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Old 24-09-2011, 13:19   #1
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The Right Way to Run a Diesel

I've head some people say you need to run a diesel hard, otherwise you may shorten it's life.

I've heard some people say, they only cruise at a very moderate rpm, and that constantly running at a high rpm is bad for it.

And I've recently heard someone say that the first one is only true with old diesels.

So which one is actually true?
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Old 24-09-2011, 13:27   #2
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pirate Re: The right way to run a diesel

I've heard its bad to run them at a constant rev rate for long periods... either raise or drop revs by a few hundred for a while...
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Old 24-09-2011, 13:34   #3
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

Quote:
Originally Posted by grunzster View Post
I've head some people say you need to run a diesel hard, otherwise you may shorten it's life.

I've heard some people say, they only cruise at a very moderate rpm, and that constantly running at a high rpm is bad for it.

And I've recently heard someone say that the first one is only true with old diesels.

So which one is actually true?

I just spent a whole lotta money on a new diesel and I listened very carefully to what this highly respected diesel mechanic had to say.

I was told to break the engine in for 50 hours. And by breaking it in, he meant idling it as little as possible, and running it near its upper limits as much as possible. He said that way the moving parts would wear in a pattern that would help the engine when I needed that burst of speed, say going under a bridge against a current.

He said once the engine was broken in I should run it at the higher end whenever possible, and that running a diesel at medium and especially low RPM's shortens their lives.

I have no first hand knowledge of this because I don't know how my old engine was run before I bought the boat.

This opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it, because you will never know the mechanic in question and be able to evaluate the wisdom of his advice. But I trust him 110%.
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Old 24-09-2011, 13:43   #4
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

I base my engine speed on economy vs speed. I seldom run full out because it uses too much fuel. I don't run it real low because I believe it needs more load although a three blade prop and a high output alternator helps to provide some load. So on my Westerbeke 46 I usually cruise at around 2200 rpm which gives me 6 kt or so and keeps fuel consumption modest. If I crank it up any more I only gain about 1 kt and burn fuel like there was no tomorrow.

Rich
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Old 24-09-2011, 13:43   #5
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

I concur with Raku.

I have some relatively new Cummins and the owners manual along with the Cummins people themselves are saying the same thing as Raku.

Diesels will not last as long if they are run at low RPM's most of the time or are lugged by having too large of a propeller. They also need to have the carbon burned out of their combustion chambers periodically by running them up to a full load or very close to a full load.

What Cabo says is also true. To double your speed you must cube your fuel consumption. So what it comes down to is greater fuel economy by running them slow or greater engine longevity by running them fast. So pick your poison, there is no perfect solution.
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Old 24-09-2011, 14:07   #6
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

From a 2004 post:

SOME YANMAR DIESEL ENGINE TIPS:

Sizing:

Rule of thumb for Horsepower Required:
Sailboat or displacement launch: one horsepower per 500 pounds ( plus/minus 50lbs ), one kilowatt per 170kg of fully loaded boat is enough to punch into an average seaway.

Operating Temperatures & RPM:

Fresh-Water Cooled engines do not require long warm up periods. By the time you start the engine, check all clear, cast off and get out of the marina or in a clear area the temp will be over 60 Deg. C (140 F), displacement vessels can go straight to cruising power, once clear of the marina.

Prolonged no-load operation of the engine will cause it to blue/gray smoke at low rpm with an associated increase in oil consumption. For every 3-5 hours low load operation (trolling) or no load operation (running the fridge or charging batteries) should be countered by 20 minutes near maximum continuous rpm.

Raw water cooled engines: As the operating temp is only 55 deg. C (131F), provided the engine will keep running in gear, the clutch can be engaged. Apply cruising power about 5 minutes after you start moving.

When increasing engine rpm take about 10 seconds to move the throttle lever between low load and full load.

