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Old 09-20-2017, 07:37 AM   #21
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Coolant for modern diesel engines is actually more complicated than it would seem, even if you ask questions. Volvo has published papers on the subject (I lost the link) talking about the cavitation and other issues. They caution that once a particular type of coolant has been used, an engine can never be flushed well enough to switch to another type (in the case of Volvo coolant, from green to orange).

In my experience and opinion, proper maintenance (as based on factory specifications) is a very minor part of the total cost of boating. I do what is supposed to be done, the way it is supposed to be done and when it is supposed to be done.

The bottom line is; Do you believe what the manufacturer says or what some stranger on the Internet says?

It's your boat and your checkbook.
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Old 09-20-2017, 07:56 AM   #22
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For a fun exercise, pull a pint or so of coolant and compare it side by side in a glass jar to new coolant. Then pour it through a coffee filter. The visual comparison and entrained residue is a good guide for harmful effects of increased viscosity and decreasing heat transfer capability.

As previously mentioned, not a bad idea to change it out per the book. Both calendar time and hours are stated in the owner's manuals I have read over the years. Test strips are not necessarily indicative of all coolant effectiveness criteria according to the engine builders I've talked with for off road applications. We found aggressive coolant changes quite helpful at high altitudes and in desert climates.
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Old 09-20-2017, 09:45 AM   #23
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Changing it based on engine manufactures suggestions may be not as applicable as the coolant manufactures recommendations.

Normal life, extended life, extended life with charged coolant filters.....etc

They have engineers also working hard on product performance.

Sure, dont be a pioneer in guessing with new formulations but if I followed Lehman manual recommendations, I would be searching antique auto stores for recommended coolants and oils.

If you have a new engine and dont mind paying OEM prices then its easy and why even ask on the forum?
But in that tween world where things change faster than what manufacturers can keep up with....understanding your engines needs and product perfomance in my mind shows intelligence over cattle behavior.

Who do you think found and responded to Ford's cavitaion issue? Plus I think Caterpillar had found it even earlier? Yep, plenty of local mechanics as well as after marketeers.
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:03 AM   #24
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If it were me, I would change it out and then you know the age of the coolant. It isn't a big of a job to do.
It's probably $120 an engine for 5.5 gal gallons of Fleetguard coolant per engine. For piece of mind I used Fleetguard Restore Cleaner/Flush before the change out. The blue Fleetguard specs for ES-PS and ES-EG is 150,000 miles or 4000 hrs.

I dont know how the 4000 hrs applies to low use marine application. Maybe you could call Fleetguard. If it applies then maybe the test strips are all you need. Be aware the test strips have a a shelf life.

If it were me I would do the change out knowing I didn't have to do it again.
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Old 09-20-2017, 11:47 AM   #25
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Just a thought regarding the coolant and the effects of cavitation on sleeved cylinders as relates to the OP's question about his Cummins 6BT.
Since the 6BT isn't a sleeved cylinder, they're not prone to cavitation, and as a result the coolant requirements for the 6BT aren't nearly as fussy as with other diesels. As others said, the cost of the coolant in comparison to engine repairs is minimal. However, temper that with the 6BT's coolant spec. If your coolant is extended life and well exceeds the spec, the case for change out might not be as strong. You can always send a sample of the coolant out to have it tested, that would be relatively inexpensive and give you a more conclusive assessment.
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Old 09-20-2017, 02:14 PM   #26
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As we are getting ready to take the boat to the Bahamas from Norfolk, VA, I am going over the engines with a fine tooth comb.

My question concerns coolant. I have no record from the previous owner of coolant being changed. The mechanic who adjusted the valves told me that the boat's blue coolant was extended life, which was good for 10 years. I question how he knows that. The boat has 1250 hours and was commissioned in 2003. The engines are Cummins 6BTA5.9.

How do I tell if the coolant is still good, or whether I need to change? Obviously not changing coolant would save some work and mess. I can by test strips but am unsure what numbers I should be looking for.

