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  • Help! What is wrong with my boat?


    Could I get your expert advise on this?


    Setup:
    • 1990 prostar 190,
    • Indmar 351W w/ GT40P heads
    • Edelbrock performer intake manifold
    • brand new holley 4160
    • flame thrower II coil
    • original distributor w/ electronic conversion kit – no ballast resistor
    • arco marine starter with new solenoid – LH rotation
    • new fuel pump
    Symptoms:
    • Engine starts (sometimes) usually when key is released
    • Engine (always since recently) dies suddenly while at idle or higher rpm
    • Engine not feeling “confident”

    Readings:
    • 7 psi pressure on the fuel line
    • 21 Hg (a little erratic +1 / -1) at the intake manifold/ when idling
    • Erratic tach during cranking (all over the chart)
    • 12.5V between + of the coil and ground at the distributor when ON but not cracking
    • 0V between + and – terminals of the coil when ON but not cranking
    • 3.5V b/w + and – terminal at the coil when running
    Done so far:
    • Tested with a different coil: no change
    • Tested distributor with different cap (brown): no change
    • Tested distributor with different rotor and cap: no change
    I initially thought I had a vacuum leak, but I have checked everything and put in a new carb. I am thinking there is an electric problem now.

    So the reading of 3.5V (while idling) at the coil does not seem normal to me (there is no ballast resistor since conversion to EI), correct? Should this be around 12v?
    I switched out the coil and that didn’t seem to do anything.
    So I am thinking there is something wrong with the distributor or the ei conversion kit in it. Could this explain my symptoms (most or some)? Just wanted your opinion before I think about buying a new distributor.
    What would be the best solution for me do you wrecken? Ford 351 DUI marine distributor LH? or should I first check other things like:
    • Starter
    • Alternator
    Does ayone have experience with this distributor? any good?
    Also, can’t seem to find the TDC mark on my balancer. Is there a procedure for this (ligning up the distributor rotor with n 1 wire on the cap?)
    Thanks in advance,


  • #2
    Originally posted by Wouter View Post
    Could I get your expert advise on this?


    Setup:
    • 1990 prostar 190,
    • Indmar 351W w/ GT40P heads
    • Edelbrock performer intake manifold
    • brand new holley 4160
    • flame thrower II coil
    • original distributor w/ electronic conversion kit – no ballast resistor
    • arco marine starter with new solenoid – LH rotation (actually a RH or clockwise starter but you may be saying your engine is LH).
    • new fuel pump
    Symptoms:
    • Engine starts (sometimes) usually when key is released
    • Engine (always since recently) dies suddenly while at idle or higher rpm
    • Engine not feeling “confident”
    Do you have the idle air mixture screws on the new 4160 set properly? Fully seat each one, then 1.5 turns out is a good starting point of reference.

    Readings:
    • 7 psi pressure on the fuel line
    • 21 Hg (a little erratic +1 / -1) at the intake manifold/ when idling
    • Erratic tach during cranking (all over the chart) Tells me the coil is not in steady state or your connections on the gray wire are not clean (on one or both ends). Or the ground is not solid.
    • 12.5V between + of the coil and ground at the distributor when ON but not cracking
    • 0V between + and – terminals of the coil when ON but not cranking
    • 3.5V b/w + and – terminal at the coil when running

      Needs ~12V
    Done so far:
    • Tested with a different coil: no change
    • Tested distributor with different cap (brown): no change
    • Tested distributor with different rotor and cap: no change
    I initially thought I had a vacuum leak, but I have checked everything and put in a new carb. I am thinking there is an electric problem now.

    So the reading of 3.5V (while idling) at the coil does not seem normal to me (there is no ballast resistor since conversion to EI), correct? Should this be around 12v?

    Correct.

    I switched out the coil and that didn’t seem to do anything.
    So I am thinking there is something wrong with the distributor or the ei conversion kit in it. Could this explain my symptoms (most or some)? Just wanted your opinion before I think about buying a new distributor.

    You have the OEM distributor, which is OK. The EI module can go bad. I have seen them be bad off the shelf. A new EI module is as good as a new distributor but that is your call.

