Diesel welder cold weather starting problems
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
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    Montana
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    4

    Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    Hello has anyone ever had problems starting their diesel welder in cold weather? I run all gas engine welders currently because we work in remote areas where we typically don't have power, but don't want to leave the machines running over night. I'm thinking about making the transition to diesel machines, but need to know the starting reliability, because my gas machines always start, even in -20f cold. Any experiences good or bad would be appreciated

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    Welcome to the forum from Washington.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    BIG SKY COUNTRY
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    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    Welcome to the forum from a fellow Montanan.

    No advice on diesel powered welding equipment in the winter.
    Maybe the newer technology works better than it did in the past.

    Personal experience with anything diesel in subzero temps is not good.
    Hobbyist - At what point is a "hobby" out-of-control?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Orange, TX
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    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    If not already aware, the primary reason diesels are hard starting in cold temperatures is because they rely on "compression ignition" to ignite the fuel. The high compression of a diesel results in substantial increases in cylinder temperature and as long as that temperature rises to at least the autoignition temperature of the grade of diesel being used (494F for #2) we'll have ignition and off you go.

    In colder ambient temperatures where the entire engine is "cold soaked" it's much harder if not impossible for the compression to increase the cylinder temperature to the required point for autoignition. In these cases the diesel fuel can be it's own worst enemy in that when it gets injected into the cylinder - that isn't up to adequate temperature to begin with - it acts to cool the air in the cylinder back down and all you get is white "smoke" which is unburned fuel out of the exhaust. Because a mechanical injection pump is going to simulate a full throttle condition while cranking, it will inject the maximum amount of fuel thus adding to the cooling effect of the cylinder making it more difficult if not impossible to start.

    Because of the above, starting aids such as block, oil and intake heaters, glow plugs and starting fluid (ether that ignites at a lower temp than diesel) are used to get a cold diesel going. One trick I learned years ago that can be used if the injection pump has a mechanical shut-down or the unit will crank with the shut-down solenoid in the shut-down state (whether energized or de-energized depending on design) is to crank the engine 10-15seconds (or longer) with the injection pump in the no fuel or shut-down state to build up cylinder temperature before allowing the injection to take place. Mechanical shut-downs are best as you can slowly move from the OFF to RUN positions gradually thus limiting the amount of fuel injected and resulting cooling affect of the cold fuel as the engine cranks.

    Another "aid" is to fire up the OA or propane torch and heat the intake air (NOT thru the air filter ) to help increase cylinder temperature while cranking.

    It's helpful to run a mixture of #2 diesel and kerosene to help prevent jelling in subzero temperatures but it can be deterrent to cold weather starting due to its higher autoignition temperature of over 560F.

    And of course it's most important to have a very healthy battery (or two) for cold weather operation due to the extended cranking times that result.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    1,368

    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    One of the main things is strong battery. They need to crank fast to build compression. The newer diesels that are direct injection fire much better in the cold than the old IDI diesels did. Personlly I am a big fan of intake grid heaters. My 5.9 Cummins in my truck fires right off in sub zero temps as long as my grid heaters are working properly. If you get a direct injection diesel with grid heaters and a block heater you should be in good shape. Also use 10-30 synthetic oil in your diesel welder. If I were to do remote welding with a diesel I would do all the above and also have a 2000 watt gas generator with me to power my block heater for 1/2 hr before starting.1 hr would be better but with intake grid heaters you could probably fire it cold in a pinch. The gen would just be my insurance policy. The other part of my insurance policy would be 2 batteries in the system. With these precautions the diesel will start as dependably as the gas engines.
    After starting I would let it run with no load for 5-10 minutes in sub zero weather. Also use a double dose of anti gel in your fuel when below zero. Make sure you drain the water out of your separator every day and keep a spare fuel filter with you at all times. If the welder you want has glow plugs instead of a grid heater it would not be a deal breaker for me, I just prefer the grid heater but glow plugs work fine as long as they work right.
    The nice thing about having a block heater on it is that if you do have a problem with the glow plugs or grid heaters you can warm the engine with the block heater and the engine will still start . Just plug it in for a good hr before starting it. My Cummins I have only used the block heater a few times to get it to start and that was when I had trouble with the grid heaters.
    The other good thing about grid heaters is that most engines that use them monitor the intake air temps and power the grid heaters intermittently until the intake air reaches a set temp then they turn off until need again. One time I was driving 4hrs to a job . It was -20 degrees and my grid heaters would kick on about every 2-3 minutes to heat the intake air for the whole trip. I could see my volt meter dip 2-3 volts every time they would kick on.
    Last edited by thegary; 01-07-2017 at 07:07 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Montana
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    4

    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    Thanks for the info guys, but I was wondering if anybody had experiences good or bad with particular diesel machines, more specifically lincoln vantage 300's in cold weather.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Port Orchard, WA.
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    9,580

    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    Here in western Washington we don’t see cold weather. My Vantage 400 starts better than my SA-200s in what little cold weather we do get.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Don’t pay any attention to me
    I’m just a hobbyist!

