Power plant swap shop

Get yourself up and running again with a rebuilt replacement engine

Engine power and torque is measured on a dynomometer to match factory specs.
Engine power and torque is measured on a dynomometer to match factory specs.

Is your old engine in need of some rejuvenation? You may want to consider an exchange unit.

What’s the worst sound in the world? We could pontificate all day, but somewhere near the top has to be the ominous knock of a doomed piston followed by a cloud of black smoke.

The sinking feeling is followed by the realisation, or at least a new engine. Happily though, there is a more wallet-friendly approach of buying a remanufactured exchange engine.

Interestingly, while the ‘exchange’ method (so-called because you exchange your old unit and some cash for one that has already been rebuilt) is has been known for many years in Europe and elsewhere, with stand alone ancillaries such as radiators and alternators available for exchange the process appears to be relatively new everywhere else.

In fact local company Taurus Engines, under the banner of Technical Solutions and Services, has been rebuilding engines for well over twenty years, but they have only been offering an exchange programme for four of those and a fully branded operation only begun in 2008.

We have come across exchange programmes many times before, but wondered what the actual process is. So what happens when your dud engine comes in for an exchange? For a start, the firm refers to engines before refurbishment as ‘cores’.

While the majority of stock comes from the locally exchanged units, a surplus of stock is kept by buying in extra cores, mostly from America, where re-use is surprisingly uncommon. Another source is from individuals who wish to sell their dud motors.

MISSING
After being taken in, the core is inspected for broken or missing parts. After inspection, the unit is logged on a database, and joins the queue for refurb.

The outlet we looked at dealt with four major brands of engine: Caterpillar, Perkins, Cummins and Detroit Diesel – though they have plans to also include Deutz and John Deere.

In this workshop, all engines are for non-road uses such as bulldozers and excavators, though a few are for marine use. It is worth noting that a boat engine may look the same as its land-loving counterpart, but its internal components are often more lightly engineered, so it is important not to mix the two up.

Once brought into the stripping room, the engine is picked bare. Even the core and the galley plugs (stops that were put in the engine during the manufacturing process) are taken out.

The head, block, camshaft, crank and sub assemblies go their separate ways to different workshops within the remanufacturing complex. A decade or more of grime and contamination is then removed in parts washers before any machining can begin.

BLOCK
Each cylinder block is checked for cracks, while all required dimensions are recorded and measured for machining purposes. The block is then line-bored to ensure the main journal bearings are on the main centre line.

Doing this reduces bearing wear and improves oil pressure and performance. The cylinders are then bored to spec and then carefully honed to perfection. The block is then de-burred and all holes re-tapped.

After this kind of attention, it is reasonable to assume there will be a certain amount of swarf, so the block goes through a high pressure wash to clean all galley holes. The casting is then processed up to the original spec.

Each crank is checked for cracks, while oil holes are cleaned out. The prop shaft is then checked for alignment, while any that won’t grind are discarded. Meanwhile the heads are rebuilt with new guides, valve seats and copper tubes.

Meanwhile, the injectors and fuel system will also need specialist attention. The workshop that we visited had a whole unit dedicated to refurbishing the high-performance items.

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