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Thread: Oil Related Engine Failure

  1. #1
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    Oil Related Engine Failure

    After reading Bob Palma's post and having seen several heated discussions over motor oil, I felt the urge to take computer in hand and wonder. When was the last time anyone has seen an oil related engine failure? I am sure there are the instances when someone decides that you never have to change the stuff, but it has been a while. since I have seen a failure based on type or brand. What about you guys?

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    Silver Hawk Member jclary's Avatar
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    I suspect that many "oil related" engine failures as it relates to re-formulated oils used in older engines go undetected due to the fact that the owners are uninformed and ignorant of the changes.

    Actually, if they were knowledgable of the facts, they wouldn't be in the position of having an oil related failure. However, when a cam wipes out from incorrect oil, the uninformed owner probably blames it on mechanical components unless someone clues him in.
    John Clary
    Greer, SC


    SDC member since 1975

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    Speedster Member 1950 Champion RegalDeluxe's Avatar
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    The only "Oil related" engine failures that I know of are more honestly caused by ignorance or neglect on the part of the owner.

    When I was much younger I used to be ambition and poverty driven to buy late model repairable vehicles and repair them for transportation and eventual sale.

    I purchased plenty of late model vehicles that had experienced component failure after many thousands of miles without any change of fluids besides the replenishment of petrol.

    One car that I remember well was an ugly early Chevette driven by my rural postal worker.

    The oil was never changed and the friction and heat warped parts and cracked the block, but it still ran that way.

    I have no idea why and did not believe that could even be possible until I experienced it.

    I eventually found a rear ended Chevette and purchased it on the cheap for the drive train.

    It was one of the easiest vehicles I had ever done and it still ran long after I passed it on to another friend's mother who needed a cheap car for in town use and did not like the gas cost of her Mercury Marquis.

    I have seen (AMC) Renault Alliances and many other cheap imports the same way.

    The Renault had an interesting motor design that caused them to be easily resurrected unless you ruined the block or dared mess with the wiring.

    Almost all of the cars and trucks I took motors and other failed major mechanical items out of were economy type vehicles.

    All of the vehicles that I purchased that did not come from a salvage auction and need collision repair were previously owned by the same kind of people.

    They were all people who relied on someone else to do all of their maintenance and who felt that maintenance was not their job.

    Some of them had no idea that the fluids in a vehicle needed to be changed and had more than one catastrophic failure under their belt to prove it.
    "Jack of all trades and master of none."

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    I don't use anything special in my daily driver 59, 259, Lark..

    No engine related failures here...

    Did have a thermostat die on me last summer...I doubt if my standard oil choise had anything to do with that..
    About three years ago, I had a core (freeze) plug blow out of the block, also doubt that was oil related. BUT... I do believe my choise of Lucas additive DID "save" the engine, because of the distance driven "without" a drop of water..!

    Mike

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    It's my theory that engines fail early in their lives due to lack of maintenance and severe driving and not the brand of oil used. I've seen cam and lifter failures in high performance engines with high valve spring pressures, but I believe that the failures were caused by the lack of use of a good assembly lube and improper break in proceedures and not the oil. I recommend the use of oils with adequate levels of ZDDP, but I don't think it is as critical in most Studebaker engines as they have low valve spring pressures and are low revving with the exception of the R engines. Changing the oil regularly and using an oil from a recognized supplier is necessary to insure low wear rates and keep the internal parts of the engine clean. Reciprocating aircraft engines either from new or after rebuild are run on a non additive oil for at least 50 hours to insure a proper ring seat and the cam and lifters in them don't fail. Bud

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    President Member Johnnywiffer's Avatar
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    About a hundred years ago, I lived in FarmingtonMO, a little burg about 60 miles south of STL. I bought a Corvair from a used car lot in QuincyIL. My partner said he’d drive it back to Farmington, since we had gone to Quincy together in my car and I didn’t want to tow it. About an hour after I arrived home, my partner called me and said the engine had begun knocking and finally just stopped and no amount of pushing would start it. He said the oil was up on the dipstick so he couldn’t figure out the prob.

