Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

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jimbo10
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Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by jimbo10 » Wed May 22, 2013 4:46 pm

Hi forum

My new to me centaur has the above engine, which is very hard to start. It takes about 5 minutes, with the cold start engaged (and I'm assuming the cold start button is actually connected to something)

Once the old lump has fired up and been running for a while, I can turn it off, and it will start again with one turn of the key.

When running it is quite smoky - I would say the smoke is grey/black rather than blue (although I could not say for certain there is no blue smoke in there). The higher the revs the more smoke. There is also a slick of sorts which is noticeable when tied up, but not so noticeable under way.

The tachometer is not working and neither is the temp gauge so I cannot give info on revs or temperature.

The compression levers are very easy to move so I am assuming there is low compression (btw - how should these levers be positioned in normal everyday working?)

Anyway - there is the background, question now is what to do about it?

Option 1) Nothing, accept that I have a smoky old hard to start engine and continue to conduct routine maintenance until such time (if at all) that the engine conks out, or fails to start. Then repower or overhaul

Option 2) Attempt to resolve this myself, with the engine in situ - despite my lack of experience of anything other than routine oil / filter / impeller stuff. Is it possible (for example) to replace the piston rings with the engine still in place? Is it wise? Is there anything else I should be doing first?

Option 3) Engage the assistance of a professional mechanic / marine engineer to rectify the problem. Can this be done in situ? What is it likely to cost in terms of labour, and how long should I reasonably expect it to take?

Option 4) re-power before the engine conks out..

Thank you for reading this far. Any comments on the above would be very welcome.

Jim

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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by rhumlady » Wed May 22, 2013 8:22 pm

Jim,

Black smoke could be due to lack of air for combustion. Try running with the engine bay cover open/off and see if it makes a difference.
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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by Uncle Albert » Wed May 22, 2013 10:12 pm

Hi Jim, Sorry if any of this is simplistic, but I am a simple sort of chap

These engines are not to difficult to deal with. I have rebuilt the top end of mine following a blown cylinder liner and fitted these plus new pistons and rings with the engine still in the boat. It comes apart in large bits!

Firstly before taking stuff apart a couple of matters.
Down load the workshop manual from the Volvo site, its free, print uit out and study it. Use teh exploded diagrams on teh marinepartsEurope site to see whats what inside the engine

The decompression levers should be in the horizontal position for normal running. Vertical position depresses the exhaust valve and prevents a sealed compression chamber. You can determine this if you have a hand starter. When the de-compression is activated, ie vertical, then you can turn the engine over by hand. When in the horizontal position then it is really hard to do and in my case impossible. ( hope I have got that teh right way round :roll:

I have a grey smoke on start up and a slight staining of unburnt oil at the exhaust. This is probably injector tuning. I have not bothered to attedn to as it does not use a lot of fuel. I use Red diesel as I work on the princple that these old engines wont like the new 'bio' tainted stuff as it wasn't invented when they were made

Are you sure the cold start button is depressed after turning throttle lever to about 2/3rds throttle and not touching it til engine fires. Any movement of the throttle lever will disengage the cold start. Mine sometimes does not go down first time so needs watching if it does not fuire within 2 or three seconds. Like yours once warm ( or even on the same day 10 hours later) it fires on the key

If you do go down the road of needing to replace rings etc I would recommend that you do the cylinder liners too. This is because if teh engine has been overheating the liners stand a good chance of failing due to localised hot spots. The whole lot, liners, pistons, rings and gudgeon pins along with gasket set should be less than £1K, which is a lot different to about £7K for a new engine prop shaft etc etc etc.

If you do find that yoy need take it apart and replace stuff keep in touch as I found a couple of helpfull wrinkles to get cylinders onto pistons and home made ring compressors etc.

Look out my started thread Volvo Penta MDIIC Lots of water in the oil how? for more info.

Oh and finally the temp gauge really needs to be working these engines are not very temperature sensible in that they seem to have plenty of water when running slow but once opened up a bit there does not seem enough cooling. If I run mine at over 2K revs I get white smoke (steam) and the temp gauge goes into the red til the thermostat does its job and opens, but there is still a light delay, hence the steam out of the exhaust.

Good luck and let us know what you do .

Steve ( Uncle albert)
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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by jimbo10 » Fri May 24, 2013 1:37 pm

Derek - interesting thought. I'll also look into replacing or perhaps removing the air filters. Hadn't thought of that at all!

Steve - Thanks for your detailed post. I'll start with the hand start compression test and move on from there and will look into the instrument panel as a priority too. In the interim I will read your other thread in detail.

Thanks again for your replies.

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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by philipstevens » Fri May 24, 2013 8:03 pm

Have you had the injectors cleaned and set up?

As already been advised, it could be lack of air - (though I would not think this) - or too much fuel being supplied from an injector.

Before I had out 2003 reconditioned, one injector sprayed, one dribbled, and one did not much at all!! After servicing them, the engine starts immediately.
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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by richardware » Wed May 29, 2013 8:37 pm

Hi Jim

I rebuilt an MD 11C from crankshaft up in 2010 including new cylinder liner and piston to aft cylinder. Complete bore of head and block cooling ducts, valve re-seat and so on. Runs like new, no smoke at all, no oil use, cool etc. 1.25 litres per hour at cruising speed and will run all day without falter. Let me know if you would like more details, pics, contacts or advice.

Richard

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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by jimbo10 » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:53 pm

Thanks again for the replies and apologies for the delay in getting back to the thread.