Because a Raw Water (salt) Cooled Engine operates at about 55 Deg. C (130 F), you can keep your hand on the cylinder block while the engine is running. If the temp goes over this the salt will precipitate out of the water and restrict the water galleries at an unacceptably fast rate. Also, because of this, the alarm operates at 62 Deg. C (144 F). The raw water cooled engine thermostat starts opening between 104 -112deg F and is fully open at 125 deg F. Because the reading is quite low, most gauges are often inaccurate, except test gauges (not usually practical and very expensive).

Freshwater Cooled Diesel Engines operate at higher temperatures (60 Deg. C - 140 F) than Raw Water Cooled Engines.

Even with freshwater cooled engines, that operate at higher temperatures, the oil retains the byproducts of combustion and always looks black.

The best way to help get rid of oil contaminants is to rev up the engine for a half minute (over 3000 rpm), out of gear, before moving the lever back to idle and shutting down. Do this at the last stop of the day if stopping and starting a lot. Also run the engine at 3000 rpm or over for 10 minutes or more, for every 5 hours of slower running. 2000- 2500 rpm is very slow. The engine will prefer 2800 rpm or thereabouts.

Do not operate for extended periods below 80%maximum rpm. The cylinder bores will glaze, causing an increase in oil consumption and blue smoke. Don't 'baby' your diesel engine!
TIP:
If you’ve ever forgotten to turn on the raw water supply, before starting the engine - put the engine key on the sea cock every time you turn it off.

For engines without a tachometer, run it where it sings best. If the ship is shaking and growling, alter the RPM. If the engine VIBRATES unpleasantly at a particular rpm, don't operate it in that rpm band or it will eventually break!

Yanmar TACHOMETERS usually read about 100rpm too high at maximum rpm (and they aren't adjustable), so don't be pedantic about lining up the needle exactly.
You may note that the MAXIMUM RPM of your engine under load is higher than the figure I have given below.

USE THE MAXIMUM RPM IF YOU ARE IN TROUBLE, don't be frightened, the engine will handle this for an hour, provided it has been installed correctly. Once out of trouble, reduce rpm to 85%, for better fuel consumption and longer engine life.

IDLE RPM by Yanmar engine model:
Engine model Hand-held tachometer Boat engine Tachometer (Instr. Pnl.)
GM series 825 rpm 875 rpm
JH and JH2 series 775 rpm 825 rpm

MAXIMUM* RPM by Yanmar engine model:[/i]
[i]Engine model Hand-held Tachometer Boat engine Tachometer
GM series 3550-3650 rpm 3650-3750 rpm
JH and JH2 series 3600-3650 rpm 3750-3800 rpm

* Fully loaded, clean-hulled boat, at speed.

For prolonged running, a pleasure boat engine should operate at about 85% of maximum continuous RPM.

CRUISING RPM (Yanmar):
GM, JH, JH2 series about 2900rpm

Propellers:

The propeller controls the maximum rpm under load. On Sailboats, there is no substitute for propeller diameter. Fit the largest diameter prop that will fit in the space (aperture) available*. You need to take into account the available gearbox ratios.
e.g. a 3GM30 with a 2.36:1 ratio gearbox will swing a 15 inch (380mm), a 2.61:1 ratio will swing a 16 inch (405mm) and a 3.2:1 ratio will swing an 18 inch (460mm) diameter propeller.

*Prop’ Clearances Rules of Thumb:
- The clearance between the tip of the prop and the hull = about 15% of Propeller Diameter
- The clearance between the rudder and the nearest point of the propeller = about 15% of Prop’ Diameter

- The clearance between a full keel and the leading edge of the propeller, measured half way out along the blade from the center of the shaft = about 30% of Prop’ Diameter, at half the radius from shaft centreline.
- The clearance between the prop strut bearing and the propeller hub = about equal to or 1.5 times Shaft Diameter.

Fit as large a diameter propeller as possible, taking into account the available gearbox ratios.
e.g. a 3GM30 with a 2.36:1 ratio gearbox will swing a 15 inch (380mm), a 2.61:1 ratio will swing a 16 inch (405mm) and a 3.2:1 ratio will swing an 18 inch (460mm) diameter propeller.

