Another great weeks in the books. Take a look at the some engines in process and the final shipment!
Each week here at Capital Reman is different in its own way. This week we shipped out 5 engines and had an awesome week production-wise. Everyone is working well as a team and it is really showing in the quality we are putting out the door. Our old pal Dennis Gordon did great in his new role as Director of Operations. Here are a few pictures of the guys in action. Thanks again to all of our loyal customers and vendors.
China has a notorious reputation for extremely polluted air. The air quality is so bad most days that citizens must wear masks outdoors. As the country evolves, tackling the emission issue has become a primary issues for the government. It was announced on June 30th that China will join the rest of the modern world by banning general diesel fuel with Sulphur containing more than 50 parts per million. The diesel fuel will ban will affect tractors, ships and off-road vehicles rather than automobiles.
The National Development & Reform Commission will encourage some areas of China to apply a ban to Sulphur content of 10 parts per million. All filling stations will be required to clearly mark the difference between automotive diesel and the new general diesel with lower Sulphur content.
The United States and Europe already have Ultra-Low Sulphur Bans in place for all types of diesel. The allowable Sulphur content in the US is 15 ppm enacted in 2007. It will be interesting to see how China tackles it pollution issue in the coming years.
China Pollution Map
How to Determine the Proper Engine Rating
Electronic engines get a bad rap in the heavy duty diesel engine world due to the amount of issues that can go wrong with them. However, the good news is that if you have an electronic Caterpillar engine you can easily obtain more horsepower and torque via the ECM.
Re-rating an engine is an electronic process of powering up or down the default horsepower via the electronic control module (ECM). Re-rating a diesel engine is the easiest way to beef up an engine without digging into the hard internal parts. You can do modifications to the engine by changing out the pistons, injectors, the camshaft or damper. Adding an updated turbo is also another way to increase HP. However, these modifications are expensive and may not work as required which we will discuss later in this article.
To re-rate a CAT engine one must go to a CAT Dealer or Independent Certified CAT Distributor that has access to CAT ET (Electronic Technician) program. The CAT ET software will plug into the engine and get a diagnostic readout of the engine health. Once in CAT ET the ECM can be “flashed” or reprogrammed to power up or down within a given CAT Engine Family. You can only repower a Caterpillar engine within its given family.
For example a Caterpillar C7 has Families A, B, C, D, E and F. The Horsepower Rating ranges from 207 hp to 330 hp. Family A only has 3 horsepower and torque options whereas Family E has 7 options. If your engine serial number prefix is rated “A” then you must stay in the A Family. The pistons and injectors are different for each Family. It is impossible to simply go up a Family. The higher horsepower E and F Families are reserved for Fire Truck or RV Applications. So if you’re thinking you can easily increase your engine 200-300 HP you are mistaken.
There are two main way to determine the current horsepower rating of your engine. One is by simply looking at the data tag on the valve cover or timing cover. It will have the horsepower and torque rating of the engine. If you suspect the engine may have already been powered up or down from the original OEM specs you have two options: take it to a dealer or dyno testing facility. A CAT Dealer with CAT SIS and CAT ET will be able to plug into the electronic engine and they can do an ECM Download. This process takes about 5 minutes and will give a readout of fault codes, millage, current horsepower rating, torque, oil pressure etc… A dealer generally won’t charge you just for an ECM Readout. You can also have a full dyno test done which will give a full range of performance specs done on the engine.
Other things to consider when doing an ECM re-flash is whether or not the transmission is rated to handle the increase torque load. Transmissions are all about torque rating. An Allison, Eaton or Fuller Transmission all have something called the Nominal Torque Capacity Rating. Whatever that number is multiply it by 100 to get your maximum torque output allowed for that transmission. For example if a transmission has a tag number of RTO – 11909MLL the “11” or first number, is your Nominal Torque Capacity. That engine would be rated at 1100 ft/lbs of torque. Before doing a re-rating you must check to see if your transmission can handle the new workload. If you desired re-rating torque measurement is higher than your transmission’s capacity to handle the load then you will destroy your transmission.
Aftermarket Engine Modifications
Earlier in the article we touched on doing aftermarket modifications to your CAT engine. We here at Capital Reman build our engines to OEM spec. We do that simply because playing in the “modification sandbox” can cause numerous issues with warranties. If you add aftermarket injectors, turbos, camshaft or manifolds to increase power it will automatically void any manufacturer warranty. The question is do aftermarket mods work? The answer is that they do indeed work and are the same quality as OEM these days however one must be careful tinkering with electronic engines as mods can overload various systems on the engine. Doing modifications can also decrease the life of the engine as it usually means increased exhaust temperature. If you are burning more fuel and creating more exhaust it will wear down the exhaust valves much faster. Aftermarket turbos can also clog easier when paired with an electronic engine with a SCR or DPF Filter. Some CAT Engines have turbo regeneration issues caused by the very intricate balance of re-circulated exhaust gasses by the emissions systems.
