Some years ago I wrote this blog post about the longevity we can expect from marine diesels. I pointed out that the engines on our family ferries often went over 20,000 hours – once to 26,000 – before a rebuild. Those were the old Ford engines, which were replaced with John Deere engines about eight years ago.
We have finally had to swap out the first John Deere for a rebuild…after 46,000 hours, the equivalent of running it 24 hours per day for over five years straight.
Now these engines have a markedly different usage pattern than most marine diesels. That is, they are hammered hard, sometimes for 24 hours a day, making 400-yard trips, with the operator slamming them back and forth between forward and reverse dozens of times per hour, which leads to the first lesson: They like this. Diesel engines like to be hammered. It makes them happy.
The second lesson is that people who talk about rebuilding diesels after 3000-5000 hours are doing something wrong, which in most cases is under-using, and under-abusing the engine.
The only new practice I’ve added to my diesel maintenance repertoire is to send out an occasional oil sample for analysis. Blackstone Labs in Fort Wayne, Indiana did a good job of this, and will even mail you a free test kit and instructions. The analysis tells you a lot about what’s wearing in your engine, about how well your oil is holding up, and about any changes you should make in your engine oil or oil change interval. In my case they said I could change my oil every 120 hours, while I’ve been shooting for every 100, so that saves me money!
This article was syndicated from The Adventures of the Vessel Condesa