Diesel Engine Troubleshooting

Archive for the ‘Cylinder Heads’ Category

Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Casting

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Make a careful examination of the parting surfaces on both the head and block, looking for fret marks, highly polished areas, erosion around water-jacket ports, and scores that would compromise the gasket seal.

The next step is to determine the degree of head distortion, using a machinist’s straightedge and feeler gauges, as illustrated in Fig. 7-21. Distortion limits vary with the application and range from as little as 0.003–0.008 in. or so. In theory, the block deck has the same importance as the head deck; in practice, a warped block would not be welcome news when head work was all that was contemplated, and most mechanics let sleeping dogs lie.

However head bolt holes deserve special attention. Be alert for
• Stripped threads—strip-outs can be repaired with Heli-Coil inserts. It is rare to find more than one bolt hole stripped; if the problem is endemic, check with the manufacturer’s technical representative on the advisability of using multiple inserts. At least one manufacturer restricts the number of Heli-Coils per engine and per cylinder.
• Pulled threads—this condition, characterized by slight eruption in the block metal adjacent to the bolt holes, can be cured by chamfering the uppermost threads with an oversized drill bit or countersink. Limit the depth of cut to one or two threads.
• Dirty threads—chase head bolt and other critical threads with the appropriate tap. In theory, one should use a bottoming tap, recognized by its straight profile and squared tip. In practice, one will be lucky to find any tap for certain metric head bolt threads, which are pitched differently than the run of International Standards Organization (ISO) fasteners. Also realize that “bargain” taps can, because of dimensional inaccuracies, do more harm than good. Blow out any coolant that has spilled into the bolt holes with compressed air, protecting your eyes from the debris.

head warp Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Casting

Written by Ed

February 16th, 2011 at 5:13 am

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Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Cleaning

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Cleaning techniques depend on the available facilities. In the field, cleanup usually consists of washing the parts in kerosene or diesel fuel. Gasket fragments can be scraped off with a dull knife (a linoleum knife with the blade ground square to the handle is an ideal tool). The work can be speeded up by using one of the aerosol preparations that promise to dissolve gaskets. In general, it is not a good practice to use a wire brush on head and cooling system gaskets that, until recently, contained asbestos. Sealant, sometimes used in lieu of conventional valve cover and cooling system gaskets, can be removed with 4 in. 3M Scotch-Brite Surface Conditioning Discs, mounted on a high-speed die grinder. Use the coarse pad (3M 07450) on steel surfaces, the medium (3M 07451) on aluminum.

Carbon responds to a dull knife and an end-cutting wire wheel. Clean the piston tops, rotating the crank as necessary. Overhead camshaft drive chains will foul if the crankshaft is turned, and one cannot pretend to do much by way of piston cleaning on these engines.

Machine shops and large-scale repair depots employ less labor-intensive methods. Some shops still use chlorinated hydrocarbons (such as perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene) for degreasing, although the toxicity of these products has limited their application. A peculiar side effect of trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure is “degreaser’s flush.” After several weeks of contact with the solvent, consumption of alcohol will raise large red welts on the hapless degreaser’s face.

Once the head (and other major castings) are degreased, ferrous parts are traditionally “hot-tanked” in a caustic solution, heated nearly to the boiling point. Caustic will remove most carbon, paint, and water-jacket scale. Parts are then flushed with fresh water and dried. In the past, some field mechanics soaked iron heads in a mild solution of oxalic acid to remove scale and corrosion from the coolant passages.

Caustic and other chemical cleaners pose environmental hazards and generate an open-ended liability problem. The Environmental Protection Agency holds the producer of waste responsible for its ultimate disposition. This responsibility cannot be circumvented by contract; if a shop contracts for caustic to be transported to a hazardous waste site, and the material ends up on a country road somewhere, the shop is liable.

