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8 Main reasons why marine engine not starting or turning

why marine engine not starting or turn

As a marine engineer; it’s very necessary to know why marine engine not starting or turn when try to roll the engine for starting.

While working onboard some ships, I have witnessed some problems of such, which I will like to share and discuss on this article.

First, knowing your engine common behavior, sounds, etc is always recommended. This will help you more during troubleshooting of any fault which may come up.

Moreover, in a marine diesel engine; there are various factors affecting starting an engine which includes all the system that are inter-locked and safety devices. In any case where one fails the control will not start the engine, its possible to result in more problem.

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Recommended procedures for preparing and upkeep of Marine Engine

Most marine engineers sometimes feel unconcerned in the terms of keeping common engine rules. By doing so, these negligence compile for large faults of an engine, which may result to marine engine not starting when required.

It’s important before starting the engine the engine jacket water (cooling water) temperature should not be below the manufacturer recommends.

why marine engine not starting or turn
SKL Marine Auxiliary Engine

Also, make sure the pressure should be correct and lube oil temperature and pressure should be in the desired value. Starting engine with cold jacket water and lube oil will gradually force O-rings and seals out-of-order. Furthermore; it can also expand and/or crack water and oil inner pipes as a result of the high-pressure cause by temperature differences.

You can get this handbook on Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair.

Main reasons why marine engine not starting or turn?

To move straight on the topic of this article “why marine engine not starting”, I would like to list possibly faults which may cause your engine not to start (fire) and/or turn when turning gear engaged. They are as follows:

  • Water presents in the cylinder: As you know, presently, most marine auxiliary engines and even main engines are builds without indicator valves. In this case, it seems difficult to blow through (check for water leak), before starting the engine. While turning the engine manually; check for proper revolvement, but if find stuck some were, then there are possibilities that water is inside any of your cylinders.
  • Carbon deposit: Unlike water present in the combustion chamber, sometimes if an engine has been a long time overhauled; its possible for tick carbon deposits to remain on the top dead center (TDC). This will cause the piston not to reach the required top position and force the piston to stuck on the top.
  • Turning gear engaged; Sometimes people do forget to disengage the turning gear after turning the engine. You should understand for safety purpose, this device is always inter-lock with engine starting system eg air solenoid, fuel control system, etc.

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  • Air valve condition; I have witnessed a case were main air valve solenoids get seize in the closed position, which stops air from reaching the starting air actuators of individual cylinders. Always check the valve condition or manually open them if necessary.
  • Actuator valve malfunctions: The actuating valve for the Automatic starting air stop valve may be partially open or seize. Check and rectify for proper results.
  • Gear Seized; In most cases, some damage piece of metal may stick in between gear, therefore, cause the running gear component to stuck in a point, preventing the engine from starting or turn.
  • Safety Inter-lock; As earlier said, if you don’t compile with all procedures required for the safety of the engine and that of the operator(you); then some you may have any of the interlock functions active. This will cause other systems not to respond too. Check temperatures, control air, Oil mist detector faulty, Oil level, etc.
  • Non Return valve problem: It is important to drain main air bottle for condensed waters/oil (due to change in temperature). This is because sending air with water across non-return valve in starting air pipe may cause it to seize or defective. It can happen in a closed position.

By checking or troubleshooting on above listed, you will be able to find a solution to fault relating to marine engine not starting or not Turning problem.

If your boat or marine engine not starting, we also recommend check out this guide to Know Your Boat’s Diesel Engine: An Illustrated Guide to Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair.

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