by Robert Sanborn on Tue, Jul 17, 2007, who was a member of the STLE Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers for 15 years.
I received a call from an automotive supply dealer with my trencher lost its oil, and it’s the additive you sold me. He said the customer put in the product and in only a half hour there was no oil. The individual panicked and thought it was the additive. I asked for an oil sample so we could send it to WearCheck an independent lab in NC. Until the sample comes, which will give us a more definite picture of the state of the trencher engine, lets look at the possible causes.
Additive the Cause?
First of all, since a half hour is far too fast for the addition of a product to be the cause any real wear, we must assume it’s an existing problem. The cause of no oil reading on the dip-stick has to be related to two basic possibilities: either the engine is old and there is severe blow by, or seals /drain plug is leaking badly. Most likely the engine is old and the oil analysis will show the wear. What happens in this case is that if the cross-hatching on the cylinder liner gets worn, called bore polishing and the rings cannot manage the oil, severe blow by takes place. This would be quite obviously as a blue tint would appear coming out of the exhaust.
Using a friction reducer with extreme pressure agents could maximize the problem because of the reduction in friction. If this is the case and the individual wants to keep using the trencher engine without rebuilding, then I would advise using a viscosity index improver. You can buy these over the counter in the form of Motor Honey Oil or STP. Basically thickening the oil decreases the light ends of the oil burning and will slow down the burning any seal any leaks.
I have seen that after the use of an additive with heavy detergents this to happen, and if the cylinder liners cross hatching is still in tact than the problem will correct itself as the rings will re-seat and the engine would burn even less oil than before using the product. However, if the cross-hatching is gone and the blow by is excessive you need to re-build the engine or go to a heavier viscosity oil such as a 40 w and add a viscosity index improver as mentioned previously. With case hardened steel, engines don’t fail in less than a half hour unless the engine is totally starved of oil and even then it takes a while for the heat to build up to seize an engine. Almost certainly the oil analysis will confirm the wear particles iron, lead, and copper and prove the engine was already on its last legs.
My understanding is that the engine did not seize, but obviously what happened is a ring stuck and blow by is the cause. Anyone in business using a piece of equipment that they must depend on to work daily should always use inexpensive oil analysis program for their equipment, that way you know when something might fail and can schedule repairs on off time when you do not need to use that piece of equipment.
I will follow up when I get the oil sample and the independent lab analyzes the contamination, wear, and additive content.