Consequently, other cleaning technologies have been developed. Pollution Control Products is perhaps the best-known manufacturer of cleaning furnaces and claims to have more than 1500 units in service. These devices burn natural gas, propane, or No. 2 fuel oil at rates of up to 300,000 Btu/hour to produce temperatures of up to 800 F. (Somewhat lower temperatures are recommended for cylinder heads and blocks.) An afterburner consumes the smoke effectively enough to meet EPA emission, OSHA workplace safety, and most local fire codes.

Such furnaces significantly reduce the liability associated with handling and disposal of hazardous materials, but are not, in themselves, the complete answer to parts stripping. Most scale flakes off, but some carbon, calcified gasket material, and paint might remain after cleaning.

Final cleanup requires a shot blaster such as the Walker Peenimpac machine illustrated in Fig, 7-20. Parts to be cleaned are placed on a turntable inside the machine and bombarded with high-velocity shot. Shot size and composition determine the surface finish; small diameter steel shot gives aluminum castings a mat finish, larger diameter steel shot dresses iron castings to an as-poured finish. Delicate parts are cleaned with glass beads.

shot blaster Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Cleaning

Written by Ed

February 16th, 2011 at 5:08 am

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Diesel Engines Head Bolts

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Head bolts should now be accessible, but not always visible. Olds 350 engines hide three of the bolts under pipe plugs (Fig. 7-15); some Japanese engines secure the timing cover to the head with small-diameter bolts that, more often than not, are submerged in a pool of oil.

The practice of using an impact wrench on head bolts should be discouraged. A far better procedure and one that must be used on aluminum engines is to loosen the bolts by hand in three stages and in the pattern suggested by the manufacturer. Make careful note of variations in bolt length and be alert for the presence of sealant on the threads. Sealant means that the bolt bottoms into the water jacket, a weightsaving technique inherited from SI engines.

Clean the bolts and examine carefully for pulled threads, cracks (usually under the heads), bends, and signs of bottoming. Engines have come off the line with short bolt holes.

GM and a few other manufacturers use torque-to-yield bolts, most of which are throwaway items. When this is the case, new bolts should be included as part of the gasket set.

head bolt Diesel Engines Head Bolts

Written by Ed

February 16th, 2011 at 5:03 am

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Diesel Engines Overhead Camshafts

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Disengage the drive chain or belt (Fig. 7-14). Camshaft mounting provisions vary; some ride in split bearings and are lifted vertically, others slip into full-circle bearings and might require a special tool to open the valves temporarily for lobe clearance during camshaft withdrawal. Split bearing journals must be assembled exactly as originally found. Make certain that bearing caps are clearly marked for number and orientation. Loosen the caps one at a time, working progressively from the center cap out to the ends of the shaft. (Center, first cap right of center, first cap left of center, second cap right of center, and so on.)

camshaft Diesel Engines Overhead Camshafts

Written by Ed

February 16th, 2011 at 5:01 am

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Valve Lifters Service

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Valve lifters, or tappets, are serviced at this time when the lifters are driven from an overhead camshaft or when battered rocker arm tips indicate the need. It should be mentioned that GM 350 hydraulic lifters must be bled down before the cylinder head is reinstalled. Factory manuals recommend that lifters be collapsed twice, the second time 45 minutes after the first. According to technicians familiar with these engines, the factory is not kidding.

Figure 7-13 illustrates the roller tappet used on GM two-cycle engines. This part is subject to severe forces and, in the typical applications, experiences fairly high wear rates. Inspect the roller for scuffing, flat spots, and ease of rotation. Damage to the roller OD almost always is mirrored on the camshaft.

roller tappet Valve Lifters Service

Roller and pin replacement offers no challenge, but lubrication is critical. During the first few seconds of operation, the only lubrications the follower receives is what you provide. Engine-supplied lube oil is slow to find its way between the roller and pin.

Ensure proper lubrication by removing the preservative from new parts with Cindol 1705; clean used parts with the same product. Just before installation, soak the followers in a bath of warm (100–125 F) Cindol. Turn the rollers to release trapped air.

