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Starting & Reversing Problems in Marine Engines

written by: Willie Scott edited by: KennethSleight updated: 11/14/2011

There are a number of reasons for starting and reversing problems in marine engines. This malfunction is one of
the most frightening and dangerous situations to encounter when maneuvering a ships main diesel engine, but it
can be avoided through regular maintenance of the air start components.

A ships main marine diesel engine is started on compressed air that is controlled by
various components of the air start system. It is a well-tried and tested reliable system, but it can go wrong if not
properly maintained.
The following sections examine a typical air start system, with the first section providing an overview of the

Overview of System
The air start system looks rather complicated, but it is quite simple when you examine it without the safeguards.
These are put in place to prevent such occurrences as starting the engine without having a signal from the
engine room telegraph, trying to start the engine with the turning gear engaged, or trying to start ahead when the
telegraph asks for astern. There are also safety systems incorporated such as a bursting disk and numerous nonreturn valves in the event of a leaking air start valve.
The next section lists some of the problems that can be encountered when maneuvering.

Problems in Air Start Systems

We shall look at two common problems encountered when maneuvering the main engine: not starting and
starting in the wrong direction (reversing instead of starting ahead).

Not Starting

As we have seen, there are various interlocks in place to prevent the engine being started until certain criteria are
met. If the engine wont turn over on air, the bridge should be informed then the following checks should be
carried out.

Check air start supply valves from air receivers are open and that the
pressure is 30 bar.

Check that the turning gear is disengaged

Check that the turning gear and telegraph solenoid valves have actuated.

This will supply air to the automatic valve, air distributer, the air manifold, and air start valve.
These are the initial checks that can be quickly carried out. If these are all satisfactory, then the problem lies in
the controls ahead/astern solenoids. The air distributer or the air start valve itself may be stuck in the closed
position. The ship will need to anchor or be towed alongside for these checks to be carried out.
Engine starts in wrong direction
If the engine starts in the astern instead of ahead direction, the following checks should be carried out.

Ensure the air start control moves to reverse mode at the control station.
This is a visual check and can be observed when the telegraph rings from ahead to stop then astern. If this
does not happen, the solenoid valve may be stuck.
The oil and air supply to and from the reversing valve should be checked. A

blockage of either will stop the reversing servo motor operating and allowing change over from the astern to
ahead position.
This again will take further investigation, so the ship should anchor or remain tied up to the quay.
As this ahead/astern changeover is controlled by lube oil and compressed air and is interlocked with the fuel
pumps. These are the usual culprits and the starting point of a thorough investigation. I have experienced this

situation only once and fortunately we were leaving port and still tied to quay by stern spring. Once the bridge
was informed, a rope from the focsle was thrown ashore and made fast. This gave us the chance to check for
the fault, which turned out to be the oil supply from the crosshead oil supply pipe being blocked.
As I have said before, the maintenance of the air start system components is paramount to the operation of the

Main Components of the System

Air supply system

Two air compressors

Two air start vessels
Numerous non-return valves
Numerous drain valves

Control system

Turning gear out sol v/v

Telegraph signal sol v/v
Automatic valve
Ahead and astern change-over
Air distributer
Air start valve

Anti-explosion components

Air supply to manifold from air vessels non-return valve- this prevents hot

gasses from returning to air receivers.

Air manifold pressure relief valve this operates if pressure rises due to heat
from gasses.

Air supply to air start valve bursting disk this disk ruptures under increased
pressure caused an air start valve leaking back.

Mandatory Safety Precautions

Before we get into the operation of the system in the next section, this is an opportune moment to make a closer
examination of the precaution against explosion, which is a very real threat even in todays modern engines that
incorporate the latest in engine management systems.


The compressor air inlet filters should be positioned in an oil-free zone, i.e. no oil fumes should be present.
The compressed air supply lines to the air receivers must be protected by non-return valves.

The air receivers

There are two air receivers, linked by a common discharge pipe to the system. The air from the compressors will
contain oil and water (there is no way around this). This mixture ends up in the air vessels as a mist, eventually
settling to the bottom of the vessel. It is imperative, and I cannot overstress this, that the mixture be drained from
the vessels after every charge, and regularly when maneuvering. The oil also coats the internal of the supply
pipes; this too can be reduced by draining the air vessels.
These actions, as well as checking by hand for heat in the air supply pipe between the air start valve and the air
manifold, form part of the watch keepers duties. Any excess heat here, and the fuel and air to that particular
cylinder should be isolated, and the bridge made aware of the situation.
Before we leave the precautions there are many examples of air start system explosions. One of worst ones
occurred on the MV Capetown Castle, killing seven engineers. Lloyds register recorded 11 such explosions
between 1987 and 1998; all down to oil gathering in the receivers and piping and ignited by exhaust gasses. One
a year speaks for itself: drain the air vessels regularily and maintain the system.

A sketch showing an air start system where the air start valve is leaking is shown below. Note the pipe that
should be checked by hand for overheating;

The Operating Principles of Marine Engine Air Start Systems

I have sailed on quite a few marine diesel engines, including B&W, Sulzer, and Stork/Werkspoor. All had
variations of the system I am about to describe, but the principles are much the same.
I drew a sketch from memory (45 years ago) but updated it from a very good website referenced at the end of the
section. The sketch also appears at the end of the section and can be referred to during the reading of the notes.
We begin then with the bridge ringing down standby on the engine room telegraph. (We used to change over fuel
from Heavy Fuel Oil to Modified Diesel Oil for maneuvering.)
1. If in port, ensure turning gear is not engaged.
2. Open both air receivers isolation valves and start up a compressor to fill receivers to maximum; drain oily
water of reservoirs and also from dead leg on supply pipe work.
3. This allows the compressed air to flow as far as the turning gear solenoid valve. Provided the turning gear is
disengaged, this will allow the supply of air at 30 bar to the automatic valve passing though the non-return valve
and into the manifold. From here the air is piped to the air chamber in the air start valve. (This is the pipe that will
get hot if you have a leaking air start valve.) The valve is held in the shut position by the spring tension.
4. When an ahead or astern movement is rung and answered on the engine room telegraph, the telegraph start
signal sol v/v is activated allowing air to the ahead and astern solenoid valves mechanism.
5. The air is now directed to the starting air distributer that is fitted on the end of the camshaft. This enables it to
select the appropriate cylinder(s) to supply air to. This will be the relevant cylinder that is just passed TDC and on
the downward stroke.
6. The air from the starting air distributer is at 30 bar, and this is injected into the air start valve top piston. This
overcomes the spring tension and forces the piston downwards thus opening the valve and introducing the air at
30 bar to the cylinder(s) having been supplied earlier to the air chamber.
7. Depending on the engine make and model, air can be supplied to several cylinders to assist starting. A "slow
start" supply can be used if there has been a lapse of half an hour between movements when maneuvering.

Maintenance of System Components


Regular inspection of filters, suction and discharge valves, as well as piston and ring checks should be performed
at the manufacturers recommended periods. Intercooler tube nests should be cleaned ensuring optimum air flow.

Air supply Manifold Relief Valve

This should be regularly inspected to ensure that the spring is operating correctly, with the complete overhaul
being to manufacturers instructions.

Air Start Valves

This is the most important component and if not maintained, will begin to stick due to a weak/badly adjusted
spring or worn piston rings allowing hot combustion gasses into the compressed air piping.
The valve should be replaced regularly with an overhauled and tested spare, the spare then being stripped and
spring, pistons, and rings inspected. The valve is ground into the seat using fine lapping paste before rebuild and
bench pressure testing.


AIR STARTING VALVE:The valve is fitted into the cylinder head. It is opened by control air from the
starting air distributor. The valve shown is from a slow speed MAN-B&W two stroke engine but a lot of
modern engines have valves working on similar principles and design.
Materials The body of the valve could be of mild steel, the spindle of high tensile or stainless steel,
and the valve and seat could have the contact faces hardened.
How it works
Main starting air at about 30 bar from the manifold enters the chamber above the valve via the
circumferential ports in the valve body. The air pressure will not open the valve because a spring is
holding the valve shut, an the area of the balance piston is the same as that of the valve lid so the
valve is pneumatically balanced.
When the valve is required to open, air at 30 bar from the air start distributor enters the the top of the
valve body and acts on a piston which is bigger in size, This pressure overcomes the spring force

holding the valve shut and pressure of trapped air from the main starting air valve, and the valve
opens. When the air signal from the air start distributor is vented, the spring closes the valve
When the start sequence is finished the main air start pressure is vented through holes in the main
start air manifold.

The Sulzer air start valve uses air on both sides of the operating piston to maintain positive closing.
The piston is stepped. The reason for this is so the starting air valve will not open when the gas
pressure in the cylinder is higher than the starting air pressure; i.e. when the cylinder is firing. Once
the valve starts to open then the opening is accelerated when the larger diameter piston has the
opening air acting on it.
After certain periods of service starting air valves are changed and overhauled. If piston rings are
fitted, care must be taken to ensure that they are free in their grooves. Should it be necessary to fit
new rings, the butt clearances of the rings must be carefully checked by placing the ring into the
operating cylinder and measuring the clearance. This is especially important if they are usually made
of brass which has a larger coefficient of expansion than the other parts of the valve. The valve and
valve seat are ground with grinding paste and finished to a fine surface with lapping paste. It is
essential to ensure that all parts of the valve are scrupulously clean before reassembly. Lubricate all
sliding surfaces sparingly with a molybdenum disulphide grease.
When an engine is in operation leakage of starting air valves is shown by overheating of the branch
pipe connecting the starting air valve to the starting air rail. The heating occurs due to the leakage of
hot gases from the engine cylinder into the starting air line connected to the starting air rail.
Lubricating oil from the compressor will under normal operation pass along the air lines and deposit
on them. In the event of a cylinder air starting valve leaking, hot gases would pass into the air pipes
and ignite the lubricating oil. If starting air is supplied to the engine this would further feed the fire and
could lead to an explosion in the pipelines. In order to prevent such an occurrence, cylinder starting
valves should be properly maintained and the pipelines regularly drained. Also oil discharged from
compressors should be kept to a minimum, by careful maintenance.
Flame Arrestors
The flame trap is manufactured from brass or aluminium alloy which both have a high specific heat
capacity. A number of holes are bored through the thick circular form to allow the air to pass through.
They are fitted in the main air line immediately before the air start valve to restrict the risk of a flame in
the cylinder propagating back to the main air start manifold, by dissipating the heat energy in the

Bursting Disks:
The safety cap consists of a bursting disk enclosed by a perforated cylinder and a perforated cover in
order to protect any bystanders, in the event of a burst. The cover is fitted with a tell tale, which shows
if the bursting disc has been damaged. If the bursting disc of the safety cap is damaged due to

excessive pressure in the starting air line, overhaul or replace the starting valve which caused the
burst, and mount a new disk

If a new disk is not available, or cannot be fitted immediately, then the cover can be turned in relation
to the perforated cylinder, in order to reduce the leakage of starting air.

