• Unusual ways to get a stubborn engine started

  • Discussion of Electro-Motive locomotive products and technology, past and present. Official web site can be found here: http://www.emdiesels.com/.
Discussion of Electro-Motive locomotive products and technology, past and present. Official web site can be found here: http://www.emdiesels.com/.

Moderator: GOLDEN-ARM

  by eaglestar
While at Union Station on Wednesday, a Metrolink F59PHI (885?) on a San Bernardino Line train (310 or 312), auto-shutdown on the engineer while the conductor was making the "last call" announcement. The signature EMD cranking noise ensued and finally died away, leaving the 3,000 HP beast dead. The engineer appeared at the back platform, climbed off, and examined the fuel tank for a good minute or so, even though the needle pointed to 1,500 gallons. The conductor stepped off the lead coach, disappeared into the loco, and after a second of cranking, the 710 roared to life. Any ideas on what could have happened?
  by RickRackstop
Maybe the tank vent was plugged. Happened on my wife's car where we had to stop and take off the gas cap every so often. It happened at 6000 foot altitude while driving around Mt. Rainier. At least we could coast the 50 miles downhill to the nearest town.
  by BilgeRat
Rereading this jogged my memory on two other "hard to start" stories...

A friend of mine, in his younger days, was a roving mechanical engineer. At the time, he made a living mostly setting up diesel gensets around the western hemisphere. One job involved setting up three Fairbanks OP gensets in a shoe factory in Peru. They already had three other OP gensets that they started at the beginning of work each day, and Joe's job there was due to an expansion of the factory. He had arrived early one morning and was trying to get one of the existing gensets started for some power. These started by compressed air, and they had a gas engine compressor for cold starts. These OP engines were pretty worn out. Joe had pumped up and flattened the air in repeated starting attempts all to no avail. He was just getting to try again when the operators showed up for the day. Seeing what was going on, one of the operators said, "Senor, por favore, uno momento!" He disappeared, and came back with a Mason jar full of gasoline. Motioning Joe to hit the air, he dumped the jar of gas into the air intake! Well, needless to say the engine was off like the proverbial bat out of hell! In retelling it to me, Joe said he realized he didn't really have enough time to climb down and run, so he balled himself up on the starting platform with his arms up over his head. The revs kept going up and up, he heard the overspeed trip go and the speed still kept climbing and he figured he was about to meet his maker, the revs climbed a bit more and leveled off, and then started to fall off. When the revs had fallen off some more, he uncovered and risked a look. The operator who had gassed the engine to life was at the overspeed trip lever; as the revs fell off further, this guy reset the overspeed trip, and the OP settled down to an even idle. Turned out this was the routine starting procedure, every work day... sheesh.

The other tale came to me from a tuna boat chief that I met at a marine engine class at EMD in the early eighties. This one did not have a humorous ending. He told of his boat coming into American Samoa, and seeing another tuna boat tied off at a pier with USCG and ABS people crawling all over it. When he went over to investigate, he found the main deck hatch to the engine room bulged upward. One of the crew retold what had happened: they had been out fishing when the engine (a single 20-645) had died and could not be restarted. They had a young and easily swayed chief aboard, and he let the captain talk him into trying his way of getting the dead 645 running. This consisted of pulling back the rubber connector between the inlet turning box and the turbo and then blowing pure oxygen from the boat's cutting rig into the turbo inlet... They fed raw oxygen into the engine for some time, with the captain holding the hose into the turbo. When he figured that they'd done this long enough, he motioned the chief to hit the start switch. When the chief did, the engine blew up, killing the captain and severely injuring the chief. Turned out that the engine had sucked up a load of sea water from a leaking fuel tank.