    I drove up and got him but left the adventure with the car for the next day. When I got it home, I found he was right—the oil on the dipstick was black but full and the engine wouldn’t turn over at all. This was at a time in my life when I was REALLY into Corvairs and had several good engines lying around, so just changed it and went on with my life.

    When I finally decided to play with the dead engine, I plopped it up on a couple of saw horses and attempted to drain the oil. Tho the dipstick still said full, nothing flowed. I pulled the oil pan. Setting on it, in a blob, was a black hunk of jelly-like goo that USED to be oil. I had never seen anything like it. It would wiggle when you poked it but obviously had little lubricity and obviously, too, had a tough time flowing thru the oil pump. Just ask the bent rod.

    I gingerly scraped it off and put it in a jar to show at the next club meeting. No one in my section of Corvair-dom at the time had ever even HEARD of such a phenomenon, let alone poked it. It was a curiosity that required a good poke by everyone. Lotsa blobby fingers at THAT meeting!

    Over time, my jar of Corvair Curiosity got lost during one of my many moves (and wives!) but still have never seen anything even remotely similar. Wait…maybe that big red blobby substance that took over the town in that Steve McQueen epic, “The Thing”?

    Any ideas?

    John

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    Maybe you guys saw my earlier post where I mentioned I was going to change the oil in my '51 Champion before starting it for the first time. I removed the drain plug and nothing came out ( just like Johnny's corvair). So, I poked my finger through the hole, drained the oil and removed the pan. Yesterday I filled a coffee can with the sludge that I scraped off the bottom of the pan!

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    back when synthetic oils were first on the market they wern't compatable with petrolem oils and would turn to jelley if mixed
    mervyn mundorf
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    and others

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    John Q. Unconscious will do terrible things to internal combustion engines. For example, the church next door has an annual rummage sale and members donate articles to help raise money for youth group activities. Poking through the detritus, I noticed some good Christian had donated a Honda lawn mower. I looked it over, gave the recoil starter a pull and determined the motor was locked solid. Instead of paying to take his junk mower to the dump, the nice guy had dumped it on the church.

    I checked the dipstick and of course absolutely no oil. Turning the mower on its side, I grabbed the blade and was able to free the stuck engine. One of the guys taking money had watched my investigations and knew it wasn't in running condition, so I gave him $5 for parts and pushed it home. I put a quart of diesel fuel in the crankcase, some gas in the tank and it fired right up. I let it idle for a few minutes and drained the now black diesel fuel. While I was under there, I removed the blade and sharpened it. I refilled the crancase with oil, cleaned the spark plug, adjusted the cables and returned it to the church. They sold the now operable Honda mower for $50. I noticed the church youth leader asking around if any of the others knew who had donated the mower. He said, "Most of our members are not like him and unfortunately, not all are like you."

    Bottom line - engines are designed to survive hard use, but none are designed which will survive no oil.

    As a FWIW, newer BMWs have no dipstick and no recommended oil change interval. The computer monitors oil temp, pressure, number of cold starts, mileage and decides for you when it is time to bring it in for an oil change. It is not even considered you might do it yourself, as only a dealer can reset the computer.

    jack vines
    PackardV8

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    Silver Hawk Member N8N's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chucks Stude View Post
    After reading Bob Palma's post and having seen several heated discussions over motor oil, I felt the urge to take computer in hand and wonder. When was the last time anyone has seen an oil related engine failure? I am sure there are the instances when someone decides that you never have to change the stuff, but it has been a while. since I have seen a failure based on type or brand. What about you guys?
    I remember my dad had (actually still has) a '73 Chevy pickup truck that came from the factory with a 307; it ate a camshaft lobe sometime in the late 70's. Perhaps that was life's way of predisposing me towards Studebaker V-8s?

    nate
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    I didn't know any trucks came with the 307. I always heard it called a "Nova motor." I had one, and it's a long story.

    My dad was sitting, uncharacteristically, at the bar of the local tavern after a job, and an old friend from the neighborhood, getting a little blowhardy in his maturity, was complaining about his 3/4-ton with a 350. "I'd sell the dumwitch [rhymes with] for 50 bucks." The old man's fitty was on the bar before he could close quotes. That motor was pretty clapped out--the PO was a former Stude racer after all--but it did run.

