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Starting Engines with Starting fluid


I have read on this site I believe, that you should never start a Hit & Miss with starting fluid....

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  #1  
Old 01-21-2001, 08:59 PM
Benny Mckheean
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Default Starting Engines with Starting fluid

I have read on this site I believe, that you should never start a Hit & Miss with starting fluid. Can someone tell me what harm this causes so I will quit using it.
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  #2  
Old 01-21-2001, 09:25 PM
mark
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

In the automotive engine I have seen piston rings break, piston ring lands broken, head gasket blown and more. It is too EXPLOSIVE. We use to be able to use WD40 but they took the flammable chemical out of it. Get your self a pump oil can with a little gas in it to use or a small squirt bottle.
  #3  
Old 01-21-2001, 09:36 PM
Joe Morris
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

If an engine won't start without using starter fluid there is a problem with the engine somewhere. Otherwise it will start easy enough on on gas.
  #4  
Old 01-21-2001, 10:41 PM
glenn
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

I have seen bent rods from using ether. I know of a Thermoil that promptly blew the cylinder off the base when either was squirted in while they were belted up to it.
  #5  
Old 01-21-2001, 11:05 PM
Alan James
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

I dont even have a can of piston destroyer in my garage, if it wont start on gas then something is off, saw the effect of a 2 cycle detonating in the crank case with starting fluid that was a sight. Starting fluid washes all the oil off of the cly walls. not good. Al in Fairbanks./
  #6  
Old 01-22-2001, 05:08 AM
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

Here is my 2 cent's worth on this subject. I guess I need to ask the question, HOW MUCH ARE FOLKS USING ?????? Dad always said, To much of a good thing(except engines ) is not good for you. I sometimes use it to get things going, but use it sparingly. If you use a whole can in trying to start an engine(snow blower, leaf blower, lawn mower, old engine, car, etc..) let me know so I can leave the area. All I can say is use some common sense when using that stuff and don't over do it. Read and follow the directions on the can.

Paul in Lakewood, NJ
  #7  
Old 01-22-2001, 05:31 AM
Russ Hughes
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

I am in agreement with Pauls comments. I have a diesel engine in my boat. It is supposed to have glow plugs, but they are all burned out. Besides, I never bothered to make up the electrical connection to the glow plugs anyway. I always have to start it in cold weather using starting fluid. I have to go into the engine room and check oil, hoses, open the through hull water valve anyway. The trick is to have the engine cranking over and use only a very short squirt. That is all it takes.

I also agree with the other comments to the effect that an engine in proper condition should start easily without resorting to starting fluid.

The stuff is mostly ether, and it has the ability to ignite over a wide range of fuel air mixtures besides being very flammable.

I also have a 10 horse 5 Kw light plant with a brand new Briggs engine. It won't start easily most of the time after running it out of gas by shutting off the fuel valve when I am through using it. The next time I want to use it, maybe months later, I can turn on the fuel valve with fresh gas in the tank and you can pull the starting cord until the donkeys come home and it still won't start. A very short snort of starting fluid will get it running in a pull or two. It runs and starts fine if you leave the fuel turned on between uses.

Some people operate on the principle that if a little ether starting fluid is good, then a lot more should be much better. That is where the blown engines come from. Read the instructions on the can before you use it.
  #8  
Old 01-22-2001, 12:37 PM
Kid Dynamo
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

Using starting fluid to start your diesel is different than a gas engine. One should never spray starting fluid into a gasoline engine while it is cranking. The potential for a backfire out the carburetor intake is very real and if it happens while you're spraying ether, well, you may pay a heavy price.
  #9  
Old 01-22-2001, 08:28 PM
ted utessMike,
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

Using starting fluid (ether) on an engine is risky because ether detonates rather than explodes. A detonation is like a steel hammer hitting the piston wheras an explosion (gasoline) is a progressive burning resulting in a PUSH against the piston. Ether is VERY dry and washes any lubricant off instantly, another reason not to use it.
  #10  
Old 01-22-2001, 10:56 PM
mark
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

i have been a mechanic for over 30 years .i have never used the stuff. if it won't fire on it's own there is somthing wrong.
  #11  
Old 01-22-2001, 11:43 PM
Mike
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

