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Old 19-04-2017, 08:11   #1
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How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

A question for diesel engine guys....
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Old 19-04-2017, 08:18   #2
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Re: How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

Depends a lot of how it was shut down last I imagine. Was it "fogged"? Was there water in it? Salt water or fresh?
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Old 19-04-2017, 08:27   #3
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Re: How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

I've started and run engines that were sitting for 10 years. No prep, just shut off and left. Both engines were working well and normal after 3 years continuous construction use, after their 10 year hiatus.

Don't count that as the norm though.

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Old 19-04-2017, 08:59   #4
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Re: How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

I've seen some Russian youtube videos where they find some WW2 tank and fire it up and it runs.

I think a lot depends on how it was put away and how much prep work you are willing to do regarding fuel, changing oil etc.

If water was sitting in the crankcase for 10 years, it may start but it probably won't run for long when the bearing journals wipe out the crank.
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Old 19-04-2017, 09:08   #5
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Re: How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

That can't be answered without a lot more data.
Military for instance will "pickle" engines in a sealed can with dry nitrogen, with preservative oil and desiccant to absorb any possible moisture, they will last until the can rusts out I think, and that may be 100 yrs or more? I have seen even the rubber seals look great on preserved engines coming out of the can.
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Old 19-04-2017, 09:10   #6
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Re: How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

These guys for instance found a very rare backwards turning Merlin engine from WWII in a can in Mexico I think, and it was perfect. They sent it in for overhaul to make sure, but reports I got was it was in perfect condition
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Old 19-04-2017, 19:03   #7
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Re: How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingfarmer View Post
A question for diesel engine guys....
Does this mean the engine was at one time run and then stored for years, or does it mean a new engine never fired up?
I assume (stupidly) a used engine not put up properly after the original owner died. Sorry. Just an example. If the old oil was overdue for a change out and was acidic then rod and main bearings will be acid etched after sitting idle for a number of years. Rings will be dry and valve stems also.
If in a marine environment with salt air there could be rust issues. After saying all this I've started diesels that have been laying out in the back field behind the machine shop for years only covered with a canvas tarp. If the engine was in good order when stored I.E. nothing broken then they can be brought back to life fairly easily.
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Old 20-04-2017, 14:45   #8
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Re: How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

Most start w/o trouble. Especially if mothballed. Check linkage for proper movement, and if sitting many years, flush old fuel. Start, if everything ok, change oil and filters. More to it if you really want to know.
When young, my extended family had a business reactivating stored/mothballed ships. I've started diesels sitting 20 years, 200hp and much bigger. Extremely rarely do the rings rust to the sleeves in diesels, but common in gas engines.
Before WWI, mothballed wood ships had hanging bags of mothballs to stop insect damage.
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Old 20-04-2017, 15:05   #9
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Re: How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

Be sure to have the intake open, and have a piece of wood to cover it to starve the engine, just in case the governor is stuck.
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Old 21-04-2017, 03:47   #10
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Re: How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

Mine sat for 17 years. Looked like crap on the outside, but sounded like she did when put up.

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Old 21-04-2017, 04:24   #11
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Re: How long can a diesel engine remain in good working order if never turned on?

I've started small kubota engines that were part of a reefer unit that hadn't been used in 15 years. The engine started and ran just fine. However the preservation climate matters. What stays in excellent shape in Montana wouldn't be worth a damm in coastal Texas.
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