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Batteries are good, so why won’t the engine start?

2010 January 4
Dear Boat Doctor,
I am having a problem starting the Universal engine on my Ericson 34. It seems like I just don't have enough battery power to start it effectively. I have checked and replaced the batteries, and had the starter and solenoid checked over. I just don't know what the problem could be. I appreciate any help you can give me.

Tom Geurts
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Dear Tom,
It sounds like you have checked the basic parts in the system-you have good battery power and the starter/solenoid are fine.

Your problem likely lies in the connection between the start switch and the starter solenoid. The wiring harness in your boat uses a 16-gauge wire between the start switch and the solenoid, and this size is just not big enough. You need to increase this to a 10-gauge wire.

In the standard wiring harness this is a yellow-red wire, wire No. 3 if your labels are intact and readable. You'll want to replace this small wire with a larger No. 10 wire. Be sure to move the fuse holder and 20-amp fuse (or just get a new one) from the yellow-red wire over to your new wire.

This should supply enough extra power to allow the solenoid to work much better.