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Old 05-09-2017, 10:45 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Newbie. 1990 Ford E350. Cranking but not starting

The rig:
1990 ford E350 carpenter short bus. International 7.3 liter engine

The symptoms:
WHen it starts it runs fine. No hiccups.
It has been difficult to start for a month and now it wont start at all. As in, cranks, but wont catch.

My background:
Ive rebuilt more motorcycles than Ive had hot meals (or so it seems) Ive worked on a few gasoline cars and trucks. THis is my first diesel.

After doing some hunting around, I'm guessing enough of the glowplugs have given up the ghost such that it wont start. I got a set and tonight pulled the doghouse to see how bad the task is.

Holy balls. I can get to the rear four plugs with a bit of cussing, I expect. But the front four are buried deep under hoses wires and assorted items. Id rather replace the plug controller. that thing sits right on the bell housing, pretty as you please.

I *think* the controller is ok. It buzzes when the key is turned and makes a few clicks when turning over the engine.

So, here goes:

1. Any tips for getting at the glowplugs without dismantling the whole engine compartment?
2. am I on the right track? or should I go ahead and replace the controller at the same time?

I appreciate any advice and being gentle with the new kid
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Old 05-10-2017, 01:53 AM   #2
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I had two 1990 E-350 chassis buses with the 7.3L engine. I didn't find changing any of the glow plugs that challenging.

The tight areas were the ones that were on the driver's side towards the front that were blocked by the fuel filter/water separator, A/C compressor, and A/C hoses. The hoses had enough slack in them that I could move them out of the way enough to access the glow plugs. But the second one back on the driver's side was really blocked in by the filter and the fact it was too far forward to reach easily from the inside and real PITA to reach from the outside.

You need to test the controller to see that you have juice going through both terminals. If you do you know that juice is going out to the glowplugs. If you don't have juice on both sides I would lean towards a bad controller.

On my E-350's the controller was on the back of the engine and very easy to hand for testing when the dog house was removed.

Mine would start if I had at least four glowplugs that were working.

In my experience, the glowplugs were more how many cycles they were worked rather than just miles or time. In our experience 60K-70K miles was about as good as it got.
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Old 05-10-2017, 07:06 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
I had two 1990 E-350 chassis buses with the 7.3L engine. I didn't find changing any of the glow plugs that challenging.


You need to test the controller to see that you have juice going through both terminals. If you do you know that juice is going out to the glowplugs. If you don't have juice on both sides I would lean towards a bad controller.


In my experience, the glowplugs were more how many cycles they were worked rather than just miles or time. In our experience 60K-70K miles was about as good as it got.

Thanks for the thoughts!

SO for the plugs, just dig in and get it done. Got it.

The controller test for current (any) at the terminals. I'll do that this evening

The bus didnt come with any service records, so I dont know how long the plugs have been in there, and so I dont know how many cycles they have had.
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:03 AM   #4
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You can hear the glow plug relay click and see the glow light.
The glow time depends on the plugs, shorter if more plugs are broken.

If you have no smoke at all.. white , blue or black the you will have to ask yourself if you are injecting diesel.

The rotary pump on the old IDI are weak. If it wears out it does not uild enough pressure to inject fuel.
The fuel solenoid can be broken.

The best check is to remove one fuel line to an injector and see if it is squirting. Next is to remove that injector and reassemble it on the line again and see if that injector is squirting, be careful to stay away with hands and lungs. The diesel will go right thru your skin and you will get blood poisoning. Breathing diesel vapor is bad for you also.

I normally put a ziplock bag around them and during crank you can see and hear the squirting.
For that test you can disconnect the control wire to the glow plug relay so that you do not bog your battery down.


Good luck
J
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:25 AM   #5
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Saw your comment on blood poisoning and wondered how fast this can occur because I've had quite a bit on me at times. Not on purpose and I obviously washed as soon as possible, but I was curious so I looked up 'diesel on skin'.

A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) was one of the first results.

It contains this gem:

"The use of diesel to clean skin and hair
should be strongly discouraged as this
practice has been known to cause serious
kidney damage. "

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Old 05-10-2017, 11:36 AM   #6
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if diesel bloof poisoned that quick i woulda died a long time ago.. when I had that peugeot diesel as a tween, I was soaked in diesel alot of times working on that darned thing... id fix stuff on only rag off my hands and arms as i went then wash up at night when I was done...

it had the old mechanical bosch system where every rubber return line leaked at some point...

-Christopher
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Old 05-10-2017, 12:12 PM   #7
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The blood poisoning issue is from the risk of injection of diesel. The injectors spray so hard that if the tip were placed against the skin diesel could be injected beneath your skin causing the blood poisoning.

Many diesel mechanics wash their hands with diesel, especially if nothing else if available. It has been thought to have a somewhat antiseptic quality on skinned knuckles. Never heard of anyone washing their hair with it, but I have seem some very greasy hair before.
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Old 05-10-2017, 12:45 PM   #8
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Thanks Robin for clearing that up for me.
Sorry if that was unclear. I thought that it was understood if you take the injector out of the engine and crank it over that the resulting squirt will be under very high pressure.