    Fast forward a few weeks, and the head mechanic at the oil refinery had a son who was a Chev service manager. They had a repeat complaint of a Nova leaking oil Bad, and GM said to put a new engine in. Jumbo, the head mechanic, said something was queer about that deal, so he and Dad went out and bought the offending engine for $50. If you're counting, that's a hundred in a '67 C20 so far. A quick stop at my uncle's junkyard, $4 for a used oil pan, and what do you know, GM was wrong about a sand-casting flaw; it was an overdrawn stamped pan that would open a seam when hot. So I guess you can call that an "oil-related" failure. The failure caused the oil to run out.

    We got darn good service out of that truck. Plenty of power, and decent mileage--for a C20. After it was rusty enough, I got a pretty '68 half-ton with an anemic 283 from Harry Gant's right-front-wheel man, got a kid from down the street to swap engines, and gave him the '67 and 283 as pay. He breathed on the 283 some, and sold it for $200. We both thought we'd done okay on that deal.

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    President Member Johnnywiffer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by comatus View Post
    ... The old man's fitty was on the bar before he could close quotes...
    Picturesque bit of speech!

    John

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    President Member Lark8girl's Avatar
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    Almost every work day I am in a dealership service department. Almost never see an oil related failure, untill last month, A late model V6 was all apart on the floor, I have never seen so much SLUDGE
    in a motor in my life. What a mess. It was lunch time so no one to ask about it.
    Husband of Lark VIII girl

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    Wait…maybe that big red blobby substance that took over the town in that Steve McQueen epic, “The Thing”?
    Johnny Wiffer, I hate to pick nits, but
    I think you are talking about the Steve McQueen movie
    The Blob
    . The one named
    The Thing
    starred James Arness as the monster (his first movie) and took place at the South Pole. Also, there is no way you can refer to the blob in the Steve McQueen version as
    red
    , as the original movie was black and white. I think
    The Blob
    was Steve McQueen's first movie, also.

  15. #15
    President Member Johnnywiffer's Avatar
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    Yep, 'twas "The Blob". Memories play tricks after a hundred years or so. But I do distinctly remember it being red. And if you can read it, at the very bottom of this poster, it says "Color by De Luxe"

    The_Blob_poster.jpg

    John

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    Some of the Stude engines I have rebuilt have been a mess- worn lifters (severe pitting) and cam lobes. I attribute these worn engines to having been in cars that previously were "just an old car" and thus not taken care of, and all of these engines had sludge in the pans and every crevice. As a comparison, I pulled the heads off of my '99 F150 (blown spark plug and ruined head) with 100,000 miles on it. I change the oil about every 3,000 miles, and the engine was almost spotless even up in the cam area. I also could see factory hone marks in the cylinder bores! The new (used) head that I sent to the machine shop had sludge in the cam area, and varnish on the tappets. Obviously neglect may have been why that head came from a junk yard.
    I am now adding STP (contains an unknown amout of zinc) to my Studes at each oil change, as I do drive them at prolonged freeway speeds in the summer. I feel this is cheap insurance against premature wear,but not as important as regular oil changes.
    Last edited by BRUCESTUDE; 12-01-2010 at 11:22 PM. Reason: forgot something

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    I had a 400ci engine out of a 73 Monty Carlo i had junked out, decided to put it in my 34 Chevrolet 3/W Street Rod as is, but decided to put a new oil pump in it for insurance. Only oil pump the parts store had was a high VOLUME pump, not a high pressure pump. so i took at anyway. well long story short i was suppose to race a guy at work with his 340 Dodge dart. I decided to put my 4:62 gears in the 34 coupe. he had slicks and i didn't, so he jumped me out of the gate, but just past the 60 foot mark i caught him and was on my way to a victory, then the engine started slowing down and i knew it was locking up so i shut it off and lost the race. Got to the pits and and looked at the engine and oil was everywhere. It had sucked the oil pan dry with those high reving gears i was able to drive it back home (3 miles)but the engine was tight and hard to start.
    Thats why race cars have deep oil pans. it was no big loss as it was just a salvage engine. but i had cleaned it up nice.<G>

