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Old 07-18-2020, 09:01 AM   #1
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Engine oil level. Any way to monitor it remotely?

The recent thread on ST44 Daily Engine Checks prompted me to create this thread.


The only way to check the oil level in my 165hp turbo diesel engine is via the dipstick. In order to do this, I must take up the carpet and padding in the main salon and raise a very large and heavy engine hatch (that has the dining table permanently bolted to it). A real PITA.


I thought maybe I could find some type of electro-sensor device I could insert in place of the dipstick, such that I could have an oil-level gauge at the helm. So far, I haven't been able to come up with one. Has anyone ever seen anything like this? Or, does anyone have any alternative solution to suggest?


I have ruled out cutting an access hole in the hatch because the construction of the hatch would not allow me to position such a hole in the necessary location.



Thank you, in advance, for your thoughts on this!
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Old 07-18-2020, 09:09 AM   #2
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Not real practical for a level measuring device. There is a lot of fluid motion in the pan, a lot of splashing and rapid pressure pulses. All make level sensing instruments problematic.

You might be able to modify the dipstick so it is in a better location. Maybe cut down the tube and use a shorter stick that could be accessed by the side of the engine. Assuming you can get to the side of the engine!!
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Old 07-18-2020, 09:12 AM   #3
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Thanks for your comments, Ski. I really am only interested in measuring the oil-level remotely when the boat is at the dock. Relocating the dipstick is something that hadn't occurred to me. This, along with cutting an access hole/hatch in the side of the engine cocoon might be a workable option.
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Old 07-18-2020, 09:52 AM   #4
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If there is a way you can view the appropriate part of the engine without having to lift the heavy hatch, how about a sump oil sight gauge like this? https://www.grainger.com/product/LDI...oupling-5HD47?
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Old 07-18-2020, 09:59 AM   #5
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Interesting option, Rich! Maybe if I position it cleverly and make a small cutout in the cocoon at just the right spot, this could work, as I have fairly easy access to the engine room outside of the engine cocoon. Maybe this is a wild new use for webcams we've been discussing in other threads...
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Old 07-18-2020, 10:06 AM   #6
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Anything that makes me go into the ER often is a GOOD think in my mind. While preflighting oil level, I'm also looking at overall condition, would probably see coolant leaks, smell any electrical issues, etc. Same reason I change my own vehicle oil . . . don't really save much money, but it gets me under the hood and under the car to look at other stuff . . .
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Old 07-18-2020, 10:24 AM   #7
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No problem, except pan has to be removed to fit measuring device.


The L129 Series Lube Level Swichgage instrument is a combination lube level indicating gauge and adjustable low and high limit switches. It provides protection against low oil level or high level caused by overfill or fuel or water seepage into the crankcase.

L129 Series | Murphy by Enovation Controls

Murphy has other systems that are easier to install.


When cruising we do our pre- start check just after engine shutdown, so if a rapid departure is ever needed , turn the key and GO!
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Old 07-18-2020, 10:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowgoesit View Post
Anything that makes me go into the ER often is a GOOD think in my mind. While preflighting oil level, I'm also looking at overall condition, would probably see coolant leaks, smell any electrical issues, etc. Same reason I change my own vehicle oil . . . don't really save much money, but it gets me under the hood and under the car to look at other stuff . . .
I can't agree more. In fact I like going in every hour or two while on long passages, sniffing around and taking temperature readings. An ER setup as described in the OP is completely unacceptable to me.

Andy what about coolant and transmission oil levels too in addition to a number of other "preflight" checks?
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Old 07-18-2020, 10:36 AM   #9
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I can't agree more. In fact I like going in every hour or two while on long passages, sniffing around and taking temperature readings. An ER setup as described in the OP is completely unacceptable to me.

Andy what about coolant and transmission oil levels too in addition to a number of other "preflight" checks?



I fully agree about the pre-flights and regular check of all this stuff. It's not something that occurred to me, however, before I bought the boat. I'm pretty much stuck with the setup I have, so I have to try my best to strike a balance between checks and practicality. It seems that the "solution" I've arrived at is to check engine room/oil/coolant,etc ALWAYS before going out to sea. On days spent traversing limited distance in canals, however, I only check every few days.