Install with the oil port at the bottom of the follower pointed away from the valves. There should be 0.005-in. clearance between the follower legs and guide. The easiest way to make this adjustment is to loosen the bolts slightly and tap the ends of the guide with a brass drift. Bolts should be torqued to 12–15 ft-lb.

Written by Ed

February 15th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

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Rocker Arm Assemblies

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Two rocker arm configurations are used on OHV engines. Commercial and automotive engines developed from industrial engines generally pivot the rockers on single or double shafts, in Figs. 7-9 and 7-10. The earlier drawing is the most typical, because a single rocker drives each intake and exhaust valve. Figures 7-9 and 7-10 illustrate Detroit Diesel solutions to the problem of driving two valves from the same rocker arm. Regardless of the rocker configuration, the hollow pivot shaft doubles as an oil gallery, distributing oil to the rocker bushings through radially drilled ports. Rockers are steel forgings, case-hardened on the valve end and generally include provision for valve lash adjustment.

detroit series 60 valve Rocker Arm Assemblies

Shaft-type rockers are detached from the head as an assembly with the shaft while the pushrods are still engaged. Note the lay of the shaft and rockers, and if no identification marks are present, tag the forward end of the shaft as an assembly reference. Loosen the hold-down bolts slowly, a half-turn or so at a time following the factory-recommended breakout sequence. If no information is provided on this point, work from the center bolt outward. This procedure will distribute valve spring orces over the length of the shaft.

detroit diesel dual valve Rocker Arm Assemblies

Set the rocker arm assembly aside and remove the pushrods, racking them in the order of removal with the cam-ends down. A length of four-by-four, drilled to accept the pushrods and with the front of the engine clearly marked, makes an inexpensive rack.

Although the task is formidable on a large engine, the rocker arms, together with spacers, locating springs, and wave washers, should be completely disassembled for cleaning and inspection. Critical areas are

• Adjusting screws—check the thread fit and screw tips. Screws are case-hardened: once the carburized “skin” is penetrated, it will be impossible to keep the valves adjusted.

• Rocker tips—with proper equipment, worn tips can usually be recontoured, quieting the engine.

• Rocker flanks—check for cracks radiating out from the fulcrum. Cracks tend to develop on the undersides of the rockers at the fillets.

• Bushings—wear concentrates on the engine side of the bushing and, when severe, is accompanied with severe scoring, which almost always involves the shaft. Clearance between the bushing and an unworn part of the shaft should be on the order of 0.002 in. Replacement bushings are generally available from the original equipment manufacture (OEM) or aftermarket. The old bushing is driven out with a suitable punch, and the replacement pressed into place and reamed to finish size. Aligning the bushing oil port with the rocker arm  port is, of course, critical.

• Shaft—inspect the surface finish, mike bearing diameters, and carefully clean the shaft inner diameter (ID), clearing the oil ports with a drill bit. Do the same for the oil supply circuit. Rocker arms are remote from the pump, and lubrication is problematic.

Small engines in general and automotive plants derived from SI engines use pedestal-type rockers, of the type illustrated in Fig. 7-11. This technology, pioneered by Chevrolet in 1955, represents a considerable cost saving because the pivots compensate for dimensional inaccuracies and the rockers are steel stampings. Most examples lubricate through hollow pushrods. If rockers are removed, it is vital that they be assembled as originally found, together with fulcrum pieces and hold-down hardware.

pedestal rocker arm Rocker Arm Assemblies

The locknuts that secure the rockers to their studs should be renewed whenever the head is serviced. Other critical items are

• Studs—check for thread wear, nicks, distortion, and separation from the head. As far as I am aware, all diesel pedestal-type rocker studs thread into the cylinder head.

• Rocker pivots—the rocker pivots on a ball or a cylindrical bearing, secured by the stud nut, and known as the fulcrum seat (Fig. 7-12A). Reject the rocker, if either part is discolored, scored, or heat checked. How much wear is permissible on the rocker pivot is a judgment call.

