Water in through dipstick hole - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-06-2012 Thread Starter
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Water in through dipstick hole

My son has a Hatteras with a Cummings Diesel Onan generator. During some weather two days ago the swim platform struck a piling and a bolt pulled out allowing brackish water into generator compartment. When it was discovered the water was slightly above the dipstick hole.

We used a vacuum tank to pull the oil from the bottom of the pan. This was a four quart tank. We filled it twice with what appeared to be pure dirty water. We pilled another two quarts of what appeared to be pure oil on the third try. It seems that the water displaced most of the oil dumping about half of it from the dipstick hole as the water entered.

There has been no attempt to start the engine and therefore the oil and water seem to be still separate for the most part. I have dumped three quarts of new oil into the engine and am using the vacuum pump to remove that oil after it sat for an hour.

Any advice appreciated for certain.

What else can I do before filling and starting the engine? Is it possible to fill the crank case with diesel until it flows from the dipstick hole before introducing oil again.

William Atkin Cutter, "TALLY HO MAJOR" "ROSA"
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-06-2012
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Re: Water in through dipstick hole

My recommendation would be to fill the engine up with the appropriate amount of oil and run it while doing a few oil changes with not many hours on them. If possible, it is best to use the drain plug on the bottom of oil pan to drain everything before you refill but this may not be possible in this instance. The only way to really get oil everywhere to displace the water is to use the oil pump, there are many small passages to feed things like bushings.

In my experience when an engine goes swimming, there are usually a lot of electrical problems. Chances are the starter will be heavily corroded and the generator may depending on the configuration. These can sometime be saves with a lot of flushing and drying out but usually they are not serviceable. Since both units should be relatively easy to remove, it may make sense to take them to a motor rebuilder. Depending on what model this is, if there was an ECU or anything like it that went underwater, it may be ruined as well. The good news is that none of these means that you ruined the engine but it is still frustrating because they are not cheap.
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Water in through dipstick hole

What KLEM said. Hose it off, drain the oil, fill the oil, change the filter, (if the electrical will let you) start it an let it run (at least an hour under load) to heat the oil up. Repeat. Install bilge pump in genset space. Call insurance company if all else fails.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Water in through dipstick hole

Some degree of urgency assuming it is sea water or brackish water.

But you have done the right things and now start the engine, run it untill the oil is hot 30 - 60 mins and change the oil again if it is the least bit milky.

What are you doing about the genny part though. At a minimum I would have thought that the rotor and stator mus thave been part submerged. spray with WD 40 ??
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Water in through dipstick hole

If after running the engine for about 30 minutes the motor oil remains clear, then you most likely have removed all traces of the water. However, if the engine oil is a milky brown color, this indicates there is still water present in the oil pan. If possible, drain the oil from the bottom of the pan using the drain plug. If the plug is not accessible, which if often the case with marine use, then you're stuck with pumping it out.

Good Luck,

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post #6 of 7 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Water in through dipstick hole

^^^^ bingo.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere:

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post #7 of 7 Old 03-13-2012
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Re: Water in through dipstick hole

Leo :

Don't despair.

Two days immersion won't hurt too much.

Pump out what you can and get a wee drum of the cheapest engine oil you can find.

Put it in there to the right level.

Start up, and run it for 30 seconds or so. Sample the oil at the dipstick. If it is ok, run it for a bit more, sampling repeatedly. If it looks milky, get the suction pump out and suck it out.

Repeat, and repeat.

If you are running low on new oil, take the milky oil home and let it stand for a bit. Suck some off the top of the oil and boil it up in a big saucepan until it clears, then suck the clear oil off the top of the pan and dump the dregs. You can use it again if it is clear.

In 1998, I had a Volvo MD17C fail a coolant O-ring and the sump filled with great slugs of seawater. It was horrible, with mustard-coloured oil and it was well above the dipstick max. It was in there for some time before I saw it.

I had to rebuild the top end to fix the leaking liner base O-ring.

About three oil changes cleared the milkiness.

The motor is still running well today, 14 years later.
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