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Diesels are cold natured engines


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#1 Boss 448 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 10:44 AM

One of the biggest issues one can have with a diesel engine is that many of them are difficult to start in cold weather. I have experienced this myself with the 3 cyl 28 HP Perkins diesel engine in my Cub Cadet 6284. The engine is equipped with glow plugs (intended to make cold starting easier) but the first fall I had the tractor it failed to start for me in 40 degree weather.

At first I had an issue with it kicking over but then the starter would disengage before the engine caught and ran. I researched this and found that it is a common problem with not only diesels and Cubs but with many CUT's as well as GT's and LT's. The problem is that the series wired safety switches are in-line with the energizing terminal of the starter solenoid. Voltage drop through the switches is enough to cause the solenoid to de-energize before you release the ignition key from the start position. The cure was to install a relay switch in the energizing circuit that is switched by the start energy from the ignition switch and through the safety switch circuit at which point it provides direct battery current to the energizing terminal of the starter solenoid. This is a cure that I have read many tractor owners have applied to their tractor to remedy starting problems.

Once I had solved the problem above I still found my diesel Cub difficult to start in sub freezing temperatures. I then focused on my technique. I have learned to cycle the glow plugs twice in below freezing cold starts. Second I find that you have to keep cranking the engine as it starts to catch until it is fully running. These two steps have solved the sub freezing starting issue and I now cold start it without problems. Once the engine has been run for a couple of minutes it will restart all day long in cold weather without hesitation. The moral of this story is that you may have to be patient with you diesel on cold starts and learn how it wants to be started - not what you want.

Another thing that I read that can be a problem is moisture in diesel fuel and jelling when it gets cold. Again, I researched this and I now add PowerService diesel fuel additive to my fuel all year round. This not only helps alleviate moisture and jelling but also acts as a lubricant for the injector pump to compensate for the lower lubricity of low sulfur fuel available at the pump. I also keep the fuel tank on the tractor topped off after every use to prevent condensation in the tank and I only purchase five gallons of fuel at a time which can go two weeks to a month for me (amazing compared to the gasoline I hauled every weekend for mowing with my gas powered tractors). I should point out that I have never had a fuel related problem with my diesel which is possibly attributed to the preventative measures detailed above.

JN

#2 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 10:53 AM

The absolute best thing to do is add a block heater. Not the radiator hose type, but one that goes into a freeze plug hole. Plug them in an hour or 2 ahead of use & they will crank up like it's a summer's day. Nothing hard on the engine at all like the cold starting can be. I put one in my Massey 1010, and now she fires right up, NO problems, and don't even have to use the glow plugs. "Katts" makes frost plug heaters for almost everything, but in my case I ordered direct from Agco to be absolutely sure it would fit my application. I couldn't find a Katts designating my engine.

#3 mjodrey OFFLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 11:04 AM

I agree with Daniel on the block heater,I have never had any problems starting my diesels in cold weather with a block heater installed.

#4 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 11:08 AM

Yup, block heaters are definitely the way to go. Diesels up here, and most liquid-cooled gas-powered machines come with them from the dealer.

The other thing I've always found helpful is the battery blanket. It warms your battery up so it cranks your engine over better. Sometime that little bit of extra spinnage makes the difference between starting and not starting.

#5 DH1 ONLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 11:13 AM

The block heater is the key to getting them going when it's cold out, Years ago at the landscapers and where I am now have found that there all different, I've seen engines that will start up right away when it's -20c without the block heater, not to many though. We always tried to plug everything in and when it was really cold if it wasn't plunged in you had problems. In that case we would plug in the block heater, hook up a battery charger wait an hr or 2 and it would start. The truck I drive now does not have glow plugs, has either injection instead, when it's really cold and not plugged in you can get it going but man lot's of cranking, funny noises and smoke till all cylinders are hitting smooth and steady.
I should add that I try to start it without using the either, and using either in an engine that has glow plugs IMO is not a good thing to do.

#6 Boss 448 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 11:47 AM

I agree with everyone about block heaters and I do plan on adding one. My post was meant to illustrate the potential issue for consideration in selecting diesel power and to get others involved with input as you have - thanks.

Another very good point made above is to avoid using ether starting fluid which I have read can be very detrimental to an engine. I should also point out that the starting issues with my tractor were not as severe as I perhaps made them sound but wanted to make people that have never worked with one aware that they do not always fire right up in cold weather as they may be used to with gasoline powered engines.

While the block heater is a good solution for water cooled engines it may not be an answer for an air cooled engine which might require an oil warmer, crankcase warmer or just a plain old fashioned heat lamp. Then again, some engines may not require anything at all.

JN

#7 mjodrey OFFLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 12:36 PM

I do agree with not using starting fluid,I never use the stuff,and don't really like it.

#8 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 01:16 PM

Heh, when I was a kid my uncle burned all the hair off using ether to get heavy equipment started. Another time he lost all of his hair after knocking down some power lines. Now, well into his seventies, he's got a full head of hair. I've heard that ether can burn valves and damage pistons too.

While the block heater is a good solution for water cooled engines it may not be an answer for an air cooled engine which might require an oil warmer, crankcase warmer or just a plain old fashioned heat lamp. Then again, some engines may not require anything at all.


You can also wrap a battery blanket or two (depending on size) around the engine. Just remember to remove them before starting the engine.

Edited by Reverend Blair, January 01, 2011 - 01:17 PM.
forgot to use all the words


#9 Boss 448 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 06:18 PM

While diesels may be balky about starting when cold at least you don't have to worry about fouling plugs or flooding the engine. I'm not sure of this but I would think that icing is not a problem either in the intake system since there is not them same throttle design as on a gas engine. Someone please correct me on this if I am wrong - thanks!