Relief Valve
The sketch shows a relief valve as fitted to the air start manifold of Sulzer RTA 2 stroke engines. Its
purpose is to relieve excess pressure in the air start manifold. It consists of a spring loaded valve disk
which locates on a mating seat which is bolted to the end of the air start manifold. When the force
exerted on the disk due to excessive pressure is greater than the spring force holding the valve
closed, the valve will open.
Non return valve is provided after the Automatic air starting valve to prevent any flow of air/ hot gas to
the air reservoir.
Starting Air System Precautions
Great care is to be exercised in the operation and maintenance of starting air systems. The hazard of
compressed air and lubricating oil forming an explosive mixture must be avoided. Oil from any source
must be excluded from the starting air system.
Air compressor, starting air reservoir blow down drains are to be operated at regular intervals, and if
automatic, their function verified.
Periodic inspection of air starting system pipelines is to be carried out to ensure that no build up of oil
is occurring. Highly flammable cleaning fluids must never be used in any part of the starting air
system. Any residue of liquid or vapours could result in an explosion.
Routine duties must include the manual checking of the main air starting valve pipes for any increase
in temperature, which would indicate leakage of combustion gasses into the system. It is particularly
relevant during manoeuvring when the main air starting reservoirs are open to the system despite the
existence of non-return valves and other devices.
It is absolutely essential that if an air starting valve is in any way suspect that immediate action is
taken i.e. shutting the fuel off the unit in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, "gagging"
the valve shut, and replacing the valve at the first opportunity.
Diesel engines are started by supplying compressed air into the cylinders in the appropriate sequence
for the required direction. A supply of compressed air is stored in air reservoirs or 'bottles' ready for
immediate use. Up to 12 starts are possible with the stored quantity of compressed air. The starting
air system usually has interlocks to prevent starting if everything is not in order. Compressed air is
supplied by air compressors to the air receivers. The compressed air is then supplied by a large bore
pipe to a remote operating non-return or automatic valve and then to the cylinder air start valve.
Opening of the cylinder air start valve will admit compressed air into the cylinder. The opening of the
cylinder valve and the remote operating valve is controlled by a pilot air system. The pilot air is drawn
from the large pipe and passes to a pilot air control valve which is operated by the engine air start
When the air start lever is operated, a supply of pilot air enables the remote/ automatic starting valve
to open. Pilot air for the appropriate direction of operation is also supplied to an air distributor.

Distributor is usually driven by the engine camshaft and supplies pilot air to the control cylinders of the
cylinder air start valves. The pilot air is then supplied in the appropriate sequence for the direction of
operation required. The cylinder air start valves are held closed by springs when not in use and
opened by the pilot air enabling the compressed air direct from the receivers to enter the engine
An interlock(Turning Gear interlock) is shown in the remote operating valve line which stops the valve
opening when the engine turning gear is engaged.
This is a simplified diagram. Engine starting and reversing system has numerous small components
and interlocks for safe and positive starting and reversing and fuel admission, which is given in Engine
Instruction manual and is commonly known as Manoeuvering Diagram.

a trammel can be as simple as a flat bar bent at 90 degrees to form a pointer

that rotates on a fixed point.
The rim of a flywheel is usually marked into 360 degrees, showing the top and
bottom positions of the various cranks. This is for convenience of setting the
various valve timings. A stationary index arrow points at the flywheel
If the flywheel was not marked, the following procedure can be used:
First turn the engine up to near the top for that cylinder and mark the guide and
Then with a trammel fixed on the column and long enough to reach the crank,
mark the top of the crank
Now turn the engine over the center until the marks on the crosshead guide and
show come together and again mark the crank top with the trammel
Find the center between the two marks on the top of crank and make a center
Then turn the engine until this mark comes into line with the trammel point, the
engine will now be at top dead center for that cylinder

compressor: I think that the question may not be phrased correctly but I think it
has to with changing out worn parts to decrease the volumetric clearance
The wear of moving parts (main bearings, rings/liner) will increase volumetric
clearance and reduces the volumetric efficiency of the cylinder
Also for an air compressor with a larger clearance volume, the outward travel of
the piston will be greater before the pressure is low enough within the cylinder to
allow the suction valves to open
In consequence, a large part of the suction stroke is made ineffective and the
amount of air taken into the cylinder during each suction stroke is reduced
A lot of research was done years ago into stopping supertankers when they were
introduced, if engine speed or pitch was reduced too quickly on large ships the
propeller cavitated and lost its grip on the water so you got no breaking affect at
all. Generally, the bigger the ship, the lower the power to weight ratio and
therefore the bigger the problem with stopping. Hence the idea of reducing
engine speed in steps, half ahead, slow ahead etc however, the time / distance
at each speed setting would depend on the ship and propeller design as well as
the loaded condition. If you have a Torsion meter on the shaft you could attempt
to gradually reduce the engine speed settings in a way that keeps the Torque
from the propeller, into the engine at a maximum.
On some engines you could select Astern while the engine was being driven

ahead by the ship's momentume (but the fuel was off) you could then apply
starting air, without fuel, to bring the engine to a stop, so that it could be started
On large ships if you put the directly to full aster you would again have cavitation
problems and lose all your thrust so it is better to increase the astern power
slowly, again a Torsion meter would be a great help although in practical terms in
an emergency situation it might be difficult to be sure if the Torque was reducing
because the ship was catching up with the engine or the opposite and cavitation
was increasing!
As Jolly Jack says frequent reversal of rudder direction would also slow the ship,
although on some ships putting the rudder hard over at Full Sea Speed would
probably rip it off! Hoever a steady Port 15, Starboard 15, Port 15 would have a
significant braking effect without allowing the ship to go to far off course. This is
also used as a measure to prevent pirates boarding from small craft, it increases
the bow and stern waves making it harder to get alongside without being
swamped, and absorbing lots of power.
in an emergency how would you use start air to assist in braking a slow speed
reversing engine when going from AHD to AST. HERE IS WHAT YOU DO!
- telegraph reply is moved immediately to AST
- This will shut off fuel automatically
- lever is moved to START
- this helps to BRAKE ENGINE
-ONCE DIRECTION IS REVERSED, fuel is put back on
For B & W :
- ANSWER telegraph
- Put fuel lever to STOP
- When rev falls to about 40%
- Air is put to assist in breaking
- Once rev is seen in ASTERN DIRECTION
- Fuel is put on

Essentially you need to look at everything that could give you grief, or that could get you
detained at a future port. Think of it as doing your own port state or USCG inspection. In
reality you would judge what is necessary by the state of the ship when joining.
But working towards a worst case scenario
If you have access to the internet before you join you can check the vessel for any history of
detention etc... check for previous names and check detention history of these as well - vessel
could have recently changed owners and/or names.
You should satisfy yourself that all the emergency equipment is working as required;
Main and emergency fire pumps - ready to run and a hose test to check pressure and power
from each pump. Suggest one hose at the furthest hydrant from the pump and one from the

highest point simultaineously.

Emergency bilge suction - valve is free and that bilges are clear of anything that could block
the valve or the pump.
Machinery space bilge alarms are working
Emergency D/alt starts and can take the expected load.
Emergency batteries are fully charged and will start/run what is required.
Emergency air compressor arrangement is capable of filling the bottle.
Fire alarm system is working and that nothing is inhibited.
Fixed firefighting system is operational and ready for use.
All portable fire fighting equipment is in place and ready for use.
Lifeboats and engines are in good working order.
Sound powered phones at each locations to every other location.
You should satisfy yourself that all the machinery is in good working order;
LO analysis tests of Main Engine (including camshaft system if B&W) steering gear, stern
tube, auxiliary engines and may be a few more depending upon the ship in question. If this is
not possible there should be equipment onboard to do a water in oil test, samples should at
least be drawn to visually check oil condition.
Is the main engine scavenge space clean?
Any white metal lying at the bottom of the main engine sump?
If the fuel has been onboard for a while fuel analysis may also be a sensible test to have
carried out.
Auxiliary engines will autostart and that they can take the load expected.
Bilges are oil free and that there are no machinery leaks (oil or water).
Spare parts on board for essential equipment, main engine, auxiliary engines, fire pumps etc...
Essential tools for overhaul or removal of main engine cylinder unit.
OWS is operational and that the bilge and sludge tanks are at acceptable levels.
Fuel and LO purifiers are working correctly and not producing too much sludge.
Alarm system is working and alarms have not be inhibited.
Does the engine room operate UMS? Test the ER dead man alarm and cabin alarms.
"Engineers call" does this work.
Talk to the people you would be working with in the engine room department, ask them about
their experience either on the present vessel or previous - you can soon judge their
competence levels - and ability to speak the working language.
Familiarise yourself with the emergency controls for the main engine, steering gear, lifeboats,
lifeboat engines, and various means of starting the emergency d/alt. Change over proceedures
for engine control - bridge to engine control room, engine control room to local and back
again. Check the emergency escapes and where they come out, making sure doors are not
locked or blocked. Make sure the rest of the engine room staff know this too.
For my own satisfaction I would take a walk along the jetty looking for any large indents, and
oil leaks from stern tube and, if fitted, thrusters or stabilisers. Walk along the main deck
checking the condition of any cranes or cargo gear and the hatches and covers. Also check
funnel for smoke quantity and colour.
You can start the engine and test it ahead and astern whilst alongside, you will need to stop
cargo and raise the gangway. It may be necessary to place additional mooring lines out. But a
start test of the engine takes roughly 30 - 40 seconds and as soon as it can be seen that the

governor is controlling the rpm the engine can be stopped. If the engine is tested in the
reverse direction for a similar period the ship should end up where it started You should
test from all control stations, bridge, engine control room and local control position.
If the vessel is fitted with Bridge control and it is proved ok at the start ahead and astern tests
then there should be no trouble to give them control. If there is any doubt leave on engine
control room control and change over once in clear waters.
You could check discharge books and certificates of the other engineers onboard if the Master
will let you.
I would ask to see the latest class status report and check for any conditions of class and any
overdue survey work.
You could ask to sight all the statutory certificates;
Load Line
Safety Construction
Safety Equipment
Dangerous Goods (if applicable)
Vessels maintainence history, defects list and outstanding work list.
Main engine parts running hours
Last main engine bearing clearances and crankshaft deflections.
Outstanding orders for machinery parts.
Read through the engine room log book, and check that all parameters are what you would
consider normal.
If possible read through past Chief, third and fourth engineers handover notes.
Who is the designated person ashore, who is the emergency contact?
Any parts of the ISPS plan that you are allowed to see, and your role/responsibility onboard.
Muster list and your duties in an emergency
I'm sure I will think of more as the day goes on, and that the others in the forum will also add
some relevent points or comments to the above.
Steering gear and main engine points I will reply with separately, when the boss is not
Taken from one of my assignments as a cadet, so some of this may be a bit basic, but I think
that this covers most things for a older two stroke engine.
Preparing a Diesel to Start After Long Periods of Inactivity.
Before a diesel is started after a period of inactivity i.e. a drydock, it must be very gently be
coaxed up to a operational standard to reduce mechanical and thermal stresses which would
be present, not only in the engine but in the systems involved in running the engine. A rough
guide is given below.
1. Check the liquid level, and condition, of all tanks belonging to the engine, i.e. jacket

