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  #1  
Old 11-26-2004, 04:44 PM
Wayne Martin
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 2
Diesel for Dummies? (SVO wannabe)

Hi,

I'm a newcomer to this list, and also to MB autos. I purchased an '82 300D TD, which I love to drive. It's got a great feel on the road. I'm hooked. I want to do the work necessary to convert it to run on SVO, and am familiar with Dana Linscott and also the SVO forum on infopop.

But before I launch into that, I really need to get a grasp of diesel basics. I've spent many hours reading this forum, and I have searched terms that I thought would yield information "for dummies", but still feel like I'm really in the dark. So, where to begin? Years ago I saw a friend's book on VW Bug repairs that was funny, informative, and didn't condescend. Is there anything along those lines for MB diesels? Websites or book titles greatly appreciated.

Thanking you in advance for your tolerance and wisdom,
Wayne
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  #2  
Old 11-26-2004, 05:50 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: northern VT
Posts: 537
Not that I have ever seen, But then I have never looked. Treat it the same as you do other cars, just realize it is a little more cold blooded. Oh and they dont get along with crappy fuel. Buy clean fuel. Change the oil, and it will take care of it self fairly well. IMHO.
Jason
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84 300TDT daily driver
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  #3  
Old 11-26-2004, 06:28 PM
Waitn For The Bus All Day
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: south east pa.
Posts: 1,786
Quote:
Originally Posted by mespe
There are only 3 things that are needed to start a diesel.

1.) heat
2.) fuel
3.) RPM

In diesels, the fuel is ignited by the heat of the compression in the compression stroke. Glow plugs aid in heating up the chamber. You can actually start a diesel without glow plugs, but I would imagine it takes alot of revolutions of the engine to get the chamber hot enough to ignite.

Diesels are called compression ignition engines because there are no spark plugs igniting the fuel.

If you go to burning SVO in your mercedes get used to changing fuel filters and troubleshooting no start conditions.

best of luck
4.] compression

Great cars aren't they? Before you jump into SVO, search for a recent link called "premium diesel". Recent discussion about WVO. Very informative with good links posted by old navy, another forum member.

Welcome--this is a great site. These guys are my best friends and I've never met a one of 'em face to face!

Cheers,

Bill
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  #4  
Old 11-26-2004, 06:43 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Geographically challenged on the S.W shores of Lake Michigan in S,E Wisconsin
Posts: 1,160
also check in at

www.greasecar.com

to get a complete system and a flock of mb mechs and guys that have done the conversion and can help you from collection to filtering to install and trouble shooting.
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  #5  
Old 11-26-2004, 07:12 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 495
Diesels not only have unique starting characteristics but also unique running characteristics. The "low" horsepower ratings of Diesels scare away much of the North American public (pity), yet your first driving impression is actually how much power you actually feel. This is because the torque value is pretty close to that of an equivalent displacement gas engine, but the torque comes on strong at a much lower RPM and stays strong right to the upper rev limit. It is actually torque (rotational force) that moves a car anyway. The net result is that a "mere" 77 HP can make a 3600 lb car very drivable- if it was only a 77 HP gas engine in such a heavy car, it would not be drivable at all.

The difference comes forth as efficiency as opposed to raw performance. The engine rises to peak efficiency very quickly and stays near that peak at all times. Occasionally, demand for power will exceed the efficiency limit- such as climbing a steep hill, and the car will typically lose a bit of speed. But the reward is 30 to 50% increase in fuel economy when compared to similar displacement gas engine moving similar weight.

The latest car advertizing seems to emphasize horsepower again- we're seeing near 300 HP gas engines in ordinary mid size cars and mini vans. These cars have an abundance of HP and torque on tap to exceed the occasional peak demand, but in normal driving, only a fraction of the power is being put to use- which is very inefficient, which shows up as bad fuel economy. Modern technology in the engine compartment may provide better fuel economy than say 5 years ago, but still not as good as Diesels. Still, comparison between gas and Diesel engines is not exactly apples to apples. The "performance" aspect of a Diesel lies in a hard to define, but easily felt experience of drivability.