On the other hand you shouldn't have to deal with vapor lock in hot weather either with diesel.

JN

#10 nra1ifer OFFLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 06:26 PM

I used to have a 1983 Mercedes 300TD, 5-cyl. diesel. It had a block heater and glow plugs. Started great in cold weather with the block heater.

#11 DH1 ONLINE  

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Posted January 01, 2011 - 07:33 PM

While diesels may be balky about starting when cold at least you don't have to worry about fouling plugs or flooding the engine. I'm not sure of this but I would think that icing is not a problem either in the intake system since there is not them same throttle design as on a gas engine. Someone please correct me on this if I am wrong - thanks!JN


Your right diesels do not have spark plugs or a throttle like in a gas engine, gas engines have intake manifold vacuum, diesels do not have manifold vacuum they take in a full charge of air every intake stroke, the more air the better. Fuel is injected directly into the cylinder and explodes by detonation. When cold the heat needed to do this only comes from compression, the glow plug makes a hot spot in the combustion chamber to help in igniting the fuel.
When starting a diesel in the cold it's all about heat, getting enough heat to ignite the fuel. The glow plug and compression generate heat, at the same time the fuel injected in the combustion chamber vaporizes and cools the chamber. Once the engine starts and has run a few minutes everything works better.
The truck I drive at work has 35lbs of turbo boost, the more air you can force in the engine the more power you can get out of them, more air allows more fuel to be injected which is what gives you more power. Too much fuel with not enough air is not good, EGT, exhaust gas temperatures, rise and when they get too high you damage the inside of the engine. The turbo charger is what really makes the diesel engine shine, not to to say that non turbo diesels are n/g but the turbo gives more power and better emissions.

#12 mac102004 ONLINE  

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Posted December 08, 2011 - 11:36 AM

I would much rather the intake grid heater system than glow plugs. I know a lot of guys running Dodge trucks with Cummins engines (myself included) and they always start great in the cold and never have any trouble from their intake grid heaters. They start easier then some of of tractors with Perkins engines and glow plugs.
There is no replacement for a block heater. But always remember to run a good winter grade oil! The last few years I've been getting away with 15w40 year round in my truck, but in colder temps I would run something thinner.

esso engine oil winter conditions part 1 - YouTube

esso engine oil winter conditions part 2 - YouTube

#13 skyrydr2 ONLINE  

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Posted December 08, 2011 - 12:11 PM

You won't sell me on the grid heaters exclusively, having both is ideal. Like Isuzu , they start! Right now, every time all the time.
Running offroad equipment all my life, I can tell you what will start cold.and what doesn't. Cummins engines start hard, Isuzu, fires instantly, as does most cats, ( not perkapillars, they are not as good ) Deere are ok as long as its not computer controlled, those ones always seem to over fuel the engines on start up. New Holland starts ok, as does Kubota , shibuara start well as does the Mitsubishis. Mercedes , Volvo and that Italian diesel something motori, can't remember , start well to. They all have their own ideas, and most work well, but nothing beats a gas job. And if it has a block heater.
My little Kubota starts pretty hard cold, but if it is plugged in, fires right up. So you just need to be prepaired .

#14 mac102004 ONLINE  

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Posted December 08, 2011 - 01:01 PM

I was unaware that Isuzu had both, I guess they have the grid heater for when those glow plugs all fail LOL.

Back home we have an old Case 885, always starts, I've never seen anything like it. Don't think it has glow plugs or anything in it either, it's a 1976. I have little experience with Cat engines, we had a 3208 in a tractor one time but was never really started in cold much, it was a garage queen. They are a "disposable" engine anyway.
Our perkins tractors always need to be plugged in or you might as well forget about it. Generally speaking about MF 375 and 3070, both use the same motor, also the MF4253 which is a little newer and an old 1105. None of these are good in the cold unless plugged in.
I know my truck can be real hard to get going some days, having to cycle the intake heater several times, and takes some time to get going. But it will always always always go. IMO 6 or 8 glow plugs are just more points for failure, more maintenance. I always try to keep it plugged in overnight, but sometimes this isn't possible.

Regardless of cold starting I wouldn't trade a Cummins for anything.

#15 Lauber1 ONLINE  

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Posted December 08, 2011 - 01:02 PM

Speaking as one who works on big truck engines, its all about the fuel. If theres any problem with the fuel then it dont explode. The reason the fuel dont explode when cold is simply because the mass of iron instantly takes the heat away from the reaction. There are two ways to prevent this. You either than to heat up the mass of iron, or you have to heat up the fuel. Most big truck engine use a 1500watt block heater to keep the chill out of the iron parts, alot of them now are using an infilter or intank fuel heater of another 1500 watts to help back up the water heating. glow plug and grid heater will not work out well for a large engine do to the huge amount of heat it would take to do the job. The hotter you can get the fuel the better your diesil will run and the better it will be able to use the fuel. All modern diesil engines are controled by an ECM, which is the computer system that monitors everything going on in the engine. It take a minumin rpm to even let the engine fire as the injectors are controled by this same computer. I dont remember now but i beleive that it takes 650 rpm of crankshaft speed before the injectors will even open, so if your cold and slow your starter may never reach that speed needed. Keeping a good battery(s) is also a key thing in a modern diesil, as once again the ECM is voltage senitive. If the volts to it drop below 10.1 it will go into a shut down mode to prevent damage to the grid. Connecting a trickle charger to the system will help keep the battery at it peak amp load.

I dont get to play much with the smaller engines. We do have a few 2 cylinder tripac's and rigmaster units mounted on the trucks to provide heat/cooler with out using the main engines, but there are they own kind of hell most of the time.




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