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#2733151 - 09/03/12 05:22 AM LS1 Sludge
2004Corvette Offline


Registered: 09/02/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Virginia
OK I am looking for recommendations on how best to address this problem:

Sludge

Here's the story:

My 2004 Vette daily driver, 165,000 miles, started making noises like a stuck (collapsed, bled-down, whatever you want to call it) lifter, and for about a half year had been consuming coolant (dex) at the rate of maybe a half gallon every 3000 miles. I had tried unsuccessfully to find the "leak" but never could. When the lifter noise started becoming more frequent and lasting longer, I decided to open up the engine to see what I could find. You can see the results. The sludge in the oil pan cover (you have to drop almost the entire front suspension to remove the oil pan, and I am not keen to do that) was fully an inch deep in most places.

Careful inspection by myself and my machine shop man, who is very experienced with the LS1 engine, has not revealed any source for the coolant contamination, either in the heads, the head gasket, or the water pump, which i am replacing.

At this point, I have had the heads trued up, replaced valve springs and stem oil seals, new lifters, and of course cleaned the oil pan cover. I can't really get at the crank and have, at least at this point in time, no energy left to remove the timing cover on the front of the engine. I am getting ready to reassemble the thing, and my plan is:

Reassemble, fill with a good detergent oil such as rotella t, start and run up to normal driving for 20-30 minutes, drain the oil, inspecting more carefully than I usually do (mind you, I have followed the oil change recommendations given to me by the DIC since owning the car, and have always used the recommended mobile 1 with each oil change), and repeat until I can be satisfied that the sludge will not be a problem. I know there are a lot of sludge removal products, but I think the use of a good high detergent oil will be sufficient, at least initially.

I intend to watch the coolant like a hawk, and if/when there is the first sign of continued consumption, I will use a can of stop leak, which i intend to add as directly to the block as i can. I do not intend to tear any further into the block at this point, and if I haven't fixed the problem with maybe 50 hours of my labor spread out over 2 months, and about $850 in parts, I will just trade in the old girl. She's in pretty good shape, new seat covers, but needing tires, and I am probably going to go with a C7 after they have been out for a few years (as long as they do not look too much like the new Camaro)

DT MacMillan

eek

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#2733156 - 09/03/12 05:34 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
hal2626 Offline


Registered: 12/10/06
Posts: 209
Loc: central texas
Just curious...did you buy this car new? I assume the oil life monitor indicated that your oil be changed at 10 to 12K intervals,is that about right? If you did not buy new,did the previous owner use M1 at reasonable intervals?
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#2733169 - 09/03/12 05:57 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
Donald Offline


Registered: 03/21/04
Posts: 13756
Loc: Upstate NY
You need to get a UOA of the oil after some miles to see if there is coolant present. I would use Auto-Rx to clean and rinse. I would not use any sealer in the coolant. Find the problem. Maybe some UV dye in the coolant to help spot the leak if its not in the oil.
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#2733179 - 09/03/12 06:18 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 21691
Loc: NY
Pressure test the cooling system to verify if it is leaking or not, and fix ASAP if it is. Kreen works very well and fast for cleaning up an engine of sludge and varnish.
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#2733182 - 09/03/12 06:29 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
2004Corvette Offline


Registered: 09/02/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Virginia
Bought it new, and have pressure tested...

I've read a little about auto-rx, but even for extreme sludge, the program seems to allow for 3k miles right away. I know there is a history between auto-rx and bitog, so i am kind of in a quandry as to the best course to take.

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#2733186 - 09/03/12 06:48 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: demarpaint]
Turk Offline


Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 8172
Loc: MN
Originally Posted By: demarpaint
Pressure test the cooling system to verify if it is leaking or not, and fix ASAP if it is. Kreen works very well and fast for cleaning up an engine of sludge and varnish.


Right! thumbsup

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#2733190 - 09/03/12 06:58 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
Slick17601 Offline


Registered: 12/04/04
Posts: 1236
Loc: Pennsylvania
Curious what oil your were using and your interval?

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#2733212 - 09/03/12 07:25 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
Bottom_Feeder Offline


Registered: 12/07/08
Posts: 1493
Loc: Occupied Virginia
Originally Posted By: 2004Corvette
Reassemble, fill with a good detergent oil such as rotella t, start and run up to normal driving for 20-30 minutes, drain the oil...

Not sure what you're expecting this to do for you...?

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#2733216 - 09/03/12 07:41 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: Bottom_Feeder]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 21691
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: Bottom_Feeder
Originally Posted By: 2004Corvette
Reassemble, fill with a good detergent oil such as rotella t, start and run up to normal driving for 20-30 minutes, drain the oil...

Not sure what you're expecting this to do for you...?


Really! A perfect waste of good oil IMO, unless it would be used to wash an engine flush out, no mention of that though. Even then I'd opt for something really cheap for a 20-30 minute run to rinse out a flush.
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#2733237 - 09/03/12 08:08 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: demarpaint]
Rand Offline


Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 8092
Loc: Barberton,Ohio
So you probably have sludge from coolant contamination.

I would.. fill with oil.. at 1000miles change the oil. So you have flushed out almost all oil oil remnants.

then refill and get a uoa at 1000-2000 miles to see if you have continuing coolant contamination.
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#2733250 - 09/03/12 08:32 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
bruno Offline


Registered: 10/08/07
Posts: 397
Loc: new Jersey
Any chance the block is porous ?

