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Crawlers, Dozers, Loaders & Backhoes Discussion Forum

Detroit 353

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Ted Ambers

02-21-2005 14:48:44

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Hello, It'll be spring soon and I'm starting to think about my Dynahoe that has a Detroit Diesel. I got it last summer and have ben trying to work through the problems in the old thing. For 500 bucks problems are the major option it came with.I've gotten to where I'm ready to get into the engine. It's an old 353 Detroit. The problem is smoke. And I MEAN SMOKE!! It'll suffocate you in about 30 seconds. I have never seen an angine smoke like this thing in my life. As near as I can tell it's not oil as the smoke definately smells of diesel. Although the thing leaks oil so bad that I can't pull it up on the driveway as it makes an instant black oil slick from all the leaks. It won't start without ether. It could be 100 degrees and it wants ether. It fires on one cyl and in about five seconds later the second cyl. lights. It'll run on two for about 5 minutes on two cylinders and then the third will light up.
It still smokes like crazy but it has power like all get out. Also under heavy load, the smoke is almost bearable. My first thought is worn cylinders and rings. But could it be injectors? I'm thinking it's overhaul time.... Any ideas? I'd like nothing better than to hear it might be something simple. (yeah right hee hee) thanks, Ted Ambers

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02-26-2005 02:39:26

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to Ted Ambers, 02-21-2005 14:48:44  
The old Detroit two strokes both 53 & 71 series were built into the 1970's or 80's before the cold starting problem was corrected.
For reasons unknown the Military got the nifty 25 to 1 cross head pistons in the 53 series. The civilian versions were built with the weenie "S" series 17 to 1 compression trunk pistons. Unless you crank the engine at near idle speeds. The little bit of heat from compression gets soaked away into the metal.
With N50's at 1800 rpm she should make 70-75HP. At 2800rpm max she might make 100-105 HP. The "N" series 21 to 1 trunk pistons were released as replacement parts and used in new non-turbo engines. Turbo's were upgraded to a 19 to 1 comp btw. Now lots more heat from compression and high enough temps to light the fuel spray.
The "S" injectors should be tossed as well. Compared to the mist of easily ignitied atomized fuel the "N" injectors spray. The "S" injectors spray droplets. An injector was so bad in one cylinder on one of my 2-53's. That port was 3/4 blocked with soot.
Max of N50's in a four valve head with a dry element air filter and low unrestriction exhaust. Everybody else use N35,N40 or N45's max.
That cam has to be pulled and reground.The lobes will be worn causing reduced valve lift and injector stroke. Timing will be off as well. Yes I know it's rarely done, but how many tinkerer rebuilt engines really do run 100% ? Your eyes can not measure a cam either.
The cam followers will need new pins and rollers too. DO NOT GRIND THE *^%^*%##%^ valves and seats. Install all new valves and seats at max allowable height. Dimwits by the thousands grind old diesel valves and seats then wonder why the fresh engine won't start any better when rebuilt. Well duh, you just sunk the valves and while it doesn't look like much. The compression ratio just dropped a full ratio or two.
The blower rotor end plates have to be cut for new style seals.Too great a chance of leaking engine oil causing runaways with the old style seals. That emergency damper was put on the air intake for a reason, old style leaking blower seals!!! New and improved valve springs are to be used on both two and four valve heads. The springs on the cam followers also have been updated and a valve follower spring now goes on the injector follower too.
Make certain the sleeves are the same height when assembling.
When into it, put a block heater in it anyways. Nobody ever installed too big of a starter or battery either.
I have an aluminium block four valve head 3-53 around here that is looking for a project to be bolted into.Can't think of what yet.

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hector gemme

02-23-2005 01:46:15

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to Ted Ambers, 02-21-2005 14:48:44  
hi I am sorry wen you start your detroit if hi smoke and run bad he need rack adjustement when he is hut iff he has black smoke it injector probleme or air filter .

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Ted Ambers

02-23-2005 09:54:26

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to hector gemme, 02-23-2005 01:46:15  
Hi hector gemme, thanks for the tip, when it warms up a little outside, I'll scheck it out.... Ted

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Michael janice

10-31-2005 21:49:12

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to Ted Ambers, 02-23-2005 09:54:26  
I have a 1972 yale/towne 353 detroit backhoe.
To make a long story short, I purchased it to dig my foundation on my new house,,simple enough.
It was working just fine,but after changing the fuel filters,and checking the fuel line for leaks and no clogging,it has started to die down or at least seem to run on less than the appropriate cylinders.It will start fine sort of,,,run till it gets warm then when underload it will start to die down to the point of almost off,no matter if giving throttle or will catch up itself after 20 seconds or longer and as long as i keep the throttle up it will run ok,but even then it will at times start to die as soon as I go under load whether I start to dig or move the rear or front bucket asembley, or even while in gear it will move just fine with a little throttle but then seems to die for no apparent reason. It will die to a few strokes and But it will start right up most of the time right after dying. Not too familair with the 353,but it sounds like a power valve or load compensator etc,,am I close,, help,,,need to finish excavating before winter... Thanks,,, M janice

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Josh in Indiana

02-21-2005 18:24:21

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to Ted Ambers, 02-21-2005 14:48:44  
Hi Ted,
I had a 6-71 detroit that was experiencing the same problems as you were saying. This thing would smoke you out of the shed and it wouldnt start without ether if it was 100 out. But once you got her warmed up she had power and the smoke cleared right up. When i tore it down i found all the rings worn pretty bad and in one cylinder the rings were broke so bad that it had a gouge in the liner. So it sounds like you need a rebuild. The good thing is for those Detroits is that parts are plentiful and for the most part pretty reasonable. You should check with your parts man to see if he can get you a set of the new style injectors (not sure of the name) and a set of new style pistons to help with the starting. If its needing a rebuild then the blower will probably have to be done as well. I took mine to a machine shop and they did it because i didnt feel that i had the skill to do it. I did the same with the head. send me an email if you have any questions.
Good luck
Josh in Indiana

p.s. Aside from their well known problems those early 2 strokes are some of the most rugged engines i have ever seen

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03-06-2005 09:44:39

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to Josh in Indiana, 02-21-2005 18:24:21  
A friend of mine recently bought a 664 Clark skidder with a detroit 3-53 in it. I think it is a 78. Its starts up perfectly, but there is a knock in one of the cylinders. He checked it out and he thinks that he needs to adjust the lifters, but I cant find what to adjust it to anywhere.
Can someone help me out here???

