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My 4500 has a rubber elbow on the intake manifold where it comes down from the air cleaner assy. I loosen the hose clamp and twist the elbow 90 degrees allowing me to stick my hand held propane torch in the intake and have someone work the starter. Everything from that elbow forward is metal, works everytime.
 

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Now thats a good Idea. In the past on my NH skid steer I have put a propane torch to the outside of the intake for a minute.
Your method is better.
The manifold heater on the 3550 is burned out. I tried a jumper wire right to the battery and got nothing. I have a new one ordered. It started at 30 Deg. F yesterday without help but takes about 30 seconds of cranking and to me that's more than desirable cranking time.
I'll look for the most convenient freeze plug for a block heater and install one. It's easier on the engine to start with the coolant and cast iron warmed up some.
Thanks for the great suggestion.
I think sucking the flame right into the cylinders provides the direct heat that a diesel needs and they have using propane additives for years so no possible harm like ether. The propane additive does not seem as popular as it use to be though. Rodger
 
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