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Old 12-08-2019   #1
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Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

Hi
Would appreciate some thoughts on an issue I have with a 1990 Ducato 1.9TD based motorhome:

1990 Ducato R/90 (14Q) base
1.9TD engine - code 280A1.000
80'000km (60'000 miles) registered

This engine has always run hot/been strained as it's way under powered - 60KW/80BHP isn't much for a 3.1 ton vehicle with aerodynamics of a barn. However it always ran fine (if hot under load).

Very recently I diligently changed the timing belt. Bit of pig to find the timing marks but got there. After the engine ran fine, and was used on a 400km trip without any issues.

Van was then parked (on sloped drive, engine uphill) for 2 months. Went to start and was very difficult to get running, poor power and lots of smoke/noise.

My first thought was a air lock in fuel, due to being on slope + very hot weather (38C day before). So I dragged it onto flat with another car in hope it would purge. No joy.

After running for a bit it conked out and refuses to restart. After endless testing (flow at fuel filter, injectors etc) without any reason, I decide to recheck timing just in case.

Was shocked to find it had dropped timing by 1-2 teeth (crank to camshaft). The new belt also had some threads on edge, and a doggy looking tooth (pic attached). So it seems it somehow the belt skipped. Given it was new, and had run fine, my best guess is something failed and jammed in engine/injector pump - rather than the belt itself - as this still had plenty of tension/grip.

I installed another new belt, tripled check timing and tried to start with fingers crossed. But still no joy, which suggests whatever threw the timing in first place was broken and/or the mistiming has done in valves.

My plan next is to run:

1. Compression test to see if internal damage in engine. Will pull rocker cover as well, and maybe put a endoscrope into cylinders if can get access through injector hole.

2. If #1 looks ok, strip off the injector pump as really last thing that can be wrong


Would appreciate any ideas on what else to look for or possible causes It's a bizarre fault as everything was fine then total failure in startup. Hard to believe an injector pump failure would cause a timing skip, and it still seems to turn/pump ok as best I can tell.

If I can't find problem or it is internal engine damage it will probably go to scrapyard - which will make my children quite :sad:

One other speculation I had was maybe caused by hydrolock as we also had a huge rain storm just before starting. Again if on slope maybe possible the air intake was flooded and engine pulled in water at start up.... However that's seems a long shot....

Cheers

Rick
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Old 12-08-2019   #2
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

hi. the thought occurred to me when reading how parked for two months. was it by any chance left in gear? and if so what gear ? as if left in first gear this could explain why the problem occurred as the weight of the van may have allowed the handbrake to allow the van to move a few inches thus causing the timing belt to jump a tooth. as said just a thought but I have known this to happen with goods vehicles when parked in similar situation. anyway good luck hope you get it sorted.
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Old 13-08-2019   #3
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

To grasp at straws and not wishing to sound insulting, are you sure that the engine is now timed on the correct stroke?

I managed to get this far out on a diesel Land Rover many years ago. What threw me though was the fact that the engine would run, but with little power. As I had thought that the engine would not start in this condition, I dismissed the possibility. If I remember correctly as this was probably over 50 years ago, increased fuel consumption, engine ran hot, and blew out glow plugs.

I do know how you feel.
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Last edited by Communicator; 13-08-2019 at 11:12. Reason: Punctuation, and addition.
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Old 13-08-2019   #4
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

Sounds as if there has been piston to valve contact due to running it with the timing wrong, it will never run right now until the valves are replaced with straight ones and a new belt and tensioner installed. I have a camper on a TD10 with the 1.929 engine and it will run with the timing 1 tooth out on the camwheel in either direction but any more will cause damage to the valves (and pistons?)
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Old 14-08-2019   #5
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

Thanks for all the replies.

Jon: Van moving in gear: good idea, and yes was in first, but handbrake was fully on and it was set on chocks. So Iím sure it canít be that.

Communicator: Iím pretty 100% confident the timing is now right - as I redid with help from guy at local garage. It is a pig to do as the timing marks are hard to read (need mirror). Also tensioning was bit vague as ideally you need special Fiat tool which has a weight to load the tension before tightening. I fabricated one which worked fine but I didnít know the weight (and hence tension) and err on side of being over tight - so no real chance it just jumped due to being loose.

