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Help! Piece of seal in oil pan!

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by Mhampson, Dec 4, 2003.

  1. Mhampson

    Mhampson Rookie

    Nov 20, 2003
    12
    Marietta, GA
    Full Name:
    Michael Hampson
    When draining the oil (in my '79 308) , a small piece of a rubber seal (the kind of seal with the metal spring around it) came out of the drain hole. I could tell the piece was from this kind of seal, as I could detect the fine indentations from the spring. The piece was very small (~1/16" x 1/8" x 1/8").

    Obviously at least one seal has hardened and broken, and I need to replace it (and others I'm sure) asap, and I was wondering if this piece may have come from the cam shaft seals or the crankshaft seals? Are they all the same kind of seals? The cam seals are easy to replace, but I'm sure the main seals are difficult! Are there any other seals that this piece could be from that are internal to the engine?

    I would appreciate any suggestions or comments. Obviously this is a very scary situtation for me.

    I'm probably going to pull the cam covers and replace those seals. I'm thinking of dropping the "oil pan" and checking for any other pieces.

    Help!

    Michael Hampson
     
  2. Verell

    Verell F1 Veteran
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    May 5, 2001
    6,951
    Groton, MA
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    Verell Boaen
    Hmmm,
    Don't panic.
    If the piece of seal has the lip from the front of the seal on it, then something should be leaking oil like mad. Even if not, most seals leak pretty badly if the spring is only displaced.

    Also, it's very uncommon for a piece to spontaneously break off of a seal. I've never encountered it in 30+ years of working on cars. There aren't any forces to cause a seal to break.

    IMHO, If you don't have any leaks, then there's a good chance that this is a piece of an old seal that broke off while it was being replaced during a prior service.

    Also, I don't know of a seal that has failed & is leaking that wouldn't be visable. There just aren't that many seals that it could be from. My short list is:

    Crankshaft end main seals.
    Distributor camshaft seal
    Camshaft seal behind the belt gears.

    If you're really worried about it, then start by pulling the sump cover to see if you can find some more pieces. Consider this: Anything much larger will either be from one of the crank seals, or else is likely to be trapped somewhere up higher in the engine.
     
  3. pma1010

    pma1010 F1 Rookie
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    Jul 21, 2002
    2,556
    Chicago
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    Philip
    Verell
    Aren't there seals on the lower cam drive pulleys? Also, could his seal be related to the shift shaft seal (the one between the box and the engine) so the he wouldn't see the leak?
    Just a thought
    Philip
     
  4. Verell

    Verell F1 Veteran
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    May 5, 2001
    6,951
    Groton, MA
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    Verell Boaen
    A: Hmm, you're right, I wrongly keep thinking the seal is out-board of the bearing where it shold be. The outer cam driver bearing is running dry as the seal is in-bound. I should remember as I changed mine a couple of years ago. However, oil should leak thru the outer bearing & be visable.

    Good call, Haven't had to deal with that seal yet. If it isn't an o-ring, then it's the only seal that won't have visable results. Only check is to see if engine oil smells of trans. oil after a while, or else trans oil is becoming diluted w/ engine oil(harder to check).
     
  5. Mhampson

    Mhampson Rookie

    Nov 20, 2003
    12
    Marietta, GA
    Full Name:
    Michael Hampson
    Well, I dumped out the old oil and brought it to the recycler today, and I strained it through some screen before doing so and found a few more rubber pieces. From the arc of the pieces, the diameter of the journal that it originally belonged to was approximately 1inch or 2.5cm. I think that rules out main bearings. It corresponds to the cam shaft diameters I think, but I don't know enough about where the seals are to determine if there is any possibility of any pieces finding their way into the oil pan (the largest piece is not about 3/8" x 1/16" x 1/16". Any ideas about whether the lower cam drive pulley seals or shift shaft seals could do this? I'll also look into my workshop manual for clues.

    There is an oil leak, but it is not major, and has resulted in five ir six droplets over the past few days. Since the oil splatters everywhere when driving, I don't know where it is coming from, but I will clean under there and find the location of the leaks.

    I did drain the gearbox fluid too, and don't think there was any "mixing" but I don't know for sure. The gearbox fluid was much clearer and had that gear oil smell that the engine oil didn't.

    I REALLY appreciate you guys pitching in with comments to help out with my "panicky" situtation.

    Michael
     
  6. yelcab

    yelcab F1 Veteran
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    Nov 29, 2001
    9,068
    San Carlos, CA
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    Mitchell Le
    308 camshaft journeys are 25mm wide. Does that tell you something?
     
  7. Mhampson

    Mhampson Rookie

    Nov 20, 2003
    12
    Marietta, GA
    Full Name:
    Michael Hampson
    It tells me that it is likely that the cam shaft seals have failed, but I am wondering if it is possible for a 3/8" x 1/16" x 1/16" piece to get from the seal to the sump area. If not, then maybe it is one of the other seals mentioned above (not the crank seals obviously)

    In the last post I meant to write "the largest piece is NOW 3/8" x 1/16" x 1/16" rather than "the largest piece is not 3/8" x 1/16" x 1/16" Oopsie!

    Michael
     
  8. Verell

    Verell F1 Veteran
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    25mm/1" Sure sounds like one of the camshaft distributor end seals. The shift rod is slightly smaller, can't completely be ruled out.

    The camshaft belt gear end seals are quite a bit larger, ~60mm.
    The timing drive seals are about 10mm.

    The main oil return passageways in the 308 are quite large, so it's completely plausable for something much larger than your seal pieces to go from the cam area into the sump. I suspect that a 6mm nut could easily make it to the sump if it went into the right passageway.
     
  9. Mhampson

    Mhampson Rookie

    Nov 20, 2003
    12
    Marietta, GA
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    Michael Hampson
    Well, that's exactly what I suspect, then. I'm going to pull the cam covers over the next couple of weeks and I'll let everyone know what it was.

    Michael
     
  10. Verell

    Verell F1 Veteran
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    May 5, 2001
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    Groton, MA
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    Verell Boaen
    #10 Verell, Dec 7, 2003
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Are the pieces of seal the only reason you're planning on replacing the cam seals?

    If one of the distributor end cam seals has disintigrated, your distributors should be swimming in oil!!!

    If you're engine is now leaking oil into the distributors, then it's very likely that these pieces are left-overs from a previous service & IMHO it's not necessary to pull things apart.

    BTW, you do not have to pull the cam covers & cams to replace the distributor end seals. Just pull the distributors & the plates(#22) the seals(#18) are mounted in:
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