Boat Journal

Chronicling a love affair with sailing

Month: February 2010

(Un) Cranky Engine

Those of you who have been following these posts for awhile know that I had problems with the engine not starting last winter.  Well this year I tried to avoid that problem by trying to turn it over every week or two.  But it wouldn’t turn over.

Let me back up a bit, because there’s more to this story that I’ve not had time to share will you.

Back in November, during the last race of the year, the engine died on us on the way out of the marina.  So along with getting stuck in the channel, I had a dead engine to contend with.  The tank still had plenty in it, but I added the gallon I keep around for emergencies anyway.  Now the engine worked fine, which made me suspect that the fuel was dirty.  So I asked at the marina about having the tank cleaned out.  I was told it would run about $300.  Better to just try changing the filters first.  So they did that.  And their diesel expert, who changed the filters, suggested getting the tank cleaned out.  No duh!

So the tank was cleaned.

But, if you’ve also kept an eye on the Mid-Atlantic weather, you’ve seen that we’re having quite a cold winter this year. And, when the mechanics were through, I still couldn’t start the engine.

Because it has been so cold, as per Nelson’s suggestion last winter, I’ve kept a light bulb on the engine to keep it from getting too cold.  Apparently, though, that didn’t make it warm enough to get it started. Brent, the diesel mechanic, suggested I might want to get something to warm the engine and see if the thing just doesn’t like cold weather.

I have a sister who lives in New Hampshire.  She told me years ago about dipstick heaters that they use in the winter up there.  But when I tried to find one online, the ones I found either were oil pan heaters (which I was told weren’t the best to use on this engine) and dipstick heaters that didn’t warm the engine enough that it would be able to start.

Oh well!

Oh, the marina did try using a block heater.  But apparently there isn’t enough flat surface on my engine to stick the thing on.

So, I talked to my engine guru, Dan.  He suggested something that would warm the antifreeze instead.  So I’m purchasing one of these:

Coolant heater


It’s a Kim Hotstart coolant heater. I’ll let you know how it goes!