1. #1
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    Question Engine Block Heater?

    My department is running a custom rescue pumper cummings 500 hp . They have a engine block heater on it. This heater has shorted out and they want to replace it. We are in upstate NY the station in the winter is 60-65 degrees. Can anyone tell me why a engine block heater is needed
    The answer I got was It's on all new engines, It keeps the engine temp up so when you pull out it is already warmed up.

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    Don't see why. I am further north, and their are no heaters on our trucks. Unless the truck is exposed to a low temp for a long period, you should be fine without it.
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    It's not on all new engines. You have to specify it. They can be useful mainly if it is at the shop for service or repair and it has to be parked outside. Ours is wired to the shoreline with a switch on the dash to turn it on or off.

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    The block heater is not needed at those temperatures. You are just wasting electricity. That block heater is not keeping the engine at operating temperature anyway so the "it is already warmed up" argument is non-sense.

    Stuff like this is usually a "bobby was told by jimmy who heard from Al who said that Cleatus the backyard mechanic heard from his uncle' girlfriend's father-in-law that you should always leave it hooked up. Then nobody stop think about the logic of it.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    I would have to disagree
    An engine gas or diesel runs best and most efficient at running temperature
    The worst thing that can be done to any engine is start cold and bury your foot in the throttle especialy going to an emergency call
    As any engine warms up to running temperature components expand and do actually change dimensionaly
    Now
    The Diesel engine is designed to run best when at running temperature that is why wen you go past a truck stop you see all or most of the trucks sitting ideling to keep warm

    Fix the block heater it is not a fluke
    If it were why do they make them possibly even ask the engine service center
    They will tell you Fix Heater it is cheep to operate and rig ready to go
    Not just an opinion
    Stay safe
    Ray

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    Do you really think that an electric engine block heater keep the entire engine at operating temperature? 250 degrees+? NO!! They don't. Not even close. They are to keep the fluids warm and keep the engine from having to start out as a block of ice. When was the last time you saw someone plug in a block heater in August?
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    nm, some of the block heaters on our rigs keep the trucks so warm that if you lean on the hood you might wonder if the truck was just parked 5 or 10 minutes ago, and their grilles light up like the sun on a thermal imager. I wonder what that sustained baking heat does to the hoses and belts. If it causes harm, I hope that harm is offset by anything the heat does to keep the engines from wearing out otherwise.

    I'm not an expert, I didn't stay at the Holiday Inn Express last night.... just some observations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    The block heater is not needed at those temperatures. You are just wasting electricity. That block heater is not keeping the engine at operating temperature anyway so the "it is already warmed up" argument is non-sense.

    Stuff like this is usually a "bobby was told by jimmy who heard from Al who said that Cleatus the backyard mechanic heard from his uncle' girlfriend's father-in-law that you should always leave it hooked up. Then nobody stop think about the logic of it.
    One department in our county uses block heaters year 'round. The thinking is to keep the engines not necessarily at operating temperature, but as much above ambient as they can be. By doing so, the oil will be flowing throughout the engine better and sooner. The chief of this volunteer department is the long time maintenance manager of a decent sized municipal truck fleet. He knows trucks and engines quite well and doesn't guess at what he does.

    My only disagreement with him, and the reason that we've never gone that route is the logistics of providing the needed current. What with on board chargers for the vehicle, radios, hand lights, the thermal imaging camera and what all else, many in station shore lines are already maxed out. Add the load of block heaters (15 amps +/- each) and unless you've got a pretty strong service, you can be looking at problems. It would seem to call for a second, dedicated shore line operating from its own circuit breaker in the house system.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    I really could care less what Bobby, Al, Cleatus, your Aunt Ethel and Toothless Joe have to offer on the subject but the fact is that most block heaters will not maintain operating temperature but do significantly raise the temperature of the coolant in the block which also keeps the oil and some of your fuel warm . Detroit Diesel advises that if the apparatus is in a heated bay, the block heater could be turned off. If you need to park outside in cold temperatures and have the opportunity to plug in, you shouldn't have cold start problems. Comes in pretty handy if you have a furnace problem in the apparatus bay during the winter. All school busses in our part of the country are kept on shoreline in the winter with block heaters and always start. One of the Chicago suburbs had a power failure one morning last winter and without the block heaters running 98% of the busses would not start and school was closed. The block heater is insignificant cost when you are spending a half million bucks on a new engine. We have never had a maintenance issue with them. As far as shorelines go, we use the Kussmaul 30 amp auto eject mated with a heavy duty 30+ amp drop cord.
    Last edited by zfdtruckman; 06-15-2007 at 10:42 PM.

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    I would highly recommend you replace the block heater. As mentioned, they will not maintain operating temperature, but a lot warmer then without it. We run block heaters year round on everything. If the rig doesn't roll much and the block heater has it's own plug, you can run it through a timer. Set it to come on for a half hour then go off for a half hour. You'll save energy and still maintain a nice warm engine.
    Would you hop in your Ford Powerstroke P/U, flash it up and hammer the throttle, probably not. So why would you think it's OK in the $500,000 Cummins powered Engine.
    Spend the $100 bucks and buy a new heater.

