Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Single Tank WVO systems and blending SVO WVO to thin it.

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Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby El_Gaucho » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:24 pm

I think a made a mistake by running a single tank WVO conversion in my 2001 Mitsubishi L200 2.5L turbo and blending in cold weather. It’s complicated because I am not sure if the cause of the seized engine was improper use of WVO, or the loss of engine coolant that occurred when a radiator hose cracked while driving on the highway. Or – could it be the combination of both?

Background:
My wife was driving on the highway about 2 months ago (running 100% diesel) and only noticed fluid under the truck while stopped at the gas station. There was no telling how long the fluid was draining while she was driving on the highway and she does not recall seeing the engine temperature light come on. The engine would not start after refilling the radiator in order to move the truck to the back parking lot for repairs. That was a bad sign as far as I am concerned. The engine started the next day after replacing the lines and refilling the coolant.

Symptoms and Engine Repairs:
Ever since that loss of engine coolant I started having trouble starting the truck only when the engine was hot. Morning starting was fine but it would not start after running short errand trips in town. The engine would started fine again after cooling down for a bit. Starter motor was rebuilt and that seemed to help a bit but not for long. I thought it could be a crank sensor but this model/year doesn’t have one. Then a thought it could be the fuel pump. One morning I smelled metal under the hood after trying to start it and that’s when I had it towed to my mechanic. I knew the engine had seized at that point.

After the repairs were done, my mechanic told me that there was heavy carbon deposits in the cylinders and that he thought the engine seizure was caused by the use of WVO as fuel. I didn’t get to see it personally because I was in Europe for a month-long business trip. He also told me that he did not see any metal discoloration that would be a sign of engine overheating from losing engine coolant. I am not sure as to the cause of the problem because I was running 100% diesel all winter long before the engine seizure and the problem only started gradually after we lost engine coolant. Note that winters are from June through August in South America.

All 4 cylinders needed to be bored, the cylinder head machined, the crankshaft bearing surfaces resurfaced.

Vehicle and conversion:
2001 Mitsubishi L200 2.5L Turbo. The only modification I made before the problem occurred was a fuel line heater installed between the fuel filter and the fuel pump.

I’ve since completed some additional work by adding a second fuel tank with manual ball valves mounted in the floor to switch between tanks and recirculation. I was getting ready to do a test run starting on 100% diesel when the engine started showing symptoms.

Usage/blending history:
I’ve run about 900 liters of rice oil over the course of 15 months blending with diesel and kerosene depending on the seasonal temperatures. In Uruguay where I live the summer months can reach 35C in the day and down to 20C overnight in the summer. Winters temperatures reach 10C to 15C during the day and can dip as low as -2C to -4C overnight.

I use cold upflow settling and then run it hot through a centrifuge to finish and dewater. I think the final WVO result I achieve is pretty clean oil because the fuel filters are always nice and clean when I change them and the hot pan water test only shows very small bubbles in the finished product.

My summer blend was 90% WVO and 10% kerosene. The fall and spring blends were about 50% to 60% WVO and the rest was diesel. I did notice some black smoke in the mornings when starting on these blends and that’s why I started to improve the conversion with the second tank to start on 100% diesel and switch to WVO when the engine reached temp.


Conclusions / recommendations?

I don’t want to give up on running WVO. If I’ve made mistakes I want to learn from them and move forward. It also goes without saying that I really don’t want to seize the engine again.

I’ve read many posts on this forum over the past year and that’s why I started installing the 2nd tank and valves. I may have been a bit too late though. I know running a single-tank system in cool weather was a big problem but was that the root-cause of this problem? I am not sure.

What do you think caused the seized engine?
What do I need to do to safely run WVO without a repeat seized engine?

Thanks in advance,
El_Gaucho
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby SunWizard » Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:41 pm

How often do you change your oil? That is the main cause of seizing when you wait too long, and on WVO you should do it 2x more often than manual says.

Were you having lots of smoke? Anything more than a few seconds at startup and when you floor it under load for a few seconds is a sign you could be getting carbon build up, which if it continues for a long time is bad.
YVORMV - Your veg. oil results may vary.
95 Dodge Cummins 4x4 SVO WVO conversion.
81 Mercedes 300D- stock and happy on V80/D20 blend.
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby El_Gaucho » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:39 pm

Hello and thanks for the quick reply.

I change the oil every 5000 km, as per user's manual. Do you really think that could have been the cause after a little more than one year blending WVO? More likely than a coolant loss? I'll change my oil every 2500km if I decide to continue with WVO.

The black smoke i was getting was only a few seconds upon cold starting.

Thanks again.
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby SunWizard » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:55 pm

Looking at the thickness of the oil in the pan is the way to tell if that was the cause. The damage to the crank bearings points to that being the problem. Did you ever see the oil warning light be slow to turn off at cold start? Thats a warning sign the motor oil is thick.

