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Tractor Talk Discussion Forum

starting fluid and diesel motors

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ryan goss

01-05-2005 22:22:46

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My father-in-law and I have two different opinions on using starting fluid on a diesel engine. He says its fine, I say it could burn the motor up without any type of lube to try to stop "knocking"

Please reply!!!!

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01-06-2005 08:32:48

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
you guys all hit it on the head ether doesnt do damage if sprayed w/a buddy when the engine is cranking and sprayed lightly. around here when trying to get dozers and excavators started when there outback we have found that you can find cheap concrete blankets to drape over the motor. couple that w/that block heater and a red hen heater 15 minutes literally make a world world of difference and the mtor will be warm. the old trick for no oil heater is a transmission jack w/a pan of charcole but that doestn work well w/paint and if the motor leaks. as for the intake heaters that you put in the intake that warm up the incoming air they look like a toaster coils grid heaters they work wonders and really do help they really work. advanced autoparts doesnt stock them but can get them however they are hit or miss. we bought one from there for a 619 deere motor and went through 4 of them (wire kept burning up and breaking) we checked made sure hooked upright etc and they were went through 4 of them broke down went to deere itself got one and never had a problem since thats oh a year ago and the advanced ones burnt 4 up w/in a week. however weve installed advanced ones on 855 cummins, 3406 cat and theyve worked. its just like anything just because it says napa or autozone or car quest some overseas rebuilder rebuilt it. maybe the same rebuilder who rebuilt the one for napa is the same one who built it for autozone. so alot of times it doesnt really matter they all came from the same place jsut got put in a different box.

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01-06-2005 07:50:18

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
starting fluid is just like tractor motors , there is a lot off difference in the either content, john deere is probly the stoutest the cheap 79 cent a can stuff at the dollor stores isnt much, in cold weather we go thru a case of the cheap stuff every winter and about 2 cans of the better, depending on the motor and the starter ,battery, or just a wore out motor, injecters,pump timeing, but imoa either used in moderation feathered in a dsl wont hurt a thing, sprayed in like your painting, lotsa damage can occure

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01-06-2005 07:16:32

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
I'm most familiar with Deere's, so that's what I'll comment on.

John Deere has offered factory-installed ether injectors for MANY years. And they don't give a "tiny" shot, either.

Up here in the cold North, Deere's with the ether injectors have them used quite frequently, and yet the engines live 8000, 10,000 or 12,000 hours without a major OH, so ether CAN'T be as destructive as the nay-sayers claim.

Anyone who has listened to a 466 fire off on a cold morning with a big shot of ether, PLUS the massive overfueling of the Bosch pump at startup wouldn't believe the engine would survive even one such event, yet it doesn't seem to bother them at all.

A neighbor had a 4960, and that thing rattled like a cement mixer full of steel balls, but when he traded up with over 10,000 hours on it, it was still running strong.

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Bryan in Iowa

01-06-2005 06:28:09

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
I have gm 6.2 in a cube van.If it's real cold i end up giving it a shot of WD40 .No knocks when using wd40 vs ether. 6.2's were known for puking head gaskets and cracking heads when ether was used ,,so far no problems with the wd40

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01-06-2005 18:35:53

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to Bryan in Iowa , 01-06-2005 06:28:09  
how recent of can were you using--- newer cans dont use propane as the propellant... last can I tried didnt work.

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01-06-2005 06:11:53

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
Ether knocks because of it's low octane which means it has a "low" ignition temperature. That's the idea when compression heat isn't enough to light fuel oil but will ignite the ether. High enough detonation/kocking pressure will pound bearings, bend rods or crush/pinch/break piston ring lands As for being "dry"? yes ether is one of the best oil solvents. The engine shouldn't get enough ether to remove significant ring/bore lubrication. Ether has a very low vapour pressure/temperature where the non burnable liquid will turn into a burnable vapour when mixed with O2. So in cold weather, ether is in a physical state ready to burn and to ignite easy. As previously stated. TOO MUCH or used with PREHEATERS/GLOWPLUGS is looking for a repair bill. Ether is a poor substitute for rebuilding a set of injectors in need of service. If at all possible synthetic oil, winter weight mineral oil or a oil pan heater. Or that cold engine will start and run without sufficient lubrication. The block heater and battery heater are the hands down winner if at all possible. Even if it will start at below freezing temps without the block heater. Use the heater anyways. Less wear on the entire electrical system, less engine wear and reduced fuel consumption. Have to wonder about those people with that block heater cord wrapped up unused under the hood. As they burn how much fuel & wear while idling in the driveway for 10-20 minutes to warm up. Plug in a few cents of electrical heat. That defroster will be blowing heat right after starting before you get the windows scraped clear.

