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Lesser Known Classics Discussion Forum

Re: 3-53 Detroit puts out white smoke, warm or cold

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01-02-2012 14:28:04

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I've got two big backhoe loaders with 3-53s. Both skip, sputter, and smoke when started at 50F - but clear up when warm.

Your problem sounds usual. If you get grey/white smoke when the engine is warm - and it runs smooth with no skipping- I'd suspect you're burning coolant. If so, I suspect you'll eventually notice the radiator doing down.

That being said - standard advice for any 2-stroke-cycle Jimmy that has valves (some don't) - adjust the rack. If the rack out, so is injection timing and fuel delivery.

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01-02-2012 19:11:43

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 Re: 3-53 Detroit puts out white smoke, warm or cold in reply to LJD, 01-02-2012 14:28:04  
Btw, is there any way to adjust the rack myself? I'm not familiar with two strokes, and I know every company makes different timing designs, although being Detroit it shouldn't be to complicated.

I also heard I would need special tools, are they something the average person can buy affordably?

Thanks again.

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01-03-2012 18:36:16

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 Re: 3-53 Detroit puts out white smoke, warm or cold in reply to fastorange, 01-02-2012 19:11:43  
You just need one special and it's cheap - or at least they used to be. Used to cost $10 but haven't had to buy a new one in many years.
It is an injector height gauge.

Your Detroit has a fuel injector pump for each cylinder and each is activated by a rocker arm - just as the valves are. The "rack" is a general reference to the arms and linkage you have to adjust. With the injectors - you use a small gauge that sets the proper depth of each injector. Depending on the engine and the injectors used - the gauge you need can vary. if your engine is all original, your manual should give you the gauge number. If not -you can go by the number on the fuel-injector-pump.

If you can't get a gauge - you can get that height spec and make your own.

Gauge looks like this - and they very by height.


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01-03-2012 14:55:21

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 Re: 3-53 Detroit puts out white smoke, warm or cold in reply to fastorange, 01-02-2012 19:11:43  
The only tool required to set the rack is a flat head screw driver. I presonally think that the rack is one of the hardest thing to do on a detroit. Basically, you set the fuel control tube arms so that each injector has the exact same rack position at any given time. I cant fully explain this procedure. If no one else posts the instructions, I would try to find some one who has a manual or some one who knows how to do this so you can learn. Once you understand what the directions are saying, it is not all that difficult. But, it is still one of the most difficult things to do.

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01-02-2012 19:00:42

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 Re: 3-53 Detroit puts out white smoke, warm or cold in reply to LJD, 01-02-2012 14:28:04  
It's not antifreeze, I guess I should have been more specific, it's just white un-burned diesel smoke... I don't know enough about these engines to diagnose them. It runs well enough, and doesn't burn much oil, so I don't think it's just to worn. It will run all day long with no problems except the smoke. I don't have a good Detroit mechanic around (as far as I can find out) or I would just have them come out and take a good look at it.

Thank you all for your help.

P.S. if it is worn out, does anyone have an idea of the material cost of an in-the-tractor overhaul on that engine?

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01-03-2012 19:22:07

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 Re: 3-53 Detroit puts out white smoke, warm or cold in reply to fastorange, 01-02-2012 19:00:42  
I also think you need to run your rack. First set your injector height, just like setting the valves on ether side of it. turn engine until one cylinder inj is down,just like the valves you are looking to set them all the way up. A Detroit tool is good but a caliper is ok. the height is 1.470,this is setting the timing, take your time set them all the same! again just like setting the valves, only you are measuring the height instead of the gap of the spring. Setting the rack is the hardest for me. Move throttle to wide open. Look for the shaft that has two screws on top to adjust. remember this rack must always move by-itself to idle. With the throttle wide open the back actuator can't hit the head bolt. I set this one first about 1/8 in from the head bolt. then adjust the next one exactly wide open, with the two screws on the shaft. then the front inj. Move the throttle back to idle. everything should be free. push it with your hand do they all start at once, do they all push their inj exactly wide open. This might take you a hour. don't be in a hurry. The best thing would to get a book! After you do this the idle speed will be different. Be sure the rack goes back to idle by itself! Have fun, you did check your valves. Vic

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