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    this is a good topic I have many studebakers and I was a auto mechanic for years and have rebuilt all brands of engines and people who use motor honeys in there engines were the ones with build up in the oil pans the fact that the oil filter were not full flow or no filter at all and the fact that they used non detergent oil in engines with no filters the sludge would settle in the pan and would not come out with oil change
    RL Elder

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    I have owned more than 100 cars myself and worked FT and PT in garages, dealerships & service stations. I service my own cars at mileage intervals much less than recommended. The only oil related issues that I can remember were in the early 1990s. I switched my vehicles (five) over to STP oil (not oil treatment) when STP came out with it. I had valve train failure in my 1988 Oldsmobile Delta 88. I had lesser problems in the other cars, including my 1958 Packard hardtop, that I drove less. I replaced most of the valve train in the Olds and changed back to Quaker State/Texaco/Atlantic oil in all of the cars and had no further problems. Later, I learned that a lot of (most) people experienced lubrication problems with the STP oil. I believe that it was taken off the market.
    Last edited by studegary; 03-05-2011 at 07:08 PM. Reason: changed "10" to correct "100".
    Gary L.
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    Sorry for the belated entry into the discussion...

    Back in the mid 60's, I noticed a Lark 6 (probably '62 or '63 vintage) in the service department of the venerable Frost & French Studebaker-Packard agency in Los Angeles. The engine had been pulled and torn down. The Lark was from the California state motor pool, had been routinely serviced in state shops with Chevron 10W-30 oil (required by state contract). Chevron apparently hadn't yet gotten their viscosity-improver additives quite right, the stuff had congealed filling the engine with something resembling a thick gray putty. Service manager said this happened to several state-owned cars, all for apparently the same reason. Chevron paid for the replacement engines.

    I think that catastrophic failures of lubricants because of deficient products are fairly rare. I never had issues with any of the quality single grade products (so beloved by Studebaker and Packard) or major brand multi-viscosity products. Now I use mostly Redline 10W-40 or Mobil 1 15W-50 synthetic oils in my vintage stuff here in sunny, warm inland southern CA. They are quality products, don't need to be much concerned about special additives, etc. I'm not putting down the makers of reputable additives (like Lucas), but I'm not comfortable that I have enough product information and expertise to be much more than a mad alchemist pouring things into my engines. By the way, because of the emissions requirements of late model vehicles, not all Mobil 1 products are currently recommended for flat tappet engines:

    http://www.mobiloil.com/USA-English/...duct_Guide.pdf
    Gil Zimmerman
    Riverside, CA

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    I had one of those 'blob' engines once, and it was air-cooled just as that Corvair was. Customer brought his mid-sixties VW in because it would barely turn over. Tests seemed to indicate it just needed a starter. New starter didn't fix it. After more checks I removed the oil drain. About 10 minutes later a thick, black goop started to ooze out. I let it drain overnight, flushed and refilled the next day. Owner swore nothing had been added to the oil. What I did find was the insulation pad had come loose from the firewall and was being sucked up against the cooling fan shroud causing the engine to be constantly overheated.
    <img src=http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/image.php?u=376&type=sigpic&dateline=1407459320 border=0 alt= />

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    Mobil 1 Synthetic

    That is pretty interesting stuff Gil, that means that of 22 Fully Synthetic Mobil 1 in various speciality and Weights of Oil, ONLY ONE, will work properly in our older Engines with flat tappets!

    So of 22, 21 will NOT work correctly. ONLY ONE, the 15W-50 will!

    There are a few that are close in ZDDP rating, but I am sure they have other additives for Diesel Engines etc. that do not make them "recommended" for flat tappet GAS Engines.
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner



  23. #23
    President Member okc63avanti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMSeymour View Post
    Maybe you guys saw my earlier post where I mentioned I was going to change the oil in my '51 Champion before starting it for the first time. I removed the drain plug and nothing came out ( just like Johnny's corvair). So, I poked my finger through the hole, drained the oil and removed the pan. Yesterday I filled a coffee can with the sludge that I scraped off the bottom of the pan!
    John,

    That reminds me of a story with my 1st car that my grandmother gave to me in 1974. It was a 1961 Lark VI Regal sedan. It had the OHV valve six and automatic trans. It didn't have an oil filter as apparently that was an option. As the car began to smoke and burn a little oil my grandmother had been using re-refined 50 weight motor oil in (cheapest she could buy) and simply just add oil when needed and never changed it. When she gave it to me it was idling roughly, so I commenced to change plugs and points (all of which were pretty much burnt to nothing, that helped the little engine to run and purr like a kitten, but when adding motor oil I had to wait for the funnel to take 1/2 minute to drain into the valve cover.

