To retrieve a dropped mag post in my transmission, I drained the oil and removed the oil pan inspection plate beneath the engine. My daughter was able to reach in and grab that post - fixed that...
But, the oil in the bottom of the pan and inspection plate was very nasty. Creamy brown colored, thick (almost chocolate pudding like). Definitely at least somewhat contaminated. I'm hopeful that it's just old oil that's been sitting there too long. Or is this a sign of something worse?
Charlie, hard to tell from just your description, but maybe a good flush of the crankcase wouldn't be a bad idea. Not sure how long your engine sat before you owning it, and what the last owner used as oil, but if it was just non-detergent oil used and you change to detergent...it will cause quite a mess.
The car was my uncle's and he died suddenly 6 years ago, so no idea what the previous oil change included. I haven't driven the car much at all (maybe 20 miles total), and the last time was over a year ago. It's mostly been sitting.
I'll search for crankcase flush instructions. I've wiped all the areas that I can get to, but that's not saying much.
Brown usually means water in the oil. Could be a crack, leaky head gasket, or even simply condensation (not at all unusual if sitting for six years). You won't know until you change it, drive it for awhile, and see what it does.
And just so you know? Even a crack doesn't mean serious problems.
Changing from non detergent oil to detergent WLL NOT create a mess.
It will not dissolve old oil and crud.
Not gonna happen.
Switching to detergent oil will keep crud and more sludge from building up.
As Wayne posted, brown oil indicates water.
Probably moisture from sitting around too long without changing the oil.
Clean it the best you can and run it at idle for five minutes with three quarts of cheap, thin oil and a half quart of deisle fuel or engine flush or kerosene and drain it.
Take the inspection pan off and wipe it out the best you can,
Put in a gallon of 10w-30 and keep tabs on how the oil looks.
Change the oil every year or every three hundred miles.
Detergent oil will not cause the oil lines to get clogged or your hair to fall out.
If you really want to see what your oil can tell you filter it through a white coffee filter then rinse the little bit left with lacquer thinner and look with a magnifying glass for metal particulates there will always be a minuscule amount that is fine but if you see something about 1/4 size of a BB or larger then it is time to determine what it is (Babbitt, Bronze, Brass, Cast Iron etc) then check everything made of that material.
BTW this thread reminded me of an incident when I was much younger in the Navy. I had a transmission that was giving me problems and even AAMCO couldn't determine the cause. A friend told me to take a "hot" oil sample and he would take it to work at AIMD'S (Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department)oil lab for testing. Well the oil lab was slammed on Monday and My friend set my sample on the bench while he did real Navy work. The shop chief being helpful started doing samples and did the one from my car..... he wanted to know what helicopter that sample came from because it needed to be grounded immediately because of sever contamination by fibrous particles of an unknown origin. One of my clutch disc's was defective. I was informed that I would not use the Navy's oil lab for my car EVER again!
Charlie it sounds like your oil was contaminated by condensation. This is normal for old non detergent oil in a T, and it can happen to detergent oil too if it gets old enough that the additive package breaks down enough. Old oil will hold water in suspension, which needless to say is not good for the engine.
Like Aaron says changing to a detergent oil is only good.
Great advice. One small question about the inspection plate mentioned by Aaron.
The plate is off the car right now and nice and clean. I have a new gasket to install. If I do that, put in oil and run as recommended, are you saying that i should pull the plate again, and if so, do I need another gasket?
Alternatively, I could install it just with a thin layer of ultra black only and do the five minutes idling with 3qt oil / diesel fuel. Then drain, remove plate, clean and then put the plate back with the gasket and all the other proper precautions to avoid leaks.
Open to any suggestions.
Sometimes oil gets into the water and water gets into the oil. If you have oil in the water, you most likely have a blown head gasket or a crack into the cylinder. If you only have water in the oil, the leak is more likely into the valve chamber from a crack in that area or as suggested above, condensation. Condensation happens especially in a damp area with low temperatures. It forms similarly to the condensation which can form on the mirror and walls of the bathroom when you take a shower in cold weather. This forms inside the engine and the water drips into the oil.
If you get a lot of water in the oil, you will have a foaming mess. If only a few drops, and you drive the car regularly, much of it will evaporate from the heat of the engine. So this is what I would suggest, clean everything as well as you can and put in fresh oil and water and drive the car for a while and see what happens. It makes little sense to pull an engine which runs well and does not knock. However, if the engine needs work and you pull it, you can magnaflux the block and head and see if any cracks show up. Then do what you need to do to fix it or replace the cracked part.
I agree with Norman, just above this post.
As for flushing the engine, sure just put the inspection cover on with RTV or the old gasket or the new gasket and don't tighten it real tight.
By the way, when putting the inspection cover back on the last time be sure to wrap each bolt with packaging string that you have coated with RTV. Or put RTV directly on each bolt.
They usually leak oil down the bolt threads.
There are special rubber coated washers you can buy to insure the bolts won't leak too.
I would get the bolt started a couple of threads and then wrap it with the RTV coated string & tighten the bolt.
Everything you do on a model T takes time.
It's a snap compared to changing the pan gasket on a 4X4 BMW with the right front drive axle going through the oil pan and the differential bolted to the left side of the pan.
Awesome commentary. Turning this project from daunting to fun.
Charlie I have had multiple uses out of the inspection plate gasket by doing the following. Use 'Ultrablack' silicone gasket material on both sides of the gasket. Apply the gasket to the inspection plate and smear a good cover of grease on the hogshead before fitting the cover. The 'Ultrablack' will conform to the gasket surface to make a good seal, but the grease will allow you to take it off easily next time you need to. It can be used over again.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.