Guide to Cylinder Tightness Test in Marine Engine

Cylinder Tightness Test in Marine Engine
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In the world of diesel engines, Cylinder Tightness Test in Marine Engine (CT) is a vital diagnostic procedure that ensures the proper functioning of the engine’s components. This test assesses the integrity of cylinders, valves, and various other engine parts. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps of the CT measurement process, its significance, and the potential factors that can influence the test results.

Wartsila 18V50 Yasir Arafin
Wartsila 18V50

Precondition for Cylinder Tightness Test in Marine Engine

Two preconditions must be met

Before performing a cylinder tightness test:

  • The test must be conducted when the engine is hot, within 10 minutes of shutting down. This ensures the engine components are at operating temperature.
  • The pre-lubricating pump must kept running during the test to maintain oil pressure.


Before Starting to Cylinder Tightness measuring Procedure, Always Make sure the Fuel control safety Lever must be in stop or Standby Position.

Cylinder Tightness Test in Marine Engine

Set up for Cylinder Tightness Test in Marine Engine

1. Locating Top Dead Center (TDC)

To commence, rotate the crankshaft until the inlet and exhaust valves of the cylinder under scrutiny are fully closed at TDC, marking the compression stroke. Utilize the flywheel marking to achieve the TDC piston position.

Locating the TDC of a cylinder can be varies from engine to engine .

Cylinder Tightness Test in Marine Engine
Flywheel Marking – Wartsila 18V50

2. Connecting the Instrument

Open the indicator cork to attach the pressure gauge to the cylinder. Ensure that the air inlet valve is closed during this step.

Cylinder Tightness Test in Marine Engine

3. Pressure Build-Up

Reopen the inlet air valve. The pressure gauge should read between 5 and 7 bar. Once it reaches this range, promptly close the valve.

Cylinder Tightness Test in Marine Engine

4. Pressure Reduction Measurement

Once the valve is closed, measure the duration, in seconds, it takes for the pressure to reduce to 0.5 bar.

Evaluating Results: Unveiling Engine Health

Acceptable Results

A duration exceeding 10 seconds for the pressure to drop signifies an acceptable result.

Quick Drop Scenario

Should the pressure plummet within 5-6 seconds, scrutinize the last running time of the respective cylinder’s exhaust temperature deviation. If the deviation is below 30⁰C at full load condition, conduct an additional engine run. Retest the CT post-engine stop, and if the result persists, proceed with further diagnostics. Carbon particles lodged between the valve and seat during engine stop might impede proper valve closure. A subsequent engine start typically resolves this issue.

How much drop is allowed on a tightness test?

This result validation depend on so much factor such as engine age or running hour, Engine manufacturers . But For a new engine the 10 sec is a standard.

Unusual Pressure Drop Reasons

1. Malfunctioning or Burned Valves

One of the most common issues affecting CT results is malfunctioning or burned valves. Valves play a critical role in controlling the flow of air and exhaust gases. When valves do not function correctly, it can lead to pressure irregularities.

2. Carbon Particle Build-Up

Particles of carbon can become sequestered between the valve and seat. This accumulation can obstruct the valve’s proper closure, impacting the CT results. In such cases, restarting the engine can help dislodge these particles, leading to improved CT results.

3. Piston Ring Sealing

If the piston rings are not sealing properly or are in poor condition, it can result in pressure loss. Faulty piston rings allow air to escape, reducing the pressure inside the cylinder.

4. Cylinder Head Gasket

An improper seal between the cylinder liner and cylinder head gasket can also lead to CT irregularities. This seal is vital for maintaining the required pressure levels within the cylinder.

5. Starting Air Valve Position

The starting air valve must be completely closed during the CT measurement process. If it is slightly ajar, it can impact the results.

6. Tappet Clearance

Inadequate tappet clearance can also influence CT measurements. This clearance should be within the manufacturer’s specified limits.


What is the reason for a tightness test?

The tightness test is conducted to identify leaks, cracks, or weaknesses in the cylinder head that could compromise engine performance or safety.

What is called hydrostatic test?

The hydrostatic pressure test involves filling the cylinder with water and pressurizing it to identify leaks. This is commonly used for cylinders that store liquids or gases.

When must a tightness test be carried out?

Tightness tests are typically conducted during routine maintenance, after repairs, or when there’s suspicion of a leak. Regulatory requirements may also dictate specific testing intervals.

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