: Installing Lucas Thermostarter on a Detroit 2 Stroke?

03-31-2010, 02:59 PM
Anyone ever think of installing a Lucas Thermostart on a Detroit? We had a Long (the other blue tractor) with a Perkins clone engine that had one of these in the intake manifold. It would start every time at 0 degrees F. Just NO ETHER!! Thermostart makes fire in the intake and you would get at the least a big bang or worse, blow the intake apart!. If you could put one of these simple things in the blower box cover, the fire would be right at the intake ports, and you should get a rapid start even with the low compression motors at anything below 45F. Just need a non-pressure fuel connection and a power wire to connect to the coil.

03-31-2010, 04:42 PM
I think that there are already two options Detroit has which do this:
1) is the simple block heater, which can plug into the cooling ports on the block, or the water jacket of the head. They are simple, cheap and work
http://i775.photobucket.com/albums/yy35/bigdogtrucker2/th_SL734781.jpg (http://s775.photobucket.com/albums/yy35/bigdogtrucker2/?action=view&current=SL734781.jpg)

2) the military engines actually have a preignition system made by Bendix called "Exciter Ignition"
(These were available on the 6v53 and 3-53 military engines)
I have one on my 6v53T. From what I understand, there is a small electronic fuel pump, and a 10-30V coil. When it is switched on, the coil makes an electric arc which superheats the diesel fuel, and the fuel is then pumped by the electronic fuel pump into the front of the engine. There is a sparkplug at the front of the block, which makes a controlled flame inside of the engine. This is supposed to allow the engine to start in below freezing temperatures.
http://i775.photobucket.com/albums/yy35/bigdogtrucker2/th_SL730239.jpg (http://s775.photobucket.com/albums/yy35/bigdogtrucker2/?action=view&current=SL730239.jpg) http://i775.photobucket.com/albums/yy35/bigdogtrucker2/th_SL730240.jpg (http://s775.photobucket.com/albums/yy35/bigdogtrucker2/?action=view&current=SL730240.jpg) http://i775.photobucket.com/albums/yy35/bigdogtrucker2/th_SL730258-1.jpg (http://s775.photobucket.com/albums/yy35/bigdogtrucker2/?action=view&current=SL730258-1.jpg)

Most military engines have a different front housing, which has the opening to allow for this. Normal industrial engines do not have this feature


03-31-2010, 05:33 PM
I think what you're describing is like a glow plug with a fuel line running to it?, just one 12V wire and a little fuel line?

I've seen one on a 2-53 and they said it worked great, no reason not to use one on larger engines either.


04-01-2010, 11:21 AM
It's not really a glow plug, but more a coil that when it heats up, it expands and lets fuel drip out on the hot wire coil, which then fires up, inside the manifold. If you hold it on and crank the engine, the fire continues and is sucked down towards the cylinders making everthing hot (or at least warm).

04-03-2010, 11:45 AM
if a GG 3-53 does not have this system, does it still have fittings for it?

04-03-2010, 12:05 PM
Your gamma goat has the arctic starter just like I have on my engine. You can see it in the third image you posted.
See that plug which goes into the side of the block?
That is where the sparkplug/heater element is. It sprays a controlled flame into the air box.
The cylindrical volume mounted horizontal and to the right of the plug appears to be the ignition coil. It does not look like the wire(s) are present for it to function.
I am sure they can be added


04-03-2010, 01:26 PM
yes i was looking at that pic and wondering, then realised it looks like your device.
then rushed over to this thread to correct myself and post that exact info.
thanks for the quick reply!
should the arctic starter be rigged to the starter solenoid and used during cranking?
turned on just before cranking?
or should i treat it like a block heater and use it a few secs before?
ill probably ask more questions here once i actually get my hands on this monster.

04-06-2010, 08:07 AM
I have to ask, why do you need an arctic starter in Ft Lauderdale FL?

11-07-2010, 07:19 PM
haha my family lives in MD and i actually just finished moving back up here.

Also, i plan on taking a circumcontinental trip of North America. go up through canada and then down the Left coast and down through Mexico.

Canada is the perfect place to use an Arctic Starter :)

11-07-2010, 08:29 PM
There is/was a cast iron airbox cover for inline '71s that had a spark plug in it as well as a typical furnace burner nozzle and a hand primer pump,as old Cummins from the '50/60s so that you could get the fire going in the airbox,then hit the starter and swallow the frame .I don't recall seeing any wiring schematic or know if there's anything besides a on-off switch and wire or not .

12-08-2010, 09:08 AM
Last weekend, made up a test stand for the thermostarter. Just a piece of tubing w/ the correct hole tapped to 7/8x18 and a long tube w/ a reducer on the end to hold about 2 oz of fuel oil. Clipped jumpers to a 12v source for a test. The coil has to get red hot before the fuel comes out, but when it does, there is a sizable flame and a good amount of heat. Used an air blow gun to create an air flow past the "plug" and you can easily blow the flame out and cool down the coil if there is too much flow. Looks like it will work good as long as no burnable parts are near the "plug". For a fuel source, I think I will just use a poly tank like the car guys use for a coolant overflow can. 8 or 10 oz of fuel looks like it would last all winter. Best part is, the "plug" was less than $30 @ Tractor Supply and you don't need a 120 VAC power source like a heater in the engine block would need.

