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Old 09-25-2023, 08:49 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2023
Posts: 31
HELP!! Major coolant in oil / oil and coolant issue T444E

Hi all, it's a pleasure to make myself known on this site, I have been using it a lot to help me along with my bus I acquired a few months ago. I have a '97 international 3800 with the T444E.

My girlfriend in I are on our maiden voyage from Florida to Minnesota to work the sugar beet harvest. We only had a short time after building out the bus to test drive it. During our time converting it in Florida and on the road i fixed some major issues. I had the IDM rebuilt, new valve cover gaskets with wiring harnesses, new OEM glow plugs, rebuilt injectors, replaced some problematic sensors, new radiator, new fan clutch, new water pump.

The major problem has been the cooling system. When I got the bus, I assume somebody had filled it with pond water because there was major corrosion in the radiator and behind the water pump. It ran just fine up until we got out of Florida and started seeing real hills. I replaced the radiator in Nashville and it ran great for about 200 mi when I got an oil / water light.

I pulled over and noticed the oil pressure dropping to about 7 inconsistently, I saw fluid leaking I opened the hood and saw chocolate milkshake pouring out from the degas bottle. Coolant in the oil, oil in the coolant. Both about the same consistency.

I took apart the oil cooler, the only part of the cooling system that I am aware of I hadn't replaced, and it was totally corroded shut. It had probably hadn't been working since I got the bus. When I removed the oil cooler, I saw the gasket on one of the ends had ruptured, so it made sense to me that this allowed the coolant and oil to mix together causing my issue. I installed a new oil cooler, flushed out the cooling system best I could on the side of the highway, put in a mixture of water and simple green, did an oil change, and attempted to drive the bus 1 mile to the nearest Dollar general.

The bus was running just a little rough so I took it easy on the throttle, got to the Dollar general and let it idle. Sounded like it was misfiring with puffing sounds coming from the air box. No codes, no smoke from the tailpipe. Checked the dipstick and it was milky. Checked the oil in the pan and it was also milky, smelled like the simple green that I just poured in to the degas bottle. It seems like the oil cooler wasn't the issue, and coolant and oil are mixing together on both ends still.

I read somewhere that this can be a cavitation issue with the front cover behind the water pump. I am really hoping that this can be an easy fix, but if not, life is life. Please let me know any information you may have, we are in a pretty bad spot right now. Working on getting AAA RV insurance upgrade but it takes a few days until you can use it. Much appreciated everyone, this forum is incredibly helpful to a lot of people

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Old 09-25-2023, 11:33 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2023
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If I had to guess Id say that you lost injector cups and or orings especially if coolant system was compromised. The early 7.3 indirect engines had electrolysis issues that ate into cylinder wall. With no smoke present I would say that you are not getting coolant in combustion chamber. At first glance I would suggest that a injector failure is your miss and you might find problems with coolant in the injector cups. Also it takes several flushes of crankcase to get rid of awful milkshake. I assume that you are mechanically inclined and doing work yourself?
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Old 09-26-2023, 12:19 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thanks for the response. Got permission from dollar general to keep the bus here until I can figure out how to move it, southern hospitality at it's finest ��.

The injectors are newly rebuilt by diesel injectors so Cal, less than 1200 miles on them. Do you know anything about that company?

It would be a real bummer if they failed that soon, but that would be a much easier fix than a cylinder or front cover.

As far as injector failure goes to, there is something else worth noting that I forgot to mention. When I check fuel pressure the needle bounces from around 40 to 60 PSI rapidly. Sometimes it dips slightly below 40. I've read people say this is normal function of the mechanical fuel pump, but it seems a little strange to me.

That's a good place to start though. How would I go about diagnosing injector cups? Can you confirm if they are bad with a visual inspection?

And yes I'm doing all the work myself with fairly basic tools
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Old 09-26-2023, 01:58 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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I just had an idea. To my knowledge there's no physical location where the coolant and oil could come into close contact with one another with both of them being at the same pressure (correct me if I'm wrong). If this were the case, a leak between the barrier separating them would allow even exchange between the 2.

I suspect that the oil, being a higher pressure than the coolant, is being emptied rapidly into the coolant from somewhere. Once enough oil is lost into the coolant, the oil pressure drops below the cooling system pressure of 10 psi, pushing the oil/coolant mixture back into the oil.
This would explain the same milkshake in both the degas bottle
And the oil pan.