This is what I made: photos.app.goo.gl/evdHHEBybuHbb4UP7

And engine running after the first change: photos.app.goo.gl/puaTUVNFWeaJuD5Y7

Sounds like a tractor but it always didÖ.


As Roland says - very likely there has been internal damage - which the compression test/inspection will confirm. I was trying to figure out what might have caused the original skip - that remains a bit of mystery.

Iíll update if I find anything more out.
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Old 15-08-2019   #6
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

is it not possible to advance or retard the pump on that model without having to move the timing belt as I seem to remember someone having a similar problem with a 1.9 a few years ago and that solved it. I think it was on the TalbotOC forum, may be worth a look as it will be in the history, and theres still a lot of owners running the older models on their including a number running 1.9s so it may be worth posting I think you have to pay small joining fee or donation. but may be well worth it for knowledgeable advice.
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Last edited by jontee61; 15-08-2019 at 22:36.
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Old 18-08-2019   #7
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

A worthwhile tip when changing the camshaft / pump belt is to crank the engine over manually with a long ring key on the crankshaft centre bolt at least two revolutions to ensure that there will be no valve - piston contact and as a check that the timing is somewhere near. It should revolve smoothly with resistance as each piston comes up on the compression stroke but would be blocked it there was valve - piston interference.

The marks on this model of engine are crude and somewhat vague to say the least, I got mine wrong on one occasion and the manual cranking over did not find the mistake out but prevented damage when I started the engine. When I realised how badly it was running I rechecked the marks and discovered my mistake. I then made my own marks that cannot be confused with Fiat's and which I at least understand.
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Old 19-08-2019   #8
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

Quote Originally Posted by jontee61 View Post
is it not possible to advance or retard the pump on that model without having to move the timing belt as I seem to remember someone having a similar problem with a 1.9 a few years ago and that solved it. I think it was on the TalbotOC forum, may be worth a look as it will be in the history, and theres still a lot of owners running the older models on their including a number running 1.9s so it may be worth posting I think you have to pay small joining fee or donation. but may be well worth it for knowledgeable advice.
Thanks. Yes you can adjust the advance / retard on pump by rotation on mounting but this is by a few degrees. The pump wasn't touched at all during the belt change so wouldn't seem likely to have shifted. In any chance the mistiming was between cam and crank - the cam and injector pump were still correct with each other.
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Old 19-08-2019   #9
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

Quote Originally Posted by rolandbrindley View Post
A worthwhile tip when changing the camshaft / pump belt is to crank the engine over manually with a long ring key on the crankshaft centre bolt at least two revolutions to ensure that there will be no valve - piston contact and as a check that the timing is somewhere near. It should revolve smoothly with resistance as each piston comes up on the compression stroke but would be blocked it there was valve - piston interference.

The marks on this model of engine are crude and somewhat vague to say the least, I got mine wrong on one occasion and the manual cranking over did not find the mistake out but prevented damage when I started the engine. When I realised how badly it was running I rechecked the marks and discovered my mistake. I then made my own marks that cannot be confused with Fiat's and which I at least understand.
I agree the timing marks are an absolute pig to read - especially the cam and crank one. I pretty confident that everything is now lined up correctly.

I pulled the rocker cover and this was inside: photos.app.goo.gl/tUsQKmGgqrHybex86

Looks very clean for a 30 year old engine, and certainly nothing obvious - though hard to see the valves with the well of oil. I'll clean all that out. Cranking by hand feels absolutely fine, no odd noises or jams. I also see sequence of squirts coming from the injector pump lines so the basics of that are working ok (doesn't seem to have huge pressure but this isn't a common rail so probably ok).

I pulled all the glow plugs and was about to do compression test but realized that with the straight mounting hose I have on tester one of them isn't accessible. So I need to get a deep 27mm socket and pull out injectors instead. Not a bad thing as this will also let me put a bore scope down and see what is going on inside hopefully....
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #10
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

So finally some update on this:

1. I hoped to get a camera in via glow plugs or injector ports - but neither will let the small endoscope I have through The injector seems to emerge into a cavity which has a turn on it, and the camera is too long to bend round.

