How can I make my diesel engine last a long time

How you can make your diesel engine last a long time

Diesel engines can last for the life of your car or boat, with regular and cost effective maintenance.

Changing the Oil Regularly

Changing the engine oil on a regular basis is important in order to make your diesel engine last a long time.

This is because when the engine is running,  the oil forms a very small  ‘cushion’ between the moving metal engine components.

This ‘cushion’ of oil greatly reduces friction inside the engine.

Friction is the enemy of engine longevity, as it causes premature wear , and failure of the engine components, such as bearings.

Over time, the engine oil in a diesel engine will become contaminated with carbon and microscopic pieces of metal.

The oil will also lose efficiency due to the hard work it has to do, under extreme heat conditions.

Therefore oil should be changed regularly, and never later than the manufacturers service schedule.

The make your diesel engine last a long time, I would recommend that ideally you change your oil more regularly than the manufacturers service schedule.

The reason for this, is that manufacturers may extend the service times, in order to make the vehicle more attractive to buyers.

This often happens with engines fitted to road vehicles, such as cars especially.

Under ideal conditions such as long motorway driving, the oil may well be ok to leave in longer, but many cars sit in traffic jams, or only make short journeys.

Short journeys are especially bad for vehicles, as the diesel engine does not have time to warm up to its correct operating temperature.

Because the engine has not warmed up, the oil will not be working at maximum efficiency, and increased wear can result.

Engine sludge can also occur in engines, regularly only driven short distances.

I personally change my diesel engine oil every 6000 miles, on a vehicle that is supposed to only need changes every 12,000. I start to feel a difference in smoothness at around 6000 – 7000 Miles, and that tells me its ideally due a change.

As most of my driving is long distance motorway, I would probably change it at 5000 Miles, if I did a lot of town driving.

For tips on changing the oil in a diesel engine, check out this link to my page on oil changes.

Fuel Filters

Another important way to ensure your diesel engine lasts a long time, is to regularly change the engine fuel filter.

Your marine diesel may well have two fuel filters fitted, to filter different size particles, however you road vehicle is likely to have one filter.

Fuel can be contaminated with dirt, microscopic organisms and even water, therefore filtering of the fuel is important.

In a diesel engine the fuel will enter the engine via the injectors.

These injectors have a single, or multiple very small holes at their ends, to allow the fuel to pass through.

If dirt is pumped through the injector, via the fuel, the injector can become blocked.

A blocked injector will result in poor running of the engine, and injector replacement, which is quite costly.

Hard Engine Use When Cold

As previously mentioned, the oil and the engine need time to warm up to there normal operating temperature.

Therefore running an engine at high RPM before the engine has warmed up, can reduce the life of the engine.

This is because of increased friction , caused by the oil not being up to optimal temperature.


Fuses in Two Way Radio Installations

The importance of fuses in radio equipment power supplies

A safe two-way radio equipment installation requires the ability to quickly disconnect the supply to the equipment, if a fault develops. Fuses are a cost effective solution, for equipment safety.

What are Electrical Fuses

Fuses are devices that protect equipment installations, from excess electrical current.

Excess current is caused by a fault in the equipment, or system wiring, and can cause equipment damage, or even fire.

The fuse works by ‘blowing’ if a certain current through it is exceeded. When the fuse ‘blows’, the electrical current ceases to flow, due to a physical break inside the fuse, preventing current flow through it.

Types of Fuses

Electrical fuses come in a variety of package types, and current ratings.

For example, package types include ‘cartridge’ and ‘blade’ designs.

Fuses are also made to blow at different current thresholds, so can be matched to the piece of equipment it is connected to.

There are also fuse types known as ‘slow blow’ fuses.

Slow Blow fuses are designed not to blow due to a short spike in electrical current. Short spikes can be caused by surge currents, which is a very temporary increase in current, when a piece of equipment is started.

Importance of correct Fuses

Fitting an incorrect fuse can either reduce safety, or reliability.

