Missing or lost engine serial numbers

Hello fellow parts, technicians, truck drivers, or anyone else experiencing the headache of a lost or missing engine serial number. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve scoured the internet looking for such information. Trust me, I’ve done the same. Isn’t there much out there? So, I decided to take it upon myself and research and post something that I hope will be useful to someone.

First, a little background on what prompted this article. I am employed by possibly the best truck dealership on earth. In the service department we have many, many fleet accounts that we take care of. One of our accounts has an international glider. A glider is basically a cockpit and frame rails. The engine, transmission and rear axles come from another donor truck. Sort of like building a big model. This particular truck was married to a Cummins 8.3-liter midrange engine and a 6-speed transmission. Whoever put this truck together forgot to record any information about the engine, what kind of truck it came out of, etc. Needless to say, finding engine parts is a nightmare. I searched the internet to no avail, but couldn’t find anything solid to draw from. Hence this article. Let me review the different engines and share with you what I have found.

Caterpillar – The usual place to find the engine S/N is on the engine data label on the valve cover. If it is missing, Cat is very good at stamping the S/N on the right hand side near the rear of the engine. I don’t know if this applies to all engines, but I know it’s there for the big bores.

Cummins – The engine data label is riveted to the front accessory unit cover on the driver’s side of the engine. The critical parts list or CPL number will also be found here. If missing, on big bore engines, Cummins stamps the engine S/N on the right side of the block near the oil cooler. Now the bad news, small-bore engines – 3.9, 5.9, 8.3 liter engines – do not have this stamping. What I do in my situation is take all the visible part numbers on the engine and insert them into your cumpas web program. One small clue, Cummins wraps the injection lines on mechanical engines with metal tabs that have part numbers on them. I know this is a craps game, but it’s a place to start. good luck

Detroit – Like Caterpillar, the valve cover is the best place to find the engine S/N. I’ve been out of the Detroit scene for a while, but I think they stamp the number on the block, too. 50 series and mainly 60 series engines are the mainstream for this type of engine. Although there are still plenty of the old 8V-72s on the buses. Also, the 8.2 liter fuel pincher is still available.

Navistar – The good 466 and 530 models. Again, the engine data label on the valve cover is the best place to start. On the driver’s side engine block, there is a block casting number that will also give you a good start. If the engine is the original truck engine, the line configuration tickets will indicate the S/N. If you do a revision on the frame, especially on an older truck, do yourself a favor and double check the actual engine number with the line set.

This applies to all of the engines listed above. The truck’s VIN is possibly the best place to start to get the information you need to get the right parts the first time. Freightliner, Kenworth and Volvo use the last 6 digits of the VIN International, Sterling and Ford use the last 8 digits. Mack is a little different. They like the last 6 digits of the VIN and the model type of the truck.

Hope this helps someone along the way. Most people will know this information, but hopefully someone will benefit from this. Be accurate in your search and let’s keep America’s wheels rolling!

Thank you for reading.

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