Problems in Cold Starting Volvo Penta Marine Gasoline Engines
Reading reports on the Volvo gas engine, there seems to be a cold start problem. This sounds like an ignition problem. In the old days I used to renew plugs, points and condenser on my uncle's boat every year at the start of the fishing season. I would then give the whole system a thorough clean and degrease the leads and distributer before coating them with and anti-condensation/damp spray. Pretty basic stuff, but the engine gave little trouble, the boat being used two or three times a day carrying about ten passengers on fishing trips.
With today’s modern marine engine's computerized electrics and electronic ignition, you would think that the ignition system would be pretty reliable, but dampness will always be a factor. I am sure that a damp-proof spray would still be applicable, but check the engine manual first.
The generator, batteries, and starter motors should also be checked at least once a year as a slow crank turn-over is a cause of hard start.
I noticed during my research into the Volvo Penta engines that when some were hard to start, a squirt of ether into the air filter was recommended. I advise strongly against this although as a last resort I have used it myself- but only on one particular engine. I was Third Engineer at the time and the ship was in dry-dock in Govan, a port on the River Clyde.
I was due to have the ships lifeboat surveyed. The engine was a two cylinder Petter diesel and a pig to start, endeavoring to break your wrist when you dropped the decompresses.
Anyway, the Bosun and I checked the lifeboat supplies and I tried the engine with usual result so I gave it a squirt of Quick-Start and away she went. I warmed it up nicely, shut it down then awaited the Ships Surveyor who, when arrived, rechecked the supplies and asked me to start the engine. I turned it over dropped the de-compressors and away she went like a Swiss watch.
The Chief was along with the surveyor and he invited the Bosun, Surveyor and self to his cabin for a dram. I was feeling pretty cocky until the surveyor said he hoped I had enough Quick-start left to start the engine in the Atlantic – if we had to abandon ship! Obviously he smelt the ether.
After talking to the Petters representative in Glasgow, he recommended new fuel injectors, piston rings, O rings in the fuel pump and overhaul of valve gear. I spent the next few days stripping the engine, grinding in the valves and rebuilding it with the new parts.
I primed the fuel lines, cranked her over a few times and away she went- under her own steam, so to speak. I never had any more bother with that engine, but also never found out what the cause was; maybe it was a combination of faults that were rectified by the overhaul.
1. Cruisersforum: Problems with Volvo Penta
2. Marinepartsexpress: Black/blue/white smoke
3. Volvopenta: Marine Engines
4. Sailnet: Volvo Penta Forum
5. Marinefuel: Volvo Penta Engine