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  1. #1
    Super Member
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    Sep 2000
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    6,515

    Default Cold Weather starting tips

    Hi,

    I got a Private Message today on what can be done to help a hard to start diesel tractor. After writting the reply, I thought, "Hey, this is probably something everyone is interested in!". Here it is - I removed the person's ID as they PM'ed me and so that "private" part is being respected.

    If there are any other tricks and tips on cold starting - please chime in! Winter affects us all!

    _______________________________________


    My kubota (B7800) is slow even when plugged in. I wonder if the hot plug is faulty? Any suggrstions?

    I'm guessing you mean slow to start? In cold weather diesels are much harder to start. There are some simple things you can do that will help a lot.

    1) Add diesel additive to the fuel to raise the cetane number. Add enough to raise it 5-6 points. The bottles will show the amounts. Cetane number is an indication of how easy the fuel is to ignite by compression. Higher is easier. Winter fuel blends are lower in cetane.

    2) Run the glow plug (you called it a hot plug) for 3-4 cycles. It won't hurt it any, but it will drain the battery.

    3) Speaking of batteries - battery power can be down to 25% of the summer cranking reserve due to the cold temps. To generate the temperatures to ignite diesel, the engines have to spin pretty fast. A weak battery doesn't spin the engine fast enough to start easily. Try adding a 10a charge to the battery for 15 min prior to attempting to start the engine.

    4) DO NOT USE ETHER. (starting fluid) It is very very easy to misuse it and severely damage the pistons and even the connecting rods and crankshaft.

    5) Add a block heater. There are 3 types. The best replaces a frost plug and has a heating coil directly in the coolang. The next best is spliced into the lower radiator hose. The least effective is magnetically attached to the bottom of the oil pan. Naturally, the ease of installation is opposite the effectiveness.

    6) If you have electrical power (and don't want to mess with adding a block heater in the cold), you can use a hair drier aimed at the intake manifold for 15 min to heat it up some.

    7) Change the engine oil to a lower viscosity synthetic. If you are in a bitterly cold area, 5w40 may be too thick. Heck, 5w30 may be too thick! Try a 0w20. Just remember to replace it with your normal summer oil in early spring.

    Hope this helps,
    jb


    ______________________________________

    Re-reading it, I notice that I missed the fact there is a plug in heater already. (Gotta get more coffee....)

    If you suspect a bad block heater measure the resistance across the plug. A 600 W heater (common) is used the resistance measured will be about 24 ohms. 600w at 120V = 5 amps. 120v/5 amps = 24 ohms. (Right?)
    A 1200 W heater will be 1/2 the resistance or 12 ohms. The cord will add a touch more to the total, but if you read an open or a couple hundred ohms, there is a problem.
    jb

  2. #2
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    473
    Location
    WEBSTER, MN
    Tractor
    JD 4720

    Default Re: Cold Weather starting tips

    A magnetic portable electric oil pan heater could be a choice as well, plus can use it for so many other things. Will not heat up the whole engine but will heat the oil pan or anything else that is a ferrous metal. Plus very easy install. Have even gone so far as to plug one into a 'trouble' lite and then covered the whole kit and caboodle with a blanket to keep the heat in. Plus if have a remote switch easier to verify the heater is getting the juice.
    JD 4720, 7' back blade, forks, FEL, 6 wheeler (yeeha!)

    If you are not having fun, it is time to change the rules.

  3. #3
    Elite Member RonMar's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    2,692
    Location
    Port Angeles WA
    Tractor
    Jinma 284 delivered 06/28/05

    Default Re: Cold Weather starting tips

    I think I would prefer to warm oil over lowering the viscosity too much. Warming the oil in the pan will help it flow better and speed the buildup of oilpressure on startup and save on internal wear. A battery blanket heater in conjuction with the other heaters and a charger would also enhance the battery performance in extreme cold.

    You didn't mention how cold is cold... If we are just talking 30F, and it has started fine when this cold in the past, then perhaps the heater has failed as mentioned, or it is just time for a new battery. Remember that the factory battery size was suggested by an engineer, but the final decision on the actual battery used was most likely made by an accountant...

    A good test on the battery was described by John, connect a battery charger to the battery a little while before starting. IF it starts normally with a charger applying power, then the battery capacity may no longer be acceptable at that lower temp. You might be able to extend the life of this battery by adding a maintenance trickle charger to the battery and plug it in whenever you park it, and it may work fine without it once the weather warms up, but this is usually an indication of an aged battery.
    Ron

  4. #4
    Elite Member RalphVa's Avatar
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    Dec 2003
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    3,758
    Location
    Charlottesville, VA, USA
    Tractor
    JD 1025, previously Gravely 5650 & JD 4010

    Default Re: Cold Weather starting tips

    With newer tractors and even cars since 1983, running the glow plugs about 4 to 6 seconds seems enough. Then it's important to open the throttle some before starting. On my tractor, after I shut it down, I open the throttle up quite a bit. If it fires and seems rough, open the throttle enough to get it to near 1500 rpm.

