[1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

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[1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by kenbw2 » 22 Nov 2017, 22:02

In my camper conversion Citroen Dispatch I have two batteries - one for the van, the other for the 'house'. I have them hooked together with a relay so I cnan charge while driving.

Sometimes though the house battery needs a topup. In previous vehicles I'd idle the engine for an hour which would give it plenty of charge.

I've since read that idling is bad for a diesel:

- Blowby because the piston rings don't seal at low pressure
- Glazing of the cylinders
- Lower temperatures can cause condensation and washed out oil

So obviously I'm concerned by this. But exactly *how* bad is it?

- I balance the idling out with long intensive drives, would that undo any of the damage?
- Are we talking a situation where my engine will only do 250k miles instead of 350k miles? Let's face it, it's gonna end up in the scrapyard in the sky before then anyway
- If I idle for less time but more often, is that gonna be any better?
- Can I offset with regular oil changes?
- Could increasing the idle speed help?

Thoughts?
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by wheeler » 22 Nov 2017, 23:16

Do you have the possibility of using electric hook up when camping or do you mainly camp ‘off grid’ ?
Have you thought about using a solar panel for keeping the leisure battery topped up?
Im currently toying with the idea of a 100w solar kit for my camper.
Really depends what electrical usage you have
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by kenbw2 » 22 Nov 2017, 23:32

I'm definitely off grid, so hookups aren't really an option. I did have a 100W solar panel on my Synergie camper, it's on my list of things to sort out on the Dispatch. That said, the solar is pretty much useless this time of year anyway.

If idling the engine for an hour every couple of days isn't harmful then that covers my electrical needs. Just need to make sure I'm not doing too much harm by doing that.
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by dnsey » 23 Nov 2017, 08:55

Diesel-powered generators are of course commonplace, and presumably don't suffer from these problems.
I have to admit that this is the first time I've heard of them.
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by Bick » 23 Nov 2017, 09:45

It wont hurt too much with the 1.9d yes its not ideal to leave it idling for an hour but its not going to kill it. I would do oil changes on a time basis rather than milage, only you can decide how often but ever 3 to 6 months would be ideal.
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by Peter.N. » 23 Nov 2017, 10:30

To be honest I have never heard of idling being bad for a diesel and I have been running them since 1959, a petrol engine I can understand due to the lack of upper cylinder lubricant but a diesel runs on it! When we were in Scarborough this year there was an ice cream van parked up where 'The Royal' was filmed which presumably runs all the summer just generating enough power for the freezer generator and the van was about 30 years old and would have had a Perkins 4/108 engine in it which came out in the '60s, it sounded like a 30 year old diesel but was running fine.

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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by CitroJim » 23 Nov 2017, 13:05

The only time it could be an issue is if oil pressure is low and it is not getting sufficient oil to lubricate it adequately during long idle periods...

Dad used to speak of diesel lorries seizing up due to low oil pressure during WW2 when left idling overnight in very cold weather so that they had at least some running to be able to tow start the others in the morning...

The tow starts were necessary as engine pre-heating was not very effective in those days...

British Rail leave their diesel locomotives idling for hours in sidings at times... Presumably so they're instantly ready to pull away when necessary...
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by Peter.N. » 23 Nov 2017, 16:34

Hadn't thought of that Jim but its not as common a problem as it used to be. I can remember in the '50s the drivers lighting a fire under the engines to get them to start in very cold weather. I think in very cold areas they have to leave them running constantly because they can't start them once they get cold.

I remember years ago when we were in Scotland we went to Oban and there was a diesel shunter idling in the yard and no one to be seen anywhere, you could walk up to it which we did to the delight of our son - who was very young then.

Al the early engines were direct injection so should have started easily, but they didn't, I think it was only with the advent of IDI engines that glow plugs appeared although the Perkins engines I used had a 'thermostart' unit which was a sort of blowlamp in the inlet manifold. There are still quite a few old direct injection tractors around here and they seem to start on the turn of the key in all weathers.

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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by CitroJim » 23 Nov 2017, 18:19

Peter.N. wrote:
23 Nov 2017, 16:34
I can remember in the '50s the drivers lighting a fire under the engines to get them to start in very cold weather.


Yes, now you say I remember dad telling they did the same and even lit fires under the fuel tanks as the diesel would begin to gel in the cold...

As a kid I vaguely remember you could get little paraffin heaters to go under your car when it was parked up in the garage to keep the engine warm and help winter starts...

They looked like a biscuit tin with circular gauze covered holes in the top...
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by myglaren » 23 Nov 2017, 18:22

My dad was for a couple of decades a marine diesel fitter and told me about this method of starting diesels:



Needless to say I was initially quite sceptical.
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by moizeau » 23 Nov 2017, 19:09

There's a new one, it was a lot more controlled and safe than I first expected. I started my Landy once with a blow torch down the inlet manifold. My father in law said the fire under the fuel tank was a regular thing.
Nice video
Last edited by moizeau on 23 Nov 2017, 19:40, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by CitroJim » 23 Nov 2017, 19:13

myglaren wrote:
23 Nov 2017, 18:22
My dad was for a couple of decades a marine diesel fitter and told me about this method of starting diesels:


It does at first sound a bit far-fetched Steve but the principle is sound and very similar ideas were used for some small diesel gensets... One I worked with used a little cardboard cartridge filled with saltpetre...

Literally, it was a case of lighting the blue touchpaper... But rather than running away, place in the chamber in the head, operate the decompresser and swing as hard and fast as you could whilst waiting for the decompressor to release...

With any luck, you'd end up with a running engine ;)

Great fun!
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by CitroJim » 23 Nov 2017, 19:16

moizeau wrote:
23 Nov 2017, 19:09
started my Landy once with a blow torch down the inlet manifold.


Love it :D
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by white exec » 23 Nov 2017, 20:02

Agree about it being ok, so long as there's decent oil pressure maintained. You could fit a gauge (tee'd off the oil-pressure switch) to keep an eye on it.

You might find alternator output is significantly higher if a fast idle speed is used, say 1200-ish, and then you wouldn't have to idle it for so long. An inexpensive clip-on ammeter (Sealey do one) will tell you what's going on - including when charge is no longer being packed into the battery.

IIRC, alternators produce peak output at about 3000 alternator-rpm upwards, so easy enough to work out how this translates into engine revs if you measure the two pulley diameters.
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Re: [1999 1.9D DW8] I know idling a diesel is bad for it, but how bad?

Post by Peter.N. » 23 Nov 2017, 20:03

My first diesel car was a Vauxhall Velox in 1959 which I fitted with a Perkins 4/99 engine, that wouldn't start when it was very cold, which it was in Kent, much colder than down here, this was before the advent of winter diesel and it used to set in the filter, you had to keep turning it over until the slightly warmer fuel from the tank reached the filter, which often entailed recharging the battery at least once, but that's what motoring was about in those days.

Diesel cars were something of a rarity then, the only production one was the Standard Vanguard with a Ferguson tractor engine, sounded nice though. As I drove along the main road people at bus stops would move to the kerb as they thought it was a bus coming.

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