Big white exhaust cloud

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Big white exhaust cloud

Postby tforturton » 02 Jun 2018, 13:50

Drove the bus on a short trip today, and the upshot is, I've limped home, belching thick white smoke out of the exhaust. The bus (2.1 DJ petrol) has seemed to be running hot for a while (nothing on the gauge, but it seemed to 'feel' hotter than usual), and I've had problems with the oil pressure warning buzzer. I thought I'd tracked that down to an earth fault, but now I'm not so sure.
Anyway, I'd driven about a mile or so, and when pulling away from a roundabout and accelerating, there was suddenly a huge cloud of white smoke from the rear (and maybe a 'pop' at the same time?). I pulled over (fearing a fire), but it was clear that the smoke was coming from the exhaust. I managed to limp home, driving slowly and attracting a lot of attention with my mobile smoke screen. If I coast it settles down, but the moment I give it any amount of throttle, it smokes like crazy. Needless to say, I drove home carefully.
So what now? Any ideas what might be causing this? Sounds like the head seal has gone, but would anyone else care to comment?
Although I spend a lot of time on here, I'm not a great mechanic, lacking skills as well as facilities, so this will have to go to my friendly local garage.
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby 937carrera » 02 Jun 2018, 14:16

I would say you've diagnosed correctly, white smoke out of the exhaust is coolant coming out of your very efficient kettle, more than likely head seals, sorry.
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby silverbullet » 02 Jun 2018, 14:22

White clouds usually mean coolant getting into the combustion chambers. Take out the spark plugs for a look & sniff.
If you unplug the 12v supply to the coil, depressurize the fuel rail and pull the fuel pump relay, it will be safe to crank over and see if it pumps out any coolant.
Is it an lpg engine btw?

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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby tforturton » 02 Jun 2018, 14:31

No lpg, just good old petrol. This will need to go to my garage to be looked at - am I safe driving it for a few miles? Or best not to?
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby 937carrera » 02 Jun 2018, 14:47

Steam goes a long way, check your water levels, how much have you lost over what time period.

Had a similar issue on another car recently, it was consuming water at the rate of about 1 litre / minute, bigger cylinders that a WBX though.

Steam is also a good abrasive, so you can cause further damage by continuing to run it, maybe a tow will be better if possible.
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby Mr Bean » 02 Jun 2018, 17:00

As a lad I finished a motorcycle touring holiday having melted a piston on my Norton Dominator 600 cc parallel twin by cleaning the affected bore, ventilating the piston with a borrowed carpenters brace and bit then removing the relevant push rods and pulling the spark plug lead. It ran perfectly albeit at half power until I arrived at home. A bit over the top for your situation of course although just running the engine as it is could introduce the albeit slim chance of a hydraulic lock by leaking coolant. :(
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby tforturton » 02 Jun 2018, 17:34

Well, I've been reading a whole load of similar threads since this happened, and they all seem to have a similar outcome. I guess the question here is this - Do I spend money getting the engine rebuilt, or do I shell out for a 'new' one, that's already had the work done? From what I can gather from reading about other people's experiences, they can be repaired, but it takes time and skill, and you may well discover something worse along the way (like corroded head studs for example). So you could shell out a lot, and still not get it fixed. Or you buy a new (rebuilt) and install that. Bearing in mind this is a RHD Syncro with a westy pop top roof, then it has to be done one way or the other. Let's say I have the cash - which route do I take?
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby 937carrera » 02 Jun 2018, 17:56

I would get your existing engine rebuilt.

That way, provided you you know that everything that needed to be done has been done (or it was your choice not to) and you keep matching engine / chassis number.

If you've been reading you will see that there are many tales of "new" rebuilt engines that aren't as new as they should be.

Of course, taking this route may take a bit more time - you already have a trustworthy garage don't you, or do you need one ?
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby tforturton » 02 Jun 2018, 19:44

Got a good garage, but it’s a one man show, and I can’t see him wanting or having the time to rebuild. Will find out when I speak to him after the weekend.
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby tforturton » 03 Jun 2018, 18:13

Woke up this morning expecting to be down in the dumps about this, but surprisingly, I feel quite upbeat about it, for some reason. I think I’ve been reluctant to embark on any long trips for a while, as I had some strange feeling that things were not quite right. My fear of a breakdown was greater than my desire to get out there.
Anyway, whether I get a new engine, or go for a rebuild, it should hopefully restore the confidence in the van that has been missing for some time.
On the downside, I can’t see my local garage taking this on. Like I said, it’s a one-man operation, and rebuilding engines is a time-consuming task. Maybe now is the time to fit a rebuilt unit. So, although I haven’t quite made up my mind (need to speak to a few people first), I’m looking for recommendations - either to supply, or supply and fit, a properly rebuilt 2.1 DJ.
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby 300CE » 03 Jun 2018, 18:38

If you go for a rebuilt unit I’d suggest putting an ad in the Wanted section as that way you can have a proper chinwag with the owner.
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby tforturton » 04 Jun 2018, 15:03

What I meant was - I would be looking to buy a new engine, if only to save time and cost. But none of them are really 'new' - they are all rebuilt.
So... I was looking to buy one that had had the necessary work done to it, ie. been completely rebuilt.
I'm talking the likes of 'thevwenginecompany', campershack, or Vege, but maybe not JustKampers or Elite.
When I raised this with my garage man, he told me he's done engine swaps dozens of times, and always uses Vege engines - and has never had any problems with them.
I appreciate we're getting into the 'which new engine' field here, but does anyone have any experience of any new engine supplier that they'd like to share?
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby 937carrera » 04 Jun 2018, 15:23

Going for a ready built rebuilt engine "can" save time if it's available off the shelf, but it's less clear to me how it can save cost, unless fewer new / lower quality bits are used :wink: Maybe a bit of labour efficiency, but will the inspection work be as thorough ?

Others will have actual experience of rebuilt engine suppliers, I haven't so can't help you on that point
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby Aidan » 05 Jun 2018, 07:06

Elite are fine you just have to be firm with them about build to quality not to price, make sure they fit a new oil pump etc...
I'd avoid Heritage at the moment and the place (MCT reman) that supplies them as they clearly don't know what they are doing, recent customer had big issue as they had skimmed both sides of the flywheel and then failed to shim it correctly; they insisted it was to spec but we proved they were wrong by the simple method of measuring the flywheel, shims and end float :roll:
I don't know who builds Vege WBX engines but JK customer service has improved a lot so worth trying to talk to them

whoever you use talk to them and use the knowledge on here to present yourself as knowledgeable customer, ask about running in procedures, warranty etc.. tell them it's a syncro, tell them you plan on driving to Morocco soon so it needs to be A1 reliable, mention consequential loss, and see if they can rebuild your known unit rather than go exchange and then be involved in the rebuild conversation
if you aren't in a hurry then Campershack would be preferred route but Andrew booked up busy
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Re: Big white exhaust cloud

Postby tforturton » 09 Jun 2018, 11:33

Aidan wrote: tell them it's a syncro

I didn't think there were any material differences in the engines? Should I be looking out for anything in particular?
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