Rare but it happens .

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#2733252 - 09/03/12 08:38 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
Vikas Offline


Registered: 07/22/05
Posts: 8444
Loc: NorthEast
I have been on this forum now for almost a decade but this is the first time I am seeing sludged vehicle which was purchased new by a BITOG'r :-( The most logical explanation is that coolant contamination has caused this and there was not much that OP could have done to prevent it i.e. OCI's are not be blamed here.

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#2733259 - 09/03/12 08:45 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
NHGUY Offline


Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 3488
Loc: USA
If you own a GM V8 or V6 its a given that you will eventually have internal Dexcool leaks due to their low grade gaskets.Nobody wants to hear it,but if I owned one of the effected,I would be pro active and do head gaskets and manifold gaskets at 80K with a quality brand and avoid GMs own like the plague.Every vehicle has its known quirks (like Triton V8s spark plug issues),knowing that going in and accepting the costs involved is part of owning that particular vehicle.Toyotas sludge,Chrysler 2.7s sludge,Ford VV carb was a disaster,Odyessy and Sienna have tranny problems,MINIs have power steering fires,Subarus have head problems,old 90s Fords had alternator fires,later Fords have cruise control issues....the days of the "perfect" car without issues is a dream.

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#2733262 - 09/03/12 08:48 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
Chris142 Offline


Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 11738
Loc: apple valley, ca
replace the heads! they are known to leak on the valve spring side
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#2733263 - 09/03/12 08:50 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: Vikas]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 21691
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: Vikas
I have been on this forum now for almost a decade but this is the first time I am seeing sludged vehicle which was purchased new by a BITOG'r :-( The most logical explanation is that coolant contamination has caused this and there was not much that OP could have done to prevent it i.e. OCI's are not be blamed here.


Good point Vikas, and an example of why we never, should say never, to engine cleaning products. hide If the engine is in fact well maintained, had a mechanical issue beyond the owners control here's a perfect example where an additive to clean an engine up might just come into play. Even if you're one of those all you'll ever need is a good oil kind of guy.
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#2733265 - 09/03/12 08:51 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
Chris142 Offline


Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 11738
Loc: apple valley, ca
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02 Wrangler qsgb 5w30
87 F250 Diesel Mag1 5w40
04 Tahoe super-s 5w30
Z400 maxima 20w50
KLR250 Maxima 10w40
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#2733270 - 09/03/12 08:56 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: Chris142]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 21691
Loc: NY


Design flaw? Even the "normal sludge" picture looks bad, is that following their recommended OCI using approved oils? Wow! I'll continue to stick to a severe service interval, and ignore my OLM. JMO
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#2733296 - 09/03/12 09:19 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: demarpaint]
oldmaninsc Offline


Registered: 09/25/06
Posts: 1256
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: demarpaint
Originally Posted By: Vikas
I have been on this forum now for almost a decade but this is the first time I am seeing sludged vehicle which was purchased new by a BITOG'r :-( The most logical explanation is that coolant contamination has caused this and there was not much that OP could have done to prevent it i.e. OCI's are not be blamed here.


Good point Vikas, and an example of why we never, should say never, to engine cleaning products. hide If the engine is in fact well maintained, had a mechanical issue beyond the owners control here's a perfect example where an additive to clean an engine up might just come into play. Even if you're one of those all you'll ever need is a good oil kind of guy.

No - you are going at it all wrong. This is not an example of an "additive" coming into play - it is a case where a UOA have have shown the problem. Then one would FIX the problem (in this case the heads) instead of trying to put a band aide on a gaping wound.

Vikas is right - OCI's are not be blamed here.
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#2733298 - 09/03/12 09:21 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
Gabe Offline


Registered: 02/22/11
Posts: 1425
Loc: Indiana
It sounds like a bad intake manifold gasket - common on some GM engines.

When you reassembly the engine, you should spring for the Felpro intake gasket with the aluminum spacer. Most likely, it doesn't come in a head gasket set but well worth the additional $80.

I also recommend a very short OCI. No matter how careful you were pulling the heads, you got a significant amount of additional coolant in the oil.

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#2733310 - 09/03/12 09:44 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
vssjim Offline


Registered: 10/05/11
Posts: 351
Loc: McLean, Va.
this engine doesn't have intake gasket like people are thinking from 1999 and older 5.7's as this is not a 5.7, oil changes have nothing to do with this problem and coolant leaking in to the oil from where ever have every thing to do with the coolant/oil sludge mix. make sure the oil cooler, cylinder heads etc. are not pumping coolant in to the oil system.

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#2733312 - 09/03/12 09:44 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: oldmaninsc]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 21691
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: oldmaninsc
Originally Posted By: demarpaint
Originally Posted By: Vikas
I have been on this forum now for almost a decade but this is the first time I am seeing sludged vehicle which was purchased new by a BITOG'r :-( The most logical explanation is that coolant contamination has caused this and there was not much that OP could have done to prevent it i.e. OCI's are not be blamed here.