cooling tank, the piston cooling water tank, the L.O. sump, and governor L.O. level, and refill
if necessary.
2. Line up and start cooling water pumps, vent the systems, and check for, any leaks, correct
operating pressures and flow rates.
3. Line up and start the S.W. cooling pumps, vent the system, check for any leaks, correct
operating pressure and flow rates.
4.The cylinders and pistons must be warmed up gradually over a period of at least eight
hours. To a final temperature between 65 and 75oC. This is done by passing steam through
the heating coils, either in the tank or in the line. Steam must never be injected into the water
system as this can lead to corrosion problems.
5. Make one last inspection of the crankcase to ensure nothing has been left inside, and that
everything appears normal. Line up and start the L.O. pump, vent the system, and check for,
any leaks, correct pressure, flow and that the oil is flowing uniformly from all the bearings
and guides, i.e. there are no blocked lubricating points. Close up the crankcase.
6. With the indicator cocks open the engine should be turned over (by means of the turning
gear). To check that there is no hindrance to the turning, or water leaking out of the indicator
cocks. Whilst turning the cylinder lubricators should be turned to ensure correct lubrication of
the liners.
7. Start to heat up, to their correct temperatures, the wing tanks, the F.O. settling and service
tanks. When up to the correct temperature drain all tanks of any water that has collected. Line
up and start both the F.O. purifier and clarifier. Leaving the F.O. to recirc between the tanks.
8. Line up and start F.O. booster pump, vent the system and check for, any leaks, correct
pressure and flow. Crank the fuel pumps over to ensure that there is diesel right up to the
9. Start the air compressors, and fill up the air reservoirs to their correct pressure (30
Kg/cm2). Drain off any water that has collected. Line up the rest of the air system, check for
any leaks, water that may of collected in the lines, correct pressures at all points, and that the
starting interlocks are working, i.e. the turning gear interlock.
10. Check the reversing servomotor, regulating linkage, running direction safety device, the
emergency fuel lever, engine telegraph, telephone link to the bridge, and emergency
telephone link with the bridge for proper functioning.
11. Drain off the air side of the air cooler, charge air receiver and piston skirt space for any
water that may have collected.
12. Disengage the turning gear, inform the bridge, and turn the engine over on air, from both
the control room and the engine side controls. To ensure that everything is free and operating
13. Inform the bridge and turn the engine over on fuel, both ahead and astern, from both the
control room and the engine side control, to ensure that there is diesel right up to the injectors
and no air in the lines and that everything is free and working correctly.
The engine is now ready to be run. The above description is only a brief outline of the
procedures needed to get a diesel engine to a state of readiness after an overhaul. I have made
several assumptions above and these include:
1. That the engine has been reassembled correctly and that any faults have been already found
and corrected.
2. That the F.O. system has been lined up and started with diesel in the lines.
3. That if any leaks or mistakes have been found, whilst checking the engine, they have been
corrected before continuing
Running a Diesel for the First Time After a Long Period of Inactivity.

Before a diesel can be run as `normal', after a period of inactivity, it has to be run up slowly
so that everything can be checked for correct operation, i.e. the coolers, the governor, the
trips, etc... A rough guide is given below.
1. The first run should be limited to a low speed, low power run. The engine should only be
run for a period of about 30 minutes, with a constant watch kept, for any abnormalities, on all
pressures and temperatures. After The first 30 minutes the engine should be stopped and all
external surfaces checked for overheating. If there is no sign of overheating the crankcase
should be opened up and a check made on internal bearings and running gear to ensure that
all temperatures are normal.
2. If all is satisfactory it may be restarted and run for a little longer, again at low speed and
power. This time all the trips and safety devices should be checked for correct operation, i.e.
the low L.O. pressure trip, overspeed trip, automatic pump starts, etc...
3. Once everything has been checked and is found to be satisfactory, the engine can be
brought up to full speed in small steps taking about 6 hours to reach full speed. Whilst
running the engine up to full speed, the fuel oil system can be changed over from diesel to
4. When the engine has reached full speed and all pressures and temperatures are satisfactory,
when compared to the original trial data, a set of indicator cards should be taken to check the
timing and condition of each unit.
The engine is now ready for normal use. The above description is only brief and several
assumptions have been made, these include :
1. That any defects found when preparing the engine, were corrected.
2. That any defects found whilst running up were corrected.
Running a Diesel Engine on Heavy Fuel Oil.
Changing from Diesel to Heavy.
Before changing from diesel to heavy fuel operation, it is necessary to heat the diesel oil in
the mixing column, fuel pumps, lines and pre-heater up to about 50C.
The system must be heated through slowly as abrupt changes in temperature may cause the
fuel pump plunger to stick. It is advisable to heat only the fuel lines, the mixing column, and
the filters, to begin with and if the diesel has not reached 50C to use the pre-heater.
If the fuel oil temperature is normally controlled by a viscotherm this must be by-passed,
when preheating the diesel, and the temperature regulated by hand.
The engine must be kept running on preheated diesel oil until the fuel oil pump blocks feel
warm to the hand. If this is the case, change over from diesel to heavy can be effected by way
of the three way cock.
After change over the fuel temperature is brought up to the `required preheating temperature'
for the heavy oil. If the temperature is regulated by a viscotherm, the latter can be put back on
During change over from diesel to heavy and until the `required preheating temperature' has
been reached, it is advisable to not exceed 75% of the nominal power.
Changing from Heavy to Diesel.
To change over from heavy fuel oil to diesel oil, the three way cock is firstly to be changed
over. The heavy oil and diesel oil will then mix in the mixing column. The viscosity of the
circulating mixture for a given temperature will correspondingly drop as the proportion of
diesel oil increases. The temperature in of the fuel circuit can gradually be reduced and the

heating may be completely shut off after a while.

Manoeuvring on Heavy Fuel Oil.
When manoeuvring on heavy fuel care must be taken that the `required preheating
temperature' is maintained at all times. The high-pressure fuel pipes must be kept heated and
the fuel valve cooling kept at its required temperature.
Stopping on Heavy Fuel Oil.
The fuel oil booster pump should be left running such that the fuel circulates through all the
fuel pumps and back to the mixing column. The high-pressure fuel pipes must be
continuously heated, the fuel valve cooling water heated to its normal operating temperature,
and the fuel oil kept at its `required preheating temperature'.
Starting on Heavy Fuel oil.
Because the fuel oil has been kept at the required temperature no special conditions have to
be met when restarting the engine.
Steering gear must be tested within 12 hours prior to leaving port. This is a SOLAS
requirement. If the ship is on short voyages (dont ask me what that is defined as) then the
tests can be done weekly.
The following items need to be checked, if fitted:
Main steering gear
Emergency steering gear
Remote steering gear system
Emergency power supply
Rudder angle indicators compared to rudder angle
Steering gear power failure alarms
Steering gear control system power failure alarms
Automatic isolating valves and system
Oil level in the emergency storage tank
The full movement of the rudder should be checked, a visual inspection of all linkages, and
the operation of the emergency communications with the bridge should be tested. If a gyro
repeater is fitted in the steering gear compartment the heading shown should be compared
with that on the bridge.
At deepest draught, running ahead, the rudder should move from 35 degrees to 30 degrees
(both port to starboard and starboard to port) within 28 seconds.
Using emergency steering system the rudder should be capable of moving 15 degrees to 15
degrees within 60 seconds when running ahead at one half normal service speed or seven
knots which ever is the greatest. Whilst you can not simulate that in port, the rudder must be
able to complete these movements within the times redquired. Ifthe rudder is almost at the
maximum time whilst operating in port it could be considered a good posibility that it wont
acheive the required times on voyage.
Generally the steering gear tests used to go like this;
Duty engineer phones the bridge from the steering gear this proves the emergency
communication line.
Bridge starts one steering gear, and moves rudder from hard over to hard over whilst timing

and back to midships.

Once rudder back at midships, take out breaker for running unit. Power fail alarm will sound
and second unit wil start.
Replace first breaker
Bridge will repeat movement of the rudder, stopping at a 10 and 20 degrees (port and
starboard) to verify actual rudder position versus reported position.
Take out second breaker to verify power fail alarm and autostart of first motor
Replace second breaker
Ensure that both systems are running and check full movement of rudder again.
Confirm gyro repeater heading
Leave bridge to test follow up, non follow up and remote steering positions and return to ER.
I think all the previous posts have covered everything except Fuel.
UK Regulations used to be that you should have sufficient fuel on board for the estimated
consumption to the next Port plus a safety margin of 3 days or 3% whichever was less.
You can always be cought out by the unexpected. I was told about a passenger cruise liner
that had been sold, and a full Deck and Engine room crew joined to sail the ship the same
When they tried to start the main engines ( 4 Pielstick V12s) none of them would start from
the control room, if they started them locally, the WABCO control system did not recognise
that they were running, so it was impossible to clutch them in remotely. If they were clutched
in locally, the WABCO system still did not recognise that they were running or clutched in, so
it was impossible to control pitch or RPM remotely!
Eventually they found that the there was a start interlock on all the main engines linked to the
ventilation fans!!
All the machinery space supply and exhaust fans had to be running before you could start the
main engines.
When transitioning between HFO and MGO it is assumed that the diesel and HFO mix in the
mixing tower or tank.
But is this the case?
During trials of a new digital viscometer, significantly more accurate and much faster
responding than the conventional twin capillary, and logging the data, some anomalies were
Normally, at full load, the fuel flow to the engine is at about twice the maximum consumption
rate. This gives a good heat flow from the engine back to the mixing tank and a 50/50 mix of
hot fuel (eg 140C) from the engine and cooler make up HFO (98degC?) will result in fuel
arriving at the heaters not far below the target temperature (120degC) and the heaters can
work efficiently and under relatively stable control.
Usually the transition between MGO and HFO, during shutdown or start sequences, takes
place with the engine under very low load conditions with very lttle fuel consumed.
Hence at low load the proportion of fuel returned from the engine is much higher and the
MGO is only a small proportion leading to a progressive step sequence of small viscosity and
temperature changes easily managed by the heater.

