Tow/bump starting diesel?

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 07:25
ThreadID: 78068 Views:4142 Replies:8 FollowUps:11
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I saw an old bloke in the caravan park I am staying at with the bonnet up on his old diesel Mitzi with a glow plug problem, I suggested I tow started him/it, but he said the mechanic was on his way.
When the mechanic arrived he said we should never tow/bump start a diesel.
I used to start the old tractors and farm trucks that way.
So can you tow start a diesel 4x4?
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Reply By: Dion - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 07:43

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 07:43
Of course they can.
But can the new fandangled modern age electronic? Not sure, but I'd give it a go if there were a means to do it.

Cheers,
Dion.
AnswerID: 414650

Reply By: feathery - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 07:48

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 07:48
I have a old Nissan 1990 model when the battery is flat you could tow it to Burke and back it will not start until you get some power into the fuel cut off
AnswerID: 414651

Reply By: B1B2 - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 10:08

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 10:08
G'day Bruno,
If it has 12v but not enough to turn it over it would be ok. As someone said the fuel solenoid would need to be open, but could be bypassed i m sure.
If it is really cold (icy) weather you will need more heat, we have lit a small fire under the sump of a diesel to warm it up enough to start.
I have push started my LC 1HZ fully loaded at Cullyamurra in 3rd gear (there was a small slope to the waterhole) and it started no problems 1st time. I was prepared to pull it back up the incline with my high lift jack as a winch, if it failed.
I would like to know the mechanics reason for saying not to do it. When you started your tractors and trucks, I would agree with you that it would have been no problem.


Cheers,
Bill
AnswerID: 414673

Reply By: get outmore - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 10:57

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 10:57
due to the much higher compression of a diesal push starting can be harder and probabally harsher on drivetrain, as said many diesals need some kick in the battery for the fuel solonoid

otherwise I cant see why not
AnswerID: 414681

Follow Up By: Brunohamilton - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 11:13

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 11:13
The mechanic did say something about the high compression.

There was plenty of power in the battery, it was a glow plug problem, or I would have jump started it.

So ignoring the high diesel compression that may (probably not) damage the motor, would it have started with a tow but no glow plugs?

I do know that if I was out bush I would have tried.
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Follow Up By: B1B2 - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 11:32

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 11:32
Bruno,
My 1HZ is 23.5:1 compression ratio so it does take some turning over and is the reason I select 3rd gear to start. In 1st gear you wouldn't budge it. Fantastic engine braking though. On smaller diesels with crank handle starting an unloading lever is used on the valves so you could rotate the engine and get some speed up, then push the lever over to start it.
If ithe weather is too cold it will not have enough heat in the compressed air to ignite the inlected fuel. A bit of aerostart sprayed into the air filter can be used sparingly. Now that can cause a bit of bearing damage if overdone. Diesel Engines that are required to start in a cold area would have crankcase heaters fitted to avoid starting problems.
I still wouldn't worry about push or tow strarting a diesel.

Cheers,
Bill
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Follow Up By: Member - mazcan - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 12:44

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 12:44
hi we had an inter a554 tractor withglow plugs
a few times when the glowplugs were faulty
we;d put it in 4th gear give it a small squirt of ether and tow it
it would start with a cloud of smoke blouching from within and run a bit rough for about a minute
the other inter was direct start and we quiet often parked it on the steep dam bank at night and would roll start it next day in high gear no problems

as long as there"s enough battery power to open the fuel seneniod i can;t see why any diesel would"nt tow start in 4th or 5th gear some text book trained mechanics dont believe a lot of things can be done

all due respects to them some of them have never worked outside a computorized workshop enviroment
cheers
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Follow Up By: Brunohamilton - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 12:53

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 12:53
Thanks muchly for your replies

It had me scratching my head, but not wanting to kill a motor, especially someone else's, I thought this would be a good place to ask.

Cheer,
Bruno
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Follow Up By: Outnabout.. - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 18:23

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 18:23
Doen't even need to be ether based. Most aerosols will work.
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Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 15:22

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 15:22
When my glow plugs get old it takes a bit of cranking to get it started.
The cranking and compression warms up the cylinders, like a bicycle pump gets warm pumping up tyres.