12-08-2010, 10:48 AM
I thought they used fuel from a fuel return line, nothing wrong with a separate tank, but is it necessary?

I had to start my truck last week after sitting out side for a day at freezing and below, just barely got it started before running out of air, and no place to plug in the block heater or borrow air. As much as I didn't want to we had to use a tinny bit of either, would have been out of luck without it.
One of these thermostarter widgets sounds helpful, and safer for the engine.

Have any pictures or video of it in action?


12-08-2010, 01:51 PM
No photos or video yet. Already took everything apart. In the original Perkins (Lucas or CAV) factory setup, the fuel was taken off the return line from the injectors. This was how our old Long tractor was piped. I am concerned that the return line for a Detroit will have too high a pressure and will have much greater volume than the Lucas style returns. Thats why I think a little "day" tank would work better. Some European tractors (Same, Fiat, Deutz, etc.) used the "day" tank system as I understand it. Your experience, Grigg, is exactly why I like a start assist system that is not dependent on 120 VAC house power.

12-08-2010, 02:13 PM
I did some "googling" and saw some diagrams that used a little reservoir plumbed with the fuel return line (I assume, could be low pressure?) going in and out, and gravity fed to the thermostarter.
Others that just T into the return line.
On a Detroit if you T into the return line after the restricted fitting on the head there is virtually no pressure, and with a reasonable size/length of line acting as the reservoir I expect you could do without a tank.

My main plan for ease of starting will be a diesel fired coolant heater (http://www.espar.com/html/products/coolantheaters.html), but they run around $1000, and not cheap used either, so I'm putting that off till I have the truck more complete.

A Thermostarter looks simple enough and cheap enough I can't see why you wouldn't have one?


12-12-2010, 03:45 PM
Hi guy's, have you seen the propane fired block heater's, with timer's? Later, doodlebug.

Jubel jubel freu freu
12-12-2010, 09:13 PM
Just buy an espar or webasto.

12-13-2010, 08:02 PM
Thank's, jubel jubel freu freu, I forgot about those 2 brand's. Later, doodlebug

12-14-2010, 03:37 PM
I am familiar with the LP or fuel oil fired anti-freeze heaters, but was interested in the manifold thermostart unit because of the low cost and ease of installation. If I was going to use any older design diesel in very cold conditions (daily use @ +10 degrees F or lower), I think I would want both systems available.

04-06-2012, 09:23 AM
If you have 'house current' available, there are, for aircraft, stick on flat heaters that could stick on or attach to the oil pan, which would heat the oil to reduce cranking loads w/ 40 wt. oil.

04-10-2012, 12:15 AM
Why is everyone so afraid of using starting fluid on a Detroit? A lot of detroits came from the factory with either injection.

The 2-53 I had in my ford came with a goofy either injection setup that used a little plastic either filled ball that you would puncture then pump it into the blower while cranking the engine. If they used it from the factory it couldn't be to hard on them.

04-10-2012, 06:31 AM
I'd use ether but as a daily driver I'd like to have something a bit easier to deal with. My pan is being modified for an oil heater for the extreme cold we can get up here.

I'm cutting up the blower inlet to weld a flange on for a cummins style grid heater using an adjustable 'interval on' relay to control the solenoids via keyswitch. Having an adjustable 'automatic' setup should help clean up cold starts and generally make life easier.

04-19-2012, 11:52 PM
On my 3-53T, I used an electric actuated ether injection system which John Deere used on their larger tractors back in the 80's. It used a standard starting fluid can minus the plastic spray nozzle. The solnoid was activate by the cranking circuit and a push button switch on the dash. The fluid was sprayed directly into the blower intake manifold. Worked great down to -20 degrees.

Bob G.

04-24-2012, 09:56 AM
If you're going to be parking where you can get an extension cord to the vehicle, maybe consider a circulating coolant heater. 1500 to 3000 watts of heat. I've got one on the tractor I use for pushing snow and at -30 C it gets the block nice and warm to the touch.
Based on the principle that heat rises plumb one end into the bottom of the engine and another at the top of the engine, it'll heat up the coolant and get it moving without using any pump. If the water can't rise and circulate, you will overheat the heater and burn it out.
Biggest issue I have. is that you have to tap a couple of frost plug holes and run some heater hose. The heater is only about 8" tall by maybe 3" diameter. Mine isn't mounted to anything, just hangs off the heater hose.
I've also seen a smaller heater that plumbs right into the radiator hose. I don't know how well that one works because it has to run coolant through the thermostat, and as warm water leaves the block, it gets cooled off again by the radiator. Kinda defeats the purpose.

