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So I have a quick question about my 1996 12 valve regarding a combination of blowby, head gasket, and some sludge buildup.

First though, some background: I have not had it long and was told it was rebuilt about 30K ago (has 327K on it now) and during this rebuild, it was "built." Borg Warner S366, 250hp injectors, ARP head studs 425, 60 lbs valve springs, 4K gov springs, delivery valves, etc. It is my first 12 valve, so I am not sure if this is a mild build or what, but it makes around 530hp at the wheels.
About 3 weeks ago, I had replaced my tappet cover because the original had a big ole hole in the gasket, no big deal, "easy" fix. Well, before that fix I had very little blowby and after the fix, I had significantly more, and more oil out of the breather tubes I fitted. I think that would be because of the combination of both sealing the engine better and not letting pressure leak out from that hole in the tappet cover gasket, and also using a billet tappet cover that does not have the baffles on it like the stock one does. It just has two hydraulic 90* fittings out of it attached to some hose and running into a catch can I made up. To get a little more ventilation and try to make up for the baffles no longer on the tappet cover, I put in a breather filter on the oil fill cap hole. Drove it on the interstate after for about 200 miles and very little-to-no oil in the catch can. Great! Issue fixed, right? Wrong.

All that was stated for background in trying to find the cause of the issue I am about to state. After arriving home and checking the oil the next day before my next trip (my usual maintenance checkup) I noticed a greyish sludge buildup on the breather filter I had just installed. Immediately my mind goes to head gasket, coolant in oil, but I have not lost any oil and have not lost any coolant. Temps were fine, no smoke at all except a nice light black haze when I got on it a bit. No loss of power either. The only symptom of the head gasket was the "sludge," and it wasn't even the tan color that everyone described when I researched it, it was a grey, dark-grey color. The research I did before I left pointed me in the direction the there is some condensation in that blowby vapor and that that, combined with the oil was making this sludge. So I drive it on my trip, and return home. Still, no loss of power, smoke, temps are fine, no coolant loss. The breather did clog up from this messy sludge crap though and therefore made my catch can pretty full. Over the 700 miles, I probably lost a a little under a quart (in the catch can). When I stopped at fuel stations on my trip and when I got home, the sludge would be built up on that breather filter and on the oil dipstick where the vapor would escape. I'd check the oil and it would be fine, nothing on the dip stick except oil, good viscosity and everything. I just changed my oil and filter with the fleetguard filter and Valvoline 15w-40 (recommended by Cummins).

What is this sludge? I am a complete moron and just ruined by engine by driving it with a blown head gasket and coolant in the oil? I didn't think it was a head gasket because none of the fluid levels changed, so how would they be mixing? Coolant color/quality looks great also, I flushed that about a month ago and it looks the same now as it did then. Any ideas? I would like to get this figured out. I have skimmed over some stuff (and I emphasize skim) about an oil cooler issue? I just don't know which direction to go and I would rather not tear my head off just to look and say "Okay looks fine."

Thanks!
 

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The Uppity 12v Admin
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Probably just condensation. Most UOA labs show water quantity and presence of coolant as separate line items on the report and I would argue it's well worth the money to know whether or not there's an internal leakage problem.

For any engine damage to have occurred from running it like that, you would have coolant emulsified in the oil which would show up plain as day on the dipstick.
 

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The kit from Fleetguard is prepaid. The one I linked from Genos @ $21.95. The only other cost is mailing it to the lab. I sent one out a couple days ago and postage was $4.60 with the sample in a box. I sent just the bottle in a bottle by itself once but it was a hassle. The analysis shows water contamination. It will also alert you to if that water is coolant with the sodium and potassium. Test Explanations - techenomics.net
This is what their format looks like. Oil Analysis Sample Report - Oil Analyzers INC.

I believe that Blackstone labs will send the kit for free and you pay them when you send it in. I've never used them.
 

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The more blow by you have , the more spooge mess you will have
and try and ways to reduce it . But the fact is there is too much air in the crankcase .
Perhaps a compression test and a leak down test are in order .
 

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The more blow by you have , the more spooge mess you will have
and try and ways to reduce it . But the fact is there is too much air in the crankcase .
I don't see a correlation. Blowby is the passage of hot combustion gasses going past the rings into the crankcase. Any water would be evaporated at those temps. When not running the amount of air in the crankcase would be the same.
 

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That's ok. But there is is one .
I know what blow by is , where it comes from , it changes with boost and rpm and where it goes .

All I meant was if you have allot of blowby the more spooge you will have and , devise ways to catch it . Thus the recommendation of a comp test and leak down test .

YES any water in that blowby mix , via high humidity ( yes ) or head gasket seeping will vaporize / boil off .
But guess what everything that boils into vapor , will condense . Where does it condense ? . In the fiber filter media vapor catch can piping apparatus . And it's a mess .


With out the oil lab test , and at least a compression test all this is just speculation.
 
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