Many times over the years of writing about diesel engines I have referred to the diesel engine and your body to be very similar. Both need clean oxygen, a good source of fuel, or food, and both must get rid of their waste in a timely manner.
Have you ever been constipated? What do you think happens to your engine when the muffler is clogged or the exhaust flow is impeded? Look at the effects of cigarettes on your lungs and how hard it is to breathe when you have a cold, just like your engine when the air filter is dirty or too small for the horsepower it is developing.
The next time you are crossing Vail Pass on I-70 at 10,400 feet elevation, pull in the rest area and run up the mountain along side the interstate, how many feet can your lungs and heart carry you up the hill before you're gasping for air? If you are in great shape you may get 40 to 60 feet. WOW, and you expect your diesel engine to pull at 10,000 feet like it does at sea level. There is 1/2 the molecules of oxygen at 10,000 feet elevation as compared to sea level. If it's too hot and humid outside for your body to do physical work, than it's too hot for your engine also, like wise if it's too cold for you do to do physical work, it's also too cold for your engine. Be gentle with it, when it's below zero and you see the white smoke coming out the stacks, the engine is telling you it's breathing air that is too cold and the fuel is not burning properly, may be a winter front would help.
We ask a lot today out of our engines, after all everyone thinks the ECM will take care of everything. This is NOT true, you still need to employ common sense when driving and maintaining your truck. Ah, there is the word, maintaining your truck. Let's face it, most people today do as little as possible to maintain their truck. How many times a year do you get under your truck to grease it, change the oil, check and adjust the brakes, inspect the air lines, exhaust system, and drive line? I quite often hear
"I just drive this truck, I don't work on it"
I'm sorry for you, you are missing one of the privileges of owning a vehicle. Maintaining it, improving on the fuel mileage, looks and performance of the vehicle. Do you treat your body the same way? Lack of exercise, junk food, too much sugar, poor sleep habits, that's me, it's 3:00 am and I'm pounding on the keys of the computer typing this article when I should be sleeping.
Most of my articles are written at this time o the night and this is when I answer a lot of e-mails. I know I should be sleeping and this is killing me, however I think trucks and engines about 20 hours every day. I know I'm addicted to this industry just like you are. Why do those of us who love the trucking industry work so hard and so many other people in our country do so little? That is what happens when you get the truck bug and people get it as young as 4 years old.
Maintaining your truck, yes I know most of you do not have a garage to put your truck into when your at home, you should, and you should know how to turn a wrench. A garage is deductable and so are tools from you income taxes. During my 37 years of working with owner-operators you can look at a guy's truck and tell who does a lot of the little things to keep his rig going and the trucks that have a garage to be maintained in always show it in their appearance. When you take the time to physically work on your truck you will feel better towards it. The same with your body, take a 2 mile bicycle ride or lift weights for 1/2 hour and stretch for 15 minutes every day and see how much better you feel.
What I really want you to do is think about the oil in your engine, that is why this article is titled "The blood of the engine". Dirty oil will wear out the engine parts faster.
Back in the late 1970's when we at Pittsburgh Power started to install 1 micron by-pass oil filters and did oil analysis, we still changed the oil, just not quite as often. The average oil change on Cummins, Caterpillar and Detroit engines was 10,000 miles. With by-pass oil filtration we would increase it to 15,000 miles and NEVER wore out parts pre-maturely. Pull the valve cover off of our mechanical engines and rub your hands on the rocker levers and you found no dirt.
Engines make their own dirt by the process of combustion, burning of fuel, oil is high detergent, which means it cleans. The filters take out most of the dirt, however every firing of an injector results in more dirt in the oil and since 2003 with EGR engines, the soot that usually collects in the muffler and out the stack is being put right back into the intake manifold.
Let's go back to Vail Pass, take a 1/4" clear plastic hose and put it in one of your nostrils and slice the other end of the plastic tube on a 45 degree angle and put it in the other nostril so that some fresh air can also enter the nostril and run up the hill again. Do you think you can get as far as you did without recirculating your own exhaust or air? Heaven no you can't , you have already taken the oxygen out of the air the first time around, how can you re-burn exhaust when the oxygen it already gone.
Think about this, the air coming out of your nose doesn't have soot in it, the exhau;st coming out of the engine does have soot and it's going right back into the intake manifold and the engine is trying to burn it again. But there is no oxygen left, the soot is there and its scrubbing up and down the cylinder walls, wearing out the valve guides, and the rod and main bearings, cam bearings, camshafts, cam followers, and all of the thrust washers and let's not forget the turbocharger the idles at 8,000 RPM and pulls mountains at 110,000 RPM. The turbocharger does NOT have bearings, they have sleeves that float on a film of oil, not soot or metal particles, and the sleeves spin at 1/2 the speed of the shaft, or 55,000 RPM.
When YOUR dirty oil wears out the camshaft or turbocharger, you want warranty, free replacement parts and labor, after all you just purchased it 6, 9 or 12 months ago. Why isn't it covered under warranty you ask. Because the oil in your engine is filthy and the iron, FE in an oil analysis, is too high. Iron particles in the oil is like having sand paper in the engine, it will wear it out. When you decided to become an owner-operator you took on the responsible of maintaining your truck and this means changing the oil. I have always, since the early 1980's, said that if the iron, FE, is at 20 parts per million or less the engine will run for well over 1 million miles. I have oil analysis on my desk showing between 60 and 79 parts per million of iron and the truck is in my shop getting a new camshaft and cam followers. The cost of the ISX camshafts and the cam followers along with labor is about $ depending on the truck, now you figure out how many oil changes that is worth.
Change the oil in the engine or replace the parts prematurely, it's your decision. By-pass oil filtration is a wonderful thing, they do extend the life of the oil, and the life of the engine, however you still need to change the oil. Parts don't lie, when we take apart your engine or turbocharger, we can tell how well you maintained your engine which makes your life possible.
I started writing this article at 1:30 am and now it's 4:25 am and I must try to get to get back to sleep to try and save my life.
Pittsburgh Power Inc.
3600 S. Noah Dr. Saxonburg, Pa. 16056
Many of the articles compiled here where written by Bruce Mallinson. Attribution to other contributors is given in the specific articles.