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Old 16-03-2013, 10:56   #31
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Re: More electronics in diesels = more problems?

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I decided that I was through with electronic controlled engines! Theres nothing really wrong with the idea, but Im gonna stick with my older engines in my cruisers, that I can fix myself ! We now have a Detroit 471, that I can get parts for anywhere! and fix in the dark with a cresent wrench !! LOL theres something to be said for the old stuff ! Perkins, older volvos, leahman ect !! make me a happy mechanic!!
There is a new level of dependency on shore services with computerized, proprietary systems ... the proprietary (and off limit to qualified but not authorized customer) part worries me more than computerized.
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Old 16-03-2013, 15:13   #32
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If you want a circumnavigating. Boat then ECU controlled engines should not used. There are loads of failure modes you can do nothing about

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Old 16-03-2013, 15:30   #33
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Re: More electronics in diesels = more problems?

That is true, but not all of them lead to engine shutdown.

Some are soft faults/warnings to get operator's attention, some are hard faults/warnings leading to engine being forced to operate in "safe" mode at reduced RPMs. And there are critical faults ... when further engine operation is either impossible, or will lead to further damage to engine components.

I, for one, like to know what is going on with the engine before it fails or destroys itself. I do not have access to the proprietary diagnostic tools like Vodia for Volvo Penta engines, but I have a third party tool (PC software) recommended by VP that gives me monitoring, diagnostic, and testing functions, and ability to adjust some of the parameters. I still cannot, and should not be allowed to, reload or modify engine firmware.

This is for gasoline engine ... I bet/hope something like this is/will be available for diesel engines. Others might know more about this ...
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Old 16-03-2013, 20:46   #34
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Re: More electronics in diesels = more problems?

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That is true, but not all of them lead to engine shutdown.

Some are soft faults/warnings to get operator's attention, some are hard faults/warnings leading to engine being forced to operate in "safe" mode at reduced RPMs. And there are critical faults ... when further engine operation is either impossible, or will lead to further damage to engine components.

I, for one, like to know what is going on with the engine before it fails or destroys itself. I do not have access to the proprietary diagnostic tools like Vodia for Volvo Penta engines, but I have a third party tool (PC software) recommended by VP that gives me monitoring, diagnostic, and testing functions, and ability to adjust some of the parameters. I still cannot, and should not be allowed to, reload or modify engine firmware.

This is for gasoline engine ... I bet/hope something like this is/will be available for diesel engines. Others might know more about this ...
gas product soft/firmware is behind in the development curve of diesel.
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Old 16-03-2013, 21:10   #35
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Re: More electronics in diesels = more problems?

Good to know ... ... as my next boat will have one or two diesel engines, plus a diesel generator, and advanced electronics, I hope.
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Old 19-03-2013, 15:14   #36
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Re: More electronics in diesels = more problems?

Hi Pat:

Haven't seen you in a long time. Hope all is well. The main thing I don't like about the computer controls on a diesel is the requirement of power. I am sure that these are more robust then the computers on cars but they still require power. I understand why they are putting them in . . . its just that I have been on boats where the power died and I could still run the engine and I like that in a marine diesel engine.
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Old 19-03-2013, 15:29   #37
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Re: More electronics in diesels = more problems?

Another thing about sophisticated electronics is they're hard to reverse engineer.

If an engine maker goes belly-up, it's easy enough for third parties to make spare parts for the mechanicals, but they're stuff-all use without a working computer.

It seems to me we'll end up with the same situation with engines which we have now with high-end software, like CAD packages, which will only run as long as the mother company is still in business ... no matter how much we paid for it, it came become worthless overnight. Computing "in the cloud" seeks to bring the same 'benefits' to all of us...

That's not a big worry in the greater scheme of things, except in the instance of major downturn.
The resilience of modern systems is made rather brittle, it seems to me, by their reliance on sophisticated infrastructure.

It doesn't feel that great being taken hostage to our suppliers' fortunes. Talk about a captive market...
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Old 19-03-2013, 15:56   #38
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Re: More electronics in diesels = more problems?

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I just today heard about a fairly late model SUV (Range Rover) which had to be written off after the 80 yo owner got in a bit of a muddle when they were crossing a river (supposedly because a quadbike seemed to be in their way), stopped, stalled, and opened a door.

The main computer being fitted under the passenger seat, this was not a good thing to do. In spite of it being fresh water, and the fact that they managed to drive out (but with random electrical things happening) the owner was told by the master dealership that the vehicle could not be repaired.

I wasn't able to verify the full story with the source and it sounds fishy to me, but it does increasingly seem that the latest crop of 4WD vehicles cannot be driven off road with impunity, because the various electrical sensors and electronic systems cannot be relied on to tolerate it.
The Toyota Land Cruiser used to be the go to rugged offroad vehicle of choice for cattle industry in Australia. Water did not worry it.

Unfortunately the new V8 has starter motor at lowest point of motor ,very difficult to remove and it has become a vehicle to keep out of water.

In this situation progress has gone backwards regarding rugged off road vehicles.
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Old 19-03-2013, 15:59   #39
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Re: More electronics in diesels = more problems?

This is an interesting discussion. I work for a company that provides ECU type equipment for heavy trucks in the US so am frequently exposed to different diesel truck technology.

Rather than think about this as a mechanical vs. electronic issue I typically explain to people that diesel emission regulations today in the US is where passenger vehicle emission regulations were back in the early 70's. Each manufacturer is trying to meet the emissions with their idea of the most cost-effective solution. Unfortunately reliability estimates are just estimates. Until you have 200,000 trucks on the road for 5 years, you don't really know how reliable your solution is going to be. Granted the technology available is far superior to what was available back in the 70's but there's still the question of how to use the computers to achieve the desired emissions. Typically the engines are run at a much higher temperature which improves combustion but has a negative impact on reliability.

I don't know how this translates to the latest generation of marine diesels but cleaner burning, more efficient usually means higher temps. That's part of the reason there's so many sensors on newer engines. And if one of the sensors goes bad you need to be able to diagnose and replace it. The limp-home option just de-tunes the engine so it runs at much lower power, hence lower temps. But since the sensor isn't working the computer has to significantly de-tune the engine.

As someone posted, if you are planning a circumnavigation, I'd vote for the proven engines vs. the latest generation.

Just my $.02
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Old 20-03-2013, 04:26   #40
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Re: More electronics in diesels = more problems?

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Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
Another thing about sophisticated electronics is they're hard to reverse engineer.

If an engine maker goes belly-up, it's easy enough for third parties to make spare parts for the mechanicals, but they're stuff-all use without a working computer.

It seems to me we'll end up with the same situation with engines which we have now with high-end software, like CAD packages, which will only run as long as the mother company is still in business ... no matter how much we paid for it, it came become worthless overnight. Computing "in the cloud" seeks to bring the same 'benefits' to all of us...

That's not a big worry in the greater scheme of things, except in the instance of major downturn.
The resilience of modern systems is made rather brittle, it seems to me, by their reliance on sophisticated infrastructure.

It doesn't feel that great being taken hostage to our suppliers' fortunes. Talk about a captive market...
The existence of a thriving chip-tuning industry for sports cars convinces me that this should not be a big worry.
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