Hypothetically speaking, how long until . . .

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Blatham489, Apr 29, 2019.

?

How long would a paper shop towel survive in the oil pan?

Poll closed May 13, 2019.
  1. Less than an hour

    7 vote(s)
    36.8%
  2. Less than 20 hours

    4 vote(s)
    21.1%
  3. Until the next tear down

    8 vote(s)
    42.1%
  1. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Let’s say a plane goes in for maintenance or repair. Somehow, one of those blue paper/cloth hybrid type shop towels ends up in the oil pan. How long is it likely to stay down there before something bad happens - plugged passages, covered sump inlet, getting shredded, etc., and then the obvious carnage that results from same?

    Engine is an IO-520
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  2. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    I'm not answering until you tell us the rest of the story.
     
  3. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not able to discuss, but I can tell you I didn’t do it.
     
  4. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don't know, but back when I worked in a truck stop one guy left a red rag in the intake, and by the time the truck got to the end of the street there was little pieces of smoking red rag shooting out the stack....

    And actually all it did was sputter for a few seconds, then cleared up and ran just fine.
     
  5. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Pattern Altitude

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  6. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Ah. So this is what you intended to post anonymously.

    :)
     
  7. Stingray Don

    Stingray Don En-Route

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    I’ll take; “Things I don’t want to find out first hand” for $500, Alex.
     
  8. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    The answer to this is determined by which engine.
    The oil sump on a Lycoming is not a part of the rotating groups, it is well screened for oil pic up, So the towel should stay there for a long time.
    O-200 same thing. but the 0-300 the oil sump is part of the case and very close to the spinning crank cam and other moving parts.
     
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  9. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Aren't we happy shop towels don't have owners names on them.
     
  10. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Exactly how to you get a towel in the sump of an assembled engine without intentionally pushing the towel through the filler?
     
  11. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Some accessories, when removed, leave a large hole in the crankcase. That needs covering while waiting for the accessory to be rebuilt.
     
  12. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    Why? You mean you are planning on flying until you get to the “best guess” from POA on how long it has? Or else if it is flown, and goes over figure that the rag wasn’t left in there?
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
  13. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    We had a mechanic leave a red cloth shop rag in a Honda automatic transmission during a rebuild. It clogged the pump intake, and wasted the new clutch packs, in about 20 miles. I'd be pulling every cover I could off of that engine.
     
  14. Jim Rosenow

    Jim Rosenow Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Bought a Piper Clipper (Lyc 0-235) near KC one time, flew it home to DSM, and while I was getting my insurance check-out the engine quit (another story). We found a red shop rag in the engine when we tore it apart. Point being, it could be awhile....

    Jim

    PS- If you're ever getting checked out by a CFI in a different airplane and the engine quits...two words to know. "Your airplane" :)
     
  15. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Pattern Altitude

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    I'm aware of an IO-470 that had a blue towel act as a "magneto hole cover" while the mag was out for overhaul. The towel was overlooked on reassembly and fell into the accessory gears.

    A blue towel in the accessory case of an IO470 will take about 3 flight hours before it grenades the engine, in that instance. The gears dutifully shredded the towel and everything got plugged. It was a starved main bearing that got the motor.

    In an IO-520, though... a paper towel in the sump... this sump:

    [​IMG]

    How would a square, oil-soaked (thus, heavy) towel accidentally position itself to completely envelop that inverted sump screen and block it?

    I can see reduced oil pressure and extra filtration from the additional paper :D but it's easier for me to imagine a towel found in the bottom of the sump at overhaul and laughed about.
     
  16. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    I would hazard a guess that the flow of oil toward the pickup would take the paper towel (with its very large surface ares) along with it, covering the pickup screen. Saturate a paper towel in used crankcase oil and imagine how much oil is going to pass through it under moderate suction. I suspect the oil pressure would drop enough to grenade the engine pretty quickly when that happened.

    On the bright side, once the engine quits the paper towel will probably sink back to the bottom of the oil pan.
     
  17. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Pattern Altitude

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    covering a 4" round screen completely? Eh, maybe.. I imagine the towel would be pulled in the direction of the screen, and held on that side by suction, not necessarily wrapping and enveloping the screen completely. At least not instantly.

    I wonder how much oil pressure can pass through a paper towel? Those oil filter pleats seem sturdier than a blue towel, but of course, oil filters have that nifty bypass.

