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Etec lower cylinder not firing

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Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Ixneigh » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:33 pm

This morning was very calm. The engine would barely run, on one cylinder, to get me back to the mooring, after having stayed out last night a few miles away
A few times the 2nd cylinder kicked in briefly. I noticed the motor missing a few times when I left the yard, but didnt think much about it. Checked the filters etc. exhaust smells rich. There for I concluded it is not an injector but an ignition issue. Where is the most likely place to start? Plugs are 3 years old, but the engine has less than 100 hours since then.

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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Jimmyt » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:31 pm

Have you already determined which cylinder isn't running (title implies this)? If so, how?

My first test in a loss of cylinder issue is an inductive timing light to check spark signal. Mine has long enough leads that I can generally reach the ignition switch while holding the light. I just hold the light trigger and hit the starter switch and look at the light to check for a pulse. I would have started it and checked each plug wire for spark - if it would run. This will only tell you that the coil, wire, ignition module might be ok, won't tell you the plug is actually sparking properly. If you're showing spark on both cylinders, you need to pull the plugs and check them for proper spark visually. At this point, you'll probably need a helper or a remote start button.

The inline spark tester from harbor freight will give you a similar result, but you have to be closer to it to see - need another person possibly. Again, this will only show that you're getting a pulse - not necessarily a spark.

No spark signal usually indicates a module, coil, or wire issue, but I'd still put a good plug on it and check before I started up the line. Plugs are probably the cheapest and easiest things to just try.

The timing light and spark tester may show a pulse even when the voltage isn't high enough to spark a good plug, so this is only the first part of the puzzle. It will tell you if something's gone totally bad, and safely determine which cylinder it is. You can pull each plug wire while the engine is running to determine which cylinder it is. I have had a really bad experience with this technique and don't use it or recommend it.

You can have a plug fail (even get a bad one out of the box), so can't rule that out because they aren't old. Swap the position of your plugs and see if it changes which cylinder is dead. Good check if you're by yourself and don't want to buy new plugs to try something. If your problem changes cylinders, you'll know it's just the plug.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Ixneigh » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:12 pm

It's the lower cylinder. That plug seems difficult to get to, so I will mark the base of the top plug and remove that just to check condition first. Then, I will use that plug in the lower cylinder little black box thing to see if that putting out spark. I can rig up a trixie to start the engine while I'm down in the well looking at the plugs.
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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Ixneigh » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:14 pm

Hatz Vertical diesel engine 1D90W https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076YZK6L9/re ... bCb04RZW0B

Replace the power head with this??? :D :D
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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Gazmn » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:27 am

Wow Ix,
I hope it all works out. I would be lost as to what to do - besides call BoatUS or Seatow :?
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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Ixneigh » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:03 am

This engine uses a smaller plug wrench then I am used to. After locating one in my small equipment tool box, I removed the top plug. It was fouled with oily residue. I cleaned it and replaced it. Based on this, I assume the bottom is similar, and is the problem. What is the best way to access the bottom plug?
Def. Going to keep spare plugs, and proper sized wrench, on board!

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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby March » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:40 pm

Holy cow, Ix, you have more guts than me. I have an almost religious awe for the ETEC. My mechanic told me that you have to "index" and "mark" the spark plugs so they can be replaced exactly in the same position for the injectors to work as they should--or else, the computer receives erroneous information. Which would lead to misfiring. When I wanted to buy a set of extra plugs for a Bahama expedition, he said "Well, I'll sell them to you, but you won't be able to change them anyways. Better not monkey with the ETEC and hope you won't need to." It all sounded voodoo to me, but I humbly complied.

Let us know how it goes.
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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Ixneigh » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:15 pm

Well the engine wont run right now. And the plug was in so tight it would not even go a smidgen tighter. So, I put it back the same way. I ran the motor quite a bit last spring to charge batteries on my trip south. Thinking that could foul the plugs. (No sun, bad connection on the panel, back up generator conked out)
Amazing how stuff bites it on a boat. In the generators case, one wire had melted the plastic retainer slightly so it was no longer making good contact with the terminal lug. It appeared undamaged until I removed it. The solar panel wire had chafed nearly though in a hidden spot. :P :P
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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Ixneigh » Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:41 am

Apparently "indexing" means to install the plugs as tight as possible. Did get the lower plug out. It was dirty. I cleaned it, reinstalled it, and the motor started right up. Its quite simple to do, however, today I will buy the correct tools. You need a long extension to reach down to the lower cylinder. Also, the black box thing that the wire for the plug comes out of, that you need to remove for this operation, has two rubber washers for each bolt. I lost one right away, so I'll get a few spares.
Since I travel at 4-5 k under power, the engine seldom comes under much load. That is an argument for a smaller engine for my particular use. Meantime, I will just check the plugs once in a while to keep 5yem clean.

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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby K9Kampers » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:23 pm

Ixneigh wrote:... need to remove for this operation, has two rubber washers for each bolt. I lost one right away, so I'll get a few spares...


At least you made your Neptune offering right away instead of having to agonize over which part to sacrifice for the job!
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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Jimmyt » Sat Dec 08, 2018 2:44 pm

Don't know if you were kidding or not, but indexing in this case, means turning the plug gap to face the injector. It can be a trial and error process as plugs may vary slightly. Torque allowance is 15-22 ft lbs if I remember correctly. I would be careful about over-torquing your plugs. There are some YouTube videos on indexing Etec plugs properly.

I doubt that indexing matters at the speeds you are running though. I think it's more about squeezing the last bit of power and efficiency out of it. Sounds like you haven't done enough running (duration, speed, or both), to keep the plugs clean. Hazards of using a giant 2-stroke for kicker duty I guess.

Nice that you only dropped a rubber washer. I usually drop the tool I'm using...
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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Ixneigh » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:00 pm

Well I went to the napa shop and bought 2 spare plugs. A long extension, two proper sized plug sockets. And a ratchet. these will go into a separate tool bag to reduce chances of these items being used for something else.
This is the first time I've had an issue with my engine. Last spring I used it to charge batteries during my 2 week cruise south. I know that's not I good idea. Once every few weeks I run the motor wide open, but only for 10 minuts or so. It's a wet ride unless the water is perfectly flat. If I have to repower for whatever reason, I think I'm going to use a 20 hp motor. That's better suited to running at 4 knots for hours.
(Though I thought the etec had a so called trolling mode to keep it from fouling plugs)

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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Gazmn » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:37 pm

Ixneigh wrote:Well I went to the napa shop and bought 2 spare plugs. ...

Ix

Glad you got it running. I’m also intimidated by my E-tec like March. But you inspire hope :)

Do the E-tecs use a special sparkplug? Gold tipped or forged in Mordor :?
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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby Ixneigh » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:23 pm

They are about 9 dollars each. They have a much smaller electrode than other plugs.
I am also going to add a small wire brush to my motor tool bag to clean them if needed. Glad I got all this before going off on a long trip somewhere

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Re: Etec lower cylinder not firing

Postby March » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:16 am

Ixneigh wrote:
They are about 9 dollars each. They have a much smaller electrode than other plugs.

Sounds about right. When we were stranded in Nassau with a broken ETEC last year, the local Evinrude dealer didn't have them in stock (go figure). We went to a NAPA store and they didn't have them either--but could order them. In like 6 weeks.
Good to have some spares around. I wouldn't even bother with the wire brush. They would be more likely to get fouled up with oil that can be easily cleaned up with alcohol, than with hard deposits. No need to recondition the old plugs if you have new spares
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