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Author Topic: Any cold weather starting advice?  (Read 4943 times)
Bus Busted
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« on: November 10, 2011, 04:13:23 PM »

   This will be my first bus winter. I will be using my bus through the winter, so covering and waiting til Spring won't work. I know that there are no spark plugs and what fires the fuel is the heat of compression. So what is the best way to start a 6v92 turbo in cold weather? Is it best to crank for long 15-20 sec runs or short 5 sec bursts? Should you not touch the pedal, or press it? We are only down to about 35 deg, but had trouble starting and fogged a very large area with white smoke (unburned fuel). Any advice for a first time cold weather user would be great. Like when do you plug it in before starting? For how long do you plug it in before starting? How cold before using starting fluid? Should I be adding anything to the fuel for winter use? Should you start it every day or once a week? Thanks for any help, Jon
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1984 Eagle Model 10, just started conversion
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bevans6
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2011, 04:22:25 PM »

You start with compression creating heat, so cranking for 10 seconds at a time creates heat in the chambers without overheating the starter motor.  Plugging in the block heater for an hour, or three hours, before starting works wonders.  A little shot of starting spray lights the fire, warms things up enough for the engine to continue running.  Cranking for 10 seconds with the engine stop lever held in the stop position, then gradually released also works - the compression warms up the chambers with no fuel, then you add fuel and she starts to run.  Don't press the accelerator pedal,you have a starting assist on the governor that is over-ridden when you do that.

Brian
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1980 MCI MC-5C, 8V-71T from a M-110 self propelled howitzer
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2011, 04:45:39 PM »

Some will tell you starting fluid is bad, but there are individuals who have used starting fluid to make a bus drive down the road in an emergency...I have a small flap that is perfect for injecting it. Works wonders. Plug it in when you can. Even in the coldest weather, our bus started with a shot of ether.
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Scott & Heather
1984 MCI9 6V92-turbo with 9 inch roof raise & conversion in progress.
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« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2011, 05:41:37 PM »

Some will tell you starting fluid is bad, but there are individuals who have used starting fluid to make a bus drive down the road in an emergency...I have a small flap that is perfect for injecting it. Works wonders. Plug it in when you can. Even in the coldest weather, our bus started with a shot of ether.

A lot of your older equiptment (pre glow plug) had ether injection. My bus has it and so does my D3 Caterpillar. Ether is bad in your newer Diesels with glow plugs. So I wouldn't recommend using it in one of them.

When I start my bus in freezing temps, I use what Bevans6 just explained. I go to the rear of my bus and use the rear start with the stop lever held in. If that doesn't work (Usually it does) I then use my ether injection. This is only if I can't plug it in. Plugging it in is the best!
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Gary Seay (location Alaska)
1969 MCI MC-6 unit# 20006
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2011, 06:26:33 PM »

Thanks, this is the type of hands on info I was looking for!
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1985 Eagle waiting repair of burn damage
1984 Eagle Model 10, just started conversion
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2011, 06:48:45 PM »

I have never used starting fluid but it is not going to hurt it there is not enough either in the spray cans to harm one back when we had real either it would get you lol. 

If the engine is in good shape and the starting aid is adjusted right they will fire down to in high 20's the turbo engines are a little tougher to fire in cold weather because of the lower compression.

 I have never held the fuel stop spin it for a few seconds let it stand try again they will go do like Brian said don't push the pedal

good luck
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TomC
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2011, 07:50:59 PM »

First before it gets much colder-be sure to add fuel/water dispersant in the form of fuel treatment.  Doesn't do any good to have all these tricks to start the engine if the fuel has gelled up.  I know Diesel Service works well down to -20 degrees.

If you're engine is smoking alot at start up, you might try starting from the back.  Turn on the ignition, hold in the governor stop lever by hand and with the other hit the starter.  Let the engine turn over for about 10 seconds then slowly release the stop lever and the engine will just come up to idle-probably with a lot less smoke.  Ether works well also.  Spraying directly into the blower when the engine was at -20 degrees got the fire lit up.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2011, 08:19:37 PM »

For a busnut, just plugging in a block heater for an hour or two, or using a Webasto or similar coolant boiler, closes the book on the whole issue.