    What would be the best solution for me do you wrecken? Ford 351 DUI marine distributor LH? or should I first check other things like:
    • Alternator
    • Starter
    Starter is always a nice upgrade from OEM...the Arco 70200 but starter is not the cause of the issue (if electrical) unless the battery cable is not tight at the starter or on the relay. Look on Marine Parts Source dot com for best price. I think you already have that.

    A new alternator is always a good upgrade. Look on DB Electrical's site or their Scamazon store. Part number ADR0334. I think you already have that. A loose wire coming off the back of the unit or at the breaker can be an issue.

    Does ayone have experience with this distributor? any good?

    No experience on the DUI.


    Pertronix distributor from Summit Racing if you go that route. Part number D231800 (black cap) or D213801 (red cap). Same units.

    I am partial to the Pertronix, but only because I know it works for me, is simple, and has a comparably same size body for an easy fit on the engine. You want the mechanical advanced style. Again; Part number D231800 (black cap) or D213801 (red cap)

    Also, can’t seem to find the TDC mark on my balancer. Is there a procedure for this (ligning up the distributor rotor with n 1 wire on the cap?)

    Look closely with a light. Marks should be there, often times painted over. Set on or about 10 deg. BTDC for that engine. I think you have the blue ribbed valve covers (285 HP). If not (240 HP) revert back to six deg. BTDC and tweak from there.

    There is a proper procedure. For your setup, you are swapping out, so the position for the rotor and the new distributor is on number one cylinder already determined. Look on Boob-tube for one of many tutorials. Ron Tanis has a decent tutorial if you can take all of his rambling, but that will get you there. Look
    here.

    Thanks in advance,
    For the fellow that did the tutorial on transmissions; see above.

    If your battery cables are OEM, consider replacing them as well.

    .
    Last edited by waterlogged882; 07-29-2022, 01:37 PM.
    93 190
    (safe click)
    John 14:6
    (safe click)

    Comment


    • #3
      Hey waterlogged: thanks for your quick reply:
      - LH rotation on the engine , yes
      - OEM distributor with an EI conversion kit (the one skidim sold ages ago)
      - tried cranking with the tach cable removed from the coil but no difference
      - that's what I thought: should be 12V at the coil when running: I am reading 3.5V
      - timing light on number one wire (when I manage to start) blinks erratically : this should be absolutely regular, right?

      So clearly there's a problem with the ignition system:
      - I don't think it's the coil (since I tried a different one) and no change
      - I checked all wiring and see no obvious issues
      - could it be the Alternator (batteries (2 optima yellow tops) seem to charge fine when it was running)
      - The + on the coil comes from the + on the starter solenoid: correct? (I did recently change the solenoid on the arco starter)
      - battery cables are new

      The low voltage on the coil and the erratic spark on the number one wire / start when key is released still make me think : distributor

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Wouter View Post
        Hey waterlogged: thanks for your quick reply:
        - LH rotation on the engine , yes
        - OEM distributor with an EI conversion kit (the one skidim sold ages ago)
        - tried cranking with the tach cable removed from the coil but no difference
        - that's what I thought: should be 12V at the coil when running: I am reading 3.5V
        - timing light on number one wire (when I manage to start) blinks erratically : this should be absolutely regular, right?

        So clearly there's a problem with the ignition system:
        - I don't think it's the coil (since I tried a different one) and no change
        - I checked all wiring and see no obvious issues
        - could it be the Alternator (batteries (2 optima yellow tops) seem to charge fine when it was running)
        - The + on the coil comes from the + on the starter solenoid: correct? (I did recently change the solenoid on the arco starter)
        - battery cables are new

        The low voltage on the coil and the erratic spark on the number one wire / start when key is released still make me think : distributor

        More so, think EI module.
        The + on the coil should be powered (triggered) by the purple from the ignition switch. It does not come from the starter relay.

        It is possible that your ignition switch is on the blink.

