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Old 30 May 2008, 07:46   #1
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Removing oil from cooling system

We have an engine at work which has got oil into the cooling system, believed to be due to failure of the oil cooler heat exchanger (engine is a Volvo TAMD63L marine diesel).

What is the best way of cleaning this out? It has been flushed with fresh water but obviously there is a lot of residue in there which won't move. I think the automotive radiator cleaning products like Radflush are designed to remove scale rather than oil products, any thoughts please? Removing the engine from the boat is a non starter at the moment - it is due to be replaced in the not too distant future anyway as it has 10,000 hrs on it and is well past its best but we don't want to do it right now for various reasons, mainly that we need the boat now for the next month or so, and it takes a month to change the engine because you have to take the top off the boat to do it.

Thanks
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Old 30 May 2008, 07:54   #2
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Originally Posted by BogMonster View Post
We have an engine at work which has got oil into the cooling system, believed to be due to failure of the oil cooler heat exchanger (engine is a Volvo TAMD63L marine diesel).

What is the best way of cleaning this out? It has been flushed with fresh water but obviously there is a lot of residue in there which won't move. I think the automotive radiator cleaning products like Radflush are designed to remove scale rather than oil products, any thoughts please? Removing the engine from the boat is a non starter at the moment - it is due to be replaced in the not too distant future anyway as it has 10,000 hrs on it and is well past its best but we don't want to do it right now for various reasons, mainly that we need the boat now for the next month or so, and it takes a month to change the engine because you have to take the top off the boat to do it.

Thanks
I think I would look at it another way - how much is left in there and how badly do you want it out? Would it do the cooling system any harm to have a bit of oil circulating with the water?
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Old 30 May 2008, 08:46   #3
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Oil attacks rubber so I suppose your hoses are at risk if there's a lot of oil in there but I don't imagine a small amount will do much harm. However, a non-foaming detergent ought to do it. How about a measure of dish washing machine powder dissolved in some warm water and then added to the engine water system. Run it for a day and then drain it. It doesn't appear to corrode the metals or rubbers in a dish washer.

I use it after degreasing stuff when I need it spotlessly clean. Just for info; I have found that if it is left to soak for a while in a metal container there is a corrosion line at the water to air boundary but below the liquid it's fine.
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Old 30 May 2008, 08:56   #4
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Re the the dishwashing powder and not wanting to take away the original question, but would it do an outboard engine any harm running it up in a barrel of the stuff in order to clear residual salt and crap out of the cooling system?
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Old 30 May 2008, 08:59   #5
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There isn't a lot in there (the engine didn't lose much and there was no coolant detectable in the oil so there must have just been a pinhole in the heat exchanger we think) but it would just be nice to get it out so we are sure it is not still happening. The engine is due to be swapped out anyway in about 2-3 months and sent away to be reconditioned (we have a totally recon'ed TAMD63 sitting in the workshop waiting to go in) so things like the life of hoses isn't going to be an issue in that timescale I don't think - all those will be replaced as part of the recon work that is planned, and then this engine will be going back in on the other side to replace the 8000 hour engine in that side in due course.

Good tip on the dishwasher powder - I hadn't thought of that - thanks
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Old 30 May 2008, 09:06   #6
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I dunno but it's a bit interesting because dish washers have a built in container for salt so I'd guess the powder is made to tolerate it.
Re a salty engine, the salt deposit build up can become difficult to remove and it certainly doesn't dissolve in water the way salt normally does. Perhaps it has reacted and it isn't any longer salt (sodium chloride).
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Old 30 May 2008, 09:34   #7
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I asked that because I had an overheat alarm go off in one of my outboards which was in the saltwater for a while. When I inspected the thermostat it was completely bunged with salt and crap that looked like fish scales and powder.The thermostast housing was so full of crud that it was hardly allowing any water through. After I cleaned it out it ran okay in the water barrel for an hour without the alarm coming on and was clean when I inspected it again. I'm just worried that any salt residue elsewhere in the cooling system may break off rather like a clot and rest at the thermostat/housing again.
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Old 30 May 2008, 13:59   #8
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To remove encrusted salt try this: http://www.saltawayproducts.com/

To remove the oil? I would just leave that small amount alone for the next couple months. Its not going to do any harm. Flushing with a degreaser and refilling with fresh coolant is grand and all, but not really needed.
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Old 30 May 2008, 15:01   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwalker View Post
Oil attacks rubber so I suppose your hoses are at risk if there's a lot of oil in there but I don't imagine a small amount will do much harm.
Agreed... it wont

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwalker View Post
However, a non-foaming detergent ought to do it.
Agreed... it will

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwalker View Post
It doesn't appear to corrode the metals or rubbers in a dish washer.
Cos the Dish washer interior is stainless... that's why. (But some non dishwashersafe items do get damaged)

Very Interesting point though !! The stuff is a Phosphate Alkali and use oxygen based bleaching agents.. I have one question

Whats your favourite tablet ?
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Old 30 May 2008, 16:13   #10
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I would be careful of dishwasher powder as it can cake up. Mix it with warm water first.

People mention salt in their engines - remember it's not just NaCl - there are also potassium chlorides - Calcium Chlorides - Aluminium Chlorides and a variety of sulphates - quite a mix really!!!
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