    Either way, OP's (apparently months ago :D ) question regarding the towel getting shredded and plugging oil passages, I think there is zero chance. It's just a question of how much the sump screen got covered, how much oil pressure remained, and how long is reasonable for a pilot to notice this serious lack of OilP and take measures prior to damage occurring.
     
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  18. Doug Reid

    Doug Reid Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When I was in A&P school, one of our instructors purchased a used Cessna 182. When he changed the oil, he found a cloth shop rag under the oil filter. It had been there for about 40 hours..no symptoms of a problem existed as far as I recall.
     
  19. PiperW

    PiperW Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Take off the quick connect oil drain.

    drain oil

    Borescope camera inside oil pan.

    That is all I got
     
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  20. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So.... how long did the engine last.??
     
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  21. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    About 5 minutes

    6FBFABBD-0082-4816-9E8C-A42EF64E2A5D.jpeg DBACF3F3-5879-4A85-8769-829E5D836970.jpeg 2648B533-A76C-4B38-A0D6-3A0E88FB225F.jpeg 9AEEA452-C0C6-4541-9C4B-225E632BF5C2.jpeg 8DDD9898-13F2-4028-9028-1FFEB26AFAB8.jpeg
     
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  22. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Wow.. I was with schmookeeg in this one
     
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  23. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    That thing is maximum fuct
     
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  24. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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  25. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Pattern Altitude

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    Gross. I'm amazed the blue towel turned to muck like that, those things are pretty tough. :eek:

    Since I'm eating my words on my hypothesis, any idea how long that thing was in there?
     
  26. timwinters

    timwinters Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have no input or suggestions, just a side story.

    I washed a pair of jeans or hoodie recently with an oily blue shop towel in a pocket. I was amazed that it came out of the dryer in one piece and relatively clean! It had shrunk to about 2/3 of the original size but was still quite usable...so I did!

    I almost took a picture and posted it here but didn't get around to it.
     
  27. Lachlan

    Lachlan En-Route

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    JB Weld and about angle grinder will get that thing running again.
     
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  28. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks though! I’m a cheapskate maybe I’ll start washing em!
     
  29. Jeff Oslick

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    That looks expensive.
     
  30. TCABM

    TCABM Cleared for Takeoff

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    I assume that was five minutes after you picked the plane up, which makes me wonder if or for how long the shop ran it before you picked it up.
     
  31. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Correct, 5 mins flight time. I did a slightly longer and more thorough run up since it was first flight post-maintenance. All looked good, The failure happened quickly. I was at low power (from memory 12-15” MAP) heard the engine start to get loud, looked at the gauges, next thing I knew (maybe 2-3 secs) it got very loud and lots of vibration, puff of smoke from under the cowl (no doubt as the holes got punched in the crankcase), then I knew I was about to have a bad day. Plane was a total loss, I walked away without a scratch.
     
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  32. Rushie

    Rushie Pattern Altitude

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    I like the bold part.

    Yikes.
     
  33. Lachlan

    Lachlan En-Route

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    Hopefully your wallet didn’t take any impacts, either.
     
  34. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route

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  35. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Pattern Altitude

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    I wonder if it was a regular paper towel instead of a shop towel?
     
  36. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    blue paper shop towel
     
  37. Rotorwash

    Rotorwash Filing Flight Plan

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    Was wondering who covered the loss of the aircraft? Maintenance facility or owners insurance? I am guessing owners insurance paid for list aircraft then claimed the payout back from the shop?
     
  38. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Insurance covered the stated amount. We're "discussing" the balance of the remaining value with the shop currently. I'll try to remember to post an update when a judgment is made, probably this year.
     
  39. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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    Note the professional descriptive captions on the photos. They almost look like the type you would find on plaintiffs exhibits.

    ;)

    :D :D
     
  40. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Cleared for Takeoff

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    Just some further anecdotal evidence as to the ruggedness and durability of those blue paper shop towels...

    When this whole mask-wearing thing became a public necessity almost two months ago, I made a mask out of a blue shop towel, a paper clip, and two rubber bands as suggested by our local news website. It worked so well (better than a cotton cloth or other woven material) that I figured I'd just make a new one every day or two rather than go through the hassle of fighting hoarders trying to buy one. After wearing it, I spray it until it's soaking wet w/ some very serious sanitizer I use in homebrewing. Still haven't had to make a second mask... Seven weeks later.

    Would NOT want one in an engine.
     
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