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  #1  
Old 3 Sep 2005
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Operating a Diesel Vehicle in COLD Climates

Hi

I'm toying with the idea of taking my diesel Hilux into Siberia. I want to spend a good 3 months or so, and wish to travel along the Kolyma Highway Yakutsk - Magadan. By most accounts, come the summer melt (June / July) this road becomes pretty much impassable. I wish to get into Siberia in what is the European spring, i.e. Mar / Apr / May time, when Siberia will be around -20C (very generally speaking of course), rather than the frigid -40C in winter.

Now I realise that Diesel fuel, radiator coolant, and the oils in the gearbox / diffs stuffen up and even freeze (coolant) at very low temps (don't know about engine oil or brake / clutch fluid??) My question is, at what sort of temperatures would it become necessary to either keep the engine running continuously / warm all these parts up?).

I know plent of North America gets to around -15 / -20C in winter, so I guess these temps are OK?

Any experience / knowledge appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 3 Sep 2005
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At -20 the only real problem is with starting the vehicle. Many diesel vehicles in my home province of Alberta perform very well at -30 tp -40. The transmission fluid does become thick so it may try to engage the transmission so that the clutch must be depressed until the fluid has a chance to circulate and warm up.

There is no problem with the coolant as a -40 degree mixture is easy to make. You can carry some diesel conditioner with you to help stop your fuel from geling if you are not sure of the supply. Also if you don't have a block heater for the engine or will not have access to a power outlet you might want to consider carrying some spray ether to help with starting. If you have no block heater and/or no electrical supply and yu are not sure of your fuel supply (quality wise) and have never tried the output of your glow plugs I would probably not shut my diesel off at anything below about -20 to -25. if you have any of these factors in your favour I wouldn't worry about it.

Have Fun
Rick

ps my idea of a winter vacation covers areas like Cuba not Siberia lmao

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  #3  
Old 3 Sep 2005
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Most Russian trucks are petrol for the reasons you mention, the big 6 wheel drive numbers use around 50 litres per 100kms.

I dont know what ratings Russian deisel would have but in warm climbs like Australia it can go solid at -10!

If you want to see the road you mention in summer take a look at the blog below. Adrian has just done it on his KLR and is now off to Kazakhstan.

www.users.bigpond.net.au/AdrianScott

cheers

alec
http://users.netlink.com.au/~asimpson
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  #4  
Old 3 Sep 2005
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Originally posted by simmo:

I dont know what ratings Russian deisel would have but in warm climbs like Australia it can go solid at -10!


What do you guys run your cars on out there? Suntan oil? :-)

Apart from a coolant heater (http://tinyurl.com/dtx97 ) you can also consider a fuel line heater ( http://tinyurl.com/btbqd ).

The gearbox is possibly best warmed up by setting up a small fire underneath the vehicle.

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Roman (UK)
www.overlandcruiser.info

[This message has been edited by Roman (edited 03 September 2005).]

[This message has been edited by Roman (edited 03 September 2005).]
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  #5  
Old 3 Sep 2005
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Have a look at these guys Russian trip - should have some useful info.

http://www.turtleexpedition.com/adventures/

Remember to have a way to stay alive if your vehicle fails!

And get a copy of 'Kolyma Tales' -
http://tinyurl.com/9sgra

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  #6  
Old 3 Sep 2005
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As Roman said you can warm the gear box by building a fire under it. Just a word of caution from someone who has done this more than once. Direct flame on any oily, greasy or potentialy oily or greasy parts is not good. Carry a bit of stove pipe or other light metal to build the fire in.

If you have power available a small strap on "Belly pan warmer" might be more in line.

Are you planning to carry a small generator?

Rick


[This message has been edited by Riq (edited 03 September 2005).]
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  #7  
Old 4 Sep 2005
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I've heard of some truckers who just leave their engines running, I don't see the point when such marvellous heaters as the Webasto and Eberspacher are available.

I would plumb a take-off from the cooling circuit and put the fuel line inside the coolant flexy all the way to the tank. a loop of coolant in the tank and then back to the motor (a good config if you run chip oil too).
If you sleep in the vehicle you'll have either the heater or the engine running permanently.

Where I live in the French Alps they put in an additive which enables a start at -30°c for winter, perhaps in Siberia the cold is taken into account (they wouldn't be able to pump it otherwise)

I've done a few winter starts up here (my camper lives outside and you can feel that at -20 the gearbox is very syrupy, idling for 5 minutes in neutral frees it up a bit, (if you press the clutch in nothing turns so it doesn't warm up) but not the diff; just don't go above 15km/h for the first 15 minutes of driving.

