» Oil Leak Detection

Some of you will be aware that my Twin Cam has been plagued with an obscure engine oil leak. This is not entirely surprising as the engine does have a history of this. Finding the source was difficult; poor accessibility and the lack of a double jointed, telescopic neck compounded the problem.

One of the Twin Cam chat group subscribers suggested I get a special kit. This consists of an oil based fluorescent dye which is added to the engine oil and a special ultra violet torch. I had great difficulty finding such a kit, phoned RACQ technical advice line, various engine builders/reconditioners etc, none of whom had ever heard of such a thing. A web search finally lead me to a very helpful organization in Sydney specializing in non-destructive testing who are agents for an American company called Spectronics who make the kits. They sold me the dye and generously lent me a $1000 professional torch to do the job, which was easy.

The external engine is first properly cleaned, then run with the dye fully dispersed. In due course the torch is shone over the engine and lo and behold, all is revealed – magic! The leak has now been fixed and the car passed its test on the last end of month run. How long it will remain oil tight is another issue.

Interestingly, this process is used by local major motor manufacturers on their engine assembly lines. It is also part of the maintenance programmes at many mines running those huge pieces of machinery where the early detection of leaks can save thousands if not millions of dollars. I have since learnt that it is also used by the refrigeration industry for the same purpose, including car airconditioning.

I finally tracked down a modestly priced kit by Spectronics bought from their agent in Brisbane, photo below. If anyone wants to borrow it they are welcome, but the dye will have to be charged.

If there is sufficient interest perhaps the club should buy a kit.

Robin Godfrey

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