Some opt to further optimize their engine by seeking out illegal DPF Delete Kits to remove all emissions technology altogether. It is understandable why some go down that path as early emissions technology was prone to costly maintenance and performance issues however, newer engines with emissions upgrades actually have increased in horsepower and torque. If you do go down the aftermarket route just be aware that the warranty will be voided, performance upgrades are not a guarantee and that you might be further damaging/decreasing the life of your engine. Not to say aftermarket mods aren’t fun! There are tons of great aftermarket companies that make performance turbos, injectors, camshafts and more but get your pocket book ready as internal mods are expensive.
ECM Reflash Costs and Warnings
Re-flashing an ECM takes about 2 hours from start to finish at a CAT Dealer. The software is accessed via CAT ET and a flash file is downloaded to the ECM. This software is propriety to Caterpillar and is password protected. BUYER BEWARE! There are aftermarket CAT ET programs on for sale on the internet but none of them will work properly as the software needed is password protected at Caterpillar dealer. CAT Corporate charges the dealer about $250 per ECM Re-flash and the dealer will usually just charge labor to you the customer. Overall the cost of an ECM Re-flash is around $500. Not too bad to quickly power up your engine. If you go down the aftermarket/mods route for the ECM use a reputable Re-Power Company like Pittsburgh Power or ECM Diesel.
There are some dangers of ECM Re-Ratings. About 1/30 ECM Re-Flashes ends up with a destroyed ECM. The ECM can become corrupted or simply wipe itself of all data. The new flash file could simply be incompatible with the ECM in the engine and destroy it. Mostly these incidents occur with early model electronic engines that have more unstable electronics. CAT ECMs are not cheap ranging from $1,500-$2,000. You can purchase a used ECM however those are a gamble as the pin connectors and solders can be easily be bent or broken.
That being said, don’t let the possible ECM failure scare ya! Getting a little more juice out of your CAT Engine can easily be done with an ECM Re-Rate just make sure to do your homework and take your engine to a reputable source.
Cummins N14 Engine History
The Cummins N-14 is a great engine; quite possibly the best Cummins engine ever produced. These engines are the stuff dreams are made of if you’re an old school guy looking for reliability. No doubt, the N14 is part of “1,000,000 mile club”. The engine features the best of engineering fundamentals mixed with one of the first electronic control system. First designed in the late 1980s it was sent into full production in 1991. The N14 engine is the follow up to the vastly popular Cummins 855 Big Cam which was produced 1976-1985. Cummins listened to it customers and designed a more powerful version of the 855 while maintaining a similar profile and bore/stroke architecture. Overall, the biggest structural difference between the 855 and N14 is the air-to-air cooling system changes but both engines are very similar.
The N-14 was produced until 2001 and saw many changes over its 10+ year run for Cummins. The most radical change over the 855 was the incorporation of the electronic control module (ECM). Detroit Diesel rolled out the first commercial electronic diesel engine in 1987 with its ground breaking Series 60 Engine and Cummins followed suit. With the advent of the first EPA Tier emissions regulations in 1994 the future of diesel engines was going to be electronic diagnostics. The N14 Celect was the first Cummins engine to feature an electronic injection system. The Celect fuel system produces systematic pressure throughout each injection cycle unlike the common rail fuel system of the 855, or older M11 or L10 models. Albeit the injectors are still cam actuated the ECM controls the metered flow of fuel to the injectors. In 1997 Cummins introduced the N14 Celect Plus which further fine-tuned the ECM to control many more custom parameters of the fuel system.
In addition of an ECM the N14 was designed for emissions purposes to consume much less oil. The N14 diesel was engineered in a way where oil flow is much more uniform thus requiring the engine to consume about 20%-30% less oil than the Cummins 855. Engineers at Cummins also came up with new pistons that positioned the top ring much closer to the uppermost part of the piston. This new design reduced a large open space between the ring and the piston liner. By utilizing this space the combustion chamber moved closer to the top ring which meant the oil got much hotter and burned off more completely. In addition to internal changes, engineers also developed an API CF-4 and API CG-4 oil for the N14 that was much more thermally stable and easier to breakdown on a molecular level.
Cummins N-14 Injector Problems
For all of the great aspects of the Cummins N14 its Achilles Heel has always been the injectors. The L10, M11 and N14 all have problems with injector failures and the surrounding electronics. The fuel system’s main components consists of the injectors, injector wiring harness and the ECM. A common occurrence will happen when, for example, when the ECM shows a 111 or 343 code in an N-14 Celect Plus model. This means the ECM isn’t grounded to the injector. Usually this starts out with only 1 injector shown to be malfunctioning but can quickly spread to others. If this happens you immediately want to shut down the engine.
