There are two types of automotive enthusiasts – people who keep their vehicles pristine and well-manicured at all times, and those who aren’t afraid to thrash them and get some battle scars. The latter is often heavily applicable to the diesel community, where drivers aren’t afraid to push their machines to (and past) the limit on and off the track.
Suffice to say, it’s reasonable to assume that a machine weighing a few tons will occasionally have mechanical errors overtime, mainly due to the sheer stress of the weight and moving components. Diesel guys know this and are generally prepared for internal mishaps during or after their high-octane escapades. It’s simply a way of life to be prepared for the worst, and this translates to other sectors of the diesel world.
Heavy diesel machines, including medium to heavy-duty trucks and transport vehicles, large hauling or digging excavators, and smaller loader vehicles like skid steers, all face their own set of common mechanical errors. Due to such a rigid and protected outer shell, failures typically occur internally within the engine. As such, it’s important for owners and contractors to diagnose these common issues and know what replacement parts are necessary for a fix.
Like any other market, the heavy-duty diesel sector has been greatly affected by the pandemic in several ways that pertain to this subject. Production, demand and transit times are all issues that have been evolving over the course of the past two years, according to Industrial Parts Depot (IPD) President Michael Badar.
“Covid has definitely affected the market – first with a lull in demand and production slowdown, followed by a demand surge and supply chains trying to ramp up,” he says. “However, the heavy-duty diesel market is very strong globally, fed by post-pandemic demand, government stimulus and strong energy markets.”
What we’ve seen lately is something akin to the performance market, where people are taking their excess money and investing in vehicles and equipment that they didn’t have time to look into prior. Skid steers and smaller hauling machines have been booming lately, with family-owned farms, small construction sites, and individual contractors purchasing them for their work-related needs.
While these machines are built to last, owners will most likely need to order new components when the time comes. Many rely on OE manufacturers like Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel and Waukesha for their replacement parts. However, many OEs are lacking inventory, causing loyal consumers to transition to businesses specializing in aftermarket parts. IPD provides high-quality repair and replacement parts for on and off-road heavy-duty engines and provides rebuilders with a full range of premium engine line products.
Steve Scott, director of product development at IPD, says proper maintenance is always in the best interest of heavy-duty diesel equipment owners.
“Studies have found that over 50% of diesel engine failures are related to problems in the cooling system,” Scott says. “Proper maintenance of the cooling and lubrication systems are cheap in comparison to the damage neglecting them causes.”
Most engine cooling systems in heavy trucks, tractors, construction and mining equipment, and power generators are liquid based. Usually, they consist of a radiator, water pump, thermostat, fan drive, and fan.
Together, these components make sure gases used to fuel the engine stay at a temperature lower than the melting point of the cylinders they power. They can also help the vehicle run more efficiently and at a lower noise level.
IPD boasts a line of water pumps, all engineered, designed, manufactured, and tested in-house, including their C15 Acert water pump. Along with cooling system cures, IPD also manufactures a variety of cylinder, piston and general engine kits for rebuilders to utilize. Customers can find specific parts and products on IPDnet, the company’s online catalog.
The cooling system is just one area of heavy-duty diesel engines that often needs attention though. These machines also tend to have failures relating to the oil system. Because of the shape of most skid steers, the large engines have to be crammed rather tightly towards the back of the machines. With little space to work with, the oil pans are typically shallow with small overall capacities. This causes several problems that lead to failures, according to Midwest Director at Maxiforce, Daniel Shaffer.
“Basically, these machines are being run up steep grades, down hills, or off-camber environments,” he says. “The oil is being pushed all the way to the front or the back, and this leads to some problematic oil starvation issues. The bearings will get smoked, or the oil pumps will be wiped out. We see those a lot of Shibaura engines.”
Maxiforce is another heavy-duty diesel engine parts supplier and manufacturer, servicing a variety of different engine and machine brands. Over the course of its 28-year history, Maxiforce has evolved its product catalog and focus.
Paul Kelly, the VP of sales and marketing at Maxiforce, has seen and participated in the company’s philosophy adapting to the changing market over the years.
“We used to believe that the focus was on seven or eight engine brands, and now we’ve taken that focus to 60 or 70 different OEs. John Deere is probably what we’re known for the most, but what we’ve really became popular for over the last decade is small-bore diesels. Most of these big OEs are having these engines built by Japanese companies like Kubota, Shibaura, Yanmar, etc., and it’s hard for customers to find the right parts for these because it gets confusing. They don’t know that they’re dealing with a Japanese engine and when they open the hood, they don’t recognize it.”
Maxiforce manufactures a variety of rebuild and replacement parts, many of which aren’t offered by the machine OE or the engine OE. Take, for example, a Bobcat 753 skid steer that’s powered by a Kubota V2203 engine. Neither Bobcat or Kubota offer an overhaul kit, so Maxiforce manufactured its own, complete with a piston and ring kit, main bearings, front crankshaft bushing, top and bottom gasket sets, and more.
Like IPD, all the replacement parts in Maxiforce’s product line can be found on its website in an online catalog, allowing easy access for customers.
Kelly also stressed the importance of regular maintenance on heavy-duty diesel machines. Many of these machines are rented out to contractors, and like anything that is rented or loaned, the equipment is often not cared for as much as it would be if it was owned outright. The best thing to do is know your machine inside and out and be wary of what issues may arise in relation to how it is being used. EB