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Pre-Tuner 08-05-2010 08:29 PM

What's this metal in my oil pan?
I have a fresh built 406 SBC. I just pulled the pan because it is leaking and found these three pieces of metal in the pan. They are aluminum and look like they were sheared off of something. I have no idea where they came from and no idea what to check. It's a '79 block, with vortec heads and nothing is aluminum except the pistons and intake. I've been racking my brain trying to figure it out, but can't think of anything. The rear main bearing looks good and it doesn't appear to have sucked anything through the oil pump.

Any ideas?

brutis 08-05-2010 08:56 PM

looks like part of oil ring spacer
oil ring spacers there alum are they not ?

Pre-Tuner 08-05-2010 09:07 PM

They are about the thickness of one of the other rings, but they are not aluminum. The scrapers are thinner and a different metal I believe.

a1supersport 08-05-2010 10:01 PM

This is a long-shot, but...

from the distributor body/housing?

crussell85 08-05-2010 10:06 PM

are they magnetic? where they in the pan before the pan was installed? Try taking a picture of them on a red cloth, the red will beable to reflect more detail than the white

Pre-Tuner 08-05-2010 10:06 PM

You know, I was thinking that could be it. Maybe the little tangs that keep the wear plate from rotating? I'll pull it out tomorrow and check for sure. That would be kind of an odd problem I would think.

They are not magnetic, and the pan was spotless when it was installed. I'll try taking a picture on a blue towel since that's all I have.

sqzbox 08-05-2010 11:46 PM

They're gremlin teeth! :evil:

AndersonRacing44 08-06-2010 12:02 AM

they really look like the bottom end of the distrubutor shaft. also mabye peices of a piston skirt? couldve mabye caught a burr on the block?

cobalt327 08-06-2010 02:28 AM

Nonmagnetic could be stainless. That looks like a portion of an oil ring expander to me...

topwrench 08-06-2010 05:05 AM

I would really try to find out what kind of metal it is first,since they are non magnetic as stated I would suspect either Al. or stainless.
Take a piece and anneal it,you can do this by heating with an oxy-acetyline torch,using only acetilyne just completely blacken the metal,let it cool then heat it again,use a carburasing flame and heat it just enough to make the previously blackened dissapear,do not heat it any more than this,if its aluminum it will now be annealead and easy to distort(crude method) put the metal on top of an anvil or vise and hit it with a ball peen hammer,if its Al. it will distort easy if its stainless it wont,this will narrow your detective work down a lot,what ever rings you used see if you can find out if they are stainless, I doubt if its a ring ,it would have to come in between piston and cyl.bore and the motor would have probably locked up by now.This ought to keep you busy for a while!
Besides maybe Im wrong but. Stainless oil rings?

a1supersport 08-06-2010 05:08 AM


Originally Posted by Pre-Tuner
You know, I was thinking that could be it. Maybe the little tangs that keep the wear plate from rotating? I'll pull it out tomorrow and check for sure. That would be kind of an odd problem I would think.

Unless the distributor for some reason is sitting too low, and the tangs got sheared off (distributor bottomed out?)? But that plate/tangs should be magnetic, I would think...

Or maybe not the "steel" tangs, but the alloy tangs in the distributor housing that stop the steel wear-plate/tangs from rotating? (Is that the one you're talking about?)

At first I was thinking exactly what cobalt mentioned. But that means those pieces had to have either gone down between the piston skirt/cyl., or through the oil passages in the piston.

a1supersport 08-06-2010 05:26 AM


cobalt327 08-06-2010 06:01 AM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by a1supersport

Those thrust bearing/spacer tangs would have a difficult time getting to the oil pan unless there is some considerable damage to the distributor- so a casual glance will provide the news. I would expect there to be a LOT of aluminum debris from the radial pieces of the dist. body accompanying the steel pieces of the washer- besides the spacer/thrust bearing is carbon steel, i.e. magnetic. :(

H D 08-06-2010 11:45 AM

Just a shot in the dark here, but by chance are you using cast aluminum valve covers with oil drippers. If so remove the valve covers and inspect to see if the rocker arms have made contact with the oil drippers.
No need to ask me why I thought of this scenario. ;)
Good luck

Pre-Tuner 08-06-2010 06:11 PM

I have to appologize for my ignorance. The pieces looked aluminum to me, so I said they are not magnetic. I just checked, and they ARE magnetic. So that shows you what I know.

I have fabricated aluminum valve covers, but they do not have oil drippers or even baffles.

The pieces look like they must have dropped straight through because they are not really chewed up; just broken off. The engine has 400 miles on it, and there was no metal in the pan except the usual new engine dust, along with these three pieces. No chunks.

I'm almost certain that they are from the distributor, especially after seeing a1supersport's picture, but I still haven't checked. As soon as the wife gets home, she can watch the babies and I can do something a little more manly.

If these end up being from the distributor, what do you think could have gone wrong. I mean it looks to me like it would be sitting too low, but the wear pattern on the teeth look like it is in the center. I actually had the distributor recurved about 150 miles ago, and the place that did it commented on how nice the wear pattern looked.

That leads me to another question I have. Is the wear plate sitting directly on top of the gear, or is there supposed to be a shim between them? I would think there would be a shim, but I don't know for sure.

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