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Metal in oil pan

I pulled the motor on a 69 bronco I got yesterday ('68 289). The engine was (and has been) sitting in it for awhile (has not been run in who knows how long). It turns freely and had no grating or any other buggered up feel to it. I took off all the tin to assess what I got. I found the usual carbon crap in the oil at the bottom, as well as a layer of sludge, but I also found very large chunks of steelish looking stuff. ( the biggest was about the size of a mike 'n ike, the rest are about pea sized) The chunks look like lead pourd into cold water (stringy and clumped together) some of the other pieces look almost like crumpled up tin foil. I don’t even know where something like this would even come off of in an engine. Any ideas? (P.S, I am hoping to keep the rotating assembly and heads on and in if I can).

I have never seen or heard of pea-sized metal turning up in the oil pan. But there can only be one source, the engine. Which I think is toast.

While I tend to agree with kizwiki …sorta. That easy rotation tends to indicate that nothing too destructive could have occurred.

However, you’ve got the brunt/bulk of the work done to inspecting the rest of the thing.

What’s your goal for this engine? Selling it intact? That would be about the only reason to leave those things unchecked (pulling a bearing cap - rods and mains- pulling at least the intake off to get a look at the cam via the lifter bore, etc). A full gasket set to put it back together could add some costs that aren’t necessary if you’re selling it. It’s obviously going to need to be refreshed.

It’s rare to find.

I am hoping to just be able to give it a clean up and be able to reinstal it in the car (time savings, I have school in the fall).

I seem to remember some sort of junk additive that would fit that description that was put into the oil. It was suppose to ionize the oil, or some such trash. You might be lucky.

do you have a parts diagram? sounds like a needle bearing and race got chewed up. are there any in this engine?

Sounds like a piston has come unglued.

I would have to agree with Rod. I pulled a Vega engine apart years ago that had melted pistons. The bottom of the oil pan had similar looking pieces of metal.

Well, I have the oil pan off and spark plugs out. I didn’t see any melted or missing pistons.

I belive the metal I found is a lead additive. It leaves marks on paper like a #2 pencil.

Why would a lead additive be in the oil pan in pea sized chunks?
At this point, I’m also leaning towards piston chunks.

With the engine out and oil pan off I know what I’d do. Pull the bearing caps and cylinder heads for a closer look.
Many years ago I bought a Subaru in which someone had advanced the timing too much and it proceeded to shell the pistons the first trip out on the open road. With the heads off the damage was easily visible. From the bottom up it was not so visible.

A 69 Bronco is a collectible vehicle so I’d try to cover the bases before reinstalling the engine as is.

I also have the plugs out. Would that be enough of a look at the pistion tops?

No… You need to take the pistons out. You likely have a piston with a broken skirt and a seized wrist pin.

sigh Pistons are fine, but the cam berings go drip drip drip


Is this the end of the engine or could it be a simple hone type job at a machine shop?

Cam bearings are press fit. Any machine shop has the tools to replace them easily enough. Unless one of them turned, a honing is not usually necessary. But, if the cam bearings are trashed, then the bearing surface of the camshaft is also likely trashed. A replacement camshaft is the easiest fix. Maybe with a higher-performance grind on it.

If you strip the engine down to the bare block the worst of the problem will likely be obvious. A good machine shop can USUALLY polish the cam and turn and polish the crank, clean up the cylinders as needed, dress the rods, do a valve job on the heads and sell you the pieces to put it back together. That engine may not have adjustable valves and if so it is imperative that the valve work is done to spec. I had a lot of fun with a 1971 Bronco but took a Thanksgiving weekend to go through it from end to end. I paid $3,000 for it in about 1989 and sold it for $6,000 in about 1999. It never got more than 11 mpg, though.

OH yeah, those cam bearings, that’s just part of the machine shop work. No big deal if it’s a good shop.

I finished the teardown and found none of the main berings look to be spun, though the two center caps have some heat marks on them.

Looks like I will be able to get away with poping in new cam berings, they do not look to be spun either.

The block also could use a hone, there is a faint ridge at the top of the cyls. What would be a fair price to pay for a hone, cam bearing instal and a crank check/grind? Also, should I upgrade the cam? or would it be cheaper to refresh the old one.
This engine would be going into the 68 bronco, so it will not be a hot rod engine by any means. Low rpms, probably never see much over 4-4500, if at all. Would the stock cam be the best bet here? or?