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Old 17-06-2010, 22:27   #1
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NAPA Filter Nightmare

Today was one of those horror stories that I'll be telling people about for a long time.

It started simply enough: a long-overdue (140 hours and, um, a couple years) first oil change since I bought my boat. I wasn't expecting a karmic kick in the pants for waiting so long!

The engine is a Yanmar 4JH-DTE, and the boat came with an oil-changing system with clean/dirty tanks, a bidirectional pump, lines to main and genset, and a line to fill/empty jugs. After much reverse engineering and a few moments of confusion, we slurped the old oil out of the main engine and got it into jugs for proper disposal. So far so good.

I didn't have a spare filter on hand (oops) so I trotted off to the local NAPA with the part number... Fram PH2856. I had heard a few people around the marina say unkind things about Fram filters, so I was happy when the NAPA guy helpfully crossed it to a NAPAGold 1381 (made by Wix).

I returned to the boat, spun it on with a little oil on the gasket, snugged it down, and fired her up for a test. By the time I had made it to the stern to confirm water in the exhaust, my friend was shouting and the engine was shouting even louder... a wild sharp stacatto hissing/clattering sound that was rapidly growing in intensity. I dove for the shutoff, then when he pointed to the oil flooding toward the bilge and hollered to kill the bilge pump, I hit the switch before it could come on (phew).

We stared at the mess in shock, then pulled off the new filter and discovered that it is VERY different from the old... the photo below shows the gaskets. The one on the left is the new NAPAGold 1381, and the one on the right is the FRAM PH 2856 that came with the boat. These are considered equivalents???

A dial caliper on the mating engine flange revealed 2.112" ID and 2.636" OD, with the new gasket noticeably bigger around with a lot of overhang and considerably less mating rubber on the engine face (not to mention a whole different design). When we removed it after the blowout, there was a distinct distortion in one side (fortunately the bottom) where the pressure had pushed it aside... this gradually relaxed back to a circular shape over the next few minutes.

I had it tight (double checked by my more diesel-literate friend both before and after the failure), and can't see any potential here for operator error (other than going to NAPA, apparently). The gasket was well seated.

So this post is both a warning and a question. The warning: beware auto-store cross-reference guides (confirmed here, not just just the clerk's error). The question: what just happened? Is this a lesson to stick with Yanmar-branded filters? We were both pretty stunned. Hopefully the engine is OK - it only ran about 30 seconds, and had been recently lubed by the pre-change warmup.

Incidentally, the boat's oil-changing system was a lifesaver during cleanup... we spliced a long hose onto the pump manifold and slurped the 2-3 quarts into a tank and thence to a jug... leaving the rest for absorbent pads and multiple washing/pumping cycles. A useful tool.

I knew I was putting this off for a reason. Next time I need an oil change, I'm repowering!

Ah, the pleasures of boat life.
Steve
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Old 17-06-2010, 22:40   #2
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Please-- no oil filters on the RedNeck Bow Thruster. By the way hows that comming?
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Old 17-06-2010, 23:13   #3
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Having a meeting about the RBT tomorrow... assuming I finish this cleanup project!
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Old 18-06-2010, 04:20   #4
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It may be wise to check the after-market filtre’s “applications” listing, to ensure that the filtre has been matched to the engine.
Cross-reference charts can “match” slightly differing parts.
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Old 18-06-2010, 05:54   #5
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No matter what I change oil filters on. I check first for a leak after looking at the 2 side by side. I try, and use Napa filters all the time.......i2f
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Old 18-06-2010, 08:37   #6
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It is conceivable that the Fram that came with the boat was itself not a proper cross from the Yanmar spec, making an already marginal cross-referenced type enough out of spec to be dangerous. But looking at those gaskets, there is a very significant difference (even not counting the inner lip) - the mating face is mostly overhanging the machined flange on the engine block, with perhaps 1/8" annulus of actual contact. This where the blowout occurred - the rubber couldn't hold it, and one point deformed enough to allow a jet.

Cleanup took about 8 hours. I have a new respect for those sorbent pads... couldn't have done it without them. Having a built-in oil-changing pump and dirty oil tank was also very useful, allowing the quick cobbling of an oil vacuum cleaner with a plumbing adapter and a scrap of old garden hose.

