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edlithgow
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PostSubject: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:59 am

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Thought this was quite interesting, but then I've become a bit geeky about my oil condition.

Assuming it sort-of-works, I'd guess the marketing problem they still have is that an oil change really isn't THAT expensive, so better-safe-than-sorry is likely to prevail, and therefore most people wouldn't save any money by using one.

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The gadget is claimed to measure a combination of dielectric constant and resistance.

Industrial monitoring of oil condition measures a number of parameters, such as pH, TAN (Total Acid Number, by titration against KOH) TBN (Total Base Number, by titration against, IIRC HCl) [I can't get my head around how you can measure those two parameters imdependantly, by titration, but that seems to be the way they are discussed], viscosity, oxidation, particle counts and metallic contaminants/wear metals.

Some of these MIGHT be within DIY scope if one was very keenly geeky, but they aren't trivial to measure.

Changes in these parameters tend roughly to correlate with changes in dielectric constant, so (with many but not all oils) you can allegedly use this as a rough proxy index of oil quality. I've seen some independent peer-reviewed-journal research that seems to support this.

Comment from people who've tried it (or its Oilyzer predecessor) is generally guardedly positive, but some units have been unreliable, its vulnerable to cross contamination if the electrode isn't thoroughly cleaned (I'd probably use alcohol but they don't suggest that AFAIK), and it apparently doesn't work with the additive packages of some oils.  

Few punters, even on BIITOG, have "control" data from conventional oil analysis, to compare it to, and it doesn't give direct numerical output of the parameter its measuring, but an LED "quality index".

Its about $40, but I dunno about shipping to Taiwan. I'd consider getting one, though I do wonder if one could make any useful measurements using a multimeter and a suitable electrode.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:16 pm

ops - the number eight followed by a closed bracket apparently makes an emoticon. The PH level is supposed to read 8 not Cool
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:43 am

Justwatching wrote:
This whole time I though the centre was the out-flow  Headbang 

Don't get you. It is.

Justwatching wrote:


Surely you could just slap some magnets on without having to fabricate anything. All the outer rubber/plastic constructions don't appear to do anything in terms of holding the device in place.
Sure. Maybe a cable tie for reassurance, though steel might retain/concentrate the magnetism.

The issues are (a) getting the magnets (b) finding the time (c) being convinced its a good idea. The last one is (so far) the sticking point for me.

Turns out I've got a rather fancy (non-OEM, I assume) magnetic drain plug.

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It looked dodgy initially after I'd fished it out of the drained oil.

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but most of the crap adherent is fibrous, probably PTFE plumbers tape added to help the thread seal.

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Its possible more ferrous sludge washed off the plug during removal, but there weren't any big ferrous fragments stuck to it.

I have to wonder if these plugs are such a great idea, though.

The wear particles on the tip were definately magnetised, since some could be removed by touching it with a paperclip, on which they adopted the characteristic "whiskery" appearance.

If these magnetised particles get dislodged from the plug by turbulence in the sump, they'll tend to stick to other ferrous surfaces (eg crankshaft journals) , and probably won't be removed by an oil drain. This might cause accelerated wear.

I'd say magnetic "filtration" is more likely to be a good thing if its fitted somewhere it can be regularly cleaned (to reduce particle magnetisation due to long residence) as on the dipstick, and/or where its upstream of a physical filter (which might retain the magnetised particles), as with a spin-on canister jacket.

I suppose ideally one would have a dedicated magnetic filter housing with low flow, to reduce turbulence/increase trapping. Something like this, with specific contamination collection/sequestration areas, in a bypass filter. Wouldn't be cheap though, and it'd need special plumbing.

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Failing that, perhaps the non-pressurised return path is a better/safer place for magnets. If one could find a suitable spot under the rocker cover, where they'd be drip/splash "lubricated", they'd be relatively accessible for periodic cleaning.