A friend of mine has recently set off for that area in an unmodified and poorly insulated Iveco 4x4 van, he's very happy with his Webasto...

Good luck
Luke
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Old 4 Sep 2005
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Webasto's are good stuff, and I have one in my Defender. Just make sure you prefferably have it connected to a seperate battery then your starter battery, as some people have had their batteries drained by using them more then they re-charge by driving. On the otherhand, starting a warm engine drains a battery less than starting a froozen one.

Here in Norway, in some of the colder regions, they mix the diesel with 50% parafin to keep it from turning solid. I would presume they do the same in northern Russia. When using such "winter" diesel, I have had no problems starting in down to -35 degrees celcius even without an engine warmer. Just make sure to let the engine run 10-15 minutes before heading off, and drive slowly to begin with to let the diffs and all parts of the engine get warm.


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  #9  
Old 5 Sep 2005
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Thanks for all this info. I aim to travel at such a time of year as to make such things as engine heaters unnecessary, and I'm trying to get an idea of what temperatures I could operate doen to in an unmodified verhicle.

I guess the diesel out there must be conditioned???

Perhaps I'll just buy a petrol Lada Niva - plenty of local expertise if the thing packs-up!

Cheers

Dan

[This message has been edited by danielsprague (edited 04 September 2005).]
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  #10  
Old 5 Sep 2005
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Sorry mate, it's a bit confusing. If you are going there outside the winter time what seems to be the problem? You won't use any other fuel than the locals, so why bother how they condition their diesel fuel? Just make sure it doesn't knacker your engine - use dual filtering, additives, etc.

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  #11  
Old 6 Sep 2005
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Sorry for not being so clear. I basically want to know at what temperature (I guess ca. -20ºC) I could get away with in an unmodified vehicle?

I'm thinking Mar - Apr will be around -20º and upwards, and thus would be the time for me to go - i.e. without needing an engine heater, fuel line lagging, generators and the like.

Dan
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  #12  
Old 7 Sep 2005
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Dan,
might be worth running your engine on a slightly thinner oil, 20/50 at -20/-30 is like treacle, 15/40 multigrade is still fluid, a semi or fully synthetic is even better - depends on your engine of course.

- use a propane stove (keep gas cylinder warm) to (gently) heat sump/gearbox for 30 minutes before starting -its easier than a fire !

Any Canadians know if you can buy block heaters for a Tdi Defender over there, or a good price for a Webasto or Eiberspacher ?
Im over in Alberta in a few weeks.
Cheers
Grif
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  #13  
Old 7 Sep 2005
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Been running fully synthetic 5w50 in the Iveco since I moved to the alps, lovely stuff; I don't hear the starter labour at all on cold starts.
The changeover involved changing the first synthetic fill up after 3000km as a rinser, other than that no difference.
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  #14  
Old 7 Sep 2005
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Lukes suggestion is very good. Most people I know here in Norway use 5W40 or 0W40 motoroil in the winter. It makes a big differance for the engine when starting when it's really cold.

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  #15  
Old 9 Sep 2005
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Several points:

With correct anti-freeze in the radiator and suitable oil , -20°C is no problem. An engine heater will ease start-up and reduce wear.

The drawback: fuel quality. "winter diesel" or "arctic diesel" contains less paraffins which would clog the fuel filter first. Adding kerosene or even some gasoline (regular) will help if the refinery hasn't taken care of (which I think is necessary in Sibiria and should be standard, but who nows). Other stuff sold as "winter additive" can be dangerous as you may get two phases in the tank - the liquid fraction above some "sirup".

Too much gasoline or kerosene may damage engine and/or injection pump, so 15% (gas) - 30%(kero) are the maximum.

As the fuel filter clogs first, shutting down the engine, there were filter heaters around some time ago. Their problem: Heating with coolant delivers enough heat, but requires a hot engine. Electric heating will drain the battery - in test labs, there were combined heaters around 20 years ago: A small area with electric heating, enabling the engine to warm up slightly above idle, then the complete filter heated by the coolant, but with real winter diesel, there is no market in Europe or North America.

A warning regarding high-pressure injection systems (common rail): pumps became critical components if the lubricating function of the diesel fuel is affected by too much kerosene (gasoline being even worse) - so an old low injection pressure engine may be the first choice.

Regards,
Peter
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