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Old 14-06-2014, 15:05   #1
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Anti-freeze in the oil pan

I was launched 2 weeks ago. Engine started well, and I motored from the crane to my slip - a 3 minute run, with no problems. I've been working on things electrical. I was planning to go sailing tomorrow, so did a last look around.

To my horror, I noticed the anti-freeze top up container was empty. I'm sure it wasn't when I hauled out last September. I checked the dipstick and it was watery. I looks like the anti-freeze has got into the pistons or somewhere and dribbled down into the oil pan.

NOW, here in North East Ontario, this last winter, it was freezing cold for long periods, with many big dips into far below freezing point. It was a far colder winter than average. (I was in sunny Arizona, thank goodness during this period). My Universal 35HP 3 cylinder engine was working fine last summer, and I didn't notice any appreciable loss of anti-freeze. Is it possible the cold hard winter is to blame for the anti-freeze loss ?

My plan is to suck out the oil/anti-freeze from the oil pan. Fill up with new oil, fill the anti-freeze container (and replace the filter ???), and monitor the anti-freeze level over the summer.

Before hauling out, I will put a tap on the anti-freeze pipe from the anti-freeze container to the engine. Then I will be able to cut off the gravity feed from the container to the engine block.

Any comments or suggestions ? Thanks.
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Old 14-06-2014, 15:13   #2
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

Antifreeze in the oil pan is not good at all. Could be a cracked head, cracked block or cylinder liner. Any antifreeze in the oil will tear up the bearings in no time. Might be worth a little more investigation to find the actual source of the leak.
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Old 14-06-2014, 15:29   #3
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

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Originally Posted by macbeth View Post
I was launched 2 weeks ago. Engine started well, and I motored from the crane to my slip - a 3 minute run, with no problems. I've been working on things electrical. I was planning to go sailing tomorrow, so did a last look around.

To my horror, I noticed the anti-freeze top up container was empty. I'm sure it wasn't when I hauled out last September. I checked the dipstick and it was watery. I looks like the anti-freeze has got into the pistons or somewhere and dribbled down into the oil pan.

NOW, here in North East Ontario, this last winter, it was freezing cold for long periods, with many big dips into far below freezing point. It was a far colder winter than average. (I was in sunny Arizona, thank goodness during this period). My Universal 35HP 3 cylinder engine was working fine last summer, and I didn't notice any appreciable loss of anti-freeze. Is it possible the cold hard winter is to blame for the anti-freeze loss ?

My plan is to suck out the oil/anti-freeze from the oil pan. Fill up with new oil, fill the anti-freeze container (and replace the filter ???), and monitor the anti-freeze level over the summer.

Before hauling out, I will put a tap on the anti-freeze pipe from the anti-freeze container to the engine. Then I will be able to cut off the gravity feed from the container to the engine block.

Any comments or suggestions ? Thanks.
Don't run the engine, don't go anywhere as you could make it much worse, sounds like a cracked block, cracked head or head gasket. Needs further investigation before you go anywhere.
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Old 14-06-2014, 15:31   #4
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

Ouch!. That does not sound good at all. I expect you'll find a crack some place where you really don't want it. A pressure test of the tank will tell you you have a leak. Or could just be a blown head gasket. That's about the best you can hope for
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Old 14-06-2014, 15:46   #5
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

You may be lucky and it is only a head gasket.

You did not speak of winterizing. Winterizing involves flushing RV/Boat antifreeze through the raw water system. If you don't, then seawater will freeze at 28 deg F and crack the main heat exchanger. But that is another problem and won't result in antifreeze getting in the oil.

You can buy a test kit at any auto parts store that will let you test your antifreeze. It will tell you the approximate freezing point of the antifreeze mixture. If it isn't low enough for your winter temps, then that may be the problem. But usually it blows out a "freeze plug" on the side of the block and doesn't do any expensive damage.

I agree with not running the engine until this is sorted out.

You can rent a cooling system pressure test kit at some or maybe most auto parts stores. This kit lets you pressurize the coolant side up to about 15 psi and you can usually see or hear it leaking.

And I didn't begin to follow your comment about cutting off gravity feed from the coolant overflow container. The level in that container is usually low when the engine is cold and fills when the engine heats up and the antifreeze in the block expands and if it overheats it first fills the container.

David
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Old 14-06-2014, 15:58   #6
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

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Originally Posted by macbeth View Post
I checked the dipstick and it was watery.
How was the oil level? If coolant got in, the oil level would rise. Have you checked your bilge? Might have a loose coolant drain plug somewhere, or a hole in the hose to the reservoir.
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Old 14-06-2014, 17:46   #7
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

The level on the dipstick was at its highest point. I felt the fluid on the dipstick and it was much thinner than it should be. Also watery. Oh hell. If it's a cracked block, how could that be ? I winterized the engine before covering it.

