Item posted: Thursday 25th October , 2012
After enjoying a few good sails since re-crimping the engine wiring loom and installing a new morse cable, and with autumn well under way, I decided it was about time to run the engine again and get into the habit of doing so regularly throughout the winter.
So I checked the gear lever was free and moved between gears. It passed that test. I turned the key. It passed that test; the ignition came on. Then I glowed it for 30 seconds – another test passed. I turned the key to start the engine, and there was a horrible mechanical grinding noise. I stopped, and tried again, and then there was no noise at all. I can’t decide which is better: a horrible noise or no noise. Anyway, they both sucked.
It was obviously something wrong with the starter motor. It was getting power and the solenoid worked, so it needed to be removed for further inspection. At the time, my mate Tom had come to stay for a few days whilst over in the UK for a short visit back home (he has been off cruising on his boat for three years now, currently in Brazil), and resident mechanic Dad came down too. Between the two of them they managed the impossible yet again (the boat had been built around the starter motor fittings, of course) and removed the old motor. It became obvious what the problem was: lots of rust and corrosion meant the bendix was totally jammed and not moving up to engage with the flywheel.
Time to hunt down a new starter motor. My engine is a Nanni Diesel, so first of all, I made a call to Nanni’s UK distributors. They had a starter motor in stock, but it would be about £250 inc. VAT & P&P – and that’s with a discount! Yikes. Always one to shop around, I said I’d try and get some other quotes and let them know. And then I had a brainwave: because Nanni Diesels are simply marinised Kubota engines, I tried looking for Kubota suppliers. I Googled the part number on my existing starter motor, which was luckily still visible, and came up with a company who supplied nothing but alternators & starter motors. They listed one as a match for my part number – yes! And how much was it? £110 including VAT & next working day delivery. Bargain! I bought it, and was happy to see that it looked like a good match when it arrived. Yet more proof that things magically double in price whenever the word ‘marine’ is involved.
Dad came down to fit the motor the next week. And what a palaver that was; again, there was nothing inherently difficult about what we were trying to do, but because the starter is bolted on to the bottom of the engine, it was impossible to see what we were doing, and had to feel around for the bolts and brackets. Dad spent a few hours getting annoyed, and then I had a go, and my smaller hands achieved it.
And then, when all was completed, I turned the key, and Milestone started quicker than she ever had done before. We completed our day’s work with an oil & filter change, and now I have a very happy Milestone and she has a very happy jelly. Thanks dad!
jelly shares insights into the life and loves of a liveaboard writer, sailor and young entrepreneur.