If WVO gets past the rings on lots of cold starts, it makes the motor oil get real thick since the wvo will poly in the pan. If enough WVO gets in the rings it can lock them up (called coking) and your failed warm starts is a warning sign that you have low compression and need to fix something. This is the main risk of blending, and why its not recommended in direct injection engines since the rings wipe excess WVO off the cylinder walls. And some WVO can get past the rings (called blowby - which you might see smoke out the crankcase vent if there is one.)

If the coolant loss was the cause, the seize would probably have been then, not much later. The main thing that overheating causes is a cracked or warped head which you should check for or it will continue to consume coolant after repairs. But without seeing the insides its really hard to say.
YVORMV - Your veg. oil results may vary.
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81 Mercedes 300D- stock and happy on V80/D20 blend.
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby El_Gaucho » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:49 am

SunWizard wrote:Looking at the thickness of the oil in the pan is the way to tell if that was the cause. The damage to the crank bearings points to that being the problem. Did you ever see the oil warning light be slow to turn off at cold start? Thats a warning sign the motor oil is thick.


SunWizard - I am starting to suspect that you are right about the engine oil. The symptoms don't point to overheating from coolant loss.

I always compared my used engine oil to new oil by rubbing some between my fingers during engine oil changes. I've not detected any viscosity differences when changing engine oil. Would I be able to detect the thickening oil that way? I guess I should remove the oil pan to have a look for poly?

I am also wondering if the exit temperature from my FPHE is hitting the required 160F. Do you know of an appropriate test that I can do to verify this?

Over these past winter months I have occasionally planned a long road trip by starting the truck on diesel when the tank was close to empty and then filling the tank with WVO when the engine warmed up from idling. Could that have been my fatal error? Could it have been too cold for my FPHE to heat the WVO to the required temperature?

Would you have predicted engine seizure based on the way i've been running WVO? I thought coking was a very rare thing when running WVO.

Thanks
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby SunWizard » Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:55 pm

El_Gaucho wrote:I always compared my used engine oil to new oil by rubbing some between my fingers during engine oil changes. I've not detected any viscosity differences when changing engine oil. Would I be able to detect the thickening oil that way?

Not until its so bad it is about to seize. Warning light at startup is better and it occurs every startup.
I guess I should remove the oil pan to have a look for poly?

No since its in the oil, not usually on surfaces unless it got really bad and then it could plug oil passages. The pan has already been pulled to do the crank bearings so no need to again.
I am also wondering if the exit temperature from my FPHE is hitting the required 160F. Do you know of an appropriate test that I can do to verify this?

Yes a non contact infrared thermometer pointed at a metal fuel pipe after the FPHE.
Over these past winter months I have occasionally planned a long road trip by starting the truck on diesel when the tank was close to empty and then filling the tank with WVO when the engine warmed up from idling. Could that have been my fatal error? Could it have been too cold for my FPHE to heat the WVO to the required temperature?

Not likely, my FPHE heats close to coolant temp even when its -10F in the winter.
Would you have predicted engine seizure based on the way i've been running WVO? I thought coking was a very rare thing when running WVO.

Too many variables to predict, but I would never recommend blends in DI engines like yours, since that is the main thing causing coking. Its only rare since running blends in DI engines is also rare, most do blends in cheap old IDI engines like mercedes which can handle it much better.
YVORMV - Your veg. oil results may vary.
95 Dodge Cummins 4x4 SVO WVO conversion.
81 Mercedes 300D- stock and happy on V80/D20 blend.
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby El_Gaucho » Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:25 am

So if I run a 2-tank system with adequate purging, change the engine oil every 2500km, and ensure my FPHE fuel exit temp is correct, I should not have further engine damage. Did I understand everything you've said SunWizard?

Is there an easy way to inspect for coking or carbon build up before its too late resulting in a seized engine? Honestly, i am scared to start running WVO again. If there is another seizure I may have to replace the engine. I am trying to save money with WVO and so far I've given back all of my fuel savings over the past 15 months with this engine repair.

Thanks again.
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby SunWizard » Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:43 am

El_Gaucho wrote:So if I run a 2-tank system with adequate purging, change the engine oil every 2500km, and ensure my FPHE fuel exit temp is correct, I should not have further engine damage. Did I understand everything you've said SunWizard?

No thats not everything. And I can't tell your level of understanding. Ensure no water in WVO, filtered well. Dont switch to WVO before engine coolant is warmed up fully.
Is there an easy way to inspect for coking or carbon build up before its too late resulting in a seized engine?