    Carl

    Dynasty 300
    V350-Pro w/pulse
    SG Spool gun
    1937 IdealArc-300
    PowerArc 200ST
    3 SA-200s
    Vantage 400





  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
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    Montana
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    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    Do you like your vantage?

  9. #9
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    May 2010
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    Port Orchard, WA.
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    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Rubydavid View Post
    Do you like your vantage?
    Oh yeah, very nice arc. And I just love the adjustable arc force!
    Don’t pay any attention to me
    I’m just a hobbyist!

    Carl

    Dynasty 300
    V350-Pro w/pulse
    SG Spool gun
    1937 IdealArc-300
    PowerArc 200ST
    3 SA-200s
    Vantage 400





  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Montana
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    4

    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    What is the fuel consumption like

  11. #11
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    May 2010
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    Port Orchard, WA.
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    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    Now this is embarrassing! I got it last June for Father’s Day, so far I have 22-hours on it. Being a hobbyist I don’t weld much.
    Don’t pay any attention to me
    I’m just a hobbyist!

    Carl

    Dynasty 300
    V350-Pro w/pulse
    SG Spool gun
    1937 IdealArc-300
    PowerArc 200ST
    3 SA-200s
    Vantage 400





  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Andover, Ohio
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    2,517

    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    David, welcome to the forum.
    Lincoln A/C 225
    Everlast P/A 200

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Ireland
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    116

    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    A lot would depend on the financial investment involved and what the return would be.
    Would the extra you pay for the diesel engined set be worth it when combined with the extra
    outlay for block heaters, grid heaters, and the associated battery maintenance.
    Cold weather will cause significant problems for the un prepared.
    The difference between two diesel engines of the same spec in my experience
    can be significant too regarding starting, I have one real old ford engine in a tractor,
    it is a complete animal on diesel, (came out of a welder), but that engine always
    starts easy, I have had the exact same engines in other machines and they did not like
    cold starts.
    A lot of things need to be calculated to see whether or not there would be an actual
    saving in the purchase given the extra outlay for a diesel, and the added components
    time and work required to get a diesel up and running in real cold weather.
    If weather was not an issue then diesel would be the better choice.
    If you can keep the diesel in a warm environment over night, thus starting it would
    be straight forward, then go for diesel, for example keep it on a trailer and back it in
    to s heated building over night and bring it to work again in the morning.
    The thinner engine oils is big help too, as is the pre start routine, as mentioned
    turning over with the fuel shut off to get some heat in there first, but you need an
    engine with a manual stopper so one can transition to the start position, we used
    to have old engines with decompression levers too that helped get up to speed which
    also aided in getting in some heat without flattening the battery.
    Lots to weigh up and will ultimately depend on the condition of the engine, what ever
    fuel it uses, we also used to put petrol in the diesel to make things start and to keep the diesel
    from freezing, now they have winter diesel to stop freezing.
    I also saw people put a spigot on the side of the intake manifold and connect a gas bottle
    to it via a hydraulic quick coupling, they said helped when cold, I never stood around these
    people to find out if it worked or not because they were also accident prone and very sore
    on machinery.
    Either way, I hope all works out for the best for you.

    Regards, john

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    22

    Re: Diesel welder cold weather starting problems

    To answer your question. Yes -20 your diesels can have problems starting with weak batteries, improper maintenance from previous owners, too much starting fluid if used, the wrong weight of oil, etc...

    Will they start? Yes, if you take precautions like everyone here has said. You also mentioned you don't have power so either another generator or you can keep a flexible pipe with you run it off the exhaust of your truck and put it on the engine it self as an alternative heater. We have 4 miller air packs on our service trucks and you have to use the glow plugs they will start. I do not want to see any of my guys using starting fluid on them. We also do not have block heaters. The air if not maintained will cause problems when its that cold unless you have a drain system set up as it runs. But they do work.

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