Aluminum in engine oil

dogtagger

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Hey guys, first time poster here. Great site, I've been lurking here a while. I have a question about an oil sample result I just got back. I had a survey done on a 32 H&H with a Cummins 6BT 5.9 in her. The oil sample was taken after the sea trial and shows high aluminum in the oil. The report says that "Aluminum(Al) is high fo only 15 hours on oil. Possible piston wear. Inspect the filter(s) for metal and debris. If a lot of metal/debris is found, stop unit for inspection."

I talked to the service manager at Cummins Northeast and he said that there are two places aluminum could be coming from; either pistons or an aluminum bearing in the turbo.

Does anyone have opinions on what the bottom line is on this condition? I'd hate to buy a boat that needs an engine rebuild anytime soon...

Thanks
 

yanmar

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Very difficult to tell with out a teardown . That engine if i'm not mistaken is not a wet liner so if you were to eat a piston you would have to bore and sleeve .
 

plowin

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First, why is there only 15hrs on the oil. It seems possible that someone is trying to cover up a problem that they know about already. I would run the engine and then get a new sample and test it again. Or, even better change the oil have the guy put a few hours on it and then test it again. Or even better just keep looking there are plenty of boats around. Nice job on running an oil analysis!! They are often well worth it.
 

BillD

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Hey guys, first time poster here. Great site, I've been lurking here a while. I have a question about an oil sample result I just got back. I had a survey done on a 32 H&H with a Cummins 6BT 5.9 in her. The oil sample was taken after the sea trial and shows high aluminum in the oil. The report says that "Aluminum(Al) is high fo only 15 hours on oil. Possible piston wear. Inspect the filter(s) for metal and debris. If a lot of metal/debris is found, stop unit for inspection."

I talked to the service manager at Cummins Northeast and he said that there are two places aluminum could be coming from; either pistons or an aluminum bearing in the turbo.

Does anyone have opinions on what the bottom line is on this condition? I'd hate to buy a boat that needs an engine rebuild anytime soon...

Thanks
Dogtagger,

Couple of things come to mind.

1. One time random oil samples can be very misleading and for the most part are useless in diagnosing an internal engine issue.
2. Scuffed/extremely worn pistons can ONLY be from a major overheat or extreme overloading of the engine.
3. Turbo bearing change is nothing big.


OK, that being stated, were you on the boat during the seatrial?
If so, how did the Cummins 370 start? Was the engine stone cold?
Did the engine fire right up after a few seconds? How did the engine run @ cruise rpms? (2200-2500)
Did you have the engine room hatch open while @ cruise rpms?
If so, did you notice any light blue haze or very light smoke oily mist coming from the breather tube on the engine? Tube is left hand side up under the back of the aftercooler.

If you are REALLY intrested in that 32 H&H with the 370, maybe it's time to do a little bit more "survey" of the engine. You can easily judge if the engine has normal blowby or major blowby @ cruise rpms. Couple of ways to do it with a rag in hand.

If the blowby seems normal for an engine with the hours run (what are the hours on the engine) and the beast starts right up from a cold start, runs good @ cruise speeds and can reach an accurate @ THE MINIMUM 3,000 rpms with the boat fully loaded, I would not walk away from the boat due to a one time oil sample.

Just IMO,

Bill D
 

dogtagger

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Dogtagger,

Couple of things come to mind.

1. One time random oil samples can be very misleading and for the most part are useless in diagnosing an internal engine issue.
2. Scuffed/extremely worn pistons can ONLY be from a major overheat or extreme overloading of the engine.
3. Turbo bearing change is nothing big.


OK, that being stated, were you on the boat during the seatrial?
If so, how did the Cummins 370 start? Was the engine stone cold?
Did the engine fire right up after a few seconds? How did the engine run @ cruise rpms? (2200-2500)
Did you have the engine room hatch open while @ cruise rpms?
If so, did you notice any light blue haze or very light smoke oily mist coming from the breather tube on the engine? Tube is left hand side up under the back of the aftercooler.

If you are REALLY intrested in that 32 H&H with the 370, maybe it's time to do a little bit more "survey" of the engine. You can easily judge if the engine has normal blowby or major blowby @ cruise rpms. Couple of ways to do it with a rag in hand.

If the blowby seems normal for an engine with the hours run (what are the hours on the engine) and the beast starts right up from a cold start, runs good @ cruise speeds and can reach an accurate @ THE MINIMUM 3,000 rpms with the boat fully loaded, I would not walk away from the boat due to a one time oil sample.

