(Words by Greg Rourke) – Cranking over big diesel engines takes a lot of power. Plants of 850 plus cubic inches and over 15:1 compression are common in semi trucks. Imagine trying to spin one over on a sub zero morning with a crankcase full of 15W40 oil that has turned to peanut butter.
Small industrial diesels often have hand cranks and I can tell you from personal experience that this is a bad option, so let’s never speak of it again. Much more common is the electric starter that we are all familiar with. You hit the key and hopefully your truck fires up. However, cold weather saps power combined with the increased cranking time you get in winter and you may have trouble with your giant engine filled with oil flavored taffy.
All this pros and cons stuff is fun, but we’re only concerned with the cool factor. If you’ve seen the movies Road Warrior or Maximum Overdrive, you’ve heard an air starter. Imagine an Ingersoll Rand impact wrench on steroids and you get an idea. Even those expecting the sound will jump. They make small children cry, and the elderly soil themselves. Your dog will run away. There are mufflers available, but what fun is that? We have a few visual aids for you. Note the guy in the back seat of the bus, and the passersby at the car show when the guy lights up the old pickup. Ya gotta love an assault on the senses.
(Editor’s note: In college, working at the diesel garage we had an old GMC bus that we’d joy ride around sometimes. It had an air starter and we were constantly scaring unsuspecting victims who walked through the shop with it. Good times – Brian)
SCROLL DOWN TO CHECK OUT THE VIDEOS OF AIR STARTERS IN ACTION LIGHTING OFF BIG VEHICLES. THERE SOME GOOD STUFF HERE!
(Watch the guy in the bus window!)