Simplified Operation of the Governor

6 Jun

The governor controls the fuel rack position through a combined action of the hydraulic piston and a set of mechanical flyweights, which are driven by the engine blower shaft. Figure 28 provides an illustration of a functional diagram of a mechanical-hydraulic governor.  The position of the flyweights is determined by the speed of the engine.  As the engine speeds  up or down, the weights  move in or out.    The movement of the flyweights, due to a change in engine speed, moves a small piston (pilot valve) in the governor’s hydraulic system.    This motion adjusts flow of hydraulic fluid to a large hydraulic piston (servo-motor piston).   The large hydraulic piston is linked to the fuel rack and its motion resets the fuel rack for increased/decreased fuel.

D etailed O peration of the G overnor

With the engine operating, oil from the engine lubrication system is supplied to the governor pump gears, as illustrated in Figure 29. The pump gears raise the oil pressure to a value determined by the spring relief valve.  The oil pressure is maintained in the annular space between the undercut portion of the pilot valve plunger and the bore in the pilot valve bushing.  For any given speed setting, the spring speeder exerts a force that is opposed by the centrifugal force of the revolving flyweights.  When the two forces are equal, the control land on the pilot valve plunger covers the lower ports in the pilot valve bushing.

Under these conditions, equal oil pressures are maintained on both sides of the buffer piston and tension on the two buffer springs is equal.  Also, the oil pressure is equal on both sides of the receiving compensating land of the pilot valve plunger due to oil passing through the compensating needle valve. Thus, the hydraulic system is in balance, and the engine speed remains constant.

When the engine load increases, the engine starts to slow down in speed.  The reduction in engine speed will be sensed by the governor flyweights.   The flyweights are forced inward (by the spring), thus lowering the pilot valve plunger (again, due to the downward spring force).  Oil under pressure will be admitted under the servo-motor piston (topside of the buffer piston) causing it to rise. This upward motion of the servo-motor piston will be transmitted through the terminal lever to the fuel racks, thus increasing the amount of fuel injected into the engine.   The oil that forces the servo-motor piston upward also forces the buffer piston upward because the oil pressure on each side of the piston is unequal. This  upward motion of the piston compresses  the upper buffer spring and relieves the pressure on the lower buffer spring.

The oil cavities above and below the buffer piston are common to the receiving compensating land on the pilot valve plunger.  Because the higher pressure is below the compensating land, the pilot valve plunger is forced upward, recentering the flyweights and causing the control land of the pilot valve to close off the regulating port.  Thus, the upward movement of the servo-motor piston stops when it has moved far enough to make the necessary fuel correction.

Oil passing through the compensating needle valve slowly equalizes the pressures above and below the buffer piston, thus  allowing the buffer piston to return to the center position,   which  in  turn  equalizes   the  pressure  above  and  below  the  receiving compensating land.  The pilot valve plunger then moves to its central position and the engine speed returns to its original setting because there is no longer any excessive outward force on the flyweights.

The action of the flyweights and the hydraulic feedback mechanism produces stable engine operation by permitting the governor to move instantaneously in response to the load change and to make the necessary fuel adjustment to maintain the initial engine speed.

Starting C ircuits

Diesel engines have as many different types of starting circuits as there are types, sizes, and manufacturers of diesel engines.  Commonly, they can be started by air motors, electric motors, hydraulic motors, and manually.  The start circuit can be a simple manual start pushbutton, or a complex auto-start circuit.   But in almost all cases the following events must occur for the starting engine to start.

1. The start signal is sent to the starting motor.  The air, electric, or hydraulic motor, will engage the engine’s flywheel.

2. The starting motor will crank the engine.  The starting motor will spin the engine at a high enough rpm to allow the engine’s compression to ignite the fuel and start the engine running.

3. The engine will then accelerate to idle speed. When the starter motor is overdriven by the running motor it will disengage the flywheel.

