Many steps can be taken to protect your equipment fleet investment. A good preventive maintenance program goes a long way, as well as using quality oils and lubricants. This is especially true with the Tier III engines and the current generation of on--road engines.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) introduced a new category of oil, CI--4 PLUS, to address the increased soot, acid and shearing stress placed on the oil by some of these engines. But there are also technologies that benefit all diesel engines by keeping the oil clean, and in some cases replacing depleted additives. These filtration technologies allow extended drain intervals while simultaneously increasing engine life.
Centrifuge removes small particles
T.F. Hudgins offers a centrifuge called the Spinner II. It uses centrifugal force to remove particles from the oil. Engine oil pressure pumps oil into the unit where a rotating bowl generates centrifugal force 2,000 times greater than gravity. This separates contaminants from the oil. Contaminants accumulate on the bowl surface as a solid cake, while clean oil flows out the bottom of the turbine.
Unlike conventional filters, the centrifuge doesn't plug up over time. "With a centrifuge, you start flowing at 2 gpm and you end at 2 gpm because you are not pushing fluid through anything," says Jim Weaver, executive vice president, T.F. Hudgins.
"We know that we can have a very positive effect on controlling soot and small abrasive particles in the oil," he adds. "We take the small abrasive stuff out that causes long--term wear."
Particle size is very important to engine wear. "The centrifuge is extremely efficient at removing particles that are 7 or 8 microns and less," says Weaver. "We can certainly remove down to much less than half a micron size particle."
Oil film thicknesses can be in the 1-- to 2--micron range. "If you are pushing a lot of particles through those two surfaces that are basically the same size as the oil film thickness, it acts almost like sandpaper and it wears the engine from the inside out," explains Weaver.
Due to the ability to remove fine particulates, the centrifuge can help extend oil drain intervals. "We recommend that you apply our product and then do oil analysis. Let oil analysis dictate how long you can go," says Weaver.
Marco Supply is a surface mining operation that has experience with the Spinner II centrifuge on its extensive equipment fleet, which includes four Cat 992G wheel loaders, five D11 dozers, several D9 and D8 dozers and 15 haul trucks. The centrifuge was first added during a test almost six years ago.
"We were looking at potentially extending our oil drains," recalls Chris Gobel, maintenance coordinator. "So I brought together Caterpillar, our local Caterpillar dealer, Mobil Oil Co. and Spinner [T.F. Hudgins, Inc.] to set this up, basically because our equipment was under warranty."
A combination of synthetic oil and the Spinner II centrifuge provided the solution. "The combination of the two has worked well for us," says Gobel. Marco Supply has successfully moved its drain interval out to 1,000 hours.
To compliment the longer drain intervals, the company has seen a dramatic increase in engine life. "We have one dozer here that has 27,800 hours on it," says Gobel. The Caterpillar dealer also took note when it performed updates to Marco Supply's 992G wheel loaders. "When they took our engines out, even at 16,000 hours on the engines, they found no wear. They called me and said, 'We would like to know what you are doing'."
Gobel claims that keeping the oil clean makes the difference. Marco Supply uses oil analysis to carefully track machine health. "Some of the criteria that we look at are the parts per million of iron that we are generating in an engine," says Gobel.
This provides proof that the Spinner II is keeping the oil clean even as it approaches the 1,000--hour interval. "Even at that rate, our wear metal limits will still be much less than the average 250--hour oil change," says Gobel.