Brrrrrrr, it is back to feeling a bit wintery here in Finike the past few days as night time temps suddenly dropped down from 12C / 54F to 1C / 34F last night. Not that cold for many of you and my Canadian friends in particular but for us tropical wimps, this qualifies as cccccccold. Good reminders to us why we went so far overboard with insulation on Möbius and makes us eXtremely grateful for our heated floors and heated mattress pads. Most of the other live aboards here in Finike Marina are on fiberglass production boats which have little to no insulation which reminds us all the more just how fortunate we are.
The other great thing about the weather here of late is how clear the skies and the air are. The colder temps have also added to the snowfall frosting on the taller mountains that create the dramatic backdrop you see here. Fills me with joy every time I look up from my screen as I put this blog update together for you here on this sunny Sunday afternoon.
What’s up with this week’s title?
A bit of background for those who might not recognize the reference I’ve played with for this week’s title. While I’ve never been into sports very much, I do recall being with my Dad as a young boy while he was watching Wide World of Sports on the TV so I became familiar with what became the infamous opening to what was went on to become one of the longest running sports shows ever from its start in 1961.
For those who may not have seen this or its been a long time, below is a clip of the opening from YouTube.
I don’t know if they continued to use this opening throughout the long run of ABC’s Wide World of Sports but it ran for many, many years and the opening line of “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” played overtop of the same set of sports clips every week for years. Pity the poor ski jumper who had to watch this one nasty fall of his over and over and over again.
I’m not sure but I think this may also have been the catalyst for the similarly inverted saying of ‘”Snatching failure from the jaws of victory’” which would have worked as well, but I’m going with the iconic WWS version for this week.
I’ve taken a bit of literary license with this quote by inverting it and here’s why. I was reminded this week how some of the best experiences in our lives come out of some of what we thought at the time were the worst ones. in this most recent example the past few weeks have been very frustrating as my search for the root cause of the dropping oil pressure on Mr. Gee seems to always be just beyond my grasp. As all you regular followers of this mystery novel know, time and again I find what seems sure to be the problem and fix it, only to watch the oil pressure elude me yet again. So I’ve been feeling the “agony of defeat” quite frequently of late.
But on Wednesday morning, while catching up to all the overnight Emails I came across one from a long time follower of the Möbius blog which opened with this;
Good morning Wayne & Christine, I’m a boat addicted person that lives part time up and down the Queensland coast on my own steel Yacht/Money pit. Love my Yacht ANAWAI dearly for she is not only an adventurous mobile home but an ongoing Engineering Project that gives me great satisfaction. Sounds like ???…..
Monday mornings have become a thing to look forward to over the last three years as your MOBIUS adventures unfold. Your opportunity to choose and use a Gardener just leaves my blue with envy. Sometimes I take a cup of coffee and just look up the Mr. G parts of your posts. So rest assured that when I proffer the comments that follow I’m firmly on Team Mobius.
My Engineering career has made me a devotee of the humble and yet sophisticated O-ring. As youngster deep down Oil wells and later underwater marine seals and Industrial Hydraulic designs have had my finger prints on them. I live in Adelaide but the big hundred kilowatt machines have been built in Vancouver BC. A good reason to visit your home town. This career does not make me an expert but rather a devotee of the design principles laid out in the Parker O-Ring design manual.
From there, Stewart went on to provide me with his very thoughtful ideas on the problems I had been experiencing with the O-rings on Mr. Gee and attached a plethora of detailed specifications and best practices for O-ring design and installation.
Thus began a very deep dive into O-rings and we were soon Emailing and texting each other and sending photos and attachments back and forth across the dateline that separated us with the cause that united us.
Stew also drafted up some of our conversation which is super helpful and definately my kind of guy!
As of this morning we are still at it and believing that we have resolved the O-ring issues we have now moved on to our possible culprits I need to apprehend in the ongoing dastardly oil pressure caper which unfortunately continues.
How fortunate am I to have someone with such expertise to so generously reach out and give me so much of his time?!
And Stew now joins the other alumni of Team Möbius such as my University buddy Greg who is my top mechanic minded friend of all time along with Michael, James and David at Gardner Marine Diesel, who have been sharing their expertise and time equally generously with me for several months now. You can therefore understand how the inverted version of that opening TV line seemed to describe this past week so well as I reveled in the joys and thrills of defeat to have people like this rally around me while I am simultaneously experiencing the agony of victory that continues to elude me. The latter might not be what I’d wish for but the former makes me SO much richer.