Any one who says they don’t like starting fluid has never had to start a pump jack when the temperature is 0 with a 30 below wind-chill blowing down your neck. Sure it washes the oil off, but only for a very brief time. Sure it has a punch that’s why you use it. Sometimes that first good hit is what it takes to suck that piece of lint or rust stuck in the carb-jet free. It’s a good product and has a place. It’s just like any number of things we use you need to have a little common sense about what you do with a product. Mike
  #12  
Old 01-23-2001, 01:46 AM
Russ Hughes
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

Kid Dynamo you are right about spraying starting fluid into the carburetor while cranking the engine. On my little light plant, I give it a single short snort of starting fluid, then I pull the starter cord. I can't spray the starting fluid and pull the starter cord at the same time anyway by myself. I have never had any problem starting the engine by doing it this way.

If an engine is in otherwise good operating condition, but won't start by itself, a little starting fluid in cold weather might help. On the other hand if the engine is in bad condition and/or the weather is warm, and someone is attempting to force the engine to start, then this is a bad use of starting fluid. The engine should be repaired instead.

And yes, the diesel engine is a different breed of machinery. I guess the problem with the gas engine is that they usually have the ignition take place a little before top dead center. If the engine fires the starting fluid and there isn't enough momentum in the flywheel to carry the piston over top dead center, it can kick backwards and you can get a blast of flame out of the carburetor.

You can occasionally get an engine to do that anyway without resorting to starting fluid as the gasoline alone usually is sufficient. Thats why all gasoline marine engines have a back fire trap on the carburetor, and that installation on marine engines is mandated by Federal law.

I still think that the potential problems that have been mentioned here have to do with using too much starting fluid. Yes, one has to use a little common sense when doing something a little out of the ordinary like this. If you do not feel comfortable using starting fluid to help start a cold balky engine when it might reasonably be called for, then do not use it.

I suspect that by the time someone decides to use starting fluid to start a balky engine, that the battery is already run down, or the hand starters arm is tired on a hand crank engine, to the the point where the starter motor (arm) cannot rotate the engine fast enough to insure that the engine will carry over adequately when it does fire, thus kicking back and belching flame out the carburetor. It may do this anyway even with only gasoline.

A hand started engine such as this forum is generally discussing is a different situation than an electricly started engine. The possibility of being injured when something doesn't go quite right is obviously greater.

And while starting fluid is indeed a solvent for lubricating, and it is a dangerous explosive solvent if used for cleaning oil off parts, the amount properly used to assist in starting an engine, is probably not enough to cause damage because of oil dilution when starting.

The above is my opinion based on my own experience with occasionally having to use the stuff, mostly in cold weather and with the diesel.
  #13  
Old 01-23-2001, 09:55 PM
John Reed
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

If it wont start without ether ,get a bigger wife ---or a least a hefty girlfriend OK?
  #14  
Old 01-26-2001, 06:22 PM
john Culp
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

I know the original question is about ether and hit & miss engines, but Diesels came up in a lot of the reply posts. An alternative to ether for cold weather Diesel starting is to pour a small amount of oil into the the cylinder to increase compression temporarily. You have to use a small enough amount that it can't hydraulically lock the cylinder! In my 88 c.i.d. single cylinder, 19:1 C.R. Diesel, a tablespoon of oil will bump the compression up to about 25:1. That'll get you going in mighty cold weather. No drying of cylinder walls and rings, either. This was the normal recommended starting procedure for a good many older Diesels with fairly low compression ratios, BTW.

You can also heat the intake air. A hair dryer's great if you're close to a power outlet. Some folks have even wadded paper in the intake and set it on fire!
  #15  
Old 01-28-2001, 03:42 AM
Russ Hughes
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

I can see how your suggestion about putting a little oil in the cylinder would work by raising the compression ratio, and thus increasing the heat of compression for starting.