This is seen as small drops in viscosity and temperature and the heater gradually ramps down
(shutting down sequence).
Ideally at the start of the sequence the 90% (say) return flow of neat HFO mixes with 10%
MGO resulting in a small drop in viscosity and temperature. This interface between the neat
HFO and the mix of HFO and MGO will circulate to the heater when the small step change is
easily managed. When the interface between the neat HFO and 90/10 HFO/MGO reaches the
mixing tank a new interface is created between 90/10 and 80/20 and another incremental step
change in heater control is effected. (the step increment and interval also depends on the
capacity of the high pressure circuit).
However, it was found that cold MGO introduced into the mixing tank instead of mixing with
the HFO from the engine, remained in the mixing tank while the higher density HFO was
tunnelling through the MGO and flowing to the engine neat and hot. After a while the mixing
tank was flooded with MGO which then flowed as a slug of cold low viscosity fuel. This
wasn't a clean transition and the cycle repeated a few times with alternate slugs of hot and
cold fuel.
This prompted the engine manufacturer to re-assess the mixing tank design.
Apart from the undesirability of neat cold diesel reaching the engine (seen as a step change in
viscosity and temperature at the viscometer) it meant that the heater control was unsettled.
The low viscosity MGO (which was heated to the HFO temperature before the heater could
respond - the viscometer is in the outlet) and then caused the heater to be ramped down so
that when the next interface with hot HFO arrived the heater was unable to respond fast
enough to prevent the HFO going to the engine at too high a viscosity. This aggravated the
problem at the mixing tank when hot MGO was even lower density than the fresh MGO.
Always interesting to monitor the data and see what is happening and why. And it is
surprising what insights even the two usual measurements of temperature and viscosity will
Of course, when complying with MARPOL sulphur directives transitioning takes place under
full load which requires a different management strategy but which still depends on an
efficient and effective mixing tower or tank.
Be interesting to see how many have noticed these odd effects and who may still have
ineffective mixer designs.
I wonder, by the way, why mixing tanks are used rather than inline static mixers which would
deliver a nice homogeneous mixture. Headloss isn't a problem since this is the high pressure
circuit with a decent PD pump.
PS I understand that samples are often collected from the mixing tank.
I suggest that this layering/tunnelling effect may make such samples rather less useful during
shutdown and start sequences and especially when making a full load transition between low
sulphur and high sulphur fuels - even when switching between LSHFO and HSHFO rather
than LSMGO and HSHFO?
I don't see how you would have time to check all this things when you sign on. I always
demand a handover/overlap time on a new ship so i can make my opinion if to stay or not. I
believe any serious company should give a weeks handover at least. And stopping cargo
operation for testing the engine, were i work it would be unheard of and the chief engineer

would get phone call from the office fast!

As a help for calculating LSHFO - HSHFO i use this FOBAS calculator. It is pretty accurate
we have taken samples at diffident times and been close in sulphur content. Its good to play
around with the numbers and see the different changeover times you get, with different fuel
consumption and sulphur content.

Air Starting Systems


Various types of starting and reversing systems are found on motor ships. Large engines are usually
started by using air pressure. However other starting systems are used on smaller engines.
The usual methods of starting an engine are:

1) Hand - cranking (e.g. lifeboat engine, emergency air compressor engine, emergency fire pump)

2) Electric batteries (e.g. emergency generator engines, main and auxiliary engines for small craft,
lifeboat engine)

3) Air motors (small engines)

4) Hydraulic motor (e.g. emergency generator engine)

5) Air starting system (large engines)

1.1) Small Engine Starting Systems

Some smaller engines are started electrically. Usually the starting motor is a series wound d.c. motor
with the voltage across the motor varying between 6 and 120 volt. Series - wound motors have a very

high starting torque, which, of course, is necessary to move main engine from stationary position,
overcoming high static friction, to a moving state. Where the frictional forces are less. Air starting
motors, too, may be found on the small engines. The air starting motor, attached to the engine
through gearing, rotates the engine to start a compression ignition process. There are two types of air
starting motors, the piston type and the vane type. This system is quite common on medium speed
engines. The third type of small engine starting system is hydraulic. This system is more common
than the other two, particularly, on small and medium size high-speed engines. These starting
systems use a piston type hydraulic motor. The hydraulic pressure in the system is about 200 bars
and the system cut off pressure, when no more starting is possible, is around 100 bar. Typically, there
is a hand pump and an electrical or engine driven pump. One of the pumps should be hand driven to
allow an emergency startup when there is no power. System has accumulators, which are charged
with nitrogen. As the hydraulic motor is activated, the accumulators maintain a high pressure
throughout system so that there is not an immediate pressure drop.

1.2) Large Marine Engines Starting Systems

Almost all the marine diesel engines are started by admission of compressed air in that cylinder which
is in the starting position with respect to the direction of rotation. The compressed air acts on top of
the piston and reduces a starting torque at the crankshaft. The shaft is set to rotate upto a minimum
firing speed when air is compressed in some other cylinder producing a temperature sufficiently high,
to ignite the fuel.

Ques: How do the physical conditions contribute towards the starting of an engine?

Ans: When

a diesel engine is started after a period of idleness a high initial torque at low
revolutions is necessary to accelerate the engine rotating and reciprocating masses. One of the
principle factors is to overcome the forces of adhesion between the bearing surfaces due to
the presences of cold lubricating oil between them. In slow speed engines with the propeller
directly coupled with the shaft, the load on the engine cannot be taken completely off at the
time of starting. The walls of combustion chamber being cold there will be a greater heat flow
to the lower temperature of compression at the time of start. An engine, which has been
warmed up by the metallic surfaces of the combustion chamber, viscosity of lubricating oil
lowered, will have the starting speed reached earlier.

In a two stroke main propulsion engine the starting air should be admitted in such a way that the engine can be
set to motion in either direction from any position, to satisfy this condition the minimum cranking angle possible
is the angle by which the cranks are displaced plus a period of overlap. The starting phase is most effective
during a part of the expansion stroke. The overlap required for the period when one cylinder is at the end of
starting range and phasing out the other cylinder is just entering in the starting torque. Unless a large overlap is
given the starting torque, during this period, is inadequate. The concept of STARTING AIR OVERLAP will be
dealt in detail later in the paper.

Quesn: Why are marine engines preferred to be started on AIR than on ELECTRICITY?

Ans: If

we take the example of an ordinary car engine, we observe that the size of battery used
to crank the engine before the engine picks up on fuel is almost equivalent to that of the
engine itself. Considering the huge sizes of large engines (specially, marine engines) and the
amount of electrical power requirements to set such engines in motion, it becomes clear that
the size of battery required for the purpose would either be equal to the size of engine or
perhaps greater than that. The increased space and maintenance a requirement of such a
large battery thus makes it unfit for the marine applications. Instead an easily obtainable,
hazard-free & economical solution is preferred i.e. AIR.



The starting of a diesel engine is one of the crucial operations dependent upon which is the normal
service of the engine. A reliable starting is also a factor that materially influences the ship's
maneuverability. The starting is effected by setting a crankshaft to rotate at a speed that will produce
the ignition temperature in the engine cylinders. The starting falls into three stages which are cranking
the engine by means of compressed air until some cylinders fire, picking up the cycle on fuel without
the engine's misfires an acceleration to a speed in accordance with the fuel injection pump setting and
the warming up of the engine with the gradual increase in load to a given value.

Marine practice favors the starting with compressed air. High-speed diesel engines may employ the
starting either by air or electricity. The main requirement is that the crankshaft must be rotated at
the minimum cranking speed to effect the starting by air irrespectively of the position of the
crankshaft, therefore a two-stroke engine must have at least four cylinders and a four stroke
six cylinders. (For further understanding go to section- Starting Air Overlap).
To obtain a trouble free starting, the cranking period may vary with the condition of air fuel inter mixture, fuel
self-ignition and the state of the engine. So much so, that the USSR register calls for the builders guarantee that
the engine will startup from cold failure free at an engine room temperature of at least 8 degrees C. The period,
which elapses, before the engine is under its own power on being cranked by air is between 2 and 8 seconds. At
this stage the running is irregular and the exhaust is smoky.

The irregular running is due to the fact that some of the cylinders misfire and the engine gains speed in jerks as
the cylinders pickup the cycle on fuel one after another.


Starting air comes directly from the ships medium-pressure (MP) or high-pressure (HP) air service line or from
starting air flasks, which are included in some systems for the purpose of storing starting air. From either source,
the air, on its way to the starting system, must pass through a pressure-reducing valve, which reduces the higher
pressure to the operating pressure required to start a particular engine.

A relief valve is installed in the line between the reducing valve and the starting system. The relief valve is
normally set to open at 12 percent above the required starting air pressure. If the air pressure leaving the
reducing valve is too high, the relief valve will protect the system by releasing air in excess of a preset value and
permit air only at safe pressure to reach the starting system of the engine. In the following section, we will
discuss two common types of systems that use air as a power source for starting diesel engines-the air starting
motor system and the compressed air admission system.


Some larger engines and several small engines are cranked over by starting motors that use compressed air. Air
starting motors are usually driven by air pressures varying from 90 to 200 psi.
In figure 1, starting air enters through piping into the top of the air starter housing (1)
and flows into the top of the cylinder (2). The bore (3) of the cylinder has a larger
diameter than the rotor. The rotor (4) in side the cylinder is a slotted rotating member,
which is offset with the bore of the cylinder. The rotor carries the vanes (5) in slots,
allowing the vanes to maintain contact with the bore of the cylinder. The pressure of the
starting air against the vanes forces the rotating member to turn approximately halfway
around the core of the cylinder, where exhaust ports (6) allow the air to escape to the
atmosphere. A shaft and a reduction gear connect the rotating member to a Bendix
drive, which engages the ring gear of the flywheel to crank the engine.


The compressed air starting system comprises air compressors, air bottles, high pressure pipes, main
maneuvering valve, reduction valve, starting air distributor, starting valves on engine cylinders, etc.

The compressed air starting systems vary with the type of engine and may comprise low-pressure air bottles at
20 to 30 kg/cm2, MP air bottles at 60 to 80 kg/cm2 and HP air bottles at 150 to 250 kg/cm2. In the latter two
cases, reducing valves are used for reducing the air to 20 to 30 kg/cm2. Starting air pressures range from a
minimum of 6 to 10 kg/cm2 to a maximum of 25 to 30 kg/cm2. Control air pressures are in the range of 5 to 10

Methods of Starting with Compressed Air:

This can be done in the following ways:

Supplying starting air and fuel in sequence to the engine cylinders

Simultaneous supply of starting air and fuel in sequence to the engine cylinders. This
is generally used on medium and high speed powered engines.

Supply of fuel in sequence to two groups of cylinders of the engine, e.g. to 4 out of 8
cylinders at a time.

Simultaneous supply of fuel to all engine cylinders. This method is generally used for

Ques: Is there any fixed rpm to which the engine should be accelerated with
compressed air before it picks up the cycle on fuel?

Ans: . In general, starting is achieved by cranking the engine to a shaft speed of between 15-25%
of the nominal speed, which results in a mean piston speed of between 0.7 to 1.5 m/s.

