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Old 23-05-2016, 17:49   #1
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Overfilled engine with oil

This is embarrassing to post as it highlights my own stupidity.
I have a ford Lehman 120 hp and a Westerbeke 15KW BTDC genset.
To change the oil I use a sump pump and select either gen or eng, for what ever reason I mixed them up, I thought I was changing the engine oil yet was actually changing the gen set.
Yes all the signs were there, not much oil came out and I thought 'wow that was not much', the engine dip stick wasn't moving, 'don't remember it this slow before' all the time I was convinced that I was changing the engine while I was actually changing the gen set.
So what happened, well after I shoved 15 liters of oil into the Westerbeke which should take 6 liters, I started the gen set to heat the 'old oil' to change that.
It started perfectly, but then there was a metallic clicking noise straight away that caused me to stop the generator as it didn't sound right, it ran for maybe 2-3 secs before I hit the stop button.
Minutes passed as I looked at the generator to see what had caused the noise, I noted oil coming out of the oil dipstick hole (still didnt click what I had done). I hit the start button again and nothing.
Only then did I realize that I had been filling the gen and not the engine.
You can imagine the language!
So what damage have I done? Local mechanic came down and tried to turn the crankshaft, which he couldn't as with 3 belts and two alternators, removed these yet still couldn't get the double belt pulley off the crankshaft in order to get to the crankshaft nut to put some leverage and see if the engine turns.
Subsequently I have put pressure on the double pulley just by hand and have been able to turn the crankshaft a full revolution, not easy, yet that tells me that maybe the inside is OK.
So what was the noise and why doesn't the engine crank.
Go to the starter motor, plenty of battery power, yet nothing when the start button in hit.
I'm now thinking that maybe I have buggered that somehow, and that this was the cause of the metallic clicking sound.
Too much pressure on the starter initially with the engine overfilled with oil
and it failed?

Or just a huge coincidence that the starter motor would have failed anyway and the oil issue was just a distraction?

Pull the starter out is the obvious thing to do, yet there is next to no access and I would probably need to pull the gen set out or just move it in the boat to do so.
I could get a new starter motor, go to all that effort, put it in and have the same thing happen again! as the engine really is stuffed.

I doubt anyone has ever done the same before, but it would be great to know for sure if the engine is toast or not.

Thanks.
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Old 23-05-2016, 17:57   #2
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

Well..... you drained the excess oil out right? Not sure how to proceed on that one. Maybe it shoved oil up past the rings into the cylinders and now you are locked up. Remove the injectors and try to turn it.
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Old 23-05-2016, 18:07   #3
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

Yes I drained the oil out, as that was supposed to go into the Ford main engine, I was very very careful when I did that!
As I can turn the crankshaft by hand, I assume that there is no oil above the pistons.
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Old 23-05-2016, 18:11   #4
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

Sorry, thought you said you couldn't turn the crank. Well if you can turn it but the starter wont you messed up the starter or ring gear I suppose.
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Old 23-05-2016, 19:02   #5
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

Your explanation is a little hard for an old guy to decipher. . .
I doubt you hurt the generator in 2-3 seconds. You could jump the solenoid between the heavy cable and the S terminal. That bypasses the whole start wiring. In the US, most auto parts stores will test a starter for free. Sometimes multiple things fail, but rarely. You should have some noise from the starter, even if it's only the solenoid clicking. If not is something in the start circuit or cables. There may be a resetable solenoid that shut down the engine for no oil pressure just as you were also shutting it down.
If you can turn the engine 1 revolution then it's safe to start.
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Old 24-05-2016, 08:24   #6
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

Check your electrical supply to the starter. If you have a fuse in the link from the battery (or start battery)to the starter, perhaps you have blown it when you tried to start it the 2nd time, with to much resistance in the genset. I only know..... because it happened to me-we blew the 175amp whole house fuse trying to turn a locked-up engine. PS the starter was fine, just overeloaded the starter until the fuse blew.
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Old 24-05-2016, 08:30   #7
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

I don't think you can actually hurt the engine with too much oil, usually it just makes a big mess. I know of several people who've accidentally filled their car engine oil up right to the top of the dipstick. Usually just need to drain the excess and clean up the mess.
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Old 24-05-2016, 08:41   #8
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Well..... you drained the excess oil out right? Not sure how to proceed on that one. Maybe it shoved oil up past the rings into the cylinders and now you are locked up. Remove the injectors and try to turn it.
This was also my first thought The oil is up there and does not compress thus the difficulty turning her over. Good luck.
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Old 24-05-2016, 08:46   #9
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

I'd be astonished if you harmed the engine, I have seen one or two crankshaft seals blown out, but never a damaged engine.
You can hydrolock an engine on the bottom of the piston as well as the top, and I'd guess that is what happened, that may have damaged the starter, immovable object, irresistible force?
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Old 24-05-2016, 08:48   #10
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

Measure voltage at the starter terminal when start switch is pressed, you may have a "fuseable link" in the wire if there is no obvious fuse
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Old 24-05-2016, 08:49   #11
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

there should be no damage to the engine. the non staring issue is separate. had you started it it would have been more likely to have blown out the rear seal.
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Old 24-05-2016, 09:00   #12
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

Turn that engine, by hand, a few more times, to make sure it is not 'hydra-locked' with any remaining oil. Once it does start there will be a hell of a cloud of blue smoke, which will eventually clear (Start it after dark. It's winter down there so it won't be past your bed time).
Check the starter; is the noise just the solenoid clicking, but not engaging, nor turning the engine? Or, is it engaging, and turning, but not cranking the engine? It may have an over-run clutch that is defective, allowing the starter itself to turn, but not drive the engine ring gear.
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Old 24-05-2016, 11:26   #13
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

You can also run a jumper cable straight to the starter from the battery to verify if there is a fuse or wiring issue. I'd do a compression check on the engine before starting even if she moves smoothly by hand.

I overfilled a gas engine once with oil. Caught it before starting. Must of ran that car around town for 20 minutes before smoke stopped coming out of the tailpipe. Looking back at it it was funny at the time it occurred it was not.

I understand your pain.
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Old 24-05-2016, 12:31   #14
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
I don't think you can actually hurt the engine with too much oil, usually it just makes a big mess.
Wrong, Diesel engines hate too much oil. The surplus oil can cause runaway where the engine fires the oil rather than diesel as its fuel. Once that starts the engine just revs faster and faster until something internally breaks. It occurs very quickly, within a minute or so. You can't stop the motor.
Try googling 'Diesel engine runaway' as there are numerous videos of the phenomena.
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Old 24-05-2016, 12:57   #15
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Re: Overfilled engine with oil

Turning by hand one revolution is not proof of no hydro lock. You must be able to turn a 4 stroke engine at least two full revolutions to bring every piston to top dead center on a compression stroke. If you can do that with similar resistance when each cylinder goes through the compression stroke I also suspect no major damage. Hopefully starter is the current issue and fuse most likely suspect if you do not even get a click when starter should energize.
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