Tigercat offers turbocharger service tip

Wednesday 9 May 2018

Turbochargers have been around for many years and have become an industry standard on most forestry machines. The amount of exhaust on the hot side of the engine controls the speed of the turbo exhaust turbine. As the speed increases, a greater amount of air is forced into the engine and more horsepower is produced. A steel shaft mechanically links the turbine to the compressor wheel and effectively controls the volume of air going into the cool side of the engine. Turbocharger speeds can reach well over 100,000 rpm. With faster rotational speeds, there is little room for error. Proper maintenance and operating practices can prevent damage or premature wear.

Air Filtration and Restriction
Just as it is difficult to breathe when wearing a plugged dust mask, a turbocharger also relies on the cleanliness of the air intake system to work efficiently. Air filtration is the first line of defence for the turbo from dirty atmospheric air, as it prevents contaminants from coming into direct contact with the compressor inlet. The outside air enters the pre-cleaner then circulates through the primary (outer) filter element. Then it passes through the safety (inner) filter and finally toward the turbo inlet. To keep this system working efficiently, any debris accumulation around the pre-cleaner such as branches, snow, dirt, mud or leaves must be removed at least every eight hours and more often if working in challenging conditions. This will help keep the turbo vacuum pressure within limits and lower the longitudinal strain on the shaft at high speeds, preserving the life of the seals and internal parts of the turbo. A plugged filter will cause the turbo speeds to increase because there is no load on the compressor and this in turn can cause the turbo to fail.

Cooling and Lubrication
A warm up is important before exercising and it would only make sense to seek shade with a nice cold glass of water after running in hot weather. The same goes for your machine. The oil must be warmed before working the machine and the turbo must be allowed to cool before shutdown. Proper lubrication is essential to cool the turbo. Remember, it can spin over 100,000 rpm. Turning off the engine right after working the machine hard means the lubricating oil flow by the pump will be turned off while the turbo is still spinning at high rpms for several minutes. With no oil, there is no way to quickly remove the heat. This can cause premature wear to the shaft, bearings and seals and shorten the life of the turbo. The same can happen by not allowing enough time for the oil to warm on startup. Cold oil moves more slowly, delivering inadequate lubrication to the bearing.

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