For example, if a fuse is fitted that has too high a current blow rating, then if a fault develops with the equipment, the electricity will find another weak point in the system. This weak point could be the radio equipmenmt itself, and the excess current could damage it.

On the other hand, fitting a fuse that has too small a current rating will reduce system reliability.

This is because the current being drawn by the radio equipment is more than the fuse can cope with, and therefore will blow.

Two way radio equipment, draws less current when receiving, than when it is transmitting. Therefore the fitting of a too small fuse, may not become apparent, until the two way radio transmits.

Always refer to the manufacturers equipment specifications to understand the maximum current that the equipment will draw, and select a fuse slightly larger.

If no manufacturers data is available, then using an Ammeter in series with the DC supply, can determine the current drawn. Remember however, to also test on transmit, and with maximum transmit power selected (if an option).

(c) 2018 Craig Miles / Yesway Ltd.

How Does a Marine Diesel Engine Work

How does a marine diesel engine work

Diesel engines are widely used in both road vehicles, and marine installations. But how do diesel engines work ?

Marine diesels, and diesel engines in general are a ‘compression ignition engine’.

Air is drawn into the cylinder, and then compressed.

This compression of the air is caused by the action of the piston in the cylinder, moving upwards.

At an optimal point in this compression of the air, fuel is injected into the cylinder.

The resultant fuel / air mixture, vaporises and becomes heated, due to the pressure in the cylinder.

The fuel / air mixture ignites, and the explosion, forces the piston down the cylinder.

As the piston is attached via a connecting rod, to the Crankshaft, the crankshaft turns.

Engine Efficiency

Approximately 40% of the fuels chemical energy, is converted into mechanical energy. This is the engine efficiency.

Marine Diesel Turbochargers

Turbocharging is a common method of increasing diesel engine performance.

What a turbocharger does, is increase the mass of air, entering a cylinder.


Decided to start blogging about positive thinking and optimism

Positive Thinking, Optimism & Success

After listening to Tony Robins, and other success gurus on youtube, I have decided to create my own optimism and success blog.

If you don’t know who Tony Robins is, I well recommend that you check out his videos on youtube.

Be selective about who you follow

I rate his advice, because he has helped top athletes and company directors, as well as a president of the USA (Bill Clinton).

Other people I listen to are the late Jim Rohn, Dale Carnegie, and Bob Proctor.

In the case of Bob Proctor, he is very much still alive, and prior to becoming a success in the ‘self help’ industry, had built up a international cleaning business.

I think it is important to be selective in who’s advice you listen too, as it seems to me that there are a lot of ‘self help success’ types, that are successful for talking about success.

Bob Proctor had created a ‘real’ business prior to entering the self help industry, and therefore I respect him more for it.

Model success

Tony Robins often talks about ‘modeling success’.

Modeling Success basically means emulating the actions of people who are already successful in an area of life (such as business), that you also wish to be successful in.

For example, if you wanted to be a stock broker, you would study how a successful stock broker acted, talked, even how they stood. Basically acting like the type of person that you wish to become, acts.

Avoid The News

Knowing what is happening in the world around you is important, however it is all too easy to become totally immersed in the in-depth analysis and discussion, that often follows the headlines.

In the age of Social Media, such as Facebook and Twitter, it is tempting to add your opinion to the events of the day.

This in my experience makes you feel less happy, as other people online have different views of the world, and you can quickly find yourself in an argument.

This raises your stress levels, and lowers your happiness levels.

Avoid Social Media

Recently I read an  online article by the guardian newspaper which interviewed a number of people who had given up using social media.

The group interviewed, ranged in ages from 17 to 25 years old.

They all reported feeling happier, and getting more done, as they were not comparing themselves to others, and being under pressure to portray having a great life, all the time.

Yesterday (9th January 2018) I decided to do the same for a month.


My planned month off social media (which may become permanent) will be offset by an increase in exercise, as I will have more time.

Today I am planning to walk to the office and back,  which is approximately five miles each way.