Just IMO,

Bill D
Thanks for the quick replies.

I was on the boat during the sea trial, and the engine did not start quickly at all-- it seemed somewhat cold blooded to me. The air temp was mid 30s and the engine hadn't been run in a couple of days. Engine has 1300ish hours, and seemed to run ok, though there was quite a bit of steam for a short while. Guy doing the survey couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from, but it was mostly concentrated around the exhaust riser. By the time we completed the trial, the steam had stopped. The boat topped out at 20+ knots @2900 RPM. There were three of us on board, and 100 gallons of fuel-- not a heavy load. Unfortunately the boat is pretty far away, and most likely out of the water by now, so follow up sea trials probably aren't going to happen.

Unfortunately my knowledge of diesels is nill, I've owned an outboard Sisu 22 for the last 32 years. I built the boat as a kit in 1980.

The H&H has a couple other issues, most troubling to me is the lifting rails, which seem to have allowed some water into the divinycell core. Not impossible to fix, but definitely a pain in the butt. I never installed the spray rails and bilge guards on the Sisu for that exact reason.

Anyway, thanks and keep the comments coming.

Quick update: I talked to the broker this morning, and the owner is having Cummins Northest check the filter (cut it open and check for metal), test compression and run a bore scope into the cylinders. My question is: if there is damage to a piston or pistons, would the bore scope pick that up?
 
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BillD

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Thanks for the quick replies.

I was on the boat during the sea trial, and the engine did not start quickly at all-- it seemed somewhat cold blooded to me. The air temp was mid 30s and the engine hadn't been run in a couple of days. Engine has 1300ish hours, and seemed to run ok, though there was quite a bit of steam for a short while. Guy doing the survey couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from, but it was mostly concentrated around the exhaust riser. By the time we completed the trial, the steam had stopped. The boat topped out at 20+ knots @2900 RPM. There were three of us on board, and 100 gallons of fuel-- not a heavy load. Unfortunately the boat is pretty far away, and most likely out of the water by now, so follow up sea trials probably aren't going to happen.

Unfortunately my knowledge of diesels is nill, I've owned an outboard Sisu 22 for the last 32 years. I built the boat as a kit in 1980.

The H&H has a couple other issues, most troubling to me is the lifting rails, which seem to have allowed some water into the divinycell core. Not impossible to fix, but definitely a pain in the butt. I never installed the spray rails and bilge guards on the Sisu for that exact reason.

Anyway, thanks and keep the comments coming.

Quick update: I talked to the broker this morning, and the owner is having Cummins Northest check the filter (cut it open and check for metal), test compression and run a bore scope into the cylinders. My question is: if there is damage to a piston or pistons, would the bore scope pick that up?
Can you post a few pics of the engine?
Also, is this 32 H&H the one on Yachtworld that is "sale pending"?, asking price is 89,900. This boat has a Cummins 6BTA 370. I think the engine had 1200 hrs stated in the listing.
Curious
 

Pedlyr

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Thanks for the quick replies.

I was on the boat during the sea trial, and the engine did not start quickly at all-- it seemed somewhat cold blooded to me. The air temp was mid 30s and the engine hadn't been run in a couple of days. Engine has 1300ish hours, and seemed to run ok, though there was quite a bit of steam for a short while. Guy doing the survey couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from, but it was mostly concentrated around the exhaust riser. By the time we completed the trial, the steam had stopped. The boat topped out at 20+ knots @2900 RPM. There were three of us on board, and 100 gallons of fuel-- not a heavy load. Unfortunately the boat is pretty far away, and most likely out of the water by now, so follow up sea trials probably aren't going to happen.

Unfortunately my knowledge of diesels is nill, I've owned an outboard Sisu 22 for the last 32 years. I built the boat as a kit in 1980.

The H&H has a couple other issues, most troubling to me is the lifting rails, which seem to have allowed some water into the divinycell core. Not impossible to fix, but definitely a pain in the butt. I never installed the spray rails and bilge guards on the Sisu for that exact reason.

Anyway, thanks and keep the comments coming.

Quick update: I talked to the broker this morning, and the owner is having Cummins Northest check the filter (cut it open and check for metal), test compression and run a bore scope into the cylinders. My question is: if there is damage to a piston or pistons, would the bore scope pick that up?
Borescope should be able to see excessive wear to liners, valves or piston crown. A lot of times piston skirt wear/ or damage shows up in the liners.

