Starting a diesel engine sitting for 3 years - old fuel

This is a discussion on Starting a diesel engine sitting for 3 years - old fuel within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Guys, this is really off-topic, but there's a pretty smart crowd here ! I have a big ol' diesel truck that has been sitting for ...

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Thread: Starting a diesel engine sitting for 3 years - old fuel

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Shizzlemah's Avatar
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    Starting a diesel engine sitting for 3 years - old fuel

    Guys,
    this is really off-topic, but there's a pretty smart crowd here !

    I have a big ol' diesel truck that has been sitting for about 3 years without being run. It's got about 60 gallons (3/4tank) of fuel in it and the fuel had the stabilizer added to it before parking. It ran fine when it was parked, and now it's time to fire it up again.

    Long story short, should I do anything to treat the fuel before trying to light it off ? Budget isn't really favorable to dumping $240 worth of fuel to start over with... I can drain it from the bottom (to let water out). Also, I can drain/wipe the inline fuel filter bowl.

    Two new batteries and she *should* fire right up.

    BTW, I'll post some pics. This is a 1955 USGI 5-ton truck that has just over 10,000 miles. It needs more playtime!

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  3. #2
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    I don't know if it would even start. It's possible, but I think the pressure on the injectors will have bled off by now. The fuel may be okay, but I'd imagine there is some sediment on the bottom of the tank, and possible rust particles. I think you may have to remove the injectors and prime your diesel engine just like you would if you had run it dry. I don't have much experience with diesel engines. If you do try to start it cold like that, I'd suggest turning the key on and waiting several seconds for the pump to come online and pressurize the system instead of immediately cranking it. My 2 could also be $1 off.

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    Member Array major99's Avatar
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    Going on what RR said, I think that it would be a good idea to change out the fuel filter(s) with new fuel. It probably wouldnt hurt to grab a 6 pack and head down to the local truck repair shop and ask one of the guys there. I also think that after 3 years that fuel is questionable and could possibly be a problem. What I will do is ask the mechanic at my shop tomorrow night. I drive them but i dont fix 'em.
    Last edited by major99; October 7th, 2008 at 09:46 PM. Reason: add more

  5. #4
    Senior Member Array Shizzlemah's Avatar
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    I'm quite knowledgeable about normal "gas" engines and know only a small bit about diesel, (seems a lot like a mechanic fuel injection from a 70s car) but I've never run it dry or anything like that. There should be no air in the system - it may have lost fuel pressure, sure, but the lines should be free of air. - I think !

    I can drain some goop off of the bottom of the filter bowl, and I think I can swap the fuel filters on the injection pump. If I swap those filters, do I have to bleed the system somehow ?

    All help appreciated. Tight economy means yesterday's lawn ornament is tomorrow's work truck :)

  6. #5
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    Siphon some fuel off & check it....it may even have bacteria in it....especially if it's old.

    You may have to find the priming procedure for the engine, in order to get the fuel flowing into the injector pump.

    The system may have glow plugs that are used to heat the fuel....Remember diesel doesn't use spark plugs, it uses the pistons compression to 'detonate' the fuel.

    The injector pump may need to be cleaned out before it will run as well. The older diesel's don't have an electric fuel pump, they used a mechanical one. This will also be a naturally aspirated engine, meaning there is no turbo charger.

    Is it a Perkins engine?
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  7. #6
    Senior Member Array Shizzlemah's Avatar
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    One glow plug in the manifold, no glow plugs in the cylinders. In weather like this (45-50deg F) it would always start without using the glow plug. I figure it's smart to get it running ASAP before the weather gets really cold.

