By on September 10, 2013

It does sounds like it should be the name of a spaceship on Star Trek but the Enterprise DSG-36 engine was made for more earthbound vessels. Enterprise Engine and Foundry dated back to the 19th century and they started building engines for stationary and marine purposes in 1917. Located near San Francisco, they were known for “their very heavily constructed four-stroke cycle diesels that had operating speeds on the lower end of the medium speed range.”  The DSG-36 is a six cylinder four cycle diesel with a 12 inch bore and a 15 inch stroke. If I remember my geometry, that works out to 1.7 liters of displacement per cylinder, over 10,000 cubic inches total. In normally aspirated form it was rated at over 600 horsepower @ 600 rpm and with a turbocharger, more than 900 hp. During World War II, Enterprises engines were in high demand by the military and some can still be found in marine service. From the landscape in the background and the patina on the engine, this particular Enterprise DSG-36 hasn’t been near water for a while. It looks like it was used to run a generator, perhaps having been purchased as war surplus. Enterprise’s reputation for heavy duty construction appears to have been well earned. According to the poster on YouTube, it hadn’t been started in 30 years and it seems to have started right up. Time to call the Blastolene boys.


Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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40 Comments on “There’s No Replacement For Displacement: 10,000 Cubic Inch Enterprise DSG-36 Diesel Fires Right Up After 30 Years...”

  • avatar

    That isn’t even running on all the cylinders….

    A good running Diesel engine is a thing to behold .

    Poo-Toobe is chock full of cool videos like this , vintage Diesels returning ti life .

    Yes , I’m a Diesel Head too , I have three W-123 Mercedes Diesels : a 300CD Sports Coupe , a 240D Econo Buster Sedan and a 300TD European Spec wagon , fully optioned with turbo , Klima II , 15″ wheels and so on .


    • 0 avatar
      Jason W

      It is hitting on all 6 in that video, for the most part. We were bleeding air from the fuel lines when he turned the fuel on. A heavy shot of ether (you can hear it knock pretty hard at the start) and it fired up. It was only running on what fuel was in the lines and at the end of the video you can hear it missing a bit and laboring, it ran out.

      Though the Enterprise company was more well known for marine engines, this one is a factory stationary unit with a generator, and likely the only one to exist. DSG is an abbreviation Diesel Stationary Generator. This engine does not have the provision to run backwards like marine engines and the flywheel and crankshaft is much larger. This is my brothers engine but you can call it a family project. One cylinder was suck, all the injector pumps were stuck, it was full of water and muck, the turbo was stuck, among a lot of other things.

  • avatar

    “If I remember my geometry, that works out to 1.7 liters of displacement per cylinder”

    …I don’t think you remember your geometry. Sorry couldn’t resist. I got 278 liters/cylinder so feel free to call me out if thats wrong too.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry about that. I did the math and then saw 1695 and decided it looked like a metric volume for some reason. You’re absolutely correct, it was a stupid mistake. My mistake. Each cylinder is 1,695 cubic inches, a lot more 1.7 liters.

      • 0 avatar

        No biggie, it wouldn’t be the internet without someone nitpicking and glossing over the overall awesomeness of the subject (lo and behold I missed a decimal point in my original post so we’re even).

        This machine is pretty bad ass no doubt.

  • avatar

    Each cylinder actually displaces 1700 cubic inches, which is closer to 26.5 L. Crazy engine though, whats the lubrication like?

    • 0 avatar

      Viscous, I’d imagine.

    • 0 avatar

      Dry sump, pumped in through the engine from a holding tank and filters. Here’s the manual for a DMG36 engine that was on a Foss tugboat around that era.

      These are similar to some of the diesels I worked on when I was in the merchant marines. Most of the ships I sailed were steam turbine because I prefered that kind of power plant (because the engine rooms were hot and the guys with higher seniority didn’t like them – meaning I could just about get a ride whenever I wanted one.) They were also really fun to work on, with lots of little subsystems that needed frequent service and repair. I was a real go getter at the time and ate that heavy work up. the engineers (officers) loved me.

      I worked “shore-gang” for a while with Sea-Land/Maersk in Tacoma and one time we pulled a piston out of one of the big diesel boats they had on the Alaska run. We had it out and back running in one day. The entire engine room was set up to do just exactly that and even had chain hoists already mounted. It was a slick operation.

      • 0 avatar

        I love TTAC.

        Thank you for sharing a little more of your insight, Thomas!

      • 0 avatar
        schmitt trigger

        Fascinating read, thanks for sharing Thomas!