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02-21-2005 15:59:06

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to Ted Ambers, 02-21-2005 14:48:44  
Yeah, sounds like a rebuild is in order, hafta build a little heat in the other cylinders before they will fire, I done an in-frame on a 3-53 back before Christmas in a Prentice knuckleboom, it was only running on 2 and alot of white smoke but I found when I pulled the head that half of one of the valves was gone. Got time for a few Detroit 1-liners? Guy gave me a picture of a truck with a Detroit in it, had to keep kitty-litter on the floor under it to soak up the oil. Another guy gave me a Detroit belt buckle, leaked oil so bad my pants wouldn't stay up. And finally, if a Detroit is not leaking oil you had better put some in it. In all fairness they were a great engine.

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Ted Ambers

02-22-2005 16:22:24

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to gatractorman, 02-21-2005 15:59:06  
Hi, thanks for the thoughts. I had an old trucker tell me a story about his ol 671 a couple years ago... Seems the ol girl was tired beyond her miles and the boss told him to keep on pushin it. Well, he said one day he was toolin down the road ad came to a stop and the engine wouldn't slow down. It just kept on revvin. I guess the ol thing had just about everything jury rigged as the emergency stop was gone. He said the cluch was worn badly enough that all it would do is slip when he tried to pop it. Pulling the fuel shut off was a waste of time. It was drinkin it's own oil. Well, by this time he started gettin scared. The ol thing was peggin the tach and he had to think of something so, he got the fire extinguisher and fed it to her. He said it got it coughin pretty good, but it cleared up when he ran out of extiguisher. Seeing that didn't work, he took his shirt off, took off the air cleaner and fed it to it. He said all it did was load up for a second or two and then blow litle bits of shirt out the stack. He tried pouring his coffee to it, but that didn't help either, she kept on screaming. He looked in the cab one last time and the engine was far into the red by now. seeing that he ran away a bit and sat down. It wasn't long before it took to smoking in more than true detroit fashion. He said "man his thing is gonna scatter", so backed up even more....instead it ramped up even more. -said he never heard a diesel scream like that in his life. Finally he said he just sat down and waited. After about 15 minutes she finally ran dry. Instead of blowin, It just slowed down and stopped with a squeek... Well, I guess those were the days. The Jimmys are history now. Victims of tier 1,2 and 3 pollution control legislation. I hate to see them go as they are truly one of the great innovations in engines. Take care, Ted

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hector gemme

02-21-2005 15:47:17

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to Ted Ambers, 02-21-2005 14:48:44  

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Ted Ambers

02-22-2005 15:45:18

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to hector gemme, 02-21-2005 15:47:17  
Hi, Sure did... Theonly difference was that is revved up a little faster without the air cleaner. Tahnks,Ted

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02-21-2005 15:34:08

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to Ted Ambers, 02-21-2005 14:48:44  
I doubt you're going to find a simple fix. It is probably just plain worn out. Top rings and piston grooves are probably gone, thus the reason why it skips so bad until it gets hot. This engine still holds oil pressure at hot idle? But . . . you've probably done this already, but make sure the emergency shut-off isn't stuck closed, or half-way closed on the blower. Also, try adjusting the injector rack. You need to read the number off the injectors so you know what gauge to use to adjust the injector plungers. Sometimes adjusting the injectors and rack can make a big difference, but it won't work miracles. I've got an old Pettibone Mulithoe backhoe with a 3-53 that will only run on one cylinder until it gets hot - but once it IS hot, it runs fine and does not smoke. So, I'm not ready to tear it down yet. I've also got a Allis HD7 with a 3-71 that is just about the same. A note about cold starting in general - and I'm sure I'll hear arguments. I was a mechanic back to the 60s, and we had lots of equipment with Detroits including Deere crawlers, Timberjack log skidders, AC dozers, etc. I have never experienced one that started well in cold weather as compared to other direct injected diesels - even with newly rebuilt engines. Most needed ether below 50 degrees F.

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02-24-2005 15:48:11

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to jdemaris, 02-21-2005 15:34:08  
Yep that's the way my 4-53 detroit in my pickup is. It is a pain in the butt to start if it is under 60 degrees outside, and even above that it won't start real easy unless it's 90 or so. But it runs great on all cylinders with no smoke except when you first start it or accelerate hard.

I however also have a 1967 Kenworth W900 with an 8V92 detroit in it, and that thing has always amazed me. It could be 15-20 degrees out, and I almost just had to bump the starter and it would start. I couldn't believe it.

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Ted Ambers

02-28-2005 17:36:17

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 Re: Detroit 353 in reply to LaRell, 02-24-2005 15:48:11  
Hi LaRell, I live out in Ohio's Amish country and the Amish seem to have a love affair with the 353's. It's kinda funny to listen to the darn things screaming away in all directions as they blow silage and such....
Ted ambers

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