FWIW, a borescope is a lighted optical eyepiece viewer. It has a long flexible "sight" that fits in small openings.

They will probably pull the injector nozzles (tips) for the borescope and compression check which might also show any issues. Just remember, Cummins 6B's are a dry liner which means they can't be changed easily.

When you said "steam" from the riser, sounds like you are talking inside the engine space? Like an exhaust leak?
 
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unclefish

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did the boat have a vibration in it did you notice. And didn't the 5.9 have some type of frt cover problem where they drilled a standard hole and put metric guide pins in.
 
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Diesel Engine Surveyor

I work closely with Nate Tynan, a SAMS diesel engine surveyor. I would strongly recommend having him take a look at that engine before purchasing that boat. You can contact Nate at Windward Power Systems in Wareham Ma. the number is (508) 295-5577
 

BillD

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Thanks for the quick replies.

I was on the boat during the sea trial, and the engine did not start quickly at all-- it seemed somewhat cold blooded to me. The air temp was mid 30s and the engine hadn't been run in a couple of days. Engine has 1300ish hours, and seemed to run ok, though there was quite a bit of steam for a short while. Guy doing the survey couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from, but it was mostly concentrated around the exhaust riser. By the time we completed the trial, the steam had stopped. The boat topped out at 20+ knots @2900 RPM. There were three of us on board, and 100 gallons of fuel-- not a heavy load. Unfortunately the boat is pretty far away, and most likely out of the water by now, so follow up sea trials probably aren't going to happen.

Unfortunately my knowledge of diesels is nill, I've owned an outboard Sisu 22 for the last 32 years. I built the boat as a kit in 1980.

The H&H has a couple other issues, most troubling to me is the lifting rails, which seem to have allowed some water into the divinycell core. Not impossible to fix, but definitely a pain in the butt. I never installed the spray rails and bilge guards on the Sisu for that exact reason.

Anyway, thanks and keep the comments coming.

Quick update: I talked to the broker this morning, and the owner is having Cummins Northest check the filter (cut it open and check for metal), test compression and run a bore scope into the cylinders. My question is: if there is damage to a piston or pistons, would the bore scope pick that up?
Borescope should be able to see excessive wear to liners, valves or piston crown. A lot of times piston skirt wear/ or damage shows up in the liners.

FWIW, a borescope is a lighted optical eyepiece viewer. It has a long flexible "sight" that fits in small openings.

They will probably pull the injector nozzles (tips) for the borescope and compression check which might also show any issues. Just remember, Cummins 6B's are a dry liner which means they can't be changed easily.

When you said "steam" from the riser, sounds like you are talking inside the engine space? Like an exhaust leak?
did the boat have a vibration in it did you notice. And didn't the 5.9 have some type of frt cover problem where they drilled a standard hole and put metric guide pins in.
A few comments and a suggestion or two..

1. As far as the 6BTA 370 seeming "cold blooded" when starting in 30ishF weather that is kinda normal with no pre heater or block heater. I can see in the picture you posted the air intake pre heater is not hooked up. (that is fine, I don't use the circuit either but I have block heaters). So yes a "cold 30F start" will result in initial stumbling/blue/white smoke that will clear. All normal.

2. The white smoke or vapor around the exhaust manifold could be a leak @ the exhaust/turbo flange. Hard to say without seeing it in person and simple enough to resolve. First thing I'd do is take the Cummins elbow off and check to see if the exhaust side of the turbo has "seen any salt water".

3. The owner can cut the oil filter open and have the filter media that examined for metal etc. Right now I'd hold off on the compression test. Kinda meaningless. A better way is to fire up the engine and while @ idle feel for any pulsations with your hand @ the breather tube (hidden unless you know where it is) or the oil fill hole on valve cover #1 and see with your eyes what you have for blowby fumes if any. Remember some blowby is normal with an engine that has 1300 hrs.

4. Of concern to me is the WOT of only "2900 rpms". IF, and it's only an if with analog gauges, the rpms are accurate on the gauge, then a WOT of 2900 =s an overloaded engine. If in fact the engine has some tired piston rings, running the engine overloaded over time would explain the aluminum if the oil sample "means anything". That engine needs to see minimum 3100 @ WOT with the boat loaded as you'll use it. BTW, did the surveyor measure WOT rpm with a photo tach ?? or use the gauge?