(Once again correct me if I'm wrong, just hypothesizing here)
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Old 09-26-2023, 03:58 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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The 7.3 is NOT A WET SLEAVE engine any water to oil intrusion is going to be in the front hpop to water pump area or via the oil cooler. Also check oil filter location as some commercial set ups have a secondary cooling system around the filter bypass valve that is mainly used to keep oil warm during use of a block heater in cold temps
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Old 09-26-2023, 08:20 AM   #6
Bus Geek
 
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injector cups will net you water in the oil but not oil in the water, broken injector O rings wont result in oil / water Mixing.. a cracked head could as you have HPOP and coolant lines within the heads..



it takes a lot of flushing to clear the mix in an engine.. levels are key.. if you change the oil and fill it back up and run it 5 minutes, let it set 10, then check the oil.. that is your base.. now if you drive it and find the oil level has changed significantly up or down then you can assume the mix is still occuring..


the fact your oil cooler was clogged shut and corroded is telltale that htis engine was abused at some point.. possibly why the bus was sold off even..



misfires.. if you unplug the valve cover harnesses and then crank the motor, the cranking should be even.. if you hear a lot of uneven-ness in the cranking it indicates a compression issue someplace... ie normal re-ne-ne-ne-ne



compression issue it sounds like re-ne-ne-neeeea-ne-ne

thats a poor man's compression test


fuel pressure bounce is normal.. at idle its really noticeable on a gauge but at higher RPM its not nearly as biouncey.. i have my motor tuned to the likes of 350 HP and that mechanical pump bounces at idle and doesnt run out of fuel when running wide out..
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Old 09-26-2023, 11:43 AM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Just did the poor man's compression test. Cranking sounds normal and consistent. I put in 19 quarts of oil yesterday and drove about 1 mi, didn't stay for 5 and let sit for 10 though. The dipstick is basically bone dry, with the exception of a small droplet of sludge on the very bottom.

I did a blow-by test too while it was idling yesterday. Plugged up the lower vent hose and set the oil cap upside down on the fill port. No significant blow by.

Checked the drain pan again and it definitely smells like the simple green that I had just put in the degas bottle. I was hoping that there is just still remaining sludge residue in both the oil and the coolant but the fact that the oil smells like simple green and the significant loss of oil after driving 1 mi has me scratching my head
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Old 09-26-2023, 12:49 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Just let some liquid out of the oil pan. Simple green/ water solution settled to the bottom, no oil to be seen. I don't know if you can see the attached image, I am having trouble uploading it.

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Old 09-26-2023, 01:07 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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I'm curious now if maybe I had two failures at once. After I replaced the radiator in Nashville it was the first time the bus had really been driven properly since I've had it. When we left Florida it was getting warm but I've heard these engines have the tendency to do that, and it was hot outside, so I didn't think too much about it.

I am able to see oil pressure on the bus but cannot see oil temperature.

Now I'm curious if pushing the engine hard for the first time on hills with a functioning radiator and non-functioning oil cooler May have caused the oil to get hot resulting in a failure that allowed coolant to escape into the oil. And possibly the ruptured oil cooler gasket was the reason for oil in the coolant, which is now fixed but I am still seeing oil in the coolant obviously because it hasn't been properly flushed yet.

I can confirm that coolant is still escaping into the oil, but I cannot confirm if oil is still escaping into the coolant after the oil cooler replacement.
EDIT: But the extreme drop in my oil level may say otherwise
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Old 09-26-2023, 01:33 PM   #10
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
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Year: 1991
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Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
so im a little lost.. you put in 19 quarts of oil and then the stick was dry after driving 5 minutes? as in the oil was full and now its empty? as in you drained a couple gallons of oil out in just a 5 minute drive?
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Old 09-26-2023, 01:44 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Just drained a gallon of coolant out of the pan until I saw oil, poured in a gallon of oil and started it. I left the degas bottle cap off so I could observe the coolant. The coolant level immediately started rising and I had to shut the motor off around 30 seconds in before it started overflowing. This leads me to think that either oil is rapidly flooding into the coolant, or that the simple green in the coolant is foaming up and expanding. I did a few radiator flushes with simple green before all of this though and I never had a foaming/overflowing problem, so this leads me to think that oil intrusion is the cause of the coolant level rising rapidly.

