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  1. #1
    Elite Member Richard's Avatar
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    Apr 2000
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    Knoxville, TN
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    Fullsized JCB Loader/Backhoe

    Default Diesel "starting fluid"

    It was told to me, (and subsequently proved to work) that you can start a diesel by spraying WD-40 into the air intake.

    Maybe it's good to do that, maybe it's bad to do that. That isn't an argument I care to start.

    My question is this...

    It was said that one reasone this did/might work, is because propane was used as propellent.

    What EVER is used as propellent, all i gotta say is, first..it worked, and second, except for starting Brutus, I'd preferred to not spray a bunch of WD-40 into my precleaner.

    That said, and me thinking about the propane part... here is thrust of my quesiton...

    I have one of those propane tanks used to solder copper pipes with.

    If Diesels will run on the propane... what are the pros and cons of taking that hand held and "wafting" some propane gas (unlit) into the air intake? (being sure to remove it so the engine doesn't try to go to a bazillion rpms.

    This (if "relatively safe") strikes me as much easier and much cleaner than spraying the WD-40.

    Am I heading into disaster with this way of thinking?

    Richard

  2. #2
    Super Star Member RoyJackson's Avatar
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    Nov 2001
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    19,164
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    Bethel, Vermont
    Tractor
    John Deere 4520 MFWD, Deere 855D UTV, Z920A Zero Turn Mower and assorted implements

    Default Re: Diesel

    We used to use starting fluid...it was ether (very flammable!!!

    In fact, the old Ford backhoe I ran in the late 60's had a place on the dash to affix such a can. There was a lever of some kind to allow one pump, that's all...

    Haven't seen much of this any more (can't say I've been looking, though).

    You never used more then one quick spray...supposibly, you could blow the head off the engine. Not sure if that's true, but I don't think using starting fluid is a good idea unless there is absolutely no alternative.

    Propane?? Well, it's be a nice experiment. Of course, if it destroys your engine, you can tell us all about it.

    If you do try it...just a little squirt, no more!

  3. #3
    Super Member
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    Dec 2000
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    6,737
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    JD 8320 MFWD, JD 6415 MFWD, FEL, and cab, John Deere MFWD 4600, John Deere 4020, John Deere 4430, John Deere 455 mower, Deutz, and Gehl 4610 perkins skidsteer

    Default Re: Diesel

    Roy,

    Most of the older tractors have an ether button where you can attach a can of ether. We've had tractors go thousands of hours starting them this way with no problems.

    With regard to propane many diesel trucks have propane added to them. It makes for a bunch more hp and better mileage. The diesel usually doesn't burn 100%. With the propane it burns nearly 100% of the diesel. There are a number of companies that make this setup. You can surely use a little propane to start your tractor but it's nowhere near as easy as just squirting a little ether or wd-40. You're not supposed to use ether on diesel pickups either but we got tired of replacing controllers and glow plugs on alot of our older ranch trucks. There are trucks out there that have been started for well over a couple hundred thousand miles on ether and they are still going strong.

  4. #4
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Texas

    Default Re: Diesel

    Richard, this is a topic I don't know enough about, but I think the big secret is to not use too much ether and since all the small engine diesels I'm aware of, tractors, cars, etc., say to NOT do it, and since I've seen one Yanmar the dealer said he took in on trade and rebuilt the engine, replaced a piston and several other parts after the owner did that, I don't "recommend" that anyone with these compact tractors risk it. But of course, for someone with your years of experience with a lot of different diesels, yep, I suspect it works just fine. Reminds me of my cousin and his '81 F150 gasoline Ford pickup. You didn't even have to raise the hood, but hot or cold, you just gave it a quick shot into the grill on the side where the air intake tube was, walk around, get in, start right up and go, but no way it was going to start without that.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img] And he drove it every day for at least two years that way instead of getting it fixed.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img]

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    Location
    Frozen North, Michigan
    Tractor
    Several Antique Garden tractors

    Default Re: Diesel

    If your diesel engine has glow plugs and you hit the glow plug switch right after you spray in the ether you could be chasing parts for days after the engine comes apart on you.
    I have seen a couple of these engines blow the intake and exhaust manifolds right off them.
    Read your manual and follw it very closely.
    If the engines won't start in the cold you may be much better off switching to a synthetic oil so it will spin faster, adding a block heater to warm the entire engine, installing a more powerful battery, or all of the above.