        The Arco has it's own, onboard (integrated) starter solenoid, that is triggered by an external, stand-alone starter relay (often incorrectly called a solenoid). It is actually a redundant setup, but that is part of upgrading to the Arco. A moot point really, aside from correct wiring. I don't follow where you would have changed out the (true) starter solenoid on the Arco. That is integrated as part of the starter unit.

        Use this diagram to follow the schematic. This is not for your Indmar but it is very close. I use it for reference and know how to convert PCM to Indmar in my mind. The starter wiring is the only difference on the diagram. If your new alternator is a single wire with a built-in exciter, ignore the green exciter wire.

        .
        Click image for larger version  Name:	Wiring Starter Relay Diagram01.jpg Views:	0 Size:	88.3 KB ID:	2710705
        93 190
        (safe click)
        John 14:6
        (safe click)

        Comment


        • #5
          hey waterlogged, thanks for taking the time and the diagram. The dagram makes perfect sense to me also, thanks. This is the ei module that is in my distributor right now... I have a more recent one that I changed back to this at some point in time (for a reason I can't remember) the newer one is an ignitor II. I actually tested it today but just realized that I didn't put in the black ring magnet... so of course that wouldn't work ... the solenoid (I think) I switched on the arco is similar to the second picture

          Comment


          • #6
            Got it. You are correct about the OEM EI module. That needs replacing. It is going south. I replaced mine a while back and it made the difference. And to your point, the FTII magnetic ring has to be there. The solenoid is in your ballpark. Not sure why it was changed but that is irrelevant at this point. If it is new, all the better. You still have another starter relay upstream of that integrated solenoid. That is also part of the system but typically when that one fails, it fails acutely. The EI module is a chronic failure thus I agree with your suspicion and assessment.

            Change that OEM EI and I'm thinking you'll see success.

            I have all new components like you (listed above) and once I did a few tweaks, it starts like a TBI engine. That 351W of yours and most all, is bullet proof and will indeed do well with a little attention.

            .
            Click image for larger version  Name:	distributor electronic module01.jpg Views:	0 Size:	112.1 KB ID:	2710714
            93 190
            (safe click)
            John 14:6
            (safe click)

            Comment


            • #7
              waterlogged mentioned the ignition switch. If you have not already, pull the dash panel and check the connections at the ignition switch, This has become an annual inspection for me, after finding mine extremely looses and causing intermittent 12v signal from the switch, As usual all of his other advice is spot-on. A couple of other suggestions….even brand new carbs can have issues, Granted you have erratic tach readings so not likely carb but…if you’ve sorted everything electrical I had a brand new 4160 with residual metal shavings in a passage left over from production. SKIDIM replaced it at n/c. And the OEM tach is also prone to less than accurate readings so consider that too.

              Comment


              • #8
                Nothing to add, but love the community help! Nice job Waterlogged and D2Jp. Good luck Wouter, hope you chase down the issue soon!

                Comment


                • #9
                  The starts when you release key is somewhat telling.

                  That and the voltages at the coil make me suspect wiring to the coil. There are two paths to energize the coil one goes through the kill switch and one goes through the starter. It sounds to me like it isnt energizing the coil from the starter but is from the kill switch circuit but both are poor quality.

                  I would personally hot wire your coil and see if it stRts and runs you'll have to be able to disconnect the hot wire to kill it so have a plan for that.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Will try hot wiring the coil, but I am thinking the EI is most probable. Can anyone reference the right ignitor II module? ( prestolite with the brown screw down cap)? Kill switch was removed. NSS changed recently. Also changed most of the wiring in the dash last year… not saying it isn’t possible there is still a problem or that I wired something wrong but a bit less likely…

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The coil is grounded only through the distributor, correct?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        As mentioned: I measured 12v between the coil’s + terminal and ground at the block. I measured 3,5 v between + and - at the coil. So I think the coil isn’t grounded right. As far as I can tell the coil grounds through the EI module correct?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Wouter View Post
                          As mentioned: I measured 12v between the coil’s + terminal and ground at the block. I measured 3,5 v between + and - at the coil. So I think the coil isn’t grounded right. As far as I can tell the coil grounds through the EI module correct?
                          It can be, but there is more than one ground point before it gets to the block (solid ground).

