Help cold starting cummins diesel

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by SouthernThunder, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. SouthernThunder

    SouthernThunder Well-Known Member

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    I have an old (1976) Road Boss dumptruck with a turbo Big Cam Cummins 400. There is no button for glow plugs and nothing at all for cold starting except the block heater chord out the front. I think the key swtich and start button were wired in at a later time so I am thinking that maybe the original iginition was wired up for glow plugs but I dont know. There has to be some method of cold starting this besides shooting either into it.

    Where would I look on this big sucker for the glow plugs or glow plug relay if it has one?

    I can follow the intake pipe from the turbo over to the intake manifold and don't see anything there...

    Could it have a compression release? How would I know?

    I am not familiar with these engines at all. I wish they made a big cam perkins. :shrug:
     
  2. boonieman

    boonieman Well-Known Member

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  3. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    Shoot it full of ether.
     
  4. WIPPdriver

    WIPPdriver Well-Known Member

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    If you have a manual cable to kill the engine, keep the kill engine cable pulled and crank the engine for about 10 seconds or longer depends on the coldness and then push in the kill cable. That should start your engine. What you are doing is heating the cylinders inside to over 800 degrees. Diesel needs at least that temp. to ignite.

    Marlin
     
  5. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    NEVER use Either to start A engine. Use W D 40 instead. its A kerosene based lube. And works. I think if you call the cummins dealer they might be able to help you. Give them A call.
     
  6. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    Be cautious with the either, it can lock up the motor fairly quick. We never sprayed more that to a quick count of 2 or 3. You can spray it full of WD-40 and get it started that way. The WD-40 won't damage the engine.

    That heater plug is hanging out for a reason. Use it or plan on fighting that baby every time you want to start her up in cold weather.

    Glow plugs will take a few minutes to warm up so when you turn the key, give it a few minutes before trying to crank it. You might have a plug or more than one burned out. I forgot how to check them, but will ask DH tomorrow if you haven't got it licked by then.
     
  7. SmartAZ

    SmartAZ Well-Known Member

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    A glow plug looks like an oil pressure sensor, which means it has a wire but otherwise doesn't look much like anything. Look for one per cylinder, wired together. And if that doesn't find them for you then you just need to find somebody who knows.

    Series plugs have two connections and require low voltage, about 1 volt, with high current, about 40 - 50 amps. If a cylinder has carbon, it can short the plug which will burn it out. If the next to last plug shorts, it might still work but the last one doesn't. If you suspect you have that you can remove the wires and check with an ohmmeter, one probe to the plug and the other to the block. Stick a screwdriver through the hole and dislodge some of the carbon. Carbon also means you need to get the injectors cleaned.

    Parallel plugs only have one connection. To check one, pull it out, get some oil on it, and hook it to a battery to see if it makes the oil smoke.

    An engine with enough compression will start without glow plugs. My Mercedes 300D will start at 32F even if the plugs don't work.

    Sometimes the fuel won't flow at low temps. Nothing to do but warm the fuel somehow, such as parking the whole machine in a heated building. It only has to be heated to 40F or so. A dirty fuel filter will cause the same trouble.

    Another thing I just recently found out is that the engines have been redesigned and the fuel now sold is not good for earlier engines. You need to add a small amount of oil, maybe a half pint per tank, to lubricate the fuel pump.
     
  8. lonelytree

    lonelytree Guest

    I heard that new WD-40 no longer has propane in it.

    Do not use ether on any diesel with a manifold heater. BOOM! $$$$$
     
  9. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    Id be suprized if that truck has a glow plug .But if the block heater works thats more than plenty.Down to about freezing you shouldnt even need that but if its an old moter with bad compression you might. Another trick is to heat the bateries.And to point a blow dryer into the intake.
    What the Pros do is to give them a jump and shoot a ton of ether in them.As long as the moter will turn I keep spraying trying to stop just before the moter quits turning.
     
  10. danb98577

    danb98577 Well-Known Member

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    Can't remember for sure, but I am thinking that engine should have a lever/cable operated compression release. If nothing else, get to a library and look in their Motor Manuals-it is surely in there. And xerox the valve setting procedure while you are there. It will take a couple of hours if you aren't familiar, but most diesels will snap to if the valves are correctly set-and a large number of them never are, so gallons of ether are slopped into an already compromised engine.
     