    To remedy this situation, I removed the pan, valve cover and the little side doors to valve lifters on the block and scrapped out solid sludge with a pocket knife as much as possible. I cleaned the pan and valve covers and then re-installed, just keeping the pan bolts hand tight. The next step was instead of refilling the engine with motor oil, I used kerosene. Ran the engine for about 5 minutes, drained and removed pan and cleaned it out again. I repeated this again with kerosene and again dropped and cleaned the pan. After getting the sludge and gunk out of the engine, I used a new gasket on the pan and put fresh motor oil in. I found a canister type oil filter with hoses and bracket on a junk yard Lark donor car and installed it and then began regular oil and filter changes.

    I latter gave the car a valve job and put new rings on the pistons without removing the engine from the car. That eliminated the smoking and the little engine performed flawlessly until I later sold it four years later, when I was graduating from college and could afford something a little newer, a two door 1973 Ford Gran Torino with a 351 Cleveland. I wish I still had the Lark though.

    John
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  24. #24
    President Member studeclunker's Avatar
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    You know, this reminds me of when i first got my '62 pickup, Ed. After I got him home and out of the trailer, I checked the oil. The dipstick was dry. I put it back in and tried again... nothing. So, assuming that there was no oil, I put in five quarts of oil and fired him up. TONS OF BLACK SMOKE!! I shut the old fellow down and checked the oil level again. Now it showed oil most the way up the stick. So I drained it. Blop, glop, blurp, plop... and the rest came out in a rush. Luckily, I used a much larger pan than usual. The crud and crap that came out scared the crap out of me! So, I poured a can of Chemtool in each valve cover opening, leaving the drain plug off overnight with a fresh pan underneath. There was about a quarter cup of liquid under the engine next morning. I pulled off the distributor cap and used the starter to turn over the motor a bit and it worked a bit better. Now there was a whole cup down there. By that afternoon the rest trickled down. So, I put the cap back in, poured five quarts of oil in again and also another can of Chemtool, then started the truck up (after putting yet another can of chemtool in the gas). After letting it run for five minutes, I shut the engine down. Then I drained it yet again. The oil drained just slightly less viscous than honey. I'd forgotten to change the oil filter.

    At this point we're talking about using ten quarts of oil and three cans of Chemtool and I'm not done yet.

    Taking the Cadillac to town, I got three one-gallon bottles of 10w40, two filters, and three more cans of Chemtool. Then headed for home. I changed the filter, added oil and a can of chemtool, then fired it up yet again. Or tried to... several times. Had to go back to Weaverville for spark plugs as those in the truck were fouled.

    After getting thoroughly greasy and scuffed up hands installing the new spark plugs, I got a call from Greyhound and had to leave for work. The truck then sat for several days like that with five quarts of clean oil and a quart of chemtool in it, well stirred (not shaken) by the starter. When I finally got home, I started the truck, ran it for five minutes, and drained the oil (now at over fifteen quarts of dirty oil). Being out of gallon milk jugs, I had to resort to other containers, some of my Mum's ancient tupperware storage canisters. (Not a good idea after all, as if they tip over the lids just pop off and oil everywhere.) The oil came out nicely (finally), and yet was still filthy. At least though, it wasn't muddy like before. It took three more oil changes over the next two weeks of driving it (along with the adventures involved with that), before the oil started looking more normal. With all that dirty oil, I really made points with the local NAPA,
    "Again?? How much oil are you going to waste on that old CLUNKER???" The counterman demanded.
    "STUDEclunker, if you please," I rejoindered.
    Last edited by studeclunker; 03-05-2011 at 09:25 PM.

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