Sorry for multiple posts, trying to be as informative as I can
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Old 09-26-2023, 01:55 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Yes and there are no visible leaks. I ran out of water in my bus water tank so I was only able to put in about 2.5-3 gallons into the degas bottle before I drove. By the time I made it to Dollar general one mile away that Degas bottle started flooding after idling for less than 5 minutes after the drive
EDIT: so the coolant started to overflow after the 5 minute drive even though it was only partially full
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Old 09-26-2023, 02:35 PM   #13
Bus Geek
 
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Engine: DTA360 / MT643
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that much oil going that quick... trying to think where oil meets coolant .. a cracked head? timing cover area may have adjacent lines.. oitherwise its the oil cooler which you have changed..
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Old 09-26-2023, 02:50 PM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Yeah it's wild, and so sudden too. I checked the oil and coolant just before the 200 mile drive where things went south. All levels were fine, oil was good, no discoloration.
I'm just really at a loss here because I really don't know how there could be such a massive loss of oil into the coolant, and also coolant into the oil.

I wonder if somehow I boogered up the oil cooler install. All the gaskets lined up correctly and I had the cooler ends pressed on the Ford dealership. I tried to do it myself and cracked the head with the oil filter base so I had to find another one at a junkyard. I inspected it for cracks or any other damage and it was fine as far as I could tell
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Old 09-26-2023, 03:12 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Just an idea, do you think it would be possible to track down the leak if I were to disconnect all the coolant lines and blow smoke into the engine? In theory, I could see which port the smoke is coming out of and maybe track down where oil and coolant are in close proximity to each other by tracing that port
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Old 09-26-2023, 08:18 PM   #16
Skoolie
 
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Year: 2001
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: T444E, Allison 2000
Rated Cap: 72
This sounds to me like an oil cooler. Engine runs. Oil pressure pushes oil into cooling system. As cooling system gets hot it will pressurise. You shut off the engine you have no oil pressure. Then coolant back feeds to oil. That's generally how I see the cross contamination.

Regardless. You have changed the oil cooler. Damaged gasket to block on install?

What I would do, pull drain plug. Poor in water, pressurize the system. See if water starts coming out of the oil pan with plug removed. If you can't pressurize it then let it sit overnight and check.

Either way, I think you have a serious failure. I would just stop driving it and get it looked at/towed. Worst case I think you might need a long block. Avoid driving it, the bearings in the bottom end don't like coolant and I'm worried they might already be damaged, I would hate to see you spend anymore money on that engine unless the oil pan is dropped and the bottom end checked over.....with that said the oil pan removal is a sucky/costly job.

This is why I picked up a spare engine and have one ready to be dropped in. They are getting old and one day finding a used runner will be near impossible.
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Old 09-26-2023, 08:45 PM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnibot2000 View Post
This sounds to me like an oil cooler. Engine runs. Oil pressure pushes oil into cooling system. As cooling system gets hot it will pressurise. You shut off the engine you have no oil pressure. Then coolant back feeds to oil. That's generally how I see the cross contamination.

Regardless. You have changed the oil cooler. Damaged gasket to block on install?

What I would do, pull drain plug. Poor in water, pressurize the system. See if water starts coming out of the oil pan with plug removed. If you can't pressurize it then let it sit overnight and check.

Either way, I think you have a serious failure. I would just stop driving it and get it looked at/towed. Worst case I think you might need a long block. Avoid driving it, the bearings in the bottom end don't like coolant and I'm worried they might already be damaged, I would hate to see you spend anymore money on that engine unless the oil pan is dropped and the bottom end checked over.....with that said the oil pan removal is a sucky/costly job.

This is why I picked up a spare engine and have one ready to be dropped in. They are getting old and one day finding a used runner will be near impossible.
Thanks for the info. I hope there hasn't been any engine damage, The first time I ever heard it start to sound anything but normal was after I drove it one mile to the Dollar general while idling. I shut it off less than 1 minute after it started sounding funny. When I poured in fresh oil and started it today it sounded great, but then I shut it off pretty much immediately when the coolant was about to overflow.

Can damage bearings be detected with a compression test? Or is that something that needs to be visually inspected?

