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  #1   IP: 72.38.235.150
Old 09-20-2018, 07:16 AM
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Cylinder #1 carbons up

I have had my A4 running perfectly for 9 years now. This summer we noticed a lot of soot from the exhaust on the stern after running a short period of time but there was no noticeable difference in the performance of the engine. I have installed the pertronix distributor and ignition with the matching coil, electric fuel pump, all from MM. In addition, I installed the PCV valve and oil filtration system from Indigo. I use Auto light 86 plugs, Atomic 4 wires from Westerbeke. I changed the rotor and cap, the plugs gapped at 030 and the wires and no change. All the upgrades have been on the boat for several years.

The compression on all cylinders is 110 cold and 105 warm. On the advice of a mechanic, I added some oil to cylinder #1 and cold the compression only went up to 115. My under load, maximum RPM is 2000 and cruising at 6kts about 1800 seems to be the sweet spot where the engine is happy. The engine runs at a temp of 160 to 170 in the summer and 120 to 140 in the spring and fall. There is no noticeable oil consumption between oil changes.

I follow the MM maintenance recommendations faithfully including using MMO in the gas and oil. Any ideas? I'm at a loss

Last edited by Renegade; 09-20-2018 at 07:51 AM. Reason: errors and missing info
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:23 AM
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#1 as in the front of the engine?
Usually it is the other end that does that.
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:24 AM
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yes the #1 front cylinder.
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:40 AM
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IMHO all of your "numbers" seem just fine.
Still not understanding the mechanic's logic in adding oil to the cylinder tho

Here is a suggestion from one of our guru's (Dave Neptune) that might help with the soot...
"I have been gapping my plugs at .038~040" (larger gap acts a bit like a hotter plug)
Take advantage of the EI by opening up the plug gap a bit .040"
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Old 09-20-2018, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadnsky View Post
IMHO all of your "numbers" seem just fine.
Still not understanding the mechanic's logic in adding oil to the cylinder tho

Here is a suggestion from one of our guru's (Dave Neptune) that might help with the soot...
"I have been gapping my plugs at .038~040" (larger gap acts a bit like a hotter plug)
Take advantage of the EI by opening up the plug gap a bit .040"
If you add oil and do a compression test, the number goes up if the rings are leaky and don't change if not
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Old 09-20-2018, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_db View Post
If you add oil and do a compression test, the number goes up if the rings are leaky and don't change if not
Ahhh, I get it now.
I mis-understood what he was doing. I thought he was adding oil to deal with the soot.
Gotta stop posting before I've had my coffee!
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Old 09-20-2018, 12:38 PM
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This engine sounds perfectly fine to me. If you're getting a bit of soot on the stern, maybe the carb is running a little rich?

Or maybe just forget about it? It probably starts very easily.
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Old 09-20-2018, 02:58 PM
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If you have added a pcv system, can we assume that you have an adjustable main jet? If so, you may want to lean out the carb a bit more.
Tom
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Old 09-20-2018, 04:44 PM
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If the mixture was too rich, would it not affect all the cylinders? Also it's not the soot on the stern i'm concerned about. It's that something has changed and the spark plug is completely covered in black velvet. (soot). So even though it still runs, it's not running as it should.

Last edited by Renegade; 09-20-2018 at 05:07 PM. Reason: spelling mistake. adding comment
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Old 09-20-2018, 06:36 PM
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Old 09-20-2018, 06:39 PM
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Weak Spark Plug?

Try swapping the spark plugs around to see if the problem follows the suspect plug to a different cylinder.

TRUE GRIT
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:13 PM
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Normally all of the plugs will burn a similar color which should be a medium brown.
In your case, where one is way out of whack, I'd probably start by replacing just that plug, or by cleaning and swapping it with one from another cylinder. Another possibility could be a deteriorated spark plug wire. If you still have the old set you could borrow one from it. One item that is often overlooked is the spark arrestor, which will gradually become gunked up and reduce the system's air flow. Because of the PCV valve's job of removing oily air (blow-by) from the crankcase, they are also prone to becoming dirty. If it sticks in the closed position, it will definitely richen the mixture.
Tom
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  #12   IP: 71.222.3.150
Old 09-20-2018, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thatch View Post
...Because of the PCV valve's job of removing oily air (blow-by) from the crankcase, they are also prone to becoming dirty. If it sticks in the closed position, it will definitely richen the mixture.
Excellent point Tom!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renegade View Post
All the upgrades have been on the boat for several years.
Have you changed the valve since it's installation?
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:19 AM
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I've gone through multiple plugs and wires but have not changed the PCV valve. I will try that. Spark is good. Only one cylinder is fouling so I doubt it's the mixture.
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Old 09-21-2018, 09:29 AM
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Don't forget to check the inside of the distributor cap. A buildup of dirt can provide a path for the spark energy to arc to one of the other plugs, diminishing the spark on that plug and causing it to foul. This kind of problem usually leaves a spiderweb-fine track of carbon in the cap where the arcing is occuring.

