Sold at nearly 400k miles! Still ran great, but showing signs of rust…

My WVO truck started to show rust above the rear wheel wells about a year ago.  I use this truck to visit customer sites, so I needed to do something about the rust.  The truck runs great mechanically, so I considered having the wheel wheels repaired or the bed replaced.  In the end, I decided to upgrade this 2002 F-250 7.3L with almost 400k to a 2003 F-250 7.3L from Texas with almost 90k and no rust.  I have cut my driving from 30-40k/year to 10-15k/year.  Most of those miles are going to be local short-trip miles, which aren’t good candidates for WVO fuel.  If I begin driving many long trips again, I wouldn’t hesitate installing a WVO conversion system on the new truck.

I had several out-of-state buyers interested in the truck. I offered to drive the truck to both of them.  I recently took the truck on an 1800 mile trip with no problems, so these 400 mile or 800 mile trips didn’t concern me.  Amazing how well it still ran considering it was approaching 400k miles!

A farmer who has access to WVO bought the truck.  I asked the new owner to consider giving me a call around 500k so that I could hear how things are going.  Not sure if I’ll ever hear from him, but I’d like to think the truck will last another 100-200k or more…

2014-01-15 13.43.36 800x600

Transfer Pump Failure

Short recap for those unfamiliar with my setup:  My truck stores WVO in a pair of 60gal GFS Trekker tanks.  I treat the rear-most tank as my “dirty” tank and only pump WVO into that tank.  I treat the forward-most tank as my “clean” tank and feed the 7.3L PSD engine from that tank.  Each time WVO leaves a tank, it passes through a Racor 1000 fuel filter and a 2020SM (2-micron) filter.

I use a small 12V gear pump to transfer WVO from the “dirty” tank to the “clean” tank.  The WVO is pulled out of the “dirty” tank, through the Racor 1000, through this 12V gear pump, and then sent to the “clean” tank.  I use a switch in my dash to turn the pump on/off.  Do NOT forget to monitor the fuel level in the “clean” tank.  I have had a big mess on more than one occasion because I pumped too much WVO into the “clean” tank.

This transfer pump failed (again).  The first failure occurred in 11/2009.  I do not recall why it failed and did not seem to write about it.  This time, I left the pump running for a very long time and ruined it.  Golden Fuel Systems sold a replacement “One/Half Shot Pump – OSP01” for around $260 after S&H in 2009.  I received a Fill-Rite FR1602 pump.  I learned that GFS would remove the gear pump from the enclosure and discard the enclosure.  The internal pump that Fill-Rite was using in the FR1602 is a “Marco UP3/OIL 12V gear pump” (P/N: M164-020-12).

I contacted GFS to purchase another replacement.  They informed me that they are unable to provide an exact replacement (Fill-Rite discontinued the FR1602).  They are now selling a much more expensive GFS Gathering Pump Kit for $415+S&H.  The new pump may be superior (or not), but I preferred an exact replacement because I had already fabricated a custom mount that allowed me to attach the “Marco UP3/OIL 12V gear pump” to the side of my fuel tanks between the two Racor 1000 filters.  I was able to find several FR1602 and Marco UP3/OIL products in the $225-250 range.  Sharing in case anyone else is needing to replace this pump, but did not have the Fill-Rite or Marco part numbers.  Good luck!



Leaking Ford 7.3L Oil Cooler Seals and Gaskets @ 374k

I parked my F250 in our attached garage last winter, which means I rarely had to start it in cold conditions.  The garage has insulated doors and rarely drops below 45-50F.

I began restoring my 1950’s Chevy truck this summer and it currently lives in the garage.  Now that I’ve begun cleaning up and/or replacing many mechanical items, I hate the though of parking it outside if I can avoid it.  That means the F250 is going to see a lot of cold starts this winter, unless we decide to move to a house with a larger garage or build a shop in the near future (both are unlikely).  As a result of the cold starts, I am beginning to have several issues with old/brittle seals and gaskets failing on my 2002 Ford 7.3L PSD.

One of our first cold mornings of the year was 10/26/2012.  I started the F250 and immediately moved it to the end of the driveway to warm up so that it would not be in the way while moving some things in and out of the garage.   The 7.3L PSD left an 8″ to 10″ pool of oil at the end of the driveway after warming up for about 5-10 minutes.  There was no spill where the truck had been parked overnight.  The engine stopped leaking after it was warmed up.  I immediately soaked up the oil with rags and then thought to take a picture showing the size of the spill (see below).  We had a very strong north wind (blowing from right to left).

I was unable to determine the source of the oil leak.  My mechanic couldn’t tell either because there was such a huge mess of oil on the underside of the truck.  He had me add dye to the motor oil around 11/12 and come back a few days later.  He was able to confirm the leak was coming from the oil cooler on 11/15 and determined that we could replace all of the (expensive) seals and gaskets for around $200 (parts) compared to replacing the entire oil cooler for around $1000 (parts).  I believe there were 4 seals and 1 or 2 gaskets.  He showed me how brittle the old seals were afterwards.  When you bent them, they just cracked apart!  The work was completed on 11/19/2012.  I have had several cold starts since the repair, without any oil leaks!

