Not exactly the white Christmas people wish for. During the Christmas season, the last thing you want to think about is possible delays on the arrivals of your packages. However, after seeing a video like the one above, I am guessing that’s exactly what happened when this engine decided to make a run for it.
As the video starts you are immediately drawn to the bellows of smoke coming out. For us in the diesel community, most of us know this is called a runway. There are three things that are needed for combustion; air, fuel and heat. Diesel engines produce their own heat thanks to the high compression ratio. The air is unrestricted on a diesel and they are regulated with fuel. In a runaway, something usually causes the engine to start sucking in its own oil. This could be a broken piston ring, turbocharger seal goes bad, blown turbo and a number of other variables. As the engine oil is sucked in, the engine starts to run off of that oil. Once that happens, the engine is now supplying its own heat and fuel.
There are two ways to stop the engine. Option 1, the engine will run until it grenades. Option 2, remove the air supply. This is way easier said than done. If you have ever been to a race or sled pull, you may have seen that sanctioning bodies require air shut off valves. This is why. Without a solid mechanical shut off valve, it becomes extremely difficult to cut off all of the air. Even if you cover the air intake with a book (never use your hand), if there is a small gap, the engine could continue to run, just at a much lower rpm.
Unfortunately for the bystanders, they were all gas people and didn’t understand what to do. They scurred for wrenches to disconnect the battery and worked on other solutions truly having no idea that none of those things would actually work on a runaway. Runaways can happen with mechanical or electrically controlled engines and once they start running on their own oil, they don’t need power. Air is the only thing they need.
Luckily no one was hurt as they tried to work on the engine while it was revving to the moon. But as for the engine itself, the video cuts off before the smoke stops. One thing we do know is that either way this engine is toast and those people clearly aren’t getting their packages today or at least not anytime soon. So, we guess we should ask what can we do for Brown, instead of what can Brown do for you?