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Easy Start

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Sam Longley 128/06/2021 18:36:55
860 forum posts
30 photos

I know that this is not strictly a model engineering question, but lots of forumites work on engines, so I may get an opinion or a measured unbiased reply to something that is, by many , considered a myth. Many on this forum have years of experience so it seems a sensible place for opinion.

If Easy Start is used too often on an engine, does it get dependent on it. Does the Easy Start do any damage to the engine, or is the whole thing a myth.

Any thoughts?

Thanks

Sam L

br28/06/2021 18:49:22
697 forum posts
3 photos

IF you use “easy start” aka starting fluid, aka ether, plus some other common names, PROPERLY, it is very unlikely to harm an engine.

The proper method is that you use the absolute minimum amount necessary, and that you get any and every thing flammable away from the intake air location such as a wiping rag, and especially the can of starting fluid, and FOR DAMNED SURE your FACE.

A backfire is possible and quite common.

Typically a squirt of just one second is enough for a smaller engine, say up to two liters. A big engine four liters or more, maybe two seconds.

The engine should show definite signs of firing up with no more than this. If it almost runs, meaning it turns over a few times under its own power, you can use a LITTLE BIT MORE.

TOO MUCH can literally destroy an engine, but most of the time it only temporarily locks up the engine so that the starter won’t turn it over.

BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL AND EXTREMELY CONSERVATIVE IN THE AMOUNT YOU USE.

Many an engine has been severely damaged by using ether in attempting to start it. Sometimes such engines are beyond repair, especially if they are already old.

And ether might damage sensors and other components of some newer vehicles.

Don’t use it unless you NEED IT.

On the other hand, if you KNOW HOW to use it, meaning you have had some EXPERIENCE watching others and doing it yourself, it can be a miracle working tool, saving untold wear and tear on batteries and starters, and firing up old cold engines that CAN’T be started otherwise. This is especially true of OLD diesel engines that are badly worn, and if you destroy one that’s just about worn slam out anyway, it’s not such a big loss

Roger B28/06/2021 19:22:36
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167 forum posts
76 photos

No one will bother with Easystart if the engine will start without it. If you have to use easy start the engine already has significant problems. So no it is a myth. if you have to use easy start you will always need it, the engine is already past it's best. I will put in a caveat for very low temperatures but my 13 year old diesel car started instantly having been standing outside in -17°C for several days. The idling fuel consumption was ~4 times normal until the gearbox warmed up but we could drive away.

Dave Halford28/06/2021 19:57:51
1758 forum posts
19 photos

Easy Start is mostly Ether, the engine doesn't think it's Cocaine. The only place I have seen it used a lot was hydroplane racing with Methanol. But then Methanol is just as good a degreaser as Ether.

Assuming you have good fuel and spark for petrol or good diesel that only leaves bad valve seats, tight tappets or worst busted rings. In other words the compression may be too low.

Mick Henshall28/06/2021 20:30:52
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558 forum posts
34 photos

On engines such as lawn mowers you could put a few drops of petrol in through plug hole or brake fluid works also,

don't need much,I use it to see if an old engine will start before a rebuild

Mick

martin perman28/06/2021 20:37:23
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2009 forum posts
83 photos

My Brother and I ran a Bedford TK for several years, during the summer months it would start on the button from cold but come the winter it wouldnt start to save its life unless it had a squirt of easy start, a new pump and injectors and a successful compression test made no difference until the warmer months when it would happily start without its fix.

Martin P

not done it yet28/06/2021 20:41:12
6350 forum posts
20 photos

Let’s be complete and relate the use of ether starting fluids with compression-ignition (diesel) engines.

Roger B is spot on. An engine that is worn and unable to raise enough adiabatic temperature gain within the combustion space, at cranking speed, is already past its best if it was not designed for assisted starting in this way.