The following pages describe the same issue I was having and these people seemed to perform the same repairs:

UOA results @ 370k

Comments — “Iron and lead are a little higher this time around, but it’s hard to call these levels a problem since we’ve seen them before from this engine (see the 9/19/2010 sample). For now, they are just something to watch. Fuel dilution was present at 3.0%, which is a cautionary amount and could show a fuel system problem. The potassium and sodium is from the WVO. These levels are normal for your engine (see unit/location averages). The TBN was 5.8 showing lots of active additive left, but try just 5,000 miles next due to wear and watch your oil pressure.”

Status Update

Just a note to let everyone know that all is well and that my WVO-powered F-250 is closing in on 370k.  Not much worth writing about.  Here’s a summary of happenings…

I continue to send oil samples to Blackstone Labs at every 5k oil change interval and continue to see favorable results.  Still using MC 15w40 oil ($17.50/5 qt) and MC FL-1995 oil filters ($9.95/ea).  These two items are just about the ONLY reason I go to Walmart.  When I first started doing the oil changes in ’09, cost was $10.50/5qt and $9.95/filter.

New brake pads all around and new rear calipers at 329k in 05/2011.  Went with Wagner ThermoQuiet pads ( – EX756 @ 39.63, EX757 @ 39.17) and rear brake calipers from the local parts store.  I wasn’t planning to replace the calipers, but one failed a few days before I was planning to install the rear brake pads.

Replaced my glow plugs with ease around 338k in 08/2011, which completely resolved my sluggish startup issues on cold days last winter.  I had already replaced my glow plug relay (MC F81Z-12B533-AC, International 1831646C1 @ $40-50) only to learn that was not the problem.  Total cost was $315.00 for 8 glow plugs (MC ZD11 F4TZ-12A342-BA @ 9.38), 2 valve cover wiring harnesses (MC F81Z-9D930-AB, International 1830844C93 @ 50.99), and 2 valve cover gaskets (MC F81Z-6584-AA,  International 1826703C1 @ 69.49).  Purchased from Sean at Geiser Ford (309-923-2141).  They often sell on eBay and are much more reasonable than our local dealerships on certain items.  Call them for a quote!  Very nice to have working glow plugs on those mornings when you forgot to purge WVO.

Batteries didn’t seem to be holding a charge very well.  Truck almost did not start after a longer session of pumping WVO with my 12V pump.  Interstate tested the MTP-65 batteries and confirmed at least one was defective.  They replaced both free of charge at 346k in 10/2011.  Batteries were originally purchased at 279k in 10/2009.  I would have expected the batteries to cause problems right away or last much longer, but I suspect the 12V heaters on my Racor filters or the 12V pump I use could have caused issues?  Regardless, couldn’t have been more pleased with Interstate batteries especially after the unexpected free replacements!

I noticed that my coolant reservoir had become very brittle and had a hairline crack on the top, so I replaced the reservoir around 350k.  I don’t think the issue was related to the ELC as much as age.  I switched to red ELC (FELCC7997G @ 19.55/gal, local International dealer) coolant around 293k in 05/2010.  I mixed this concentrated ELC with distilled water after flushing and flushing all of the green out of my system.  Flushing was a PITA, but there are helpful guides online.  I basically drained the green, topped off with tap water, ran engine.  Repeated until there was only a hint of brown (rust, not green coolant?).  Drained one more time, topped of with distilled, ran engine.  Drained one last time, and filled with about 55/45 or 60/40 coolant/water mix to account for the remaining water in the cooling system.  Should have ended up with close to a 50/50 mix.  The coolant claims zero maintenance for 600k (no flushing or SCA additives) and is supposed to be compatible with nearly all 99-03 7.3L PSD engines.  The ELC still looks great at about 75k, so I don’t think I am experiencing any WVO contamination issues either.  I was initially hesitant to convert at a cost of about $20-25/gallon, but have no regrets.  Might even splurge and drain/fill with new ELC after 200k just to be safe.

Changed my transmission fluid and transmission filter (screen in pan) at 354k in 04/2012.  Fluid looked great and very small amount of debris on magnet.  Probably could have run the fluid longer, but glad to think that my transmission is doing well.  Purchasing Valvoline ATF DexIII/Mercon by the case (12 quart) for $46.27+TAX from a local Valvoline wholesaler.  Purchasing Motorcraft FT114 Automatic Transmission Filter 7R100 from Geiser Ford (via eBay) for $22.99 each.  I believe I am still using the original transmission which hasn’t needed anything except regular service since I purchased the truck at 250k.

