed to remove the engine from the boat. Most of the connectors on this block looked very green and corroded � a good wiggle made the ignition come on and off. This was obviously the problem.
My good friend Jonny, who lives on the pontoon next to me on his wooden ketch La Maja, came round to give me a hand re-doing all of the connections on the loom. I decided to just get rid of the connector block, and instead crimp the wires together individually. Let�s face it � if I ever need to remove the engine from the boat, I think a few electrical connections are going to be the last of my worries.
A handful of crimps later, we re-crimped all of the connections and, hey presto, the engine started first time. I gave it some welly in reverse gear, and let it run up to temperature. When I told Jonny to take it out of gear so I could stop the engine, his response was �How do I take it out of gear?� I was surprised to say the least � Jonny lives on his own boat, and definitely knows how to take one out of gear. Alarm bells started ringing, and I climbed out into the cockpit to raise one eyebrow at him. But sure enough, I couldn�t take it out of gear either. It was stuck at high revs in reverse gear � you couldn�t physically move the gear lever.
We had no choice but to stop the engine whilst still in gear. I wasn�t very happy at the thought of this so I made Jonny press the stop button whilst I stuck my fingers in my ears and prayed it wouldn�t go bang, or something (female engine illogic).
So, that�s about right when it comes to boats, isn�t it? One problem fixed (I have a working engine), another discovered (it will only go in reverse). At least we were still tied to the pontoon, otherwise I could have a very different story to tell�
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jelly shares insights into the life and loves of a liveaboard writer, sailor and young entrepreneur.