Sodium and Potassium in oil

Anna’s Marie

New Member
Mar 5, 2023
16
Boat Info
2003 Sea Ray 320
Engines
5.7 liter
In process of purchasing a 2001 SR 340 Sundancer 454 7.4l mpi FWC 900 hrs boat appears in immaculate condition except when survey took an oil sample the port engine showed 84ppm Sodium and Starboard had 106 ppm Sodium and 160 ppm Potassium. Owner to be sure had another surveyor do another oil sample. I have big concerns that there can be a leak in head gasket where engine coolant leaking into oil or possibly heat exchange or riser and manifold. Can anybody add a suggestion or ever been in this situation before. Any help would be appreciated
 
Can you post the report? If they used Blackstone, they provide an opinion if it is antifreeze and/or salt water. The other elements found help drive the determination.
 
Here’s the report, can you direct me on next steps, thanks!
 

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Thank u so much. Are u marine engineer or mechanic. What should look at, in engine, head gasket, can u provide?
 
I'd use Blackstone for the 2nd analysis. And, if the owner wants to get an analysis I'd watch them pull the oil and mail it off, you never know.

It's enough at this point to give me pause as a buyer.
 
The oil samples is just one data point, and it may be something "easy" (if there is such a thing on boat). I assume the seller hasn't been conducting regular oil analysis, so there isn't any additional oil sample history on these engines. Where is the boat located? Fresh/Salt? Regardless, Na and K in the oil would be an indicator of coolant leak. The other point is the samples don't show water or glycol in the oil, so a head gasket leak is a potential cause, but not the only one.

Are there any other symptoms? Did the boat get to it recommended WOT range and stay within max temp? Murky oil? How about a compression or leak down test? What maintenance has been done, or maybe more importantly, NOT done (risers would be on my list). To me it would indicate something in the top end.

BUT, if the boat is otherwise in good shape, a little more investigation may be worthwhile. Negotiate a price reduction to do the required/expected maintenance plus some $$$ for your trouble) even if its a complete top end rebuild on both engines. With a 20+ year old boat, you are going to have maintenance issues, might as well get a good deal if possible. And you would know the condition of your engines much better. On the downside, this is not the time of year to get a marine mechanic to do anything quickly.
 
I also agree it is likely coolant. That said....your surveyor should have determined if the risers and manifolds are original. That is usually the source of raw water and coolant finding its way into the engine. If they are original....at 22 years old .....they should be replaced.

Also, a question needs to be asked if there has been any engine maintenance done on the engine that would have leaked coolant into the engine.

In either case....it is unlikely to be a head gasket, cracked block/head since the amount is pretty low. The best way to determine that is to pressurize the cooling system and see if it leaks down. It is a simple test and will tell you if a problem exists.
 
I also agree it is likely coolant. That said....your surveyor should have determined if the risers and manifolds are original. That is usually the source of raw water and coolant finding its way into the engine. If they are original....at 22 years old .....they should be replaced.

Also, a question needs to be asked if there has been any engine maintenance done on the engine that would have leaked coolant into the engine.

In either case....it is unlikely to be a head gasket, cracked block/head since the amount is pretty low. The best way to determine that is to pressurize the cooling system and see if it leaks down. It is a simple test and will tell you if a problem exists.
Yup, which is called a Leak Down Test - pretty easy to do. I had to do this on brand new Jasper Long Blocks on the 1995 330 when coolant showed up in the oil analysis. Turned out to be the head gasket covered under warranty.
 
Thanks everybody for your input. In April 2017 changed in both engines the heat exchanges. In Nov 2022 Flush cooling system. In 2013 and then again in 2021 had both Manifold and Risers changed in both engines. Nothing done that I'm told on the head gasket. This boat from looking at service records was diligently maintained since 2011, but as you all did mention there's something going on to have Sodium and Potassium in the oil.
 
Most likely the intake manifold in that coolant crossover area. Like stated, pressurize the water side of that motor.
 
Yup, which is called a Leak Down Test - pretty easy to do. I had to do this on brand new Jasper Long Blocks on the 1995 330 when coolant showed up in the oil analysis. Turned out to be the head gasket covered under warranty.
What @PlayDate is referring to is called a cooling system pressure test. An engine leak down test is completely different.
 
The reason folks are suggesting that you use Blackstone for the oil analysis is the details in their report. They have a large database of many types of engines and oils, and are able to provide some baseline data of the "averages" for comparison. Each Blackstone report provides a very clear comparison, and they also provide a narrative-style assessment of conditions found, even if it just says "looks good, carry on".

Example from my boat below.
eQ5kvc5w.png
 
Got it. I like that you can track oil samples year by year. My surveyor didn't use Blackstone Labs he used Motor Check Analysis Clinic in West Palm Beach FL. Are they a reputable place? I will discuss with owner a Cooling System Pressure test. Would a Valve compression test be something I should suggest doing as well?
 
Got it. I like that you can track oil samples year by year. My surveyor didn't use Blackstone Labs he used Motor Check Analysis Clinic in West Palm Beach FL. Are they a reputable place? I will discuss with owner a Cooling System Pressure test. Would a Valve compression test be something I should suggest doing as well?

Your survey should have included a compression test of the engines.
 
The reason folks are suggesting that you use Blackstone for the oil analysis is the details in their report. They have a large database of many types of engines and oils, and are able to provide some baseline data of the "averages" for comparison. Each Blackstone report provides a very clear comparison, and they also provide a narrative-style assessment of conditions found, even if it just says "looks good, carry on".

Example from my boat below.
View attachment 144441
I see your copper levels are higher than the universal avg and very similar to the levels on my QSC 8.3. Must be fairly normal for the QSC motor.
 
I see your copper levels are higher than the universal avg and very similar to the levels on my QSC 8.3. Must be fairly normal for the QSC motor.
Not really sure. I assume that the "universal average" is the average for all tests of that particular engine. The level came down a lot from the prior test and is no long highlighted, so it seems like it's not a worry.

This was the comment on copper from the prior test:
Much highercopper may show the brass/bronze parts had more wearing in left to do and/or that more oil cooler oxidesbuilt up in the oil. As long as the engine runs normally, we'll just look for wear-in progress to begin with thenext sample now that the factory oil was changed out.

My engine is still pretty young at only 235 hours, so likely still some wearing in to go.
 
Got it. I like that you can track oil samples year by year. My surveyor didn't use Blackstone Labs he used Motor Check Analysis Clinic in West Palm Beach FL. Are they a reputable place? I will discuss with owner a Cooling System Pressure test. Would a Valve compression test be something I should suggest doing as well?

That lab isn't one I've heard of before. But it's possible that's because it's a regionally preferred lab, and I'm not in that region? Are you in the Florida area? Most folks here tend to use Blackstone, with some owners of Caterpillar engine using Cat's oil analysis service.

For sure I like Blackstone's report layout. The surveyor for my boat used Blackstone and the report came back under the old boat name. Upon request, Blackstone kindly changed the Unit ID to the boat's new name and includes that survey sample as part of the engine history.
 
The boat looked so perfect, oil clean no issue with risers and temp and engine room so clean never anticipated oil would come back abnormal. That’s why didn’t go for compression test.
 

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