Question, does the engine you own have a port or something similar, with direct access to the cylinder? I ask this question because I suspect that if I were to attempt to put the desired amount of oil down the air inlet on the four cylinder diesels manifold, little of it would get to the cylinder, much less to any specific cylinder, as it would first coat the inside of the manifold.
  #16  
Old 01-28-2001, 02:10 PM
John Culp
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

Mine is a single cylinder with a very short intake "manifold" that turns up at the end, so it's easy to put it directly in. I figure if I put about 4 teaspoons in, maybe a tablespoon reaches the cylinder. I think you could just as easily use Diesel fuel, and more of it'd get to the cylinder rather than coating the manifold and port walls with thick, gooey, cold oil.

Many of the early multi-cylinder Diesels had test ports to the cylinders that you could do this with, but I agree it'd be difficult with a 4-cylinder engine without such. Not only would much of the oil cling to the manifold walls, but too much might get into one cylinder and break something when the engine was cranked over.

On some engines, the injectors themselves might come out easily enough to consider using this as an access route to the cylinder. Kind of like priming a gas engine through the spark plug hole.

You might only need to do it to a couple of cylinders to get it firing enough to start up, the other cylinders kicking in as the engine speed increased.

A picture of my Indian "Listeroid" Diesel's on the page linked below:


"Dolly Diesel"
  #17  
Old 01-29-2001, 03:49 AM
Russ Hughes
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

I looked at the pictures of your engine and it looks real nice. Maybe you ought to fit it with a 2 to 3 kw generator and be ahead of the game if and when rolling blackouts get to your part of the country. You would either make your neighbors jealous, or they would detest you if you had to ever put it to use under those conditions. In any case you would have some electricity if needed.

Your other comments are well taken.
  #18  
Old 01-29-2001, 03:38 PM
John Culp
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

Thanks, Russ! I have a 5kW continuous, 6kW surge rated brushless alternator which I'm going to belt up to her when I get my drive pulley. I tried it with a single V-belt, which fairly predictably didn't work, so I'm going to a serpentine automotive accesory drive belt driven from the flywheel rim. This engine won't drive it at full rated power, of course, but that alternator could be used with something else one of these days and cost little more than a 2.5 kW one. I bought a 6-circuit transfer switch and an outdoor plugin box at a good price off of eBay, so I'll be able to keep the most important stuff going. :-)

These caste-iron Indian Lister clones, including clones of the bigger twin cylinder models, and Indian clones of the little Petters as well, can be had quite reasonably from Mike Montieth, whose E-address is mmontieth@blueridge.net. Mike also made me the serpentine drive pulley (which was inadvertently shipped to California and is on the way back). Mike's a machinist by trade. He's a great guy and I recommend him highly! :-)

(I think the batch of Indian engines he now has may well be the last the EPA will allow into the country due to lack of emissions certification.)


http://users.chartertn.net/johnculp/dolly.html
  #19  
Old 01-30-2001, 04:08 AM
Russ Hughes
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

That 5 kw alternator will just be loafing along at the power available from the engine. It certainly won't hurt the alternator to run below its rated capacity. One advantage of running an alternator near its rated capacity is to warm it up to drive moisture out of the coils. It will probably do this anyway even at, or near half capacity. I any case, I appreciated your suggestion's.
  #20  
Old 01-30-2001, 02:55 PM
john Culp
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Default Re: Starting Engines with Starting fluid

It'll do a bit more than loaf along, but it'll have plenty of reserve capacity. The rated horsepower of that Diesel (quite conservative, it'll put out considerably more at an overload) is 6, or 4.4 kW. A clean, nonslipping belt drive is about 98-99% efficient mechanically. 90% efficiency is not unusual for a generator, so I'm expecting 4 kW as a reasonable output. I believe that for a brief surge, such as starting a refrigerator motor, that the flywheel momentum could carry it through a surge of 6 kW total. Normally generators are recommended to be hooked up to engines with a considerably excessive power rating for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being that the typical small air-cooled engines really don't hold up well to being run continuously at full power.

I just got my serpentine belt pulley, so I'll soon be able to tell you for sure.


http://users.chartertn.net/johnculp/dolly.html
 


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