Metallic "glimmer" in small engines?

Not open for further replies.
Jan 2, 2004
Is it normal for metallic "glimmer" to be present in used oil from a small engine? I just did a tune up and carb on a B&S Quantum 4hp engine and I've noticed the old oil, I dunno how old the fill was had a sparkle to it. I filled it back up with Delo 15W-40.
How old is the engine? What kind of use does it get, and whats it in? It is normal under certain conditions, especially because it doesn't have a filter. \:\!
I wouldn't say it was particularly uncommon depending on how many hours were on the oil and engine. I wouldn't worry. Maybe do a short 5 or 10 hour change and then resume normal ~25hr. or per season change.
My 15.5 B&S tractor engine doesn't have a filter, and the first 2 changes have looked pretty shiney. I changed out the factory fill for synthetic 10w30 at 5 hours and have been running synthetic since. I don't think it's an issue as the oil exceeds the requirements. I imagine it's just everything polishing itself in there and it will settle down. I'll probably pour a quart of cheap oil through as a flush on the next change.
I have heard stories about "silver oil" from some newer small engines after only 1-2 hours of service. Several short OCI's early on can pay off for these machines.
 Originally Posted By: o2man98
I little "Body Shimmer" is typical in small engines.
I'd have to agree - all the new small engines (under 7hp B&S types) had the "glitter" in the break-in oils.
My NEW Honda genset with a GX340 engine just had it's factory fill drained after 5 hours. (The manual suggested 20 hours for the first change....) It was pretty glittery. I assume this is normal.
Yes, the 'silver soup' you see in OPE engines with no filter is common ... but it isn't particularly good. Oils with shards of aluminum and/or steel in it is an abrasive slurry ... and it is this icky stuff you are counting on to lubricate your engine. Not particularly good. My solution is a few short duration oil changes, say 1-2 hours. This is especially true when the engine is new and still breaking in. Given the small sump size (usually less than a quart), these can be accomplished quite cheaply ... and without a filter to change you save time and money there too. So, if you have a piece of OPE you especially like or want to last a long time, I strongly recommend you give it a couple oil changes in quick succession to flush out a majority of this debris before settling into a once-per-year or once-in-20-hours schedule.
This silver soup seems to be mostly aluminum. Residential service engines run on the bare aluminum cylinder-no iron liner. The two Honda engines I'm familiar with didn't have much of that when changing oil. B&S seems to be the worst. Poor machining; poor cleaning; anyone's guess. Half a quart of cheap oil for two or three short oil changes is cheap insurance for long life. I can only shudder at the 'uninformed' masses who won't change the oil for a whole season,(or two) if ever. Then blame the engine failure on poor American quality.
I have a top end Honda and a low end Honda trace of shimmer or on UAO's when I did on a while ago. My Briggs Vanguard Commercial Iron lined..which is really a Dhaitsu Engine made in Japan ....has zero wear numbers after over 1000 hrs...It and the kawasaki are supposed to be the leaders even ahead of Honda according to a couple commercial dealer I spoke with. But the cost... I personally would not buy a mower with a B&S non lined engine. The new Kohler engines on Ariens mowers at Home Depot seem great as my neighbor has one and changed the oil after 10 hours. No shimmer at all. It's all about quality and B&S aint what it used to be.
Last edited:
Begining my 2nd season with a Troy bilt with a Honda GCV 160. Changed factory fill after around 5 hours to 8/10s of a quart M1 10/30, and just changed it today for begining of the season. Clean as a whistle, starts imeadiatly on the first half assed pull, and runs smooth like a BMW. I'm a Builder by trade, and you should see the way contractors and crews BEAT the [censored] out of generators, compressors, and their engines (mostly Honda and briggs). They were routinly run out of oil, at which point a laboror was dispached to 7-11 for a quart of the cheapest oil available. After cooling down, the Hondas ALWAYS started right back up, the briggs, not so much! That sold me on Honda engines right away, thinking " Imagine if you accually TOOK CARE of it"!
I'm starting my second year on my Honda GCV190. I haven't noticed any glimmer when changing the oil in it either.
 Originally Posted By: matt4270
...Clean as a whistle, starts immediately on the first half assed pull...
How did it do on the first start of the season? Mine started first pull on last year's gas.
Even in winter, I try to start it once a week and let it run for 5 minutes to warm up. This way I don't have to fog it,worry about Stabil,..etc. I tie a piece of twine around the kill switch bar and grab a hot cup of coffee while it idles. Not so bad! P.S- That's on last years gas, and it runs forever on one tank. I checked the gas level (almost empty) and figured I'd mow the backyard close to the change area and run out there. Did the back AND front yards and had to trust the gas tank seal when I dumped the oil!
My dad's B&S engine is 30 years old and hasn't had an oil change in 10 years... There was no fogging, just start and go the next season. Fogging a mower for yearly storage is a waste IMO.
I just store it on a compression stroke during the off-season. If I'm putting it up for a long time (multiple years) then I run the gas out and drain the bowl, were applicable, drain all the oil, and fog it with WD-40 or similar. I do this with my generators, because you just don't know when you'll need them, but when you do, you don't want to spend a couple hours rebuilding a carb or something. I keep a couple of cans full of stabilized gas and at least 3 changes of oil on hand for each during hurricane season. My target downtime in the event of a power outage is 15 minutes or less for critical stuff.
Not open for further replies.