Lorawan IOT Gateway construction

Lorawan- building an IoT  Gateway for the Things Network

Lincoln Things Network

I am the initiator of the Lincoln Things Network which is a worldwide crowd funded initiative, bringing lorawan wireless IOT (Internet of Things) to the world.

The local Lincoln group which I founded can be found at

The network receives environmental data from sensors. These sensors  transmit their data (such as air quality), via the radio frequency of 868Mhz (in Europe), to a device known as a ‘Gateway’.

The Gateway device receives the data, and puts that data onto the Internet, via Ethernet, or another connection method (such as 3G).

Once the data is on the Internet (in the cloud it can be used for a number of purposes.

Purposes include triggering an action, such as turning a physical piece of machinery on or off, or even alerting delivery drivers that a vending machine needs more salt and vinegar crisps (without the need of any human action to check and order stock).

Lorawan Gateway Construction

The first lorawan gateway for the city of Lincoln is being sponsored by Yesway Ltd, which also trades under the ‘Yesway Communications’  brand.

Yesway Ltd are sponsoring the components that go into the gateway.

The components consist of a lorawan wireless board, made by the German RF specialists IMST, and a UK designed Raspberry PI to run the software needed.

Additional components needed, include a suitable antenna and case.

The system gateway is almost ready to install  now, and has been designed to be able to withstand harsh outdoor conditions.


More information to follow shortly, as things progress, but in the mean time why not take a look at the Lincoln Local Things network group page.



tips for draining oil on a marine diesel engine

Tips for draining engine oil on a small marine diesel engine.

The oil in a diesel marine engine is used for lubricating the internal components, such as crank bearings.

Without lubrication there would be a high level of Friction generated inside the engine.

This friction would be due to the metal components ‘rubbing’ together, in other words ‘metal on metal’.

Such high levels of engine friction would result in damage to the engine components and rapid engine failure.

The  job of the oil inside a marine diesel engine is to create a ‘cushion’ between the metal components, to minimise friction.

An example of engine components that do this, is the ‘big end bearings’.

The Big End Bearings connect the pistons (via a connecting rod) to the Crankshaft.

When the engine is started, the oil pump starts to pump oil around the engine via  a series of small holes.

These holes supply pressurised oil to the engine components, such as the Big End Bearings.

The oil being fed to the bearings creates a thin cushion of oil between the bearing faces and the crankshaft, therefore ensuring that engine friction is minimised.

Draining the Oil

The tips and advice I am giving on this page are aimed at small diesel engines, such as three & four cylinder diesels from manufacturers such as Volvo & Yanmar.

Firstly, as with all combustion engines the engine should be warmed up to normal operating pressure.

This is because the oil will drain easier when warmed up.

Once the engine is warmed up to normal operating temperature, it should be shut down, and the appropriate safety shutdown / lock off procedures followed (refer to engine handbook / company policies & operating safety rules).

Use a suitable oil drain tray, and place underneath the engine, just under the ‘sump plug’.

The sump, or drain plug can now be loosened by turning in an anti-clockwise direction.

At this stage it is important to double check that your receptacle for draining the oil into is large enough (before you totally remove the sump plug).

Information about how much engine oil is held inside the engine, is available in the manufacturers handbook.

Once the sump plug has been removed the warm engine oil (assuming you have warmed the engine up to normal operating temperature) will start to flow out.

Refilling with fresh engine oil

Once all the oil has been drained out from the sump plug hole, then you are ready to start refilling.

Before you do, it is normal practice to replace the Oil Filter at the same time as you carry out an oil change.

Most oil filters on small marine diesels are screw on (though not all), and therefore can be quickly and easily replaced.

Using a suitable oil filter tool to grip the old oil filter, turn  anti-clockwise. The filter should then come loose, and be able to be spun off.

If the oil filter does not easily come off, due to previous over-tightening, then elsewhere on this site, I will explain how to overcome this issue.

