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dpaws

Historical engine - which engine gauges and why?

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Evening all,

I've had a vintage(ish) twin cylinder water cooled engine fitted (Samofa 2S108 30hp@1500) and would like to know

which engine gauges are essential

which are very useful to have

and which are an absolute waste of space 

A Lister was installed previously with only an oil pressure gauge, but coming from an aviation background with cockpits full of gauges for just about everything imaginable and not being familiar with the quirks and warning signs that these older engines have I felt quite vulnerable with just the single oil pressure gauge.

I have shortlisted oil pressure, oil temperature, coolant temperature and an RPM/tacho. The old hands probably didn't even have an oil pressure gauge but...

I'd appreciate any comments / feedback - has a coolant temperature gauge saved someone from cracking a head? Is the oil temperature gauge a waste of a thermometer or could it provide an early warning sign of trouble, what type of trouble etc.. Do you recommend alarms or warning lights?

 

Much obliged, as always

 

 

 

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Don't do it, you'll only scare yourself and end up watching the gauges. I doubt they will tell you anything you want to know until it is far too late anyway

Richard

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2 minutes ago, RLWP said:

Don't do it, you'll only scare yourself and end up watching the gauges. I doubt they will tell you anything you want to know until it is far too late anyway

Richard

This reminds me of a wonderful book, which I inherited from my Dad, called 'You Have Been Warned' by Fougasse and McCulloch - a 1930s humorous book about motoring. On the subject of dashboard gauges, it said something like "A sudden change can mean a hundred different things to the expert, but only one to the novice, who won't have noticed anything anyway".

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Ahhh, you mean just like in the cockpit? :unsure: 

Well, I was only thinking about having one roof mounted and in view whilst underway and the rest down in the engine room. Gauges were really useful in cars with the older engines to forewarn of trouble but I know these old diesels are very different creatures... Experienced hands can diagnose everything by ear it seems, and more so after a beer or two, but until that skill is learnt then I feel vulnerable... an RPM mounted somewhere in the engine room is useful as I can describe a rpm range in which a strange noise is occurring, or diagnose generator issues more accurately for example...  

2 minutes ago, Athy said:

"A sudden change can mean a hundred different things to the expert, but only one to the novice, who won't have noticed anything anyway".

Absolutely the truth!!! Very nice :clapping:

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I've got tide marks around the top of my tea mug, serves more or less the same purpose - struggling a little with the yaw strings on my glasses though... ;) 

Edited by dpaws

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I find 2 oil pressure gauges, oil and water temperature gauges are enough on my Gardner, one oil pressure gauge is roof mounted with another in the engine room. Rev counter not needed, Electrics have 2 Voltmeters and an hour meter.

That's enough for me!.

To check 'spinning things' I have a nice Swiss Made instrument with an assortment of rubber ends.

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3 minutes ago, LEO said:

To check 'spinning things' I have a nice Swiss Made instrument with an assortment of rubber ends.

Thanks Leo - strange you should mentioned the spinning things, I just came across the very same and wondered if it would actually be a whole lot more useful than a normal tacho...

 

 

Snip20171006_9.png

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Hi,

That's similar to the one I have and use - they are useful in setting things up and can be used for a variety of engines. It's difficult to fit a tacho to an engine, most seem to take a connection from the alternator.

I have come across some with a magnet and cycle data recording unit but my 'Spinning thingy' seems Ok.

I think I would try and get a good manual on the engine.

L.

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I'd suggest the essential requirement is your ears.

Most other dials merely tell you it's too late and indicate the reason why, should you be mildly interested.

Should your motive power be of particularly fine Pedigree/Sound/Appearance then you might want to fit an "Admiring Glances Dial" Position it just inside your engine 'ole doors on the bulkhead and tap it occasionally.

  • Greenie 1

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28 minutes ago, LEO said:

It's difficult to fit a tacho to an engine, most seem to take a connection from the alternator. I think I would try and get a good manual on the engine.

Good advice Leo - I have quite a bit of engine data and paperwork thanks to the guys on the Dutch forum - obviously it's all in Dutch but my cellfone does a google translating thing with the camera, magic really...

 

2 minutes ago, zenataomm said:

Most other dials merely tell you it's too late and indicate the reason why, should you be mildly interested.

Should your motive power be of particularly fine Pedigree/Sound/Appearance then you might want to fit an "Admiring Glances Dial" Position it just inside your engine 'ole doors on the bulkhead and tap it occasionally.

image.png.f822da0623973198603aacc44cc05e90.png

You seem to read right through me! Yes, guilty, the motor's fully "tarted"... Eckythumper's blog put me onto this beauty :blush: 

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To be honest I think an oil pressure gauge is about all you need, a tacho is useful if your motor red lines at 6000 rpm but apart from that not worth the bother, water temp could be useful but I wouldn't bother with much else. This summer I fitted a fuel level gauge and that is absolutely brilliant as the fuel tank is really awkward to get at and the top is just beneath the deck - no room for proper dipstick, just poked bits of bendy grass in it and never knew when we would run out.

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Thanks Bee - for fuel I use a weighted line with some gasoil paste smeared on the line and some water finding paste smeared on the weight - working on oil tankers is what I do for a living :) A gauge is less messy though, I must concede, but I like the smell...

 

Snip20171007_10.png.79157eb9c227ac7c785b2f4d60ab8f28.png

Edited by dpaws

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For fuel and water testing I use a garden cane. The clean end dips into the water tank, the darker end dips into the diesel. Seems to work, as we have not yet run out of either..