• Fasteners—replace locknuts if nut threads show low resistance to turning, or for the considerable insurance value. Replace stud nuts if faces exhibit fractures (Fig. 7-12B).

• Rocker tips—look for evidence of impact damage that could point to a failed hydraulic lifter and possible valve tip, valve guide, or pushrod damage. For want of a better rule, replace the rocker when tip wear is severe enough to hang a fingernail.

rocker arm assembly Rocker Arm Assemblies

Written by Ed

February 15th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

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Cylinder Head Disassembly

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The drill varies between makes and models, and is described in the manufacturer’s manual. Here, I merely wish to add some general information, which might not be included in the factory literature.

It is good and sometimes necessary practice to align the timing marks before the head is dismantled. Bar crankshaft over—in its normal direction of travel—to tdc on No. 1 cylinder compression stroke. Tdc will be referenced on the harmonic balancer or flywheel; the compression stroke will be signaled by closed intake and exhaust valves on No. 1 cylinder. In most cases, the logic of timing marks on overhead cam and unit injector engines will be obvious; when it is not, as for example, when camshaft timing indexes a particular link of the drive chain, make careful notes. A timing error on assembly can cost a set of valves.

Experienced mechanics do not disassemble more than is necessary. Normally you will remove both manifolds, unit injector rocker mechanisms, and whatever hardware blocks access to the head bolts. Try to remove components in large bites, as assemblies, by lifting the intake manifold with turbocharger intact, removing the shaft-type rocker arms at the shaft hold-down bolts, and so on.

Miscellaneous hardware should remain attached, unless the head will be sent out for machine work. In this case, it should be stripped down to the valves and injector tubes. Otherwise, the head might be returned with parts and fasteners missing.

Examine each part and fastener as it comes off. If disassembly is extensive, time will be saved by storing the components and associated fasteners in an orderly fashion. You might wish to use plastic baggies, labeled with a Sharpie pen or Marks-A-Lot for this purpose. Keep the old gaskets for comparison with the replacements.

Written by Ed

February 15th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Cylinder Head Problems Diagnosis

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Head-related problems usually involve loss of compression in one or two cylinders, a condition that is signaled by a ragged idle, by increased fuel consumption, and in some instances, by exhaust smoke. An exhaust temperature gauge, with switch-controlled thermocouples on each header, will give early warning. Exhaust from weak cylinders will be cooler than the norm. You can cross-check by disabling one injector at a time while the engine ticks over at idle. A cylinder that causes less of an rpm drop than the others does not carry its share of the load.

At this point, you can check the injectors (the usual suspects) or else go to the heart of the matter with a cranking compression test (Fig. 7-8). As detailed in the diagnostics chapter, we are looking for cylinders with dramatically (at least 20%) lower compression than the average of the others. If the weak cylinder is flanked by healthy cylinders, the problem is either valve- or head-gasket related; or very low compression in an adjacent cylinder points to gasket failure. Abnormally high readings on all cylinders indicate heavy carbon accumulations, a condition that might be accompanied by high pressures and noise. The next step is to make a cylinder leakdown test, which will distinguish between valve and gasket failure.

While most compression leaks bleed into adjacent cylinders or across the fire deck to the atmosphere, it is possible for a leak path to open into water jacket. The engine might seem healthy enough, but overheat within a few minutes of start-up. Coolant in the header tank might appear agitated and might spew violently with the cap removed. A cooling system pressure test will verify the existence of a leak, which can be localized with a cylinder leak-down test. However, the leak-down test cannot distinguish between cracks in the casting and a blown gasket.

Fortunately, it is rare for an engine that has not suffered catastrophic overheating to leak coolant into the oil sump, where it can be detected visually or, in lesser amounts, by a spectrographic analysis. Likely sources are casting cracks, cracked (wet-type) cylinder liners, and liner-base gasket leaks.