Not problem with diesel on you skin. but the injection pressure will blow it thru the skin and disperse.
Just be careful. Do not put your fingers in front of the injector while you are cranking it.

That is all.
later J
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Old 05-10-2017, 01:31 PM   #9
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My apologies, I wasn't trying to school you. Some people don't realize there is actually a risk of injection.
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Old 05-10-2017, 01:46 PM   #10
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Not at all Robin,
I thought you just explained it better then I had done.
Have played with and read enough about injectors and pumps to realize there are some dangers and did not want other people to get hurt.
Later J
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Old 05-10-2017, 05:03 PM   #11
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got it, yeah I definitely knew to never fire an injector at my finger.. at the height of the injection stroke, its what 3000 PSI? im assuming the injection shot is still going on as the flame spread starts?
-Christopher
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Old 05-10-2017, 06:23 PM   #12
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Hot finger.

Most people here won't ever hold a firing injector in their hand. Still, some are more daring. Can't you hear a couple back yard mechanics. "Hey, put your finger over the end of the injector to see if you can feel anything coming out when I crank it." Yeah I know, that's right up there with "Hey, light a match so I can see if there's any gas left in the tank."
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Old 05-10-2017, 07:58 PM   #13
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got it, yeah I definitely knew to never fire an injector at my finger.. at the height of the injection stroke, its what 3000 PSI? im assuming the injection shot is still going on as the flame spread starts?
-Christopher
You're one zero short.

And yeah, the injector's still spraying after the burn starts. Some newer engines even use multiple smaller injector pulses per firing to make the engine run quieter.
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Old 05-10-2017, 08:18 PM   #14
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I know the later 7.3's and I think all later HEUI engines went with a split shot
-Christopher
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Old 05-10-2017, 08:27 PM   #15
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I know the later 7.3's and I think all later HEUI engines went with a split shot
-Christopher
Common-rail Cummins are split shot, too.
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Old 05-10-2017, 08:44 PM   #16
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So here is an update:
I dont get a lot of time in the evenings to try anything. But I did at least get a test light (my old one is buried under stuff that is the result of a long story no one cares about) to see if the controller is at least cycling power. Not as good as a multimeter test, I know. But at least the power is being switched to the plug lines (well, one anyways) and staying on for a few seconds. This leads me to believe that the plugs are not resisting enough to heat up properly. My bet is that the old beast had a couple remaining plugs and they finally gave up. This doesnt mean that fuel flow/pressure isnt a problem as well.

I should have time to get in there and replace plugs this weekend
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Old 05-11-2017, 05:04 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rameses View Post
You're one zero short.

And yeah, the injector's still spraying after the burn starts. Some newer engines even use multiple smaller injector pulses per firing to make the engine run quieter.

You're both high. Pop pressure for the idi is around 2000 psi. It's still high enough to be dangerous and can inject into your skin. Not something to fool around with. Always feel for leaks with paper or some other item and not your hands.

Different engines will have different pressures. You're modern day HEUI stuff is close to 30,000 psi. I'm thinking common rail is less(15-20k maybe). But those engines will vary the pressure based off of load. The multiple squirts are called pilot injections. Those, along with the high psi let the fuel burn more efficiently leading to less emissions.
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Old 05-15-2017, 06:36 PM   #18
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Ok so here is an update.

I managed to get at and replace 4 of the glowplugs, but that didnt help.
A couple more observations:

With the doghouse off, I have noticed that if I plug in the (fuel?) warmer that there is a "crisping bacon" sound that I didnt notice before. Perhaps that has cooked some fuel into sludge in the fuel lines?

I am certain the battery is pretty weak. Its a big bastard of a thing and the only marking I can find on it is "5-11" which I am assuming is a m/y date. And having learned that it is compression that causes the ignition in a diesel (learning stuff!) I imagine the battery has to spin things pretty rapidly to get the cycle going.

With that in mind, I'm looking at replacing the glow plug controller (pretty cheap, easy to get to, so may as well) and the battery (have only the vaguest idea where to get one of that type/size. I am sure it is expensive)
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Old 05-15-2017, 06:42 PM   #19
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You'll probably save on the battery at your local farm store. If you're replacing the battery, and it sounds like it's an 8D, you might consider getting two 31s set up in parallel. Instead of a 150 lb battery you'd have two 80 lb batteries. As always it's personal preference.
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Old 05-15-2017, 06:45 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
You'll probably save on the battery at your local farm store. If you're replacing the battery, and it sounds like it's an 8D, you might consider getting two 31s set up in parallel. Instead of a 150 lb battery you'd have two 80 lb batteries. As always it's personal preference.
Thats a good idea.
The smaller battery mounts are still available under the hood, but the wiring isnt there for them. Eventually I want to make use of those, but for now Im just trying to get it to run.

THanks for the tip on the battery spec
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