Cranking is done by hand on small engines upto 25 to 30 hp by using decompression

arrangements to ease cranking effort. Electric starters can be used on high-powered engines.
Some low powered engines have both systems, of which one is a back up system.
The starting shaft speed is dependant upon the design features of the engine, combustion
chamber design, method of fuel injection, moment of inertial of the rotating assemblies and
temperature of water and air.

The shaft speed at which starting occurs is largely influenced by the type of fuel and the
manner of its delivery and depends upon the following factors:

Type of fuel & its cetane no.; hence engines burning heavy fuel, use a lighter fuel
such as diesel oil, while starting

Selection of the optimum angle of fuel injection

Quantity of fuel delivered; this should be around 50-75% of the full delivery.
Quesn: Comprehensively describe, how an engine picks up its cycle on fuel after being
accelerated by the starting air?

Ans: Figure 2 shows a typical indicator diagram during starting, for a mechanical operated
starting valve. From the moment air is admitted to the cylinder till the piston commences it
motion (point a), the pressure of the cylinder rises rapidly from the ambient pressure to the
max starting pressure (point b) the pressure of air entering the chamber of varying volume, is
almost constt. When the starting valve is shut (point c) the polytropic expansion of air
commences, followed by the exhaust, compression, etc.

After a few strokes on air (curves 2,3) fuel is supplied and if the engine has developed the
necessary speed of rotation, the first working diagram of the engine on diesel fuel, is obtained
(curve 4). The mean indicated pressure of the first diagram is around 3-7 kg/cm2, with
pressure after the first ignition reaching more than 1.5 times the maximum combustion
pressure. During the start process, the angular velocity of the shaft increases sharply, during
the first few revolutions of the shaft; hence each successive indicator diagram of the starting
differs considerably from its predecessor. In addition, the start process does not complete
with the first ignition, hence it is essential that during each succeeding working stroke, the
excess gas energy (after accounting for friction losses) be used for increasing the shaft speed
and accelerating the engine. As the engine accelerates, the mean indicated pressure of air
initially decreases rapidly and later slowly. The effectiveness of the start process, as
mentioned earlier, is dependant upon the thermal state of the engine and the method of fuel

Quesn: Elucidate, how engine starting is affected as a function of the thermal state of an

Ans: (Ref. Figure3, 5,6-above) Figure 3,above shows the variation of shaft speed and the
fuel rack position for a 2-S engine for a cold start (curve 1), a warm start (curve 2) and the
next warm start (curve 3). The intensity of acceleration of the engine increases with thermal
state of the engine, while the acceleration process is dependant upon the manner of fuel

The temperature of the air, cooling water, lubricating oil and the cylinder walls, determines
the thermal state of the engine. These temperatures are almost equal to each other, when the
diesel is started in cold condition. The starting diagram for the 2-S engine referred to in fig3
at various cooling water temperatures, is shown in Figure 5. It is evident that the duration
of start process is longer and the acceleration of the process is slower, at lower cooling
water temperatures. The starting indicator diagrams for the same engine at 5,15 and 30 deg
C show the increase in work done by gases with increase in temperatures (Fig 6).

A cold diesel engine is warmed through for easy starting in the following manner:

Circulation of hot water or steam through the cooling water system, generally from
the ships services.

Circulation of warm oil through the engine.


The compressed air starting system comprises air compressors, air bottles, high pressure pipes, main
maneuvering valve, reduction valve, starting air distributor, starting valves on engine cylinders, etc. Lets
understand the function of each component involved, before we proceed to understand the starting air circuit, as
a whole:

4.1) The Main Air Starting Valve/ Automatic Valve

The main air starting valve, installed on the air starting line, downstream of the starting air bottles, enables
repeated starts when the starting air bottles are opened. Besides it also synchronizes the moment of air delivery
to the starting system with respect to the reversing mechanism and the fuel supply.
Main air starting valves (see FIGURE 7 & 8) are divided into balanced and unbalanced types as per their mode
of operation and could be controlled either mechanically or pneumatically controlled. Balanced type valves are
more reliable in service as compared with the unbalanced type and hence widely used.
The main starting valve is operated from the control position through a control valve, which could either be of
the pressure or relief type .The relief type of control valve is used in conjunction with the unbalanced main
starting valves, while the pressure type is used with balanced main starting valves.
An example of an unbalanced main air-starting valve used on the sulzer SD72 engine is depicted AT FIG.7.
Compressed airflows around the external spaces of the valve, passes through the gap 2 between the valve
spindle3 and the internal body, to space 7. Valve 4 remains shut under the combined action of the spring and the
air pressure. On opening the relief valve 8, located at the control post, air from space 7 is released and the valve
4 opens under the action of air pressure in space 6, which overcomes the pressure of spring1.
Balanced pneumatically operated valves of the type depicted at fig 8 are widely used. Valve 2 located within the
casing 1(SEE FIG 8) prevents air from space A (connected to the air bottle) passing to space B (connected to the

starting valve). Valve 2 is maintained in a closed position by the combined action of spring 3 and the starting air
pressure acting above the valve. The space above valve disc A and below space B is connected through pipe 7,
to the relief type control valve shown at Fig 8b, while pipe 6 is led to the atmosphere. During starting, the
control valve is opened and air from space A passes to the control valve. Air from the control valve flows
through 4, to the connector 5 in the main valve and to space a in the pneumatic cylinder. Due to the differential
pressure on the valve disc, valve 2 lifts and starting air from space A passes to space B and to the starting valves.
Valve 2 also shuts off the atmospheric outlet 6, when in the open position.
On completion of the starting process, air to the pneumatic valve is shut off, air within
leaks to atmosphere and the main valve shuts under the action of the spring. Air in the
pipeline is released to atmosphere through opening 6, while that in the pneumatic
cylinder is released through opening 4.

After the first injection of fuel in the engine, the fuel control lever is placed in the position corresponding to the
required regime. With this, pneumatic valve shuts automatically and air to the main starting valve stops and
engine runs on fuel.

4.2) Starting Air Distributor:

Starting air DISTRIBUTORS (SEE figures 9 & 10) control the sequence of opening and closing
the pneumatic operated starting valves mounted on the cylinder heads in accordance to the firing
order thus admitting air into the engine cylinder. These are of 2 types-disc and slide valve
construction. In the slide valve type, the number of slide valves equal the number of starting cylinder
valves and could be grouped in a single casing or installed individually for each cylinder.

4.2.1) Disc Type Air Distributor

(MAN B & W)

. It consists of body 4containing cylindrical distribution block 5 with vertical drilling 10 in its upper end face
and rotor 2 fitted to the vertical shaft 7 driven from the camshaft through bevel gear 8. Distribution block 5 has
as many passages being connected each to corresponding drillings 10. Rotor 2 is provided with a passage of a
diameter equal to that of the vertical drillings 10. On opening the starting air master valve, valve, pressing the
rotor registers with drillings 10 connected to the starting valve of the engine cylinder which is in a position
ready for cranking, air continuous its travel into this cylinder. Thus, the rotor, actuated from the camshaft,
becomes connected to the rest of the drillings in the distribution block which, in their turn, are connected by
lines to starting valves in a way prescribed by the firing order.

While the rotor is a sliding fit on a key, permitting vertical displacement along shaft 7, the distribution block is
arranged to turn about the same shaft from one exchange setting into another, corresponding either to right hand
or left hand rotation of the crankshaft at starting. Thus, the distribution block provides for a firing order in

running ahead and one for running astern depending on the setting which can be changed with the aid of rack 9
meshing gears on a side surface of the distribution block and linked to the reversing handle by way of tie rod.

On the delivery of starting air into one cylinder, its starting valve closes, and the process of feeding starting air
into rest of the cylinders is repeated cylinder by cylinder in accordance with the firing order.

When the engine has picked up the cycle on fuel, the rotor goes on rotating because of being rigidly linked to
the camshaft. To minimize wear on the end face of the rotor, it is set out of contact with the distribution block by
spring 3. At the same time, the drilling of the block registering with the opening in the rotor is connected to a
relief valve to relieve the starting valve of pressure.
Flanged bracket 6 serves to mount the starting air distribution valve on the engine.

4.2.2) Slide Valve Type Distributor-SULZER


The starting air valves in the cylinder heads are pneumatically controlled by pilot valves 3 arranged in the
housing 4. Each individual pilot valve is connected to a starting air valve by a closing pipe CP and an opening
pipe OP.

The pilot valves 3 are arranged radially according to the engine firing order. They are actuated by starting
cams5, which are fitted to the upper end of the vertical shaft 1.

As long as the starting control air distributor receives no control air the pilot air valves3 are held off the starting
cams 5 by the tension springs3a. (CLEARENCE S FIGURE 5A).

In this position of the pilot valves the opening pipes OP are vented to the vent space VS. When the starting
air shut-off valve is opened, the distributor space DS and the closing pipe CP are filled with air from the
starting air receivers upto the starting air valves. All the starting air valves remain closed.

When reversing the engine, the shaft 1 and the starting cams 5 are turned relative to the crankshaft by the
reversing servomotor in such a way that the timing remains equal with the new turning direction of the

1 Shaft CA Control Air pipe (8 kg/cm2)

2 Sleeve SA Air Inlet (30/25 kg/cm2)

3 Pilot Valve RS Annular Space

3a Tension Spring DS Distributor Space
4 Housing VS Venting space
5 Starting Cam CC Base circle of the cam
6 Roller P Pressure Space
S Clearance

Mode of Operation
Assumption: Engine at a standstill. The starting air shut-off valve is opened.

When the starting button is pressed or when by controlling the engine at the auxiliary maneuvering stands,
The starting lever is put into the START position; control air flows through pipe CA into annular space RS
and space P and pushes the pilot valves inwards until the rollers 6 land on the starting cams 5.

The roller 6 of at least one pilot valve 3 now lies on the base circle BC of the starting cam 5. (FIGURE C).

In this position of the pilot valve the distributor space DS is connected by the opening pipe OP and the vent
space VS with the closing pipe CP. The upper side of the control piston of the starting air valve in the
cylinder head is supplied with air whereby the valve opens. Starting air flows into the respective cylinder. The
crankshaft begins to turn. The starting cams 5, driven by the camshaft and shaft1, also begin to turn. The pilot
valve 3 moves outwards following the starting cam 5 profile. The opening pipe OP is now connected to the
distributor space DS with the vent space VS and the closing pipe CP. The starting air valve in the cylinder
head closes (FIGURE B). It remains closed as long as the roller 6 of the pilot valve 3 lies on the cam circleCC
of the starting cam 5. As soon as the roller leaves the cam circle and moves towards the base circle BC the
previously described process is repeated.

When the starting button is released or when, by controlling the engine from the auxiliary maneuvering stand,
the auxiliary starting lever is released, the control air supply to the starting control air distributor is interrupted
(space RS and P is vented) and the pilot valves 3 are pulled back to their original; position by the tension
springs (FIGURE A).