Ether does not burn progressively - the flame path is so fast that it explodes within the combustion space producing much higher than design pressure, This rapid expansion is likely to break the top compression ring initially - and perhaps lower rings as well, if continued to destruction. The top ring will already have been out-of-spec on side clearance and it will only get worse, not better! In severe cases the ring parts can break away the tops of the piston crown and escape - not good for the engine!

Some engines have starting aids fitted as original equipment - usually direct injection engines - and often the starting fluid is not diethyl ether based, or contains much less ether than the usual can of ‘Easystart’. These are often lower compression engines with turbochargers which operate to increase the effective combustion pressure (and the adiabatic temperature rise) when at normal operating speeds. It is one reason why turbocharged engines often require extra piston cooling than for a naturally aspirated engine derivative.

Errors in the use of starting sprays can include usage where heater plugs are already fitted and operational, when the spray can explode within the induction manifold, occasionally with disastrous consequences.

john halfpenny28/06/2021 20:47:24
190 forum posts
27 photos

Martin has it. Engines do not become addicted to Easy Start, they are simply worn to a state where starting is difficult in adverse (typically cold) conditions, and will not start without it because their mechanical condition does not improve over time.

Andy Stopford28/06/2021 20:49:26
101 forum posts
11 photos

If the engine is already worn out and the only way to get it to run is Easy Start, then OK, go for it.

However using it as a substitute for buying a new battery, not so good - it washes oil off the cylinder bores, and, worse, tends to detonate (you'll often hear severe knocking as it fires up) which may break the piston rings.

Some older diesels were a pain to start from cold (see Martin's post above), especially those with indirect injection. Sometimes you had to make a decision - Easy Start, or crank it continuously for 30+ seconds till it started to fire. There was a reason they had those very heavy duty CAV starters, and I favoured the latter (or fit a KiGass pump).

edit: NDIY beat me to it, with more details

Edited By Andy Stopford on 28/06/2021 20:51:46

martin perman28/06/2021 21:01:20
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2009 forum posts
83 photos
Posted by john halfpenny on 28/06/2021 20:47:24:

Martin has it. Engines do not become addicted to Easy Start, they are simply worn to a state where starting is difficult in adverse (typically cold) conditions, and will not start without it because their mechanical condition does not improve over time.

Sadly the point I was trying to make was there was nothing wrong with our engine, it was an ex army recon unit we bought and fitted to the truck straight out of the crate as surplus stock.

Martin P

not done it yet28/06/2021 21:39:59
6350 forum posts
20 photos

Some additional info…


Some older diesels were a pain to start from cold

Yes, Andy, and some of those designs were later modified by adding glow plugs (not the aero engines). Drip feed of fuel onto a glow plug in the induction manifold was another way of heating the ingoing gases (so an actual small fire burning in the manifold) before attempting to start the engine. All a diesel engine requires is sufficient temperature to effectively ignite the spray from the injector (as well as the correct spray pattern - some injectors had an auxiliary jet which spayed toward the glowplug - and timing, of course).

Playing a gas flame on the manifold, or preheating the engine coolant are tricks and a more recent way of getting a diesel engine started in colder conditions. In the colder parts of the US, some farmers simply leave their tractors ‘plugged in’ overnight.

I personally knew of one person who simply left his tractor ‘ticking over’ all night long when it was freezing weather - not exactly a preferred method, but it worked for a while! It was more reliable than rolling the tractor down the hill to try to get it running in the morning!