Propeller pitch is determined by boat speed and is calculated for individual boats.

Engine Gearbox Propeller diameter Recommended
model model ratio Inches millimeters Max. Displacement
1GM10 KM2P 2.21 12 295 < 5,000#
2.62 13 325
3.22 15 370

2GM20 KM2P 2.21 13 340 < 10,000#
2.62 15 375
3.22 17 425

3GM30 KM3P 2.36 15 380 < 15,000#
2.61 16 405
3.20 18 460

* Rotation:
All Yanmar Engines are 'Righthand' (RH) Clockwise rotation, EXCEPT for Saildrives, which are 'Lefthand' (LH) or anti-clockwise.

Ventlation:

Diesel Engines need Air to work properly:
Combustion Air (by weight) approximately 15kg of air (33 Lbs) to 1 kg (2.2 Lbs) of fuel
and for Cooling.

The maximum temperature of the engine room should never exceed 60 degrees C (1400 F) within 20mm (3/4") of any electrical equipment and 450 C (1130 F) at the air intake.

Ventilation Requirements for Yanmar Diesel Engines:
Yanmar Duct Sizes (2 Required - 1 Supply In & 1 Exhaust Out)
Engine Square cm Square inch Diameter
1GM10 19.5cm2 3.02in2 50mm - 2"
2GM20 39cm2 6"2 75mm - 3"
3GM30 48.2cm2
3HM35 74cm2
3JH2E 84.5cm2
3JH2-TE 120cm2
Tip:
multiply cm2 by 0.155 to get inches2
100mm inside diameter tube duct area is 78.54 cm2
50mm inside diameter tube duct area is 19.7 cm2
4 inch inside diameter tube duct area is 12.57 inches2
2 inch inside diameter tube duct area is 3.15 inches2

Note: TWO ducts the same size are required, one inlet and one outlet.

Bleeding Air from the Fuel:

Caution All engines: If the engine does not start on the first attempt, turn off the raw water cock. When the engine starts, turn on the cock immediately. Prolonged cranking with the raw water turned on will fill the engine cylinders with water!

Bleeding GM Series Engines:

1. Open the small BLEED SCREW on top of the engine mounted fuel filter and operate the fuel lift pump by hand.

2. After the fuel filter has been purged of air, close the bleed screw (don't do it too tight, it's only little) and open the one on the fuel injection pump.

3. Again, after the air has been purged, close the bleed screw.

- The engine should now start, if not you will have to bleed the high pressure side as follows:

4. Crack the pipe nut at each injector, open the decompression levers and rotate the engine with the starter motor.

5. When the air appears to have been purged (the fuel looks clear, not whitish or frothy), tighten the nuts firmly, close the decompression levers and start the engine.

- Check for leaks and clean up any spilt fuel.

TIPS:

1. If the HAND PRIMING LEVER doesn't have any resistance through any of its travel, rotate the engine crankshaft through 360deg. Use the starter motor or crank handle.
There is no resistance to the hand priming lever because the internal actuating arm is on the top of the cam that drives it. Rotating the engine crankshaft 360deg will turn the camshaft 180deg, the arm will now be on the back of it's cam and you should feel resistance when operating the hand priming lever.

2. Put a rag or paper towel around a loosened bleed screw or injector pipe nut to retain the diesel that will leak out.

3. Use a folded paper towel or toilet paper to check around joints for leaks. Leaking fuel will quickly be absorbed by the paper and stand out like the proverbial....
4. Clean the engine bay, or any other affected area, with a lemon scented dishwashing liquid to get rid of any diesel smell.

5. One lousy day, when you're bored and have nothing else to do, paint the heads of the bleed screws red, it will help you find them when the heart is pounding, the stomach is heaving and the S#*T is about to hit the fan.

6. SB, YSB and YSE engines: To bleed the injector line the throttle lever must be in the full power position.

7. Some engines have a HAND PUMP on top of the fuel filter, push it up and down. You may not need to open any bleed screws as the aerated fuel is sent back through the return line to the tank.