Good point Vikas, and an example of why we never, should say never, to engine cleaning products. hide If the engine is in fact well maintained, had a mechanical issue beyond the owners control here's a perfect example where an additive to clean an engine up might just come into play. Even if you're one of those all you'll ever need is a good oil kind of guy.

No - you are going at it all wrong. This is not an example of an "additive" coming into play - it is a case where a UOA have have shown the problem. Then one would FIX the problem (in this case the heads) instead of trying to put a band aide on a gaping wound.

Vikas is right - OCI's are not be blamed here.


OK so a UOA shows coolant in the oil, and you fix the problem. Also note I said additive to clean the sludge not fix the bad head, [I mentioned mechanical problem as well] you've taken my point out of context. Are you going to tear the entire engine down to clean out the sludge after you fix the heads? A lot of extra work, and the potential for more problems. Especially when something like Kreen would do a good job of cleaning up whatever you didn't manually get after you pulled the heads.

BTW a pressure tester would have showed the coolant leak as well, but that's another topic.

Edit to add: I'm not the kind of guy who'd leave bad heads on an engine, and toss a band-aid at it. I'd fix it, clean what I could, and reach for something to do some additional cleaning. If the engine was a total mess inside I'd consider diving in a little deeper. I've seen enough of these problems to know just how far to dig in. I wouldn't rip into any more than I had to though. One could also say the engine really wasn't well maintained if a coolant leak was allowed to sludge up the engine, but I'd rather not go there. Not everyone totally on top of auto care.


Edited by demarpaint (09/03/12 09:53 AM)
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#2733325 - 09/03/12 09:56 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
PhillyJoe Offline


Registered: 03/19/09
Posts: 531
Loc: PA
In addition to here, find the ls1 forums. Can't be the first time this has ever happened. Second, if you are losing that much coolant into the engine, the bearings would have been toast a long time ago. Bad IM gaskets were part of the '97-'03 3.1. 3.4 and 3.8 engine line-up. I would try a compression test before I start tearing anything else down.

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#2733329 - 09/03/12 09:58 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: Vikas]
volk06 Offline


Registered: 10/04/10
Posts: 4345
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: Vikas
I have been on this forum now for almost a decade but this is the first time I am seeing sludged vehicle which was purchased new by a BITOG'r :-( The most logical explanation is that coolant contamination has caused this and there was not much that OP could have done to prevent it i.e. OCI's are not be blamed here.


This was his first post.... but yes coolant is to blame.
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#2733335 - 09/03/12 10:03 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
LeakySeals Offline


Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 5070
Loc: MA
From your owners manual: "Your vehicle’s engine requires a special oil meeting GM Standard GM4718M". Were you were running one of the registered oils in the GM4718M High Performance oil Specifications ? Think Mobil 1 is listed on your filler cap.
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#2733343 - 09/03/12 10:08 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: demarpaint]
oldmaninsc Offline


Registered: 09/25/06
Posts: 1256
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: demarpaint
Originally Posted By: oldmaninsc
Originally Posted By: demarpaint
Originally Posted By: Vikas
I have been on this forum now for almost a decade but this is the first time I am seeing sludged vehicle which was purchased new by a BITOG'r :-( The most logical explanation is that coolant contamination has caused this and there was not much that OP could have done to prevent it i.e. OCI's are not be blamed here.


Good point Vikas, and an example of why we never, should say never, to engine cleaning products. hide If the engine is in fact well maintained, had a mechanical issue beyond the owners control here's a perfect example where an additive to clean an engine up might just come into play. Even if you're one of those all you'll ever need is a good oil kind of guy.

No - you are going at it all wrong. This is not an example of an "additive" coming into play - it is a case where a UOA have have shown the problem. Then one would FIX the problem (in this case the heads) instead of trying to put a band aide on a gaping wound.

Vikas is right - OCI's are not be blamed here.


OK so a UOA shows coolant in the oil, and you fix the problem. Also note I said additive to clean the sludge not fix the bad head, [I mentioned mechanical problem as well] you've taken my point out of context. Are you going to tear the entire engine down to clean out the sludge after you fix the heads? A lot of extra work, and the potential for more problems. Especially when something like Kreen would do a good job of cleaning up whatever you didn't manually get after you pulled the heads.

BTW a pressure tester would have showed the coolant leak as well, but that's another topic.

Edit to add: I'm not the kind of guy who'd leave bad heads on an engine, and toss a band-aid at it. I'd fix it, clean what I could, and reach for something to do some additional cleaning. If the engine was a total mess inside I'd consider diving in a little deeper. I've seen enough of these problems to know just how far to dig in. I wouldn't rip into any more than I had to though. One could also say the engine really wasn't well maintained if a coolant leak was allowed to sludge up the engine, but I'd rather not go there. Not everyone totally on top of auto care.


If I misunderstood your point I apologize. Isn't the first two photos of the oil pan? It's hard to tell from the photos.
It's just you are so quick to recommend your "miracle in a bottle" solutions. All the short OCI in the world wouldn't have solved this problem.
I've rebuilt more engines in my life time than I care to remember. But the one thing I would never do is a half *** job. If people don't have the funds to fix it right, I wouldn't do it at all.
For the record - I'm not saying anything bad about the o/p here - it's his time and money and I can certainly understand his situation.
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#2733381 - 09/03/12 10:41 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: Gabe]
SEMI_287 Offline


Registered: 02/25/11
Posts: 982
Loc: Up State NY
Originally Posted By: Gabe
It sounds like a bad intake manifold gasket - common on some GM engines.


