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Indestructable 300TDi engine

Les Henson

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Went to look a very poorly 300TDi this evening, recovered from the side of the motorway on the back of a yellow taxi.

Few interesting pics:-

Melted spill rail pipe:-


Solder on the top and bottom of the rad melted:-



Slight lack of oil:-


Any bit of plastic that has touched the engine is melted - boost pipe, fuel pipe, one of the breathers, etc. One of the side tanks on the fairly new rad had been blown partly off.

I felt sure the engine would be seized, but not so! Compression feels a bit weak, but it's done 190,000 miles, so you would expect it to be low.

Anyway, head off some time next week, and we'll see what's what. Amazing if the pistons survived this.

Les. :)

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I saw one like that here a few years back, coolant header tank had split round the seam where they often do, and the driver carried on driving it more or less till it seized completely ("there was a funny smell coming out of the heater so we stopped"...).

All the plastic fittings on the engine block were melted. It was filled up with coolant and started with the header tank cap off, it "evacuated" the entire cooling system (through the header tank cap) in about three or four seconds which caused a bit of a scattering match among the assembled audience (spectacular though), and it sounded horrific - just huge metallic clanking noises a bit like somebody belting an anvil with a sledgehammer on every piston stroke. It went in the bin!

The solder in the rad hadn't melted though - what is the melting temp of solder?! maybe this one had been even hotter, though I can't quite see how it could melt something on the rad? must have been hot combustion gases going through the rad or something as even if the engine block was red hot the radiated heat wouldn't be enough to melt solder, the vehicle would catch fire first! If it was combustion gases escaping into the rad to that extent I'd say it will be somewhat bladdered....

From cooked ones I've seen in the ten years I've been working around the vehicles I expect the head will be bent like a banana (the alloy heads are the first thing to go when they get too hot) and if its been that hot the pistons will probably have picked up in the bores too.

What was the cause of the bang Les - oil loss or coolant loss?

Nothing that five grand won't fix :)

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Could the solder be from someone trying to fix a leaky rad - and that being what caused the water to exit?

If there is no water in the system - the temperature sender often shows the engine being cold - unless it gets jolly hot.


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The radiator is a fairly new item, no repairs to it at all. The solder is from the heat generated by the engine )super heated steam?).

Yes, the temp guage went up, but he didn't notice until it was too late. He pulled over to the side of the road as the engine started to fade.

He switched the engine off, and as he did so - the rad 'popped'.

If the engine can't be repaired/costs too much, the vehicle will be up for sale 'as seen'

Les. :)

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I saw a 300 Tdi disco with the same thing, melted solder in the rad and all the plastic temp senders and such melted. The conclusion we reached was that the water had escaped through the water pump gasket and the head gasket had allowed the combustion to pass into the waterway hence melting everything that would melt.


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Well I finally got round to removing the head today, and the damage is obvious. The owner of the vehicle says that he only noticed something was wrong when the Disco started to lose power. Looking at the internals of the engine now I would say that it blew between cylinder 2 and 3. There is a small amount of alloy on the wall of No1 bore, and all 4 bores have heavy vertical scoring. The head is likely to be badly warped, but the engine itself is probably salvageable. New pistons and rings for certain - 1 or 2 sizes up along with a re-bore and the usual shells, gaskets, seals, etc. I would totally re-build it, but I think the customer is going to flog the motor off as is. I'd like to rebuild a 300TDi engine as well :(

Have to say I'm impressed that the engine was a lot more terminal than this.

A few pictures for you sadistic types. :P








Les. :)

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