Picking up where we left off…..
At the end of last week’s update, I left you with Mr. Gee hanging in the ER ready to be lowered onto his awaiting engine beds and closed out the blog with this;
As is my habit every time I start Mr. Gee, I will use the hand crank first to spin him up for a few minutes and check that there is oil pressure registering on the gauge. This ensures that all the oil galleries and bearings are full of oil prior to starting and reduces the chances of premature wear in the first few seconds after start up.
On Monday morning I soon had Mr. Gee back on his feet and as described above, I used the hand crank to spin him over for a few minutes to get all the oil galleries filled with oil while intently watching the needle on the oil pressure gauge. Sure enough, just before I huffed my last puff, the needle moved up to about 10 PSI. Yayyy, we’ve got some oil pressure!!! Checked oil level and other vitals and then I used the 24 volt starter to turn Mr. Gee over with the compression release levers still on and fuel still off and again watched the oil pressure needle which soon registered about 12 PSI so things continued to look promising.
With these initial tests complete and oil pressure showing, I could now finish making the reconnections for coolant, exhaust and other systems and Mr. Gee was at last ready to be fired up.
First step prior to starting is to use the starter motor to be sure that all the critical bearings have oil in them so I hit the starter button and watched as the engine turned over for a few seconds but the oil pressure needle did not move this time. What!?!? How’s that possible? It was just there! Tried again several more times but nada. Very strange and new behavior not seen before.
To investigate further I started to adjust the oil Pressure Relief Valve or PRV on the Right side of the oil filter housing which you can see in the photo above and the illustration on the Left here. The PRV acts as a pressure regulator to keep the oil pressure at the required 35 PSI @ 1000 RPM and the oil at 60C/140F. Typically this is used to fine tune the oil pressure when the engine is running and lock in the oil pressure at 35PSI. Turning the adjuster down creates more spring pressure which puts more downward force on the valve which reduces the amount of oil that bypasses the PRV and exits out the back in this illustration and flows by gravity to lubricate other parts such as the fuel injection pump and timing chain before draining back into the sump.
Given the lack of oil pressure now, I started to adjust the PRV down in steps of several turns each and then cranked the engine with the starter motor. it took several times but eventually I was able to get the oil pressure to finally come up so I now knew that the oil pump, which is also brand new BTW, was at least working. I turned the PRV one further bit till it was bottomed out and hit the start button and this ‘pegged’ the oil pressure gauge as the pressure shot up briefly to at least 80 PSI or more.
I knew more now, but things were obviously not right yet and I did not want to take the risk of starting the engine in this state. This color coded illustration of the lube oil systems on a 6LXB will help you visualize things.
While I could get the oil pressure up to 35 PSI by over adjusting the PRV, this reduces the volume of oil bypassing the PRV and going on to lubricate the fuel injection pump and timing chain so this is not a condition that can continue. Back to the agony of defeat for now!
You may recall from previous posts that as part of my earlier efforts to resolve the dropping oil pressure situation I had replaced the PRV with a new one just to be sure this was not part of the problem but now seemed worth double checking so I removed the PRV.
You can compare these photos to the exploded illustration above and see that the piston like valve is at the bottom, spring in the middle and threaded adjuster at the top.
This close up of the PRV itself shows how it works. The oil pressure coming directly from the oil pump enters the PRV at the bottom and right below this valve. In the illustration above you can see how this pressurized oil makes a left turn out and into the filter body just below the bottom of the valve.
By design and as with most oil pumps, there is more volume than is required for the crankshaft bearings, valves, etc. on the pressurized side so this valve gets pushed up to allow some of the volume of oil to bypass the valve through the two elongated slots you see here. When the pressure of the spring is just right, it allows the valve to ‘bleed off’ enough of the excess oil to keep the oil pressure below the valve at the required 35 PSI. A very simple pressure regulator.
Everything checked out fine, no dirt or sticking, so does not seem like this is the source of any problems and has just been useful in my detective work to help solve this recalcitrant mystery. By adjusting this PRV I was able to confirm that the pump was at lest working and capable of producing enough volume to bring the pressure way past what is required, BUT this only happens when I restrict the bypass volume so there are just two scenarios now;
- The oil pump is not producing as much volume as it should to provide enough oil for both the pressurized side for the crankshaft and valves, and for the non pressurized bypass side for the fuel injector pump etc..
- The pump is working properly and there is an internal leak that is allowing oil to escape which reduces the oil pressure when the PRV is in its normal position.