I'd guess a lot of the metal comes from valve gear wear, so one would be intercepting at source. (Magnetising the camshaft would be bad though)

A magnetic dipstick would also allow regular cleaning and diagnostics, yet I havn't heard of either of these applications on cars. :ponder:

Justwatching wrote:

RE PH testing: Using scarily cheap universal indicator strips I trialed the two previously discussed methods. I wet the first strip using tap water which turned it green (a little too green actually. Indicated PH level of about Cool, placed it inside a plastic ramekin and added one drop of engine oil. Whilst leaving that to do its thing, I gathered a few more drops of engine oil in another plastic dish, added a splash of water and mixed it around for a while before dipping an indicator strip in the water. Both methods produced some change, though the second test was very weak and so disregarded.

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The colours look darker in the photo than they do to the eye. The oil appeared to be a 5/6, so mildly acidic. The sample is from my 1990 Volvo 740 with approximately 6 months/3,000 miles on its current oil.

I'd say that looks like a result. You don't need very high precision for a cautionary condemnation limit, so with a bit of development/standardisation/experience that could be a workable method. I've been meaning to try it for a while but dunno where to get the paper here, though it must be available.

Suggestions:

(1) Get some distilled water: (Battery fill, frost from the fridge, steam condensate from a kettle.) You don't need much to wet the paper.

(2) Compare with fresh oil of the same make (ideally the same batch, so top-up oil if you have any left)
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PostSubject: Oil Acidity Techniques   Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:37 am

Some reference articles related to measuring oil acidity

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Article on pH monitoring in oil (complex/controversial). It isn't an industry standard technique, but the author plausibly claims its useful.

“Official” TBN and TAN methods use isopropyl alcohol as a “bridging solvent”, in an effort to apply traditional “wet chemistry” titration methods to oil analysis.“Total Acid Number Titration Method” (it covers TBN as well) gives a detailed description of a (modified) titration method, but doesn’t say much about the significance of the results.

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This article “Optimizing Drain Intervals Using TBN vs. TAN”

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shows a graph depicting the relationship between them. It has some puzzling features (that “clear wedge” with no TAN points, for example) and apparently the authors never been told to label his X-axis, (tsk tsk!) but the basic inverse relationship is pretty much what you’d expect.

This article A Comprehensive Look At the Acid Number Test goes a bit further into the significance of the acid number and additive depletion.

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This author has apparently never been told to label his X-axis and he hasn’t been told not to use locally undefined acronyms either.(RUL stands for Remaining Useful Life, apparently, which I suppose his specialist audience would know.) but he does explain some differences between AN and pH.

Beyond that, the picture is rather complex, and perhaps the main take-home message is that accuracy and reproducibility are low, and results from different laboratories can’t be reliably compared.

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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:55 pm

edlithgow wrote:
Don't get you. It is.
Sorry - I said what it was rather than what I thought it was. I'm sure you could deduce this from the context.

I had a little distilled water in the shed, so repeated the test using that instead or tap water. The result was weak and barely comprehendible. Not sure why that is  scratch

I'd like to try using the isoproply alcohol and distilled water solution in combination with a digital PH meter (remove all of the subjective 'is that a 5 or a 6?' business). I'm sure they use a very similar method in biodiesel production as waste veg oil is often acidic.

About the magnets...

This is a tricky one. My initial thoughts were that the same risk applies to the use of magnetic drain plugs regarding magnetised particles re-entering the oil supply and yet they're the industry norm as a secondary filter device in gearboxes and automatic transmissions. Adding that magnetic drain plug costs money, so I doubt automotive engineers would do that if it wasn't beneficial. Then again, using that same logic, I observe that those same engineers opted not to put a magnets in the engine. Overall, perhaps just a magnetic sump plug could be a good addition.
1.) it's a low pressure/low turbulence area compared to the filter
2.) It's at the bottom of engine, so heavy stuff like metal will naturally want to settle there anyway
3.) There should never be anything more than a thin coating. So, if you're engine is producing large quantities of metal particles that form clumps big enough to be broken away, you're engine is probably fucked anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:10 am

Justwatching wrote:

About the magnets...