However, those few who are parked away from power and have no coolant boiler have fewer choices.

In the cold, generally speaking, don't bother starting the engine unless you are going for a drive.

The other posters have already detailed the short crank and wait, then short crank again strategy.

Fuel additives are a good idea if your fuel tank sits for long periods without regular trips to the fuel pump.
Condensation and where it might be freezing may be your bigger issue, over fuel gelling. Coaches don't get gelling trouble as early as the trucks do, everything is more sheltered in a coach, and a DD 2 stroke passes a lot of heat relatively quickly to the fuel, compared to other older engine brands.

Batteries need to be in top shape, and left with the disconnect pulled to avoid parasitic loads ruining everything.

Those in storage facilities need to think really hard about a basic solar panel mounted flat on the roof for battery maintenance.

And if the cranking is getting weak, use the love spray, now, before you can't crank at all.

starting fluid, so called love spray, as you sure love it when the engine fires on the last bit of power left to crank in the batteries and you are freezing your knuts off trying...

happy coaching!
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« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2011, 04:01:13 AM »

I am in Chicago store outside with no power to the bus. The quickest way to fire mine when it gets very cold without waiting for a preheat is very short bursts of less than 5 seconds. It will kick on the second one and start on the 3rd or 4th.

Works every time

If I stay on the starter it will crank forever but will not fire.

Preheat times are Electric block heater 2 to 4 hr min. E-spar and Webasto 1/2 hr to 45 min.
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« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2011, 04:54:00 AM »

Okay - stupid question, but I have to ask.  Can someone show me what the engine stop leaver is?  What does it look like?  How do I know what direction it moves?

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I couldn't repair my brakes, so I made my horn louder.
1989 MCI-102 A3
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« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2011, 05:05:25 AM »

The engine stop lever is the other lever on top of the mechanical governor (the one that isn't the speed/throttle lever and that doesn't have the throttle cable attached to it).  On my MCI it is pushed with an air cylinder.  Turning it clockwise is making it stop the engine.  If you have DDEC, I don't know that there even is a stop lever!

Brian
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Oonrahnjay
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« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2011, 05:24:51 AM »

 (snip) Fuel additives are a good idea if your fuel tank sits for long periods without regular trips to the fuel pump.  Condensation and where it might be freezing may be your bigger issue, over fuel gelling. Coaches don't get gelling trouble as early as the trucks do, everything is more sheltered in a coach, and a DD 2 stroke passes a lot of heat relatively quickly to the fuel, compared to other older engine brands.  happy coaching!
buswarrior    

      Yes.  In temps below about 10 degrees F, water crystals (and their is ALWAYS water in diesel) will form ice and plug filters in a second.  At that point, you stand a chance if you can get "Diesel 911"* in your filter but that doesn't help the rest of your fuel system if there are any one-way valves or restrictors.  Yhe best solution is to run the bus often and buy fuel from place with high-turnover but we can't always do that.  "Power Service Diesel Treatment" in the white bottle has an antiwater agent (I'm pretty sure at least some of the "Howe's" products do, too).  This chemical in the additive breaks water up into individual molecules so that it will pass right through your fuel system and be burned with the fuel; it also stops the water from freezing (like putting salt on your driveway but the additive chemical isn't corrosive), and it also has a lubricant to stop any corrosion from the water or from any abrasive effects of the water molecules in the fuel.

(* "Diesel 011" will thaw out a frozen or gelled system if you can get even a tiny bit of circulation in the system but it contains high levels of alcohol and other aggressive chemicals and even Power Service recommends only using it in an emergency and only as little as you need.)