These early electronic engines offered no protection against the wiring harness shortening out. There are 6 injector driver connections on the ECM which are attached to the injectors via a wiring harness. If an injector goes bad it is advised to pull out the wiring from the injector and replace immediately before the faulty wire burns up the ECM motherboard. Usually if you unplug # 1, 2, 3, or 4 injector drivers in time you can save the ECM/injectors. The wiring harnesses are known to have problems and are very expensive to replace.
Another issue with the N14 ECM is a faulty fuel solenoid. The solenoid is situated on the bottom of the ECM. If the solenoid shorts it will heat up the ECM slowly and can then destroy the entire fuel solenoid circuit, memory chip and the injector timing chip. Usually the solenoid gets so hot it melts the solder on the chips. For a 50 pin connection all it takes is one pin to loosen from the heat to destroy the ECM. It is recommended that drivers carry 1-2 extra injectors in the truck in case one goes out. Usually they go out in pairs which makes sense to carry 2 at all times.
Other common injector issues with the N-14 include:
• Injectors overfill with fuel and it overfills the crankcase
• Injector O-Rings will leak
• Misfires occurring due to a clogged filter screen on top of the injector pump
• Injector cup failures allow water in the fuel
• Over revving can cause scoring on the injector plunger barrel
• Oil Coolers are prone to clogging
• Fuel lines prone to fraying allowing debris into the injector
The type of fuel and additives used with the N-14 make a world of difference. Many fleet operators use Lucas oil additives or Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) Liquid Moly solutions. ATF additives prevent oil loss, helps protect and regenerate seals and rings, cleans out oil sludge, improves steering performance and helps protect the engine during shifting. Most operators will put in 1 quart of ATF per 100 gallons of fuel. However it is important to note ATF Fluid is red in nature and will show up as off-road fuel at most DOT Weight Stations. You could end up with some pretty big fines if you don’t have the proper documentation. Other preventative measures with the N-14 include using an alcohol based additive to kill off algae from newer blends of fuel. The algae in these various blends tends to eat through the older OEM fuel lines. If you use winter and summer blend diesel fuels make sure to use blends from a reputable supplier instead of some discount brand as the N-14 doesn’t do well with overly chemically blended fuels; the basic stuff will do just fine.
Even though the N14 has some injector issues make no mistake the N14 is a workhorse. This diesel engine has the power to get the job done, is easy to maintain and will last a long time. It is recommended that the oil filter, fuel filter and coolant filters all be replaced every 11,500 miles. The N-14 does not do well with cheaper filters that don’t further remove particulate matter. The early Cummins ISB series engines, (5.9 L and 6.7 L) were known to ship with cheaper less efficient filters which were also used in the early N-14 engines as well. Fleetguard or Donaldson makes a fine aftermarket filter for newer replacement purposes. Other than the fuel filters it is recommended that the valves be adjusted every 125,000 miles but a major overall should not be needed for 500,000 – 1,000,000 miles.
N-14 Engine Specs
• Displacement: 14.0 Liter
• Bore: 5.5”, 140 mm
• Stroke: 6.0”, 152 mm
• Cylinders: 6 In-Line
• Fuel System: PT
• Horsepower: 310 – 525 HP @ 2100 RPM, 360 HP @ 1800 RPM Marine
• Power Rating: 231 – 391 kW standard, 269 kW Marine
• Aspiration: Turbocharged / Waterjacket Aftercooled / Naturally Aspirated Options
• Rating Type: Continuous
• Dry Weight: 2800 lbs., 1300 kg
• Dimensions: Length 59 in, 1496 mm, Width 33 in, 854 mm, Height 51 in, 1293 mm.
• Compression Ratio: 17:1
• Injector Firing Order: 1-5-3-6-2-4
• Valve Timing: A Mark Cylinder 1-6, B Mark Cylinder 5-2, C Mark Cylinder 3-4
• Clearances: Intake Valves: 14 thousands, Exhaust Valves: 27 thousands
• Emissions Certifications: Meets NOx requirements International Maritime Organization (IMO), Maripol 73/78 Annex VI Regulation 13 and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
We here at Capital Reman are experts at grinding and remanufacturing diesel crankshafts. Crankshaft grinding consists of removing a minute amount of finished material from the rod and main journals to rebuild the part back to OEM spec. The full 25 step crankshaft remanufacturing process is quite intensive but is critical to complete engine rebuild. This article will explain the main components of a crankshaft’s design as well as the finer points of crankshaft remanufacturing.