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    We run exclusively Cummins.NEVER plug them in.I would recommend replacing the heater for one reason only.If for some reason you have to park the rig outside under 32F(properly drained of course)you can get it started,Cummins by my experience don't really like cold weather(starting).The block heater on most Cummins is relatively easy to replace.In regards to a (heated)engine flowing oil quicker than one at 50F it might be a little quicker but with todays 15-40 oils I'd be willing to bet you won't increase the life of the engine 100K over an "unheated" one.An engine heater USUALLY keeps water temps 120-140 so if you think that million motor needs that to do it's job go ahead and plug it in.We haven't in 15 years and our rigs still run fine. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFREY1 View Post
    The Diesel engine is designed to run best when at running temperature that is why wen you go past a truck stop you see all or most of the trucks sitting ideling to keep warm
    That is not entirely true there, the reason you see all those trucks sitting there idleing, is so they can run there electronics in the truck, tv, microwave, what not. and also to run the heater or a/c. They do NOT run them just to keep them up to operating temps. (especially if you goto the NE states, or even to cal. where they have anti-idleing laws) They have come out with APU's (auxiliary power units)and the like to use as generators and also to cool or heat the truck without using the engine under the hood, the hardest thing on an engine is to let it sit there and idle.

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    1stchief

    I am from a department in northern minnesota that has some pretty steep hills. We had a 400 hp CAT and we were having some serious problems with not shifting when it was warm. When I talked to a CAT factory rep he said that a block heater would help our situation . He said that it would not bring it up to full operating temp but that 120 -140 is better than a 65 bay. Having that rise in temp will let the computer believe that the rig has already been running thus allowing for better shifting, better starting, better fuel economy, and less wear on the engine. All of our new rigs will have them and they will be wired up to the shoreline. Like it was said earlier, 100 dollars is nothing on the 300,000 price tag.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rigguy265 View Post
    1stchief

    I am from a department in northern minnesota that has some pretty steep hills. We had a 400 hp CAT and we were having some serious problems with not shifting when it was warm. When I talked to a CAT factory rep he said that a block heater would help our situation . He said that it would not bring it up to full operating temp but that 120 -140 is better than a 65 bay. Having that rise in temp will let the computer believe that the rig has already been running thus allowing for better shifting, better starting, better fuel economy, and less wear on the engine. All of our new rigs will have them and they will be wired up to the shoreline. Like it was said earlier, 100 dollars is nothing on the 300,000 price tag.

    Have you tried this and has it worked? It sounds kinda dicey, but I havent seen everything in my life yet, so I won't say that it won't. Just sounds weird.

    But still, if you have to have a heater on the engine to trick the computer into thinking it was running previously, you have not solved the original problem. The computer takes realtime info and puts it to use. If the engine has reached operating temp after a cold start as opposed to operating temp after a warm start, the computer sees no difference. It takes current conditions and adjusts accordingly. Either way, your problem is at operating temp. Doesn't matter what it took to get there.

    Have you had a qualifed shop look into this? I can give a LOT of thoeries on why you have this problem, and not a single one of them may be right unless I take the time to diagnose the problem properly

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    I'm not sure where the disconnect in reality is here. I think everyone is in agreement that fluids such as oil flow much better when they are not cold.

    50-60 DEGREES IS NOT COLD!!


    If the location the truck is parked at is heated, for example, to sustained 50 degrees all winter, then your engine is not cold enough to negatively effect these fluids. The only thing you're doing by plugging in a block heater is running up your electric bill and reducing the life-span of the heater.
    Last edited by nmfire; 06-17-2007 at 04:42 PM.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    dfdmaxx,

    I think that the crappy weather we have been having is affecting my brain. That first sentence should say that we had problems shifting when it was COLD not warm. Anyway, on the rigs that currently have them we have noticed a significant difference with the way that they run right out of the station. We have had the rig into the local CAT dealer repair shop and they agree that this should be what is making the difference. Our city shop also thinks this is a good idea. I talked to the allison and the axle dealer on the rig to try and see if the no shifting was due to one of these factors but the conclusion was the it was the temp of the engine and the computer. CAT tried other ideas but we noticed that when the engine was warm that we had none of the shifting problems.

    nmfire,

    When your normal operating temp is 180 or better and you start out at 50 that is cold. Also when you pull out of the station into 20 below air that is going onto the intake any extra heat helps.

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    With being around and working on diesel engines and block heaters all my life, they do serve a usefull purpose at cold operating temps. But as NMfire said you are wasting your money by using it at 50 or 60 degree temps. It will do no good

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    [QUOTE=rigguy265;824759]dfdmaxx,

    I think that the crappy weather we have been having is affecting my brain. That first sentence should say that we had problems shifting when it was COLD not warm. Anyway, on the rigs that currently have them we have noticed a significant difference with the way that they run right out of the station. We have had the rig into the local CAT dealer repair shop and they agree that this should be what is making the difference. Our city shop also thinks this is a good idea. I talked to the allison and the axle dealer on the rig to try and see if the no shifting was due to one of these factors but the conclusion was the it was the temp of the engine and the computer. CAT tried other ideas but we noticed that when the engine was warm that we had none of the shifting problems.



    Understood. Wasn't trying to spar with you, but that one word did make a lot of difference.

    You live in one of those interesting areas of the country. Minnesota is beautifull in the summer, and my version of hell in the winter. Even the winters here in southern Wisconsin try my sanity. Hang in there. I'm thinking of moving to the nearest desert. If I ask about a block heater, and the local answer is " What the hell is that?" Then I'm home.

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    Our's are also a trickle charger to keep up the batteries so the drain from the MDT's do not leave the batteries dead.
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