My favourite experience of Diesel drivability came from a '89 VW Diesel I once had. It only had 52 HP. On a few occasions, I had 3 male co-workers on board out on our lunch break. There was a rather steep incline from out of the parking garage, and I always had great fun with about 800 pounds of human cargo including myself, and the car would actually IDLE up the incline in 1st gear without stalling! Try that with a gas engine of ANY HP- it simply wouldn't work. Then at the top of the incline I would simply press on the accelerator without slipping the clutch at all, and merge effortlessly into traffic.

The reasons for this aspect of Diesel performance is largely due to the engine's compression. Remember when high compression gas engines ruled the streets- maybe about 12:1 running on premium gas. Well, Diesels are 20:1, and the higher the compression of air within the engine, the better the efficiency. Keep in mind that this extreme high compression alone actually contributes energy back into the power stroke, so that the combustion of the fuel actually has less work to do. When you add a turbocharger, you literally recover free power from the engine's exhaust. The turbo is driven by the engine's wasted energy- the scaping exhaust gases, and returns that energy to the engine's compression stroke. As a result, the pumping action of the pistons does not have to contribute all the compression, as the turbo has pre-compressed the air somewhat. But unlike with a turbocharged gas engine, the increase turbo-Diesel airflow does not demand more fuel. Fuel economy of normal Diesels and turbo-Diesels is pretty much the same, because the Diesel's charged intake only consists of air, instead of an air-fuel mixture. Net result is that the waste- exhaust energy is put back to the drive wheels without the need for more fuel.

Gas engines require a constant air-fuel mixture of 18:1 in order to run right, thus if you turbocharge the air flow, more fuel must be added to the air to maintain this ratio. Diesels on the other hand run with air - fuel ratio's that range from an extremely thin 200:1 at idle speed to 15:1 at full speed. Hence, in normal driving, the air - fuel ratio is almost always better than that of a gas engine's constant requirement of 18:1, and having the turbo does not increase fuel demand, rather it "helps" by adding free compresion of the air into the engine. This explains how a Diesel's fuel economy is just as good in city driving as it is with highway. When sitting at a red light, your Diesel is consuming virtually no fuel- just enough to keep it ticking over against the engine's compression.

Finally, when it comes to fuels, Diesels are not near as fussy as gas engines. Anything that ignites well with heat will do- and that includes very combustable french fry oil- a leading cause of house fires- right? Gas engines on the other hand require fuels that ignite with spark- true of gasoline, alcohol, or propane, but not true of the oily fuels such as Diesel, Kerosene, or vegitable oil.

Occasional "man of science"

Dave

1976 White 300D W115 "Pearl"
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  #6  
Old 11-26-2004, 07:15 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 495
Diesels not only have unique starting characteristics but also unique running characteristics. The "low" horsepower ratings of Diesels scare away much of the North American public (pity), yet your first driving impression is actually how much power you actually feel. This is because the torque value is pretty close to that of an equivalent displacement gas engine, but the torque comes on strong at a much lower RPM and stays strong right to the upper rev limit. It is actually torque (rotational force) that moves a car anyway. The net result is that a "mere" 77 HP can make a 3600 lb car very drivable- if it was only a 77 HP gas engine in such a heavy car, it would not be drivable at all.

The difference comes forth as efficiency as opposed to raw performance. The engine rises to peak efficiency very quickly and stays near that peak at all times. Occasionally, demand for power will exceed the efficiency limit- such as climbing a steep hill, and the car will typically lose a bit of speed. But the reward is 30 to 50% increase in fuel economy when compared to similar displacement gas engine moving similar weight.

The latest car advertizing seems to emphasize horsepower again- we're seeing near 300 HP gas engines in ordinary mid size cars and mini vans. These cars have an abundance of HP and torque on tap to exceed the occasional peak demand, but in normal driving, only a fraction of the power is being put to use- which is very inefficient, which shows up as bad fuel economy. Modern technology in the engine compartment may provide better fuel economy than say 5 years ago, but still not as good as Diesels. Still, comparison between gas and Diesel engines is not exactly apples to apples. The "performance" aspect of a Diesel lies in a hard to define, but easily felt experience of drivability.

My favourite experience of Diesel drivability came from a '89 VW Diesel I once had. It only had 52 HP. On a few occasions, I had 3 male co-workers on board out on our lunch break. There was a rather steep incline from out of the parking garage, and I always had great fun with about 800 pounds of human cargo including myself, and the car would actually IDLE up the incline in 1st gear without stalling! Try that with a gas engine of ANY HP- it simply wouldn't work. Then at the top of the incline I would simply press on the accelerator without slipping the clutch at all, and merge effortlessly into traffic.

