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Frank K

Alarm and Sudden Loss of Power while on Plane - Volvo 8.1 2007 256 SSI

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For a variety of reasons this was my first run of boat for season and it was to transport it to another marina for service.  And I ran into trouble!   

Was moving boat 25 miles total to new marina for service next week (replacement of fuel pump, plugs, out-drive service, battery load test, etc. next week) and after 13 miles/25 mins of smooth running on plane at 28 MPH/2,800 RPMs I heard an audible engine alarm beep and experienced a sudden loss of power, dropping me off plane.  Stopped for 30 seconds to check gauges etc. (oil pressure normal.  temp normal. trim OK).  Powered up engine throttle again and RPMs came up but would not propel forward properly.  Felt like no power!    So after being unable to power up to plane I "idled" forward at 1,500 RPMs and 10 MPH for 30 minutes to keep moving to the marina.  After 30 mins (its was unbearably hot out and no breeze) I powered up successfully back on plane, as if nothing happened!   

Now I had a new water pump  professionally installed at end of last season so this was first run on new water pump.

Any thoughts?  If it overheated I would have suspected impeller or water pump but temp was fine.

New marina mechanics will have it on Monday but I want to be as informed as much as possible.  i don't know them so its a new relationship I building.

THANK YOU FELLOW OWNERS!!

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36 minutes ago, Frank K said:

For a variety of reasons this was my first run of boat for season and it was to transport it to another marina for service.  And I ran into trouble!   

Was moving boat 25 miles total to new marina for service next week (replacement of fuel pump, plugs, out-drive service, battery load test, etc. next week) and after 13 miles/25 mins of smooth running on plane at 28 MPH/2,800 RPMs I heard an audible engine alarm beep and experienced a sudden loss of power, dropping me off plane.  Stopped for 30 seconds to check gauges etc. (oil pressure normal.  temp normal. trim OK).  Powered up engine throttle again and RPMs came up but would not propel forward properly.  Felt like no power!    So after being unable to power up to plane I "idled" forward at 1,500 RPMs and 10 MPH for 30 minutes to keep moving to the marina.  After 30 mins (its was unbearably hot out and no breeze) I powered up successfully back on plane, as if nothing happened!   

Now I had a new water pump  professionally installed at end of last season so this was first run on new water pump.

Any thoughts?  If it overheated I would have suspected impeller or water pump but temp was fine.

New marina mechanics will have it on Monday but I want to be as informed as much as possible.  i don't know them so its a new relationship I building.

THANK YOU FELLOW OWNERS!!

It sounds like the engine went into protect mode and limited power considering the alarm and inability to power back up following the event. Typically this is caused by low oil pressure or high temperature, but can be a few other things depending on exact engine.

Was the alarm steady or recurring beep?

When you added throttle, and RPM’s came up but no power, how high did they get?

Also, if you’d kindly post the complete engine model number, more complete help specific to your engine can be provided. For example, 8.1Gi-__, 8.1GXi-__, etc.

If we ignore the alarm sounding and inability to power back up, since the fuel pump is being replaced, it’s possible pressure was insufficient to maintain power and protect mode wasn’t triggered. 

But, since it appears there was an alarm and the passage of time cleared the fault, if the alarm coincided exactly to when power was reduced, fuel pressure is eliminated as a potential issue. (Could be more than one thing going on though.)

Best.

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Thank you Curt.  Its a 8.1L Gi-H with DPS-A drive.  325 Hours.

Only heard the one alarm sound and at exact time power was reduced.

Overheating and oil pressure looked normal (low with idle and up to half way at 1500 rpms or more

Mechanic that recently looked at it said a fuel pump was giving a 'whining' sound and recommended replacement.

Wingnut (the master!) agrees.

You also believe fuel pressure is eliminated?

Other problem its been having for past few years - would start perfectly when cold.  Run 30 minutes.  Anchor up a few hours.  Then not crank but not start again for longest time!  Sounded like starving for fuel.   Likely all the same problem.  [Wingnut explained to me the whole internal fuel pump paint issues]

Thank you for the help!

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If I ran into some floating grass/weeds, and it blocked the water intake, could that have caused the alarm and de-powering??   

I also never shut off the engine for fear of it not re-starting.

Just weird that it recovered like never it never happened.

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10 hours ago, Frank K said:

Thank you Curt.  Its a 8.1L Gi-H with DPS-A drive.  325 Hours.

Only heard the one alarm sound and at exact time power was reduced.

Overheating and oil pressure looked normal (low with idle and up to half way at 1500 rpms or more

Mechanic that recently looked at it said a fuel pump was giving a 'whining' sound and recommended replacement.

Wingnut (the master!) agrees.

You also believe fuel pressure is eliminated?

