cold-start!

Just got the following email in response to comments on poor cold starting in Kubota article:-
"I was an R&D engineer with Rolls Royce working on Diesel engines for most
of my working life which involved quite a lot of cold starting work down to as low as minus 40C. During the severe winter of early 1963 we had several engines lined up in an open shed for cold starting tests mainly using ether. When the engines fired on the ether the detonation had to be heard to be believed, it sounded like someone striking the piston with a very large sledge hammer so I can understand the warnings about the possible consequences of its use. Later on when working on an military engine which had to start down to minus 40C we had a failure to start in a cold chamber test and when this happened we had to start the engine by hook or by crook to clear the engine out or the next test would not be representative. This engine had a large diesel burner in the intake which had failed to ignite so the next attempt was for me to spray two aerosols of starting fluid into the intake whilst my colleague pressed the starter button, it was an 18 litre V8 so it needed a lot, nothing happened for a few seconds until the burner igniter lit the ether leaving me holding two aerosols which looked like flame throwers with flames right back to the nozzles, needless to say I very quickly released the nozzles. The interesting part of all this was that the engine did not respond to the ether alone but fired immediately when the ether ignited demonstrating that the best cold starting aid is heat as we confirmed later when the burner worked properly."
--
NHH



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Interesting, Nick, our cold climate correspondent came to this conclusion, didn't he?
Aside from the concerns about possible piston damage - bearing in mind I don't do squash-bang engines ;o)) - I think Easy Start (etc) is a very useful product for establishing that everything is more or less OK with an engine which has a spark but no petrol tank etc. This is quite frequently the state of engines when discovered in dark sheds or excavated from the back of an ambitious engine collector's hoard.
The same applies during rebuilds without manuals, again, not at all uncommon a situation, when the ignition timing has been guessed at with an old spoke and a needle file. A squidge of gypsy's breath in the intake and a quick flick and if it goes bang you're on the right track ;o))
Regards,
J. Kim Siddorn,
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On Fri, 29 Oct 2004 10:30:13 +0100, "Kim Siddorn"

I'll add to that, that easy start can be extremely useful to just get a diesel engine over the edge between not starting & starting, usually only a hint of it is needed in this situation.
The Crossley BW1 I've just been working on has handraulic start - 10 minutes to get the pressure in a sprung reservoir up to 4000 PSI with a hand pump, then it's all gone in one starting attempt. It's indirect injection, & I'm guessing relatively low compression ratio, so not an easy starter even with new piston & liner, and with the priming oil cup filled + lots of priming strokes on the fuel pump. Up to now it's gone second or third time from cold, I *know* it would pick up first time with just a whiff of easy start, thus saving going through the whole routine again, but I've resisted the temptation so far. There's plenty of it on board, as prior to the work it was essential every time!
Cheers Tim
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A way that is relatively safe from damaging engines is wrap a rag on the end of a stick, soak it in diesel fuel then light it. Hold the burning torch in front of the intake. The warm air plus the trace amount of vapour will get the job done. It is a messy and smokey procedure but in a cold Canadian winter you need every additional such as torches on the oil pan and warm batteries. Randy
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On Sat, 30 Oct 2004 15:03:57 GMT, "Randy Zimmerman"

A modern, more controllable version is to use a little canister blowtorch in the direction of the air intake. Not sure if it's quite as effective, but it certainly can do the job. I have found, though, that at least with a small engine it's quite feasible to consume too much oxygen from the air this way & prevent the engine firing, by having the flame playing directly into the intake. There were stories of the canal boatmen, in the days of hand start diesels draining off the oil from the sump & putting it in a pan on the cooking range for a while to warm it through before returning it to the engine. Especially related to Armstrong Siddeleys, which were pigs to start by hand from cold, and if they had electric start it was usually totally inadequate. Good engines otherwise, though.
Cheers Tim
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In another email he adds:-
"the ether we used in 1963 was neat whilst the modern aerosols have additives which control the detonation to some extent."
That makes me feel a bit better about using the stuff!
--
NHH



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Strange that no one has mentioned Petrol or gasoline as a starting additive.
I have successfully used a judicious cap full of gas a number of times with much less violent results than when using ether. Insert safety disclaimers here.
The engine will tend to run a bit longer than with just ether and if a bit of two stroke oil is added, provides some upper cylinder lubrication as well.
Regards,
Chris Kessell
wrote:

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When I worked at a Volvo dealership in the 1970's, there was (still may be for all I know) an electrical heater available to warm your oil before starting and another to warm your coolant. If you bought the two together I recall, there was a device that came with them that turned the water heater off after 20 minutes but the oil heater went down to simmer. They were mains operated and I only ever sold one of them. However, it was a very happy customer who waxed enthusiastic about getting into a warm car without having to juggle the choke and peer out of misted-up windows. Said it saved its price in a winter because the engine wasn't on choke when it started.
Regards,
Kim
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Hi Kim, When I first visited the late Jens Lauritsen's engine museum in Denmark about 20 years ago he had a Volvo estate with a Diesel water heater fitted. He started the burner roaring away before starting his breakfast & when he was ready to go to work the Volvo's water was at operating temperature. The rear seat had not been fitted from new. The rear footwell was full of batteries Attached to reel out jump start leads to start excavators. (He was the maintenance manager)
-- Dave Croft Warrington England http://community.webshots.com/user/crftdv
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On Mon, 1 Nov 2004 18:14:45 -0000, "Dave Croft"

Fire engines always used to have mains operated heaters in the bottom hose and sump. The supply came from a rear mounted rubber plug and socket where the lead was chained to the floor to enable the engine to just drive out the garage and it pulled the plug out as it left.
I fitted one from a scrappie engine to my Ford 400E van, nice in winter to take off with no choke and a clear screen. I had it on a timer to come on about 3 hours before I had to start work as they were only small wattage.
-- Regards,
John Stevenson Nottingham, England.
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On Mon, 01 Nov 2004 18:27:21 +0000, John Stevenson

rpm, direct reverse two-stroke. No clutch, no gearbox). Even the lighting was originally gas lamps, not sure whether from a carbide generator or what. That has been replaced now by batteries & an AC5 alternator off the BW1, the only real change since 1948.
Cheers Tim
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On Mon, 01 Nov 2004 19:22:10 +0000, Tim Leech

Forgot to mention, there's also provision to run the cooling water from the BW1 through the main engine block to warm it. I think it would take a l o o n g time to have much effect, though, especially as the thermostat is long gone from the BW1 (& almost certainly not readily replaceable)
Cheers Tim
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On Mon, 01 Nov 2004 18:27:21 +0000, John Stevenson

Made by Bray probably, they had most of the market in those days, and advertised in the motoring press as well.
Peter
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On Mon, 1 Nov 2004 14:51:26 -0000, "Kim Siddorn"
and said:

Of course, these would be available for Volvos, as they'd be a standard fitment for their home market and the various bosses would be filled with blanking pieces for "export" models.
Brian L Dominic
Web Sites: Canals: http://www.nbrumpus.co.uk Friends of the Cromford Canal: http://www.cromfordcanal.org.uk Mid-Derbyshire Light Railway: http://www.mdlr.co.uk
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