So I've never had a problem like this before. I wonder where I can get a pressure tester from.
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Old 14-06-2014, 17:54   #8
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Exclamation Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

When using a pressure test system, I guess I should remove the thermostat beforehand ? Otherwise I won't be testing the whole system ?
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Old 14-06-2014, 18:00   #9
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

Another clue to the antifreeze getting into the engine and oil pan is that the drip pad I have under the engine is colored pink. Would the anti-freeze have so filled up the oil pan that it would have come out of the dipstick hole ?
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Old 14-06-2014, 18:07   #10
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

Princess Auto has a coolant system tester for $100

Cooling System Pressure Tester | Princess Auto

You might be able to borrow one from a buddy if you look around. I don't believe you have to remove the thermostat.

It's all speculation as to the cause right now so might be worth getting a professional opinion.

I had one of those famous GM 4.3lt V6's that suffered from antifreeze leaking through the intake manifold gasket. It was the source of a major class action law suit in the US. It cost me a crank shaft and total engine rebuild. Antifreeze in the oil is nothing to mess with.
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Old 14-06-2014, 18:49   #11
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

Hold on. You say the oil was at the top of the full range mark on the dipstick and that it felt "thinner and watery"? And there was coolant under the engine? And you were alerted only because the coolant tank was empty? But you don't actually remember if it was full before you motored a distance?

Was the coolant level also low?

Water (coolant) in the oil would be very noticeable. The oil would be milky and possibly foamy. It would probably feel thicker rather than thinner. You would know it wasn't just oil by sight.

Coolant under the engine could be a leak somewhere or broken freeze plug. If it is the pink antifreeze you winterized with, it is almost certainly just spilled, since that antifreeze is only on the raw water side and is mostly drained during winterizing.

If you really think the oil is higher than reasonable, and it feels thin but not a different color, then that could be a bit of diesel in it and not water. This is a completely different problem.

I think you should suss this out more. Drain the oil and see if you actually have water in it. This will be VERY noticeable - you will actually be draining out water and the oil will be the wrong color. If this isn't the case, I don't think you have coolant in it. Even if it is the case, the cause may be on the raw water side - siphoning or a bad seal in the raw water pump (the Sherwoods on the Universals are notorious for this).

So far, none of your descriptions would lead me to a problem with the block, head or head gasket.

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Old 14-06-2014, 19:23   #12
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

Go to a local heavy truck shop and get an oil test kit. Get a sample of the oil from your pan and take it back for the test. It will give you a complete chemical and metal breakdown of the oil and tell you if there is anti freeze in there. As noted anti freeze will destroy bearings in no time. Really not what you want in that part of the engine. The test are cheap 20 - 50 bucks usually. better safe than sorry
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Old 14-06-2014, 20:22   #13
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

Quote:
Originally Posted by knottybuoyz View Post
Antifreeze in the oil pan is not good at all. Could be a cracked head, cracked block or cylinder liner. Any antifreeze in the oil will tear up the bearings in no time. Might be worth a little more investigation to find the actual source of the leak.
Might also be the head gasket.
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Old 15-06-2014, 16:30   #14
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

More clues !

This afternoon I went to the boat with my son and grandchildren. While I was there, I undid the top of the radiator, and stuck my finger in it ! Surprise - there was liquid there ! That rather argues AGAINST all the anti-freeze seeping down into the oil pan doesn't it ?

I drained a couple of pints of oil from the oil pan. Looks a good colour to me. See photos. Also felt OK, a bit thin maybe ? I've put some into a marmalade pot and will leave it overnight to observe whether there is any separation of liquids.

When I got home, I put the anti-freeze tester into the truck. I'll stick it into the radiator in the morning.

The investigation continues. Stay tuned.
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Old 17-06-2014, 17:38   #15
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Re: Anti-freeze in the oil pan

If you dump your coolant in the pan, it will go to the bottom, underneath the oil. At first, checking the oil is not going to reveal anything, other than a high level.
If you run the engine and the crankshaft/big ends hits the oil surface, it will eventually whip up a greyish creamy mixture, but this doesn't always happen. The fact that you didn't see that after 3 minutes running only on flat water is no guarantee that there is no coolant in the lube system.

The coolant at the bottom of the pan would have been sucked by the pickup and first circulated to all the bearings when you started, so it would not be a good look.

However, if you drained oil through the sump drain plug (very bottom) as it seems and you didn't get water/coolant - instantly noticeable - then I would say that your coolant went somewhere else for sure and you should feel a lot better already!

"Things are never as good or as bad as they first appear", someone told me some years ago. I often have to remember that.
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