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David in MD

01-06-2005 07:31:57

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to buickanddeere, 01-06-2005 06:11:53  
I"ve asked before and didn"t get an answer but does the battery heated intake manifold Deere is offerring for some of their notoriously cold starting models work? My 4230 needs to be plugged in below 50 degrees and a shot of ether helps anytime below 70 degrees. Once started it runs fine so I"m not about to undertake an expensive engine or fuel pump rebuild.

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01-06-2005 18:40:05

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to David in MD, 01-06-2005 07:31:57  
Oliver used those glowplugs all the time.. as did GM on the pickups.. and a case backhoe---but these can kill your battery before it gets started

BUT haveing a 4430 --- they do start hard but I am betting that you have a timming issue and injectors..

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01-06-2005 09:06:16

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to David in MD, 01-06-2005 07:31:57  
Ether in a heated intake manifold would be a blast,literally. Some of those 30 & 40 series were cold weather dogs due to some piston design flaw that was corrected for the 50 series. Still not starting at 50F points to low compression pressure, slow cranking rpms or injectors not providing a fine atomised mist. If the original injectors are still in there, they are way past time for service. At the moment they are wasting fuel, causing increased engine wear and causing hard starting. Do them istead of a hot manifold. Barely large enough factory starters fed with old high resistance cables/connections and tired/undersized/mismatched 6V batteries. Along with the notorious hydraulic pump drag. If the old injectors didn't ruin cold starts the electrical problems will. I know ether seems cheap compared to injectors, a high torque starter, new 00 gauge cables with swaged or soldered connections and two new 1000CCA 12 batteries. At least get an analogue voltmeter and measure the voltage at each battery post, not the clamps when cranking. Then measure the voltage between starter's not the solenoid's main post. To the starters cast body for voltage. If the batteries drop below 5.0V they are getting tired. The starter motor should be seeing no less then .4V below the batteries combined voltage when cranking.If so,the wiring is substandard. A starter motor supplied with 7.0V has 1/2 the cranking torque vs 10.0V And get the $3.00 manual hydraulic pump destroker from Mother Deere. Best cold weather $3.00 ever spent. You can't have an untouched 30+ year old tractor and expect 20F starts.

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01-06-2005 06:08:32

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
Too much of anything can be bad. But using the argument for ALL diesels is a little silly. Generally speaking, indirect injection diesels are not suited for ether use, whereas direct injected diesels are. Indirect injected diesels usually use precombustion chambers, glow plugs and sometimes some sort of supplemental starting aid, e.g. a primer, or manifold heater. Most of the damage I've encountered when these engines are used with ether is cracked precombustion chambers. Most engines I've worked on that are IDI carry a warning label prohibiting the use of ether. It appears that internal pressures exceed the mechanical limits of these chambers when ether is used - even when the glow-plugs are disconnected or inoperative for other reasons. Direct injection diesels, on the other hand, are usually designed with ether use in mind. One reason being, that since there are no glow-plugs or precombustion chambers, there is no easy way to cold start the engine. The only combustion chamber that exists is in the head of the piston itself and it is usually designed to withstand moderate ether use. Some companies offered automatic injection which limits the amount of ether that goes in. Most of the damage I've encountered (or witnessed as a mechanic) from ether use in these engines is shattered top piston rings, which eventually ruins the pistons and liners. This usually occurs when the ether is relied on too much, instead of fixing an underlying cold starting problem, or, in extreme cold, using other methods. As far as the complaints I've heard about diesels that are parked in areas where electricity is unavailable. I've seen that worked around in many ways. At our Deere dealership, we had dozers and skidders, out in the woods, that had to be started daily, sometimes at -30F. Some people chose to use siamese heater-hose hookups in their cars and/or pickup trucks. Pull up in the morning, plug in the running vehicle to the the cold diesel powered vehicle, wait awhile, and the running vehicle would warm up the other. Not unlike what happens with an old Cat or two-cylinder Deere diesel that has a pony motor - shared coolant - shared heat. Another option is a block heater - either a propane fired unit - or a convention electric unit plugged in to a small portable generator. A 20 lb., 1000 watt unit does the job quite nicely. I use it here for some of my stuff that sits up in the field. Of coure, if you have a monster block heater that uses 1500 watts, a larger generator will be needed.