Thanks in advance,
Gordon
My rules are change when the owners manual says or sooner if indicated by test strips or otherwise. Since you don't know when it was last done then you can't just based on time. I would get test strips, but I would change the coolant now, if convenient, as a conservative measure and to establish a time line for going forward.
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Old 09-20-2017, 08:20 PM   #27
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Be careful with judging coolant by color. There are different coolant chemistries out there and one needs to use coolant chemistry the engine maker specifies. Color is not a indicator of the chemistry.

For instance, my Ford diesel uses a GOLD colored coolant from Ford which is an extended lifetime coolant. Ford also has a GREEN coolant that can be used in my engine but it has a limited lifetime compared to the GOLD coolant.

My JD tractor, which has a Yanmar engine, uses a GREEN colored coolant. JD's GREEN COOLANT is the same chemistry as the Ford GOLD coolant.

I have used the JD coolant for years in the Ford and in the JD/Yanmar.

The JD GREEN coolant is not the same as the Ford GREEN coolant and neither is even close to the Prestone gas engine GREEN coolant.

Later,
Dan
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Old 09-20-2017, 08:38 PM   #28
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Be careful with judging coolant by color. There are different coolant chemistries out there and one needs to use coolant chemistry the engine maker specifies. Color is not a indicator of the chemistry.

For instance, my Ford diesel uses a GOLD colored coolant from Ford which is an extended lifetime coolant. Ford also has a GREEN coolant that can be used in my engine but it has a limited lifetime compared to the GOLD coolant.

My JD tractor, which has a Yanmar engine, uses a GREEN colored coolant. JD's GREEN COOLANT is the same chemistry as the Ford GOLD coolant.

I have used the JD coolant for years in the Ford and in the JD/Yanmar.

The JD GREEN coolant is not the same as the Ford GREEN coolant and neither is even close to the Prestone gas engine GREEN coolant.

Later,
Dan
In the case of the OP, we are talking Fleetguard. It is blue.
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Old 09-20-2017, 08:51 PM   #29
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Does it really matter to coolant?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fryedaze View Post
It's probably $120 an engine for 5.5 gal gallons of Fleetguard coolant per engine. For piece of mind I used Fleetguard Restore Cleaner/Flush before the change out. The blue Fleetguard specs for ES-PS and ES-EG is 150,000 miles or 4000 hrs.

I dont know how the 4000 hrs applies to low use marine application. Maybe you could call Fleetguard. If it applies then maybe the test strips are all you need. Be aware the test strips have a a shelf life.

If it were me I would do the change out knowing I didn't have to do it again.
I have read all of Tony's articles about marine life versus non-marine life. However, it seems to me that the cooling system is a sealed system, and barring any leaks in heat exchangers, it would seem that the stress on coolant would be the same on a Marine diesel as on an over the road diesel.

Someone earlier in this thread suggested that it would be good to change the coolant because there might have been, or is a leak in one of the heat exchangers. I would posit that if I have a leaky heat exchanger new coolant is the least of my worries.

Still, just for the sake of edification, it might not be a bad idea to call fleet guard and query them about the need for changing the coolant when it it has only 1000 hours on it versus the recommended 4000 hours.
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Old 09-23-2017, 11:00 AM   #30
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Feedback

I just wanted to get back to everybody and let you know what I did. I bought fleet guard test strips, which test for all the vital elements in the coolant. When I first looked at these online it was not clear that they test for SCA.

As it turns out they test for freezing point, molybdate and nitrite. Where molybdate and nitrate intersect on their chart gives one the level of SCA. In my case I am good to go. This is one less task for me to undertake before heading south.

Gordon
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Old 09-24-2017, 06:59 AM   #31
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"As it turns out they test for freezing point, molybdate and nitrite."


Useful test strips for a modern engine that needs SCA,

but does it test acid level in old antifreeze for our antiques that don't need SCA?
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Old 09-24-2017, 07:16 AM   #32
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A few decades ago on larger diesels coolant filtering systems came into play. When combined with on-site coolant testing analysis coolant exchanges were extended.

The filters cleaned the residual engine block grit and rust particles that had proven to cause inordinate wear to the coolant system pump shafts and seals. Strips only tell a part of the puzzle when deciding to change out coolant. Suspended solids, increased viscosity and heat exchanger sludge build up are other reasons that a time or hour liquid changeout should be considered. Especially if noted in the book maintenance.
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