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Diesel that has been sitting 4 years - what could go wrong?

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  • #16
    I would be hesitant to turn over a diesel with it's starter that has been sitting for some time. The starters on diesels tend to be very powerful (moreso than a gas one), and have a significantly higher compression ratio (vs gas), so if a relatively small amount of liquid accumulates in a cylinder, it is possible for significant damage to happen just from the momentum of the drivetrain, from the starter driving that piston to the top, until it gets to the point where the liquid has to compress for the piston to go any further up. If you are lucky, everything is strong enough, and the starter just stops/grinds. If you aren't, it can bend a rod, break the head bolts, bust a valve...

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    • #17
      Originally posted by wierdscience View Post
      I wouldn't think twice about spinning the diesel over and she if she lights off,the compressor on the otherhand could be a different story.I would keep the kill switch in and spin the engine over a bit to get some oil circulating through the compressor before firing it off.
      I am with you on this one. Assuming it is a screw compressor or vane then you should turn it over with the kill activated on the motor. After twenty seconds let it start.
      Location: The Black Forest in Germany

      How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

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      • #18
        If it has a plastic tank it may have grown algie, steel doesn't. I'd turn it over slow by hand as was said in case of a hyd lock, put new batteries & she'll fire up I bet. Then change the fuel & filters & tun some additive in the fuel.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by flylo View Post
          If it has a plastic tank it may have grown algie, steel doesn't. I'd turn it over slow by hand as was said in case of a hyd lock, put new batteries & she'll fire up I bet. Then change the fuel & filters & tun some additive in the fuel.
          Hmmmm...we and others used a diesel fuel biocide way back in the 60's and all the fuel tanks back there were steel.
          Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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          • #20
            Originally posted by vpt View Post
            I start and drive our 86 6.9 diesel about once every 3 years or so. The fuel in it must be 10 years old or more. I should maybe change that next time I bring it home.
            Makes me feel better. I've had an F250 with the 7.3L IH diesel sitting in the driveway for about 3 years now. Want to get it running this Spring and I was getting a bit worried about having it sit so long.

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            • #21
              If you can sample the fuel from the bottom of the tank, and it's clear--that's a very good sign.

              If the fuel is cloudy, it may have algae. You don't want to push that nastiness into the fuel injection pump, injectors, etc.

              It is a good idea to turn over very slowly 2 or 3 revolutions to rule out the possibility of a hydraulic lock on one or more cylinders.


              If the fuel is clear, and it turns over very slowly for a few revs, then turn over with starter, but with kill switch activated to get things lubed up in both the engine and the compressor.


              After that, crank that baby and bask in your great purchase.

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              • #22
                thanks all, I don't know much about diesels - learned a lot. It makes sense about turning over to make sure there isn't any diesel there and checking the fuel. Sounds like I should grab it.
                in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                • #23
                  I had a 7.3 that sat for about 6 years, drain the fuel & oil & replace with new, replace filters, fired right up daily driver now.

                  Buddy had an old USAF generator found on the property that he bought, same thing, new oil new fuel and filters.
                  Mike Hunter

                  www.mikehunterrestorations.com

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                  • #24
                    I'd buy it in a heartbeat!

                    Those that suggest changing fuel oil and filters for both are spot on, and yes give the compressor some thought as well in this regard.
                    You've stumbled upon a major "you suck" opportunity, don't screw it up by cheaping out on the things that will cost you big bucks if you loose by taking a chance on just firing it up and hoping that everything's alright.
                    A couple of hundred bucks spent now will help ensure that the most likely causes for major expenditures are eliminated. It has to be done anyway, may as well do it now.
                    And yes, diesel fuel algae/fungus grows in any type of vessel that holds fuel irrespective of material type.

                    I've spent a large portion of my life delivering fuel to industrial sites and have seen diesel stored in above ground, black tanks for twenty years that looked and smelled like crap and still run in an old power unit as is. Would I do it, hell no! That was the exception, not the rule. I've got way too many horror stories about multi-thousand dollar fuel system failures and repairs to neglect a system whose tolerances are measured in tenths.
                    Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                    Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                    Location: British Columbia

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                    • #25
                      Before you try and start it take the intake pipe off and have piece of plywood or sheet metal to cover intake. The injection pump could be stuck at full fuel and it will run away to destruction if you have no way to cut off air. A few years sitting is nothing for a diesel, more problems with gas engines sitting, I find.
                      Good luck. Be safe.

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                      • #26
                        You must video the first start. Make sure you leave the air valve open when you start it the first time. If the relief valve/bypass valve is stuck it won't end well. I had a sandblasting business in Texas and we had some really big compressors. Over 1000cfm. I also had a Gardner-Denver 185cfm with a John Deere diesel. It ran perfect and was over 40 years old if I remember correctly.
                        Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                        How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Captain K View Post
                          Before you try and start it take the intake pipe off and have piece of plywood or sheet metal to cover intake. The injection pump could be stuck at full fuel and it will run away to destruction if you have no way to cut off air. A few years sitting is nothing for a diesel, more problems with gas engines sitting, I find.
                          Good luck. Be safe.
                          Where does the exhaust point, could the engine be full of water? Been down that route. Regards David Powell.

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                          • #28
                            youtube has many videos of diesels being fired up after years of sitting. lesson learned: have a piece of metal with leather glued to it handy to slap over the air intake when it runs away. don't use rags, the engine will just suck them in. A cast iron pan works nicely.

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                            • #29
                              He was pretty quick for not expecting it --- damn i think he lunched his intake turbine fins

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                              • #30
                                Detroit Diesel two strokes like the one in the video are known to runaway due to the design and operation of their fuel control system. In fact they are equipped from the factory with a manual air shutdown device in order to shut off all air entering the engine. I've had to resort to their use in the past. It doesn't happen often with Detriots but it can, hence the factory installed air shutoff.

                                A lot of diesel engine runaways are due to someone adjusting the fuel pump/governor to the limit in order to gain extra power. When you're running on the bleeding edge of fuel control you can sometimes fall over the edge where the governor cannot control the fuel and speed of the engine.

                                Another cause is oil seal failure on the cold/compressor side of the turbocharger. A failure here will pump engine oil directly into the intake air. The engine thinks this is fuel and since there is no air throttle it keeps going as fast as the new source of fuel will allow, usually with disastrous results.
                                Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                                Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                                Location: British Columbia

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