Diesel Engine Troubleshooting

Archive for the ‘Cylinder Heads’ Category

Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Assembly

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The manufacturer’s manual provides detailed assembly instructions but includes little about the things that can go wrong. Most assembly errors can be categorized as follows:

• Insufficient lubrication. Heavily oil sliding and reciprocating parts, lightly oil head bolts and other fasteners, except those that penetrate into the water jacket. These fasteners should be sealed with Permatex No. 2 or the high-tech equivalent.
• Reversed orientation. Most head gaskets, many head bolt washers, and all thermostats are asymmetrical.
• Mechanical damage. Run fasteners down in approved torque sequences and in three steps—1/2, 2/3, and 1/1 torque (Fig. 7-39). Exceptions are torque-to-yield head bolts and rocker arm shaft fasteners. The former are torqued as indicated by the manufacturer, whose instructions will be quite explicit. The latter— rocker shaft fasteners—should be brought down in very small increments, working from the center bolts out.

cylinder head Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Assembly

Gaskets, especially head gaskets, might also be damaged during assembly. Lower the head on a pair of guide pins lightly threaded into the block. Pins can be fashioned from discarded head bolts by cutting the heads off. If pins are too short to extend through the head casting, slot the ends for screwdriver purchase.

Set initial valve lash adjustments, bleed the fuel system, start the engine. Final lash adjustments are usually made hot, after the engine has run for 20 minutes or so on the initial settings (Fig. 7-40).

cylinder head valve lash Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Assembly

Written by Ed

February 23rd, 2011 at 1:32 am

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Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Top Clearance

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Top clearance, or the piston-to-head clearance at tdc, is critical. Unfortunately, the position of piston crown varies somewhat between cylinders because of the stacked tolerances at the crankshaft, rod, piston pin bosses, and deck (which might be tilted relative to the crankshaft centerline). No two pistons have the same spatial relationship to the upper deck. Resurfacing, or decking, the block lowers the fire deck 0.010 in. or more with no better accuracy than obtained by the factory.

Most manufacturers arrive at top clearance indirectly by means of a piston deck height specification. Either of these measurements must be made when

• the block is resurfaced.
• the manufacturer supplies replacement head gaskets in varying thickness to compensate for production variations.

The geometry of some engines (flat pistons and access to the piston top with head in place) invites direct measurement of top clearance. The cylinder head is installed and torqued, using a new gasket of indeterminate thickness. The mechanic then removes No. 1 cylinder glow plug and inserts the end of a piece of soft wire, known as fuse wire, into the chamber. Turning the flywheel through tdc flattens the wire between the piston crown and cylinder head. Wire thickness equals top clearance, or piston deck height plus compressed gasket thickness (Fig. 7-37).

top clearance Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Top Clearance

Scrupulous engine builders sometimes make the same determination using modeling clay as the medium. Upon disassembly the clay is removed and carefully miked. This method applies equally well to flat and domed pistons.

The more usual approach is to measure piston deck height with a dial indicator. The procedure involves three measurements, detailed as follows:

1. Zero the dial indicator on the fire deck, with the piston down (left-hand portion of Fig. 7-38).
2. Position the indicator over a designated part of the piston crown, shown as A in Fig. 7-38.
3. Turn the crankshaft in the normal direction of rotation through tdc. Note the highest indicator reading.
4. Repeat Step 3, taking the measurement at B.
5. Average measurements A and B.
6. Repeat the process for each piston. Use the piston with the highest average deck height to determine the thickness of the replacement head gasket.

piston deck Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Top Clearance

Written by Ed

February 18th, 2011 at 2:43 am

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Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Springs

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Valve spring tension is all that keeps the valves from hitting the pistons. A “swallowed” valve is the mechanic’s equivalent of the great Lisbon earthquake or the gas blowout at King Christian Island, which illuminated the Arctic night for eight months and could be seen from the moon. Thus, I suggest that valve springs be replaced (regardless of apparent condition) during upper engine overhauls.

If springs are to be used, inspect as follows:
• Carefully examine the springs for pitting, flaking, and flattened ends.
• Measure spring freestanding height and compare with the factory wear limit.
• Stand the springs on their ends and, using a feeler gauge and machinist’s
square, determine the offset of the uppermost coil (Fig. 7-35). Compare with the factory specification (in angular terms, maximum allowable tilt rarely exceeds 20). Most keeper failures arise from unequal loading.
• Verify that spring tension falls within factory-recommended norms. Figure 7-36 illustrates the tool generally used to make this determination.

linear valve spring Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Springs

Valve spring shims have appropriate uses, chiefly to restore the spring preload lost when heads and valve seats are refurbished. But shims should not be used as a tonic for tired springs, because the fix is temporary and can result in coil bind.

valve spring tester Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Springs

Written by Ed

February 18th, 2011 at 2:39 am

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Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Seat Replacement

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Valve seat inserts are pressed into recesses machined into the head. (Some very early engines used spigoted inserts with mixed results.) Seats must be replaced when severely burned, cracked, loose, or as a means of obtaining the correct valve protrusion. Many shops routinely replace seats during an overhaul for the insurance value.