Other problem its been having for past few years - would start perfectly when cold.  Run 30 minutes.  Anchor up a few hours.  Then not crank but not start again for longest time!  Sounded like starving for fuel.   Likely all the same problem.  [Wingnut explained to me the whole internal fuel pump paint issues]

Thank you for the help!

Morning. I’ll pull the alarm sequence for your specific motor/ECM later today. Might actually boat today. So, we’ll come back to this later, but still need... was the alarm a continuous tone or intermittent series of beeps?

If the alarm was a continuous tone, the motor went into protect mode.

If the alarm was a intermittent series of beeps, protect mode may not have occurred. If not, low power could be an overheated fuel pump (pressure) and the beep just a coincidental warning about something else.

The good news, if there was an alarm, it was logged.

If using a Volvo Penta authorized dealer, they will scan and see the fault (Volvo Penta’s Vodia). This is basically the first step following lifting the hatch and visual inspection. If independent, they should also have the equipment and do this (Rinda’s Diacom). Regardless, just kindly ask/remind to scan and give you a call. Tell them why if you’d like or perhaps conduct a “blind” test. If the response is we can’t or various reasons why it’s unnecessary, I’m afraid your search for qualified help should continue.

P.S.

(a) Wingnut has the scan equipment, but may not have the pigtail. If he’s nearby and doesn’t have it, you can borrow one of mine or purchase direct from Rinda. They’re about $50. Then again, it’s going-in so this is probably unnecessary.

(b) Also, the fuel module does sound like it’s kaput. When whining, it’s almost always the high pressure side (the smaller of the two cylinder shaped things on the module). To confirm, touch it when running for awhile. If hot to the touch, not warm, the module’s bad. These things are real expensive. Please be prepared for sticker shock. Sometimes they can be reworked/rebuilt, but it’s best just to bite the bullet and replace with the current release. The confirmation step is a pressure test. Your specification is 40 (36 - 44).

(c) Almost certain past starting problems are the fuel module. Overheating gases the fuel off. Then the pump starts dry, and the failure progresses. Repeat until she won’t pump at all.

Best.

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37 minutes ago, Frank K said:

Just weird that it recovered like never it never happened.

I have an 8.1 VP also and have done quite a bit or work as we as maintenance on it was well and the only time I had any experience that is close to what you described was when I was on my 276ssx fishing and didn't notice one of the zillions of spread out buoys in our waters that was about 50 yards behind me and I kept an eye on it and noticed the boat was drifting towards it stern first, and so by the time I pulled all my lines in and put them in their sockets and got to the helm, the motor shut down completely.  I was in idle mode and noticed my stern was right up against the buoy.  So I figured the props were spinning and got caught in either the buoy itself or the lines and the engine sensed that and automatically shut off.  So slight panic set in and I couldn't even get the throttle out of idle into neutral to start it again.  I made sure I was clear of the buoy, pushed the center button in (despite the engine being shut off) and was able to put it back into neutral and engine started right up.  Spent the rest of the day cruising at low and high rpms without any issues.

I also have a friend who has a Volvo Penta D6 Diesel that did exactly what your did and suddenly went into limp mode without any obvious reason.  He checked everything on the engine and the outdrive and saw nothing abnormal neither were there any alarms or warning of any sort as well as oil pressure and coolant tempt was all good and then started the engine and everything went back to normal.  Not sure if he had to limp back to marina but either way, I opened a thread on it here to see if anyone had any suggestions and there weren't none.  Went to other boating forums with much larger membership content and knowledge and got a lot of information on several causes that can create engines (in this case a diesel VP) from oil cooler to heat exchanger to even low voltage.  Bottom like is he had to take it and have a scanner put on it but he hasn't done that yet as he's been out several times since and it has never happened again.

As far as weeds entering the water cooling inlets and blocking coolant flow, I think the result would most certainly end up being your temperature climbing to a high temp setting where you would see that it is actually a temperature issue and you didn't see that, so I highly doubt that was the scenario in your case.

Sorry if I missed it, but what was your engine temperature when it went into limp mode?  I know there are other critical items that can be affected by high temperature, but just for curiosity sake, what was the engine temp on your helm at that moment?

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I had a check engine warning come on and go into limp mode.

It seemed everything was fine.

I dropped anchor, shut the engine down and shut the batteries.

I had lunch and started it up and ran fine.

I brought it in and was told it registered a check engine but nothing seemed to be wrong.

I think some of these electronics a sometimes too sensitive.

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3 hours ago, Frank K said:

If I ran into some floating grass/weeds, and it blocked the water intake, could that have caused the alarm and de-powering??   

I also never shut off the engine for fear of it not re-starting.

Just weird that it recovered like never it never happened.