A crankshaft consists of rod and main journals. These journals are the end bearings at the bottom of the connecting rods opposite the pistons. The journals (also called crankpins) are connected to counterweights via plates called the webbing. These counterweights help balance the load of the crankshaft when in motion. There is also the crankshaft nose which connects to a pulley or vibration damper. The rods and mains have oil galleries embedded in them to allow oil flow throughout the crankshaft. It is important that the bearing holes are lined up properly to allow oil flow. The back end of the crankshaft is connected to the flywheel.
The main reason crankshaft grinding is done is because the crank wears over time. Over thousands miles the end play between the crankshaft and the bearings increases. When the “fit” between the bearings and the crank isn’t perfect it lowers oil pressure and decreases lubricity. The less oil to the crank the faster it can wear out. When you reduce the size of the bearings you reduce the overall surface area too. Less surface area equals less friction and better engine performance. Also, when you grind a crankshaft the journals end up having a greater radius which by reducing stress at the corners. Engine performance with a reground crankshaft can be quite noticeable when on an engine dyno. Performance crankshafts can be lightened by drilling the pins but mostly when you talk about performance parts you are referring to the camshaft. Overall, the vast majority of crankshaft issues revolve around the bearings.
During the remanufacturing process the machinist is mostly concerned with grinding the rod and main journals. Upon initial inspection of the crankshaft, with the use of the micrometer, the machinist will determine what bearings need grinding. Indicators that a journal needs grinding include if the surface has wear and make it rough to the touch. Sometimes the journal will be knocked out of center and needs to be surfaced to round and straightened. Consequently, the journal diameter could be positioned out of square at both end of the pins. Each grind is different but all crankshafts can be ground to allow for more or less stroke depending on customer needs.
When the machinist has decided to remanufacture the crankshaft he will grind the top layer of the journal away to make the surface smooth. The amount taken off is determined by looking at what OEM spec is and then seeing how badly the journal is worn. Typical amounts removed are (Standard) 0.005”, 0.010”, 0.020” and 0.030”. A crank can be ground to as much as 0.050″ as this is the biggest bearing sizes the OEM makes. The crankshaft is loaded onto the machine and then positioned using a hand-wheel which controls the manual micrometer wheel-head infeed. When the size is determined the machinist will set the indexed ring to 0 and keep the hand-wheel at 0 position. Then the machinist turns a locking knob to engage the device. Before the machinist is ready to begin grinding he then takes into account a safety allowance for any tuning errors. There are 5 different safety allowance positions: .02”- .06”. Once the safety tolerance has been recorded the machinist will engage the wheelhead back with a lever and the micrometer infeed handwheel will turn counterclockwise with the same amount of preset as the stop knobs. Ginding can now being. The machinist will manually advance the wheelhead to the ground journal until it has completed the journey around the spinning crankshaft. It is imperative that the machinist watch the speed of the handwheel and adjust it with the width of the journal. A work preset knob allows for quick stock compensation from journal to journal and allows the machinist to jump to a new journal without having to reset the specifications.
After the crankshaft is ground to the appropriate size it is then polished. The journals are polished using a piece of emery paper or polishing belts. Polishing the journals prevents any sort of rough finish for the bearings to catch on. To polish the crankshaft the crank is spun in a counterclockwise fashion and the paper is manually placed on the journals while spinning. The journals become extremely smooth which reduces resistance and improves overall engine power and torque ratings. It should be noted that polishing the crankshaft is taken into account during the grinding process. The finished polish takes off just a little bit more material on top of the grind to the exact OEM spec.
Once the grind has taken place there is going to be quite a bit of excess clearance. The clearance is simply too much and must be brought back to factory tolerances. This is accomplished by installing undersized or oversized bearings because by grinding the new journal size is smaller. The bearings used should match the proper OEM clearances for oil flow at the diameter of the journal.
Some crankshaft rebuilders will undercut the crankshaft. Undercutting the crankshaft journals and then welding them back up will strengthen the crankshaft. Some cranks are unsuitable for grinding because they are well below OEM tolerances. In this instance you can scrap the crankshaft or decide to weld. The welding buildup includes a thermal spray and a stress relief process under extreme heat. All crankshaft will also be checked for straight. If the crankshaft is not centered the machinist will heat the crank and use a Gleason Welding and Straightening machine and re-position the crankshaft. Once the crankshaft is ground, polished and straightened it is checked for hardness via the Rockwell Hardness Scale. If the crankshaft is shipping to a humid climate it is coated in Cosmoline which is a rust proofing agent.
Crankshaft grinding is a methodical yet important part of engine remanufacutring. Today, CNC machinery can grinding and polish a crankshaft in a matter of minutes however doing it the manual way provides room for performance upgrades and a keen eye for overall strength of the crank.