I Blew Up My Engine!

2019, Catalyst, DD15, Detroit, Emissions, Rebuild -

I Blew Up My Engine!

What is a blown-up engine?  Many times, we get phone calls from owner-operators and they say, “I blew up my engine.”  After a few questions we find out that they scored a liner, blew a hole through a piston, or blew a head gasket.  The term blew up my engine is a harsh term and immediately we think that you broke a connecting rod and now have a large hole in the side of your engine.  Always try to be a little more specific and say exactly what happened to your engine, it will allow us to better help you.

Liners sinking in the engine block...  Over years of heating and cooling cycles cast iron gets harder, and during this process the dimensions can change slightly. The dimension that changes the most is the liner protrusion. Once the liner sinks into the engine block the head gasket will blow.  The only way to properly repair the liner height above the block surface is to remove the liner and cut the counter bore for a brass or stainless shim or install a new upper counter bore sleeve. Just replacing the head gasket without checking the liner protrusion will result in a premature head gasket failure again. Liner protrusion is a very critical part of rebuilding an engine and you should always tell your mechanic how many thousandths of liner protrusion you want the liners set too.  If he has a problem with that his silent answer to you is he doesn’t have the necessary equipment to cut the upper counters bores or is ignorant to what liner protrusion actually is. Not only does he need the tool to cut the counter bore, he needs the proper dial indicator to check the protrusion, know where to check the protrusion, the tool to hold the liner in the block, and the proper torque on the liner for checking protrusion. There is a lot to liner protrusion and it’s a technical operation. It can take 8 hours of labor, but the result is no blown head gaskets.  Don’t be shy when speaking to your mechanic about your engine rebuilding process.

Diesel engine parts today are being manufactured throughout the world and you should always have the connection rods, pistons, and piston pins balanced.  It’s apparent that many of the other countries manufacturing diesel engine parts are not holding to the strict tolerances that Made in the USA companies have in the past decades.   

Caterpillar Liners; there appears to be a problem with the Caterpillar liners, and the problem is premature scoring.  During the Dallas Truck Show I spoke with several other engine rebuilders and they have been victims of the premature scoring. Some of the engine builders are using Federal Mogul cylinder kits in place of the Caterpillar re-man cylinder pack. Being the pistons for Cummins, Caterpillar, and Detroit are all made by Mahle out of Detroit, you are still getting the same piston, however a different liner. The piston ring set in the Federal Mogul cylinder kit is made by Sealed Power, which was purchased by Federal Mogul several years ago.  Sealed Power piston rings are used by several OEM’s.The Caterpillar ring set is identical to the Sealed Power ring set. The KTA series of Cummins Engines uses this ring set and when I started building gasoline engines 53 years ago the Sealed Power rings were the piston rings of choice. History may have repeated itself, it may be time to re-think aftermarket parts.

I was informed that some vocational schools are using the articles to teach their students my way of building diesel engines.  So I guess I better clean up my act so I don’t pollute the young minds reading these words of wisdom. The next 2 paragraphs of this article were written by our lead Electrical Engineer Ethan, and it pertains to the emissions systems used on the Detroit DD15 and DD13 exhaust systems, which is referred to as “ One Box”.

The DD15 and DD13 one box contains the majority of the aftertreatment components all in one unit. The only advantage to this compact design over other systems is it saves some space under the truck. One major disadvantage is that the diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC) and the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) element cannot be replaced without changing the entire one box. Only the Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) and a few other components can be serviced on the one box system. This causes the cost of repair to increase dramatically, typically around $10,000 after labor, gaskets, and of course at least one parked regen. Shops usually change the one box as a last resort because of the high repair cost, but sometimes it is the only option.

Also, the DD15 requires you to validated a repair to clear a check engine light, especially if it deals with the aftertreatment system. There are several different levels of codes that the ECM can have: an active code, a permanent active code, permanent inactive code, or just inactive. Some codes are easy to repair and the process to clear them out of the ECM is also simple, just hit clear codes. Others like permanent codes cannot just be cleared even if the component has been replaced. You must follow the proper procedure for that code and most of the time it will require a regen to verify the repair. In the case of multiple codes this can lead to multiple parked regenerations as part of the repair procedure. With active permanent codes in some cases it cannot be completely cleared of the ECM. They will become permanent inactive until a drive cycle is completed and then the ECM will clear the code.

New Product Announcement: Pittsburgh Power is now offering a Fuel Borne Catalyst soon to be available on our online store. You’ve probably heard of a fuel catalyst, and maybe even tried a few, but we bet you’ve never had one that actually worked. We can confirm you will see a noticeable improvement of performance and fuel mileage with this product. Some of you might not know what a catalyst does. In simplest terms, a catalyst is a substance that makes a chemical reaction easier to start. So a fuel catalyst is designed make fuel more ready to combust. The result of adding this fuel catalyst is more power, a smoother, quieter engine operation, fewer active regens, and dramatically lowered soot emissions. This product also has the ability to clean and prevent build up of fuel injector nozzle deposits as well as clean the DPF by burning off soot at a much lower exhaust gas temperature. Here at Pittsburgh Power, we stand behind the products we sell because we work to serve the owner-operator. We’ve tested this product and have seen a 5% increase in fuel mileage. If you need proof, research something called ferrocene, which is the active ingredient. There have been many studies on the positive effects of added ferrocene in diesel fuel. Be aware, not all fuel additives use this chemical, some of them are just plain old oil. One gallon of the product will treat 3,200 gallons of diesel so it will more than pay for itself. If you have questions about his product please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Written by;

Bruce Mallinson

Andrew Wilson

Pittsburgh Power Inc.

3600 S. Noah Dr.  Saxonburg, Pa. 16056