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Frequently Asked Questions - Troubleshooting

White smoke is usually caused by the engine running too cold, a faulty injector or injection timing, or engine coolant leaking into the dry section of the exhaust manifold. Steam is sometimes perceived as white smoke. Steam is usually caused by a lack of sea water flow through the water-injected exhaust system.
Excessive fuel consumption is usually caused by insufficient air flow, faulty injector(s) or injection pump, or overloading of the engine. Overload may be caused by incorrect propeller size or too much electrical load on a genset. Black smoke out of the exhaust is also associated with overload and lack of air flow.
The fuel system is very possibly "frozen-up" because of stale "varnished" fuel. This can cause the injectors, fuel rack and the injection pump's plungers to stick and not deliver fuel. The entire fuel system should be thoroughly checked and repaired if needed prior to starting the engine. The sea water pump impeller, if not removed from the pump, can take the shape of the interior of the pump. The pump impeller can also be brittle - check it and replace if needed. If the engine wasn't fogged prior to decommissioning, or if it's never been run, there could be some rust in the cylinders. This can be addressed but we strongly recommend it's accomplished by qualified personnel only! Remove the glow plugs or injectors and squirt a good quality lubricating oil or penetrating oil such as mystery oil into each cylinder. This will loosen up frozen rings and sticky valves. After letting the oil penetrate the engine's internal components for a good period of time, turn the engine over by hand with the glow plugs or injectors still removed. After you turn over the engine by hand (glow plugs or injectors still removed), use the engine's starting motor to crank the engine. The oil pressure will build up and be forced through the oil passage ways. This will lubricate all of the components that are normally well lubricated by the system in normal operation. IMPORTANT NOTE - cranking the engine with oil in the cylinders can cause damage because oil will not compress. The oil in the cylinders must be evacuated before reinstalling the glow plugs/injectors and trying to start the engine. Replace the lube and fuel oil filters. TIP - if the engine is layed-up for an extended period of time, turn over the engine by hand occasionally.
The most likely cause is a restriction in the sea water system. The best way to confirm a restriction is to measure the output of the sea water at the water outlet. Normally this is done at the wet exhaust elbow. Every system has a flow rate at a specified RPM, and measuring the water output (usually in gallons per minute) is the best way to check the entire system at one point. NOTE: It's very difficult to make an assessment of water flow with a visual check. It may look like enough water flow when in fact there is a lack of flow. There are several points in the system that are subject to causing a restriction or poor flow. Start at the sea water inlet valve and follow the flow of water through the entire circuit checking for restrictions. Carefully examine hoses and fittings. Make sure you check the impeller and the condition of the pump body! The most common causes are a clogged sea water strainer, a dirty heat exchanger or a clogged water injection fitting on the wet exhaust elbow. Also, make sure your engine can turn its full-rated RPM. If not, and the engine is overloaded, this can cause overheating. A dirty propeller or hull can cause this. Don't rule out the thermostat! Even though the thermostat is in the fresh water cooling circuit (on fresh water cooled engines), it's possible the thermostat is sticking and not opening all the way. This restricts fresh water flow and will cause overheating.
This may be prevented if you keep the ON switch (gas gensets) or PREHEAT switch (diesel gensets) depressed for a few seconds after the engine starts allowing the engine to build-up oil pressure. If the engine still shuts down the most likely cause is a safety shutdown switch being activated. Westerbeke gensets have a built-in safety shutdown circuit to prevent catastrophic damage to the engine. There are 3 possible modes that will activate one of the switches - low oil pressure, high fresh water temperature, and high exhaust temperature (caused by sea water flow disruption). Contact a qualified technician to troubleshoot this problem.
Black oily or sooty exhaust upon start up could be the result of a sticking choke mechanism or a carburetor that is faulty due to fuel contamination. Check the condition of the choke to ensure it is operating freely. Also check the condition of the fuel supply.
It is not uncommon for the bits and pieces of damaged impeller to become lodged in the end of the heat exchanger or possibly in the fittings between the sea water pump and the exchanger. Periodic cleaning of the heat exchanger by means of removing the end caps should be done to remove debris. The exchanger is designed with removable end caps specifically for purpose of cleaning it out. It's very important to make sure all of the debris is cleaned-out in order to prevent possible engine overheating.
The alternator has an AC tap (connection) that creates from 6-9 volts AC which is transmitted to the tachometer. This wire is typically brown. Measuring voltage at the AC tap on the back of the alternator and at the tachometer’s connections should be performed. This way you avoid a potential open wire or connection issue with both the sense and ground leads. Keep in mind the tachometer also requires a 12V connection to operate properly. This can be confirmed by the tachometer's light illuminating or the hour meter running when the ignition switch is in the on position. Also note that once you get the tachometer working it must be calibrated to read accurately. The use of a known-good hand held or strobe tachometer is the only way to be sure the tachometer is properly adjusted. It is best to contact your local Westerbeke dealer if you do not have the right equipment to do the job.