4.3) Air Starting Valve (MAN B & W, SULZER-RTA)

These valves fitted in the engine cylinder covers, supply starting air to each cylinder. The timing for the opening
and closing of starting air valves is controlled by the cam(s) on the engine camshaft which actuate the distributor
valves. The supply of starting air from the automatic valve is led through a common starting air rail fitted along
the length of the engine with separate branch connections to each cylinder air starting valve.
The valve is fitted into the cylinder head. It is opened by control air from the starting air distributor.
The valve shown is from a slow speed MAN-B&W two stroke engine but a lot of modern engines have valves
working on similar principles and design.

The body of the valve could be of mild steel, the spindle of high tensile or stainless steel, and the valve and seat
could have the contact faces stellited or hardened.

How it works
Main starting air at about 30 bar from the manifold enters the chamber above the valve via the circumferential
ports in the valve body.

The air pressure will not open the valve because a spring is holding the valve shut, and the area of the balance
piston is the same as that of the valve lid so the valve is pneumatically balanced.

When the valve is required to open, air at 30 bar from the air start distributor enters the top of the valve body
and acts on a piston. This force overcomes the spring force holding the valve shut, and the valve opens. When
the air signal from the air start distributor is vented, the spring closes the valve
When the start sequence is finished the main air start pressure is vented through holes in the main start air

The Sulzer air start valve uses air on both sides of the operating piston to maintain positive closing. The piston is
stepped. The reason for this is so the starting air valve will not open when the gas pressure in the cylinder is
higher than the starting air pressure; i.e. when the cylinder is firing. Once the valve starts to open then the
opening is accelerated when the larger diameter piston has the opening air acting on it
The stepped piston also means that closing of the valve is damped as air gets trapped in the annular space
formed when the smaller diameter piston enters the upper part of the cylinder.

The air to operate the valve comes from the main air start supply. The distributor pilot air operates the pneumatic
change over valve.

After certain periods of service starting air valves are changed and overhauled. If piston rings are fitted, care
must be taken to ensure that they are free in their grooves. Should it be necessary to fit new rings, the butt
clearances of the rings must be carefully checked by placing the ring into the operating cylinder and measuring
the clearance. This is especially important if they are usually made of brass, which has a larger coefficient of
expansion than the other parts of the valve. The valve and valve seat are ground with grinding paste and finished
to a fine surface with lapping paste. It is essential to ensure that all parts of the valve are scrupulously clean
before reassembly. Lubricate all sliding surfaces sparingly with a molybdenum disulphide grease.
Quesn: What are the indications of leaking starting air valves?
Ans: When an engine is in operation leakage of starting air valves is shown by overheating of the branch pipe
connecting the starting air valve to the starting air rail. The heating occurs due to leakage of hot gases from the
engine cylinder into the starting air line connected to the starting air rail. During periods of maneuvering the
temperature of each supply pipe from the air rail to the starting air valve should be checked by feeling the pipeas close to the valve as possible.
Ques: What are the usual causes of starting air valve leakage?Ans: Leakage of a starting air valve is usually
caused by sluggish valve action preventing fast closure of the valve, or by dirt or foreign particles from the
starting air supply lodging on the valve seat and so preventing the valve from closing fully. Sluggish valve
action can be caused by dirty pistons or valve spindle guides and the like. In newly overhauled valves sluggish
valve action may be caused by parts fitted with inadequate clearances.

Quesn: What causes an Air Start Valve to stick?

Ans: Leakage of a starting air valve is usually caused by sluggish valve action preventing fast closure of the
valve, or by dirt or foreign particles from the starting air supply lodging on the valve seat and so preventing the
valve from closing fully. Sluggish valve action may be caused by dirty pistons or valve spindle guides and the
like. In newly overhauled valves sluggish valve action may be caused by parts fitted with inadequate clearances.

Quesn: How can I tell if an Air Start Valve is leaking or has jammed open?

Ans: When an engine is in operation leakage of starting air valves is shown by overheating of the branch pipe
connecting the starting air valve to the starting air rail. The heating occurs due to the leakage of hot gases from
the engine cylinder into the starting air line connected to the starting air rail. During periods of manoeuvring the
temperature of each supply pipe from the air rail to the starting air valve should be checked by feeling the pipe
as close to the valve as possible.

Quesn: What should I do If an Air Start Valve jams open whilst manoeuvring?

Ans: The fuel pump should be lifted (fuel rack zeroed, puncture valve operated or whatever) on the affected unit
and the bridge informed. The load should be kept at a minimum, as one unit is now out of operation. As soon as
safe to do so, the engine should be stopped and the air start valve replaced.
the figure shown below gives an idea as to how the starting air distributor line is connected to the starting air
valve, mounted on the cylinder head.

Connection of Starting Air Distributor to the Starting Air Valve



Large Marine Diesel Engines are started using high-pressure compressed air. The air is admitted into the
cylinder when the piston is just past TDC and continued until just before the exhaust valve opens. There is
always more than one air start valve open: - a situation known as overlap. This ensures that the engine will
start in any position. The opening of the main air start valves is controlled by a set of pilot valves, which in turn
are timed to operate by a drive linked to the main camshaft. In the example shown, a small camshaft is used to
control the opening and closing of the air start pilot valves.
The drawing shows the principle of operation of an air start system. Large air receivers are used to
store the compressed air. The diagram shows the isolating valve open so air is being allowed as far
as the automatic valve and the air start control valve.
When the engine is required to start, a low-pressure air signal is sent to the air start control valve
(which can also be hand operated in an emergency). The air pushes a piston down, which opens the
valve and allows high-pressure air to flow to the pilot valve and the automatic valve operating pistons.
The pilot valve is forced down onto the cam profile and the automatic valve opens and high-pressure
air is led to the main air start valves and the pilot valve. When the pilot valve cam follower is on the
lowest point on the cam, air flows to the operating piston of the main air start valve for that particular
cylinder, opening the valve and allowing high-pressure air to flow into the cylinder.

When the cam lifts the pilot valve, the pilot valve vents and the main air start valve closes. When the
start air signal is taken off the air start control valve, the system vents and the automatic valve shuts.

The figure below shows the second phase of operations.

An interlock blocking valve will operate, for instance if the turning gear is left in, and this will stop
high pressure air from reaching the air start control valve and thus either the automatic valve or the
pilot valve.

A slow turning valve is fitted. This will open instead of the main automatic valve if the engine has
been stopped for more than 30 minutes during maneuvering. It will only supply enough air to turn the
engine over very slowly; this is a precaution incase a cylinder has had oil or water leak into it which
would cause damage to the engine when starting. If the engine completes a full revolution on the slow
turn, then the main automatic valve opens and the engine will start. (Note: The operating system for
the slow turning has been omitted for simplicity).

The system is provided with a non-return valve, flame trap and relief valve for safety purposes.

Quesn: What do you understand by the terms interlocks and blocking devices in a starting and
reversing mechanisms?
Ans: The function of the interlocking gear is to assure that the engine
runs in the desired direction and no fuel is injected prior to the completion
of the reversing operation. The engine can be started only after the
interlocking gear has performed its function, i.e. the reversing gear has
been set into position for running ahead or astern.

An interlocking gear provides for correct functioning of the reversing gear

and assures safe sailing of the ship. It is an indispensable element of the
reversing gear for all direct-reversing diesel engines in marine
applications. Most of the modern interlocking gears are of the mechanical
type, which is simple and reliable.


Some overlap of the timing of starting air valves must be provided so that as one cylinder valve is
closing another one is opening. This is essential so as to ensure no angular position of the crankshaft
with insufficient air turning moment to gibe a positive start. The usual minimum amount of overlap
provided in practice is 15 deg. Starting Air is admitted on the working stroke and the period of opening
is governed by practical considerations with three main factors to consider:

The firing interval of the engine:

Firing interval = (Number of degrees in engines cycle)/(Number Of


E.g. with a four cylinder Doxford engine (2-S) the firing interval is 90 degs, i.e. (360/4) and if each
cylinder valve covered 90 degs of the cycle then the engine would not start if it had come to
rest in the critical position with one valve fractionally off closure and another valve just about to
start opening.

The valve must close before the exhaust commences. It is rather pointless blowing
high-pressure air straight to exhaust and it could be dangerous.

The cylinder starting air valve should open after firing dead center to give a positive
turning moment in the correct direction. In fact some values are arranged to start
open as much as 10 degs before the dead center because the engine is past this
position before the valve is efficiently well open, and in fact any reverse turning
effect is negligible as the turning moment exerted on a crank very near dead center
is small indeed.

Consider FIGURE 7A for a 4-S Engine: -

With the timings as shown the air-starting valve opens 15 degrees after dead center and closes
before exhaust begins. The air start period is then 125 degs. Firing interval for a 6-cylinder 4-S
engine=(720/6)=120 degs. The period of overlap is 5 deg, which is insufficient. Although this
example could easily be modified so as to give sufficient (say 15 degs) overlap by reducing the 15
degs after dead center and the 10deg before exhaust opening on turbo-charged engines and a 7cylinder 4-S engine is much easier to arrange.

Consider FIGURE 7(b) for a 2-S engine;

This has an air start period of 115deg. Firing interval for a 3-cylinder 2-S engine=(360/3)=120 deg.
This means no overlap. Modification can arrange to give satisfactory stating with this example but for
modern turbo-charged 2-stroke engines having exhaust openinh as early as 75deg before BDC it
becomes virtually impossible. A 4-cylinder 2-S engine is much easier to arrange and would be
adopted but in fact for modern practice requiring such high powers the number of cylinders is
increasing and 4-cylinder engines in increasing and 4-cylinder engines are becoming in the minority
so that there are virtually no air period starting problems.

Consider FIGURE 7C, which is a cam diagram for a 2-S engine with 4-cylinders. The air open
period is 15 digs after dead center to 130 degs after dead center, i.e. a period of 115 degs. This
gives 25 deg of overlap [115-(360/4)], which is most satisfactory. Take care to note the direction
of rotation and that this is a cam diagram so that for example No.1 crank is 15 degs after dead center
when the cam, would arrange to directly or indirectly open the air start valve. The firing sequence for
this engine is 1432. This is very much related to engine balancing and no hard and fast rules can be
laid down about crank firing sequences, as each case must be treated on its merits.

It may be useful to note that for 6-cylinder, 2-S engines a very common firing order is153624 and
similarly for 7 and 8 cylinders 1725436 and 16428357 respectively are often used.

The cam on no.1 cylinder is shown for illustration, as it would be for operating say cam operated
valves, obviously the other profiles could be shown for the remaining three cylinders in a similar way.
The air period for Nos. 1, 4, 3 and 2 cylinders are shown respectively in full, chain dotted, short dotted
and long dotted lines and the overlap are shown shaded.