It does make me wonder, though, why don't boats have water and fuel gauges? I don't think I have ever seen either on a n/b.

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4 minutes ago, Athy said:

It does make me wonder, though, why don't boats have water and fuel gauges? I don't think I have ever seen either on a n/b.

I guess for the same reason that my Mrs can never understand what the cassette toilet level gauge means - even if they were fitted they'd be ignored!!

I seem to think we do have a sender and gauge for our water tank, but it's hidden away in a locker of course so it takes half an hour to clear the garbage out of the way first... I tend to look at the draft - when the bow's sticking right up we need water, and when the water starts slapping the uxter plate then it's time for some gasoil...

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I would say that the best indicator of how contented in its work an engine is is a coolant temperature gauge. Warning lights for alternator and oil pressure, preferably with an audible warning and I think you will have the thing adequately monitored. Bear in mind that in an industrial application these old engines had minimal if any instrumentation at all.

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19 minutes ago, Sir Nibble said:

I would say that the best indicator of how contented in its work an engine is is a coolant temperature gauge. Warning lights for alternator and oil pressure, preferably with an audible warning and I think you will have the thing adequately monitored. Bear in mind that in an industrial application these old engines had minimal if any instrumentation at all.

I'm liking where you're coming from Sir Nibble. Cockpits have warning buzzers for a reason, lights can get lost in the sunlight. I also place a lot of faith in coolant temperature - too many hours spent under the bonnet replacing head gaskets in my youth I guess - in the days when you could actually see an engine under a bonnet...

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31 minutes ago, Sir Nibble said:

I would say that the best indicator of how contented in its work an engine is is a coolant temperature gauge. Warning lights for alternator and oil pressure, preferably with an audible warning and I think you will have the thing adequately monitored. Bear in mind that in an industrial application these old engines had minimal if any instrumentation at all.

I agree with this. A visual and audible warning for oil pressure and water temperature (and alternator if you insist) is going to be far more practical than expecting a gauge to tell you something is wrong.

Fill your engine room with gauges if that amuses you by all means. You don't need most of them and they are not as useful at the helm as a good warning system

Richard

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8 minutes ago, RLWP said:

I agree with this. A visual and audible warning for oil pressure and water temperature (and alternator if you insist) is going to be far more practical than expecting a gauge to tell you something is wrong.

Fill your engine room with gauges if that amuses you by all means. You don't need most of them and they are not as useful at the helm as a good warning system

Richard

Yes, it's that warning system that I'm after... I think the engine room gauges are useful once the alarm has sounded so you can analyse the issue after an engine restart etc. Previously I've found a tacho useful to indicate the possibility prop fouling, but nothing more. The roof mounted oil pressure gauge reading seems to be proportionate to rpm and so substitutes in a way, and it seems is much easier to install. 

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5 minutes ago, dpaws said:

The roof mounted oil pressure gauge reading seems to be proportionate to rpm and so substitutes in a way, and it seems is much easier to install. 

It isn't I'm afraid. It will start at zero, quickly run up to the relief valve pressure and stop at that no matter what the speed (unless the engine is very shot). Then the pressure will slowly drop as the oil warms up

80mm tachos are pretty cheap, I bought one and threw the innards away to get an 80mm case

Richard

Edited by RLWP

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If you can hear your child bride talking at you perhaps you've run out of fuel.

If you can't get a reggae song out of your head you might have forgotten to fill up your Bolinder's oil lubrication distributor.

If you spend a lot of time cruising romantically through mist, check your water cooling outlet.

In the event foul smoke is bellowing it might be contaminated diesel, it might be overheating, it could be something around the prop .... or it could be SWMBO has just put a filled nappy on the wood burner.

I have dials for all of those, the most useful is the puzzled looking one on the front of my head.  The mechanical ones I have I never bothered fitting, in fact I left them in Halfords.

  • Haha 1

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2 minutes ago, RLWP said:

It isn't I'm afraid.

Ahhh - thanks for that Richard - hmmm a tacho readout - I don't suppose it matters if it's prop-shaft or flywheel rpm for my intentions

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12 minutes ago, zenataomm said:

If you can hear your child bride talking at you perhaps you've run out of fuel.

If you can't get a reggae song out of your head you might have forgotten to fill up your Bolinder's oil lubrication distributor.

If you spend a lot of time cruising romantically through mist, check your water cooling outlet.

In the event foul smoke is bellowing it might be contaminated diesel, it might be overheating, it could be something around the prop .... or it could be SWMBO has just put a filled nappy on the wood burner.

I have dials for all of those, the most useful is the puzzled looking one on the front of my head.  The mechanical ones I have I never bothered fitting, in fact I left them in Halfords.

Your blog is fabulously written too - please don't give up on it!!

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Thank you for the kind comment, I haven't added to it in ages and I have been nagged about abandoning it.

  • Happy 1

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2 hours ago, Athy said:

For fuel and water testing I use a garden cane. The clean end dips into the water tank, the darker end dips into the diesel. Seems to work, as we have not yet run out of either..

It does make me wonder, though, why don't boats have water and fuel gauges? I don't think I have ever seen either on a n/b.

My boat came with a water level gauge and a fuel gauge (switchable atbtne press of a button between the main tank and the forward tank for the stove).

I then fitted a waste tank gauge to complement the lying "tank full" red light.

I find them all very useful.

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