About Diesel Engines
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                   History of diesel engines
Most inventions are the culmination of the efforts of many
people. The same is true of the diesel engine. Rudolf Diesel
is universally recognized as the developer and holder of the
patent for diesel engines, althought there were many
individuals who contributed to its development.

The diesel engine, like most inventions, went through many
phases of development before achieving a practical

The first known internal combustion engine was developed
in 1806 by Claude and Nicephore Niepce.

In 1874 George Brayton developed and patented a 2 stroke,
oil fueled constant pressure engine.

The hot bulb engine, first prototyped in 1886 and built from
1891 by Richard Hornsby and Sons, used a pressurized fuel
injection system.

Technically, Rudolf Diesel did not "invent" the diesel engine,
but improved on an already existing model.

In 1893 Rudolf Diesel built his first prototype which never
did operate. It wasn't until 1894 that Rudolf Diesel's second
prototype ran on its own power for one minute.

In 1897, his prototype was finally ready for testing and


After 1900, diesel engines began to appear in ships, submarines, trucks, tractors, passenger cars,
and locomotives. The steam engines, which powered ships and locomotives prior to the advent of
diesel engines, were expensive to manufacture and operate. They required large facilities to build
and maintain the fuel-hungry machines.

Diesel engines were much more efficient. By the 1950s, nearly every ship and locomotive steam
engine had been replaced by diesel engines, which were often a diesel-electric hybrid.

A major blunder made by GM in the 1970s and 1980s nearly killed the future of diesel engines in
passenger cars. GM cars fitted with diesel engines had a high failure rate due to head bolts pulling
out and injector pump failures.

Luckily, manufacturers VW and Mercedes stayed with the plan, and were able to make a comeback
and remove much of the blemish associated with passenger car diesel engines.

Today, diesel engines are much different from the prototypes of the early inventors. Modern diesel
engines have gone through thousands of hours of testing and development. Most are equipped with
computer modules, and some come standard with turbochargers.

Advancements in metal technology have allowed the diesel engine to be manufactured with lighter
materials, while still being able to withstand the heat and compression stress inherent in diesel

The diesel engine of today is a lean, mean machine, with more torque and horsepower than ever

Dіеѕеl Engіnеѕ: Made Tоugh, Mаdе tо Repair

Dіеѕеl еngіnеѕ аutоmаtісаllу рut twо іmаgеѕ іn your head whеn you think about what they
represent; tоughnеѕѕ аnd dollars. They're made to last аnd mаdе tо wоrk, but every drіvеr realizes
thаt dіеѕеl engines cost mоnеу tо run and mаіntаіn.

Thеrе аrе рlеntу of рrоѕ and cons fоr buуіng a vеhісlе thаt іѕ a diesel, аnd thіnkіng аbоut what
could роtеntіаllу gо wrоng is an іmроrtаnt раrt оf mаkіng аn еduсаtеd, informed dесіѕіоn оn whаt
engine wіll wоrk bеѕt for you.

Thе development of dіеѕеl аѕ a source оf fuel gоеѕ bасk mаnу years аnd has lasted
thrоughоut modern history to provide еffісіеnсу and ѕtrеngth аnd has grоwn іntо a popular сhоісе fоr
fuel power.

In 1878, a mаn nаmеd Rudolf Diesel wаѕ ѕtudуіng іn Germany аt thе Pоlуtесhnіс Hіgh Sсhооl,
something ѕіmіlаr to whаt wе knоw to bе an engineering college. During his ѕtudіеѕ, he learned
аbоut thе lоw еffісіеnсу of gasoline (rеmеmbеr іt wаѕ many years аgо) аnd ѕtеаm еngіnеѕ.

The information wаѕ ѕо ѕhосkіng to hіm that hе decided hе needed to devote hіѕ tіmе tо
dеvеlор аn еngіnе with hіghеr еffісіеnсу and аttеmрtеd tо сrеаtе a "соmbuѕtіоn роwеr engine," оr
whаt we know tоdау tо bе thе diesel engine whісh he received a раtеnt fоr in 1892.
Whу dо most саrѕ hаvе gаѕоlіnе engines? Clearly diesels are nоt found іn саrѕ аѕ frеԛuеntlу
аѕ gasoline еngіnеѕ are.