Farmall Doctor
05-17-2012, 05:32 AM
question....on a 6V53 by installing an immersion type block heater in the left side of the block, (Oil cooler outlet is on the right) how well does it heat the whole engine? Should I purchase one or plumb in a tank type circulation heater... I'd rather go with the immersion heater to save space and more hoses, but what do you think?

05-17-2012, 08:20 AM
I'd use the block heater in the jacket on the 6V, I've got one on my 4-53T and it works great.
Not hard to install and very simple, try it first before getting more complicated.


04-02-2014, 07:28 PM
I usually do not bump old threads, but I just tested out my Lucas Thermostarter today and I am very impressed! I am running the heater off of gravity fed diesel fuel residing in a 16" long 3/16" NiCu line. The starter is 12Volts, and only takes about 7 seconds to get red hot before allowing diesel fuel into the heater. With the amount of heat that this little burner throws off, and how cheap genuine units are, I do not understand why more people are not using them. I am mounting my thermostarter in the air box cover, to maximize its ability to superheat the intake air where it counts. I am not sure what the amperage the heater draws, but am planning to run a momentary switch on the dash with a warning light so that I do not forget that it is on. A 10 second pre-heat before cranking, and a couple seconds of heater use while cranking should do the trick! I am going to mount a quart sized fuel tank on the firewall with a braided stainless flex line to the heater. With how little fuel the burner uses, a quart of diesel should last a whole winter,

http://i972.photobucket.com/albums/ae203/bigdogtrucker3/th_P1170361_zpsa4ed28d7.jpg (http://s972.photobucket.com/user/bigdogtrucker3/media/P1170361_zpsa4ed28d7.jpg.html) http://i972.photobucket.com/albums/ae203/bigdogtrucker3/th_P1170378_zpsb7dac36e.jpg (http://s972.photobucket.com/user/bigdogtrucker3/media/P1170378_zpsb7dac36e.jpg.html) http://i972.photobucket.com/albums/ae203/bigdogtrucker3/th_P1170386_zps2c02a33b.jpg (http://s972.photobucket.com/user/bigdogtrucker3/media/P1170386_zps2c02a33b.jpg.html)



04-02-2014, 08:23 PM
Cooter--------Are you aware that as close to your battery the flame is, you could blow the battery up ? It would make a helluva boom and you might get acid burns, lose your eyesight or hearing . Be safe !

04-02-2014, 08:57 PM
Thanks for the warning Dan, I was not aware of the dangers. I wont test it again until its in the air box and the engine is ready to run,


04-02-2014, 09:18 PM
Agreed. For what they are worth, I've seriously thought of adding one to mine along with the grid heater.

04-02-2014, 09:46 PM
Where does the air for the combustion come from? Airbox?

04-03-2014, 08:44 AM
I think it comes from the grooves at the base of the ignitor, there is no outside air supply, sealed unit, so, airbox air is used just passing by.

04-03-2014, 10:10 AM
Ed, that is what it looks like to me also. with the small amount of air in the airbox, your burn time would be quite limited, plus you have burned the oxygen so what is going to burn the fuel injected in the cylinder? I think a grid heater of some sort installed in the airbox would be more efficient.

04-03-2014, 10:19 AM
The idea is that you run the burner while cranking the engine over. The burner would be supplied a continuous flow of air from the blower at cranking speed, and in turn would supply a continuous flow of heat to warm the supplied air. It is a very simplified/compact version of the military arctic start kits made for our engines,


04-03-2014, 11:17 AM
OK, I get it now!

04-03-2014, 06:16 PM
That is freaking sweet! I have a few PSD intake air heaters I was going to install, this is way simpler and probably more effective. Anywhere you can buy these new still?

Edit - remove the lucas name and just type in thermostart on ebay and lots of hits :)

04-04-2014, 03:35 AM
I can buy them from a tractor spares place for 12 each ($19) for genuine JCB thermostarts


04-18-2014, 09:29 PM
Well damn.. How did I miss this thread. That would have saved me from dragging an extension cord across the street every night to plug my turd in. I'll be installing one of these for sure!


04-18-2014, 11:39 PM
Yanmars use a thermostart plug, you can get one from Hoye Tractors for pretty cheap, complete with a little cup to hold fuel.

Farmall Doctor
04-23-2014, 05:44 AM
I can buy them from a tractor spares place for 12 each ($19) for genuine JCB thermostarts


Just don't use a JCB heater grid! There was a whole rash of them that disintegrated and went through the engine... not pretty. I must say that a JCB backhoe is THE worst thing I have ever worked on! (fairly new model) And the most ridiculous engine too.

04-23-2014, 08:44 AM
Just don't use a JCB heater grid! There was a whole rash of them that disintegrated and went through the engine... not pretty. I must say that a JCB backhoe is THE worst thing I have ever worked on! (fairly new model) And the most ridiculous engine too.

I have to agree about the modern JCB's. they made it more compact and a **** to work on (pardon my french) . The original ones are ok to work on as they were designed by a man with a pencil