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Old 02-15-2012, 12:52 AM   #1
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Radiator Coolant entering Pistons L10

Hi,
I have a Cummins L10 Engine 1985 model that has been running great until yesterday. After some initial inspection have concluded that radiator coolant has entered the two rear pistons (5 & 6)

This has only happened suddenly yesterday, engine has been running fine, no signs of overheating previously or losing coolant nor water in oil etc.

We have taken the aftercooler off and had it leaked tested, but it is 100%. Has anyone have any ideas to diagnose the problem. Where is a good place to start?
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:38 AM   #2
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compression check
2 adjacent cylinders is often a head gasket
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by lange22 View Post
Hi,
I have a Cummins L10 Engine 1985 model that has been running great until yesterday. After some initial inspection have concluded that radiator coolant has entered the two rear pistons (5 & 6)

This has only happened suddenly yesterday, engine has been running fine, no signs of overheating previously or losing coolant nor water in oil etc.

We have taken the aftercooler off and had it leaked tested, but it is 100%. Has anyone have any ideas to diagnose the problem. Where is a good place to start?
I can be of service in this. Before you pull any cylinder heads, pull the oil pan off and have the cooling system pressurized with a radiator cap tester pump. Pump it up to about 15 PSI. Roll the engine over until each piston; 5,6 are at top dead center. Do you see coolant running down the cylinder liner? If yes, you have a case of liner pitting. The fix? Complete overhaul of the engine with new cylinder kits....big bucks. Have you been using a coolant filter with chemical in it? How big is/was it? Is the antifreeze you are using have an SCA precharge or just plain old green antifreeze? The sudden failure mode is more indicative of the last little bit of cylinder wall was breached by a pit.

To test the head gasket theory, do this first, before pulling the pan: Take the hose off the radiator cap fill neck. Connect a long flexible plastic tubing or rubber hose long enough to reach outside the engine compartment. Pull the cap off to see if the coolant level is low. Put that hose into a clean jug of water. Start the engine and allow it to warm up. Put the transmission in gear, higher the better as doing a "stall test" in first gear may overpower your brakes.....better to do it in second grear. The stall test will cause the turbo to speed up and the resulting increased combustion gas pressure may cause a steady stream of bubbles to come out of the hose. If it does, the head gasket is kaput! That is a lot better than an in-frame overhaul which in a motor home may be impossible meaning the engine comes out anyway. Replacing the head gasket(s) and putting on a rebuilt head is easier and cheaper. It could also be that the cylinder liner ledge has cracked or the top flange has major fret wear that allows the liner to sink down into the cylinder block. If so, big expense as the block top deck flange counter bore will need to be cut with a special machine tool and new liners installed with shims to get the correct liner protrusion.
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:29 PM   #4
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Blown Headgaskets

Get a good headgasket/blocksealer and follow the instructions to the "T",it works great.i used it on my car several years ago.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lange22 View Post
Hi,
I have a Cummins L10 Engine 1985 model that has been running great until yesterday. After some initial inspection have concluded that radiator coolant has entered the two rear pistons (5 & 6)

This has only happened suddenly yesterday, engine has been running fine, no signs of overheating previously or losing coolant nor water in oil etc.

We have taken the aftercooler off and had it leaked tested, but it is 100%. Has anyone have any ideas to diagnose the problem. Where is a good place to start?

How did you determine coolant is in the cylinders?
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Old 02-16-2012, 03:14 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses. We've got some good areas to start looking. We were able to tell there was water in cylinders 5 and 6 by removing the aftercooler and rotating the engine backwards. The pistons pushed the water up through the inlet valves into the air port.
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Old 02-16-2012, 07:02 PM   #7
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You've got enough run time left to do the tests suggested, but zero over the road time left on the clock. Gotta get this fixed before rig moves under its own power or you'll totally lunch whatever is left of engine.
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:21 PM   #8
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I think it's probably head gasket blown between the two cylinders.
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:30 PM   #9
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Jim, you being the tech all the years you have been....know you can't "think" especially via the internet to diagnose a situation as the OP has....correct????
Count ALL the ways coolant can enter a cylinder...and then consider the diagnostic info you have seen above and rethink your thinking.
The poor OP is in a tough situation and doesn't need speculation for a repair procedure....right?
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:51 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by macantic View Post
Get a good headgasket/blocksealer and follow the instructions to the "T",it works great.i used it on my car several years ago.
Never in a million years would I gunk up an engine with that stuff. It doesn't know the difference between a hole in a gasket and a tube in the radiator!
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Old 02-17-2012, 04:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by sc3283 View Post
Jim, you being the tech all the years you have been....know you can't "think" especially via the internet to diagnose a situation as the OP has....correct????
Count ALL the ways coolant can enter a cylinder...and then consider the diagnostic info you have seen above and rethink your thinking.
The poor OP is in a tough situation and doesn't need speculation for a repair procedure....right?
Well, I thought we were all just trying to help each other out here. I didn't realize that free sharing of thoughts was excluded. I deal with the same questions every day on the telephone, and if this question was asked of me on the phone my reply would be the same as it is right here in type.

Here's why I said that it's probably a blown head gasket.

