My Lis­ter’s got a bit lack­adaisi­cal in the cold

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin -

QWhen start­ing my Lis­ter LPWS4 I turn the key to ‘pre-heat’, wait un­til the glow­plug light goes out, then en­gage the starter; un­til re­cently I had no prob­lems, but now the en­gine fires and then dies. I got it run­ning by mov­ing the throt­tle to half open, but on eas­ing back, it stalled or ran quite roughly. Af­ter a minute and a half, it set­tled down and ran nor­mally – but the whole process was re­peated at ev­ery sub­se­quent cold start.

I changed the glow­plugs but the prob­lem per­sists. I did no­tice a lot of dark smoke and a high-pitched whine / squeal on start up, both of which dis­ap­pear once run­ning nor­mally. Could it be an in­jec­tor prob­lem?

IVAN CHAM­BER­LAIN, via email

ATONY REPLIES… If a diesel has its speed held down by ex­ter­nal means it will pro­duce smoke, but only in gear. Your prob­lem hap­pens out of gear, so some­thing on the en­gine it­self could be slow­ing it. It could be an al­ter­na­tor seiz­ing up, or flat or faulty bat­ter­ies (which would ex­plain the squeal). Try with­out the al­ter­na­tor belt(s) fit­ted. It will be safe if you only run the en­gine for a minute. Try turn­ing the al­ter­na­tor(s) by hand.

That en­gine, I think, uses hy­draulic valve lifters. On a cold start it can take a while be­fore suf­fi­cient oil en­ters the cham­ber for the valves to be fully opened. If the oil gets too dirty it can clog the mech­a­nism in the valve lifters, so un­less you have been scrupu­lous with oil and fil­ter changes, this might be the prob­lem. The lifters also mal­func­tion if the en­gine oil pres­sure is too low.

I would use au­to­mo­tive en­gine clean­ing ad­di­tive be­fore oil changes. Also check the oil pres­sure just in case the pres­sure re­lief valve has jammed open.

On cars with such lifters it was not un­usual to have to dis­man­tle them to make sure a lit­tle ball valve is free and sealing. Dark smoke could also in­di­cate in­jec­tors that need over­haul­ing. First, I would in­ves­ti­gate the al­ter­na­tor, the bat­ter­ies’ state of charge, and use flush­ing ad­di­tive.

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