Mine is mechanical injection and I just need enough voltage for the fuel solenoid and it will clutch start. Gentle on the clutch and I use 3rd or 4th gear on our hill when the speed gets to about 15km/hr. Don't like to do it too often though, does strain the transmission, too quick on the clutch and you can skid the back wheels.
AnswerID: 414703

Reply By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 16:36

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 16:36
I tow started this.....about 87 tonnes and it didn't hurt it. done the job at Burke and Wills roadhouse about 3 hours after these photo's were taken .

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Follow Up By: B1B2 - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 16:41

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 16:41
Doug,
You win no one can top that:-))

Cheers,
Bill
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 16:57

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 16:57
Bill
Yes the old Troopy was gruntin', front hubs locked, low range reverse, and the Detroit lockers were working wonderful.

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Follow Up By: StormyKnight - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 18:21

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 18:21
Hey, I've also tow started a semi trailer (albeit the trailer was empty!)

Bloody heavy I must say & traction was an issue on the truck parking spot (loose gravel!)

Anyway the truckie flagged me down at a truck stop & luckily he knew what he was doing, got it going on about the 4th attempt after waiting long enough for me to get up some speed - otherwise when he let the clutch out we just stopped with all 4 wheels still spinning!

The smell of burning MT's was definitely in the air.

90 series Diesel Prado Auto on BFG MT's.

He was impressed with the power of the Prado, I initially didn't use low range, just H4, but then tried L2 & found that a little easier on the car. It wasn't really ever straining, I just needed to supply enough throttle to feed enough momentum into the truck. Interesting the wife & kids enjoyed it!

Cheers

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Follow Up By: StormyKnight - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 18:25

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 18:25
Correction used H4 1st gear then L4 2nd (2nd gear start) :) Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Russnic [NZ] - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 18:53

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 18:53
Hey Doug why did you bother locking the hubs for a small tow like that?.
More seriously why reverse?
I guess once the momentum is high enough the inertia will do the job, was that a D9 or bigger on the back.
I once got accused of cruelty to dumb animals towing a truck&trailer loaded with cattle to rescue after a mechanical brake down with the old petrol FJ45.
That reminds me as we have a bit of a flood here again.
Got a call years ago from the local transport, their rig had been stopped by a tourist bus and could not get passed, the river was rising quite fast so gave the old girl a spray with CRC and went down and pulled the Jap bus with 30 panicking passengers out to home, silly bugger had tried driving through with a vehicle that had the air intake behind the front bumper, hydrauliced it of course, got the tourists home then got another call, the stock truck was having problems.
As the river was rising fast thought at least I would pick the driver up, ended up backing down the road with the doors open so we wouldn't float, got there found he had he cut a corner a little and put the trailer into the water table, the water level was well up past the knees to the uncomfortable stage, but as I still had the drag chain chucked on the back we hooked up and with a bit of luck got him out.
He carried on his way.
We had the tourists for the night.
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 19:59

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 19:59
Reverse , 2 good D-shackles on the ARB bullbar and i could see whats going on.

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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 23:59

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 23:59
I used to roll start our vehicles when they needed glow plugs replacing. I always got which ever family member's Landcruiser that was having starting problems, because i could park it on the hill and roll start. They started easily that way. The modern high tech vehicles may be different. We haven't had a glow plug problem for quite some years now.

We have often towed the old tractors to start them when having battery problems.

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Reply By: Member - Russnic [NZ] - Friday, Apr 30, 2010 at 07:57

Friday, Apr 30, 2010 at 07:57
I am sure it says in the handbook not to tow start the V8 Troopy because it needs power for the electric side of things to get it to start.
Over the years have tow started many old vehicles, though the newer tractors can't be tow started because of the transmission, of course you can't tow start an automatic transmission vehicle either.
A last resort trick to start a diesel with faulty glow plugs is to heat the air at the air intake, we had an old tractor and the only way to get it going on a frosty morning was to drop some burning paper down the air intake, went for years starting it like that in the winter.
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