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Old 07-08-2011, 11:31   #1
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Dipstick Broken Off - Catalina 30 / Diesel Engine

I have a 30 ft catalina and was motoring along when the low oil alarm went off. I shut down the engine and checked the oil only to find just the top of the dipstick (about 3-4" below the rubber fitting) which was out of the engine sitting in a mess of oil.

I was miles from shore and nobody would give me a tow so I took a gamble....put about a quart of oil in and started the motor up....Everything worked fine and the oil pressure was just above 40.

So what chewed off the dipstick? Is it at the bottom of the oil pan and not in harms way? Do I have to get it out? and Finally, where do I get another dipstick for a Kubota Phasor Marine P3-20 sm?

thanks for any help or advice,

Captrog
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:37   #2
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

It's probably sitting in the bottom of the pan. While not a good situation, the dipstick metal is no match for the spinning hulk of the crank and rods. If it does get in the way it will be dealt with quickly.

You get a new one wherever you get all the other engine parts. Probably needs to be ordered as losing one is rare.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:38   #3
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

seems like the dipstick might be still in the tube...? question is... how to get it out. Is it accessible enough to shine a light into the tube and see if you can see it?. Is the tube pressed into the block or is there screws and a nut? hmmm
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:49   #4
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

Small cylindrical magnet on telescopic shaft. Looks like a car antenna. Available in any h/ware store.
If not, Drop the pan before the crank grinds it up, and oil pump sends it thru the engine. Leaving it in there is UNACCEPTABLE.
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:03   #5
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

Dropping the oil pan without pulling the engine would be difficult if not impossible. The balance of the stick may still be in the tube - get a retrieval magnet as suggested above. Why did it break? Was it rusted? There are tools to retrieve small parts that look like a long tube with a pistol handle on one end and small graspers on the other. Similar tools are used in laporoscopic surgery.
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:58   #6
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

I don't think anything was wrong with the dipstick. and I would like to know how it happend. Where it's broken off I can tell is was by force as the broken part is slightly twisted.

And yes, it would be impossible to take out the pan without removing the engine as it's a 30' Catalina with the motor in the cabin.

And any suggestions as to how to locate the end of the dipstick in the pan with the magnet device or pistol grip equiptment?

Thanks again for all these suggestions,

R
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Old 07-08-2011, 13:15   #7
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Stocking View Post
Small cylindrical magnet on telescopic shaft. Looks like a car antenna. Available in any h/ware store.
If not, Drop the pan before the crank grinds it up, and oil pump sends it thru the engine. Leaving it in there is UNACCEPTABLE.
Second that. If the steel from the stick gets into the bearings or between the cylinder walls and rings it could be new engine time.
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Old 07-08-2011, 13:33   #8
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

Okay, I'll get the magnet device and go fishing for the end of the dipstick.

Does anyone know how it could have gotten broken off?

I had to motor a couple of hours to get back to the dock. The engine sounded as usual.Hoping it did drop to the bottom of the pan, how would I know if the damage is already done?

Yikes, it's almost a new engine.

thanks again
R
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Old 07-08-2011, 13:51   #9
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

Whether you fish it out or not, you or a mechanic needs to take a look inside. Especially since you indicate it may have been removed with some violence. Since the engine is new and small it should be a (relative) snap to pull out for inspection.

Also, when you get the new dipstick check the calibration by measuring the amount of oil you add and comparing to the engine manual ... noting that oil pans can vary on the same engine, e.g. deep or shallow options.

It's distressingly common for small bits of metal to live in the pan for years, but not a good thing.
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Old 07-08-2011, 13:51   #10
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

I've never heard of a dipstick breaking, so that's a new one. If by chance it is still in the dipstick tube, then something like this might be able to grab it and get it out.


Lots of auto parts stores have similar tools.

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Old 07-08-2011, 14:00   #11
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

Just to be sure there is no garbage in the oil, you should send a sample of the oil to a company that analyzes diesel oil. This is something all owners should do periodically too. Search "diesel oil analysis", find a place nearby and pick up a kit.
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Old 07-08-2011, 14:11   #12
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

If the tube is not removable from the engine, the magnet might work, or the grabber might work.

If the tube is bolted onto the engine, your best move is to drain the oil, then take the tube off: it's possible that the end may still be grab-able at the block, and you'll be lucky.

If it's all the way into the pan, that's an engine removal. No way should it be left in the engine. You will have an engine that could fail at any moment and leave you stranded, and entail an expensive repair that could have been avoided.

Do you want to go around the next 3 years constantly worrying about it whenever you run the engine? I wouldn't. The peace of mind will be worth whatever the price and hassle.

A nuisance now or an ordeal later. You choose. Good luck.
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Old 07-08-2011, 14:43   #13
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

So the general opinion is that if the dipstick is still in the tube I can try and retrieve it with either a grabbing device or one with a magnet, and if it's in the pan pull the engine and take it from there. My only fear is that I may push it into the pan while trying to retrieve it. this is a nightmere and still don't know how it happened. thanks to everyone for the advice.
R
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Old 07-08-2011, 14:54   #14
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

This may sound a bit extreme but if it were me and the magnet/ gripper idea failed and was sure the stick was still in the tube I would get a small tube cutter and cut the tube below the level of the old dip stick to gain access to it. The tube can be repaired afterwards by splicing it back together with a coupling and silver solder/braze but I am comfortable doing these kinds of repairs. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 07-08-2011, 14:56   #15
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Re: dipstick broken off in diesel engine

Some dipstick tubes project to just clear of the sump surface. If yours is this type, then the broken blade may have some support to stop it sliding into the oil.
If you can see the broken part, try this:
In a piece of 1/4" rod, cut a slot into its length, that is such width and depth that it will hold the other portion as a test of its "grasping" ability.
If it holds, you may be able to push the slot down over the piece in the tube and gently lift it out, with a twisting open to increase the "grasp" on the culprit.
Beats removing that engine and sump, and get the oil examined for suspended particles.

Edit: maybe combine this idea with perchance, together, he and I are the smartest man on the forum
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