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  1. #1
    I like (.)(.) ElscottHavoc's Avatar
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    Seating Piston Rings...(Smoking Issues)

    Okay, so I finally got my car back from the builder. I just wanted to share what my problem was, his thoughts, and then get some feedback.

    First of all, he's guaranteed me that if there is a problem and that if this smoking issue persists to bring the car back and he'll take care of it. The job isn't done until it's done.

    So, prior to me getting the vehicle there were around 230 miles on tripometer, which he said was pretty close to the amount of mileage he had put on it. Anyways, the thing is smoking. It's hard to tell because of the weather, but it is oil because you can rub it off and it has that distinct smell.

    The builder used stainless rings, which he said are usually pretty hard to seat and will take awhile, but once they are the results are better for my application. Should work well under high load, boost, last longer, etc...

    He checked the valve guides and they were fine, but did replace the seals. The PCV assembly was replaced, and the air/fuel ratio checked out fine on the dyno. The car runs great.

    It's hard to put a number on how bad it's smoking, but I'd say out of 1-5 (5 being the worst) it's between 2-3. He said it was getting progressively better over time, and that I should just continue to drive it, preferably under some higher loads (aka spirited driving) and eventually they'd seat themselves, maybe even in 500 miles. Right now we're running Gibbs Break In oil, which is like a 10w-50 if I'm not mistaken.

    Because of the weather, I don't feel terrible about the smoke yet, because everyones cars are smoking a bit, mine a bit more though. The smell is what really gets me and is embarassing.

    I just wanted to know what you guys thought. Even though he's promised to fix it, I was just wondering if everything he said seemed accurate as far as the piston rings were concerned. I've heard the moly rings seat quick, chrome rings take forever, but I don't know much about these rings. Just some thoughts on the issue would be appreciated, thank!
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  2. #2
    Slowest GT alive :) TwinTurbo4vGT's Avatar
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    beating on it for a bit is the best way to seat rings.

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  3. #3
    Denial ain't just a river
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    I'm going to go with something is wrong either with the build or PCV system. Ring seating takes 10-20 minutes on a properly built motor. Check the intake to see if it is pulling oil in and causing the problem, temporarily install breathers in both VC's to eliminate that as a potential cause. 10-50 is really heavy oil, it should be using 5w-30.
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  4. #4
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    Yeah the oil is too thick!

  5. #5
    I'm a Lead Farmer Finaltheorem47's Avatar
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    The way I learned to seat the rings were: drive it hard!
    Last edited by Finaltheorem47; 03-15-2010 at 01:34 AM.



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  6. #6
    NA FTW Chris _Scott's Avatar
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    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpyLOGt9N4w"]YouTube- 2000 Cobra R new engine break-in[/ame]

    This looks correct to me.
    Idle video and take off!
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  7. #7
    Because stock sucks!! RPM4DAZ's Avatar
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    It sounds like the honing of the cylinders didn't quite match the ring type. It happens from time to time. The stainless rings can be a nuisance to seat. We used to have this problem on the airplanes sometimes. The break in oil is designed for looser built racing engines and has a lot of zinc in it too. Just go get some regular old Castrol 10-30 oil and a new filter. Put some break in additive from Comp or Crower if you like ( it a zinc additive ). And go drive it for a while. Drive briskly, go through the rpm level too. Just don't go wide open throttle for a few hundred miles. The exhaust should clean right up for you. DO NOT USE a non detergent oil...
    '96 Cobra black on black, 18" Enkei NT03 wheels, SLA front/rear with Bilstein coil over dampers, T-56 trans. Built short block, ported heads, mid length headers, Bassani X-pipe, Borla mufflers. Vortech V-1 and soon to come BB 5.0L FR500C combo...

  8. #8
    Rookie SVT Poster 19blkcbra99's Avatar
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    i have a very similar issue going on right now with my ride. had a motor built, (dont know ring details) but it is smoking fairly heavy and i am going through about a quart of oil every 750-1000 miles. this has been an on going deal and the motor has been (rebuilt) several times. any ideas on what might be the cause.

  9. #9
    I like (.)(.) ElscottHavoc's Avatar
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    well thanks for the help. just curious, when you say they're a nuisance to seat, how many miles are we talking. and wheres that threshold between the steel rings seating or the cylinders glazing over. yesterday the smoke wasnt terrible, this morning after starting the car it wasnt terrible, but this afternoon for lunch break i drove the gas station and by the time i got there it was smoking pretty good on idle. then upon restarting the car it was smoking heavily until a accelerated...

    i would have thought the smoking would have gotten progressively better but it seems to vary.