Because a diesel engine relies on compression heat to ignite the fuel, a cold engine can rob enough heat from the gasses that the compressed air falls below the ignition temperature of the fuel.  To help overcome this condition, some engines (usually small to medium sized engines) have glowplugs.  Glowplugs are located in the cylinder head of the combustion chamber and use electricity to heat up the electrode at the top of the glowplug.  The heat added by the glowplug is sufficient to help ignite the fuel in the cold engine.  Once the engine is running, the glowplugs are turned off and the heat of combustion is sufficient to heat the block and keep the engine running.

Larger engines usually heat the block and/or have powerful starting motors that are able to spin the engine long enough to allow the compression heat to fire the engine.  Some large engines use air start manifolds that inject compressed air into the cylinders which rotates the engine during the start sequence.

E ngine P rotection

A diesel engine is designed with protection systems to alert the operators of abnormal conditions and to prevent the engine from destroying itself.

Overspeed device - Because  a  diesel is  not  self-speed-limiting, a  failure  in the  governor, injection system, or sudden loss of load could cause the diesel to overspeed. An  overspeed  condition  is  extremely  dangerous  because engine failure is usually catastrophic and can possibly cause the engine to fly apart.

An overspeed device, usually some type of mechanical flyweight, will act to cut off fuel to the engine and alarm at a certain preset rpm.   This is usually accomplished by isolating the governor from its oil supply, causing it to travel to the no-fuel position, or it can override the governor and directly trip the fuel rack to the no-fuel position.

Water jacket – Water-cooled engines can overheat if the cooling water system fails to remove waste heat.  Removal of the waste heat prevents the engine from seizing due to excessive expansion of the components under a high temperature condition.  The cooling water jacket is commonly where the sensor for the cooling water system is located.

The water jacket temperature sensors provide early warning of abnormal engine temperature, usually an alarm function only.   The setpoint is set such that if  the condition is  corrected in a timely manner, significant engine damage will be avoided.   But continued engine operation at the alarm temperature or higher temperatures will lead to engine damage.

Exhaust temperatures – In a diesel engine, exhaust temperatures are very important and can provide a vast amount of information regarding the operation of the engine. High exhaust temperature can indicate an overloading of the engine or possible poor performance due to inadequate scavenging (the cooling effect) in the engine. Extended operation with high exhaust temperatures can result in damage to the exhaust valves, piston, and cylinders. The exhaust temperature usually provides only an alarm function.

Low lube oil pressure – Low oil pressure or loss of oil pressure can destroy an engine in short order.  Therefore, most medium to larger engines will stop upon low or loss of oil pressure.  Loss of oil pressure can result in the engine seizing due to lack of lubrication.  Engines with mechanical-hydraulic governors will also stop due to the lack of oil to the governor.

The oil pressure sensor usually stops the engine.  The oil pressure sensors on larger engines usually have two low pressure setpoints.  One setpoint provides early warning of abnormal oil pressure, an alarm function only. The second setpoint can be set to shutdown the engine before permanent damage is done.

High crankcase pressure – High crankcase pressure is usually caused by excessive blow-by (gas pressure in the cylinder blowing by the piston rings and into the crankcase). The high pressure condition indicates the engine is in poor condition. The high crankcase pressure is usually used only as an alarm function.


The important information in this chapter is summarized below.

D iesel Engine Speed , Fuel Controls,  and Protection Summary

A mechanical-hydraulic governor controls engine speed by balancing engine speed (mechanical flyweights) against hydraulic pressure. As the engine speeds up or slows down, the weights move the hydraulic plunger in or out. This in turn actuates a hydraulic valve which controls the hydraulic pressure to the buffer piston. The buffer piston is connected to the fuel rack. Therefore, any motion of the buffer piston will control fuel to the cylinder by adjusting the position of the fuel rack, which regulates the amount of fuel in the injectors.

Most mid-sized to large diesel engines have (as a minimum) the following protective alarms and trips.

Engine overspeed alarm/trip

High water jacket temperature alarm

High exhaust temperature alarm

Low lube oil pressure (alarm and/or trip) High crankcase pressure alarm

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