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Old 08-11-2016, 10:22 PM   #1
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Fluids analysis as part of PDI ?

Going to look at a 14yr. old DP this weekend. 93K miles.
Cat 3126 300 HP
Allison MH3000 6 spd
Freightliner chassis

My questions are:
1) Will taking oil samples for analysis be effective to determine healthiness
2) Do you have to go further like on an automobile and do compression test etc.
3) If fluid analysis is a good barometer, can you recommend an online lab that gives good data and fast turn around
4) Should I take samples of all 4 main components: engine, tranny, radiator & differential

Any other comments welcome.

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Old 08-11-2016, 10:47 PM   #2
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Engine oil analysis can tell the condition of much of the engine's health. You could do the same with the generator. A compression test on a diesel is difficult, there's no spark plug to remove and take a compression reading, which is much higher than a gas engine anyway.

Important things to check, besides drive train, is the roof condition, any signs of previous leaks (headliner stains, odor) tire age, all house systems work properly, etc.


Bob & Donna
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Old 08-12-2016, 04:42 AM   #3
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If the fluid you intend to sample isn't brand new then yes it will provide a good indicator of over all health. If the oils have less than 1000 miles of use the results might not provide the desired results. Engine, transmission and the generator. If you are looking at a diesel the coolant is tested with colored test strips that can be performed on site. Not sure about availability of testing services for a deeper look.

I use Blackstone Labs for my coach. Standard testing takes about a week with mailing the sample and testing for $28 each. You can have the testing expedited for an additional cost. They do sell a pump kit that you can use to pull a sample using the dip stick rather than having to crack open the drain plug.

Blackstone Labs

If you are in a rush order a LemonAide kit for $100 which includes the sample one bottle, pump, prepaid return express mailing and one day testing turn around. Second and additional tests are $28 each.
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Old 08-12-2016, 07:05 AM   #4
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The primary purpose of PDI fluid analysis is to find problems that already exist. As mentioned, wear metals and the progression, don't say much unless a condition is extreme. IIRC the 3126 is a parent bore engine so liner pitting doesnt exist. You are trying to find if the tranny oil and engine oil coolers have coolant contamination, already. Corrosion metals number, again, unless put in the context of a trend only give a single data point. A single bad number it could be due to poor sampling technique or the analysis it self due to uncertainty in the process.

Don't get me wrong, I would do them, but you have to put the number in their priority. If you have maintenance records and the MH's condition reflects that, then a borderline number would suggest a retest.
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Old 08-12-2016, 03:04 PM   #5
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Fluid analysis would be a good thing!
Joe & Annette

2002 Monaco Windsor 40PBT, 2013 Honda CRV AWD
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Old 08-12-2016, 05:11 PM   #6
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93k on that 3126... assuming it's stock 300 HP is just getting broken in. I believe some were rated at 330 HP. That engine is common in many School Buses and will go 500k with normal maintenance.

Unless it was completely abused or mistreated I can't imagine it will lead you to any major conclusions. That is a parent bore engine so you're not going to see cavitation erosion.

If you have a good feeling about how the coach was maintained in general everything is most likely okay. On a 14 year old coach I would be checking the roof, looking for delam, checking house systems, etc - 93K on that CAT is a good number IMO... that is about 6,600 miles per year that engine is just getting warmed up. Same goes for the Allison. I have seen those tests come in all over the board and not mean a whole lot unless you're looking for a specific problem. I

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