                          My practice is to ground the coil with a dedicated wire that goes to the common ground point on the block. Eliminates several potential ground issues. In turn that gives you two ground connectors on the - coil...one from the EI and the other from the dedicated ground wire. What I do not like about the EI ground at the distributor is that the distributor shaft has a rubber seal at the neck. Albeit there is metal to metal (shaft to block), I don't rely on that. The coil is very easy to ground on its own wire. But that is just me.

                          You may know this and for those following...if you were to choose to use the intake manifold bolt, it is a larger diameter bolt. Let's say you have a number 16 ring connector (pretty good size, or even a #14) and it still won't fit onto the larger bolt...easy to fix...drill the connector out and make it fit...here's the tip...do not use a spiral drill bit. It will twist the connector and ruin it, 9 times out of 10. Use a step bit to enlarge the hole. Works every time.

                          Common ground point for my entire wiring harness...engine to dash. Ground for battery not included here.

                          .
                          Click image for larger version  Name:	Ground Point01.jpg Views:	3 Size:	93.2 KB ID:	2710817
                          Last edited by waterlogged882; 07-30-2022, 11:05 PM.
                          93 190
                          (safe click)
                          John 14:6
                          (safe click)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thank you waterlogged for taking the time! I’m taking off to Canada for the holidays on Tuesday with the family so I won’t be able to troubleshoot for a while… just annoying to spend most of the summer taking care of the engine rather than skiing… Anyway looks like I’ll try the following when I m back:
                            - try my spare EI with the magnet on
                            - ground the coil to the block
                            - Hotwire the coil
                            - check the ignition switch (this is new)
                            - check all the wiring again…

                            I’ll probably order a new Pertronix distributor + coil + wires while in Canada. I live in Europe and this is an additional PITA over here that all the parts I order cost about double with international shipping and customs …

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Back from Canada. I installed a new electronic ignition kit (Pertronix ignitor II 91581 LS (version with lobe sensor and no magnetic ring)) in my old prestolite distributor. Checked the firing order again:1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8. The distributor is the screw down kind. I had replaced the cap and rotor a couple of times already. Wasn’t sure where the n1 post was on the cap (because it is not marked on the replacement tan caps) Found the original cap which has: 1-3-cap screw back-7-2-6-5- caps screw front- 4-8 and was what I had, so I left it that way (even if the info I found in the internet says different). I’be never moved the distributor and this was the sequence when I got the boat. Started the boat, which was a bit tedious, since my last experiments discharged the battery. After a few tries, the engine started and never shut off like it did when I started this post. My readings were 0.05 ohms between my main ground on the engine and the neg side of the battery. Same in every other ground. Put the timing light on each wire and getting consistant flashes. Getting 13.8V at positive side of coil and everywhere else also. So I think the ignition issue was solved by the new module, however the engine still runs like crap … (Keep in mind, the carb is a brand new Holley 4160, the fuel pump is new and delivering 6psi as I was previously hunting for a vaccum leak or fuel delivery problem) since this problem started, I have replaced the carb, removed the spacer (which I personally find difficult to seal airtight to a performer manifold) and this is what I experienced today after I managed to start the engine and tried to adjust the carb:
                              - engine seems to “stumble” at idle and under load (it doesn’t die anymore but you can feel it struggles-then ok- then struggles- then ok, etc
                              - carb still makes an aspiration sound (maybe this is normal?)
                              - I mated the carb to the performer with a gasket and blue loctite gasket sealer on both sides (I know I probably shouldn’t have, but wanted to make sure the connection is airtight)
                              - after running at idle for a while, closing the choke manually has no effect even on rpm
                              - running at WOT only achieved around 68km/h at 4100 rpm where I used to get 71.2km/h at 4570 rpm
                              - rpm seemed to decelerate by itself At wot in a straight line
                              ​​​​​​- white smoke out the exhaust when docking after running at wot
                              -gasoline smell out the exhaust
                              - oil gauge says 40 psi (where I m normally around 20psi)

                              I don know… I m at a loss… I hope the rest of you are skiing rather than playing mechanic😜


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