  10. #10
    I like (.)(.) ElscottHavoc's Avatar
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    i heard there was a guy who had a rebuilt 3v in a 4.6l that had the issue, and that when he drove from iowa to texas at 85mph it was finally cured...but who knows what the deal was with that...

    i would do a road trip, but i dont think running at the same rpm for too long like that is good until the rings have seated, maybe im wrong...plus im leary about driving that far if it could cause more issues

  11. #11
    4cams aren't better then1
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    I see no reason for stainless rings, but use some regular castrol 5w-30, and go out there and OPEN THE THROTTLE. Put some load on this thing.

    You should be fine.
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  12. #12
    I like (.)(.) ElscottHavoc's Avatar
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    Edit: Oil pressures are fine. I was wondering if it had anything do with it, but as you can see by post below, all numbers I have are normal.

    I plan on doing an oil change tomorrow, I've been romping on it pretty good without much success. The smoke seems to be worse when taking off, and revving the engine at idle, and when revving it seems like the car kinda bogs, it's not a smooth rev. I can't tell if there is much/any smoke under acceleration because I'm going faster enough that I can't tell.

    Also, I went through nearly a full tank of gas in less than 150 miles. I was driving pretty hard sometimes, but that seems pretty pathetic even so. Basically, a full tank of gas lasted me 3 days, and it usually lasted me at least 5 or so even with a heavy foot.
    Last edited by ElscottHavoc; 03-15-2010 at 08:59 PM.

  13. #13
    Piss on Fox Sports1 99COBRA2881's Avatar
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    That's normal oil pressure, this question was just asked by another member a few days ago. I quoted my reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by 99COBRA2881 View Post
    Cold startup
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    Hot idle neutral 25 psi

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  14. #14
    I like (.)(.) ElscottHavoc's Avatar
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    Okay, then...well, let me do a cliff note:

    Rebuilt Engine Smoking Heavily from Exhaust:

    - Forged Internals, bored .30 over, new Stainless rings, gaskets, etc. Originally, car blew piston from detonation! The car did not have any issues with smoking until the piston blew, but now the smoking is even worse after the rebuild
    - Builder said that heads were in good shape. The valve guides were good, the seals were replaced, and of course the head gasket as well.
    - The PCV assembly was also replaced.
    - At this point I have a little over 300 miles on the new engine, a good portion of it I would consider mildly hard driving. I've been through the entire RPM range, under a variety of loads, and I would assume the rings would be seated by now.
    - The car sometimes doesn't smoke as much as it does other times.
    - The smoke is gray with a hint of blue, smells like oil, and leaves a black oily residue on the exhaust tips.
    - Under load, the car pulls fine without a hiccup, however, when freely revving the smoking is the worst and fills the entire area with smoke. The smoke appears when taking off, under idle, and also quite heavily when first starting the engine.
    - When free revving the engine, the car seems to want to bog or miss instead of just rev smoothly. It almost feels like a backfire or misfire or sorts, but under load this does not occur.
    - Prior to the build, the car used to rev up unnaturally high, but I took it to the tuner and that was resolved, but I have read that contaminates in the intake can cause problems as well. I'm going to reset the battery tonight and hopefully reset the timing overnight. Tomorrow I will change the oil to Castrol GTX 5w-30 with a standard Fram filter to see if there is a difference. Originally, I thought the mechanic said the Gibbs Break In oil was 10w-50, but I found some paperwork that states 10w-30. On the safe side, I'll spend the money and just see what happens when I use 5 qts.
    - Builder wanted to give it more time and miles and see if it improved, stating the stainless rings were harder to seat, as well as a variety of other possibilities, but that if the problem persists to bring it back and he'd look into it further.

    There's the information so far. Hope we can get somewhere on this. I think I'm bringing the car back to the builder Saturday as I don't really want it back until it's fixed.
    Last edited by ElscottHavoc; 03-15-2010 at 09:16 PM.

  15. #15
    Piss on Fox Sports1 99COBRA2881's Avatar
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    FRAM... Really? I know FRAM is a cheap filter but atleast throw a WIX on there. Doesn't have to be an $11 Mobil1 or K&N, just not a FRAM.

  16. #16
    AKA 01yellerCobra slo984now's Avatar
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    FWIW, I have stainless rings in my motor and it never smoked.