Aссоrdіng tо аutо experts, thе 1970'ѕ gave diesel engine рорulаrіtу a lіttlе boost іn sales duе
tо an OPEC оіl embargo. At that time, it wаѕ fіrѕt uѕеd in саrѕ durіng thе oil crisis аnd people fоund
their саrѕ соvеrеd іn ѕооt.

Althоugh there аrе mаnу pros tо dіеѕеlѕ which will bе explained later оn, many people fіnd tоо
many cons. Fіrѕt, thеу tеnd tо be muсh heavier duе tо thеіr higher соmрrеѕѕіоn rаtіоѕ. Thеу аlѕо
tеnd tо bе mоrе еxреnѕіvе thаn gаѕоlіnе engines.

Thіѕ аlоnе іѕ important for mоѕt реорlе tо соnѕіdеr whеn сhооѕіng their perfect vеhісlе. Third,
because of thеіr weight аnd соmрrеѕѕіоn ratio mеntіоnеd аbоvе, diesel еngіnеѕ tеnd to have lоwеr
mаxіmum RPM ranges thаn gаѕоlіnе еngіnеѕ. This mаkеѕ dіеѕеlѕ high torque rather thаn hіgh
horsepower, and that uѕuаllу ѕееmѕ to mаkе diesel cars slower when it соmеѕ tо ассеlеrаtіоn

Furthеrmоrе, dіеѕеl еngіnеѕ must bе fuеl іnjесtеd, tend tо рrоduсе ѕmоkе, аnd are described
аѕ "funnу-ѕmеllіng" bу many observers. They саn bе hаrdеr to ѕtаrt іn thе cold wіntеr wеаthеr, аnd if
thеу hарреn tо contain what are knоwn as glow plugs, diesels саn rеԛuіrе you tо wait mоmеntаrіlу
before ѕtаrtіng thе engine ѕо the glоw plugs саn hеаt uр.

Mаnу people аlѕо nоtісе that they аrе nоіѕіеr, tеnd to vіbrаtе more than gasoline еngіnеѕ, аnd
іn ѕоmе аrеаѕ dіеѕеl is lеѕѕ rеаdіlу аvаіlаblе thаn gаѕоlіnе. This can be a problem for people whо
drive diesel саrѕ оr truсkѕ fоr wоrk or іn thеіr everyday vеhісlеѕ.
How diesel engines are different from gas engines

Diesel and gas engines are both internal combustion engines, which means that combustion of the
fuel mixture takes place within the engine cylinder.

In a gas engine, as the piston moves down the cylinder on the intake stroke, air is drawn into the
cylinder by the negative pressure created by the movement of the piston, much like the plunger in a
syringe when the handle is pulled out.

Most gas engines utilize fuel injectors which spray fuel into the cylinder before or during the intake
stroke. After the intake stroke is completed the piston is at the bottom of the cylinder. Now all the
valves close and the cylinder is ready for the compression stroke.

As the engine crankshaft continues to turn, the piston begins to move up towards the top of the

Because the cylinder is now sealed, the movement of the piston compresses the air fuel mixture,
much like having air in a syringe and pushing in the syringe, while holding your finger over the

When the piston is near the top of the cylinder, a spark from the ignition system ignites the air-fuel
mixture and causes an explosion, forcing the piston to move back down the cylinder. This is the
power stroke in the gas engine that powers the vehicle.

In a diesel engine, the operation is the same in many respects. The piston moves down on the
intake stroke and allows air into the cylinder, then compresses the air on the upward (compression)
stroke. The valves close during the compression stroke, the same as in a gas engine.

After this the operation of diesel engines differs considerably from a gas engine. 

In a diesel engine there are no spark plugs or ignition system. Combustion takes place by super
heating the air by way of hyper-compression, meaning that the air is compressed much more than in
a gas engine. This super-heated air is 1000 to 1500 degrees F. 