    Mechanical injection pump, may be an electric fuel pump in the tank? not sure. It's a turbo inline 6. 487cubic inch Continental LDS 465 1A. Something like 150HP and 9875ft-lb :-)

  8. #7
    VIP Member Array HKinNY's Avatar
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    I would change the fuel and filters and the easiest way to prime a system is to pour new fuel into the filter and let them soak up and pour in some more. Crack open the line to the last fuel injector and place an air hose in the take and fill the rest of the space with a rag and then force air into the tank, forcing fuel thru the lines. When you see fuel leaking out close the line. I would spin the engine by hand (rachet and socket) before cranking with the starter. This allows the oil to get back to the top half of the engine so not to ruin the bearings, rods, cams and lifters when it starts. They make a starting fluid safe for Diesels. Make sure you get the correct stuff. WD-40 will fill in a pinch. If you do use it, turn the key on and wait until the glow plugs go out and then spray. I would bet it kicks right over.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shizzlemah View Post
    It's a turbo inline 6. 487cubic inch Continental LDS 465 1A. Something like 150HP and 9875ft-lb :-)
    FYI:

    Hercules/Continental
    Model LDS-465-1A
    In-Line 6 Cyl. Turbo Charged
    Displacement...478 cu. in.
    Horsepower...205@ 2600 RPM
    Torque...425 lb-ft @ ???RPM

    I think Hitch King gave you some great advice - change the filter, ensure there's good fuel in the lines and everything's lubricated, and give it a try.

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes .

    Peace,
    Pete Zaria.
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    Senior Member Array joleary223's Avatar
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    If you have enough power to turn the engine over and good compression it should start. I ran my 96 F250 on fry grease and kerosene for a couple of years. I'm convinced a diesel engine will burn just about anything now.

    Good Luck.
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    New Member Array KsXDfan's Avatar
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    This is a little long but I used to be a heavy Equipment/ Diesel mechanic. One problem you might have is if the fuel has been sitting for 3yrs, and you have winter there, the fuel may have jelled. The problem is after it has done that once the fuel is crap. The catch 22 is if the fuel was treated and has sat this long the anti-jell additive has clogged your filter up bad. Replace the fuel and filter. Like HITCH KING said fill the new filter before you install it. Some units have whats called a lift pump on them, it looks like a car fuel pump with a lever on the side. If you have one you can install the filter and on top of the filter housing there is what looks like a nut - its a bleed screw. open it up and start pumping the lever on the lift pump and it will fill the filter up and bleed the air from the system to that point. Loosen up the fuel lines at the nozzles (FUEL NOZZLE ENDS ONLY - NOT THE INJECTOR PUMP) about 1/2 turn, crank the engine over until you get good fuel squrting out of the loose lines, tighten up the nuts but keep turning the engine over until all have been retightened. The engine will start before you get them all tightened up and that is a good thing. Let it run until it's fully warmed up and the old gunk in the lines and injector pump will be cleaned out by the new fuel aqnd everything should be fine from that point. There can still be problems with the injector pump thaqt can cause a no start problem but I dont have enough space to walk you through that Hope this helps.

  12. #11
    Member Array MIrefuge's Avatar
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    Check the Batteries

    I'd make sure that the batteries are at 100% water level and charge, since you probably will have to crank the engine a lot to get the injectors primed.

    Also, military trucks normally have 24 volt electrical systems. The 5-ton trucks I had experience with (early 70's vintage M817 dump trucks) had 4 12 volt batteries, two sets in series to give 24 volts, with the two sets paralleled to give more cranking amps.

    I had a driver run a truck out of fuel once, and it took 2 hours to get it re-primed and started. Good luck, I think you might need it.
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  13. #12
    Senior Member Array Shizzlemah's Avatar
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    Well I promised an update....

    Drained about 3 gal out of the bottom of the fuel tank (looked good, no water) and drained a few oz from the first fuel filter.

    Put in two new automotive batteries and hit the button - had about 10 seconds of crank and then nothing. GRRRRRR

    Realized one of the new batteries was dead (thank you walmart). Charged it up hard, and went back to it. Engine was purring sweet music in less than one minute. Very very enjoyable and what a smile on my face !

    It felt so good to finish off this crappy week by taking my old 5-ton for a spin around the neighborhood!

  14. #13
    Distinguished Member Array Gunnutty's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update. Those old 5 tons are great!!!!
    We will be much better off when we learn to deal with things as they really are, instead of how we wish them to be!

  15. #14
    Distinguished Member Array Siafu's Avatar
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    How about a pic of that old war-wagon Shizz?

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    Member Array KG4ZRC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siafu View Post
    How about a pic of that old war-wagon Shizz?

    x2 What is a thread like this without pics? It should have been in the update...

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