This is a tricky one. My initial thoughts were that the same risk applies to the use of magnetic drain plugs regarding magnetised particles re-entering the oil supply and yet they're the industry norm as a secondary filter device in gearboxes and automatic transmissions. Adding that magnetic drain plug costs money, so I doubt automotive engineers would do that if it wasn't beneficial. Then again, using that same logic, I observe that those same engineers opted not to put a magnets in the engine. Overall, perhaps just a magnetic sump plug could be a good addition.
1.) it's a low pressure/low turbulence area compared to the filter
2.) It's at the bottom of engine, so heavy stuff like metal will naturally want to settle there anyway
3.) There should never be anything more than a thin coating. So, if you're engine is producing large quantities of metal particles that form clumps big enough to be broken away, you're engine is probably fucked anyway.

I dunno. That's what bothers me.

Re your numbered points, I don't see that the pressure matters. You might be right about the turbulence relative to the filter housing but I've never seen any explicit comparison of it so I don't know about that either. The volume of static oil in the filter housing is relatively low which might limit the formation of fragile whiskers IF that happens. Since you only usually see the sump plug after its been flushed into an oil drain pan and fished out again, its hard to know what happens to it in situ.

I'm not sure established practice is necessarily any guide to optimum practice, since manufacturers (or consumers, for that matter) aren't necessarily interested in extended engine life, but if magnetic plugs are commoner in gearboxes it might be because (a) metal is expected in gearboxes and (b) oil level is more consistent, with less sloshing around, than in a sump, which might imply that mag sump plugs aren't such a great idea.

I dunno, and if anyone else does, AFAIK they've kept quiet about it.

AFAIK sump plugs are only standard equipment on the old Mini and its ilk, which have the deeply dodgy gearbox-in-sump configuration.

I don't think a sump plug is very efficient at trapping fine particles (which is what I got). I think its main role is trapping big fragments for diagnostic purposes, and a magnetic dipstick, which you could check and clean daily should be much better for that.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:24 am

Forgot about this, which I've had for a couple of years now. I've used AC Delco filters meantime.

Taiwanette asked her uncle, and he gave her an old-stock magnetic oil filter which, AFAICT, seems to still be manufactured right next door in Kaoshiung. 150NT. (about three quid)

No idea how effective it is, and I don't think I'll fit it until I implement some means of evaluating that (which may never happen), but even so its slightly intriguing. From the picture on the box, its an in-line magnet like the Magnaguard above, but it comes "built-in" to a throw-away spin-on filter.

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Its suspiciously cheap, of course, but not as cheap, or apparently as light as the purely "conventional" (and allegedly OEM) filter from the uncle, which is 100NT. Both seem very small but I havn't measured the one already on the car.

The leaflet in the box makes some fairly risible claims, (see below) but that doesn't prove its useless.

"THE EFFECTION OF MAGNETIC OIL FILTER

Idling RPM of engine will speed up 20-50 RPM after running 30 minutes and CO, HC will be reduced to 50% simultaneously [This sounds like its warming up, and unrelated to the device.]

After one week idling RPM will increase up about 200 RPM and CO, HC will be reduced to 50% to 90% simultaneously

Temporarily increasing of CO means decreasing of carbon"....etc, etc
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PostSubject: Back to oil analysis   Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:47 am

Here's my first attempt at a spot test. I used a 90mm glass pitri dish w/ filter circles from a lab supplies store and an oil sample from my Proton (2 drops).

The first picture shows the sample held up to natural light. It appears a little blotchy in places (which the camera has accentuated), but no apparent structures.

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The second pictures shows the same sample, this time placed on a white surface.

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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:10 pm

All very interesting but id still rather just change my oil on a regular basis,in fact with cheap supermarket oils these days its often very cheap to double up on the oil changes and do them more often so that the oil never get a chance to break down.


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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:28 pm

Joloke wrote:
All very interesting but id still rather just change my oil on a regular basis,in fact with cheap supermarket oils these days its often very cheap to double up on the oil changes and do them more often so that the oil never get a chance to break down.