Completely cleaned out my Racor-1000 filters and installed the rebuild kits at 354k in 04/2012.  I really only needed the check-valve kits (Racor RK11028B Check Ball Kit @ 15.50), but it seemed sensible to replace all of the seals for an extra few dollars (Racor RK11-1404 Seal Kit @ 27.50,  If I had to do it again, I would just purchase the check-valve rebuild kits.  The other seals and gaskets seemed to be in good shape after 100-120k of service.  Each Racor filter includes replacement seals for the lid and the larger of these seals seems to be identical to the other main seal in the filter.  I had been aware for quite a while that my check-valves were failing.  One time, this left me stranded because I replaced the filter elements but forgot to top off the filter bowls with fuel.  Since the check-valves were failing, the canisters would completely drain if you left the lid open too long.  The check-valve ball was perfectly fine, but the check-valve gasket was very brittle and cracked in both filters.  If someone could sell the check-valve gasket by itself for a few dollars, they would make a fortune.  Ridiculous paying $15 for the ball and seal/gasket when you only need the seal/gasket.

After recommendations from several friends, I switched to TreadWright tires.  I went with an aggressive read last fall (4x 265/75R16 GUARD DOG M/T (E) @ $111 ea).  Found a great deal on a second set of original 99-03 F-250 wheels on CraigsList, so I purchased another set of TreadWright tires with highway tread and switched to them this spring (4x 265/75R16 SENTINEL A/T (E) @ $108 ea).  Will keep the more aggressive tires for the winters.  Both sets are wearing very well, but I am rotating them about every 5k to be safe.  Other than an issue with the first set being balanced incorrectly (easily corrected), I am very impressed.

My sources for WVO are changing, possibly for the better though my cost has increased from $0/gal to $1.50/gal.  I’ve recouped my initial costs enough times that I’m willing to spend some money on fuel if it simplifies my operation.  Now picking up oil in pre-filtered 35LB (4.5gal) containers (20-60 at a time) instead of 55gal drums, storing in my garage, and dumping the very clean oil directly into the truck.  Much easier than all of the pumping and settling I was doing, but only because I am using a small 12V pump and only moving 55gal at a time.  I can dump 12 of these small containers into my truck faster than I could pump 55gal and I don’t have to worry about settling at all at the moment.

UOA results @ 363k

Comments — “Iron and lead are a little on the high side in this sample. Iron though isn’t too much higher on a ppm/mile basis. Last time you got 179.6 miles per ppm of iron and here you got 198.8 miles per ppm, which is actually a little better. Lead is higher than past samples though, showing some extra bearing wear. Potassium and sodium is probably just from the WVO, but these contaminants tend to attack bearings first, so that’s something to watch. The TBN was strong at 5.4. Try just 7,000 miles on the next oil and check back to monitor lead.”

UOA results @ 354k

Comments — “Wear generally increased after the shorter 5,211-mile oil change, but not enough to suggest that any mechanical problems are developing. Instead, the extra wear was likely caused by something operational such as some heavy hauling/towing or increased idling/city driving. Potassium and sodium are common ingredients in WVO, so that’s very likely where these elements are coming from, but watch the coolant level on the off chance they show antifreeze. The trace of fuel is normal. A TBN of 6.4 is strong. Your 7.3L PSD should do well with 7K miles next time.”

UOA results @ 349k

Comments — “While the potassium and sodium could show coolant seeping into the oil, the WVO you’re running as fuel may also be to blame. Since wear is reading normally, as long as you don’t notice any lost coolant or increased oil on the dipstick we aren’t going to consider potassium and sodium a problem. You noted an increased cost for Motorcraft oil, and we won’t expect to see any change in wear if you switch to Shell Rotella T. In fact, many Power Stroke owners have had great success running that oil type. The TBN was strong at 7.6. Try up to 8,000 miles next.”

UOA results @ 342k

Comment — “Thanks for the note about the air intake. We did find a little extra silicon, which could be dirt that made its way past the intake. The good news is that wear still looks great, so not enough dirt got through to hurt anything. Of course, if any sealants were used to replace the glow plugs, that could explain silicon as well. Lead improved a little. This level is still higher than average, but not enough bearing wear to be cautionary. No fuel or coolant found. The TBN was strong at 8.2 showing lots of active additive left. Try 7,500 miles on the next oil. Looking good.”

UOA results @ 337k

Comments — “Nothing unusual turned up in this report. Wear metals still look fine, and the extra lead is probably more a function of the type of operation you do with this engine rather than any sort of bearing problem since lead isn’t any higher than we’ve seen in the past. Iron is a bit higher than last time, though since iron tends to accumulate in the oil during a longer oil run, that likely is the explanation for that. A minor amount of fuel was detected in this sample, though 0.5% isn’t enough to solicit any concern. The TBN is still just fine at 7.1. Try for 8,000 miles on your next fill.”