The reasons for this aspect of Diesel performance is largely due to the engine's compression. Remember when high compression gas engines ruled the streets- maybe about 12:1 running on premium gas. Well, Diesels are 20:1, and the higher the compression of air within the engine, the better the efficiency. Keep in mind that this extreme high compression alone actually contributes energy back into the power stroke, so that the combustion of the fuel actually has less work to do. When you add a turbocharger, you literally recover free power from the engine's exhaust. The turbo is driven by the engine's wasted energy- the scaping exhaust gases, and returns that energy to the engine's compression stroke. As a result, the pumping action of the pistons does not have to contribute all the compression, as the turbo has pre-compressed the air somewhat. But unlike with a turbocharged gas engine, the increase turbo-Diesel airflow does not demand more fuel. Fuel economy of normal Diesels and turbo-Diesels is pretty much the same, because the Diesel's charged intake only consists of air, instead of an air-fuel mixture. Net result is that the waste- exhaust energy is put back to the drive wheels without the need for more fuel.

Gas engines require a constant air-fuel mixture of 18:1 in order to run right, thus if you turbocharge the air flow, more fuel must be added to the air to maintain this ratio. Diesels on the other hand run with air - fuel ratio's that range from an extremely thin 200:1 at idle speed to 15:1 at full speed. Hence, in normal driving, the air - fuel ratio is almost always better than that of a gas engine's constant requirement of 18:1, and having the turbo does not increase fuel demand, rather it "helps" by adding free compresion of the air into the engine. This explains how a Diesel's fuel economy is just as good in city driving as it is with highway. When sitting at a red light, your Diesel is consuming virtually no fuel- just enough to keep it ticking over against the engine's compression.

Finally, when it comes to fuels, Diesels are not near as fussy as gas engines. Anything that ignites well with heat will do- and that includes very combustable french fry oil- a leading cause of house fires- right? Gas engines on the other hand require fuels that ignite with spark- true of gasoline, alcohol, or propane, but not true of the oily fuels such as Diesel, Kerosene, or vegitable oil.
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  #7  
Old 11-26-2004, 08:25 PM
1985 300SD Sady's Avatar
Star Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 1,038
Sometime it helps to see a working diagram, this is how I learned everything I know about diesels. Lots of good info here... http://auto.howstuffworks.com/diesel.htm
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  #8  
Old 11-27-2004, 07:32 AM
Wayne Martin
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 2
Thanks for the help, and a Q

Thanks for the time taken to make the responses above. I now get what happens - at least on a basic level - with diesels. And now that I am enlightened, I don't get why there aren't far more diesels on the road (and the dealer's lots).

I'm following the shop manual thread, and will invest in those as time and $ allows.

Warmly,
Wayne
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  #9  
Old 11-27-2004, 08:14 AM
JamesStein's Avatar
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 586
Quote:
Originally Posted by mespe
If you go to burning SVO in your mercedes get used to changing fuel filters and troubleshooting no start conditions.

I've never had a no start related to SVO. No Power conditions yes.. never a no start.
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'84 300CD Turbo 132k (Anthracite Grey) - WVO - My daily driver - Recently named coo-coo-coupe by my daughter.
'84 300D Turbo 240k (Anthracite Grey) - Garage Queen
'83 300D Turbo 220k (Orient Red) - WVO - Wifes daily driver

I'm not a certified mechanic, but I did stay at a HolidayInn Express last night.
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  #10  
Old 11-27-2004, 11:31 AM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Alexandria, Virginia
Posts: 5,444
As for why there aren't far more diesels on the road, much of the general public still remembers GM's diesel disaster of the late '70s and consider diesels to be noisy, smelly and underpowered. In addition, some state EPAs have tighened up on their soot emissions regulations, effectively banning the sale of new diesel cars there.
Hopefully, all this is being addressed by newer diesel engine designs and better quality fuel.

Burning waste vegetable oil may also open up a legal can of worms in that there are laws against burning untaxed fuels in road vehicles. Enforcement may come as this practice becomes more popular. A few weeks ago, someone on this Forum reported that two people in Britain were recently prosecuted for running homemade fuel in their diesel cars.

Happy Motoring, Mark
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