WINTERIZING or De-Commissioning:

RAW WATER COOLED ENGINES:

1. Open the cylinder block, exhaust mainfold and waterlock drains, leave them open.

2. Drain the water intake filter and leave the seacock open.

3. Remove the air cleaner, open the decompression levers. While turning the engine over with the starter motor, spray CRC 'Longlife' into the air intake for about 5 seconds per cylinder.

4. Close the decompression levers and refit the air cleaner. Put a plastic bag or similar over the aircleaner so air can't get in.

5. If you have an exhaust outlet valve at the transom, close it and put the engine key on it !

5b.If you dont have a valve, put a rag up the exhaust and seal it with plastic and tape or something so that air can't get in. Do something clever with the engine key so that you remember to remove the obstruction before starting the engine !

6. Wipe a thin smear of grease over the control cable end where it attaches to the engine. Do the same for the stop cable.

7. Remove the battery and take it home to charge it occasionally. If you can't remove the battery at least remove the terminals and give them a light grease, leave them off till Spring.

8. Clean the engine room.

9. I think it's time for a rum and coke .

FRESH WATER COOLED ENGINES:

1.If the coolant needs replacing, do it now. N.B. You need to be able to run the engine to do this properly.

2. Open the raw water drains on the heat exchanger manifold, gearbox oil cooler and where ever else they are on your engine. Open the waterlock drain.

3. Remove the silencer. While holding the stop button, press the starter button and spray CRC 'Longlife' into the air intake. Take about 10 seconds per cylinder with stops every 10 seconds to admire the view. ( and let the starter cool down )

4. Refit the silencer, cover it with a plastic bag and seal it.

5. Blank off the exhaust outlet and put the engine key somewhere clever so that you remember to remove the obstructions come Spring.

6. Wipe a thin smear of grease over the control cable end where it attaches to the engine. Do the same for the stop cable.

7. Remove the battery and take it home to charge it occasionally. If you can't remove the battery at least remove the terminals and give them a light grease, leave them off till Spring.

8.Clean the engine room.

9. It's definitely time for a rum and coke .

Caveat emptor: E. & O. E. - While every endeavour is made to ensure the information in this posting is correct, please email me if you find any mistakes so that they can be corrected.


Yanmar Break-In Procedure:

Prolonged idling of diesel engines is not good for them.

For the first 30 minutes, maintain idle to about 1500 RPM, until the engine temperature has stabilized, then advance to Maximum Loaded RPM, in 200 RPM increments, over about 15 -20 minutes.

If the engine can't reach its correct maximum RPM then slow down, return to the dock, and have it fixed or explained.

For the next 5 hours running don't operate the engine at more than 85% RPM (nor less than 2000 RPM) and every 20 minutes change the RPM up or down by 200 RPM. When the 5 hours are up, you’re good to go cruising.
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Old 24-09-2011, 14:53   #7
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

There are many "Types" of diesels out there. Older, heavy slow turning to newer lightweight hi rpm types. The lighter one like the Yanmars, Kobota and Mitsubishi based units under 100 hp do not do well at low rpm with hi load. They really need to get rpm to make HP. Lugging them will cause issues like carbon in the rings and compression loss. My rule of thumb your cruising speed should be about 70 -75 % of Max RPM. My max RPM is 3600 where it is prop to but I cruise at about 2500-2600. I think it is a good practice to run the throttles up to max rpm for a few minutes every 10 or 20 hours.

I have worked on large diesels that max out at 200 - 300 rpm and are the size of a bus. Things are much different with the new small displacement low mass engines we see in boats these days.
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Old 24-09-2011, 15:30   #8
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
I concur with Raku.

I have some relatively new Cummins and the owners manual along with the Cummins people themselves are saying the same thing as Raku.

Diesels will not last as long if they are run at low RPM's most of the time or are lugged by having too large of a propeller. They also need to have the carbon burned out of their combustion chambers periodically by running them up to a full load or very close to a full load.