The cylinder head casting, like the fluid end of a high-pressure pump, will eventually fail. After a large, but finite, number of pressure cycles, the metal crystallizes and breaks. Owners of obsolete engines for which parts are no longer available would do well to keep a spare head casting on hand. Even so, most cylinder heads fail early, long before design life has been realized, because of abnormally high combustion pressure and temperature.

Combustion pressure and heat can be controlled by routine injector service (dribbling injectors load the cylinders with fuel), attention to timing, and conservative pump settings. Cooling system maintenance usually stops when the temperature gauge needle remains on the right of center. But local overheating is as critical as radiator temperature and is rarely addressed. According to engineers at Detroit Diesel, 1/4 in. of scale in the water jacket is the thermal equivalent of 4 in. of cast iron. Eroded coolant deflectors and rounded-off water pump impeller blades can also produce local overheating, which will not register as a rise in header-tank temperature.

Local overheating on air-cooled engines can usually be traced to dirty, grease clogged fins or to loose shrouding.

Gasket life can be extended by doing what can be reasonably done to minimize potential leak paths. As explained below, some imperfection of the head and fire deck seating surfaces must, as a practical matter, be tolerated. Fasteners should be torqued down to specifications and in the suggested torque sequence, which varies between engine makes and models. Asbestos gaskets, without wire or elastomer reinforcements, “take a set” and must be periodically retightened. Newer, reinforced gaskets hold initial torque, but proper diesel maintenance entails retightening head bolts periodically.

cylinder compressor gauge Cylinder Head Problems Diagnosis

Written by Ed

February 15th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Energy Cell

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Examples of the energy cell, or Lanova divided chamber, can still be encountered in vintage Caterpillar tractor engines (Fig. 7-4). The cell consists of a kidney shaped main chamber, located over the piston, and a secondary chamber, or energy cell, which is divided into two parts. The cell opens to a narrow throat, situated
between the two lobes of the main chamber.

During the compression stroke about 10% of the air volume passes into the energy cell. The injector, mounted on the far side of the main chamber, delivers a solid jet of fuel aimed at the cell. A small percentage of the fuel shears off and remains in the main chamber and some collects in the cell chamber closest to the piston bore. But most of the fuel dead-ends in the outermost cell chamber.

Ignition occurs in this outer chamber. Unburned fuel and hot gases accelerate as they pass through the venturi between the two cell chambers and enter the main chamber. The rounded walls of the main chamber impart a swirl to the charge to promote better mixing.

lanova IDI Energy Cell

Written by Ed

February 15th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

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Swirl Chamber

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The swirl, or turbulence, chamber is similar in appearance to the precombustion chamber, but functions differently (Fig. 7-3). During compression, the disc-shaped or spherical antechamber imparts a circular motion to the air, which accelerates as the piston approaches tdc. The injector is timed to open at the peak of vortex speed. As the piston rounds tdc, combustion-induced pressure in the antechamber reverses the flow. A turbulent stream of burning fuel and superheated air exits the antechamber and rebounds off the piston to saturate the main chamber.

The swirl chamber was invented by Sir Harry Ricardo during the late 1920s and underwent numerous alterations during its long career. Except for Mercedes-Benz, most diesel cars and light commercial vehicles of the postwar era and for many years after employed the Ricardo Comet V chamber. These chambers are more economical than hot-bulb chambers, but are noisier.

The 6.25L engine used by General Motors for pickup trucks during the 1980s and early 90s demonstrates the tradeoffs implicit in combustion-chamber design. While the Ricardo chamber depends upon swirl for mixing, velocity is also important. Initially, these GM engines were set up with a small-diameter port between the main and swirl chambers. The pressure drop across the port generated velocity that, in conjunction with swirl, resulted in good air-fuel mixing and fuel economy. Near the end of the production run, GM acquiesced to customer demands for more power by enlarging the connecting port. More fuel could be passed, but thermal efficiency suffered. Fuel economy, which had approached 20 miles/gal, dropped to 14 or 15 mpg.

Turbulence Chamber Swirl Chamber

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February 15th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

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