Seats in iron heads are customarily driven out with a punch inserted through the ports, although more elegant tools are available (Fig. 7-33); seats in aluminum heads should be cut out to prevent damage to the recess (Fig. 7-34).

nissan valve seat Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Seat Replacement

While new seats can be installed in the original counterbores, it is good practice to machine the bores to the next oversize. Replacement seats for most engines are available in 0.010-, 0.015-, 0.020-, and 0.030-in. oversizes. Material determines the fit: iron seats in iron heads require about 0.005-in. interference fit; Stellite expands less with heat, and seats made of this material should be set up a little tighter; seats in aluminum require something on the order of 0.008-in. interference.

aluminium seat Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Seat Replacement

Seat concentricity should be checked with a dial indicator mounted in a fixture that pilots on the valve guide. Often the technician finds it necessary to restore concentricity by lightly grinding the seat.

Written by Ed

February 18th, 2011 at 2:23 am

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Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Valve Guides

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Rocker-arm geometry generates a side force, tilting the valves outward and wearing away the upper and lower ends of the guides. The loss of a sharp edge at the lower end of the guides encourages carbon buildup and accelerates stem wear; the bellmouth at the upper end catches oil, which then enters the cylinder. Figure 7-27 illustrates a split ball gauge used to determine guide ID.

split ball gauge Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Valve Guides

Nearly all engines employ replaceable guides or, if lacking that, have enough “meat” in the casting to accept replaceable guides (Fig. 7-28). A Pep replacement guide for 0.375-in. valve stem measures 0.502 in. on the OD. The BMW 2.4L engine is one of the few for which replacement guides are not available. However, the integral (i.e., block metal) guides can be reamed to accept valves with oversized stems. The GM 350 offers the option of replaceable guides, plus oversized stems The latter are apparently a manufacturing convenience and such parts are difficult to come by.

valve guides Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Valve Guides

Old guides drive out with a punch, and new guides install with a driver sized to pilot on the guide ID (Fig. 7-28). Cast-iron heads can be worked cold, but a careful technician will heat aluminum heads so that the guide bores do not gall. Engine manufacturers seem to prefer perlitic cast-iron or iron-alloy guides; many machinists claim phosphor bronze has better wearing qualities. Whatever the material, replacement guides rarely are concentric with the valve seat, and some corrective machine work is almost always in order. Stem-to-guide clearances vary with engine type and service; light- and medium-duty engines will remain oil-tight longer with a 0.0015-in. clearance. Heavy-duty engines, which run for long periods at hall rated power, need to be set up looser—as much as 0.005 in. when sodium-cooled valves are fitted.

Written by Ed

February 18th, 2011 at 2:19 am

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Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Straightening

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Aluminum heads usually carry the camshaft and are often mounted to a cast-iron block. The marriage is barely compatible. Aluminum has a thermal coefficient of expansion four times greater than that of iron. Even at normal temperatures, the head casting “creeps,” with most of the movement occurring in the long axis (Fig. 7-26). Pinned at its ends by bolts, the head bows upward—sometimes as much as 0.080 in. The camshaft cannot tolerate misalignments of such magnitude and, if it does not bend, binds in the center bearings.

Such heads are best straightened by stress relieving. The process can be summarized as follows: the head is bolted to a heavy steel plate, which has been drilled and tapped to accommodate the center head bolts. Shims, approximately half the thickness of the bow, are placed under the ends of the head, and the center bolts are lightly run down. Four or five hours of heat soak, followed by a slow cool down, usually restores the deck to within 0.010 in. of true. Camshaft bearings are less amenable to this treatment, and will require line boring or honing.

Corrosion can be a serious problem for aluminum heads, transforming the water jacket into something resembling papier-mâché. Upon investigation, one often finds that the grounding strap—the pleated ribbon cable connecting the head to the firewall—was not installed.

aluminium head Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Straightening

Written by Ed

February 18th, 2011 at 2:16 am

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Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Pressure Test

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Figure 7-25 illustrates a Detroit Diesel cylinder head, partially dressed out for pressure testing. At this point, most shops would introduce high-pressure water into the jacket and look for leaks, which might take the form of barely perceptible seepage. Detroit Diesel suggests that air be used as the working fluid. Their approach calls for pressurizing the head to 30 psi and immersing the casting in hot (200 F) water for 30 minutes. Leaks register as bubbles.

pressure test Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Pressure Test

Written by Ed

February 18th, 2011 at 2:13 am

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Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Crack Repairs

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Assuming that both ends of the crack are visible, it is normally possible to salvage an iron head by gas welding. For best results, the casting should be preheated to 1200 F. Skilled TIG practitioners can do the same for aluminum heads.

Some shops prefer to use one of several patented “cold stitching” processes on iron castings. The technician drills holes at each end of the crack (to block further propagation) and hammers soft iron plugs into the void, which are then ground flush. The plugs must not be allowed to obstruct coolant passages.

Metal spraying is demonstrated to have utility, but rarely practiced.

