How well does *no* oil lubricate?

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Aug 2, 2002
Pitcairn PA, USA
A friend of mine came over today, to use my garage for a little bit while i was working on an engine. He changed his oil (chrysler 3.3 in a dynasty) and did some other miscellaneous stuff. Normally I give him a hand, but, well, i was tearing apart an engine, and i trusted him to do a good job. Everything was dandy, and we got the engine apart and into the basement like i wanted. All hell broke loose when he went to drive home. After he pulled out and drove away, i noticed there was an oil slick the whole length of my driveway, and halfway up the street. He made it home ok, and commented that the car still had oil pressure. That struck me as odd, seeing how there was at least a gallon of oil all over the road. Fortunately, the car is a beater, and it still (somehow) runs. We'll top it up with oil, put on a new filter, and cross our fingers. Anyone else have a story like this one?
Welp, disaster averted. Apparently the old gasket (purolator pure 1) was still stuck to the mounting plate (somebody didn't lube it?). So having 2 gaskets doesn't make for a very good seal. Somehow the car still had 2 quarts in it!
Years ago I had a '72 Skylark. I got it when it was 8 yrs old and kept it till it was 16 yrs old. I had very few problems with it till the very end. While driving home from work one day something alerted me to the oil pressure (idiot light maybe lit.) I was about 2 miles from home and continued on. When I pulled the dipstick, it was dry as a bone. I never did find out where or how I lost all the oil. I was using Arco graphite oil and I figured the graphite coating is what got me home. I was sorry to see it discontinued. BTW, there was no engine damage. I refilled the oil and everything was fine for several more years.
I've heard that in old engines that have been neglected, that the build up of sludge actually helps in situations where all the oil has been drained out. This sludge then at least provides a tiny bit of protection, at least for a short period of time. Someone correct me if I'm simply repeating an old wive's tale! [Razz]
There is many things that can save your engine. First, depending on the basic oil used, many times the barrier additive will give you enough protection to keep your engine from locking up for a short time. In your case, he still had oil pressure, with two qt's, that can be enough oil to provide a thin film, which can provide enough barrier additive to keep an engine from locking. When an engine is running and loosing oil, as long as oil is not put under extreme loads with heavy acceleration, you'll maintain some fluid in the bearing area as the oil only flows with oil pressure and since the bearing is spinning around with min oil pressure, that oil will stay in that bearing area until either squeezed or pumped. This is why so many "demo's" are running engines without oil as they will drain the oil when the engine is running and that film will stay in the bearings, kinda like a bucket of water being slung over your head and back down, the force leaves the water in the bucket. Now, had he been hard on the engine, and had to travel a long way, he may have done some damage but the amount of damage would vary depending on many factors and like many, just put in some fresh oil, and run will tell you more than guessing.
This is actually relatively common - if one is not paying attention - but I have seen it happen at "whacky lube" type places...the filter seal likes staying on the block not the filter.... As for the car - how far did he drive? If it goes - drive it! [crushedcar]
I have read that they (I think it was consumer reports). Wanted to duplicate the Prolong oil additive where two bimbos drove up the Cali coast with the oil pan removed [Roll Eyes] . They did it with two Briggs engines. Both engines one with the snakeoil previous added to the oil and drained, and the other with regular oil which was drained. They both ran 8 hours and had about the same amount of damage which was not real severe. Brings up another point though. I always run my finger over the engine filter mounting before installing the filter. I then run it at fast idle and check for leaks. I'm sure most do this. Perhaps your friend will do this also. [Big Grin]
I forgot to mention I too have had an experience with no oil.... 92 ford van with a 302 ford v8, had rebuilt the heads due to water leaking. Had been running the schaeffers 15w40 oil before and after the work. Anyway, fixed the heads, new oil, drove it around a couple of days, checked the oil, was down a little and didn't think much of it, topped off, and started on a trip to dallas from texarkana tx, approx 280mile trip. Got 63 miles out of town and look behind and saw smoke pouring out the back, pulled over, in a quick inspection saw oil dripping behind the engine from the trannie inspection cover, figured the rear main blew. Checked the oil, it didn't registar on the stick and I put my one and only qt of schaeffers in, still not registaring on the stick but I was so P O'd I said the heck with it if I have to pull the engine for a rear main I don't care if it blows up so back I went, 63 miles to the house. Next morning found that I had failed to tighten my oil drain plug. Ended up putting 5 qts back in, and drove it to florida twice, second time having moved with a 16ft tailer with everything on it we owned. One trip to mississippi and back, then sold it. 2 yrs later, guy was still driving it around. I had attributed that to the moly and barrier additive that schaeffers uses as this was not the first case I had heard of doing simular things. I know for a fact, my oil was all but gone. Sorry, no sludge as I had the heads off and know that wasn't a factor. I don't tell anyone this as a norm as I don't like anyone to think I am promoting the oil with this story but felt this story was appropriate for this thread.
Originally posted by Al: I always run my finger over the engine filter mounting before installing the filter. I then run it at fast idle and check for leaks. I'm sure most do this. Perhaps your friend will do this also. [Big Grin]
Yessss.... I can say from personal experience that this is the sort of mistake you make once [Smile] . Robert
I was teaching my future son-in-law the finer aspects of oil changes, etc. (Daughter was already an expert). I warned him about double gaskets and to make sure the old gasket was stuck to the dirty filter and not the filter housing. He did a fine job of making sure everything was clean and filled to the proper level. He started the car up and pulled out of the driveway, only to douse the driveway with oil. I motioned him to pull back in and stop the engine. We cleaned-up the spill and removed the filter to find two layers of gaskets. Emabrassing for him but he has never made that mistake again.
Consumer Reports did a test a few years back with the Prolong engine treatment. The results were the engine ran 13 seconds without oil before it siezed.
for some reason, i have changed oil hundreds of times, never had a double gasket problem....
I rode in a friends Chevy Suburban one day that belonged to his father. I noticed the oil pressure gauge was sitting on zero, and it also seemed to me it had plenty of valve noise. I point at the pressure gauge and he says "Nope, the gauge is bad. I've been driving it all week and it's never showed anything." OK. We stop for gas and he decides to check the oil. Nothing on the stick. We add two quarts and it's now showing on the stick but maybe 2 quarts low. We add 2 more and we're close to the full mark. Great. When we start the engine the gauge shoots up to 50lbs. [Eek!] Dad had to rebuild the Suburban about a week or so later... [Razz]
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