Right now getting it towed is our first priority. This bus has just about drained us of funds, so we have to make it to work up in Minnesota. Luckily we have a solid Astro van to make it there.
If anyone here has or knows anybody near Louisville, Kentucky with a trailer big enough to haul this thing, send me a message. We are doing everything we can to leave tomorrow to make it to work on time.
length from front bumper to center of rear wheel 19 ft, wheelbase 16 ft, total length 28 ft, width at back tires 91 in, weight 16,500 lb

EDIT: We have to make it to work in Minnesota so all repairs must be done in about a month's time when we come back. I'm trying to figure out more of what I'm dealing with here so I'm prepared. I will run that coolant pressure test as soon as I come back and update you.
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Old 09-26-2023, 09:56 PM   #18
Skoolie
 
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Engine: T444E, Allison 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roamin_andrew View Post
Thanks for the info. I hope there hasn't been any engine damage, The first time I ever heard it start to sound anything but normal was after I drove it one mile to the Dollar general while idling. I shut it off less than 1 minute after it started sounding funny. When I poured in fresh oil and started it today it sounded great, but then I shut it off pretty much immediately when the coolant was about to overflow.

Can damage bearings be detected with a compression test? Or is that something that needs to be visually inspected?

Right now getting it towed is our first priority. This bus has just about drained us of funds, so we have to make it to work up in Minnesota. Luckily we have a solid Astro van to make it there.
If anyone here has or knows anybody near Louisville, Kentucky with a trailer big enough to haul this thing, send me a message. We are doing everything we can to leave tomorrow to make it to work on time.
length from front bumper to center of rear wheel 19 ft, wheelbase 16 ft, total length 28 ft, width at back tires 91 in, weight 16,500 lb

EDIT: We have to make it to work in Minnesota so all repairs must be done in about a month's time when we come back. I'm trying to figure out more of what I'm dealing with here so I'm prepared. I will run that coolant pressure test as soon as I come back and update you.
Bearings are checked visually. I've just seen similar situations where contaminated oil is run. A repair was made to deal with the coolant getting to pan.Then short time later bearing gets spun with a damaged crank.

When you replaced the oil cooler. You should have had new o-rings with the cooler. It keeps your coolant and oil separated. Was it hard to install the end caps? They are a real bear to get on. Had to use a ratchet strap around both end caps pulling them in onto the cooler with lube. I've even used a rubber mallet as well to get it started.

The block surface should be perfect clean. Just a metal plate with a seal but from what I remember of that gasket I think if it was damaged it would develop an external leak along the block.

I can't see cavitation being the problem, oil can't get into the cooling system as fast as you say.

The T444e never really had head gasket or front cover issues to speak of

Maybe a cracked cylinder head as suggested? Who knows if it got hot but if the cooler was plugged it sounds like that engine has been run hard.

What's the miles/hrs on it?
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Old 09-26-2023, 10:14 PM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2023
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Check fuel tank for oil if injector and or orings failed high pressure oil can get pushed in fuel system. Also I do process of elimination and physics coolant pressure should be at or damn close to cap pressure Im not sure what factory installed but under 30 psi oil pressure for bearings 30-60 psi oil pressure for injection 10k- 30k and definitely double triple check the oil cooler Ive also seen front cover crack from not being properly seated when torquing gasket misaligned etc sounds like more than one issue I can diagnose better over phone then in text lmk if you want my email and we can set something up my private messages wont allow me to open
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Old 09-26-2023, 10:59 PM   #20
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnibot2000 View Post
Bearings are checked visually. I've just seen similar situations where contaminated oil is run. A repair was made to deal with the coolant getting to pan.Then short time later bearing gets spun with a damaged crank.

When you replaced the oil cooler. You should have had new o-rings with the cooler. It keeps your coolant and oil separated. Was it hard to install the end caps? They are a real bear to get on. Had to use a ratchet strap around both end caps pulling them in onto the cooler with lube. I've even used a rubber mallet as well to get it started.

The block surface should be perfect clean. Just a metal plate with a seal but from what I remember of that gasket I think if it was damaged it would develop an external leak along the block.

I can't see cavitation being the problem, oil can't get into the cooling system as fast as you say.

The T444e never really had head gasket or front cover issues to speak of

Maybe a cracked cylinder head as suggested? Who knows if it got hot but if the cooler was plugged it sounds like that engine has been run hard.

What's the miles/hrs on it?

I attempted to put the caps on the oil cooler myself by jacking it up under an e250 cargo van. I wasn't careful enough and cracked the edge off of the metal plate where the oil filter seats. I had to find a new end cap at a junkyard. I brought the oil cooler to a Ford dealership where they pressed it together using the same o-rings that I used in my failed attempt. Maybe the o-rings were damaged from my attempt but they didn't notice. First thing I will check when I come back from Minnesota will be the oil cooler.

The engine has about 98K
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