    +1 on the Fram. I lost a motor during a cam break in because of a Fram filter.
    Last edited by slo984now; 03-15-2010 at 09:57 PM.
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  17. #17
    I like (.)(.) ElscottHavoc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 99COBRA2881 View Post
    FRAM... Really? I know FRAM is a cheap filter but atleast throw a WIX on there. Doesn't have to be an $11 Mobil1 or K&N, just not a FRAM.
    Haha, I went down to the local store and that's all they had. I've always ever used Mobil 1 oil and filter, but this time I just wanted to change the oil real quick and see how it responds before I take it to my builder. I'm still going to at the end of the week I think. I was honestly too lazy to head into town, so I went and bought the stuff in hopes I could do it before the sun went down. Unfortunately, I got home and the drive was blocked by a guest in our drive way...so I just decided to wait until tomorrow.

    I think I've narrowed it down though to a blown valve seal. I'm thinking perhaps even the new seals couldn't take the pressure and blew out. Either way, I think my best bet is just to bring it back and say "listen, I paid to get the engine rebuilt and to stop smoking, I don't want the car back until that is satisfied".

    But, in lieu of your guys' responses, I'll just forget the FRAM filter...I can bring it back. I'll head into town tomorrow and get a Mobil 1.
    Last edited by ElscottHavoc; 03-15-2010 at 10:08 PM.

  18. #18
    Denial ain't just a river
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    While it is possible a VS went out, it's just not likely as the VS by itself is not fully responsible for whether an engine smokes or not the Valve Guide has a part in that too. If the heads were not smoking before they shouldn't be now. I'm going with oil in the intake or a ring problem. Could've broken a ring during piston install.

  19. #19
    I like (.)(.) ElscottHavoc's Avatar
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    Mmkay, well...then, I suppose we'll just leave it to what the builder can find out. I just figured it was the valve seals, but who knows...thanks for the help!

  20. #20
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    Those rings need to be BEAT to seat correctly.
    Check out how Nissan breaks in the GT-R motor.

    That vid of the 5.5 GT motor break in seems right too!

  21. #21
    SVT God cbr repsol's Avatar
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    I was thinking valve guide issue, But you said the builder checked them. How did he verify they were good? Just looking at them ?

    Some people have different ways of breaking motors in. Some beat on them and some go nice and easy. I personally like to do 500 miles , with half to 3/4 throttle burst. changing freeway speed , not driving a constant 65 . Then after the 500 miles i change the oil again then anything goes.

  22. #22
    I like (.)(.) ElscottHavoc's Avatar
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    I honestly don't know how he verified it...I guess I just took his word that he did the correct procedure for checking them. After I blew a piston, the car was smoking, but not nearly as bad as it is now. I think it's very likely that there is a cylinder head issue, as I can't imagine the rings not being seated by now, even if they are hard to seat. I basically have taken the same procedure. The first 150 or so were just simple nothing above 3000rpm, but constantly varying speed and load (at least that's what the builder said they did). After I got the car, I put a little more load on, nothing crazy yet...just some higher rpms 5-6000, 3/4 up hills, letting engine brake, have done about 20-30 pulls under 3/4 throttle to 6000rpm. Doesn't seem to smoke under those loads (course no one is behind me to let me know). I let the car get to operating temp as well first before I go doing stuff like that. I've done full throttle under boost in second and then third gear on an open stretch of slightly inclined highway to 6000rpm the last 4 times. Everything runs strong, sounds good, then you stop and after a couple of seconds it starts to smoke. You rev it up, it really smokes.

    Some guy said to rev it to 6000rpm for 1 minute on another forum. I'm not going to do that, as it sounds foolish kind of, but I did rev it up to like 4000rpm for about 5 seconds and noticed it kinda bogs, and it isn't smooth revving. It smokes up the whole neighborhood doing that haha. It almost feels like when revving it's backfiring and sometimes misfiring or something. I unplugged the battery last night, in hopes of resetting the timing. I heard improper fuel injector timing can cause issues, but I see this as unlikely. We'll see though.

    A part of me wants to just believe it's the rings, but the fact that it potentially may not be scares me. To a degree, even if it is the rings, I want it to be the builder who breaks it in on his terms because let's say it's not the rings, and I assume it is, then I find out that I've been driving it under that assumption and making the problem worse, I don't want that on my head. I have about $8500 into the engine right now...that's parts, labor, removal, installation of engine and supercharger, as well as tuning. To have that money go down the drain under the assumption of something doesn't seem right.

