Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Adlard Coles Book of Diesel Engines

I was pleased to find the Adlard Coles Book of Diesel Engines, by Tim Bartlett, in the Oxfam bookshop recently.

The blurb at the front reads:

   "Aimed at boatowners rather than experienced mechanics, this book explains clearly how a diesel engines (sic) works and how to look after it. Tim Bartlett looks at tools, working practices and winterizing (sic) as well as providing handy hints and tips. This new edition has been revised and updated to take into account new developments in engine technology."

The slim paperback book was first published as The RYA Book of Diesel Engines in 1998 (this edition 2005).

It gives more emphasis to sea-going boats than canal boats, with raw-water cooling and dual station controls described in detail. But there's plenty relevant to the standard modern multi-cylinder narrowboat engine.

I read all through it in a couple of sittings, which gives an idea of the readability (high). Nevertheless, it immediately plunges into the workings of fuel injection pumps. I learnt about the "jerk pump" with its cleverly designed plunger, and how an in-line injection pump is a series of jerk pumps looking like a miniature engine. I also know now why there's a leak-off feed from the injector back to the fuel tank (some of the diesel fuel is intentionally allowed to flow past the needle valve and push rod in order to lubricate them).

There are occasional moments of levity, such as when Mr. Bartlett mentions how relieved the crew of a Viking longship must have been when they realised they'd get less wet if they stuffed rags in the gaps between the oars and the boat. This was in the section introducing stern glands!

The book is also full of "Things to Do" boxes taking you through procedures such as replacing the fuel filter, bleeding the fuel system and checking drive belts.

I found it good to give a background knowledge of how the engine - and its ancillaries - works, and I will certainly refer to it when attempting a new (to me) job. Perhaps then the book will lose its "as-unread" condition.

£1.49 well spent, methinks!

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