    Bill

  6. #6
    Elite Member
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    Default Re: Diesel "starting fluid"

    Have no fear, WD-40 uses harmless CO2 for propellant as stated on the can.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Diesel "starting fluid"

    Back in the last century, ether was commonly used to start both diesels and gas engines but it wasn't conveniently packaged in aerosol cans till around 55; Then came around 66, a combination of propane and ether in a cylinder that looked a lot like a Bernz-O-Matic torch cylinder, that was attached to the firewall, and remotely triggered to deliver a measured shot of the mix. The cylinders cost $16, 1966 dollars, so it never became real popular. GM diesel trucks had a device on the air pipe from the precleaner to the air cleaner that a mini capsuel of ether was inserted in and punctured, wittch cost around a quarter every time it was used, so most people just squirted ether in thru the cup.
    This combination resulted in a lot less impact when it fired inside a cylinder that straight ether did, and prevented drivers and operators, who were pi$$ed, from loading a whole can of ether into the machine.
    The old timers who taught me, shoved a lit Bernz-O-Matic torch into the air intake, NOT the precleaner or the air cleaner, left it there for a few minutes, to heat the air manifold, and then shut the flame back to a minimum, and cranked the engine over. When the engine cranks, it sucks the flame off the torch, and the engine gets a propane shot to help initial starting.
    This method works really well with CUT size diesels, presuming you know where to put the torch, and how to do it. It will not break piston rings the way ether will.
    The engine will run rough, because it is getting additional fuel once it has started till the propane is removed.
    When a diesel is cold, the injectors do not atomize the fuel as well as they do once the engine has warmed up, so propane is helpful in that it is already a vaporized fuel.
    WD-40 is primarily kerosene, and since you've squirted it out of a can, is pretty well vaporized. Squirting it into the precleaner, or ahead of the air cleaner does little to help starting, but it does wonders to shorten air cleaner life. The C02 propelant actually doesn't help starting, and may in fact be detremental to starting.

  8. #8
    Platinum Member
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    Apr 2002
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    New England...Central MA
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    TC35D/16LA

    Default Re: Diesel "starting fluid"

    Okay you well experienced guys...I have a follow up question. My 1960's vintage Deere 3010 had an OEM ether injection kit that feed a bit of go-gas to the intake manifold. It didn't have glowplugs. Is that the key. NO glowplugs ether is okay, but with gloplugs you'd better watch it. That old Deere was 24volt compression start. It was an angry old girl when the temp went to less than 10 degrees.

  9. #9
    Super Member
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    JD 8320 MFWD, JD 6415 MFWD, FEL, and cab, John Deere MFWD 4600, John Deere 4020, John Deere 4430, John Deere 455 mower, Deutz, and Gehl 4610 perkins skidsteer

    Default Re: Diesel "starting fluid"

    Two keys in my opinion. One is yes the glowplugs do make a difference but I've used ether with a glowplug system and never had a problem there either. I'm not saying others haven't just that we never have. Like Bird said the key is moderation. You certainly don't want to spray much in there.

    On a non-glow plug system if you can't plug one in, or get it warm, it's the only way you're going to get one started in the cold. A couple years ago when I bought my 4600 the only reason I bought it was so that I had a tractor in the middle of winter that I knew would start. I got so dang tired of fighting the older tractors and skidsteer when it was 10 below and a foot of snow to move or a round bale to move. In the winter now I don't even try and start the older tractors.

  10. #10
    Veteran Member
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    Apr 2000
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    Location
    Mid-Michigan
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    Kubota L3710 GST

    Default Re: Diesel

    As a matter of fact, I was watching "Trucks" on TNN on Sunday .... and the guy was installing an aftermarket propane kit to a big dodge p/u. The dyno results were pretty impressive. (then he installed an aftermarket "flamethrower").
    Properly installed and cooled ... you get a super horsepower boost ... but do throw more fuel (money) into the mix!

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