A new cap & rotor is all it takes to fix.
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Old 09-21-2018, 10:07 AM
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Remember that fuel/air system issues are not cylinder specific while ignition issues can be. The comment discounts mechanical cylinder problems.
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  #16   IP: 72.38.235.150
Old 09-22-2018, 08:43 AM
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I installed a new rotor, new distributor cap, new wires, checked the valves in cylinder 1, both working. I tried an acid flush of the cooling system and gapped a plug at .040 and I have a clean burning cylinder one. I went through a box of 4 plugs and the last one was #5. I wonder if I had a bad box of plugs or a obstruction in the exhaust system?

In any case, Thanks for all the advice! I'l keep you posted once I get a few hours on it.
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Old 09-24-2018, 06:50 AM
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I took the boat out for a couple hour motorboat ride and while it seems to run fine and carbon deposits on the plug are less, there is still a noticeable amount of black soot on the plug. The other 3 plugs are fine.
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Old 09-24-2018, 04:20 PM
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Renegade, once ALL of the above ignition questions have been checked and verified good all should be well there. I have only one question to answer, what plugs are you using?

Indeed a sooty single cylinder and sooty exhaust could be the carb. If the "air jets" are plugged or restricted the engine will run OK in many cases however the "fuel mix" contains to many droplets of fuel instead of "atomized fuel" broken down by the air injected into the fuel inside the carb before it gets to the venturi. This causes a poor mix of the fuel in the cylinders so the "burn" is not complete and still burning "droplets" are present when the exhaust valve opens. This effect can be worse from cylinder to cylinder as the heavier fuel will gather in places and flow in others.

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Old 09-24-2018, 04:36 PM
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Dave. I believe if it was the carb, the symptoms of fouling would show on all cylinders possibly to a different degree in each cylinder. Cylinder 2, 3, and 4 are burning perfectly clean.

I took one more shot at it this afternoon. yesterday I noticed that the plug was fouled but not nearly as bad as before. I decided to pour a liberal amount of MMO in the cylinder and let it sit for a couple hours. I put a new Autolite 86 plug in and started it up. I ran it under load for about half an hour then shut it down and checked the plug. It was as clean as the others. A very nice light brownish gray. I repeated the process and ran the engine under load at 1800 RPMs and it came out clean again.

This summer during our travels when we first noticed the soot on the stern, I assumed it was due to too much MMO in gas. We put a lot of hours on the engine with the last no wind leg being about 75 miles. Now I'm wondering if a fault in the spark plug or wire to cylinder one caused so much carbon build up that it had to work its way out. I'm not an expert so I can't say for sure. I'm just glad it's back to running properly again.
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Old 09-24-2018, 07:00 PM
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Renegade, good news. If you are using the MMO in the fuel don't use anything else. When mixing mix at 100:1 max oil concentration. What were you mixing it at and any other additives? Also use regular grade and not premium as the regular burns faster and is designed for lower compression like in the A-4. If the soot persists try a 2 stroke oil with the TCW-3 rating instead as it lubes and mixes better with gasoline. It is designed to both 'burn and lube" while staying in "suspension" in the fuel.


Mixing fuel additives can be catastrophic if something in either doesn't get along with something in the other.

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  #21   IP: 72.38.235.150
Old 09-24-2018, 08:09 PM
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I only use MMO. I eyeball the amount I put in the gas though...
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Old 09-24-2018, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renegade View Post
I only use MMO. I eyeball the amount I put in the gas though...
While a little extra Marvel probably never hurt an engine, you can reduce a bit of the eyeball factor by repurposing a Sta-Bil bottle as an MMO delivery mechanism. Those have built-in 1oz dispensers, the design of which I happen to have admired since before I could read.
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Old 09-25-2018, 01:59 PM
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Renegade, 1 oz per gallon is what I used which is 128:1 and always a clean exhaust.

I run my D/P Hemi Challenger (140,000 miles) and my Corvette (185,000 and pulled the engine still good running for a swap and 250.000 miles on it) both on the TCW-3 at 1 oz per 4 gallons or 500:1. My compression numbers are still excellent and the valve guides don't leak.

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Old 09-25-2018, 05:03 PM
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marvelous

I use 2 oz. MMO for 5 gallons of fuel. That is what Marvel recommends. That is a ratio of 320:1, which is less than 1/3rd the maximum Dave mentioned. I have a pint bottle of MMO, which has marks on the side in 4 oz. increments. I buy MMO by the gallon, and dispense it into the pint bottle periodically. Half a pint bottle (8 oz.) is good for an oil change, every 50 hours. That is about 8% MMO. Marvel recommends 10 to 25%. I haven't opened the valve cover in 2500 hours of running. The stuff works. If it is snake oil, why did the old-school engineers who tested A4s at Universal in the 1960's swear by it? I read that on this forum somewhere. I'll bet it wasn't the red dye and the fragrance.
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Old 09-25-2018, 07:46 PM
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MMO is great stuff. I use it in my 1978 John Deere 316 tractor as well.
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