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Old 09-03-2019, 03:13 PM   #1
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Best practices to keep diesel engine happy during conversion

Straight to the point: What's the best thing we can do while while working on our conversion to keep the diesel engine in good, ready-to-run condition?

As it sits now, it's registered, insured, and road-ready. Should we be starting it on a regular basis? If so, when we do, is warming it up in place (aka sitting still in neutral) good or bad? If so at what RPM, & for how long? Should we be driving it on a regular basis? If so, same question - how hard & how long? Can warming it up in place be just as useful as a road trip? If so, how?

Later in the conversion it will likely not be able to be driven. Same questions. What should we do regarding starting & running to keep her in the best shape possible?

Note: I keep the batteries on a trickle charger most of the time, so running the engine to keep the batteries charged is not a concern.
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Old 09-03-2019, 03:54 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post
Straight to the point: What's the best thing we can do while while working on our conversion to keep the diesel engine in good, ready-to-run condition?

As it sits now, it's registered, insured, and road-ready. Should we be starting it on a regular basis? If so, when we do, is warming it up in place (aka sitting still in neutral) good or bad? If so at what RPM, & for how long? Should we be driving it on a regular basis? If so, same question - how hard & how long? Can warming it up in place be just as useful as a road trip? If so, how?

Later in the conversion it will likely not be able to be driven. Same questions. What should we do regarding starting & running to keep her in the best shape possible?

Note: I keep the batteries on a trickle charger most of the time, so running the engine to keep the batteries charged is not a concern.
If you run the engine you need to run it long enough to get the oil so hot that any moisture will boil off. Water is one of the combustion end products and will get into the oil when the engine is running below operating temperature.

I would just put the batteries on a good charger that does not overcharge them and do not worry about the engine. There is little risk of getting corrosion on the cylinder walls in the dry climate you are in.

Putting a biocide like Biobor into the tank to prevent algae formation could not hurt.
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Old 09-03-2019, 04:01 PM   #3
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Most of the wear an engine gets is during a cold start so just starting it up briefly will cause more harm than good. In the off season I try to take ours out for a twenty mile ride once a month or so to stir up the fluids and give the tires a little exercise but otherwise I just keep the batteries charged and make sure the fuel tank is full to avoid condensation in the fuel.



I also add some Power Service Diesel Kleen to the tank to soak up any moisture that may be there already.
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Old 09-03-2019, 04:36 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post
Straight to the point: What's the best thing we can do while while working on our conversion to keep the diesel engine in good, ready-to-run condition?

As it sits now, it's registered, insured, and road-ready. Should we be starting it on a regular basis? If so, when we do, is warming it up in place (aka sitting still in neutral) good or bad? If so at what RPM, & for how long? Should we be driving it on a regular basis? If so, same question - how hard & how long? Can warming it up in place be just as useful as a road trip? If so, how?

Later in the conversion it will likely not be able to be driven. Same questions. What should we do regarding starting & running to keep her in the best shape possible?

Note: I keep the batteries on a trickle charger most of the time, so running the engine to keep the batteries charged is not a concern.

This has come up before, and I believe the consensus is that idling it in place is just about the worst thing you can do to it. Better to not run it and just keep the batteries charged up. Better, still, (IIRC) to take it out for a drive and get it up to operating temp. Someone else with more knowledge will surely chime in, but this is how I remember it. I remember because I was a "start it once a week and let it idle a while" kinda guy, before I was set straight.
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Old 09-03-2019, 05:52 PM   #5
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I remember because I was a "start it once a week and let it idle a while" kinda guy, before I was set straight.
Yeah, that's been me so far.
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Old 09-03-2019, 07:35 PM   #6
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Yeah, that's been me so far.
Mine has been less frequent, but only because my bus has so frequently refused to start.
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Old 09-03-2019, 10:24 PM   #7
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My rule is to never start the engine unless it will reach full operating temperature, i.e. in 20 miles or so. And it's not just the engine that needs to get up to temperature - the transmission, differential and tires also should get nicely warmed up. My favorite warm-up drive is to go about 15 miles north on Pacific Coast Highway then come back, at which point the engine is at 190 degrees and all's good. It takes a lot of heat to thoroughly warm up more than a ton of engine!

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Old 09-04-2019, 09:19 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies so far, folks. Very much appreciated.
Music... you made me laugh. I hope that brings you some measure of comfort

So for extended downtime... is biocide / some sort of fuel stabilizer really the only thing you'd do (aside from batteries on charger)? Nothing else?
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Old 09-04-2019, 10:56 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies so far, folks. Very much appreciated.
Music... you made me laugh. I hope that brings you some measure of comfort

So for extended downtime... is biocide / some sort of fuel stabilizer really the only thing you'd do (aside from batteries on charger)? Nothing else?
Biocide prevents algae from growing in the fuel. You will want to have the tank full of diesel so there is less chance of condensation. Add biocide as well as a injector lubricating additive. Drive the bus around until it gets to operating temp to make sure the additives are mixed throughout the fuel system.

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Old 09-04-2019, 12:03 PM   #10
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I let mine idle at 1700rpm for about 10 minutes once a week
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