The consumption of air during starting is independent on a number of factors, the important
ones being:

The thermal state of the engine,

Starting Air Pressure

Duration of the Start Process,

Experience of the operators starting the engine.

The actual air consumption observer during trials on the engine can be expressed as:

Q = (Pstair1- Pstair2)Vb/n starts, Nm3

p-st air1 and p-st air2 are the pressures in the air bottle before and after the start process,
Vb is the volume of the air bottle in m3,
n-is the number of starts.

The pressure of air in the bottle at the commencement of start is around 25 to 30 kg/cm 2.

The mean specific air consumption for the slow speed engines is 1.6 to 5 litres/litre of the engine cylinder
for each start and 4 to 8 litres/litre of the engine cylinder for each reverse. On medium speed engines this
is around 1 to 2 litres/litre of the engine cylinder for each start.

Design of the compressed air line of the starting system comprises determining the overall pressure
loss between the air bottle and the starting valve. This data indicated that this is of the order of 4060%. Hence, for air bottle pressures in the region of 20-30 kg/cm 2 , the pressure in the engine cylinder
before start is of the order of 8-18 kg/cm2. The pressure loss in the line is not only dependent upon the
flow losses, but also on the starting pressure itself.

For example,. for p-st air = 30 kg/cm2 , the loss is 20 kg/cm2 ( 60%) while for p-st air = 30 kg/ cm2, the
loss reduces to just 5 kg/cm2 (25%).

While carrying out the strength check on the starting valve, the following is done:

check the specific pressure on the taper section, which should not exceed 250-300

Determine the thickness of the valve disc using the expression;

= 0.5d (Pz/ Rb)0.5 cm

d smallest diameter of the valve disc, cm.
Pzcombustion pressure, kg/cm2.
Rbpermissible bending stress for various metals in kg/cm2 .

Reversing Systems
A marine diesel engine coupled directly with the propeller must be reversible. The reversing system
must include means for turning the engine in the opposite direction by compressed air. To state in
simplistic words, reversing can be achieved by admitting air in the unit in which piston stands
marginally short of the TDC position. The fuel injection system should therefore adopt itself for astern
running. It is therefore necessary to reposition the camshaft or a new set of cam to be brought into
action in order to set the engine to a firing sequence commensurate the reversed running direction.

The conditions, which must be satisfied, are:

a change in the sequence of starting air admission

repositioning of camshaft for reversed running firing sequence

There are 5 solutions to reversal of the engine timing, which are as follows:

Reversing Servos on all camshaft-such as old SULZER

Separate ahead and astern cams with axial movement.

Timing of fuel pumps, exhaust valve symmetrical.

Fit air distributor as per DOXFORD where reversal is performed internally by


Fill fuel pumps as per B&W new design where the follower is repositioned
relative to the camshaft and this retimes pump for new direction. Exhaust
timing is symmetrical.( Dealt in detail later)

In this paper we shall confine our discussion to direct propulsion marine engines reversing, which
basically entails three types of reversing systems:

Sliding Camshaft

Reversing Latch

Rotating Latch

The rotating camshaft is used only on two stroke cycle ported engines.

A sliding camshaft-( MITSUBISHI DESIGN) is illustrated in the adjoining figure . The rocker arm
roller is in constant contact with the cam, either the ahead cam or the astern cam. When the engine
stops, the camshaft moves in a lengthwise direction. A ramp between the head and the astern cams
allows for constant rocker arm roller contact. There may be cam followers with pushrods that lead to
rocker arms. This type of reversing system is used on two-stroke & four-stroke cycle engines.
The reversing latch method of moving the camshaft is also illustrated in figure 13.The side view in
figure shows that there are two rollers on the reversing latch cart. the camshaft does not move, but
the reversing latch as it is called does. By moving the reversing latch, the roller is allowed to engage
with the ca. The cam follower, which would actuate the push rod, acts on the middle of the reversing
block all the times.
The reversing latch itself may be either manually or hydraulically actuated. This system is found on
two and four stroke cycle engines.
In a two-stroke cycle engines, the same fuel cams may be used for ahead and astern operations of
the engine. This is accomplished by rotating the camshaft by means of a reversing servomotor,
actuated by lubricating oil pressure, as illustrated in Fig. 14. To reverse the engine, the control
lubricating oil is directed to the proper side of the rotary vane, which is connected to the camshaft.
The pressure of the oil against the vane then forces the vane to move through an arc to the astern
position. The number of cylinders on the engine determines the arc of travel.

To go ahead again the lubricating oil pressure shifts the vane back to the ahead position. The same starting air
cam is used for both the ahead and the astern positions, and the same fuel cam must also be used. This is
possible only if the cams are symmetrical. To prevent oil leakage from the housing, the whole unit is sealed.


The reversing mechanism system should be able to perform several functions:

1. it must stop the fuel to the cylinders when the engine stops.

2. When the engine is put in the ahead position, the fuel pumps should be in a position to
supply fuel; then the starting air supply should be activated.

3. When maneuvering from the ahead to the astern position, the fuel must be stopped and the
cams moved to the astern position. During this period a brake is often applied to the shaft
to stop the engine. If the engine is still rotating, it may continue to run in the same
direction even though the cams are shifted. The exhaust valves would then act as inlet
valves, and the engine would exhaust through the intake valves into the engine room. As
the engine goes to astern, fuel is supplied and then the air is started. There are usually a
variety of interlocks associated with engine reversing. If the cam position is not correct, the
engine will not start. If the lube oil pressure is not correct, the engine will not start. There
may be other interlocks, depending upon the manufacturer.


Most main engines are of the direct-coupled 2-S type, medium or high-speed engines require
reduction gearing and the trend here is to unidirectional types. Hence the need for the reversing
mechanisms for 4- S engines is reducing. For these reason the 2-S reversing mechanism will be
considered in greatest detail.


It is usually necessary to reposition the fuel cams on the camshaft, with jerk pumps, so that reversing
can utilize one cam this avoids the complication of moving the camshaft axially. This means that it is

necessary to provide a LOST MOTION CLUTCH on the camshaft and the concept of lost motion will
therefore be explained first and then the need for such lost motion clutch will be discussed.

Quesn: What is Lost Motion?

The fuel pump cam follower is moving up the rise of the cam on the delivery stroke. The cam is correctly
in time with the E/G
the delivery stroke. The cam is correctly in time with the engine
On a two-stroke engine, the fuel pumps must be retimed when the engine is required to turn
in the opposite direction (i.e. astern). If one cylinder of the engine is considered (left), the
piston is just before TDC with the engine running ahead and the crankshaft rotating
clockwise. The piston is moving up towards TDC. The picture on the right shows the fuel cam
at this point; where the cam follower is rising up the lift of the cam as it rotates clockwise. This
point can be considered as the start of injection
Here the fuel pump cam is in the wrong position. When the piston is just after TDC, fuel delivery should
have finished and the follower should be approaching the peak of the cam.
If, at this point the engine is stopped, and is started in the reverse direction (astern), the crankshaft
now moves in an anticlockwise direction. Then the piston in this particular unit is now moving down
the cylinder and is just after TDC. At this point fuel injection should have just finished. However, by
studying the picture of the cam (right) it can be seen that the camshaft has reversed direction
(because it is directly driven from the crankshaft), and is also rotating anticlockwise.
In the picture the follower is moving down the cam which means the fuel pump plunger is just
finishing the suction stroke; i.e. completely out of time with the engine.

So that the Fuel Pump cam is timed correctly with the crankshaft when the engine is reversed, the fuel
cams are rotated by a hydraulic servomotor, which changes the position of the cams relative to the
crankshaft. The angle through which the cams are turned is known as the Lost Motion
angle.Although this can be made to happen when the engine is still rotating, it is probably easier to
think of the engine stopped as shown left and the camshaft moving as shown on the below. Once the
fuel cams have moved, the engine can then start running in the reverse direction (anticlockwise).

Quesn: Discuss the need of Lost Motion Clutch and also describe its function?
Consider the engine position to be dead center Ahead with the cam peak center line to be 55 deg
after this position, anti-clockwise ahead rotation, for correct injection timing ahead. If now the engine
is to run astern (clockwise) the cam, is 55+55=110 deg out of phase. Either the cam itself must be

moved by 110 deg or while the engine rotates 360 deg the cam must only rotate 250 deg (110 deg of
lost motion). Note the symmetrical cam 75 deg each side of the cam peak centerline made up of 35
deg rising flank and 40 deg out of dwell. The flank of the cam is shown on an enlarged scale in Figure
15. It will be noted that the 35 deg of cam flank is utilized for building up the pressure by the pumping
action of the rising fuel pump plunger (14 deg) for delivery at injection 10 deg before firing dead center
to 8 deg after firing dead center and 3 deg surplus rise of flank for later surplus spill variation. It is
obvious that the lost motion is required with jerk pumps, cam driven, in which a period of pumping is
necessary before injection starts.

LOST MOTION CLUTCH functions as follows:

Refer now to fig.16. The design, which is based on older SULZER engine practice, has a lost motion on the fuel
pump camshaft of about 30 deg. When reversal is required oil pressure and drain connection are reversed. Oil
flowing laterally along the housing moves the center section to the new position, i.e. anticlockwise as shown on
the sketch in fig. 16. The oil pressure is maintained on the clutch during running so that the mating clutch faces
are kept firmly in contact with no chatter.

There are a number of variations on this design but the principle of operation is similar although not all types
rotate the clutch to its new position before starting and merely allow the camshaft to catch on with the
crankshaft rotation when lost motion is completed.


The reversing servomotor turns the camshaft with the fuel cams through a definite angular distance
and thus repositions the cams for a new sequence of firing. The distributor cam is also turned at the
same fuel timing I relation to TDC of the piston is reached both in the ahead and astern directions.

The servomotor casing is provided with spur gear at its outer periphery. It is geared to crankshaft
through at least two intermediate gear wheels. The camshaft is fitted with flaps by which it can be
turned inside the servomotor casing through an angular distance of 98 degs while moving from one
end position to other. The flap with the camshaft is
turned by hydraulic pressure. The acknowledgement movement of the telegraph lever initiates the
reversing maneuver when the reversing cock is simultaneously turned. The control oil under pressure
is admitted in one side of the flap while the other side is connected to the drain. The flap together with
the camshaft is rotated till it travels upto the end position and held against stop. During the rotation of
the camshaft when the cam position is not definite, the starting hand lever remains locked by the
hydraulic interlock device. After the cam has turned its full angular movement high pressure oil flows
to another line and releases the hand lever through the hydraulic interlock. During operation in ahead
or astern direction the servomotor flap is held against stop in the running direction while the other side
remains filled with oil under pressure. The rotation of camshaft is independent of the rotation of the
crankshaft; hence it is called as lost motion of camshaft.