What Cabo says is also true. To double your speed you must cube your fuel consumption. So what it comes down to is greater fuel economy by running them slow or greater engine longevity by running them fast. So pick your poison, there is no perfect solution.
So true with almost everything regarding boats, especially sailboats -- everything's a compromise.
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Old 24-09-2011, 15:41   #9
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Hmm... My generator runs at a constant 1860 RPM and has 25,000 Hrs on it.... Never done a thing to it but change the oil.
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Old 24-09-2011, 15:49   #10
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

To GordMay

Your article on Yanmar engines was very instructive and helpful but I am wondering about its relevance to my Yanmar 4LH-STE 4cylinder 230 hp.

Do you or anyone else out there have any similar operating information, tips or advice with regards to the Yanmar 4LH series engines.

Any help would be appreciated............... Doug
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Old 24-09-2011, 16:12   #11
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

Folks...

Anecdotally, ....

I have two Cummins BT5.9M, 220 hp, in a 50' trawler catamaran. 11 years old.

Currently have about 10,000 hours each, and 95% of that time has been at a power level of 10-20%, based on fuel flow rate. No special effort to rev to max occasionally. Lots of "trawler miles" at 6 kts.

Oil consumption is nominal, no smoking, rev happily to max when I need it.

So I conclude that my engines are happy enough at low power levels, and have no plans to change my behavior.

I think a key point is that these engines have so-called "water jacket oil coolers", which in this case actually warm the oil to coolant temp (195F) continuously, and so reduce sludging due to condensation. Just a theory....

YMMV

Cheers
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Old 24-09-2011, 16:21   #12
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

My understanding is that the big thing is to operate the engine at proper operating temp. This means oil temp. as well as water temp. Some engines have an oil "cooler" cooled by engine coolant, not sea water. This is really how they regulate the oil temp. and bring it up to proper. operating temp. and keep it there regardless of engine speed.

Next, proper and timely MAINTENANCE. I think many boat owners forget about the actions they need to take to keep their engines healthy.

Many trawler engines have run for years at very low power level and remain healthy.
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Old 24-09-2011, 17:10   #13
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

I just recently noticed the following in my operator's manual for my Yanmar 4JH-2:

Stop the engine in accordance with the following procedures.
1. Stop the boat.


Put the remote control handle in
NEUTRAL and

reduce the engine speed to the lowest speed.
2. Be sure to race the engine before stopping it.
See 4.6(7)

3. Cool down the engine at low speed (1500rpm or

lower) for about 5 minutes.

Why should I race the engine before stopping it? I do not understand.
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Old 24-09-2011, 17:14   #14
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgan3820 View Post
... Why should I race the engine before stopping it? I do not understand.
To clear the fuel from the top of the piston. This prevents a "hot" (explosive) start.
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Old 24-09-2011, 17:16   #15
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Re: The right way to run a diesel

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdbcat View Post
Folks...

Anecdotally, ....

I have two Cummins BT5.9M, 220 hp, in a 50' trawler catamaran. 11 years old.

Currently have about 10,000 hours each, and 95% of that time has been at a power level of 10-20%, based on fuel flow rate. No special effort to rev to max occasionally. Lots of "trawler miles" at 6 kts.

Oil consumption is nominal, no smoking, rev happily to max when I need it.

So I conclude that my engines are happy enough at low power levels, and have no plans to change my behavior.
YMMV

Cheers
Dave
Have the same engine in my Dodge pickup. 6,000+/- hours (280,000 miles) 80% of the time at a power level of 18-20%, based on fuel consumption.

Have a Cummins 6CT 8.3, 300hp in my charter boat with 3,000 hour since rebuild (bought it used). It runs 75% of the time at a power level of 80% based on fuel consumption.

Both engines run happily and neither burns any oil. Both get plenty of clean air, clean dry fuel, and regular oil changes. So beleive what you want about how to run a diesel engine.

It should be noted that both engines have the lowest horsepower rating (with turbo) for their block size. Both engines sizes are available with 50%+ greater horsepower ratings. I would guess Yanmars are much closer to maximum horsepower for the particular block size.

Ted
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