    If the builder thinks it's the rings, then by all means he can at least save both our butts by verifying that it's not something else.

    I'll keep you posted as I find out anything new. Prolly won't be until this weekend that I get the car back to the builder...I did find out though that the break in oil was in fact a 10w-30. The car has about 400 miles on it now and the smoking doesn't seem to lessen at all. But yeah, once I figure out the culprit, I'll get back. That's my biggest pet peeve is when people ask questions on the forums and then leave it up in the air as to whether it was solved or not.
    Last edited by ElscottHavoc; 03-16-2010 at 10:15 PM.

  23. #23
    SVT God cbr repsol's Avatar
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    It would sure be nice to have a video you could post.

    White smoke: White smoke is caused by water and or antifreeze entering the cylinder, and the engine trying to burn it with the fuel. The white smoke is steam. There are special gaskets (head gaskets are the primary gaskets) that keep the antifreeze from entering the cylinder area. The cylinder is where the fuel and air mixture are being compressed and burned. Any amount of antifreeze that enters this area will produce a white steam that will be present at the tailpipe area.

    If white smoke is present, check to see if the proper amount of antifreeze is inside the radiator and the overflow bottle. Also check to see if antifreeze has contaminated the engine oil. You can look at the engine oil dipstick, or look at the under side of the engine oil filler cap. If the oil is contaminated with antifreeze, it will have the appearance of a chocolate milkshake. Do not start the engine if the oil is contaminated with antifreeze, as serious internal engine damage can result.

    How did antifreeze get in the oil or cylinder in the first place? The engine probably overheated and a head gasket failed due to excessive heat, thus allowing antifreeze to enter the cylinder (Where it is not meant to be).

    Blue Smoke: Blue smoke is caused by engine oil entering the cylinder area and being burned along with the fuel air mixture. As with the white smoke, just a small drop of oil leaking into the cylinder can produce blue smoke out the tailpipe. Blue smoke is more likely in older or higher mileage vehicles than newer cars with fewer miles.

    How did the engine oil get inside the cylinder in the first place? The car has many seals, gaskets, and O-rings that are designed to keep the engine oil from entering the cylinder, and one of them has failed. If too much oil leaks into the cylinder and fouls the spark plug, it will cause a misfire (engine miss) in that cylinder, and the spark plug will have to be replaced or cleaned of the oil. Using thicker weight engine oil or an oil additive designed to reduce oil leaks might help reduce the amount of oil leaking into the cylinder.

    Black Smoke: Black smoke is caused by excess fuel that has entered the cylinder area and cannot be burned completely. Another term for excess fuel is "running rich." Poor fuel mileage is also a common complaint when black smoke comes out of the tailpipe. Black smoke out the tailpipe is the least cause for alarm. Excess fuel will usually effect engine performance, reduce fuel economy, and produce a fuel odor.

    How did the fuel get into the cylinder in the first place? Some of the causes of excess fuel are a carburetor that is out of adjustment, a faulty fuel pump, a leaky fuel injector, or a faulty engine computer or computer sensor. If black smoke is present, check the engine oil as in the white smoke example to make sure excess fuel has not contaminated it. Do not start the engine if a heavy, raw fuel smell can be detected in the engine oil. Call your mechanic and advise him of what you have found.

    I hope this helps you determine what could be causing your engine smoke, and the possible reasons behind the smoke.

  24. #24
    SVT God RussZTT's Avatar
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    Even if the rings are not seated all the way, it shouldn't smoke. There are 3 reason's you can be blowing smoke, PCV, valve seals or blow by. First, do a warm compression test and see what your results are. That is the first thing you need to do. Yes, you are running a thick oil, go with 10w-30 or close however that wont be causing your smoke issue. Using a cheap oil filter isn't your problem either.
    Do a compression test first and post your results.
    Last edited by RussZTT; 03-17-2010 at 11:57 AM.
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  25. #25
    say no to power adders na svt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RussZTT View Post
    Even if the rings are not seated all the way, it shouldn't smoke. There are 3 reason's you can be blowing smoke, PCV, valve seats or blow by.
    Valve seals don't "blow" and worn guides by themselves will not cause oil burning. Also, valve seats (worn, cracked) can't cause an engine to burn oil either. Oh, and if the rings haven't seated there will be some oil burning and blow-by is caused by the rings not seating.

    Put some 5-30 conventional oil in the engine, more than 5qts (unless you wanna rod knock) and drive it like it was meant to be driven. It probably won't work though because the rings should have seated by now.

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