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Old 08-30-2019, 08:59 AM   #1
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Cold weather start?

I have a 2003 National Tradewinds 375LE with a 330hp Caterpillar 3126 engine. We live in Florida and are taking our big 'Out West' trip.
Our coach has run great, especially after I figured out how to watch my rpms and manually shifting to keep them up to keep engine temps down.

We spend a few days in Deadwood, SD and when I tried to start, the engine sputtered, billowed black smoke and stopped.
I turned the key on, let all the gauges drop and lights go off and tried again. Same results. Tried again and it started and ran fine the next couple of days.
We spent a few days in West Yellowstone and once again it was hard to start, but finally did and ran great down to Jackson Hole.

What is the proper start procedure on cooler temperatures?
We've been in upper 30's and 40's

Thanks

Wm Mayberry
2003 National Tradewinds 375LE
2011 Honda CRV
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Old 08-30-2019, 09:06 AM   #2
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We are presently in Gros Ventre campground, dry camping
So we are not plugged into power.

Wm
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Old 08-30-2019, 09:26 AM   #3
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You could start the generator and run the block heater for an hour to warm up the coolant.
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Old 08-30-2019, 09:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
You could start the generator and run the block heater for an hour to warm up the coolant.
That's what I was wondering.
I do have a Block Heater switch on my dash.

Thanks,
Wm
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Old 08-30-2019, 04:29 PM   #5
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Ran generator this morning to recharge batteries, heat water etc also turned on the Block heater.
Then when I started, I waited until glow image went out and tried to start.
1st time sputter, spitter, stop.
Tried again after light went out and kept cranking until it caught and ran. Soon, it smoothed up and ran fine.

My biggest concern was cranking a longer time.

Wm
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Old 08-30-2019, 07:02 PM   #6
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Diesels will crank longer in colder weather.

Takes a few compression strokes to get the combustion chambers hot enough to burn the fuel.

Its also possable that 1/2 of the pre-heating system could be out.
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Old 08-30-2019, 11:29 PM   #7
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Turn the key on until the check engine light goes out. Then start engine. If very cold at night plug in your block heat overnight. Safe Travels
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Old 08-30-2019, 11:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmiii View Post
Ran generator this morning to recharge batteries, heat water etc also turned on the Block heater.
Then when I started, I waited until glow image went out and tried to start.
1st time sputter, spitter, stop.
Tried again after light went out and kept cranking until it caught and ran. Soon, it smoothed up and ran fine.

My biggest concern was cranking a longer time.

Wm
I would think that if your going to continue to boon dock in cold areas , it would be a good idea to check that your block heater is operating ; by ohm testing the heater from the plug or plugging it in when on shore power and listening for a slight sizzle .
BTW: I just replaced mine this week . Not fun , I'll be posting my method.

In cold weather , I cycle through the wait to start light twice , before cranking the engine.

Another possibility , that I'll have to explore is the " grid heater ( wait to start ) cycle " I'm not sure if it's a timed cycle or shuts off with intake temp .
If it's a timed cycle , then there could be an issue with the grid heater , the control relay or the power circuit breaker that supplies the relay.
I'll read through my owners manual for a clue.

EDIT: From my manual the; wait to start cycle ; is timed and NOT an indication that the grid heater is working and intake temp is increasing . If your going to continue boon docking in cold temps then , I'd say you have some checking of your systems that aide cold start.
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Old 08-31-2019, 12:22 AM   #9
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the temps you are encountering are not deemed cold by any stretch for engine starting and operation, you have something else going on. the black smoke indicate un burnt fuel. a prime suspect would be the grid heater, the clue is that when warm it runs like it should.
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Old 08-31-2019, 10:43 AM   #10
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Fired right up this morning in Pocatello.
It was warmer and we just stayed one night.
The times it has been difficult to start was in higher altitudes, cooler temps and after sitting for a few days.
Going to Salt Lake City for a couple of days, we will see how it does then.

Wm
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Old 10-04-2019, 05:26 AM   #11
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In the electrical bay where the shore power cord is located I have an outlet that is there to plug the engine heater into.... this outlet is controlled by the switch on the dash.. I have the plug to the engine heater disconnected so that if the switch is accidentally flipped on the dash it won't run this circuit....
I've found that with other diesel engines... that in most cases it more like 2 to 3 hours of engine heater on time for the coolant and engine block/heads to come up to some kind of temperature where the engine will start easily...

On most of these engines they now use a hot air grid and not a glow plug set to warm the in coming air... on the HOT AIR GRID you can't use any kind of starting fluid as the hot air grid will/can touch off the starting fluid...

So in those cold start areas, we have the engine heater plugged in and when we start the gen set in the a.m. for any use, we turn on the engine heater and let it run....
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