  In a gas engine gas is sprayed into the intake manifold before the intake stroke.

In a diesel engine, when the piston is near the top of the cylinder and has compressed the air to over
1000 degrees F, the fuel injectors spray fuel into the cylinders and the fuel is vaporized by the
extreme heat, then the vapor ignites spontaneously, causing an explosion and forcing the piston
down for the power stroke.

Diesel engines operate at a higher compression ratio than gas engines. This makes construction of
the diesel engine more complicated. Diesel cylinders and heads must be constructed to withstand
the higher compression. 

Diesel engines are much heavier than their gas engine counterparts for this reason.

Another problem peculiar to diesel engines is the fuel injection system.

In a gas engine fuel pressure at the injectors is somewhere around 35-60 psi. 

In a diesel engine the fuel injection pressure is more like 10,000 to 25,000 psi or more. This
additional pressure is necessary to overcome the increased compression produced in a diesel
engine and provide an ultra-fine mist of fuel ideal for combustion.

As you can see, fuel injection for a diesel is much more sophisticated than for a gas engine.
Producing pressures of that magnitude require a very robust fuel injector pump. Modern diesel
engines come equipped with different types of injection systems, such as common rail, unit injector,
and mechanical.

Diesel engines are more prone to fuel issues because of the extreme demands of the fuel system.
Cleanliness and fuel quality are extremely important in a diesel engine. 

Another issue specific to diesel engines is the additional heat generated by the increased
compression. For this reason diesel engines come equipped  with a more advanced cooling
package compared to gas engines.

Engine oil integrity is a challenge with diesel engines. Because of the high operating compression in
the cylinders, a small amount of diesel fuel squeezes past the piston rings and ends up in the engine
oil during every power stroke.

Over time the engine oil loses some of its lubrication qualities and becomes more corrosive. Engine
oil filtration and maintaining engine oil lubricity is a huge priority.

Diesel fuel contains up to 90 organic compounds, including sulfur. Some of these compounds are

Horsepower vs Torque

Horsepower and torque are topics often discussed in trucking and similar circles.

To understand horsepower and torque it may be useful to compare two different horses: Arabian
and Clydesdale.

The Arabian horse is bred for speed, the Clydesdale is bred for pulling weight. The Clydesdale
would never be able to compete with the Arabian in a speed race. But in a pulling contest, the
Clydesdale would win, hands down.

Diesel engines are more like the Clydesdale, not built so much for speed, but built for pulling power,
and this is where they excel. 

That is why most semi trucks, heavy equipment, and large boats use diesel engines.

Pros and cons of diesel and gas engines

Pros of gas engines

Lower initial cost. Gas engines cost less to manufacture. A vehicle with a gas engine will typically be
somewhere around three to eight thousand dollars less to purchase.

Cheaper parts. Parts for gas engines are typically less expensive

Greater speed. With more horsepower, gas engines get your vehicle up to speed quicker, with
higher acceleration compared to a diesel.

Repairs. Gas engines generally cost less to repair than their diesel cousins. 

Less weight. Gas engines weigh less than diesel engines

Less smell. Gas engines don't have that strong diesel odor

Fuel availability. Gas is widely available. (In today's market, this is a minor consideration, as many
gas stations sell diesel fuel).

Gas engines cons

Less low end torque than diesel engines.

Lower engine life expectancy

Lower gas mileage

Ignition system issues

Diesel engine pros

Diesel engines  have greater torque than gas engines at lower rpms

Greater life expectancy. 

Better fuel economy

Absence of ignition system

Diesel engine cons

Lower horsepower

Engines are heavier

More complex and potentially troublesome fuel injection system

Fuel problems are more common, such as wax formation, gelling, sludge formation, and microbe

Engines require more battery power to start

Repairs are usually more expensive

Generally requires more maintenance

Hard to start in cold weather

Sensitive to fuel quality issues


In the end, it really comes down to what you want to do with your vehicle. Is speed more important,
or towing/hauling?

Spokane Diesel Truck Repair
23514 N Austin Rd
Colbert, WA 99005


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