I get what you're saying - my initial reaction to the OP was 'that interesting buy financially pointless'. Having thought on it though, there are a few things that bug me about the current system of using set mileage service intervals. Firstly, the assumption that the same magic number will apply to cars driven in completely different conditions isn't valid (10,000 miles of motorway isn't the same as 10,000 miles of cold starts and short journeys, which will be brought to bear on the oil). Secondly, it's poor/inefficient management of oil resources. In terms of financial incentive there's no big, instant gratification. But, reducing oil consumption (even if only slight) may be worth while if you take the long view (every future service over every car you'll own). It's also useful diagnostically if your oil shows sudden change, potentially alerting you to up-coming problems. This isn't going to flick everyone's switch - just those who are a little 'geeky' about their car maintenance.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:05 pm

Joloke wrote:
All very interesting but id still rather just change my oil on a regular basis,in fact with cheap supermarket oils these days its often very cheap to double up on the oil changes and do them more often so that the oil never get a chance to break down.


Sure.

BUT

(a) "Interesting" is part of the motivation for me, though I realise you were probably being ironic.
(b) I've got this big stash of old oil that I'm not going to throw away without a struggle.
(c) I THINK I might have a problem with metal in the oil.
(d) Oils a bit more expensive here than in the Yook, though petrol's about half the price.

Re oil break down, the general drift of the evidence I've seen is that you can push your oil change interval much further than most people do, even with mineral oil, and it seems it would take pretty insane mileage before you see any improvement in the wear from using synthetic oil.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:11 pm


I think my blotter test showed a bit more structure than that, though still not hugely convincing. It might be a function of the coarseness of the paper, both intuitively, and because it looks fairly fibrous in that picture.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:23 pm

edlithgow wrote:

I think my blotter test showed a bit more structure than that, though still not hugely convincing. It might be a function of the coarseness of the paper, both intuitively, and because it looks fairly fibrous in that picture.

What isn't convincing?

If my filter medium is rougher/more porous, surely that would encourage the formation of structures by making it harder for the oil to transport particles away from the centre. Interfering with the oil's dispersal ability would lean results toward a false positive (i.e. the test would be more conservative not optimistic).
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:37 am

Justwatching wrote:
edlithgow wrote:

I think my blotter test showed a bit more structure than that, though still not hugely convincing. It might be a function of the coarseness of the paper, both intuitively, and because it looks fairly fibrous in that picture.

What isn't convincing?

If my filter medium is rougher/more porous, surely that would encourage the formation of structures by making it harder for the oil to transport particles away from the centre.

I'd have thought the other way around. More porous = bigger holes = less selective filter (although the interactions involved in chromatographic separation are more complex than that)

Can't find the filter paper I bought, which is annoying because it was fairly expensive. It seemed fairly "fine" though. There are lots of different grades of filter paper but I don't have very convenient access to them here.

Justwatching wrote:
Interfering with the oil's dispersal ability would lean results toward a false positive (i.e. the test would be more conservative not optimistic).

Probably a bit early to talk in such definite terms. We'd need to play around with it quite a bit more, and I currently don't have very much time.

I did a little Thin Layer Chromatography first lab I worked in after graduation, back when the dinosaurs were making our oil. They had a machine for spreading a thin layer of silica slurry on glass plates, but there was a knack to it, and we weren't doing a lot, so we just bought them in (from Merk, IIRC, and bloody expensive). That might have higher resolution.

There might be scope for better improvised media (white emulsion paint? plaster of paris?) but if I get any more time to play with it I'll probably just use printer paper initially.

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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:43 am

Joloke wrote:
All very interesting but id still rather just change my oil on a regular basis,in fact with cheap supermarket oils these days its often very cheap to double up on the oil changes and do them more often so that the oil never get a chance to break down.


I've seen some evidence to suggest that you can actually change your oil too often, i.e. there's a frequency above which the wear metals start to increase.

I think the theory was that the detergents in the new oil removed the anti-wear surface layer deposited by the old oil
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:25 pm

My thinking was that oil would soak into a more porous material leaving contaminants on the surafce, whereas the oil would glide across the surafce of something smoother/harder to penetrate, this time carrying the particles along with it.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:47 pm

Do you know what grade/pour size/partical retention is used in this application? Wiki just says "premium"...
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:18 am

Justwatching wrote:
My thinking was that oil would soak into a more porous material leaving contaminants on the surafce, whereas the oil would glide across the surafce of something smoother/harder to penetrate, this time carrying the particles along with it.