Steve
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Old 18-06-2010, 08:52   #7
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It looks like you called it. According to the Fram web site the proper Fram filter for your engine is PH-3593A.

FRAM - Application Look-up.

It would seem his is not NAPA's fault.
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Old 18-06-2010, 09:00   #8
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Cap'n Bill - thanks! I'll dig through the Yanmar manual today and confirm it from their perspective... the previous owner might have made the error and gotten away with it, then the spec-creep of a cross-reference pushed things past the limit. Bizarre.

We did notice that the old Fram gasket showed a ridge all around the mating face that indicated overhang, and thought it odd. The NAPA one is just a little bigger.

Thanks for the data point! Taking that to the NAPA cross-reference page linked in my original post yields a few variants on type 1334:

http://www.napafilters.com/filterloo...&Submit=Search

I also started with the Fram specified filter type (129150-35152) and came up with the same Fram PH3593A. Looks like a classic PO problem... the boat came with a Fram PH2856.

What a maddening learning curve. We can assume nothing. Now I just hope the 30 second run didn't hurt anything serious!

So I agree, for the eternally Googlable record: This was definitely not NAPA's fault (though I am still troubled by the gasket difference, even though they are BOTH wrong for my application).

Steve
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Old 18-06-2010, 12:19   #9
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Follow-up: this has all now been clearly confirmed. The previous owner had the wrong filter on the engine, and I foolishly just took the number off that and bought a replacement. Lesson learned!

Here are two photos for your amusement. The first shows the gasket from the original Fram PH2856 (wrong). What is astounding here is the compression mark left from its marginal engagement with the flange on the engine... at the thinnest spot (upper left in the photo) it is only .05" wide. I'm amazed (and glad) this didn't blow out while I was underway... it would have certainly destroyed the engine unless I was right there and thinking quickly.

The other photo shows the large gasket from the NAPA/Wix 1381 that I bought to replace the Fram, lying on top of the correct NAPA 1334 (Wix 51334). The ID of the wrong one is almost precisely the OD of the right one, and provided only the merest hint of contact with the flange. The disaster was inevitable.

It's been an educational experience. I'll never again make assumptions based on what is already there (unless I'm the one who put it there!).
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Old 18-06-2010, 13:43   #10
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Hopefully it's an inexpensive lesson with no engine damage. Good luck.
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Old 18-06-2010, 13:58   #11
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Thanks, Bill. I'm using the Wix now, since no Yanmars are locally available, but am ordering a stock of the proper ones for future use. Fingers crossed on the engine restart being uneventful...
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Old 18-06-2010, 22:38   #12
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I would not worry about any engine damage as it only ran a few min before you shut it down, when I was 15 or 16 I had an old junk car that we drove around town for a few months without any oil in it, leaked oil almost as fast as we could put it in- and it never stopped running,(from that) kind of hard to believe but true,- it had a small hole in the radiator and it finally overheated and died
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Old 18-06-2010, 23:33   #13
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Ah, meant to report back. This afternoon I spun on the proper filter, refilled the oil, and gingerly started her up. Sounded fine, no apparent problems. It only ran about 30 seconds during the blowout incident, and had been run about an hour earlier to warm the oil... so at least things were lubed. I think it will be fine. Thanks for the thoughts, folks!

Now to do the generator (3GM). I guess this is how one gets to know a boat, but jeez...

Steve
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Old 19-06-2010, 02:48   #14
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a Yanmar filter would have fit swimingly
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Old 19-06-2010, 12:39   #15
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Yes, especially if it was the right one! There weren't any Yanmars in town, but I'm ordering some so this never happens again... but the problem here was the incorrect TYPE that had been installed by the previous owner (which I just unquestioningly duplicated).

When I look at that .050" little bit of rubber that was all there was between engine oil and flange, and remember the near disaster getting off a lee shore to which I was tied by dragging anchor, failed windlass, and seized bitter end... I realize that a blowout could have been way more than a repower. I got off easy, and am glad this replacement filter did what it did. If it had also just barely worked, I'd continue cruising without knowing there was an oil aneurysm that could blow at any time.
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