What's inside a diesel engine?

Shell shows us by dismantling one
by Vernon B. Sarne | Mar 28, 2011

Have you ever wondered how a diesel engine would look like if you tore it apart? Or just exactly how many individual parts make up a diesel unit? We were shown a dismantled diesel engine during our trip to the Shell Technological Centre in Thornton, UK, because Shell wanted to show us the delicate parts that commonly gather carbon deposits if the diesel fuel used doesn't have effective detergents. We took a video of it (below) so that you, too, might appreciate the technological wonder that is the modern oil burner.

Shell senior associate engineer Aaron Jones had meticulously laid down the parts of the disassembled diesel powerplant on a table. It was a magnificent sight. When he summoned our group to view the engine parts, he asked us if the parts belonged to a gasoline or a diesel engine. To make it a trick question, he had subtly placed spark plugs on the table.

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Spotting the spark plugs, one of us--Top Gear Philippines associate off-road editor Beeboy Bargas--confidently said the parts were those of a petrol engine. Whereupon the Shell engineer revealed that the spark plugs were merely decoys (diesel engines have no spark plugs), and that the type of the common-rail fuel injectors should have been a dead giveaway. The engine was in fact a diesel unit from a Peugeot 308.

According to Jones, the parts laid out on the table numbered more than 250. If you further took apart the major engine parts like the pistons and the engine block, the total number of individual parts would exceed 400.

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