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Old 08-21-2014, 10:37 PM   #1
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Generator oil sample

I have a 2004 Camano 31 that I bought about eight months ago. Prior to buying I had oil samples taken and the The generator (a Mastervolt 3.5 KW that had only 39 hours on it) came back with a bad oil sample with elevated aluminum and iron as well as indications of antifreeze. I worked out a contingency in the contract that would protect against catastrophic failure, had the oil changed and I have run the generator about six hours since. It runs fine and nothing seems amiss as it powers everything with no trouble. I had another sample taken and it too came back with a severe warning of elevated aluminum and iron levels but no mention of antifreeze. What now? Am I best to change the oil again and just keep running it? Or would it make sense to go into the engine and inspect it and do a rebuild. With only 45 hours that doesn't seem like much even if the generator is ten years old.
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Old 08-21-2014, 11:02 PM   #2
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if the sample you are sending for analysis is just the drainings from the sump i would not worry about it too much.
are you sure you are emptying the sump ? if not then the analysis will continue to show the same contaminant, albeit it may be present in a different proportion, did the sample report give amounts or just a "more than" figure ? it is the trend of the figure that is important, draw a simple graph over a few changes if you wish to know what is really happening but i wouldnt spend too much time or money on oil reports ....oil capacity in the sump cant be much, i would keep changing the oil after every couple of hours running until it cleans up. the oil is carrying the contamination away, oil changes are very cheap maintenance and you may have a lot of dirt to clean out, possibly ten years worth, i would worry more about the oil colour than two sample reports
make sure you drain the oil immediately after stopping (before the contaminant has time to settle out) and after at least an hours run. If you cant get it all out dont worry too much, its just a percentage game
I presume there is a filter? are you changing that also? cut it open and open the paper out, if you see any significant flakes of white metal you probably have a problem that needs fixing if not I would not worry about it until after several more changes
you also need a magnet in the drain plug if possible, you will then see the iron particles which should get less each oil change and virtually disappear
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Old 08-21-2014, 11:23 PM   #3
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Talk to Mastervolt or someone very familiar with what ever brand of engine they use. I'm wondering if the numbers you are seeing are because the engine has so few hours on it after all these years. And will get lower after you run it for say another 50-100 hours.
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Old 08-22-2014, 12:25 AM   #4
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I think that unit has the Farymann engine, which is basically a lawnmower engine that runs on diesel. Either that or the one-banger Kubota. Neither has an oil filter. Oil samples will be horrible on these, don't worry about it. Just change the oil a bunch of times and clean the screen if you can. Eventually the break in products will wash out.

If anything is seriously wrong with these, they will not start at all. Time to repair comes when it won't go. Til then, worry not.
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Old 08-22-2014, 12:45 AM   #5
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Ah yes. After Googling I see what your are talking about.

Just change the oil.

It looks like it does have an "oil strainer" of some kind. As well as a magnet in the strainer.


4.2.5 Cleaning oil strainer
The oil strainer is behind a plug on the bottom of the engine. In the strainer is a magnet to catch the metal parts which are in the lubricating oil. Once per 1000 hours or when the oil is contaminated one can clean the strainer by washing it with petrol or a solvent. A green rubber plug in the capsule gives access to the strainer. Before taking out the plug one should sump the oil. Use tissues to avoid spilling oil in the capsule.
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Old 08-22-2014, 09:24 AM   #6
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One thing to watch for and your oil analysis will tell, is salt water contamination- Ski taught me this. What are the sodium- Na and Potasium- K levels in the oil. If elevated in a ratio of about 30:1 (Na:K) then that is salt water.

That could be causing the high aluminum levels. If so we can talk about a fix.

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Old 08-22-2014, 09:37 AM   #7
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Also suggest if it hasn't been mentioned- using a suction pump, along with a clean piece of tubing each time. I have a roll of the tubing and tape over the end of the roll after I cut a piece off. Your local Cat dirt equipment dealer can sell you a kit to do this. Then buy the SOS bottles from them that include postage and analysis for about $15 each.


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Old 08-22-2014, 04:17 PM   #8
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With so few hours it could be contamiants left over from the manufacturing process.
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Old 08-22-2014, 06:16 PM   #9
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It is ten years old and been abused by just sitting there. If Mastervolt gives a thumbs down on the bad samples why not go to the PO and tell him to make amends per your agreement.

If I were the PO I'd not do anything if you run it for awhile and then it craters. Strike while the iron is hot.
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Old 08-22-2014, 09:42 PM   #10
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we all have our own opinions, but imo oil analysis on small engines is a pointless excercise.
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Old 08-23-2014, 08:28 AM   #11
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I too have an opinion on oil analysis
Oil Analysis, Worth the Money ....absolutely yes ! ...... maybe not.
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Old 08-23-2014, 10:05 AM   #12
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Let me quote and paraphrase Ski in NC's post from the boatdiesel forum:

"A single pre purchase survey oil analysis won't tell you much about wear metals, but it will tell you about saltwater, coolant and fuel in the oil and as such can be very worthwhile."