Gen III and VI engines have dry intake manifolds, no coolant cross over.

That being said there definitely coolant getting in the oil somewhere. On LS engines that's pretty hard unless it's a failed head gasket. Front cover or cracked head it would seem..
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#2733413 - 09/03/12 11:15 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: LeakySeals]
The_Eric Online   content


Registered: 03/31/10
Posts: 3521
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: LeakySeals
From your owners manual: "Your vehicle’s engine requires a special oil meeting GM Standard GM4718M". Were you were running one of the registered oils in the GM4718M High Performance oil Specifications ? Think Mobil 1 is listed on your filler cap.


What does that have to do with the problem at hand?
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#2733428 - 09/03/12 11:31 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
OVERKILL Online   content


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 26820
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Quote:
for about a half year had been consuming coolant (dex) at the rate of maybe a half gallon every 3000 miles. I had tried unsuccessfully to find the "leak" but never could.


This is most certainly your problem and source of your sludge as others have mentioned. It wouldn't matter if you were running Unicorn Pee for oil, it still would have sludged up due to the coolant ingestion.

Get some UV dye and a blacklight and try and find the leak.

OR

Go all-out, put some better heads on it (AFR's perhaps) and in the process, you'll be replacing your headgaskets and the like, removing two potential problem points (cracked heads and a nuked head gasket).

That way, you at least end up with a power upgrade after all the grief. smile
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#2733458 - 09/03/12 12:08 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: The_Eric]
LeakySeals Offline


Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 5070
Loc: MA
Originally Posted By: The_Eric
Originally Posted By: LeakySeals
From your owners manual: "Your vehicle’s engine requires a special oil meeting GM Standard GM4718M". Were you were running one of the registered oils in the GM4718M High Performance oil Specifications ? Think Mobil 1 is listed on your filler cap.


What does that have to do with the problem at hand?

Oil that turned to an awful sludge because of (consensus) coolant. What oil was it? Curious.
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#2733467 - 09/03/12 12:17 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
OVERKILL Online   content


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 26820
Loc: Ontario, Canada
He was running the factory recommended M1 as indicated in his OP.
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#2733468 - 09/03/12 12:20 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: oldmaninsc]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 21691
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: oldmaninsc


If I misunderstood your point I apologize. Isn't the first two photos of the oil pan? It's hard to tell from the photos.
It's just you are so quick to recommend your "miracle in a bottle" solutions. All the short OCI in the world wouldn't have solved this problem.
I've rebuilt more engines in my life time than I care to remember. But the one thing I would never do is a half *** job. If people don't have the funds to fix it right, I wouldn't do it at all.
For the record - I'm not saying anything bad about the o/p here - it's his time and money and I can certainly understand his situation.


No need to apologize. I wasn't exactly crystal clear. After pulling the heads and doing a clean up and repair, dropping the pan, if its easy would be a good idea and do some additional cleaning. It all depends on skill level and desire. This IMO is a good candidate for a cleaning product especially if the OP isn't into ripping into the engine any more than he has or wants to.
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#2733469 - 09/03/12 12:21 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: OVERKILL]
LeakySeals Offline


Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 5070
Loc: MA
LOL skipped right over "mobile", thanks.
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#2733498 - 09/03/12 12:53 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: LeakySeals]
yonyon Offline


Registered: 03/06/12
Posts: 3492
Loc: NJ, USA
Originally Posted By: LeakySeals
LOL skipped right over "mobile", thanks.


Of course it's still mobile. A little coolant intrusion doesn't instantly destroy a street engine. Come on man! Get with it man!

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#2733512 - 09/03/12 01:12 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
INDYMAC Offline


Registered: 07/15/06
Posts: 2333
Loc: Magnolia, TX
This is very sad to see. I bought a 2004 S2000 that I hope to keep and have fun with until I can't drive anymore. I knew when I bought it I would probably never be able to afford or justify buying another new sports car. I suspect that you have the same intentions and wanted to maintain it well.

I suspect that coolant ingress is a contributor to your problem. Did your engine ever overheat? Is the water pump or thermostat manifold leaking? Does it have a PCV system that may have gotten clogged up? Did you ever do used oil analysis? If so, could you tell us what contaminants were identified?

Good luck, and I hope you find a solution soon. And welcome to BITOG!
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#2733521 - 09/03/12 01:30 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
ArrestMeRedZ Offline


Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 660
Loc: Las Vegas
I believe the steps you have taken are appropriate. If the problem was head gaskets or a warped head, it should be resolved. If it's a one in a million problem like the block cracking or opening up some other passage for the coolant to get into the oil, you'll find out soon enough.

If you find you can't get the price you want for an 8 year old 'vette with that many miles, an engine swap might be in order. There is no shortage of builders. If you could live with only 300 HP, you could even go with a new GM 5.3 dressed crate motor for under 3K, and see if you can squeeze 35 MPG out of that daily driver.