If the engine was partially igniting the charge, but insufficiently to fire up properly (plenty of smoke, but not enough to fire up properly) an unlit propane torch in the manifold could work. It acts like easystart without the risk of detonation, as propane will not self ignite in a diesel engine at usual compression ratios. Some stationary diesel engines (the Lister CS, for instance) have been partially fuelled on propane, using the diesel injection to provide the ignition source for the ‘alternative fuel’ and to make up the required amount of fuel as the load alters.

bernard towers28/06/2021 21:56:21
303 forum posts
85 photos

If you have to use easy start more than a couple of times you had better start looking for the real problem and yes I do speak from experience, 50+ years of it!

noel shelley28/06/2021 22:42:00
770 forum posts
19 photos

The bigger the engine the lower the compression ration ! I have 4 13L V8 diesels which were fitted with ether injetion for cold starting from new - comp ratio 17/1. A small lister or petter may have a comp ratio of 22/1 both these manufactures used oil plungers to put oil above the piston to aid cold starting which if done right they would always start. Bearing in mind the principles of the diesel engine then introducing heat to the air intake will aid starting be it a burning rag or a hair drier. Plan B was the thermostart that burnt fuel in the intake manifold a truely wonderful device !

EASY start was a VERY last resort ! Bit like a defibulator for a heart patient !

Petrol or brake and clutch cleaner is a more gentle option.

During the 2ww my mother as a 20 something would hand crank a 4 pot Lister that drove a generator to power a searchlight - now that IS life or death - The engine didn't even have an electric start. Noel.

not done it yet29/06/2021 01:42:18
6350 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by noel shelley on 28/06/2021 22:42:00:

During the 2ww my mother as a 20 something would hand crank a 4 pot Lister that drove a generator to power a searchlight - now that IS life or death - The engine didn't even have an electric start. Noel.

Was that a diesel? If so, I would fully expect it to have some form of decompression while hand cranking? Even my little Hatz engines have decompressors (automatic ones on those).

WWII was a dangerous time for many ladies. My mum had both arms in slings (at least one broken wrist) at the same time from cranking a petrol engine which back-fired. I believe she already knew how not to grip the starting handle (she grew up on a farm) but that did not prevent the first injury. Repeating the starting procedure with her other hand was considered very ‘naughty’ by her doctor!

Speedy Builder529/06/2021 06:41:33
2416 forum posts
191 photos

I have an old (20 years) lawnmower. First start of the season is always difficult. I squirt gas from a gas blow lamp down the carburettor and away we go. Perhaps gummed up rings is the cause of the problem, but why bother stripping it all down, new head gasket, rings, probable stripped head studs when a squirt of gas fixes it ?

Ady129/06/2021 06:58:18
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4755 forum posts
715 photos

Thats why the old model diesel engines used ether based fuel, it ignites at relatively low compression

So your clunky old motor gets a leg up to get started and any detonation issues are minimised by the wonky cylinder sealing at startup

Chris Evans 629/06/2021 10:11:22
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1960 forum posts

First start of the lawnmower every year on old fuel is always a lottery for me. I always take the can of easystart out of the shed to threaten the mower if it doesn't start. Not needed to use it for a few years since using super grade fuel that seems ok.

Tim Hammond29/06/2021 10:19:15
67 forum posts
Posted by martin perman on 28/06/2021 20:37:23:

My Brother and I ran a Bedford TK for several years, during the summer months it would start on the button from cold but come the winter it wouldnt start to save its life unless it had a squirt of easy start, a new pump and injectors and a successful compression test made no difference until the warmer months when it would happily start without its fix.

Martin P

Was there not a "thermostart" fitted to the inlet manifold of the engine? All of the TK engines I ever worked on had them, and would guarantee starting whatever the outside temperature.

ChrisB29/06/2021 10:47:17
648 forum posts
207 photos

During my appentice days at container terminal I remember the mechanics would start an old forklift truck by taking off the air cleaner, then dip a rag in oil and light it up and hold it next to the intake. The flame would be sucked in and the poor old perkins would come to life....until I tried that is... sucked the rag clean out of my hand into the intake!

noel shelley29/06/2021 10:55:28
770 forum posts
19 photos

NDIY , Yes it was a 4 pot lister, with 4 decompessors, water cooled by thermosyphon ! Ladies in those day must have been made of sterner stuff, You can imagine the reply if you asked a modern young "lady" to do this job ! Best wishes Noel.

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