Can you start a Diesel engine without electricity?


BLE’s right, maybe a little engine on a motor cycle…but on a truck…never happen. The compression on a diesel is tremendous.


My Olds diesel had two batteries for starting and a 24 volt heavy duty starter for a 350 cu. The starter was $300 30 years ago. So yeah, heavy duty.


I went to Ft. Leonard Wood in 1964, winter. An old sergeant was retiring after 25 or 30 years. Survived WWII and Korea. He discussed this very issue and said the problem with 2nd lieutenants was not enemy fire! Their immature Gung-ho attitudes got a lot of people killed without need, so their problem came from behind. Sorry to tell you this, but other sources say the same thing.

Back to vehicles. My first service after electronics school was the 32nd Arty in NOrth Fort Lewis. Our battery commander when he inspected our vehicles expected to see grease on the fittings, though the manuals specifically stated to wipe the clean after greasing. So, he would reject the vehicle and the mechanics would have to smear grease on the fittings to get him to pass them.

He also expected a lot of touch up paint. I wrote home a joke in the battery that one day someone dropped a wrench on a large vehicle, I forget what they were called, in the 60’s, like a large jeep, and by the time the paints stopped going ping! ping! ping! it turned out to be a WWII Jeep under all the touch-up paint.


I’m actually not sorry to hear that

In fact, I’d heard and read exactly the same thing, from . . . in my opinion . . . credible sources

To keep this car-related . . .

What kind of vehicles did you have on the base at that time?

I can think of the obvious ones . . . “deuce and a half” and perhaps some kind of Jeeps. CJs, I would imagine, but I’m not sure which one was around then?

Speaking of grease and inspections . . .

I was a civilian mechanic with the US Army for a few years in the 1990s. Operation provide comfort was the name of the game . . . send supplies to eastern europe. This was when yugoslavia broke up and it was a total basket case. Anyways, our “program” was maintaining/overhauling the trailers which carried the supplies. US Army special, it was never offered for civilian use. M872A3, I believe. Truly massive. My specialty was brakes and landing gear. One day a dope working there dropped the header board on me. Because he was an idiot, no other reason. I recovered just fine, but he didn’t even get so much as a warning, which made me upset. The funny thing was that just as I was leaving due to injury, another guy came back, who had sliced his finger clean off. That was also due to carelessness, not only on his part, but also his work partner


Back to inspections . . . there was a designated inspector, whose sole job was to inspect each and every vehicle, trailer, etc. after a repair was complete. One of the criteria was that every zerk had to appear as if you’d hit it. So we would just hit them until grease squirted out and splattered, making a mess. But it was kind of stupid, because the inspector couldn’t tell if the zerk was okay or clogged . . .

If there was any kind of problem, he’d basically find it. You couldn’t hide anything from this guy. Some guys would spend a week overhauling the trailer, then spend a week fixing the “come-backs” from the inspection. Other guys would be more diligent, and wouldn’t have any “come-backs”

As far as that US army green paint, it was used to cover everything, including the wood planks on the trailers. Yeah, we did everything on those things. Mechanical, carpentry, electrical, welding, frame straightening, etc. We’d rip out rotten wood planks, and a certain guy would save the wood . . . covered in that green paint . . . and burn it in his fireplace. We always suspected he was killing too many brain cells :smiley: We even warned him, but he wouldn’t listen

Every once in awhile, the depot would auction off surplus vehicles. When a K blazer or GM 1-ton 4x4 pickup came up, people would pull out all the stops and bid it up like crazy. They had the 6.2 liter V8 diesel, same thing as the early humvees. Another division in the depot spent all day overhauling those engines. One guy put a connecting rod in backwards. You should have seen that thing when he tried to start it up. :laughing: Actually, the rod was the only thing that was damaged beyond repair. With a new rod, it was okay.

Oversight was very lax in those days. Guys would blatantly drink booze on the job and read magazines which weren’t allowed. There was a guy who “was able to locate things.” Civilians were in charge of themselves, and every once in awhile the major would come by for an inspection. During one of those inspections, a guy was observed SNORING under a trailer. And my boss was caught red-handed “reading” one of those unauthorized magazines. You can imagine what kind. :frowning_face: Anyways, he made a big show of tearing it up, with the major watching, and he threw it in the trash can. As soon as the major left, he went straight to that guy that “was able to locate things.” And he told him he needed more magazines.

Those were the days.

Actually, I left because I wanted to work on smaller vehicles, not heavy equipment. And I wanted to work on more modern stuff. Not to mention the pay was okay, but not very good, not at that time, anyways. I would never have been able to buy a house on that salary.


Maybe the vehicle I mentioned in the edit was a CJ, not sure. For sure bigger than a Jeep, but looked a lot like one, just bigger.

Also the deuce and a half, I think, like a truck.

I remember once we went to the Yakima range. On the way, the officer got lost and we had to shut down the Interstate while everyone turned around. :smiley:

While at Yakima, I got guard duty at the motor pool in the night. We were guarding millions of dollars worth of vehicles, from 8 inch howitzers and everything smaller. No bullets and the motor pool sergeant locked up the telephone.

I am a survivor, so when the sergeant of the guard came in a vehicle to inspect the guard, I brazenly hid until he got tired of driving around and stopped and jumped out in front of his vehicle lights. I then did my duty, “Halt! Who goes there?” I was not going to tackle a terrorist with no defense at all.


Oh man, I just remembered a “good one”

Those GM 6.2 liter V8 diesel engines I mentioned . . .

After they were overhauled, they were crated up and shipped elsewhere.

One day one of those crated engines fell off of a trailer . . . like the one pictured . . . because the vehicle operator didn’t properly secure his load. This happened on the freeway. Fortunately/amazingly nobody was hurt and no vehicles were damaged. It was decided to make a big deal out of it, because somebody could easily have been badly hurt.


Not to change the subject too much but there was an example in the Legion paper this month when a guy told his story. A 2nd Lt needed his combat ticket punched so was assigned to patrol. When they set up for camp he placed claymore around the perimeter but had them pointing the wrong direction. Didn’t notice the “this side toward the enemy” instructions. Then after picking a bad spot to camp and got fired on, took the radio and called in artillery on their own camp. They pulled him out after two days but without violence though.


Back to to OP.
In “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Diesels ceased to run!


Wonderful movie. A true classic SciFi movie. But it wasn’t made a s science lesson, it was made to stimulate the imaginations of SciFi fans (like me) and to make a statement about our creating earth-destroying technologies without realizing their danger and our responsibilities.

It wildly succeeded in the first goal.
If failed in the second.


My 66 Caddy with the 429-v8 had 2 batteries.


A new starter for my motorcycle would likely run twice that much, not so much because it’s heavy duty, but because of the “motorcycle tax” on engine parts. Maybe not as steep as the "airplane tax, but right up there with the “motorboat tax”.