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How to Set the Timing on a Caterpillar C15

by William Machin

Caterpillar C15 six-cylinder diesel engines are used to power heavy equipment, industrial vehicles and commercial boats. The C15 employs an engine control module, or ECM, that interfaces with sensors on the fuel injectors. Signals from the ECM ignite heat plugs at the peak of each combustion stroke. Typically, you set the injection timing as part of an extended maintenance program or when performing engine work. The job requires a Caterpillar Electronic Service Tool, or Cat-ET, and software disc specific to ACERT or earlier C15 engines.

1

Park the piece of heavy equipment, industrial vehicle or boat in a ventilated area that has a nearby 110-volt electrical outlet. Remove the engine cover.

2

Connect the power cord from the Cat-ET unit to the outlet. Select the “On” function on the unit and insert the software disc. Allow the disc to load as indicated on the display.

3

Refer to the service manual for the equipment, vehicle or boat and locate the ECM box. Pull off the C15's connector at the box. Move the connector and wires to one side.

4

Attach the ECM interface adapter to the ECM box. Connect the main interface lead from the Cat-ET unit to the adapter. Start the C15 engine and allow it to idle.

5

Select the “Electronic Unit Injection” function on the Cat-ET unit. Wait until the display shows a range of timing parameters and a “Download in Progress” window.

6

Select the “Program” function on the Cat-ET unit. A progress bar in the window indicates the injector timing is under way. Allow the programming to complete, as indicated by the progress bar.

7

Turn off the C15 engine. Disconnect the adapter and Cat-ET lead from the ECM box. Reattach the C15 ECM connector to the box.

Items you will need

About the Author

William Machin began work in construction at the age of 15, while still in high school. In 35 years, he's gained expertise in all phases of residential construction, retrofit and remodeling. His hobbies include horses, motorcycles, road racing and sport fishing. He studied architecture at Taft Junior College.

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