       Diesel fuel naturally attracts water.  Since diesel is an oil and oil and water don't mix, small amounts of water (we're talking small numbers per million here) get dispersed in the the diesel fuel and that's not usually a problem.  But if more than that minimum amount of water gets in the fuel (and the ASTM/API/EPA specs for ULSD fuel have a pretty low allowable PPM for water), you begin to get beads of water and that when things begin to get bad.   At that point, the water has overwhelmed the fuel's ability to absorb it (OK, chemically it doesn't absorb it you know what I mean).  This is the point that water begins to rust your tanks, clog your filters, and freeze into ice at low temps.  

       Water is always present in diesel fuel.  Some amount will be in the fuel from the refinery (but it's a low level, as noted before) but it can increase from contamination in tanker trucks, contamination tanks and pumps at filling stations, and from contamination in your tank on the bus.  (The two big sources on this contamination are places in the system that allow the rain water to get in and also condensation - as the temperature of the air changes, water tends to condense out of the air on the inner surface of a tank.  A tank that's full of fuel greatly minimizes this.)

       So, to prepare a vehicle for cold weather -- 1)  Fill the tank with clean, dry fuel.  2)  Drain an ounce or so from the bottom of each fuel filter* into a glass jar - see if there are any bubbles of water in the fuel.  Refill the filters with clean fuel, if necessary (usually you don't have to drain enough out to make this necessary -- you can also refill the filters with straight fuel additive, it's mostly diesel fuel to dissolve the additive chemicals anyway).  3)  Treat your tank with a good anti-water additive in the concentration listed on the bottle.  4) Run the engine to circulate the fuel and additive and also to warm up your system.  Some people also put a "plug" that contains water absorbing chemicals into the fuel filler but that's overkill most most of the circumstances that we will see.

(*  If you have a low point drain on your fuel tank, drain a few ounces of fuel into the jar, too.  But most of us won't have a drain like this.)

      Once you've done this, your system will be about as well protected from water and fuel gelling as you can get.  And we at least get a break in that cold air holds much less water than warm air so once you've done this, you probably won't be getting much condensation into your tanks over the winter.  But be aware that driving your coach will warm the fuel in the tank and that may make it more likely draw in water.  If you run your coach much in the winter, you may want to think of adding a bit of additive at regular intervals as you refill the fuel.  And another break is that an engine that's run often disperses the water and it's not a problem for them -- the "worst case" is a bus that's only run occasionally in the winter and is left with a partially-empty fuel tank.

      Also, most of the fuel additives contain a "cetane improver" that makes a diesel start quicker/easier and run more smoothly while it's warming up.  Check the bottle.

      Oh, yeah, and I'll just repeat what everyone else has said, a block heater is the best thing you can do for better starting in the winter.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2011, 05:27:11 AM by Oonrahnjay » Logged

Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
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« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2011, 07:46:30 AM »

I think I've seen as much cold weather as anybody here. The best way to start in cold weather is to go south before it gets cold.

More to the point, batteries, batteries, batteries. Cold weather will quickly separate the sheep from the goats. Keep them charged & keep them warm. Get the oil warmed up somehow - weed burner if necessary. Thick oil & cold batteries is a recipe for disappointment. And one piece of very good advice I received a long time ago - always park it so you can get at the noisy end. There's nothing worse than trying to work in the dark & cold in the back end of the shop because you backed it in.
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« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2011, 08:01:24 AM »

I don't know what you call cold Bob anyone that wears shorts in 30 degrees 60 here and I have a t shirt plus a sweat if you were here I know you would be in shorts standing outside drinking tea  lol, 

 I do agree with the batteries the heavy @$# 8D's are a mans best friend in cold weather I have jumped many a bus in the northwest with the 2 group 31 that spin for a few seconds and it is overwith


good luck
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« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2011, 08:43:33 AM »

I think I've seen as much cold weather as anybody here. The best way to start in cold weather is to go south before it gets cold.


  I couldn't agree more.

  But for those who wont migrate, small portable generators are so cheap and readily available, there just is no argument not to preheat these monsters regardless of where their parked.

  I likely will tie my Generator into the Bus cooling system. I would start that first and let it power the engine heater, and once the Gen started flowing coolant it would add additional heat. Probably wouldn't take long on a cold day.
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