These issues unless significant aren't particularly easy to catch on a seatrial, even with a top mechanic doing it. Water either from coolant or seawater can evaporate as fast as it comes in leaving the oil looking ok. A small coolant leak might be missed on the coolant overflow reservoir. Fuel dilution might be small enough to be missed in a thirty minute seatrial run.

But an oil analysis will catch it and will quantify it.

It only costs about $25 to do and if you know how to read the numbers and can (mostly) ignore the wear metal values, then I sure would do it for the propulsion engine. But for a generator engine with only 59 hours, probably not. And I don't do an oil analysis on my boat's genset on a continuing basis either.

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Old 08-24-2014, 12:01 AM   #13
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I thought I might get some reaction !!
boatpoker, post#11, clarify please before I respond, that is your article ?? which btw I largely agree with.... I did say small engines in post # 10
next debate of course will be what constitutes "small" in this context !
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Old 08-24-2014, 12:04 AM   #14
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and btw I completely agree with ski, post #4

"Just change the oil a bunch of times and clean the screen if you can. Eventually the break in products will wash out"

"Time to repair comes when it won't go"
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Old 08-24-2014, 01:00 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stone beach View Post
I thought I might get some reaction !!
boatpoker, post#11, clarify please before I respond, that is your article ?? which btw I largely agree with.... I did say small engines in post # 10
next debate of course will be what constitutes "small" in this context !
I admit it is mine

I, like everyone else have my own opinions. When things slow down I will add to that article. I have had recent experience with a lab testing the same sample three times with distinctly different results each time. All labs are not created equal.
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Old 08-24-2014, 09:34 AM   #16
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Boatpoker, that is a very informative article. It would be great as a sticky for a resource. Maybe the mods will consider this?


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Old 08-24-2014, 10:20 PM   #17
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boat poker, its a good article.

Cards on the table, I have more than 50 years in marine engineering and in that time have had many thousands of oil analysis reports across my desk.
Oil analysis definitely has a place in the industry, can be a useful tool, can provide forensic data and has applications within condition assessments and maintenace regimes.

History lesson, jump this paragraph if you are in a hurry! The process was originally created for large systems, you simply can not throw away large quantities of expensive material based on xx hours in operation, rather you sample it and determine the oil's suitablity for further use and what treatment may be required to ensure that suitability continues. Originally it covered only the basic properties, viscosity, TBN etc, still its most important use in my view. This was expanded to include wear materials (by spectographic examination) when the equipment became readily available, reasonably sized and at reasonable costs and as a kind of added service offered by the oil suppliers to differentiate themselves, thus it was essentially a marketing move for a process that was technically available at low cost. For such a process to deliver reliable results the laboratory must perform to the required quality standard AND the sample must be drawn in a controlled and repeatable manner. In such a situation the results can be trended and over time can become useful. Later, people realised it was a product / service they could sell and now it is generally available.

In engines and other systems of the size that are addressed by this forum, I believe that frequent oil changes provide absolutely the most cost effective maintenance possible, sampling provides very little for the money in real terms, the money is better spent on the oil

I dont think any of these "small" engines are adequately equipped to draw a sample in the controlled manner required (as standard) and whilst taking an oil sample from the sump or wherever may provide some added interest (and certainly in itself it does no harm) I dont actually think it does much good, it's akin to the car enthusiast polishing his car every week, it doesnt hurt it but neither does it improve any measurable parameter of the vehicle.

Value of the analysis, just like you would not expect an MD to give you a (medical) diagnosis based solely on your pulse rate, anyone who is giving a diagnosis based solely on an oil analysis is kidding you. Together with other information spectographic analysis can help with a diagnosis, but it is unlikely and it is certainly beyond the scope of "normal" mechanics. As part of a test and trial process a lead mechanic should be able to draw some conclusion which an oil analysis may reinforce but he would have probably got there anyway with the other tools at his disposal

Of the thousands of reports I have dealt with I can't remember one which saved us from a failure, although I can remember a few instances where this may have been the case had the results been returned and reviewed quickly enough. In these few cases they merely helped us in a forensic sense to understand the origin of the failure, sometimes this is not as simple as it may sound when all you have is a large pile of scrap !!

So, as always, its your boat, your money and your hobby and if taking samples adds interest it certainly does no harm in itself. The harm comes from the "quack" diagnostician who leads you to waste more money.
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Old 08-25-2014, 01:33 AM   #18
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SB

Good points, but experience and knowledge can ruin a long thread
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Old 08-25-2014, 06:45 AM   #19
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Stone Beach - Thanks for taking the time for such a detailed response. Once business slows down for the season I work on my website so when I get the chance I'd love to add your response to my article, with your permission of course.

PS My son married a Korean girl. At the moment they are in Canada doing post graduate degrees but will be moving back to Busan next summer. He loves the lifestyle there.
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Old 08-25-2014, 09:18 AM   #20
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Boat poker, you are welcome to take what you like from it, or none of it as you choose, my driver is only to pass on information and help others if I can. sorry it ended up rather long winded, tried to make it short, failed i'm afraid, information is difficult to pass on in few words. if you want more send me a pm, I note I am boring others, pm me if you want my email
Busan is close to where I live, beautiful country.
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