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Old 09-05-2006, 09:07 AM   #1
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Hard time starting my 5.9 Cummins this weekend

We went camping way out in the woods this past weekend with my bus and I had a hard time starting it when it was time to leave. Heres a detailed discription of what happened, maybe you guys can give me some pointers?

I started the bus to leave for the trip at my house and it fired right up - just as it always does. For some reason I always have to tap the throttle pedal as the engine is cranking for it to start. This started last winter when Jason turned up my governer. But even when the engine is warm I have to tap the throttle for it to start. I dont know if this matters, but thought I'd mention it.

Anyway... It started fine when I left on Friday, drove it about 80 miles or so; the last 4 or 5 of which were down a very bumpy 2-track to the campsite in the Manistee National Forest (in Michigan, about an hour or so north of Grand Rapids)

I know the bus had at least 1/4 tank of fuel - probably closer to a half tank (my fuel gage reads empty when there is closer to 1/2 tank of fuel, and it was reading 1/4 tank) So I don't think it was out of diesel. When I tried to start the bus to leave yesterday it cranked over but wouldn't fire. I had a spare fuel filter so I changed that & primed the fuel system... still nothing. I took off the air filter to see if it was clogged... still nothing. It would crank then once and a while would sputter like it wanted to start but wouldn't.

So we took a truck up to the nearest store (probably at least 30 min away) and ran a geni to plug in the block heater & run the trickle charger, while we were gone. The temp outside was mid to high 70's so I dont think it was cold, but it does seem to run better when the engine's warmed up.

We came back from the store and I cranked it as a friend shot starting fluid (said it was for gas engines, but we were in the middle of nowhere and thats all they had) and the engine ran off the starting fluid. Did this a few times but it would stall as soon as it used the shot of starting fluid.

Finally I took a ratchet and tapped on the Injunction Pump while cranking the engine and it slowly started - chugged and smoked for a few seconds then started and ran fine for the rest of the way. I even shut if off a few times & restarted it on the way home and it fired right back up.

Is this a sign that my injection pump is going out? Anyone else have a problem like this before? Maybe there was air or a blockage in one of the fuel lines that was knocked loose when I tapped on it?

I read another post on here about a weak lift pump may stress/damage the injection pump & that it might be a common problem for the 5.9L Cummins (my engine)

My bus is a 91 with a 5.9L Cummins turbo/innercooled diesel - auto trans. I'm told that IP looks like a Bosh IP

Any help is appreciated.
My Old Bus :(
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Old 09-08-2006, 08:58 PM   #2
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The weak IP's in the Cummins that are getting all the bad hype that I read about are the VF44 pumps. These are rotary pumps used on the ISB version of the 5.9. I'm almost positive you still have a 6BT 5.9, almost always regarded as more stout. Either way...I'd just keep trying and at home and see what happens. It may have just been a fluke. I can't imagine what else it would have been.

Good luck and keep us posted.
Skooling state at a time...
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Old 09-09-2006, 07:28 PM   #3
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91 is a 6BT--the ISB didn't arrive unti lmid-1998.
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Old 12-12-2006, 10:15 AM   #4
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sounds like possibly the fuel solinoid is tired, most mechanical pumps use energise to run fuel solinoids(electric coil pulls spring loaded plunger to run) it's on the injection pump, remove the solinoid remove the plunger and spring, install the solinoid, start the engine. their is a manual/mechanical lever on the side of the pump to stop the engine. look up bosch ve pumps online for pictures or visit your local diesel pump shop for advice.
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Old 12-23-2006, 09:24 PM   #5
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Any chance that last 4 or 5 miles of rough road shook up enough crud in the fuel tank that some bypassed the filter?
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Old 12-24-2006, 07:51 PM   #6
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From experience as both a truck driver that used to have a Cummins motor, and from working at a Ford-Sterling Heavy Truck Dealership in the parts department...I can tell you that Cummins Injector pumps have been notorious for failure. I think they have retro's most of them these days, but if you got an older one it may fall into that catagory of questionable pumps.

These pumps are also epensive to replace....extremely expensive! I turned down a great deal on a bus last year because it needed the IP replaced before it could be driven off the lot.

Our parts department sends them out for rebuild whenever possible because of the cost difference... (about half what it cost to buy a factory reman)....we have a local company that rebuilds them for around $700...

You just might be a Redneck if...
...your motor home used to be a school bus!
...Your living room has a steering wheel!
...Your home has brake lights

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Old 12-24-2006, 08:41 PM   #7
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Cummins hard start

When any diesel will not start, add start fluid. There is a bit of a caution. Never spray any start fluid into an engine with glow plugs while engine is not turning. My personal method is to crank the engine for about 1 minute, which should raise the combustion temps a bit. Wait about a minute and try to start the engine again. Wait another minute, and attempt to start the engine and add short bursts of start fluid. After the engine starts, give some additional shots of starting fluid in 30 second bursts. Keep spraying fluid for a time until the engine makes some heat and begins to smooth out the rpm. You cam add gallons of start fluid after the engine is running but not before the engine is turning. Having no starting fluid is not a problem. If there is gasoline available, pour gasoline into a shop towell or any rag. While engine is turning trying to start hold gas rag near the air cleaner or inlet. The fumes from the gas will light that diesel now. Only use any start aid while the engine is turning. Diesel starters are always destroyed by cranking too long., Any starting aid is better than destroying the starter. Never attempt to start a diesel with a low charge battery. When the battery voltage goes down, the amperage draw can double or tripple. A charged battery will indicate 12.5 or 12.6 volts. A battery showing just 12.0 volts is 75% discharged.
A digital volt meter is a must have for all. Frank
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Old 12-24-2006, 10:37 PM   #8
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i am scared of starter fluid. I try not to use it.
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Old 12-25-2006, 12:55 AM   #9
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If gas on a shop towel held @ the air cleaner intake doesn't start your engine, it needs something other than ether, that's only a prescription for an early rebuild (damaged piston) ar starter damage when the engine kicks back.
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Old 12-25-2006, 09:08 AM   #10
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Re: Cummins hard start

Originally Posted by frank-id
A charged battery will indicate 12.5 or 12.6 volts. A battery showing just 12.0 volts is 75% discharged.
A digital volt meter is a must have for all. Frank
Hi Frank,

At 12.0 volts that battery is further gone than you think!

A fully charged battery in its rest state is generally 12.8 volts, at 12.1 volts a battery is at a 50% depth of discharge level, and at 10.5 volts its dead.
Les Lampman
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