  11. poorboy

    poorboy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The older 60's cummins ,lots of em had compression release's, I don't remember em being on any 400's. The block heater if working and plugged up overnite or at least 4-5 hrs should do the trick. use the ether sparingly. My earlie 80's model 400 would start down about 30* f. with out using the block heater.
    Try cranking the engine about 15-20 seconds and then letting it rest afull minute and crank again. Works on some engines as the short cranking builds compression and allows the fuel to warm a little..:)
     
  12. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    DH was a truck driver for about 30 years. Here’s the advise he just gave me to give to you.

    Is there a light on the dash that says “wait to start”? If not, then it did not come from the factory with glow plugs.

    The motor is probably an after market addition. The truck probably came out with a gas engine. If so, then it won’t have a glow plug to the ignition. If it's an after market motor, someone may have installed a switch on the dash. Is there a toggle switch there? If it’s not on the dash, then you’ll have to install it yourself.

    Detroit engines had the compression release, cummins didn’t.

    DH says the ONLY way to start it when it’s cold is to plug it in for a few hours, or shoot it full of WD-40, but whatever you do, DON’T USE EITHER, it WILL lock up the motor. We have used either in the past, but you have to have 2 people to do it. One has to give a quick shot of either while the other is inside to start it. Just a quick shot or the motor will be history. This can be repeated a couple times, if it doesn't work fast, then it isn't going to work at all.

    If it has set for a long time, then the fuel might have drained down the lines. Then you’ll have to start it the same as if it ran out of fuel. Here’s how I used to do it on my diesel car. I drilled a hole in a spare fuel tank cover. Then put a valve stem in it. Yep, same valve stem that are in tires. Then get an air tank and pressure that dude up. That will get it to start. My old car had a bent fuel line that let the pressure slowly drop with a result that it thought it had run out of fuel. This method worked every time. Doesn't help for cold weather starting, but does get you back on the road if the fuel line looses pressure.
     
  13. SouthernThunder

    SouthernThunder Well-Known Member

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    Wow, thanks for all the info everyone! There is no wait to start light and after giving a good examination I found no glow plugs or intake heater. No compression release and thanks for pointing out that cummins didnt have this. All it has is a block heater and I have no electricty to plug it into except a very large fuel hungry lincoln pipeliner.

    I bought some starting fluid this morning that has a lubricant in it and I cleaned about 1 pound of dirt out of my air cleaner and gave it a shot and it fired right up.
     
  14. boonieman

    boonieman Well-Known Member

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    I really like this site, but one thing I've noticed is that people ask advice and lots of folks take the time, energy, and research to try to help, but the person that asked in the first place never says if it worked or not. More often than not, you never hear if the advice was good, bad, or otherwise. A lot of people have situations that apply to the same questions that are asked. I'm glad you got it started.
     
  15. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    Glad it all came together for you. Thanks for letting us know how it worked out.
     
  16. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    I didnt know you didnt have electricity. If I had I would have emphasized that taking the batteries in and keeping them warm will help tons .Also if it gets very cold there (less than 20 o F)you will have to find someway to heat the intake charge. Something like a propane torch on the intake manifold or simular. You dont need to melt it or the gaskets under it just play it over the metal till its warm.Also in cold weather the fuel may gel. #1 deisel is the best thing to use below 20o but there are additives that are handy to add to a tank already full of #2 and in a pinch up to 20% kerosene will work.
    NEVER THIN DEISEL WITH GAS
    gas wont explode in the tank because of the richness of the fumes Deisel wont because of the thinness the two togather are EXPLOSIVE at the slightest touch
    Below 0 just throw a tarp over the whole thing and heat the moter fuel lines tanks and all. Or better yet go back in the house make hot choclote and take the kids skating.
     
  17. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Winter blends of Diesel have up to 37 percent Gasiline in them. Ant that does No harm. just read what winterized fuel is at the pump.
     
  18. palani

    palani Well-Known Member

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    I used to use a propane block heater. Perfect for use where no electricity is around. You might still be able to find them. The heater gets inserted in the return coolant hose to the radiator. The hot air coming off the exhaust can warm up the batteries too.
     
  19. Grover

    Grover Member

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    I would recomend a South Wind Heater. They mount on the frame or behind the cab. They are a gas fired water heater with a circulation pump to keep the engine at near operating temp. Spendy about $300. But well worth it if you are using the truck everyday. You can also get a hot water pad to go under the batteries to keep them warm.
    http://www.stewart-warner.com/combustion.html
    http://www.arctic-fox.com/pdf/battery_heater_flier.pdf
     
  20. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    Where do you get this stuff?
    If ya wana try this out light gas then diesel and then a mix and notice which one blows your hair off!