Once the old oil filter is off, fit a new oil filter by carefully screwing it on in a clockwise direction.

Before fitting, first fill the new oil filter with fresh engine oil. This helps with quick recirculation of oil when the engine is started, as oil does not need to be pumped into the filter to fill it.

Before you start to fit the new filter, smear a light coating of engine oil around the filter rubber seal. Moistening the rubber seal helps make it seal, and prevent leaks.

Tighten the new oil filter finger tight (see manufacturers instructions). The filter should not be tightened hard on using tools, as this can damage the filter, and lead to leaks.

It also can make it hard to remove during the next oil filter change.

Once you have fitted a new Oil Filter, and replaced the drain plug you are ready to refill the engine with fresh oil.

To prevent possible leaks, it is advisable to either replace or heat up the copper drain (sump) plug washer, to make it malleable again.

If you reuse the same copper drain plug washer, you should suspend it from a suitable piece of  metal, and heat up the washer using a plumbers blow torch, until ruby red.

This will make it malleable again, and help prevent leaks from the drain hole.

Fit the washer onto the drain (sump) plug, and refit by screwing in a clockwise direction.

The drain plug should not be overtightened, otherwise you can damage the thread on the engine sump, which is what the drain plug screws into.

The manufacturers service instructions will contain information as to the correct torque settings.

The torque settings tell you how tight to tighten up the sump plug.

To tighten to the correct torque, a ‘torque wrench’ should be used. These are adjustable to set the correct torque.

Once the new filter is correctly fitted,  and the the sump plug screwed back in, to the correct torque, the new oil can be added to the engine.

It is important for the longevity and performance of your marine diesel engine, that the correct grade of oil is used.

Check with the engine manufacturers servicing handbook, for the correct grade and quantity of engine oil.

Once the new oil has been added crank the engine over to get up the oil pressure. This is ideally done without actaully starting the engine (see manufacturers servicing notes).

Once the engine is running, check for any leaks, and remedy if necessary.

Finally, record the date and engine mileage / hours at the time of the service, so that the next routine service can be carried out at the correct interval.



(c) Craig Miles 2017, including photographs & content. All rights reserved.

Insulated Neutral Earthing Systems on Ships

Insulated Neutral Earthing on Ships

Ships and land based electrical installations differ.

Land-based Installations

On land based electrical systems, such as those found in homes and factories, the neutral wire (or phase) is connected to the ‘Earth’.

The Earth wire is a safety feature that allows the safe direction of ‘fault currents’ into the ground, and away from people and livestock.

As electricity will travel along the easiest ‘path’, the earth connection provides this.

If a piece of equipment with a metal case did not have an adequate earth, and a fault caused the casing to become ‘live’, then the electricity would travel through a person touching the case.

This is because the human body will conduct electricity (it is very moist). The electricity therefore will use the persons body as a low resistance path between the ‘live wire /or casing’ , and the earth (ground).

Just to be clear about this, what is happening is that the electricity is in effect using the body as a conductor, similar to a wire.

The above scenario is not good for the human body, and a current as low as 30mA (milliAmps) can kill.

That is why electrical installations are designed with safety features such as earth connections, bonding & RCD’s.


Electrical bonding is the connection of metal objects, such as copper water pipes, and gas pipes together.

They are connected via earth straps, and clamped to the metal pipes.

If you take a look behind your bathroom sink, or under your kitchen sink, you should see them (talking about UK installations specifically).

The idea behind connecting the pipes together by wires, is for safety.

This is because the wires are also connected to the earthing system of the building.

If a fault developed, and one of the metal pipes became ‘live’, then there is a low resistance path for the electricity to flow safely away to.

It is important that all metal pipework is ‘ earth bonded’ , due to the following scenario:-

Imagine that the pipe to the cold water tap of a bathroom sink was earth bonded correctly, but not the pipe to the hot water tap.

If an electrical fault occurred and the hot pipe became live, then what is know as a ‘potential difference’ will occur.