5. The Cummins 5.9 has a parent bore engine block. No liners!
To replace rings or a piston or clean up a cylinder the best way is to hone, over bore to next size piston. One jug, two jugs or all six. Not expenive for parts. NO LINERS !!

6. I'm not sure what is meant by the "vibration up front" comment. The Cummins 5.9 is a super smooth six cylinder. There is a bit of "gear noise" up front under the timing chain cover but the engine itself is super smooth.

7. A word of warning on hiring a "marine diesel engine" surveyor. I hired a highly referred "Cummins ONLY engine surveyor" in S. FL to "survey" ($1000) the Cummins 370s in my Blackfin back in 2008.
Running and learning the 1995 6BTA 370s that came with the boat and then repowering a year later with new REMAN 370s......let's just say for a highly referred Cummins marine engine specialist he did not survey the engine the way it needs to be done.

Finally, if you really like that 32 H&H, I would not walk away from the boat because of the Cummins 370 in the boat. You need more hands on assessment of the motor and information to make an informed decision. If I had to bet, that 370 has a ton more reliable hours left in her. After that, pop it out, bolt a new REMAN in.

Lots more to go over with you on assessing this 6BTA.

For what it's worth,

Bill D
 

unclefish

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billd. If you go on you tube punch in 5.9 cummins dowl pin. Take a look what happens when the dowl pin fails. That front cover is made out of aluminum and gets chewed up pretty bad. Could be where the aluminum is coming from. I am not saying it is bad engine just needs to be checked. And the vibration might be coming from that. I went down to look at that boat and some guy was down there and mentioned to me that the boat had a vibration in it.
 

BillD

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billd. If you go on you tube punch in 5.9 cummins dowl pin. Take a look what happens when the dowl pin fails. That front cover is made out of aluminum and gets chewed up pretty bad. Could be where the aluminum is coming from. I am not saying it is bad engine just needs to be checked. And the vibration might be coming from that. I went down to look at that boat and some guy was down there and mentioned to me that the boat had a vibration in it.
Unc,
I just did a search on "boatdiesel forum"....Cummins...."dowel pin failure"....back to 1997 to today.
A few posts by the Cummins forum moderators, Cummins seervice techs and the like.Not ONE MENTION of any Cummins 6B owner losing an engine over a failed dowel pin.

After reviewing all the posts, emailing one or two marine Cummins guys in the know on the subject. The end result is the "Cummins 5.9 killer dowel pin" issue, at least in the Cummins marine engine database is at best a "fable".

For what it's worth, Bill D
 

Pedlyr

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A few comments and a suggestion or two..

5. The Cummins 5.9 has a parent bore engine block. No liners!
To replace rings or a piston or clean up a cylinder the best way is to hone, over bore to next size piston. One jug, two jugs or all six. Not expenive for parts. NO LINERS !!


Bill D
Sorry Guys...

Bill is right. Detroits have dry liners....no coolant around the liner as in a wet liner. As he said 6B's blocks are bored with no liners. I "mispeaked "!
 

captainlarry84

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Don't Panic....

My opinion on this:

First of all, a good oil sample requires approximately 50 hours or more. The more hours the better.

15 hours on oil tells you little, however why is the aluminum so high?

My question is how did he take the sample?

The proper way to take the sample is to remove the dip stick and measure the length.

Next insert the pull tube so it is only ½ way down into the crank case.

You want mid flowing very hot oil for you sample.

If the probe tube hit the bottom of the pan and you pulled oil you will get all kinds of false metal readings.

I think the sample must be redone under the guidelines listed above.
 

BillD

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My opinion on this:

First of all, a good oil sample requires approximately 50 hours or more. The more hours the better.

15 hours on oil tells you little, however why is the aluminum so high?

My question is how did he take the sample?

The proper way to take the sample is to remove the dip stick and measure the length.

Next insert the pull tube so it is only ½ way down into the crank case.

You want mid flowing very hot oil for you sample.

If the probe tube hit the bottom of the pan and you pulled oil you will get all kinds of false metal readings.

I think the sample must be redone under the guidelines listed above.
I agree,

One or two "oil samples" are meaningless. Way to many variables.

Aluminum is indicative of a major overheat or a prolonged overload on the engine (over propped).

I'd measure the blowby by hand. If there was significant "pulsing" with some oily mist coming out of the oil filler on the front valve cover or breather tube I'd be suspect. Then I would request a "measured blowby test" by gauge. If showed all within normal for 1300 hours I'd not worry about worn rings etc.
 
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