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Old 05-18-2011, 08:13 PM   #1
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Engine dusted or not dusted

I thought I would post some recent experience for those that have an interest. I have an 01 with a 350HP with 113,000 miles on it. Have driven a lot of dirt roads and for a time used a K&N filter I reoiled.

Last summer noticed I had a problem traveling in the Rockies with not enough power to pull hills well at all. Had some oil drips from the slooper tube and used about a gallon of oil in 10,000 miles and a little black smoke when downshifted to make some of the western mountains. Also was down a good mile per gallon, yet no silverleaf so I don't know a lot of the engine statistics.

Coming home from San Antonio last fall stopped at the Tulsa Cummins shop. Not been there before, but I was impressed with the facility, the attitude of the people and the customer service. So I got the bad news. Badly leaking charge air cooler, cracked exhaust manifold AND dusted engine!!! This was determined by 2 elements. One dust was found in the duct work coming off the back of the air filter module. Two the blow by test was 3.5". Now the max spec on this engine is 12". Therefore I was not comfortable that I really had a problem. I was told by a senior mechanic that once the air charge cooler was fixed, the increased boost would probably result in a catastrophic engine failure as the blow by would exceed the 12" max spec.

This was not music to my ears! So I drove another 150 miles home and put the coach in storage for 6 months while we wintered in Florida. Meanwhile I talked to Mike Young, Louie Burch, Jim Bragg, Dave Fernandez and Dean Sandmire for input. I did not ask any of them for a loan, but did not think about it at the time. Came to the conclusion that although a dusted engine was possible especially considering it is a good Cummiins shop, that maybe I ought to approach this very cautiously considering 12 to 15 thousand dollars is not chump change! Also came to the conclusion that I needed a second opinion from an authorized cummins shop and not rely solely on a Cummins dealership who is going to deal with this problem from a very conservative approach given the liability involved.

So after a great winter in Florida, occassionally worrying about my RV liability I took the coach out of storage and went to the local authorized dealer who has done a lot of work on my coach one step at a time. First the air charge cooler. The one on my rig has two massive manifolds on the end and the tubes are welded - it is not gasketed and secured by fasteners. So I went to the shop it was sent to and they retested it for me and it leaked so badly that all the air seemed to be exhausted in the top third of the unit. So it was sent out to be rewelded and then a resin coating applied on the welded areas - should be better than new and withstand the flexing our coaches get better than the old one.

Reinstalled ran a blow by test again. Different shop and I would imagine that different shops and different techs may get different readings and possibly the cummins shop used a dyno to get the engine at a higher operating condition than the local shop I used that did not put a dyno on it. Anyway the blow by test was again 3" or less. Not anywhere near the 12" max. So it appears the engine is not dusted, but I am not ready to celebrate yet until I start pulling hills again and see the mileage go back up. I also had a cracked rear section exhaust manifold where the turbo sits on top so that will help boost as well.

I thought I would share this info with others in the event it may provide useful information to others. Incidentally we do not live in a large city and the charge air cooler had to be sent elsewhere ? for repair and it was $1000 plus removal and installation by the local shop. Lot less than I though my bill might be.

2001 36 MDDS
03 Honda Pilot toad
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Old 05-18-2011, 08:30 PM   #2
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Location: Auburn, CA, Havasu, AZ & Mulege, BCS
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Good to be cautious, especially since rig is drivable. Good luck on the hills.

Just my $0.02 on "free flow" air filters for diesels: Daily proctological exams would be better for you, and pretty close to as much fun as a dusted engine.

Baja-tested '08 2-slide 36'
Alpine: The Ultimate DIY'er Project
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Old 05-18-2011, 08:32 PM   #3
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113,000 miles seems like a very short run for a diesel engine that has been serviced properly and has been kept within temp and load ranges. Glad you did what you did and doubt you will regret it.
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:00 PM   #4
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I sure won't use foam air filters. Seen to many problems with engines using them. On Cat engines crankcase pressure of 3"inches of water is a lot of crankcase pressure and indicates a pretty severe problem.
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:04 PM   #5
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Location: Ocala, FL
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On my 02 Alpine I found a broken valve cover stud. Cummins replaced all when I took it to be repaired. They said they had a batch of bad ones. After the repair they didn't replace the 90 degree rubber boot properly. The one between the turbo and the air filter. There was a 2" x 3/8" gap. This allowed dust and dirt to enter the air supply. About 15,000 miles later the turbo was making noises it shouldn't and was replaced. The bearings were bad, the fins were warn and deformed. I had the blow by checked on the dyno and it was about 3. Drove it another 50,000 miles without any problems. I expected problems but sometimes you get lucky!
Jim & Sandy
2008 34' FDDS Alpine
Limited SE
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Old 05-19-2011, 06:32 AM   #6
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As a man having designed, tested and manufactured filter assemblies and elements for darn near 40 years, I'll say, with some qualification, THE single most important aspect of a filter element is how efficiently it removes contaminant/dirt from the medium it is applied to, in this case engine intake air. The more efficient the element is, the quicker it clogs. Capacity is nice but runs a very poor second to efficiency.

Oiled foam elements may last a long time. BUT, it's at the expense of efficiency. Regardless of manufacture, oiled foam elements are not good at doing the job air filter elements are required for (regardless of claims, SAE 726/ISO 5011 testing clearly indicates oiled foam elements are grossly inferior to woven/non-woven and blended fiberglass/paper/poly OEM elements).

Better air flow you say? Unless you operate your engine at, or near, maximum RPM, it's hype. Stick with the products engine manufacturers use simply because that's what they base their warranties on.

As Fram used to say; "Pay me now or pay me later".
Bob (Squidly Down Under) & Peg - 2013 Ford Focus pushing a 2011 Phoenix Cruiser 2552S
"In God we trust" to preserve our country and bring our Troops safely home.
Carry on, regardless..................
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:50 PM   #7
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MTCW-those bugger are not cheap, but I won't use anything by the fleetpride element. Now I need to crawl under the thing and check those fittings. One more thing my to list.

Monty & Janet - 2007 Alpine APEX 40 MDTS
S/N - 75715 - Retired - Master Certified RV Tech
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