Basically the voltage between the two pipes (hot and cold) ,and hence the metal taps, is different.

Therefore if you hold both taps, the electricity will flow through your body, as a path for the electricity.

RCD – Residual Current Device

A Residual Current Device, or RCD is a safety device, which has largely replaced the ‘fuse’ in most current installations.

The RCD detects when the current is at an abnormal level and quickly disconnects the supply. Normally the current flowing in each phase (live & neutral) will be equal, but in a fault

Normally the current flowing in each phase (live & neutral) will be equal, but in a fault condition the RCD will detect an imbalance and disconnect.

An imbalance might be caused by someone touching one of the two phases (wires).

marine engineering

Ships Earthing Systems

Ships earthing systems are typically different from land based installations, when it comes to their Earthing systems.

The system commonly used is known as the ‘Insulated neutral’ system.

As the name implies, the neutral phase wire is totally insulated from (and therefore not earthed to) the ships hull.

On land, the earth connection is ‘tied to’ the neutral connection typically at the local electrical substation, and at the point where it enters the building.

If a fault occurs on a land based installation, the RCD will trip quickly, and cut the supply.

This is ideal for land use, as the priority is to protect human life and livestock.

However, on ship the priority is to keep essential equipment running. For example it would not be acceptable on ship, if an electrical fault caused the Steering Gear to stop working.

For example it would not be acceptable on ship, if an electrical fault caused the ‘Steering Gear’ to stop working, as would be potentially dangerous.

Therefore by using an insulated neutral electrical system, when a fault occurs, the equipment is not disconnected, as would be the case on land.

Instead what happens is that a warning light / alarm will be triggered on the earth fault indicator panel, but the equipment on that circuit will still operate.

Should a second fault occur on the other phase wire, then the safety trip devices would be activated, and the equipment would no longer operate.

It is therefore important to repair a single earth fault as quickly as possible, to ensure safety.

Earth leakage from equipment circuits can also be monitored using the insulation resistance monitor, which will give precise readings of the insulation resistance.

This can be logged over time.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only, and not to be relied upon. If you are unqualified, dont mess with electricity.


MCA AEC Course

MCA AEC Course

Last week I successfully got my MCA AEC Course certificate.

The AEC, is short for Approved Engineering Course, and is an internationally recognised marine engineering qualification, run by the UK MCA (Maritime & Coastguard Agency).

The course was a mix of engine theory and practical hands on work using tools, and covered both diesel engines and also petrol (Gasoline).

Both two and four stroke engines were worked on, including a Volvo four cylinder push-rod diesel engine; a three cylinder diesel Yanmar; 2-stroke jet ski engine, and a 4 stroke outboard motor.

jetski engine
Jet Ski Engine


The AEC qualification allows me to work as:-

  • Chief Engineer on sailing yachts over 24m in length and less than 200gt and 750 Kw within 60 miles from a safe haven
  • Chief Engineer on motor yachts over 24m in length and less than 200gt and l500Kw within 60 miles from a safe haven
  • Act as the Assistant Engineer on vessels over 200gt within 60miles from a safe haven (under the Large Yacht code LY(2)


Lead-Acid Batteries Care and Maintenance on Ships

Care and Maintenance of Lead Acid Marine Batteries on Ships

ships battery maintenance
marine battery maintenance on ships


Lead-Acid Batteries on ships provide an important function.

In the event of a ‘black out’, or loss of generator power, they allow the ships important systems to continue to operate, until backup generators ‘kick in’, or repair can take place.

Important systems include communications, such as radio, sat coms & radar. They also crucially include the ships steering gear system.

Proper and regular care and maintenance of the ships batteries will ensure maximum reliability & safety.

Safety precautions

The electrolyte contained inside the batteries is sulphuric acid, therefore contact with skin, will result in skin burns.

Therefore protective (PPE) clothing is needed before maintenance work can commence.

Protective clothing items include  goggles, rubber gloves and rubber aprons.

Consult your marine employers health and safety rules, for the required items.

