Starter Problems - Diagnosing and removing the Starter

In last weeks blog and youtube Video we talked about anchoring out with our friends at Brady Island
.  It was great fun, but as I think I mentioned in that video, we had some trouble with our starter on that trip.  So the plan was certainly to spend some time and see what was wrong with it.  We planned on potentially rebuilding, replacing etc.  It all had to be determined based on what I found when I removed the old one.

Way before we get to the point of showing the starter up close in the picture above, we have to get it off the engine.
This is not usually a hard process, but remember everything on a boat is in tight quarters and this was going to be no exception.  That said, we are likely luckier than most given that we have an actual engine room as opposed to a few holes you can reach in from the galley or walk through hallway or from under the companionway steps.  This photo is me sitting on the floor right in the doorway of the engine room.  The camera is sitting on the other side of the engine facing the starboard side of the boat.

The next step was to remove the wires attaching the starter to the boat.  It was really important to check voltage on the connections and then turn off the main battery cutoff to the 12volt system prior to doing any work.  After cutting off the DC power, I went ahead and checked the voltage at the starter again.  This is an older boat, and it is always good to be sure that things are truly not bypassing some of the safety equipment that is in place, such as a battery cut off.  The good news it was not bypassed.
Given the size of the cables and the amperage available to it, the last thing I wanted was the positive cable going to the starter to short with something.  These cables are so large, it could easily cause a VERY large dead short and potentially catch fire.

After getting the cables all loosened up and removed.  I went ahead and taped around the exposed ring connecters on all of them to ensure that when I turned the 12V power back on they would not be in a position to mistakingly arc, or short with anything.  I not only taped them, but I also strategically placed them in areas that would avoid them making contact with any metal that is grounded such as the engine.
After the wires were all loose, it was time to remove the 3 bolts that hold the starter and spacer to the engine itself.  These were not horribly difficult to get off.  They were not convenient, however there are likely many jobs that would be much harder to reach the bolts, and nuts.  This was certainly manageable.

Once loose, it was just now time to take it out of the engine, lift it up out of the engine room (without dropping it below the engine into the couple inches of water and muck that is always there) and then getting it wiped off so that we can start to take a look at the starter, connections and do a little troubleshooting.   I put it onto a work surface over the sink so I could take a closer look and this very loose bolt that connects the power to the starter, is certainly not helping things given it is loose.  There will be more to troubleshoot as I dig into it a bit more.

Check out next weeks blog and video where we dig into this and troubleshoot the starter, order the new one, realize it is the wrong one and start that process over again until we get a new one put back on the boat.

In the video below you can see the first of a 2 part series on replacing the starter, including removal, troubleshooting, testing and the mishaps that come along with just about any boat repair project.
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Below is the text and description for the Youtube Channel post from this week.

We had issues with our starter on our 1978 Gulfstar Sloop.  She has a Perkins 4-108 diesel engine and I was getting no response when turning the key.  If I kept the key in the on position and shorted the large lugs on the back of the starter solenoid she would typically fire up.  I also started having problems with that as well where she would "spin" but not engage with the flywheel.
It was time to do something about it.

In this video, you will see closeups of the wire connections and wiring diagrams of the Perkins 4-108 Starter connections, as well as the bolt removals and the best way to remove the starter from the engine compartment.  Certainly this may vary depending on the year, make and model of your boat, but if you have a Perkins 4-108, this may be very helpful to you.

A few things that are worth pointing out because when you attempt to have one of these starters rebuilt, nobody asks you a lot of question about what it came off of.  That is not true when you are looking to buy a new one.  If you go to a Marine store, they will likely have to order you one for $400 plus dollars.  That said, I was able to locate one at an Auto Parts store.  From everything I can tell from talking to others, there is not a difference in "Marine" versus not Marine in this case.
I ran into a problem so wanted to share the part # that was on the back of the actual starter in the event you want to see if you have the same one and I will also share the part #'s and cost (as of September 2016) when this video was posted.
The Number on the back of the starter was "Delco Remy -1998338"  Based on the Delco Remy website, this part number is now obsolete and has been replaced with "1113280".  See the following link for the specs and details along with pictures from the original manufacturer.
If you got to AutoZone, and put in that number, you will see they can get you the starter for $187.99 with no core charge which is good because then I can check on having the old one rebuilt as a spare.
Link on AutoZone to this starter
You can also find it at O'rileys Auto parts but it was much more expensive.
Link on O'Reily Auto Parts to this starter
Link on Napa Auto Parts to this starter

Autozone had the best price, but I want to warn you to validate and check on the starter that you get.  I am posting the correct part # for the one you would need on the Perkins 4-108 for out Gulfstar.  When I went up there to the store with my starter, the clerk there cross referenced the part number on the back of the starter and told me what one I needed.  I paid and when it came in, it was the wrong one.  The starter would fit, but the starter solenoid was mounted in a different place on the starter and the wires from the engine wire harness were not long enough to reach the new location with the incorrect starter, so I took it back.
The Part number that you will need if you order this from Autozone is 6575N.  The fist one that I received was 6571N and that was incorrect.  Be sure it is 6575N.

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Safe Sailing from the crew of the Sailing Vessel DreamChaser.