No easy inspect. Watch for anything unusual like not starting fast as normal, or more smoke, or oil warning light slow to go out (easy.) A compression test gives warning but its not easy.
YVORMV - Your veg. oil results may vary.
95 Dodge Cummins 4x4 SVO WVO conversion.
81 Mercedes 300D- stock and happy on V80/D20 blend.
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby jburke » Wed May 27, 2015 9:48 am

I operate similarly with my '98 VW TDI with Elsbett single tank conversion.
To check for polymerization of the crankcase oil I also watch the oil pressure 'gauge' when starting.
It's a red light that blinks once a second. Normally blinks twice. If the oil level drops or gets thick it takes 4 blinks. I also pull the dipstick when the engine is cold and see if the oil will form a drop and fall off. If it doesn't, the oil is way too thick. This is better than rubbing it between your fingers. If I remember I just replace the oil when winter starts and ends.
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby dragonfly » Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:45 pm

I'd like to suggest (1) Replace the engine thermostat with a higher C temp. Gets the water temp higher, thus higher WVO temp; (2) Add a Water Injection System (WIS). WIS can be made from off the shelf parts. Would help with the carbon on injector tips and combustion chamber; (3) living in winter temps, might consider changing to a two tank system with an In=Tank-Heat-Exchanger. Hose-In-Howe (HIH) or Hose-On-Hose (HOH).

I agree about changing the engine oil more frequently. Might have the crankcase oil analyzed i.e. Blackstone. To avoid piston ring coking, start up on diesel and shut down on diesel= purge VO from IP, fuel lines and injectors. When VO gets behind the piston rings, it might form carbon and freeze the rings - thus no compression thus no engine start. I've been there and done that - costly $500+ mistake for me and a whole bunch of time.
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby David » Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:47 am

I work in my fathers wrecking yard. It's a small country place yet he sells 3-4 Motors a week and all for one or another cause.
* Loss of Coolant
* Loss of oil.

I will also state this as much as some PC types might get upset. 90% of the time the damage occours when women are driving. They either don't ever see a light come on or notice a high temp gauge or they do see it and think they will just drive 20 KM to the next town or home. Then they are stunned when the motor is toast and they get a bill for a couple of grand to replace it.
The other 10% that come in are young idiot Kids that usually hit something when playing boy racer. Breaking radiator tanks and splitting hoses is common as is Knocking off oil filters on driveways and speed bumps going over them in lowered cars at 80 kmh. You would laugh at how many engines are killed by DIY mechanics not screwing sump plugs in properly and the things fall out and drop all the oil.

We sold a car like that 2 Months ago. Guy bought it, decided the oil was too black even though we thoroughly serviced it before he got it, Dropped the oil, replaced the filter, drove it down the highway about 50 KM and the thing locked up solid in a smoke screen. He came back all Rilled up and accusing us of all sorts of things till I noticed the lack of a filter when it was still on the tow truck. Knowing what happened I asked him if he checked the oil before he left. He said he did. I asked him a couple of times are you sure and then he indignantly told us he changed it himself and the filter so he did know it was right. I said well there is no filter on the thing now. Would you like us to give you a quote for a replacement engine or would you like to take it else where cause it sure as hell aint covered by warranty!

IF you have a poor service routine and run the oil till it's tar, then yes, you stand a good chance of stuffing the engine. If you change it at even double the recommended intervals, You will have no problems.
A mate of mine rant that same engine in a vehicle here called the Triton which is a ute for 3 years and the thing was running as good on WVO when he sold it to another vegger as the day he got it. I also know 2 other blokes that ran the same engine in Delicas Which are similar if not the same as an L200 only here the L200 is the poverty pack van and the Delica is the luxury, moonroof, captains chairs, front and rear aircon and every bell and whistle invented version.

I would GAURANTEE your seizure was not caused by WVO. How could fuel cause an engine to Sieze? The fuel dosen't lube the engine, what's on top of the pistons dosen't matter and if the rings were stuck then it definitely wouldn't seize.

One major detail you don't relay is how many miles this thing had on it. They don't last forever those things and have known longevity problems caused By the EGR on the things. My mates blocked theirs off and I would strongly recommend you do the same on your engine. The egr feeds a load of crap back through the engine causing things to stick and not work properly.
If you are going not to sleep at night and believe all the gloom and doom poppycock that WVO caused your failure, then go back to dino. If you are realistic and think it through, there is no way the fuel can be at fault.
You rule out the maintenance issue so it's either lack of coolant ( My most likley bet) or lack of oil. As for not seeing discoloration indicating lack of coolant, I'd like to know how that works. If you have ever pulled down Seized engines you know there is no specific indication of what caused the seizure, only that they did seize. Sometimes the bearings will be fine because they had oil but the lack of coolant locked the pistons up but other times the things get so hot the oil is burnt off and the bearings fry as well. we have had many engines come in with plastic sensors and hoses melted off the things they got so hot.

Don't panic, do your regular maintenance and you won't have any trouble unless you have a physical incident.
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby georgemcbride » Thu Nov 26, 2015 12:46 am

First thing I would do is take two parts off the engine so that you can access the most common problem areas:

- The Blower Housing
- The Cylinder Head

Keep all the bolts in the correct alignment and order for the cylinder head. Also take care with the head gasket to keep it in the correct alignment. :)
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Re: Seized Engine: I think I made a mistake

Postby georgemcbride » Fri Nov 27, 2015 1:53 am

you can look up for some issues about seized engine situations and their solutions at http://dieselgrossisten.no/. This will help you with your vehicle and its proper maintenance. :)

Image

There are several causes of seized engine and it is very important to know that the exact cause to solve the problem. :)
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