2. I ran compression tests on the cylinders:

Cylinder #1 #2 #3 #4
Dry PSI 200 200 200 180
Wet PSI 220 310 240 280

Dry was done as is, wet having squirted a bit of oil down before cranking. My reading of these is:

- They are all too low - around 250psi seems to be the recommended minimum. I found this page which say this engine is 20:1, which gives 14PSI x 20 = 280 as very crude calc.

- The fact there is such a big variation between wet and dry suggests there is also issue with worn piston rings? However I've never had starting problems, and the engine ran pretty clean, passed antipollution checks ok.

- It's odd there is a big difference on wet readings but not much on dry. No idea what might cause that - possibly some minor valve damage on some cylinders.

Either way, it seems like pulling the cylinder head is only next step (other than binning). I had thought to run some more checks on injectors & pump before, as simpler to do. However I think I'm just grasping at straws there....

If anyone has any experience of doing this I'd welcome some guidance. It looks pretty simple apart from accessing the exhaust / turbo manifold nuts round back of engine. I think I should be able to undo these and then pull the head forward - so avoiding having to free all the manifolds from underneath?
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #11
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

I do feel for you. Just a couple of thoughts, have you eliminated the possibility of a coincidental glow plug fault, or even water in the fuel. The latter is easily diagnosed by the milky looking liquid seen when an injector union is loosened.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #12
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

Before you go to a lot of trouble pulling the cylinder head, I would say that the compression test results don't look at all bad to me. Bear in mind that the accuracy of the compression tester is unknown and the starter battery may have run down a little between the first and last test. If you really had bent a valve you would expect virtually no compression on that cylinder, not hundreds of PSI. The "wet" test will help the piston rings seal but won't have any effect on valve sealing.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #13
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

Quote Originally Posted by Communicator View Post
I do feel for you. Just a couple of thoughts, have you eliminated the possibility of a coincidental glow plug fault, or even water in the fuel. The latter is easily diagnosed by the milky looking liquid seen when an injector union is loosened.
Thanks for suggestions.

Glow plugs are fairly new, and I had problems where the engine would start but run very badly - before failing completely - and then finding the timing was out.
So a failure on those seems pretty unlikely.

Water in fuel was one of the first problems I thought of with initial fault, but there was nothing collected in the drain on the filter, and fuel round injectors and leak back pipes all looked ok.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #14
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

Quote Originally Posted by Anthony489 View Post
Before you go to a lot of trouble pulling the cylinder head, I would say that the compression test results don't look at all bad to me. Bear in mind that the accuracy of the compression tester is unknown and the starter battery may have run down a little between the first and last test. If you really had bent a valve you would expect virtually no compression on that cylinder, not hundreds of PSI. The "wet" test will help the piston rings seal but won't have any effect on valve sealing.
I take your point - though I had a doubled-up two batteries to try and keep the cranking at decent rate. However I agree - I was expecting to find one or more cylinders with close to zero compression.

The problem is with such a basic engine I'm struggling to find another possible cause. I know for certain:

- It ran fine for 400km after timing belt change
- Left for 1 month in hot and very rainy weather on slope
- Started but ran very badly (smoke and noise) - which it has never done before
- Eventually failed to run at all
- After much searching, the timing seemed to have skipped out by at least 2 teeth
- Even when corrected still doesn't start

Assuming the basic rule that diesel needs compression + fuel + air (with some heat when cold) then I'm a bit out of options.

The air filter is fine, I don't see any blockages - I had a theory it might have filled with water and caused hydrolcok but see no evidence for that...

I'd like to test the injector pump and injectors a bit more but not sure what I can do. I put a bag over when running the compression tests, and got a decent amount of fuel in it by end. The four injector outlets all seem to squirt at appropriate time.

I guess I could try and connect the injectors while out of cylinders and look for a decent squirt coming from them when cranked? Normally I'd be very wary with a common rail as pressure so high, but these older ones are not so risky.

If you know a proper way to test that doesn't involve sending them both off to professional be glad to hear it.

Other than that I really can't see any other option but to pull the head....
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #15
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Re: Ducato Diesel timing / starting woes

Please, if observing injectors when not fitted, do take extreme care to be out of the firing line.

The high pressure jets can penetrate your skin, and cause very serious problems.
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