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Old 05-09-2017, 07:08 PM   #61
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Join Date: Oct 2015
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Year: 2003
Chassis: E-450
Engine: 7.3 Turbo
Yes, the black smoke was just from trying too much.

What about the smoke escaping from the turbo?

Also, no codes are present. Just checked now.

Robin, you are correct, this is the type of learning that makes your head hurt.
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Old 05-09-2017, 07:48 PM   #62
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smoke from the turbo is likely a small exhaust leak... putting smoke in the pipes tends to escape any little place it can. usually around one of the Vband clamps...

have you verified the glow plug relay good? or assume so because the battery voltage changed while the key was on?
-Christopher
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:19 PM   #63
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I still have to check. I lent out my meter so was waiting on it all day. Have it now, but I'm not at the bus anymore (it's at a relative's house nearby that has more room).

My plan was to go check in the morning. What all should I check?

I reread what you said about the terminals and understand that now, but let's say the power at both terminals is correct. This doesn't mean that the glow plugs are working, just that the relay is, right?

Would the next step be pulling each plug and testing resistance of each individually?
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Old 05-09-2017, 11:40 PM   #64
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Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
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Coachwork: Eldorado Aerotech 24'
Chassis: Ford E-450 Cutaway Bus
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 19
Leaky up pipes are fairly common on the 7.3L. If you're seeing smoke coming from the gap between the "Y" adapter at the turbo and the two up pipes (the pipes coming up from the exhaust manifolds to the turbo inlet) then the donut seals are leaking.

You can cheaply replace the seals but they tend to start leaking again fairly quickly. The best fix is to install a set of bellowed up pipes which seal better and don't leak after a short while.

The original starter on the 7.3 is pretty wimpy. When cold starting mine sounds like the batteries are low even when fully charged. New high torque starters are available that spin the engine over way faster. I'm considering one for mine.
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Old 05-10-2017, 12:06 AM   #65
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Have you replaced the filter in the fuel bowl? The fuel bowl is to the right of the glow plug relay in the picture Cadillac shared. If that filter gets plugged everything comes to a halt.

How old is the fuel? Diesel isn't as sensitive to age as gasoline but really old diesel may be a problem.

Your 2003 has an electric fuel pump located on the frame rail just below the driver's seat. When you turn the key to "accessory" you should hear a hum from down there.

There are two strainers on the fuel pickup in the tank. At 100,000 miles mine were clogged enough that I was blowing a lot of white smoke when driving. To disconnect the fuel lines you'll need some Ford quick release tools but fortunately they're pretty cheap at most any parts store. Cleaning the strainers is simple.

Does your 7.3 have an engine heater? Look in the front bumper for a three prong electrical plug. That will be the engine heater connector. Try plugging it in for a few hours and see if the engine warms up. A warm engine will at least negate the need for glow plugs.
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Old 05-10-2017, 02:37 AM   #66
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I think everything you need to know about starting a 7.3L has been said.

One thing I learned is that it won't start if the power to the pump is disconnected.

On one of my 7.3L's I was chasing a hard start issue which I finally determined was six of the eight glow plugs were dead. I replaced all eight and I still had a hard starting issue. Come to find out in all of my messing around I had knocked off the signal wire that powered up the shut off valve--no power, no fuel.

Since you are getting smoke I would say it isn't a fueling issue.

At this point I would lean toward the glow plugs are cycling but not enough of them are still alive. You can start a 7.3L with as few as three glow plugs if the ambient isn't much below 50* but it won't be an easy start. You really need at least six of them warming things up.

After all of the no starts you have had you are also running the real risk of having fuel go past the rings and cleaning the cylinder walls, pistons, and rings enough that you will be losing some compression as the rings will not seal against the cylinder walls as tightly any longer.

I would echo the sentiment of plugging in the electric engine pre-heater and get it nice and warmed up. With the block all warmed up it might not require very much glow plug heat to get started again.

If you get the bus started by plugging it in you will know for sure that you have some glow plugs no longer doing their job.

If you don't it may be due to a combination of glow plugs not working, washed cylinders with lower compression, and still not enough heat from the engine pre-heater.

It can be very frustrating and aggravating particularly when after you get things going you realize your dump mistake had you chasing your tails for however long it has been.

Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.
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Old 05-10-2017, 09:14 AM   #67
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Chris, Roach, Cowlitz, and everyone else... I just want to reiterate how grateful I am for all the input on this problem.

As far as the up pipes go, that is good to know. I have seen you discussing replacing them with the bellows style before and it is on my radar to do.

I also like the idea of a new, high-torque starter, regardless of if it is the problem now or not. I may order one of those and a new CPS. The CPS would be nice just to have in the glove box, as I understand they go relatively easily and quickly.

Yes, the fuel filter has just been replaced as I was trouble shooting. All good there. I have not checked the in tank 'socks', but at this point my plan is to address all non-fuel related suspects first. The fuel isn't that old, and I'm getting plenty of signs that suggest the fuel is making it to the engine. I listen to the pump run every time I turn the key. It always finished before the glow plugs do, so I hear it run its cycle in full too. Combined with the fact that I'm getting black smoke towards the end of multiple starting attempts is enough for me to move fuel stuff to last on my list.

I can't believe I didn't think of the block heater. Okay, I should be honest: I can't believe I didn't know I had a block heater. I know they were an option on these 'vans' and assumed that I didn't have one. But I just looked it up, and the weird assembly and wire coming of the block above the oil filter that I've been curiously looking at for the last 10 months suddenly makes sense

Today I'll be working on getting that plugged in, testing the glow plugs, and probably a lot of this:
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Old 05-10-2017, 03:41 PM   #68
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The beast lives!!!
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Old 05-10-2017, 03:44 PM   #69
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what did you do? plug in the block heater?
-Christopher
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Old 05-10-2017, 04:04 PM   #70
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Yes.

The glow plugs are getting power, but I haven't figured out exactly how to test them yet. I'm guessing I'll find that most are bad. Is that a safe guess?
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