Yes, low sea water pressure, or a temporary blockage in a exhaust jacket water passage will not show as an overheat condition on the helm display, but will put the ECM into alarm and engine protection mode. Sea Grass is a pain i your are this year. Exhaust temperature sensors are simple on/off switches that trigger at 240 degrees F, but will not show as an engine coolant overheat at the helm. Also, sea water pump pressure will set a critical alarm, even if the heat exchanger is getting enough flow to keep the engine closed loop coolant under 188 degrees.  W

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Thank you everyone!   I anxiously await the mechanic's diagnostic this week (and Curt it was one short beep before I throttled back).  I will definitely ask for the scan results.  Don't know if they are an 'authorized' Volvo shop, but have been there for decades and recently got purchased by a group out of Florida (purchased up several marinas).

I will report the verdict as soon as the jury comes back in!

And Wingnut - I saw lots of grass on the Elk and at Turkey Point where this happened.   

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7 hours ago, jeffk said:

I had a check engine warning come on and go into limp mode.

It seemed everything was fine.

I dropped anchor, shut the engine down and shut the batteries.

I had lunch and started it up and ran fine.

I brought it in and was told it registered a check engine but nothing seemed to be wrong.

I think some of these electronics a sometimes too sensitive.

Been hearing a lot of similar stories like this lately.  @#$%@# hits the fan, alarms go off or might not even go off, boat limps like a 97 year-old whore, but shut her down for a few minutes and then she's back to being a 20 years old track & field star.

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4 hours ago, Frank K said:

Thank you everyone!   I anxiously await the mechanic's diagnostic this week (and Curt it was one short beep before I throttled back).  I will definitely ask for the scan results.  Don't know if they are an 'authorized' Volvo shop, but have been there for decades and recently got purchased by a group out of Florida (purchased up several marinas).

I will report the verdict as soon as the jury comes back in!

And Wingnut - I saw lots of grass on the Elk and at Turkey Point where this happened.   

Thank you. It will be interesting to see if an alarm registered. I’m real curious because of the single beep. Low oil pressure and high coolant temperature alarm until corrected, and don’t generally correct fast enough to beep just once. An anomaly with the throttle position will beep once, and could have been immediately corrected when you stopped (when you pulled the throttle to idle). Kind of rare. Sure hope they scan it, and something shows. An opportunity to learn.

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I don't know if I had the same problem as you but want to share what happened.

I was getting a "starboard engine loss of power" and it would go into limp mode. I would pull back to idle and the alarm would shut off and I could take off again and it may or may not go off again. After 3 different Mercury dealers I found one that was determined (competent) to fix it.

They found the port engine shift cable was stretched causing the problem.

I had them replace both cable since the boat was out. Apparently both cables have to be synced together with the Mercruiser software.

I haven't had the alarm since. 

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I’ve been in that situation a couple times. Turning off the battery switch after shutting down engine cuts power to ECU and dumps its volatile memory, allowing full power again. 

 

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On 8/23/2019 at 7:42 AM, Toddavid said:

 Turning off the battery switch after shutting down engine cuts power to ECU and dumps its volatile memory.

 

I'm not sure this is true. 

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31 minutes ago, Phillbo said:

I'm not sure this is true. 

Then explain how the check engine light and low power mode gets reset only when switching battery power off...

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12 hours ago, Phillbo said:

I'm not sure this is true. 

I can say at least on Vovlos that it retains its codes. I can't explain Todds problem but if you think about, it would not make sense for that to happen.

 

Case in point. I bought my boat new but is it was a left over 2 years old. I told them to change out the impellers because they would take a set. After a week one engine over heated. Came back on one engine into my slip. I alway turn the batteries off. Two days later the mechanic came down and the code was there. 

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4 hours ago, Iggy said:

I can say at least on Vovlos that it retains its codes. I can't explain Todds problem but if you think about, it would not make sense for that to happen.

 

Case in point. I bought my boat new but is it was a left over 2 years old. I told them to change out the impellers because they would take a set. After a week one engine over heated. Came back on one engine into my slip. I alway turn the batteries off. Two days later the mechanic came down and the code was there. 

Everyone is right.

If a code is set, it’s retained.

If there’s an alarm and the motor turned off, the alarm will “reset”.

If that condition exists at next start, it will alarm and now that code will have two occurrences registered against it in memory.

If that condition doesn’t exist, it won’t alarm and one occurrence will have been registered against it in memory.

Hope that helps.

Edit. Sorry, forgot to state the above applies to Volvo Penta. Best.

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As Curt said, the ECU is looking for a recurrence of the condition in order to determine if the soft code should be escalated to a hard code (for non-critical failures. Some codes go directly to non-volatile memory, and are stored regardless of power supply to ECU). 

In the case of some soft codes, limp mode (reduced power) will be held until the volatile memory is dumped by battery disconnect. More than just the alarm.

Same for cars.

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Further, with my engine, red light is Alarm, yellow is Check Engine. Both illuminate during this random issue and both won’t reset without battery disconnect. Most importantly, in the case of the OP, low power remains until battery disconnect.

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