Thread: Lubricity Study
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Old 04-02-2010, 12:09 PM   #57
Marin
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Lubricity Study

There is a certain irony in writing something like this and then hitting a button labeled "Post Quick Reply."

Tom--- Your point about how this generation of engines may have been regarded and treated in their industrial and agricultural roles has merit. There is no way to know if this is true and if it's the source of some of the current beliefs about these engines, but it's a plausible idea.. Regarding the "Lehman cult" I"m not part of it. I'm not a fan of the Lehman engine--- I think they suck frankly, as I've stated before, and would love to have something better on our boat. But Lehmans are what we have so I have a strong interest in promoting their longevity.

The problem is that there is no definitive information out there about these engines as there is about more modern engines. The people involved in its original design are gone and Ford doesn't give a hoot about these old antiques. So other than the skimpy technical information published in the original Ford and Lehman manuals, there's nothing to go on anymore.

On the one hand you have people like RickB who maintains that today's diesel fuel still provides the required lubricity for these old engines despite the changes in the formulation of the fuel. Then there are the anecdotal story people who talk about how they ran their Lehmans or whatever for ten zillion hours on regular fuel with no problems. I tend to discount those one-off experiences not because they aren't true but they could be exceptions or, if they haven't torn the engine down to examine them, what's to say there isn't excess wear. I know someone who had a great experience with a Yugo but I wouldn't use that as definitive proof it was an excellent car. So I tend to not base my decisions or judgments on anecdotes.

Then on the other hand there are people who I regard as very experienced and knowledgeable about diesel engines who cite what certainly seem to me to be credible reasons why these old things benefit from a lubricity additive in the current fuel environment. These range from the friend I've mentioned who's been involved professionally in diesel engine design and manufacturing his whole life for a company with a high reputation in the marine industry to a fellow I met the other year who before he retired made a lot of money owning and managing a large maintenance, repair, and overhaul company in England that specialized in diesel engines including the base engines for the FL120 and FL135.

During a film shoot I directed with one of their brand new locomotives I had occasion to talk with a maintenance manager for the BNSF railroad here in Seattle. This had nothing to do with boat engines--- I really like trains. But in describing to me what's involved in getting the maximum life from their locomotive engines he talked about all the additives they put in the fuel. This is apples and oranges since their fuel is considerably different from what we use in our boats, but the point is that here is a major transportation company that regards fuel additives as a necessary part of their operation.

And finally there is our local diesel shop which has been in business for many years and has serviced, repaired, and worked on countless FL120s and FL135s.

None of these people would have remained in business, much less been very successful in their business, if they based their practices on hearsay, myth, old farmer's tales, and so on. If they espoused practices that resulted in problems for their customers, their businesses would have faltered sooner rather than later. So at some point I--- who readily admit to being totally out of my realm of knowledge on this subject-- have to believe and trust someone. And in matters like this, I'm going to go with the people who's professional careers have depended on their knowing what they're talking about.

Rick's point about the whole lubricity thing being a marketing scam is well taken, but in the case of most of the people I've taken advice from,they aren't in the business of selling additives so they've got nothing to gain from my using them. They are simply giving me advice based on their experience.

Now nobody I've talked to has said that without a lubricity additive an FL120 will self-destruct 15 hours, 27 minutes, and 10 seconds from now. They say they will likely go for years with no problems, decades even given the minimal use most of them in boats get. But given the expense of an injector pump rebuild, I would just as soon put that off for as long as I possibly can. If using a lubricity additive means that the pumps go for another two hundred or five hundred hours or a thousand hours or whatever, it's worth it to me.

The bottom line for me is, outside of a handful of people on this forum, I've not heard anyone I've dealt with in the diesel engine business around here say "You don't need to use a lubricity additive in your Lehmans because today's fuel provides all the lubricity it needs." Everything I hear from every professional I've talked to about this has been exactly the opposite.

-- Edited by Marin on Friday 2nd of April 2010 01:13:41 PM
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