Chevy Colorado & GMC Canyon banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
2021 Colorado 2.8L Diesel Z71
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I decided to buy a new 'compact' pickup and ultimately settled on the Colorado with the diesel. As I was looking into the engine, I came to realize I have a distant history with the GM 2.8L. I'm an engineer, and I've been developing diesel engines at the same company for more than two decades now. Back in 2000, my company owned VM Motori and I spent a couple years on a project to put this engine's predecessor in an American SUV for the European market (the project was ultmately cancelled, so no you can't see one).

Even before my time the engine was kind of a weird duck. It was a cast iron block with cam-in-block, wet liners, a tunnel crank, and 4 individual cast iron heads. That's very odd for a passcar engine, but there it was in the 1990's Chrysler minivans in Europe.

By the time I worked on the engine, it had ditched the individual heads in favor of the DOHC slab aluminum head (a lot like you see now), and it moved to the Bosch CR3 fuel system. The block was still that bizarre wet-liner plus tunnel crank legacy from the engine's industrial origin. We should all be thankful that the 70,000 mile timing belt of that 2000 era engine has been improved.

So it looks like GM, or VM, or somebody has done a lot more work on this engine. Displacement bumped to 2.8 liters (which VM was looking at doing even back in around 2001) and the block finally got redesigned to have a normal crank bearing system and parent-bore liners. The FIS is completely different, a Conti piezo system.

Back in the day I visited VM's home base several times in Cento Italy, which is about 30km north of Bologna. Nice little town. It's amazing to me how many iterations this engines been through, and how many vehicular homes the engine has found its way into.
 

·
Registered
2017 All Terrain 2.8L CCLB Dark Slate Metallic
Joined
·
1,058 Posts
you mean like the 2.8L Jeep Cherokee/Liberty SUV's?
 

·
Registered
2021 Colorado 2.8L Diesel Z71
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Yes, the 'children' of the original VM engine seem to have wound up in the Liberty, and also in some Isuzu vehicles.

The Isuzu tie up is also no surprise. I worked for GM back in 1995-1999, and I specifically worked with Isuzu on new I-4 and I-5 engines that they were designing for what was going to be a replacement for the S10. Obviously these trucks were the 1st Gen Colorado/Canyon, which at least back when I was working on the project was slated to launch in 2003 if memory serves.

Went to Isuzu in Fujisawa a few times as well, and to be honest I'd much rather visit VM Motori in Cento. The prosciutto is excellent.
 

·
Registered
2010 Chevy Colorado Crew Cab 4x4 Z71 V8
Joined
·
766 Posts
The Isuzu tie up is also no surprise. I worked for GM back in 1995-1999, and I specifically worked with Isuzu on new I-4 and I-5 engines that they were designing for what was going to be a replacement for the S10. Obviously these trucks were the 1st Gen Colorado/Canyon, which at least back when I was working on the project was slated to launch in 2003 if memory serves.
A person with your experience could be of significant value to lots of the 1st Gen owners. It’s good to have you around.
 

·
Registered
2021 Colorado 2.8L Diesel Z71
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Well, don't get too excited. I got my engineering degree in 1995 so I was just a development engineer for just one little part of that 1st Gen Colorado project. I never actually saw a prototype truck before I left GM in 1999 since I was just working with the engine part of it.

Funny story about that though, my counterpart at Isuzu was good at driving me a little nuts. I had release responsibity for a part on the accessory drive. The guy responsible for the whole belt drive itself was at Isuzu. So I met with him and he gave me the standard Isuzu test plan for my part. I looked it over, and it was about the same as the GM test plan for the same part. Just a bunch of little differences. Well, running all these tests 'just a little different' is going to be a PITA for my test lab. So I document every little difference and make arguments why running it all our way is fine. Then I fly over to Fujisawa and meet this guy again. He flips through my whole plan, listens to my arguments and says "OK. Just run the tests both ways." Grrrrrrr.....

On top of that, we missed the express train back to Tokyo and had to take the local, mainly because we misread the placard for the train schedules (we were looking at the weekend schedule thinking it was the weekday schedule). Long, slow grind back to Tokyo while the rest of the team is having dinner and drinks.
 

·
Registered
2016 White Z71 Duramax CCLB
Joined
·
26 Posts
Are wet liners really that odd? I have a lot of experience with isotta francini diesels and they run wet liners (maybe it’s an Italian thing?).
 

·
Registered
2021 Colorado 2.8L Diesel Z71
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Wet liners are completely normal in heavy duty and industrial diesel engines. They allow a complete rebuild including a fresh cylinder wall without having to machine the block. But nobody really rebuilds passenger car diesel engines and the odds that someone will actually pull a cylinder kit from a mid 90's Chyrsler minivan is about nil. The tunnel crank is a feature that I haven't seen on any other diesel engine in cars or trucks.