    I once started an old 1973 Benz with the old type glow plugs that had like a glow plug actually on the dash at -22 F. Glowed it for a full minute, gave it about half throttle, and it fired right up (this is with an engine heater). The fuel gelled 2 to 3 miles down the road (no additive). Let it sit about a minute. Restarted. Drove another 2 to 3 miles before it quit again. Again, let it sit about a minute. Restarted and stayed running then. Fuel filters on Benzes are mounted right up against the engine block. Good design.

    Having no glow plug indicator on my 4010, I have to put the HST selector in gear, turn switch to "start" and hold it for a count of 4. Then run selector to "N". Usually starts immediately. Runs rough and needs more throttle if I haven't left the throttle open enough. Lots of white/blue smoke for about 5 seconds. Haven't tried letting it glow for maybe 6 to 8 seconds. Might cut down on the white/blue smoke and roughness of running when it starts.

    If you have it die after a few minutes after it runs evenly, this probably means fuel has gelled on the fuel filter. A hair dryer then is probably needed directed towards the fuel bowl.

    Ralph
    The natural gardener
    God's original intent

  5. #5
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    290
    Location
    saskatchewan Canada
    Tractor
    Kioti CK20

    Default Re: Cold Weather starting tips

    I have a Kioti CK20 and it starts prety good using the block heater, on the other hand at home I have a old Case 444, this is air cooled, this time of year -25C I simply plug a car warmer in under the hood and cover the front with a moving blanket, after 30 mins its good to go, I do this with the aeroplane also and that has no choke, works every time
    Kioti CK20, FEL, Backhoe, 60" Schulte Snowblower

  6. #6
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    374
    Location
    Davidsonville, Maryland
    Tractor
    John Deere 4400, '48 B and 318

    Default Re: Cold Weather starting tips

    Remember, when your machine was new it probably started quite well when it was cold. If you need to cycle the GP's 3-4 times when its cold out, or you have to use your block heater when it is 20 degrees out, something is likely wrong. I chased a hard start problem down on my 88 7.3 Ford IDI for the past six months. It starts now in a few seconds when it's between 15 and 20 degrees out. What did it take? New battery, new battery cables, new GP controller, and 8 new OEM type GP's. Amazing how well it starts today, but after 20 years of ownership, it slowly got worse and worse, and since it was not a complete failure, it was hard to chase it down to one thing.

    Wayne

  7. #7
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    116
    Location
    Orting, WA
    Tractor
    New Holland TC35D

    Default Re: Cold Weather starting tips

    What has always worked great on old kick start harleys is just plugging in a small electric heater and aim it right at the engine. Used to leave it there for about 10 minutes and it made a world of difference.

  8. #8
    Elite Member RalphVa's Avatar
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    Dec 2003
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    3,758
    Location
    Charlottesville, VA, USA
    Tractor
    JD 1025, previously Gravely 5650 & JD 4010

    Default Re: Cold Weather starting tips

    My experience with that old Benz was when it had around 160k miles on it.

    Our present 1983 Benz has 205k miles. It still starts instantly after the required glow period (generally about 4 to 6 seconds in the winter).

    As an aside, I have a 1972 Stihl chain saw. Was about ready to write it off but took it to the local repair place anyway. All they did was replace the spark plug. It starts first pull (with a squirt of starting fluid) and runs great.

    Ralph
    The natural gardener
    God's original intent

  9. #9
    Elite Member George2615's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    3,177
    Location
    Central Square, NY
    Tractor
    LS XR3037HC

    Default Re: Cold Weather starting tips

    In a brief scan of the replies I see no one mentioned that you could have a bad glow plug. Just something else someone could check if they are having hard starting problems. I bring this up because it happened to me. I had hard starting problems a couple years ago. Tractor was in an unheated garage and cycling the plugs did not help. Mine is a 3 cylinder and I had 2 of 3 glow plugs were bad. You would have to isolate each plug and test with an ohm meter. A heated garage, low viscosity oil, block and or lower hose heater, fuel heater, fuel additives, and a good battery are the best ways to make quick starts possible but we all don't have these options.

  10. #10
    Elite Member AlanB's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
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    2,531
    Location
    Clarksville, TN, USA
    Tractor
    NH 1925

    Default Re: Cold Weather starting tips

    What throttle position do you guys use to start cold, my bobcat 743 with a 3 cylinder kubota diesel in it says to have the throttle at halfway.

    Sometimes I feel like I am flooding it.

    My tractor and backhoe start with the throttle at idle just fine, but the bobcat does not seem to want too.

    So, the questions would be,


    What position for the throttle on cold starts

    Can you "flood" a diesel.

    Thanks

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