Super-long extended oil drains: 35 years ago, I got involved in by-pass oil filters. This was simply in order to keep the oil cleaner, not to extend the recommended oil drain intervals of the engine manufacturers. The rule back then was; “Once you change your oil and filters and the engine consumes one gallon of oil, it’s telling you that the filters can no longer remove the dirt from the oil and that the dirt is getting between the liners and the piston rings.” During the 1980s, the mechanical engines would usually burn one gallon of oil in about 8,000 miles and the oil would get changed at 10,000 miles. When we started installing by-pass 1-micron filters, the engines began running 14,000 miles before consuming the first gallon of oil. Sometimes after we rebuilt an engine, it would run to 23,000 miles before the oil needed to be changed. Think about this: The standard full-flow oil filter, which is stock on your engine, filters down to 40 microns. A young person’s eye can see 40-micron dirt! The clearance in a rod and main bearing while a truck is pulling a hill is a HALF a micron!! The aftermarket by-pass filters are generally around the one-micron size and do a great job of filtering the oil. Oil analysis provides great information and is the best way to keep track of how your engine is wearing. The two items I look at most are the iron (Fe) in the oil and the silicone (Si), which is ingested dirt getting past the air filter(s). These two contaminants will wear out the engine quickly. We also look at the level of chromium (Cr), which is piston ring wear, then lead (Pb), which comes from main and rod bearings, copper (Cu), which comes from bushings, bearings and thrust washers, tin (Sn), coming from bearings and bushings again, and aluminum (Al), which comes from some pistons, bearings, and thrust washers.
So many times we get phone calls pertaining to fuel dilution. If you idle the engine all night and pull the sample the next day, you can bet the dilution will be slightly higher. Caterpillar says that 3% fuel dilution is no problem. Another common concern is of high soot levels, naturally. Think about this: Most engines today are EGR engines, and OF COURSE the soot levels will be higher!! The engine is eating its own soot; some of it has to get past the piston rings along with the blow-by. An engine has to have SOME blow-by, which is what keeps the second ring on the piston seated against the ring gland. If no blow by gets past the top ring, then the second ring will float up and down against the ring gland and wear it out. SO, please don’t be TOO concerned about some blow-by; just install our oil trap on the end of the blow-by tube. It catches the oil as it comes out of the tube. Usually it will be about ½ cup per every 10,000 miles driven.
The whole purpose of this article is to get you to change your oil at a predetermined interval. I prefer to see the iron level at 20 parts per million. However, that is a very conservative number. I can live with 60 parts per million, which should be around 50,000 miles. 200,000 (or more) miles on the engine oil is of OUT OF THE QUESTION in my book. I DO NOT like having to call you while we are doing an in-chassis rebuild on your engine and tell you the crankshaft is bad, or that the camshafts are worn out because of dirty oil. Mechanics get to see inside the engines and every mechanic I know changes their oil frequently, and that is on a pick-up truck or a family sedan! Oil is the lifeblood of the engine; PLEASE don’t allow it to get too dirty. YES, we sell and install the OPS-1 Eco Pur by-pass oil filters along with the Spinner II: Both are by-pass oil filters and perform their function completely differently.
Let’s take an engine with 1,000,000 miles: With by-pass oil filtration and the oil changed every 40,000 miles, you would have had 25 oil changes at an average cost of $150.00 each, doing your own changes at home like you should. That is a total of $3,750 worth of oil and filters. The bearings pictured in this article have 1,078,571 miles on them and the oil hadn’t been changed for 239,889 miles. Parts per million on of iron particles in the oil were 140 and the silicon was 17. This is TOO MUCH! Not only were the main and rod bearings wiped out, so was the Crankshaft! Cummins has no ReCon short blocks OR long blocks in stock, so we have to R & R the engine and install a new crankshaft along with rebuilding the engine! The cost on this rebuild is about $35,000. THAT, my friends will buy you a LOT of oil changes (even if you DON’T do them yourself!). The 425-B Caterpillar engine, which is one of the best engines ever built, ran 20 parts per million of iron particles in the oil every 10,000 miles, and THAT is where I like to see my oil (OR LESS, obviously).
Stre-t-c-hed head bolts: This is a Caterpillar head bolt, in perfect shape. However, it lost its ability to hold torque at 330 ft. lbs. When torqueing (funny how when I tried to type “TORQUEING”, the spell-check changed it to “torturing”, lol.) bolts, you must consider how hard you are pulling on the torque wrench. If the needle is not increasing as you are tightening, then the bolt is stretching. If you are using a “clicker” type torque wrench and you don’t hear the click with the same amount of pull that you have given to the other bolts, then the bolt is stretching. This bolt or cap screw is now junk and must be replaced. We had 3 of the head bolts stretch on one engine, so all of them were scrapped and replaced with new bolts.
This next bolt that is broken is a Caterpillar main bolt on #7 main cap. The head broke off the bolt allowing the bearing cap to run loose. The end result was a broken crankshaft. This engine has only 367,000 miles on it and is 300 hours out of warranty. It’s a tremendous expense because of the failure of a bolt.
Dominic Santucci, a great race car engine builder from back in the 1970s, once told me after I blew an engine on the race course that: “A racer’s biggest enemy is metal fatigue.” What do you think your engine and truck are doing every time it’s pulling a hill or mountain? If the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to climb the mountain, then it is not suffering from nearly as much metal fatigue and will therefore live much longer. By being built to produce more horsepower and “breathe” by reducing the amount of backpressure in the exhaust system, an engine will not need to work nearly as hard to get the job done. As a result, it lives longer, pulls stronger, burns a lot LESS fuel, AND POLLUTES LESS! PERIOD.
More good news: Our new emissions analyzer will be completed on the 22nd of October. Hopefully, by the end of the month, our engineers will have it up and running in our chassis dyno room and we will be back with many of our parts after we “prove” what we already know.
Written by: Bruce Mallinson, Pittsburgh Power Inc., 3600 S. Noah Dr., Saxonburg, PA 16056. Phone 724-360-4080. Website: www.pittsburghpower.com, email: email@example.com