Coolant gets into cylinders from 1)blown head gasket 2)leaking cylinder head 3)leaking cylinder liner 4)leaking after cooler

His after cooler is not leaking, according to a pressure test. It could be a cracked or corroded liner, but two adjacent liners at once is improbable. I suppose it is possible for one leaking liner to allow coolant into that cylinder, and if the engine was stopped in the right position, when that cylinder filled up with coolant, the coolant could push out through an intake valve and flow through the intake manifold and enter another cylinder. That could happen, but it's improbable, and why only the adjacent cylinder? It could be an injector tube. I don't remember if the L10 uses them, I think it does. Again, the probability is low of only two adjacent injector tubes leaking all at once.

The bottom line here is, I don't think there's an easy way to diagnose this anymore without the cylinder head taken off.

The OP stated that the engine was running fine as always. Suddenly on next start up two cylinders were full of coolant. Classic blown head gasket symptoms.

Take the cylinder head to an engine machine shop, get it pressure tested and warpage checked. If there's nothing wrong with the cylinder head, and nothing wrong with the old head gasket, then it's time to start looking at the liners. You have to have the cylinder head off to be able to look at them anyway, so there's no harm done.

I realize the OP is in a tough situation. I wish I could think of an easy solution, like replacing the rad cap. But I can't. I can only think through the facts and try to make a realistic intelligent statement that I hope will help the OP to decide what his next step is going to have to be.

Having said all that, I can hope that I'm wrong. I've been proven wrong before. Based on the facts we've been given, I still say that I don't think he's going to find what's causing the leak without taking the cylinder head off the engine.
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Old 02-17-2012, 08:39 PM   #12
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Well, I thought we were all just trying to help each other out here. I didn't realize that free sharing of thoughts was excluded. I deal with the same questions every day on the telephone, and if this question was asked of me on the phone my reply would be the same as it is right here in type.

Here's why I said that it's probably a blown head gasket.

Coolant gets into cylinders from 1)blown head gasket 2)leaking cylinder head 3)leaking cylinder liner 4)leaking after cooler

His after cooler is not leaking, according to a pressure test. It could be a cracked or corroded liner, but two adjacent liners at once is improbable. I suppose it is possible for one leaking liner to allow coolant into that cylinder, and if the engine was stopped in the right position, when that cylinder filled up with coolant, the coolant could push out through an intake valve and flow through the intake manifold and enter another cylinder. That could happen, but it's improbable, and why only the adjacent cylinder? It could be an injector tube. I don't remember if the L10 uses them, I think it does. Again, the probability is low of only two adjacent injector tubes leaking all at once.

The bottom line here is, I don't think there's an easy way to diagnose this anymore without the cylinder head taken off.

The OP stated that the engine was running fine as always. Suddenly on next start up two cylinders were full of coolant. Classic blown head gasket symptoms.

Take the cylinder head to an engine machine shop, get it pressure tested and warpage checked. If there's nothing wrong with the cylinder head, and nothing wrong with the old head gasket, then it's time to start looking at the liners. You have to have the cylinder head off to be able to look at them anyway, so there's no harm done.

I realize the OP is in a tough situation. I wish I could think of an easy solution, like replacing the rad cap. But I can't. I can only think through the facts and try to make a realistic intelligent statement that I hope will help the OP to decide what his next step is going to have to be.

Having said all that, I can hope that I'm wrong. I've been proven wrong before. Based on the facts we've been given, I still say that I don't think he's going to find what's causing the leak without taking the cylinder head off the engine.
Sound advice!
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Old 02-18-2012, 08:45 AM   #13
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Thanks for the responses. We've got some good areas to start looking. We were able to tell there was water in cylinders 5 and 6 by removing the aftercooler and rotating the engine backwards. The pistons pushed the water up through the inlet valves into the air port.
Di you try to crank the engine and find that it would not turn over? What caused you to take the aftercooler off? Sometimes, water on the piston is cause for bent connecting rods when you try to start the engine. There is sufficient force to do that.

I would still recommend doing the bottle test to determine if there is a continuous air flow into the cooling system if it has a head gasket issue. Knowing that first will save you from having to remove the liners just for inspection. How much coolant have you been losing over how long a time frame? The L10 has a coolant filter. Have you been changing that coolant filter (with DCA) or adding a liquid supplemental coolant additive? If not, it still could be a liner pit has breached the cylinder wall. Did you loosen the oil pan drain plug to see if coolant comes out? Loosen it, not remove it. With it loose, coolant will come out first.

I agree that if it is a head gasket or if it is a liner pit, either way, the cylinder head comes off. Since an L10 has long been out of production, it could have some liner pitting issues that have not shown previously. If you were unaware that it needed DCA and a coolant that precharged with DCA or similar additive, pitting could still be the case. If you remove the head without doing the 'bottle test' you have no way of knowing if any liner is pitted other than to remove all of them and inspect. Since you have them out, replace them with new cylinder kits. The bottle test helps you determine how far you have to repair the engine; just a head job and gasket or much worse. Removing the pan with the cooling system pressurized with a hand pump and each piston (5,6) at top dead center will show if coolant is running down the liner into the lower end. That is liner pitting. That then becomes a total overhaul or exchange with a Cummins Recon engine.

Do the EASY stuff first....ALWAYS.
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Old 02-18-2012, 10:09 PM   #14
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Thanks for the responses. We've got some good areas to start looking. We were able to tell there was water in cylinders 5 and 6 by removing the aftercooler and rotating the engine backwards. The pistons pushed the water up through the inlet valves into the air port.
Please keep us informed with your progress. We're very interested and hope we can help out with your problem.
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