        I didn’t know that those diesel engines had reversible rotation…I had always wondered how that was achieved on a ship.

        I also found fascinating the description of the hydraulic speed governor. In those pre-electronic days, everything was regulated using pneumatic or hydraulic controllers.

        • 0 avatar

          I have always admired the thoughful design of the centrifugal governer. James Watt – even though he didn’t take the credit for it – what a genius that guy was.

        • 0 avatar

          In marine trade school the engine teacher said the tug he was on in WW2 was started and reversed with a pneumatic motor. Said they crashed in a pier in NJ once when the lost air pressure and couldn’t reverse the engine.

          • 0 avatar

            I won’t talk about the time I started to shut down the engines on a diesel powered oil tanker just as we were passing under the Golden Gate bridge when I turned the closed a valve on the control air system…

            Who knew the bypass line was plugged up?

      • 0 avatar

        That manual is really cool, I’ll have to read it more after work.

        I got to tour the Arthur Foss quite a few years ago, and its engine is even larger, externally that is. One of its pistons is the size of a 5 gallon bucket IIRC (its been at least 10 years) or maybe larger.

  • avatar

    Well I’m afraid you have NOT got your math right, at least regarding the metric system. While the displacement does account for slightly more than 10’000 cubic inches, that is definitely more than 6x 1.7 liters. Actually this amounts to a 27.8 liters for each cylinder, or a total of 166.8 liters, if my maths serve me right.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Murilee, I think this would be a swell donor engine for your Dodge van project. If not that, a suitable LeMons power plant. Drop it into a Miata.

  • avatar

    ooo… Math. Lemme see if I’ve got this.

    12 inch bore… so, 6 inch diameter hole. 3.14*6^2= area of piston is 113.4 square inches. Multiplied by 15 gives me 1701 cubic inches per cylinder. Divided by 61 would be 27.9 liters. Across 6 liters, that would be 167.4 liters.

    I’m using 3.14 for pi, and 61 as the conversion factor between CI and liters, so a more accurate figure would give a more accurate measure.

    Am I close?

    Take that, people who said I’d never use geometry again!

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Pretty much the same size and specs as the diesel engines that Alco and Baldwin used in their locomotives in the ’30s and ’40s.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Regardless of the actual displacement (I’ll do the math later), it is still a HUMONGOUSLY LARGE displacement for 600 HP.

    But of course, these engines were conservatively rated to last…forever.

    I also like to watch Youtube videos on old engines. There is a very good one, about a First World War German submarine engine, that as part of was reparations was impounded by Dutch authorities and put into electrical generator service.
    The engine still runs after close to 100 years of service.

  • avatar

    shame we don’t make that kind of thing any more (domestically)

  • avatar

    Engine Displacement (ED) is easily calculated as follows:

    ED=(s x b2 x 0.7854) x n

    s = stroke
    b2 = bore squared
    n= number of cylinders

    for the subject engine
    ED= 10,178.78 Cubic Inches.

    • 0 avatar

      Is this one of those special cases where it’s just understood that cubic inches or liters is not an actual measure of the displacement, but an approximation?

      bore squared would give you the area of a literal square, which would be 27% larger than the area of a circle.

      The displacement area would be a cylinder. Is it convention displacement is calculated as the square that this cylinder would fit into?

      • 0 avatar

        No. The formula for a circle is pi*radius^2. Multiply by height to get a cylinder.

        radius = bore/2
        {algebra I}
        radius^2 = bore^2 / 4
        pi =~ 3.14159
        {algebra I}
        pi*radius^2 = pi/4 * bore^2
        pi/4 =~ 0.785398

        :: 0.7854 * bore^2 * stroke * number of cyl

        npbheights’ formula is correct.

  • avatar

    Great for towing…for example, if you’d prefer to walk to Hawaii rather than fly.

  • avatar

    I see your DSG-36 and raise you a V-2:

    It is a smaller displacement, but it’s mounted on a vehicle that moves under its power, so there.

  • avatar

    How about this marine diesel for the container ship Emma Maersk. Look at the size of this shaft!

    They say that shaft is a bad mu

    (Shut your mouth)

    I’m just talking ’bout shaft.

  • avatar

    When I read the book of yachts and Men by William Atkins, It was fascinating to read that he often designed engines for the large yachts he designed and sometimes even built parts of the engine in his own machine shop, the early days of US engineering were a little different than today. As I recall he described the stroke of one of the engines in feet rather than inches, thats one I would have liked to see running.

  • avatar

    Was I the only one watching how the dogs were completely unimpressed by this event. Neither fear nor excitement.. meh.

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