Explosion Risk

When the batteries are being charged by the ships electrical system, potentially explosive gases are produced by the batteries.

Therefore the following precautions need to be taken, to ensure safety:-

  1. No Smoking or naked flames.
  2. Switch on the battery rooms ventilation fan.  The fan should be capable of extracting the volume of the rooms air, once a minute.
  3. Do not use metal jugs for topping up the electrolyte (with distilled water). This is because the metal conducts electricity, and therefore there is a risk of creating a spark.
  4. Keep tools and loose wires off the top of the batteries. This is because they may cause a short circuit, and spark, if they short between the battery terminals.
  5. Examine the battery terminals to ensure that they are in sound condition, and tight. This is to prevent potential sparks from a poor connection between the terminal and battery post etc.
First Aid

Dilute sulphuric acid should be washed off skin as soon as possible.

If the acid comes into contact with eyes it requires immediate attention. It should be washed out immediately with water or a dilute saline solution. Commercial saline eye wash products should be available in the battery room first aid kit.

If for any reason there was no saline eye solution available (should be), then a saline solution can be made using one level teaspoon of houshold table salt, to half a pint of water.

A quick and rather ‘alternative’ emergency method is to immerse the victims head in water, while they open and close the eye under water.

Battery Maintenance

Marine batteries should be kept clean.

The following tasks must be carried out on a regular basis (see your companys maintenance schedule):-

  • The top of the battery cells must be kept in clean condition. Remember to wear appropriate PPE clothing, while carrying out task.
  • Coat all battery terminals and links with a coating of petroleum jelly (not grease). If you have no petroleum jelly available, then ‘vaseline’ is basically the same stuff, with a nice smell. However this is only a suggestion for a temporary emergency situation. My advice is to always use the correct stuff.
  • Ensure that the ‘Gas vents’ in the battery cell plugs are kept free from blockages. The vents are small holes in the plugs, that allow the gases to ‘escape’.
  • Remove the ‘cell plugs’ and top up each cell (if needed), so that the level is a little above the top of the ‘plates’ (the grey metal things inside the cell holes) Pure distilled water is what you need to top up the cells with.
  • Test the ‘specific gravity’ of the electrolyte solution, using a hydrometer.  This will give you an indication of the lead-acid batteries state of charge. A fully charged marine battery will have a specific gravity of 1.280 at a room temperature of 15.6 degrees Centigrade (60 degrees Fahrenheight). Note: You should use temperature compensation charts for your specific environment, as it affects the readings.
  • Voltage checks, using a voltmeter can also be carried out.






















What supply teaching taught me about being a business entrepreneur

For five years I worked (through choice) as a supply teacher (substitute teacher in USA), in the British state school system.

It taught me valuable life lessons & helped develop personal qualities in myself, that have helped in business.


Supply teaching, like business, is tough.  As a supply teacher, you can be ‘meeting new clients’ on a daily basis.

This includes not only the students, but also senior management at the School,  often for the first time.

You can be ’emotionally battered’ during a tough day,  but must show composure, and ‘bounce back’ as if nothing happened, the next day.


supply teaching

Thinking on your Feet

Like in business, supply teaching is unpredictable, and even though you have a lesson (or business) plan, you have to adapt it (sometimes very quickly) to the situation.


I touched on adaptability in the last paragraph, but sometimes in supply teaching (and business), you need a ‘Plan B’.

For ‘short term’ supply teaching, the absent teacher is suposed to provide the supply teacher with lesson plans and resources.

This enables the supply teacher to arrive at short notice, and teach the class. In

In reality though, often there is no plan provided!

I could not tell you the amount of times that I entered a classroom, after being called in at the last minute, and found that no lesson plan had been provided.

Therefore a ‘Plan B’ is crucial for the effective running of a class of students, and also  for the smooth running of a business.

In conclusion, supply teaching taught me the lessons of quick thinking (thinking on feet), adapting plans & strategies to the situation, and developing resistance and mental toughness.