In an engineering first for South Africa, Metric Automotive Engineering in Germiston is conducting the full remanufacture of the two large locomotive engine blocks and oil pans on behalf of a large OEM customer based in the United States for an African rail operator.

According to Andrew Yorke, operations director at Metric Automotive Engineering, the company is one of Africa’s most comprehensively equipped heavy diesel engine and component remanufacturers.

“The full rebuild of these two four-metre-long, 12-cylinder electro-motive diesel (EMD) locomotive engine blocks and oil pans is a good example of the quality of expertise and the leading edge equipment in our business,” says Yorke. “In this major overhaul, we are re-establishing all the block’s and oil pan’s critical dimensions in conformity with OEM specifications. This includes addressing key aspects of the surface finish and dimensions to the requirements of the OEM.”

One of the specific challenges of this contract is that the components are a fabricated mild steel construction, rather than the traditional cast iron. Mild steel is a softer metal with different wear characteristics and requires a different approach to machining, using specific tooling and tips. The size of the components also demanded machining equipment of appropriate scale and dimensions.

“We invest regularly in up-to-date and fit-for-purpose machinery, so our facilities can refurbish large diesel engine components, as well as cylinder head remanufacture, cylinder block line boring, milling, honing and boring, camshaft grinding, crankshaft grinding, engine assembly and dynamometer testing,” says Yorke.

The line bore on the first block was also out of specification in relation to the centre line, so Metric Automotive Engineering had to metal-spray the entire line bore to re-establish the centre line. This was a vital step without which the block would not have been repairable.

“This kind of service is not restricted to just cylinder blocks and oil pans,” he says. “We can remanufacture all of the components for EMD locomotive engines, and the service is available to locomotive operators across Africa.”