The latter was my model for the dark rings I was getting, though the particles might be small enough to percolate the paper even with fairly fine paper. They've gone through my oil filter, after all.

Don't remember seeing the medium specified anywhere, so theres scope for experimentation.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:21 pm

Here's another oil sample, this time from my Volvo. It's also had about 6 months and 3 or 4,000 miles on the current oil. The oil was hot (previous sample cold). Not sure how much difference this makes (other than viscosity obviously), but would like to keep it consistent, especially if tracking changes.

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Sorry for the crap photography - you'll just have to take my description. It's more of a yellowy-brown, where as the previous sample had more grey tones. Like the previous sample, the centre is darker but no clear structures/boundaries.

I'll try to find someone with higher mileage on their oil so we can have a look at that too.

The PH test is not forgotten. I've got some syringes and have ordered a PH meter and isopropyl alcohol. Watch this space.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:36 am

I tried a half-assed thermal stressing "experiment" using half a drinking straw full of Sunflower oil, in a (washed-but-used) aluminium custard-tart cup, on a hotplate, quenched before sampling by floating the cup in a dish of chilled water.

Sampling used the end of an empty ball-point pen tube, dipped and then brought to the surface of the oil, and left on the surface of the printer paper for about 3 seconds.

I used SFO for a first look because I assumed I'd be more likely to get an effect on a short timescale, and I was doing it in a kitchen. The dish was just on the smoke-point of the oil, but I dunno what its actual temperature was.

Spot diameter decreased over the time course, probably due to viscosity increase, though this probably also reduced the volume of sample transferred. The two later time (75 and 115 minutes) points were also noticably darker in colour, but there wasn't much structure in any of the spots.

I expect I'll need to increase the timescale at least tenfold to see any effect with motor oil.

I'll post a picture if I ever find my camera.
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PostSubject: Poor Picture   Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:13 am

I stuck it on my (dirty) office window to get some backlighting (the black dot at the top is some Blutack) but the sun was setting, so its rather dark.

Colour/size change but no structure, so I might not bother with any more pics of this one.

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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:59 am

I tried uploading the picture to the free online TLC analysis website here

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Needed rescaled to 800X800 pixels, which I did here.

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It then uploads successfully, but the spot analysis function doesn't accurately delineate the spot boundaries (at least in this rather dark pic) so quantition is up the spout. Its not a very good picture, but the spot boundaries, at least, are sharp and clear to the eye.

Even if it worked (perhaps with better pictures) this software only does spot area (and volume? They must assume a standard media depth?) so probably isn't going to be very useful in this context.

There are other free programs, but they'd need installed, and look like they'll have rather steep learning curves, which I don't really have time for at the moment.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:03 am

Spot detection/delineation fail

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That's telling it there are six spots, processing the image as a negative, with the maximum noise filter.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:40 pm

Acidity test didn't go so well. Metre read 6.7, which I thought was a result until I tested the isopropyl alcohol on it's own...6.7

I put the oil and IPA into the cap of the ph metre (convenient sized receptacle I thought), but because it's small I couldn't mix the solution well. I'll try making the solution in something I can stir properly or even shake next time.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:37 am

Another dud unfortunately. For the second attempt I drew the oil sample and IPA into the same syringe and shook it vigorously. Although something leached into the IPA as it changed to a cloudy oil-ish colour, the two did not fully assimilate into one. Instead, they remained two distinctly separate substances, with the oil sitting at the bottom. Reading of 6.9 this time round.
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PostSubject: Re: Lubricheck Oil Condition Monitoring Gizmo   Thu May 15, 2014 10:23 am

Got an example of what really bad oil looks. I took this sample from a 1930's Delage D6  Shocked 

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I think it might be contaminated, too. There was what looked like a thin dome of water sitting on top of the sample which has since dried and disappeared. Not sure if it was crankcase moisture or from the cooling system (no anti-freeze in there - just water!).
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