Marine Low Speed Diesel Engines

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Published Date

February 2020

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Marine Low Speed Diesel Engines

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This publication discusses the design and operation of crosshead type marine diesel engines. It covers basic design of the two-stroke cycle crosshead engine, engine construction, monitoring and control, engine selection and installation, engine operation and electronically controlled engines. The text is supported by detailed line drawings that illustrate the mechanics of various engine designs. It is a useful study guide for those studying for certificates of competency and a source of reference for practising marine engineers.

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This publication considers the general principles of marine low speed diesel engines and provides examples of engine parts from the three different engine designs. There is a chapter on engine construction which describes the design and purpose of key engine components, together with their maintenance requirements and common malfunctions. General guidance is provided on engine selection, installation, operation, maintenance and emission control.



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1 The Low Speed Diesel Engine
1.1 Definition of a low speed diesel engine
1.2 The crosshead engine
1.3 The crosshead
1.4 Two-stroke operating cycle
1.5 Turbocharging and supercharging
1.6 Engine parameters


2 Engine Construction
2.1 Engine structure
2.2 Bedplate
2.3 Frames
2.4 Cylinder block
2.5 Tie rods
2.6 Cylinder liner
2.7 Cylinder cover
2.8 Piston
2.9 Piston rod gland
2.10 Crosshead
2.11 Connecting rod
2.12 Bearings
2.13 Crankshaft
2.14 Camshaft
2.15 Fuel injection system
2.16 Reversing systems
2.17 High pressure (HP) fuel oil pipes
2.18 Fuel leakage alarm
2.19 Fuel injectors
2.20 Governors
2.21 Lubrication systems
2.22 Engine cooling systems
2.23 Combustion air supply
2.24 Engine chocking
2.25 Vibration


3 Safety, Additional Engine Systems, Monitoring and Control
3.1 Crankcase explosion
3.2 Scavenge fire
3.3 Two stage turbochargers
3.4 Power take in (PTI) systems
3.5 Electrical generation
3.6 Engine monitoring systems
3.7 Unmanned machinery space (UMS)
3.8 Engine management systems
3.9 Noise


4 Engine Selection and Installation
4.1 Engine selection
4.2 Engine air supply
4.3 Exhaust gas system
4.4 Turbocharger choice
4.5 Engine services
4.6 Engine space requirement
4.7 Holding down system
4.8 Shaft earthing device


5 Engine Operation
5.1 Engine starting
5.2 Running procedure
5.3 Speed adjustment
5.4 Stopping
5.5 Emergency stopping
5.6 Continuous slow running
5.7 Cylinder cut-out system
5.8 Emergency running
5.9 Turbocharger failure
5.10 Record keeping
5.11 Exhaust emissions


6 Engine Maintenance
6.1 Maintenance
6.2 Maintenance records
6.3 Crankshaft and main bearings
6.4 Connecting rod bearings
6.5 Cylinder inspection
6.6 Cylinder cover and valves
6.7 Chain drive and camshaft
6.8 Turbocharger cleaning
6.9 Jacket cooling water
6.10 System oil testing


Appendix A The Electronically Controlled Engine
A1 Introduction
A2 Wärtsilä RT-flex engine
A3 MAN B&W electronic engines


Appendix B
B1 Engine emissions and emission control
B2 CO2 (carbon dioxide)
B3 NOx (oxides of nitrogen)

The term ‘low speed’ is not exact but in marine terms it is generally accepted as an engine operating at a speed below approximately 200 revolutions per minute. In addition, low speed engines are invariably of the crosshead type and operate on the two-stroke cycle. There are various designs of low speed crosshead engines powering merchant ships but many of these designs have not been built for almost twenty years and can now be considered obsolete. Only designs in production during the last 20 years have been considered in detail within this MEP.


IMarEST is the first Institute to bring together marine engineers, scientists and technologists into one international multi-disciplinary professional body.

Here you will find all the information you need about who we are, what we do and why we do it. You can also find out how IMarEST is governed, learn about the history of IMarEST, founded in 1889, and discover how our associated charity, The Guild of Benevolence, works to support those in the marine community requiring financial support.

Dr Denis Griffiths

Dr Denis Griffiths, BEng (Hons), MSc, PhD, CEng, FIMarEST, was a seagoing engineering officer before turning to teaching. As a Senior Lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, he taught and developed many marine engineering courses, all involving marine propulsion. Having served on the IMarEST Council, Dr Griffiths then became a member of the Institute’s Technical Committee.

Title: Marine Low Speed Diesel Engines
Subtitle: Revised Edition
Series Details: Marine Engineering Practice Series
Number of Pages: 238
Product Code: WS1740K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-85609-879-3 (9781856098793), ISBN 10: 1-85609-879-6 (1856098796)
Published Date: February 2020
Weight: 0.70 kg
Author: IMarEST

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