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Jerry L / AZ

01-06-2005 05:27:35

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
If your getting a knock when useing starting fluid your useing too much, I used a rag soaked with gas or w-d 40. just my thoughts Jer

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01-06-2005 03:51:50

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
Here we go again!
Some say never use starting fluid. Use heater? How about when my tractor is over 2 mile away from the house? Here in Colorado some tractor never get within miles of a power line all summer. How about when the operators manual say to use it? Some used to come with built in injectors (M&M) till dumbies used it with preheat. Come on now. yes, idots can mess up engines by using it wrong. The blanket statment that if the engine is fixed or in good health it dosen't need fluid, just does not fit all tractors. Some have to have it. Example; my Case 930 had it every morning and sometimes every afternoon for 5000 hours. Same thing for my Case 1200. Yet some here say that one shot of ether in a Case will ruin it for life. Learn how to do it right and believe the operators instructions.

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01-06-2005 03:29:36

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
Several of my tractors and crawlers have come with ether injection equipment installed as OEM equipment. Downside is it can cause bad things to happen.

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01-05-2005 23:33:41

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
Hi ryan,

Like anything, if ether was used in moderation on non-intercooled engine then there shouldn't be any problems on a hard start to get it back to the shop to find the root cause of the starting problem.

To continually use ether to resolve a problem that should have been fixed long ago is just bad management.

IMO a rag soaked in gas held to the intake or a shot of propane is a much better choice.


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01-06-2005 01:25:51

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to T_Bone, 01-05-2005 23:33:41  
As mentioned before, if every item on the motor is upto par, and the correct oil in the motor for the temp, using ether in moderation will cause no problem except on a motor with glow plugs.

Used in excess, yes, you will have problems whether the motor is intercooled/aftercooled, whatever, just do not spray half a can in the motor to try and correct a failing item on the motor or a screwup on your part, wrong engine oil for the temp, failing glow plugs etc.

As previously stated by others, have used ether for over forty years on diesel motors have never destroyed a motor.

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Weirsdale George

01-05-2005 23:14:24

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
You ought to ask the farmer across the street from me -- he just spent over $4,000 getting a small tractor engine rebuilt because of the damage caused by starting fluid. If you have a good battery, starter, compression and injector pump, the engine should start. Oh, don't forget to make sure the glow plugs are working (that was the farmer's initial problem). If you are up north, get a block heater.

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01-05-2005 22:32:12

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to ryan goss, 01-05-2005 22:22:46  
I use it almost al the time on a Cat. 950 we have I just don't shot much in at a time and only enough to get it to start.

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01-06-2005 00:21:38

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to old, 01-05-2005 22:32:12  
I have a 165 massey with a 4 cyl perkins. It has no glow plugs, if its below 45 degrees you give it a shot of starting fluid as per the owners manual.

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01-06-2005 15:54:37

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 Re: starting fluid and diesel motors in reply to POLARA, 01-06-2005 00:21:38  
Usually engine damage is done by cranking the engine until the batteries are run down and THEN using the ether. I've seen a sleeve in a Cummins blown right in half by doing this. IMO ether won't hurt an engine that is spinning over at a good clip. We use it all the time here up north but we usually spray it at the air cleaner intake so the engine doesn't get a big gulp all at once.

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