Quesn: Why the exhaust valve timing (exhaust cam) of 2-stroke engines doesnt require
adjustment while reversing while fuel cam and starting cam do?
Ans: If a timing diagram for a two-stroke engine is examined, it can be seen that the exhaust valve
starts to open at about 110 after TDC (position 4 on the diagram). After the initial blow down of the
exhaust gas from the cylinder, the scavenge ports are opened at about 140 after TDC (position 5), as
the piston moves down the cylinder.
The position of the scavenge ports is fixed in the cylinder liner, and so it should be obvious that their
opening and closing must be symmetrical about BDC, and therefore they close at 140 before TDC as
the piston moves up the cylinder on the compression stroke. When the engine is operating in the
reverse direction, the timing of the opening and closing of the scavenge ports remains the same.
The exhaust valve can be timed to open and close symmetrically about BDC, and so again it means
that when the engine is reversed, the exhaust valve will open and close at the same time as when the
engine is running ahead. This means that there is no need to alter the position of the exhaust cams
for astern running.
Engine builders may not time the exhaust valve symmetrically about BDC; instead, to achieve more
economical and efficient operation when running ahead may retard the opening of the exhaust valve
by up to 15. For instance the exhaust valve may be timed to open at 125 after TDC and close at 95
before TDC. This of course will mean when the engine is running astern, the exhaust valve will open
and close early.
However, because the engine runs astern for only a very small percentage of its operating life, the
advantages gained when running ahead far outweigh the disadvantages when running astern.
Quesn: Explain the MAN B&W reversing principle.
Ans: The fuel pump cam on the MAN B&W MC series engine is designed to raise the plunger on the
injection stroke and then keep the plunger at the top of its stroke while the follower stays on the peak
of the cam until just before the next delivery stroke when the follower returns to the base circle of the
cam, and the fuel pump plunger moves down on its suction stroke.
The animation on the left shows the cam follower just beginning to move up the slope of the cam with
the camshaft rotating in anticlockwise direction. (i.e. start of injection)
If the engine direction is reversed at this point, then air will enter the pneumatic cylinder as shown and
will move the piston to the right. The cam follower will be moved across and would finish in the
position shown which would be at the correct fuel pump timing for running astern.
It should be noted that the reversal of the follower only takes place while the engine is rotating. If the
engine had been stopped from running ahead, and then started astern, the fuel pump followers would
move across as the engine starts to rotate, and before the fuel is admitted by venting the fuel pump
puncture valves.
A micro switch shown on the LHS detects whether the follower has moved across. If not, an indicator
light is lit in the control room, however the engine will still start if a follower fails to move, perhaps due
to corrosion in the servo cylinder. A high exhaust temperature deviation alarm would operate within a

short time. Allowing the engine to start in this situation could be useful during maneuvering in confined


Ignition in a diesel engine is accomplished by a combination of fuel injection and compression of
intake air. Diesel engines normally require longer cranking periods than gasoline engines. At low
ambient temperatures, a diesel engine is extremely difficult or impossible to start without adequate
accessories to assist in the starting process. As the outside temperature drops, battery efficiency is
reduced and cranking load becomes high. The increased load results from higher oil viscosity. The
cold cylinder walls also chill the incoming air, and the air cannot reach the temperature required for
combustion. The methods used for helping an engine start in cold weather include (1) heating the air
in the cylinder (glow plugs); (2) heating the intake air (grid resistor); (3) adding a volatile, easily
combustible fluid (ether) to the intake air; or (4) heating the coolant and/or lubricating oil


Deriving its power from the battery, the glow plug is a low-voltage heating element that is inserted in
the combustion chamber of each cylinder. The glow plug is used briefly before the cold engine is
cranked. In general, the time limit for the use of the glow plug is dependent upon the ambient
temperature and the design of the engine. The operating temperature of a glow plug is between
1652 and 1832F.


The grid resistor usually consists of an electrical resistance grid mounted on a frame and supported
by insulating blocks in the engine air-intake manifold. Current from the starting battery preheats the
grid, before the engine is cranked, and is operated during the cranking period until the engine has
reached operating speed.
The basic drawback in the use of glow plugs or the grid resistor as starting aids is that they require
battery power that is also needed for cranking. The cranking power of a battery is already reduced at
low temperatures. In the following examples, note how the cranking power of a battery is reduced as
the ambient temperature drops:
80F 100 percent
32F 65 percent
0F 45 percent



Shut-Off valves on air receivers are closed.

Starting Air pressure is too low.

Changeover valve in the control panel above the auxiliary maneuvering stand is not in
the Remote Control position.

No control air pressure. The fuel lever at the auxiliary maneuvering stand is not in the
Remote Control position.

The turning gear is in. Its blocking valve prevents control air from flowing to the
starting systems valve group.

Control valves for the main automatic starting air shut-off valve is either jammed or
fails to open fully.

Control Valve in the starting control distributor remains struck or the control air fails to
press it down onto the starting cams (pressure too low)

One or more starting air valve control air pipes are wrongly connected.

Starting air shut-off valve does not open because it is either not in the position
Automatic or it has struck.

The non-return valve in the starting air shut-off valve is stuck and only opens slightly.


Individual cylinders are receiving either no or insufficient starting air (restriction in

the starting air piping)

One or more starting control air pipes are wrongly connected to the starting control air
distributor or to the starting air valves.

Starting Air pressure too low.

One or more control valves in the starting control air distributor remain stuck.

Starting control air distributor drive is wrongly coupled up.

Starting air valves of individual cylinders are defective.


Two-position cylinder for reversing does not work.

The reversing control valve is out of adjustment

The reversing servomotor for the starting control air distributor is stuck in the previous
position or has jammed before reaching the new end position (oil pressure

The engine turns in the desired direction on starting air, but receives no fuel because
it is still being blocked by the rotation direction safeguard.



The fuel pump regulating linkage is defective, out of adjustment or restricted by a

foreign body.

The regulating linkage does not go to position 0 when the shutdown servomotor is
in the stop position.

Shutdown servomotor or the corresponding control valve is jammed.

The stop signal from the reversing lever is not reaching the shutdown servomotor,
e.g. defective pipe.


Marine Internal Combustion Engines--- A. B. Kane

B.Sc. Marine Enginnering,Marine IC ENGINES--- National Maritime Academy,


Marine Diesel Engines---D.K.Sanyal

Lambs Question and AnswersJohn Lamb

Handout on Starting Engines---Cmde. Dhareshwar

Sulzer Engine RD- Manual

Sulzer Engine RTA-Manual

Daihatsu Engine----Manual

MAN B&W Engine-Manual

The running and maintenance of marine machinery ---- J. Cowley

Websites:- ,


After the introduction of internal combustion engines for the propulsion of the
ship, there had been many changes that had occurred in the construction of engine
structure. The engine structure must be sufficiently rigid enough to ensure the
crankshaft does nit bend excessively when subjected to excessive loads and frames
must adequately support the cylinder block. The frames are mounted on upper face
of bed plate using small diameter frame feet bolts and the cylinder block attaches
to the upper face of the frames using similar fitted bolts. Thus we can shortly
describe about the a- frames used in the construction of the engine as,

A frames are the structural unit of the engines

They help in forming the skeletal system of the engine.

USE OF A- frames:

They act as a part of the main engine structural longitudinal girder

(supporting member).

Helps separating in different units in multicylinder engine.

When joined prefabricated steel plates (outer skin) forms structure of Aframes for multi cylinder engine.

The above-mentioned structure when placed on bedplate forms crankcase.

(The joints between these two must be leak proof as in smaller engines may
have lubricating oil)


Frames are sandwiched between bedplate and cylinder block by tie rod,
which leads to compression force.

Side thrust due to reaction of the angularity of the connecting rod.

Weight of the cylinder block and other equipments mounted above such as
exhaust systems and the turbo charger.

Jackscrews used to keep the main bearing caps in place act on the frame
cross pieces to impose the additional stress.


Good compressive strength.

Good rigidity as it carries the weight of the entablature and other mountings.


Frames were earlier made of cast iron.

Later frames were fabricated from mild steel tube and plates.

OPENINGS ON A- frames:

A-frames are provided with lightening holes, which helps in

1. Easy maintenance using light source through these holes,

2. Ensuring perfect alignment of the after fabrication as holes of all the A-

frames should be in a straight line.


Frame design aims to achieve a strong and rigid structure with the lowest
possible weight and minimum need of machining.

Lower faces where the frames attaches itself to the bed plate and the upper
face where the cylinder block sits must be machined along with the
mounting parts for the guide bars.

Frames were made hollow to reduce weight

They were fabricated from mild steel tube and plates,

In order to make fabrication of A-frames as easy as possible a departure was

made from the earlier double-sided crosshead guide in favor of the single
sided one.

The A-frames now consist of a simple box like structure, the main wall plate
that is brazed to one another by welded-in pipes of ample diameter.

Normally on engines designed for operation on single sided crosshead

guides, the individual A-frames are bolted together with heavy plate, this
serves the double purpose of
- Supporting the guides,
- Ensuring longitudinal rigidity of the engine.

The frames used for A-frames and bedplates, which are specially suited to
welding condition, can also be made in cast iron but in place of a box form
the open ribbed type of a construction would be employed.

These A-frames are machined on the edge, to ensure that correct spacing of
the deck plates.

Suitable small pieces of plates are introduced in positions where extra

rigidity is required or stresses might be expected, tubular distance piece are
also inserted between the main deck plates.

Heavy plates are also used for the top and bottom and also for attaching the
center and side crosshead guides.

These plates must be thicker because after all welding has been done they
have to be machined to present a matching surface to the other components.



A-frames are fabricated from tight steel plates welded together with full
penetration weld in critical places.

The plates are grit or shot-blasted and given a cat of priming material before

Various attachments are welded to the frames.

These forms mounting, for the crosshead guides main crankcase cover,
piston-cooling supply pipes, piston cooling return drains etc.

Flanges are mounted on top and bottom of the A-frames.

After fabrication and welding, the A-frames may be heat-treated.

Following heat treatment machining operations are carried out on the upper
and lower flanges and the guide plate mounting face.

The boltholes for the upper and lower flanges bolting on drilled undersize.

When the A-frames are erected, the boltholes in the flanges are reamed to
the correct size for fitted bolts.

Guides (cast iron) for crosshead were bolted on the frames made up of cast

This particular arrangement uses individual frames at each cross girder (of
the bed plate) position.

In case of sulzer engine the A- frames on symmetrical has oil-cooled guides.

Guides are provided with antifriction material like

-Lead bronze steel

-White metal

The anti friction material is attached with DOVE TAIL GROOVE

arrangement which ensure proper fixing to guides.


It helps to hold the following together

In compression.

They are hydraulically tightened to pressurize the structure maintaining the

engine structure in compression.

Hydraulically tightening is done ensuring PRE-TENSIONING of rod so that

developed stress in engine while working or lesser than already existing
stresses, which reduces cyclic loading on engine components.