Tech Tip #36: First Level Maintenance Considerations for Perkins Diesels

Dr. Diesel
Written by Dr. Diesel


Simple tips on maintaining your Perkins Diesel engine

This Tech Tip, First Level Maintenance Considerations for Perkins Diesels, is one in an ongoing series we publish to advance the knowledge base in the marine and industrial engine field.


Change the fuel and oil filters regularly. In our experience, this means at least every 200 hours of industrial use and every 50 hours or at the beginning and in the middle of each season, for marine use. Fuel injectors thrive on clean dry fuel. We strongly recommend that a fuel conditioner be used.  We stock Lucas conditioner and recommend it.

Oil filters aren’t all alike. They vary in price, degree of micron filtration, and presence of a check valve to prevent dirty oil from leaving a clogged filter and passing through the engine.

Because using correct filters and changing them is so important, we stock Perkins fuel and oil filters to make sure it is easy to keep your engine running. Next time you’re offered an after-market no-name oil filter for your Perkins, ask if they can point to where the check valve is located.  (Speaking of secondary fuel filters, we are now offering a spin-on filter conversion kit to replace the awful cartridge.  For more information on this conversion, take a look at Tech Tip #126 Not Your Father’s Perkins 4108; Bringing the Perkins 4108 into the 21st Century.

Lubrication Oil

Check the lube oil level at every use and change with the filters. We recommend a blend of synthetic and petroleum-based oil, preferably a single SAE weight. See Foley Tech Tip #14 for a discussion of synthetic versus petroleum-based oils.

Electrical Systems

Frequently, Perkins users need to upgrade from their standard 35 amp alternator to a higher output unit to handle added equipment and larger batteries. See Foley Tech Tip #28 for details on our single wire 105 amp alternator we offer as a solution. Speaking of batteries, we recommend two deep-cycle golf cart batteries for four-cylinder marine engines. As a cold start aid, we stock 110-volt block heaters if glow plugs or fuel pre-warmers aren’t sufficient.


Perkins heat exchangers are not supplied from the factory with sacrificial zincs. We strongly recommend that you add such zincs to both the raw water and engine coolant side of your Perkins heat exchanger. To avoid the situation of the zinc breaking off and clogging the heat exchanger, replace them before they lose half their mass. Foley offers a set of pencil zincs for those who want to prolong the life of their heat exchanger. They are installed by drilling and tapping a hole for the zinc to be screwed in.

Please call us with any questions. We take tech support seriously!


Dr. Diesel
Written by Dr. Diesel
Knowledge is power. Power to build ties to engine users. To build a relationship with our customers, we share with you our 105 years of knowledge in many ways. We have this special section called “Ask Dr. Diesel™” where you can pose questions about engines, transmissions, industrial hand clutches, exhaust scrubbers, etc.