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Old 05-05-2011, 06:54 PM   #1
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Oil on Ground

Today when I stopped and the wife went to register (Saguaro CO-OP) I took a look under the coach to see if everything looks OK. Everything was good and then I drove about 1/4 mile uphill at a very low speed and parked. While setting up I heard the pop-off valve pop and then a little while later I looked under the coach and noticed a good sized oil spot on the ground, under the air dryer. The air dryer cartridge was changed out about 1100 miles ago. There was no oil at the registration area. Why did it do this?

Thanks,
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Old 05-05-2011, 08:23 PM   #2
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Your air drier takes out the moisture and sometimes will spray a little oil that the compressor might build up. If it leaves a big oil spot you might need to have your compressor checked,I don't know how many miles your unit has on it or how big the oil spot was so I just am giving a broad thought.
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Old 05-06-2011, 08:20 AM   #3
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I spoke with a technician at Bendix and he said to check the air intake for the compressor to make sure it wasn't constricted. Any idea where the air intake is on a 330 cummins?
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Old 05-06-2011, 08:47 AM   #4
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Not exactly--but on the 400ISL, a hose/pipe runs from the compressor to the large air intake pipe that provides filtered air from the filter canister to the turbo/engine. Unless that pipe/hose has some how collapsed [not likely], there is probably not any "restriction" on air flow to the compressor.

Dont recall ever seeing an "oil spot" beneath the dryer on our 2003. Also assume it is only a coincidence that you just had the air dyer serviced. A one-time by-pass of a "large" amount of oil is also unlikely so your compressor is probably the issue--not too many posts on compressor failures but guess it can happen.
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Old 05-07-2011, 03:03 PM   #5
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You can trace it easily enough from the compressor to wherever it "gets" air. On earlier Alpines they specified filtered but not boosted air for the compressor. On mine, it takes air from just before the intake manifold, which when under way is after the turbo and therefore "boosted" as much as 30psi. Not sure why the change, maybe just for a shorter run. At any rate it should be after your air filter for the engine.

Is your air filter restriction indicator working? Easy to check after any run, see if it is holding vacuum by pushing the button to release vacuum. If it doesn't do anything it may be stuck or vacuum tube to it may be cracked & represent a leak. If its working & not showing undue restriction, you can probably conclude that's not a problem.
Low air suspension thread earlier discussed this to some length. See post #15, et seq.
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Old 05-08-2011, 10:44 AM   #6
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I would add to this post that you may have an increase in engine blow-by due to a plugged crankcase breather. The blow-by exhaust tube on my ISL 400 comes out below the engine not far from the air dryer. My air dryer accumulates oil from the blow-by tube and requires a cartridge change every couple years or so. If the breather gets plugged, it will put a fair amount of oil out the blow-by tube and appear to be near the air dryer discharge area on the ground.

I have had our breather tested by Cummins in January in Austin, TX, and again a couple weeks ago by Cummins in Yakima to make sure it's working, and it produces about 3-4 inches of water column vs an allowable of 12 before needing to be replaced. Yet it still puts out a fair amount of oil blow-by and messes up my bell housing/oil pan area, requiring me to clean it off every few months with brake cleaner to keep the engine tidy. The engine itself does not use much oil--about 1 quart every 3000 miles or so.

So if your engine is using more oil, or you're noticing a lot of blow-by, I would have your breather checked by Cummins, if you haven't done so. I thought I had a compressor problem with the low air suspension issue on the post mentioned above, for a while, with the oil in the air dryer, but it was this blow-by issue. And I have learned from E-Mike and others to run the engine a little low on oil -- near the add mark, and it blows by less than when it is more full. I also had my dipstick calibrated at Cummins Yakima so it shows 20 quarts at low and 24 quarts at high.

Just another thought -- but it may be worth checking.
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Old 05-08-2011, 06:36 PM   #7
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EMike,

Thanks, I am not much of a mechanic but it looks like it comes off the valve cover somehow or just below it, at least something does. So that is why I am going to someone that hopefully knows at La Mesa.

OldForester,

My blow by is on the opposite side of the engine and I use a bottle to capture it. So I have no doubt that it came from the dryer purge valve.

I will report back after Tuesday to what they find.

Thanks to both of you,
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Old 05-08-2011, 09:49 PM   #8
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If you're capturing the blow-by in a bottle, then it could well be a compressor leaking past its seals. Cummins tested mine last year by disconnecting the air line from the compressor to the dryer and holding tissue paper over the line while revving the engine to see if it blew oil onto the tissue, which it didn't. So it's a relatively easy test.

Be interested to hear what you find on Tuesday.
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Old 05-09-2011, 08:05 AM   #9
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OF--not sure I follow yr description of engine blow-by vs air compressor blow-by. Dont believe the two are related--not with regard to yr air dryer anyway. Our you saying engine oil was being forced thru the air compressor because the breather tube was "plugged?" Yr air dryer keeps oil and moisture out of the compressed air coming from the compressor. Given that we dont have air brakes or pull a trailer like semi-trucks, the fact that you are changing out dryer cartridges every few years suggests something is very wrong with your compressor. Even after 8 years and 115k on our 2003, the Bendix tech wanted to know why I felt there was a need to change cartridges--His words: "if there are no signs of oil or moisture in your air tank drain valve or excessive collection around the dryer exhaust port, dont mess with the cartridge."
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Old 05-09-2011, 01:18 PM   #10
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Old Scout,

Blow by was the only reason the Cummins techs could come up with for the oil in the air dryer, and I know it doesn't make sense. Blow-by could only come back around through the air intake, and that's a ways away. We did check the air dryer this year at service and it was fairly dry, with very little oil, so I might get by longer than 2 years this time.

Having checked the compressor a number of times for oil leaks while the engine was running, and not finding any, and not having in the air tank, I'm thinking perhaps I was putting more load on the compressor with the leaking roto-chamber issue I had for most of the 5 years. Since I replaced the roto=chamber, air pressure builds a lot more quickly and the relief valve activates a lot more quickly. I'm just wondering if the compressor was working harder to keep up with the leak and oil was seeping past the seals/rings, a little more than it has since I changed the roto-chamber.

Just a theory, but the compressor is pumping air just fine and we can't make it leak when the engine is running and the line to the air dryer is disconnected.
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Old 05-13-2011, 04:46 PM   #11
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Turns out we had a bad air compressor so Inland Kenworth in Tuscon replaced it for us. This failure was a result of an engine dusting we suffered not long after we purchased the coach on '03. The prior owner had replaced the air filter with one that was one number off so it was not long enough and therefore there was a gap between the end of the air filter and the air filter housing. So I guess I ought to be gratefull that we got another 6 years out of the compressor vs the engine rebuild.

Thanks for all the suggestions.
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Old 05-13-2011, 06:41 PM   #12
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I would say your symptoms were not typical of a defective compressor. When mine failed I had trouble getting the air bags to inflate and oil was visible when I operated the drain valve. Glad you have it all resolved now.
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