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#2734071 - 09/04/12 05:04 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
2004Corvette Offline


Registered: 09/02/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Virginia
Man great forum, very thoughtful replies. I've been on the Corvette forums with both the coolant leak, and with the sludge pics, but I've seen better and more thoughtful replies here in 24 hours than i did there in months.

i was out of pocket tailgating and watching an unbelievable football game yesterday, so i'll try to answer some questions and pose a couple more (sorry Ga Tech fans if there are any out there, you really did probably deserve to win that one):

I have always used mobile 1, and changed at the interval "recommended" by the engine. There is an oil change algorithm built in to the engine computer which counts down "% oil life remaining", and starts giving warnings at 5%. I think it does so based on driving conditions, and when I do a lot of highway driving it gives a slightly longer interval - alwasy in the 10k to 11k range. I have always changed before it hits zero, and I have always used Mobile 1 10W-30 or 5W-30, as specified in the owners manual.

When the coolant leak was ongoing, and I must emphasize it was a very slow consumption, not really a "leak", I put a pressure pump with gauge attached at the radiator overflow tank with a specially adapted cap, pumped to 16 psi, and waited for a leak to show up. Overnight. NO pressure drop, no leak. I pulled the plugs and pressure tested the cylinders. All in spec. I did not find any UV fluorescent products at Advance, so I didn't do that. There was absolutely no time at which the engine temp read over about 220 F and idiot lights never came on...

With regards to the heads themselves, they have been machined by a very experienced machinist. When I first brought them to his shop and told the story, he immediately mentioned the intake manifold, then the valve guides. He cleaned up the heads and freshened up all the mating surfaces (by this I mean he tested for flatness and then machined on an end ill to 0.001", I believe), installed new valve seals and springs and was unable to detect any flaws.

I could dig deeper, but to what end? If there is a micro-crack in the block somewhere, am I going to find it? and if I do, am I going to weld it or replace the block, putting on all of these old parts? I thought that any substantial crack in the block always resulted in more or less a catastrophic failure, or at least a much more disabling situation than this very indolent quart per 1500-2000 mile coolant consumption. I think that if I identified such an engine block issue, I'd just buy a crate engine and be done with it. Money isn't really a huge issue, rather time and experience, skill level.

I think I will forge ahead with my reassembly over the next couple of weeks. I think the head gaskets (I bought Felpro)and oil pump (I got a replacement) are about 95% of the most likely to be the culprit here. I like the idea of Kreen or Auto-rx, and a 1000 mile interval change? Can someone tell me the difference between these products?

Finally, thanks for not jumping all over me here. I am a newb in many respects, but I have spent a lot of time trying to fix this thing, and have simply laid it out for all to see and be critical of. While my experience level with engines isn't huge, I am 62 years old, and had my first car, a 1958 MGA 1500 torn apart and laid out in my parents' garage floor twice, when I was in high school! I have built and flown an airplane, I run a 42 foot sailing yacht and care for her marine diesel, and generally like to dig in and fix my own stuff when it breaks. You've really been quite reasonable and helpful, for the most part, and again, thanks.

DT MacMillan
Blacksburg, VA

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#2734088 - 09/04/12 06:01 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
hal2626 Offline


Registered: 12/10/06
Posts: 209
Loc: central texas
When M1 becomes contaminated with Dexcool does it change color? What were your oil pressure readings? Should be around 28 at idle with a hot engine.The reason I ask is in my experience of restoring literally dozens of terribly abused air-cooled VW's,this looks very similar to the black tar like appearance of the burned up oil I would routinely find after splitting the engine cases that obviously had not been coolant contaminated. Seems like moisture contaminated lube usually takes on a brown or whitish appearance if memory serves. Less than 3 qt. oil sump and no filter in these old Type 1 motors.. This maybe a dumb statement,but I assume you are going to physically clean the sludge out of the pan BEFORE reinstalling it! I think your condition might have been reduced by ignoring the OLM and changing oil at 12 months or 6K in this hot running,high compression motor. I have owned 3 C5's and own a C6 LS3 now. I run German Castrol 0w30 (known as GC on this board) and my oil pressure is 30PSI on a 100 degree day at idle. I bought a new Benz in 99 and it too had an OLM which indicated that I could go as long as 12k OCI - I was not going for it and continued with my 5K intervals. My neighbor and very close friend who was the service director of our large MB dealership informed me that a few years later these were coming regularly in with fried motors due to the extended oci's. I think there may have been a recall as well. Never had a problem with mine. By the way,I am 63 and had an MGA back in the day when you could pick one up for $500 in good shape! I remember those old door cables on the inside....cold in winter,hot in summer....


Edited by hal2626 (09/04/12 06:08 AM)
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#2734091 - 09/04/12 06:06 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
Hokiefyd Online   content


Registered: 06/24/04
Posts: 11703
Loc: North Carolina
OT, but yes, it was a great game.