Written by Ed

February 16th, 2011 at 5:42 am

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Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Crack Detection

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Cylinder heads should be crack tested before and after resurfacing. The apparatus used for ferrous parts generates a powerful magnetic field that passes through the part under test. Cracks and other discontinuities at right angles to the field become polarized and reveal their presence by attracting iron filings. The magnetic particle test, known generically by the trade name Magnaflux, is useful within its limits. It cannot detect subsurface flaws, nor does it work on nonferrous metals. But fatigue and thermal cracks always start at the surface, and will be seen.

Nonferrous parts are tested with a penetrant dye (Fig. 7-24). A special dye is sprayed on the part, the excess is wiped off, and the part is treated with a developer that draws the dye to the surface, outlining the cracks. In general, penetrant dye is considered less accurate than Magnaflux, but, short of x-ray, it remains the best method available for detecting flaws in aluminum and other nonmagnetic parts.

penetrant dye Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Crack Detection

Neither of these detection methods discriminates between critical and superficial cracks. The cylinder head might be fractured in a dozen places and still be serviceable. But cracks that extend across a pressure regime—that is, from the combustion chamber, cylinder bore, water jacket, or oil circuits—require attention.

Mack and a handful of other manufacturers build surface discontinuities into the roofs of the combustion chambers, which appear as cracks under Magnafluxing, but which are intended to stop crack propagation. These built-in “flaws” run true and straight, in contrast to the meandering paths followed by the genuine article. In general, cracks that are less than a 1/2 in. long and do not extend into the valve seat area might be less serious than they appear. Short cracks radiating out from precombustion chamber orifices can also be disregarded.

Written by Ed

February 16th, 2011 at 5:40 am

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Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Resurfacing

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Minor surface flaws and moderate distortion can usually be corrected by resurfacing, or “milling.” However, there are limits to how much metal can be safely removed from either the head or the block. These limits are imposed by the need to maintain piston-to-valve clearance and, on overhead cam engines, restraints imposed by the valve actuating gear. The last point needs some amplification. Reducing the thickness of the head retards valve timing when the camshaft receives power through a chain or belt. Retarded valve timing shifts the torque curve higher on the rpm band. The power will still be there, but it will be later in coming. The effect of lowering a gear-driven camshaft is less ambiguous; the gears converge and ultimately jam.

Fire deck spacer plates are available for some engines to minimize these effects, and ferrous heads have been salvaged by metal spraying. These options are worth investigating, but one is usually better off following factory recommendations for head resurfacing, as in other matters.

The minimum head thickness specification, expressed either as a direct measurement between the fire deck and some prominent feature on the top of the casting or as the amount of material that can be safely removed from the head and block. Detroit Diesel allows 0.020 in. on four-cycle cylinder heads and a total of 0.030 in. on both the heads and block. Other manufacturers are not so generous, especially on light- and medium-duty engines. For example, the head thickness on Navistar 6.9L engines (measured between the fire deck and valve cover rail) must be maintained at between 4.795 and 4.805 in., a figure that, when manufacturing tolerances are factored in, practically eliminates the possibility of resurfacing. As delivered, the exhaust valve might come within 0.009 in. of the piston crown, and the piston crown clears the roof of the combustion chamber by 0.025 in. Admittedly, these are minimum specifications, but it is difficult to believe that any 6.9L can afford to lose much fire deck metal. Navistar’s 9.0L engine, the Ford 2.2L, and the Volkswagen 1.6L engines simply cannot be resurfaced and remain within factory guidelines. Thicker-than-stock head gaskets are available for the VW, but are intended merely to compensate for variations in piston protrusion above the fire deck.

The cardinal rule of this and other machining operations is to remove as little metal as possible, while staying within factory limits. Minor imperfections (such as gasket frets and corrosion on the edges of water jacket holes,) should be brazed slightly overflush before the head is milled.

Precombustion chambers, or precups, are pressed into the head or Caterpillar engines, threaded in. In some cases, precups can remain installed during resurfacing; others must be removed and (usually) machined in a separate operation (Fig. 7-22) When it is necessary to replace injector tubes, the work is done after the head has been resurfaced and is always followed by a pressure test.

precombustion chamber install Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Resurfacing

Most shops rely on a blanchard grinder, such as the one shown in Fig. 7-23 for routine resurfacing. Heavier cuts of 0.015 in. or more call for a rotary broach, known in the trade as a “mill.” When set up correctly, a mill will give better accuracy than is obtainable with a grinder. Some shops, especially those in production work, use a movable belt grinder. These machines are relatively inexpensive, require zero set-up time, and produce an unsurpassed finish. However, current belt grinders, which support the workpiece on a rubber platen, are less accurate than blanchard grinders.

grinder Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Resurfacing

Typically, iron heads like a dead smooth surface finish in the range of 60 and 75 rms (root mean square). Some machinists believe that a rougher finish provides the requisite “tooth” for gasket purchase, although there is little evidence to support the contention.

Written by Ed

February 16th, 2011 at 5:21 am

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