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Old 05-11-2019, 10:31 AM   #1
Signmaster
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1995 SL1
Default Piston soak revisited: Methods and observations

TLR version

Soaked with B12 and MMO. Got a decent bit of junk out. Long term results pending.



Soooo... after years of seeing posts about soaks I finally reached the point to try one. The SL1 we purchased new used little to no oil until it passed 100-110K, but since then consumption has creeped up some. Though it's not terrible compared to some, it was probably nearing 1 qt per 600-700 miles or so. Without looking at records IIRC it was below a quart between changes up until the 125-130k mark. After that things ramped up. As a side note, it seemed to eat the first 1/2 quart quickly, and refilling to full would result in the same. Once it was 1/2 quart down, it seemed to slow quite a bit. But anyway, I figured since I'd have the car down for at least a few days waiting for a new coolant reservoir, I'd do a soak.

I rotated the crank and got the pistons to right about mid stroke. First soak was Berrymans B12, two ounces per cylinder. Essentially all of it drained overnight from all cylinders. Two more ounces per cylinder, and the following day there was a little left in each cylinder. I pulled it out with a vacuum and got the cylinders more or less dried up. The Berrymans did a great job of loosening the carbon deposits on the pistons, and pulling out the fluid you could see the small pieces and the cloudy liquid from the carbon. After the Berrymans I drained the old oil overnight and put the plug back in the pan.

Stage two was MMO. About 2.5 ounces per cylinder this time. Over the course of several days there was some drain down in all cylinders, but it was slow. I refilled as they drained over that week, and let it keep going through as much as possible. On Thursday that week I pulled the fluid out using a hose and vaccum from a squeeze bottle. I noticed the carbon bits, so dumped it all into an empty disposable water bottle and refilled each cylinder to 3oz each of fresh MMO.

The following day I removed the MMO and dumped it into the empty water bottles, then let the carbon settle and reused it. I flushed a number of times until I had essentially clear MMO coming out. I figured no sense in leaving any loose deposit crap in the cylinders to blow through the ports, and less chance any of it cooks back onto the pistons and/or ring package.

Now void of MMO, I put about two ounces of oil in each cylinder, then after a couple hours or so turned the engine over by hand several rotations. Evacuated all the oil thoroughly, put some used but good plugs back in, and fired it up. Very minimal smoke show after a start crank almost as short as normal. I did get some more smoke as it gained heat and burned off the little that blew into the ports and was left on the pistons.

While the oil was soaking in the cylinders, I pulled the drain plug on the oil pan and let it drain into a now clean catch pan. Overall I got about 12-13 ounces of MMO that made it through the ring package over that week.





Observations on the fluids...

The B12 loosed stuff up fairly well. Though it's really thin, it held the carbon chunks and fine stuff in suspension fairly well and didn't allow it to settle much really. By comparison, the MMO allowed much stuff to settle quickly so you could use the MMO again by just pouring off the stuff on top slowly.

I was considering using some oil to "flush" the cylinders at first, and filled one with some oil. The oil suspended the stuff well (as expected) but then you couldn't use it again since it wouldn't settle

But obviously both the viscosity and film strength of the B12 is very, very low. Anything that ended up on the sides of my water bottles could easily be "swished" with the liquid and it all ended up on the bottom again. With the oil, the bottle just turned into a hot mess of suspended goop.





I'm really not expecting much from the soak, but for the $10-12 of fluids it was worth a try. My car exhibits symptoms more indicative of bad valve guide seals really, and after the last oil change for some reason I would get some smoke after long traffic light stops, even though it was oil that never showed visibly smoke the previous change.

But I'll see if there is any long term change in the consumption.

...
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Old 05-11-2019, 11:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: Piston soak revisited: Methods and observations

Thank you for posting your experiment.

I recently did a head gasket R&R. While the head was off, I cleaned the piston crowns. That stuff was baked on!

I used (gently) various scrapers, a teaspoon, etc to scrape off the deposits. Brass wire brushes finished the job. I'd bet B12 would have made the job a lot easier. I also put some MMO in the cylinders for a few days- it couldn't hurt.

BTW my 97 SL (with 196,000 miles) has had synthetic oil for about 95% of its life. Even so, there was crud in the combustion chambers.

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Old 05-12-2019, 08:04 AM   #3
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Default Re: Piston soak revisited: Methods and observations

I haven't always run synthetics, but the car was purchased new and has been maintained properly. That B12 seemed to loosen things up fairly well, so I'm hoping it cleaned things up in the ring package some too.

I haven't seen any smoke out the exhaust yet, but right now I'm running a mix of diesel oil with the conventional. After a short mileage change for cleaning things up, I'm going to go back to the oil that caused the initial smoking issue, and see if it still smokes.

...
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Old 05-12-2019, 12:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: Piston soak revisited: Methods and observations

Thanks, fascinating stuff. Looking forward to the updates.

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Old 05-15-2019, 07:22 AM   #5
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Piston soak revisited: Methods and observations

Having seen all the various soaks, I'm actually surprised that I haven't seen one mention getting all the crap back out the top better than just cranking the engine.

TBH if someone really wanted to raise the chances of cleaning the ring package up well, I think the thing to do would be do a flush of the piston tops with B12, then push it through the rings. If a person took each cylinder to TDC on the compression stroke, you could add fluid and then use some air pressure to force it through the rings.

...
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Old 08-18-2019, 09:14 AM   #6
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Default Re: Piston soak revisited: Methods and observations

Update time

Less than 2,500 miles since the flush. I only really use the car as the beater commuter and here and there for really short trips.

Consumption is a bit below 1 qt per 1000 miles now. I logged each time I added any oil at all, and just totaled it up the other day after noting the mileage. I decided against the short interval change, mostly due to time. But I've added the thinner oil that it was smoking with on the previous change, so at this point it's probably about 75-80% that oil.

No visible smoke yet, regardless of idle times and traffic.



I might do another long term soak, but this time take the cylinders to TDC and push some fluid through with air pressure. The two fluids did a good job on the top of the pistons, so I have no doubt that can help the rings if you can manage to dislodge the stuff that is loosened up.

...
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Old 08-19-2019, 08:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: Piston soak revisited: Methods and observations

When I did a Chemtool soak, one cylinder would not drain. I used engine compression to force the fluid past the rings by manually rotating the engine a bit. The process did indeed force the fluid past the rings. Consumption went from 400 mi/qt to 1200 mi/qt. The soak is no substitute for a proper rebuild, but it can help reduce oil consumption.

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