The only other option I can see is to sell the boat and get one with better engine access.
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Old 07-18-2020, 10:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottC View Post
Interesting option, Rich! Maybe if I position it cleverly and make a small cutout in the cocoon at just the right spot, this could work, as I have fairly easy access to the engine room outside of the engine cocoon. Maybe this is a wild new use for webcams we've been discussing in other threads...
I was thinking camera when I wrote that, and anything that gets a camera into the ER is a good thing. The John Deere engine in the 55-foot trawler I delivered in Mar-Apr had a very heavy duty style sight gauge which was designed to be read while operating the engine. If you have a sump drain hose plumbed into the engine's drain plug like a lot of boats do, you can simply tee off that line to the sight gauge and with flex hose get it sited where you need to see the level at rest or maybe while operating.
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Old 07-18-2020, 10:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
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No problem, except pan has to be removed to fit measuring device.


The L129 Series Lube Level Swichgage instrument is a combination lube level indicating gauge and adjustable low and high limit switches. It provides protection against low oil level or high level caused by overfill or fuel or water seepage into the crankcase.

L129 Series | Murphy by Enovation Controls

Murphy has other systems that are easier to install.


When cruising we do our pre- start check just after engine shutdown, so if a rapid departure is ever needed , turn the key and GO!



Thank you for the Murphy tips, FF! I was not aware of these products.
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Old 07-18-2020, 11:02 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgano View Post
If you have a sump drain hose plumbed into the engine's drain plug like a lot of boats do, you can simply tee off that line to the sight gauge and with flex hose get it sited where you need to see the level at rest or maybe while operating.

I do! I do! Thanks!!
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Old 07-18-2020, 12:10 PM   #13
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A simpler and maybe cheaper approach is to lengthen the dipstick tube and dipstick.
The tube can be a section of oil compatible hose and the stick can be steel cable.
A small access port could be cut to avoid lifting the whole floor section to check it.
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Old 07-18-2020, 12:19 PM   #14
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A simpler and maybe cheaper approach is to lengthen the dipstick tube and dipstick.
The tube can be a section of oil compatible hose and the stick can be steel cable.
A small access port could be cut to avoid lifting the whole floor section to check it.



Interesting idea, KnotYet! Hadn't thought of that one either.
Thank you!
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Old 07-18-2020, 12:33 PM   #15
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Interesting idea, KnotYet! Hadn't thought of that one either.
Thank you!
Cars and trucks have used cable as a dipstick for a long time.
With a pipe nipple on the free end of the extension hose you can just
cap it between oil level checks and store the cable dipstick nearby, too.
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Old 07-18-2020, 04:05 PM   #16
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How about a motorized hatch lift. Make it easier to get into the er.
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Old 07-18-2020, 06:47 PM   #17
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Some cars have an electronic oil level sensor that check oil level before you start the engine, you may look at retrofitting this in your boat.

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Old 07-18-2020, 07:04 PM   #18
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Allison transmissions self monitor fluid levels and there is an Allison guy in iRV2 sister site to TF that really knows his stuff.
You might query him how Allison monitors levels.
He is known as Allisonman
https://www.irv2.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4327474
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Old 07-18-2020, 07:51 PM   #19
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The ER is the classroom...

A couple boat buddies had similar ER access problems with their Krogen Manatees. They "invested" in ER hatch modifications that joined 2 or 3 separate panels into 1 rigid panel, then hinged it and added gas shocks to make it easier to life. They were both satisfied with the modification and improved ER access.

I go to the ER ~2-3 hours underway, or immediately if I see, hear, smell or feel a change I do not recognize. I would never want to tempt myself with "I wonder what that was..., oh well, too much of a pain to open the ER..."

On my ER visits, I have discovered several variances before they became problems. I have also tightened my understanding of normal systems operations, and been able to trouble shoot performance underway, then affect and confirm changes later. One example: tweaked my alternators & regulators to have proper battery charge profiles while also de-rating my alternators ~20%. Great performance, less wear and heat.

Especially with a new-to-me boat, the ER is the classroom.
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Old 07-18-2020, 08:04 PM   #20
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I've never tried it, but I wonder how well a Maretron pressure transducer would work, teed into the drain plug somehow? With the engine off, I expect it would work flawlessly. But running, there might be too much splashing and pulsing. But there are a variety of smoothing settings for the data, so it may very well work. Now I'm thinking I might try it on my boat....
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