Welcome to BITOG!
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#2734207 - 09/04/12 08:50 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: hal2626]
OVERKILL Online   content


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 26820
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: hal2626
When M1 becomes contaminated with Dexcool does it change color? What were your oil pressure readings? Should be around 28 at idle with a hot engine.The reason I ask is in my experience of restoring literally dozens of terribly abused air-cooled VW's,this looks very similar to the black tar like appearance of the burned up oil I would routinely find after splitting the engine cases that obviously had not been coolant contaminated. Seems like moisture contaminated lube usually takes on a brown or whitish appearance if memory serves. Less than 3 qt. oil sump and no filter in these old Type 1 motors.. This maybe a dumb statement,but I assume you are going to physically clean the sludge out of the pan BEFORE reinstalling it! I think your condition might have been reduced by ignoring the OLM and changing oil at 12 months or 6K in this hot running,high compression motor. I have owned 3 C5's and own a C6 LS3 now. I run German Castrol 0w30 (known as GC on this board) and my oil pressure is 30PSI on a 100 degree day at idle. I bought a new Benz in 99 and it too had an OLM which indicated that I could go as long as 12k OCI - I was not going for it and continued with my 5K intervals. My neighbor and very close friend who was the service director of our large MB dealership informed me that a few years later these were coming regularly in with fried motors due to the extended oci's. I think there may have been a recall as well. Never had a problem with mine. By the way,I am 63 and had an MGA back in the day when you could pick one up for $500 in good shape! I remember those old door cables on the inside....cold in winter,hot in summer....


Unfortunately the oil only turns brown if you have copious coolant ingress. This can lead up to the "milkshake" appearance as well.

With the coolant loss he had, it would have been easy for the engine to boil off the coolant in the oil, getting rid of the moisture, but of course the oil is still contaminated with the alcohol and additives, thinning it, reducing its effectiveness, overwhelming its additive package and preventing it from keeping the engine clean.

And unfortunately the OLM cannot account for coolant ingress. So while it is telling him to run the oil to 11K miles, the oil has been compromised, its add-pack depleted, and it NEEDS to be changed out.

Likely, had the oil been changed at 5K increments, regardless of use, even with the coolant consumption, it would have stayed clean because the oil wouldn't have been destroyed yet.

I would have been very interested in a UOA on the oil that came out, as it likely would have pointed a finger here.
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#2734261 - 09/04/12 09:41 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
2004Corvette Offline


Registered: 09/02/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Virginia
My oil pressure reads just below 30 when warmed up - higher of course when cold. I too wondered about the difference in color from the lighter brown in the images. Mine was definitely very dark brown, or even black. I cleaned the sludge - came away after scooping out the bulk, then with soaking in carb cleaner, generous amounts of brake parts cleaner, and MEK. It was no fun, but the oil pan cover looks like a new casting now.

I am not sure, of course, whether the solids represent components of the antifreeze(I favor this) or the result of breakdown of components in the oil. Thgere has been no gross overheating, but of course there could be some localized hot spots with all that gunk floating around.

I, too wish I had caught some of the oil in a clean container for analysis, in retrospect.

Still wondering whether to go with auto-rx vs kreen, if there are any opinions out there.

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#2734326 - 09/04/12 10:35 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
INDYMAC Offline


Registered: 07/15/06
Posts: 2333
Loc: Magnolia, TX
I don't have any experience with Kreen. But I have used ARX on my 2000 Tundra V-8 that had mild deposits, but no heavy sludging. At 138K miles in 2007 I had the bank 1 cover off and saw reddish brown slime and varnish covering everything. I did two ARX treatments and at 195K miles last fall here is what bank 2 looked like:

http://www.s2ki.com/s2000/gallery/album/38264-tundra-bank-2-195k/

I don't have pictures from my 138K view, but these pictures show some remnants of what I was dealing with. It is much better now, but I decided to give it another ARX treatment this summer. In fact, I just changed out the clean phase oil yesterday and started the rinse phase. While I was under the truck I noticed a crank seal seep had dried up as well.

I think my problem was PCV maintenance, or lack thereof. Oil changes were 3-5K since new. It has 200,400 miles now and turned 13 years old today. It still runs great!

I like ARX for seal leaks and deposits. It's slow, but safe.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do.


Edited by INDYMAC (09/04/12 10:39 AM)
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#2734512 - 09/04/12 02:00 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
JasonC Offline


Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 404
Loc: Lynchburg, Va
With that many miles on the original LS engine, I would just replace it with an LS2-3 engine and enjoy the improved performance. Machine shop bills will add up quickly on the old LS1 and until you find your source of coolant leak, the problem will return it get worse.
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#2734768 - 09/04/12 06:12 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
dailydriver Offline


Registered: 03/14/06
Posts: 7210
Loc: Bucks County, Pa.
He could even go to an LS3 with that engine's reluctor wheel, harness ends, and a tune.

This is what I plan on doing if my LS1 ever buys the farm, but I would get a Mast Motorsports modded crate LS3, not just the stocker. smile
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#2734906 - 09/04/12 08:21 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
hattaresguy Offline


Registered: 06/01/11
Posts: 5321
Loc: CT
If you put it back together and your still burning coolant, I'd just change the oil very often and drive it. Oil's pretty cheap, buy whatever 5w30 is on sale and dump it every 3k.



Edited by hattaresguy (09/04/12 08:29 PM)

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#2734998 - 09/04/12 10:19 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
sleddriver Offline


Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 1904
Loc: Central Texas
Originally Posted By: 2004Corvette
My oil pressure reads just below 30 when warmed up - higher of course when cold. I too wondered about the difference in color from the lighter brown in the images. Mine was definitely very dark brown, or even black. I cleaned the sludge - came away after scooping out the bulk, then with soaking in carb cleaner, generous amounts of brake parts cleaner, and MEK. It was no fun, but the oil pan cover looks like a new casting now.