I've spent the last couple of days moving the boat from Pwllheli to Caernarfon, a lovely trip and plenty of opportunity to give the engine a good run, given the lack of wind.
On the advice of Steve I attended to the temp gauge (now working, although tachometer is not) and also removed air cleaners on advice of Rhum to see if they were starving engine of oxygen. Results - engine initially started better and with the temp gauge on-line, when things did go pear shaped and we lost power I could see that the engine hadn't overheated!

Prior to departure I also changed oil, filters impeller etc (btw is it normal to have to remove the water pump to change the impeller?)

Engine was smokey but not abnormally so as we left Pwllheli, but the (grey) smoke increased as we made progress, with the engine cutting out about 3.5 hours into the trip. Thankfully our timing was good and Bardsey Sound was slack! 15 mins with the covers off and we turned they key and were off again - albeit with a fair bit of smoke. An hour later the wind picked up and the engine got a rest for a couple of hours before being called into action again for the last leg to Porth Dinllaen. This time it was not so easy to start and smoked like a chimney.

A 5am start from PD and still no wind, so off with the covers and a load of cranking. No joy and under the threat of a foul tide in the straight, cracked open the easystart.. Well, she started, albeit reluctantly, and we headed off towards the bar in a cloud of grey smoke.

She kept on thumping all the way over the bar and eventually into Victoria Dock, smoking all the way and only cutting out as I attempted to scrub off a speed approaching a pontoon!

Needless to say, she didn't start again and we ended up warping her to her berth.

Observations - the needle of the temp gauge moves around the green but never into the red.
Initially ran better without air cleaners, but this advantage soon dissipated (and engine bay filled with smoke)
After at least 12 hours motoring, engine is substantially harder to start and produces more (grey) smoke

Actions - Air intakes to be cleaned and refitted
Injectors have been removed and sent to a bosch service centre.

I think that's pretty much all I can do, other than a repower or overhaul. Richard - I would certainly appreciate any advice, especially costings, you could give, and I would defiantly appreciate any pictures or other info you may have.

Thanks again to everyone who replied to this thread. It has all helped.

Cheers

Jim

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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by Uncle Albert » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:01 pm

This looks remarkable like my episode last year.
Have you checked the oil level? When mine did something similar I had a sump full of grey sludge, (mixed sea water and oil and lots of it, on pumping it out there was 17 litres of the stuff when there should only be 6 litres of oil) my first thoughts were water pump seal but it turned out after strip down to be cylinder liner perforated.

The indicators I had were very much like yours:-
Grey smoke (the result of the overfull sump pressurising the oil out thorugh the breather into the oil filler cap and then into the air intake and being burnt by combustion)

Exhaust spilling grey and imulsified oil as a slick out of the back of the boat.

Engine still running though somewhat reluctant to start . I had to make 1.5 miles on tick over to get back to my mooring. ( A testament though to the stalwart nature of these engines)

Hope this helps

Unc
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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by Uncle Albert » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:23 pm

Hi Jim, Further to my earlier post. More ramblings here

If you have the need to rebuild the top end then the replacement liner/piston/rings/gudgeon pin/seals kits (2 off) were obtained from Volspec. A full gasket set was purchased also along with water pump seals all up it was less than £900.00. If you ask they may well offer you a discount against full price, (they did for me).
I still have an OK liner and piston/rings and G pin as only one of mine blew but of course cannot vouch for its longevity. You would be very welcome to it if you find that that is what you need.

I did consider re-engining but the cost came out at about 7k what with new shaft, prop (other rotation direction), exhaust, (comes out other side of block), mounting feet, etc etc etc.

Glad you got the temp gauge going, the needle indeed wanders about the green sector reflecting the opening and closing of the thermostat. At least you have a view of what is going on in there now. The rev counter is a luxury which can wait.

My engine developed its problems after about 24 hours use over a 2 day period (WOA Medway Rally last year) similar to your experience. An engineer advised that diesels get hot spots and burn through. He showed me a truck liner with exactly the same symptom and said it was after about 150K miles, but of course they are not cooled by salt water :!:
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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by jimbo10 » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:36 pm

Thanks my friend

I checked the oil prior to reinstalling injectors. Oil level pretty much spot on and looks clean. Couldn't start it though. I'm hoping that I failed to bleed fuel system correctly, or missed something else, but I fear the worst.

I'm getting a second opinion and will make a decision what to do based on that, and will of course keep you updated.

Thanks

Jim

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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by smudger » Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:19 pm

Hi,dont know if this has any bearing on your problem,on page 32 of the volvo diy manual it says,"Never fit a copper washer under injector,this will cause engine to smoke."

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Re: Smoky & hard to start MD 11C

Post by jimbo10 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:26 pm

Hi all

I thought I'd update the thread, both for the benefit of those who were kind enough to share their experiences and advice, and also for anyone who might stumble across this thread with a similar problem in the future.

I was lucky enough to end up in Caernarfon. I asked Menai Marine for assistance. Tim was unable to fix the problem himself, but despite selling and installing engines for a living, advised against a replacement and put me in touch with a marine engineer.

Ben, the engineer, immediately identified the problem as a blown valve, advised replacing all valves and springs which he did at a very reasonable cost. He also advised that the piston rings were in good condition and no further work was necessary.

Result, my engine now starts on the turn of the key and does not smoke at about a tenth of the cost of a new engine installation.

I would recommend everyone involved 100%. If anyone would like contact details please feel free to message me.

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