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Project Cummins

Long haul to ready 15-litre diesel engine for Wire & Gas 2018

Delegates at Wire & Gas 2018 got a lot out of the session centred on a 15-litre Cummins heavy-duty diesel truck engine delivered by VASA director Darrel Hursey, and here is the story of just how much work went into making that session happen.

With the two-tonne, 15-litre engine strapped to a trailer behind his Isuzu D-Max, the 1300km journey from Darrel’s business in Tumut NSW to VASA HQ in Ormeau QLD was the end of an even longer road.

“There’s at least two weeks of solid labour in it,” he said.

Darrel Hursey

The engine came to Darrel in bits, on three pallets, having been torn down by Cummins to work out why – in Darrel’s words – it didn’t “Chernobyl” after being revved to 3600 rpm. Double its redline.

“Cummins themselves tore it down to see how it survived as they’d never seen one do that and survive.”

Because the pistons had met the valves, it needed a replacement head and a second-hand crank was kindly donated due to the original timing gear having been removed.

New timing gear would usually be $2500 and used cranks tend to fetch $1800.

Darrel also added a variable-geometry turbo. All up, the rebuild cost less than $7500 in parts.

In addition to the crank and Darrel’s many late nights and weekends spent working on the engine, donations to this engine project came from Sanden, which provided an 8083 air-conditioning compressor while Ashdown-Ingram contributed a Leece-Neville Loadhandler alternator and Delco Remy 39MT dual earth starter, and CoolDrive Auto Parts provided two Komatsu truck radiators and a Komatsu Charge Air Cooler.

Darrel said a rebuild of this engine type would usually cost $40,000 including $15,000 in labour, or a re-manufactured crate engine would run to $45,000.

The VASA engine was rebuilt to serve purely as a running training aid and could never be put back into service under load.

“You don’t know how much the block stretched or if anything else had moved,” said Darrel.

A highlight of the build process for Darrel was watching his 10 year-old son Kalin (pictured left) work on the engine.

“When you see your son sitting on the cylinder head cleaning injector tubes, well, you know…” he said wistfully.

At Wire & Gas Darrel taught delegates about the engine’s J1913 CAN bus network, how its mechanical fuel injection system can alter fuel delivery timing and quantity, and about the variable-geometry turbo.

Of course, there is a long-term goal driving all the effort to build and transport this engine for VASA.

“We can delve more deeply into the injection computer system, how it operates and what it’s looking for, put an oscilloscope on the sensors to show people what’s happening and when,” said Darrel of future, more detailed training that will be hung off the Cummins unit.

“We can run an HVAC module, which is what we’ve got the compressor on there for and everything else in the Horton circuit so we can replicate a true truck on the road with an HVAC system.”

As many VASA members and their contemporaries around the industry look to enter the lucrative heavy commercial market, the Cummins engine will provide plenty of horsepower – 600 to be exact –  for SightGlass Training to help them make the transition.

Stay tuned for future training opportunities based around the VASA Cummins engine.

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