You can see the tunnel crank here is this guy selling VM blocks:

Basically, the original VM 2.5L engine was designed so that you could change out a single cylinder head, or cylinder kit, or even rebuild the whole engine right there in the field without having to remove the engine from the installation and without needing any machining. That's not a feature set that you need in a passenger car engine. It's also why all of those design features are gone from the current GM 2.8 version of the engine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
453 Posts
Sure would be nice though...

Please describe the tunnel crank as shown in the photos on the listing? I thought I understood that the crank could somehow be removed from the engine without removing it from the vehicle/generator/widget smasher. I'm not an industrial engineer, but my limited experience has these engines upright and often in tight confines. From your description, I imagined some means of removing the crank through the front of the block (since the flywheel side would be connected to something likely bigger and heavier than the block itself).

Curiosity is piqued.
 

·
Registered
2018 Colorado CCLB Duramax
Joined
·
76 Posts
Have any of these little diesels been used in a marine application? I wonder what HP could be expected on a continuous operation, like a boat.
 

·
Registered
2021 Colorado 2.8L Diesel Z71
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Sure would be nice though...

Please describe the tunnel crank as shown in the photos on the listing? I thought I understood that the crank could somehow be removed from the engine without removing it from the vehicle/generator/widget smasher. I'm not an industrial engineer, but my limited experience has these engines upright and often in tight confines. From your description, I imagined some means of removing the crank through the front of the block (since the flywheel side would be connected to something likely bigger and heavier than the block itself).

Curiosity is piqued.
Right, the tunnel crank holds all of the main bearings in large shells. The shells have an OD that is larger than the counterweights of the crank. The block has a large bore running end to end (the "tunnel"), and the crank is installed by sliding it into the large bore in the block from the front. The crank is not laid down in a set of journals from the bottom of the block as in typical automotive engines.

Tunnel cranks first appeared with high speed diesel engines in the 1930's, and mostly disappeared shortly after. The 1930 tunnel cranks actually had the crank bearing on the large OD, but the VM engine is different in that the main bearings are pretty normal size and just held in the shells. The purpose in the VM engine was to allow the crank to come out the front of the engine in service.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Have any of these little diesels been used in a marine application? I wonder what HP could be expected on a continuous operation, like a boat.
Chrysler touted the 2.8l reliability based off of previous marine applications, so probably so.
 

·
Registered
2021 Colorado 2.8L Diesel Z71
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I don't see any marine applications for VM engines, and I don't remember any discussion of same when I was there. They did have a line of air-cooled diesels that they were still making for industrial and agricultural applications.

 

·
Registered
2021 Colorado 2.8L Diesel Z71
Joined
·
90 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Interesting follow up, I found this article from the 2016 release of the 2.8L Duramax and it includes some very nice photos of engine parts. Just cruise to the bottom of the article and there are 23 photos.


GM really changed just about everything from the VM Motori engine I knew. They are barely related now. That block is completely different. I knew the engine when VM had gone to a slab aluminum head, but this one is completely different from the one I had seen. 10 bolts (I believe the VM head had 18 bolts), SOHC. Just very different.

The Honeywell single-axle VNT is a famliar unit to me (from yet again a different engine project) but new to the 2.8 liter. The EGR cooler also looks to be a Honeywell unit, I do believe I recognize the design of the internal tubes.

Now I want to see the Jeep 2.8 torn down and see how much this engine has in common with that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts
Interesting follow up, I found this article from the 2016 release of the 2.8L Duramax and it includes some very nice photos of engine parts. Just cruise to the bottom of the article and there are 23 photos.


GM really changed just about everything from the VM Motori engine I knew. They are barely related now. That block is completely different. I knew the engine when VM had gone to a slab aluminum head, but this one is completely different from the one I had seen. 10 bolts (I believe the VM head had 18 bolts), SOHC. Just very different.

The Honeywell single-axle VNT is a famliar unit to me (from yet again a different engine project) but new to the 2.8 liter. The EGR cooler also looks to be a Honeywell unit, I do believe I recognize the design of the internal tubes.

Now I want to see the Jeep 2.8 torn down and see how much this engine has in common with that.
I’ve said the same thing about the differences between the original VM R428 and the current 2.8 Duramax to other members on here whenever they say they are the same engine but rebadged as GM.

I’ve done some searches on different online parts catalogues and I couldn’t find any part that was interchangeable between the R428 found in the Liberty and the 2.8 Duramax. They share some architectural similarities absolutely, but parts themselves appear to be very different.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top