I am not sure, of course, whether the solids represent components of the antifreeze(I favor this) or the result of breakdown of components in the oil. Thgere has been no gross overheating, but of course there could be some localized hot spots with all that gunk floating around.

I, too wish I had caught some of the oil in a clean container for analysis, in retrospect.

Still wondering whether to go with auto-rx vs kreen, if there are any opinions out there.

Welcome to BITOG! We have very different cars, so I only comment because I've experienced oil in my Dexcool in the Volvo before...turned it like chocolate milk. Horrifying to say the least upon discovery. At fault was the radiator/oil cooler/trans cooler all-in-one radiator-combo. So I replaced the radiator, then flushed the oil out of the coolant system with SHOUT! (which my indy recommended), then changed the oil (though there were no signs of coolant in the oil...just oil in the coolant).

If you have coolant in your oil, making it foamy, that's bad. I've never used auto-rx or kreen, but I have used BG109 engine flush. BUT BG says not to use it in sludged engines. Evidently it dissolves sludge quickly, but may clog up the oil pick-up, oil pump, oil filter, etc. I'll defer to those more experienced in dealing with sludge.

Good luck with it and keep us informed.
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#2735112 - 09/05/12 05:17 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: dailydriver]
SteveSRT8 Offline


Registered: 10/10/08
Posts: 15405
Loc: Sunny Florida
Originally Posted By: dailydriver
He could even go to an LS3 with that engine's reluctor wheel, harness ends, and a tune.

This is what I plan on doing if my LS1 ever buys the farm, but I would get a Mast Motorsports modded crate LS3, not just the stocker. smile


So agreed.

An inexpensive upgrade if you decide to do it right.
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#2735121 - 09/05/12 05:47 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: SteveSRT8]
hal2626 Offline


Registered: 12/10/06
Posts: 209
Loc: central texas
Since you are going to be doing numerous oil changes in the near future,you may wish to do a quick search for a list of GM 4718M LS1 approved lubes . Personally,I would use whatever 4718M I could get the best deal on since you wiIl be doing frequent flushes. If cost is no big deal,I would prefer Pennzoil Ultra which claims to be a superior cleaning oil. Factory fill in Ferraris and $28 for a 5 qt. jug at Wally World and a $10 rebate from SOPUS=$18 -$3 a quart. Penn. Platinum is about $1 a qt. less after rebate. ARX used to be the board darling but I think that Kreen is the current favorite. I would also recommend that you use the garden variety AC Delco low restriction filters (or equivalent) at each change to prevent clogging/bypass,and as always,no cheap Frams! Good Luck!


Edited by hal2626 (09/05/12 05:55 AM)
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#2735159 - 09/05/12 07:16 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: hal2626]
bruno Offline


Registered: 10/08/07
Posts: 397
Loc: new Jersey
Pennzoil Euro 5-40 is the Ferrari oil - not the same thing .

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#2735314 - 09/05/12 11:09 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: bruno]
hal2626 Offline


Registered: 12/10/06
Posts: 209
Loc: central texas
I thought I saw it listed as Ferrari factory fill in one of their ads,sorry if I am mistaken....
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#2735319 - 09/05/12 11:14 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
zzyzzx Offline


Registered: 05/18/12
Posts: 1812
Loc: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Try poking around some Toyota Forums. I understand that they have lots of experience with sludge.

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#2735414 - 09/05/12 01:14 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
DuckRyder Online   content


Registered: 10/20/05
Posts: 1585
Loc: Atlanta
I love how we spend other peoples money so freely "just drop a $13,000.00 (or so - depends on exactly which MAST LS3 you are talking about) engine in it and be done with it"... crazy -isn't that about half what the car would be worth? whistle

I am a little confused:

  • a half gallon per 3000 miles sounds like a significant amount of coolant to me, enough that the leak should be detectable and it should not hold pressure overnight...
  • the pictures appear to all be of the lower oil pan? is this sludge apparent throughout the engine?
  • This sludge does not have the appearance of coolant that I'm familiar with - perhaps DEX-COOL reacts differently, but I did work at Cadillac during the HT4100 days, so I know what coolant looks like in the oil... sick


I guess what I am getting at is - are we sure the coolant is going into the motor and the sludge and coolant are related. I'm not saying they aren't - I'm just asking questions.

I have no recommendations for cleaners, but I will say that we used GM "Coolant Tabs" in the aforementioned HT4100 days and they did work, they also did not change to coolant dirty brown permanently. Perhaps there is still something that could be used.

I also see no problems with your planned reassembly and course of action. It is probably what I would do in your situation. Did you get an opportunity to examine the removed gaskets for signs of coolant migration?
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#2735528 - 09/05/12 03:40 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: DuckRyder]
dailydriver Offline


Registered: 03/14/06
Posts: 7210
Loc: Bucks County, Pa.
Originally Posted By: DuckRyder
I love how we spend other peoples money so freely "just drop a $13,000.00 (or so - depends on exactly which MAST LS3 you are talking about) engine in it and be done with it"... crazy -isn't that about half what the car would be worth?


