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Starting Aid System For GM Pickups
Keith P. Mayer, Naper, Neb.: "I own two GM 6.2-liter diesel-powered pickups that are reliable and burn considerably less fuel than pickups with comparable gas engines. How-ever, GM's starting aid system is a major problem. It relies on a ęglow plug' system that heats a small chamber in each cylinder for cold starts.
"The problem with this system is that the glow plugs eventually burn out one by one. Or, the controller or relay may malfunction and cause the entire system to burn out, which requires a costly replacement. After a plug burns out it often swells on the end and is difficult to remove from the head. If the tip breaks off you may have to remove the head in order to retrieve it.
"I got tired of repairing the system so in-stead I began to spray ether into the air in-takes while someone else cranked the engine. It worked but was always a hassle. I decided to come up with a way to inject ether into the engine from the cab.
"My idea requires a 25-in. length of 1/8-in. dia. copper tubing. A hole is drilled through the firewall about 2 in. to the left of the throttle cable hole. I reamed out the end of the tubing in the cab with a 5/64-in. drill bit so that a 5-in. long plastic tube would fit tightly into the end of it. To ensure no leak-age I put some superglue on the tube. I positioned the plastic tube next to an 8-oz. can of ether on the floor in front of the 4-wheel drive selector lever. The tip on the ether spray can was then hooked up to the plastic tube. To prevent tube separation and leakage, I put a small amount of superglue on the end where the spray tip and tube meet.
"The other end of the copper tubing protrudes up into the air cleaner housing inside the air filter. A 1/8-in. dia. hole can be drilled into the bottom housing, or on the medium duty engines a vacuum line can be disconnected and tube can be installed directly into the housing through the disconnected hose.
"For best results, press the spray cap for 1 to 1 1/2 seconds before cranking whenever the temperature is below 32 degrees. When the temperature is above 45 degrees, a half second or a quick press and release of the spray cap is usually enough.
"When used properly this starting aid will provide faster starts, less wear on the starter, less battery drain, and longer battery and alternator life compared to glow plugs, with no need for expensive glow plug system up-keep. Under no circumstances should one use both ether and glow plugs at the same time so if you decide to convert you must disconnect any working plugs or disconnect the entire system. This same principle could probably be made to work on Ford 6.9 and 7.3-liter diesel engines with indirect injection but I'm not familiar with them."

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #5