Mechanical check-out prior to firing-up twin diesels

Forty tons of maritime goodness need some tender attention before venturing out. You just don’t want the engines to kill when you’re fighting upstream and a 24-barge load is bearing down on you. So….

1. Check to make sure there’s coolant in the overflow reservoir for each of the engines.

2. Check the coolant water filter for each engine to make sure the screen isn’t plugged up.

3. Check four dipsticks: one for each main engine’s oil and one for each main engine’s transmission fluid.

4. Each of the main engines has a fuel-water separator. Is there water in the pan at the bottom of either? Empty it.

5. Open each cap on each battery to make sure there is at least a quarter inch of water covering the battery plates. Fill with distilled water if low.

6. Check the oil on the generator diesel by withdrawing the yellow dipstick.

6. There is a power steering fill cap near the uppermost — storm bridge — wheel – there’s no dipstick, but you can fill with power steering fluid if the steering is becoming a bit sluggish. The fluid comes with a handpump to attach to the bottle, which makes it possible to inadvertently add air pressure to the system. Avoid this.

7. Now check the various floor hatches that give access to the bilge. Just a bit of grimy water in there, you hope; any other fluids (god forbid, fuel) and you need to do some further examination before going forward.

8. Switch the white Shore Power knob to 12 o’clock position and retrieve shore power cords (disconnect shore power end first). Counterintuitively, the business end of the white rotating knob is the short stumpy end. Also, note that “Onan” in this context is unrelated to Onanism as referenced by Mark Twain. Rather, it relates to generator-produced high voltage.

9. Switch on all the DC circuits needed while at sea: horn, wipers, lights. Go wild.

That’s it! When you verify that all fluids and filters are okay, you’re ready to fire up your Cummins twin diesels! Once the engines are warming up, verify that each engine’s exhaust is intermittently belching out cooling water.

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