Maintain your small diesel engine

A little while ago Samantha Pudney from Australia, a fan of the blog and a diesel engine fanatic, asked if she could write a guest post. How could I refuse?

Here it is:

Maintenance is important in ensuring your engine lasts longer and performs at its best. A diesel engine may need more frequent maintenance than other engines, but it is worthwhile to make the time because if not maintained properly, can result in expensive repairs. Most diesel engines are designed so that the owner can perform the maintenance themselves, quickly and at a low cost. Here are some tips on how to maintain your small marine diesel engine:

Fuel system

It is important to ensure that the fuel your engine uses is clean because any dirt or water that gets into the fuel can result in the clogging of the engine’s fuel injection system. Most engines will have a primary filter as its first line of defence, and then a secondary filter to follow. The secondary filter aims to trap any dirt or water missed by the primary filter. If there is a lot of dirt or water that makes it way past the primary filter onto the secondary filter, this is not a good sign as the dirt or water could have made its way into the engine. If this is the case, the filter should be primed with fuel and the system bled.

 Lubrication system

A diesel engine’s lubrication system is its oil. The purpose of the oil is to reduce friction in the engine’s moving parts and to keep the pistons and cylinders cool. It acts as a seal, keeping contaminants away from the cylinder walls, valve stems and turbochargers and prevents corrosion.

To maintain the lubrication system, you need to do change the oil regularly in accordance with the manual. Many make the mistake of only making their oil changes based on the oil’s colour but it should be based on engine hours. It is recommended that the oil is changed as frequently as every 100 hours, or at least every winter. If oil is left unchanged for too long, it will become acidic over time and your engine will suffer from corrosion.  It also allows carbon to build up which will affect the oil’s lubricating ability.

Cooling system

Diesel engines can be severely damaged due to even the most minor of overheating conditions.Diesel engines are susceptible to rapid overheating, and therefore its internal parts are prone to more damage.

A diesel engine’s cooling system is usually comprised of a raw water system and a fresh water system. The raw water system pumps in sea water, which goes through the lubricating oil coolers into the heat exchanger, where the sea water acts to cool the engine’s fresh water system. With the raw water system, you should inspect its sea strainer often and clean out any debris. A clogged sea strainer prevents raw water from cooling the fresh water system, and can cause the engine to fail.

The freshwater system pumps water in a closed a loop. With the fresh water system, ensure that its pressure cap is properly sealed because if not, the engine will overheat. If the cap is bent or faulty it will need to be replaced. It is also a good idea to regularly test the thermostat.

About the author

Samantha Pudney loves all things engine! Her position at Power Equipment means that she has a front of the line view of industrial engines every day. She aims to ensure that her customers leave knowing that they have the best products in their hands.