To find out which one of these scenarios is happening I have lifted Mr. Gee back up and removed the oil pan, oil pump and its drive gears and spent most of this week inspecting and testing these.
As the hunt for the culprit continues to intensify, we are now moving into the “anything is possible” phase and asking all the “stupid questions” which often turn out to put you on the right track in the end. One of the remote possibilities asks if the gears that drive the oil pump off of the camshaft could possibly be slipping?
in the upper Right corner of this illustration, part #11 is the drive gear that is press fitted onto the rear cam lobe body on the camshaft.
This is the smaller gear that meshes with the gear on the camshaft and wile difficult to do, I was able to unbolt this cover #1 from the side of the crankcase and gain access to both gears.
Here is what that smaller driven gear looks like. The larger drive gear on the camshaft is inside on the far Right.
To test both gears I locked their respective shafts in place while using a pry bar and a torque wrench to apply as much torque to each gear as possible and see I could make either of them turn on the outside chance that one of these was slipping and not driving the oil pump properly. Good news and bad was that they both checked out and did not budge, so I put them all back together.
This and the fact that I am able to get lots of oil pressure out of the pump by overadjusting the PRV would seem to eliminate scenario #1 so I am now moving on to scenario #2, an internal leak somewhere that is still haunting Mr. Gee’s innards. This is the original scenario that led me to find the problem with the O-rings which was very promising and clearly a problem that needed to be solved in any case. However with the new smaller O-rings and new deeper grooved fittings, that problem has been resolved but apparently another is lurking inside of Mr. Gee and that’s what the focus of all my attention now.
So I will be back to work again in the Engine Room tomorrow morning to implement the latest round of testing that the detective division of Team Möbius have put together over the weekend and with any luck this will lead us to finding and fixing the underlying problem so stay tuned for that.
Well detective fans, that’s a wrap for the week that was March 7 to 12, 2022 and where I will leave you for now. if you have some new ideas or some of those “right stupid questions” please type those into the “Join the Discussion” box below with my thanks and I hope you’ll be back for the next episode of “As Mr. Gee Turns”
You obviously have some better mechanical minds than mine working with you but I will offer a couple of observations-the oil filter seems to be of full flow design, most full flow filters have some method of bypassing in the event they become restricted in flow. How does your filter bypass ? Your problem is in the wide open dump position ( wherever the problem may be) and should be easy to find by attaching an alternate oil pressure source to the engine. We always had at hand a simple small tank with a shrader valve attached. Fill the tank with oil and air up the tank (50 lbs or so) and watch for escaping oil from all pressurized locations. The mains and rods will drip as normal ( you established their clearances) but that wide open dump location will run oil and empty the tank in short order. I feel your pain !!
Thanks much for the thoughtful suggestions Gary. As you will read in this week’s blog it turns out that your idea of using a pressure tank matched up with what my friend Greg and I had come up with as well and I did try this out. It worked but was difficult to make a definitive judgement with oil dripping down from all the bearings as you’d expect. But I was reasonably sure that there were no leaks at the fittings or anywhere else they should not have been so I was still glad to have done the test.
Best of all though, when I did get Mr. Gee all put back together and lowered in place and started him up, the oil pressure was spot on. The blog post will show what the true culprit turned out to be.
Thanks again for your help.
“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Would the problem be your Oil Pressure gauge or its inlet ?
Thanks Gary and Sail Free Spirit! You will soon read in the latest blog post how prescient your suggestion to check the oil pressure gauge turned out to be. Seems that a lot of us had the same thought about the same time and my thanks to you all for your help in finally solving the mystery low oil pressure.
Perhaps I missed it in previous posts, have you checked or replaced the gauge?
You didn’t miss anything and as per my response to GaryM below, your suggestion was spot on and much appreciated. You can read the full story in this weeks final episode of the three part series of this mystery.
Nothing to help, just congratulations on your seemingly infinite patience and great attitude.
Ahhh, but such kind encouragement is very much a help Ken so thanks. Not sure if my patience is infinite and it certainly has been tested a lot the past few months but it is like eating that proverbial elephant you just go at it one bite at a time. These are mechanical things so I remind myself that there IS a solution and I just need to be a good detective and logical problem solver to find it. As the saying goes, that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and I didn’t die trying so guess I’ve come out a wee bit stronger which will help me when (never if) the next challenge comes along.
Thanks again for you encouraging note, much appreciated.