Basic understanding about marine engine governors

Marine engine governor

Marine engine governors are the key operating system of the engine.

On this article, we are going to explain the basic or simple things you should understand about the purpose and governor mode of operations.

What is this marine engine governor?

This is an electro hydraulic remote system which are been attached to the engine fuel rack, to control or regulate the engine RPM (speed).

As the name appears or using local word, this system governor’s the fuel pumps on the amount of fuel been supply to the fuel valves, base on the set limits.

Types of marine engine governors

Governors which you may find on marine engines are of three major types ;

  • Electronic governor
  • Hydraulic
  • Electro-hydraulic

Following the above listed types of governors; presently in about 85% of ships around the world, you may find the electro hydraulic governors.

They are popularly use because of there easy to maintain, compartment and smooth operating of the fuel racks.

Problems you may likely face with electro hydraulic governors

Using Maine engine governor as a case study, sometimes you may face problem from the electrical side of the system ; problems like the potentiometer going out of order, the hydraulic system getting stock, etc.

marine engine governor lebel

What can cause the hydraulic system to get stock?

  • Low hydraulic oil
  • Using none recommended oil
  • Unfiltered oil

When the above mentioned problem occurs, it may lead to your potentiometer to work by force, then with time, it will give up.

Therefore to maintain your engine governor working without failure, you most always check and maintain the oil level as recommended, use recommended oil as recommended by the manufacturer.

What problem can governor failure cause ?

Following stats, about 75% of engine failure marine accidents are caused by governor failure.

This always happen during ship manuovoring or going alongside port. This time, the governor does a lots of job. Therefore if the governor surface any of the above listed problem, ship can lose control, if the operators are not careful.

Causes of engine governor failure

Woodward Governor is the most sensitive governor which requires proper maintenance.

This type of governor can get cut-off in three means ;

  • Engine sized: this can happen when the engine run in low or without lubricating oil, or excessive carbon in the cylinder.
  • Actuator potentiometer: when the potentiometer went out order,it will no longer regulate the governor properly. This usually cause malfunction or even failure.
  • Low oil: since the governor operate as per pressure force of the oil, it requires proper oil level maintenance to avoid failure.


Always check and maintain your engine governor as recommended. Use the right oil, lubricate your fuel racks as required.

If you have questions or additional information to add regarding this post, please feel free to add your comment below.

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