First off, I did NOT tell him to "just drop a $13K engine" into his C5.
I DID NOT "spend his money". I have NO idea how much he does, or does not have to spend on ANYTHING!
The implication was that a stock LS3 was another crate motor option IF (and ONLY if) his current LS1 was deemed hopeless, and he was going the new crate motor route anyway. wink

Next, I only mentioned the Mast LS3 as something that I might do, if I found myself in his situation, YES, despite it costing more than TWICE what my car is worth!
(It's a HOBBY, and a STRONG interest, NOT everything in life is meant to be "practical", "frugal", and "pragmatic" ALL of the time. no-no Maybe I think that all of the coin everyone "wastes" on; booze, cancer sticks, drugs, gambling, firearms, etc. is "unpractical", "wasteful", and "spendthrifty". )


Third, as you've stated NOT ALL of the Mast LS3 crates cost that much, at least MOST of the ones without a Maggie sitting on top do not.
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#2735987 - 09/06/12 08:11 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: bruno]
hal2626 Offline


Registered: 12/10/06
Posts: 209
Loc: central texas
Just to put a fine point on it, Pennzoil Ultra is just the only American-made oil endorsed by Ferrari. Even if the Euro 5W40 is not available here,other weights apparently may be substituted. In any case Ultra should do quite well in an LS1 as far as cleaning efficacy,if their propaganda is to be believed.
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#2737110 - 09/07/12 09:55 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
2004Corvette Offline


Registered: 09/02/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Virginia
OK guys - taking a week off work, and starting reassembly. gonna take it slow, and hope for the best. i can see turning the old girl into a track car, with rebuilt suspension and a good crate engine. might need to replace tranx too, if that is what happens. And then give the car to my son, who loves to go fast!

i'll use pennzoil ultra as suggested, and see what develops, assuming the thing starts when i turn the key. i'll probably flush out the coolant a few times, and frequent oil changes. and we shall see. not yet decided on additives, but kreen seems a good idea. i can see lots of trash on the timing chain, but i really don't want to go there. looks like my road bike after a long ride in sandy conditions...

i can't say enough how excellent i think this forum has been. i have noodled around on it a lot the past week. all of you fellas seem to try to give good advice, so i'll just keep posting when something develops with this rather major project.

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#2737185 - 09/07/12 11:16 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: demarpaint]
440Magnum Offline


Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 6471
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: demarpaint
Originally Posted By: Bottom_Feeder
Originally Posted By: 2004Corvette
Reassemble, fill with a good detergent oil such as rotella t, start and run up to normal driving for 20-30 minutes, drain the oil...

Not sure what you're expecting this to do for you...?


Really! A perfect waste of good oil IMO, unless it would be used to wash an engine flush out, no mention of that though. Even then I'd opt for something really cheap for a 20-30 minute run to rinse out a flush.


I agree- relatively cheap and thin oil for that first flush since you're not going to run the engine hard or up to full temp. You really don't want the filter going into bypass during that first run, so I'd use a low-restriction "depth media" type filter along with the thin oil- unfortunately those are generally expensive, with one glaring exception: a Fram Ultra. So maybe 5w20 and a Fram Ultra for the first short flush, then a very good oil and filter (again a Fram Ultra is really a superb filter and a HUGE bang for the buck) for the first long interval change.

For that first "flushing" run, I'd also keep the revs low until the oil comes up to temp- but then I'd bring them up to a moderate level and vary the revs a bit- say between 2500 and 3500 RPM once the engine is warm- to make sure you spray oil everywhere possible to flush out any sludge that you've loosened by poking around.

Once all the loose stuff is gone (in the filter, hopefully), I'd go to a good high-detergency oil in the proper grade. No need for Rotella although its fine- you could use PU or M1 just fine.

You can try Kreen or whatever if you want, but I am personally not a fan of any kind of flush or additive. Just good oil working slowly.

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#2753539 - 09/24/12 06:56 PM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: 2004Corvette]
zedrone Offline


Registered: 06/15/09
Posts: 16
Loc: tx.
2004 did your machinist pressure check the heads? That should have discovered any leaks in them. also be sure to use new head
bolts on reassembly.
RM

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#2757063 - 09/28/12 11:15 AM Re: LS1 Sludge [Re: demarpaint]
2004Corvette Offline


Registered: 09/02/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Virginia
Update

AFAIK no pressure test done - just resurfacing and truing (he said some warp was present) - and a very thorough cleaning, with replacement of springs and stem seals.

Have reassembled the engine. Started in 3 seconds of cranking, and I ran the engine for 20 minutes to bring it to temp, with generic (Advance AP)5W-30 oil, and a Fram Ultra filter. Revved it a few times, then shut down and drained immediately (lots of suspended particulates in dark brown oil), then added P Ultra, and a high capacity Bosch filter.

Drove normally for 1000 miles, including short runs to work and back, around town, and one 300 miles round trip at normal (79 mph) speed. Added one can of Gunk engine flush, and ran (not drove) for 5 minutes at temperature, drained. Oil was dark, but not black, and no particles settled out in clear class container of captured drained oil.

Mobile 1 5W30 and another Bosch high capacity filter installed.

Now have about 1500 miles since rebuild, and it looks like coolant level is holding.

Plan is to drive 3-5k, then change again.

cool


Edited by 2004Corvette (09/28/12 11:20 AM)

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