New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

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New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby Mark P. » Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:53 pm

I just built a 2276cc VW Type 1 from scratch. I also added a full-flow oiling system (the new case was machined for it, I blocked the pump outlet on the pump itself), oil filter, thermostat and external oil cooler to this project. The oil lines are quite long! So, I'm cautious about all this NEW stuff. I pre-filled the oil filter, the oil cooler and the line to the oil pump. The return line got some oil, but it just exits in to the engine so it can't be completely primed. Rocker arms and spark plugs out. Mechanical oil pressure gauge tester is temporarily installed on the oil pressure/temperature outlet of the engine.

I was hoping to spin the engine with the starter and get SOME oil pressure. The gauge doesn't move at all. I removed the gauge and oil is gushing out of the engine. So, the pump seems to work. I reinstalled the pressure gauge and then installed the rocker assemblies and valve covers. Spun it again and still no oil pressure after 20+ seconds of cranking. Should I crank it for minutes? Or just cross my fingers and start it? Can a high-torque (slower speed) starter motor build oil pressure on a Type 1?

I'm running Rotella T1 30w straight dino oil and a can of ZDDP additive for start-up. After 20 minutes (hopefully) of running, I'll renew that.
Last edited by Mark P. on Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby Larry Jowdy » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:30 pm

I have to ask, is the top oil port on the oil pump plugged as is required for a full flow system? If it's not plugged,it won't put pressure through port in the oil pump cover
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Re: New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby Mark P. » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:43 pm

Hi, Larry. Just researching this some more and edited my post to answer that very question. Yes, I tapped and plugged the oil pump outlet in the oil pump itself. The cover has an outlet on it, which goes to the inlet of the oil filter (5' of hose), then to the thermostat inlet, thermostat outlet, back to the full-flow hole in the case. The oil cooler is on the back side of that thermostat.

I saw an internet poster stating the case had to be plugged as well as the outlet of the pump. So, two plugs facing each other. I did not plug the case, assuming just plugging the oil pump was sufficient.

I could bypass all the new external oil system with a short run of hose and try again. Just didn't want to keep spinning the engine if it was pointless - if a high-torque starter really couldn't hope to build enough oil pressure to register on a gauge.
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Re: New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby Larry Jowdy » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:53 pm

Try running the short line but I doubt the starter can spin the oil pump fast enough to produce measurable pressure. Unfortunately there's no other way other than rigging up a pump system and forcing oil through the hole drilled into the case. (That's the main oil gallery) Additionally, I've built 100's of engines and only plugged the oil pump. Either a pressed in plug or threading the hole and screwing in a threaded AN fitting or large set screw dipped in Loctite.

ps, did you remove the line attached to the face of the oil pump to see if oil is being pumped out?
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Re: New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby Mark P. » Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:35 pm

Not yet. Easy enough to try (tomorrow), then I'll try making a short line to bypass the filter/thermostat/cooler. Good to know plugging the oil pump alone is OK! That would have been tough to do at this stage.
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Re: New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby Aussiespyder » Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:42 pm

Mark

In my earlier engineering days I was involved in engine R&D and we would always hook up a pressurised oil tank and prime the oil circuit before we started a new engine. (We took it off before first firing) You could do that with a pump up garden spray.

In reality it's probably not necessary as I'm sure you would have oiled everything on assembly and sounds like you have cranked it over a few times.

Regards

Ken

PS doing that might reduce the need to bypass the external equipment as the handpump would prime the whole circuit.
Doing both is also a safe option.
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Re: New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby Mark P. » Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:38 am

I removed the gauge and left the port open. Turned it over a few times and oil is flowing out the gauge port so I'm assuming all my plumbing is good, the pump is good, and oil has been pushed to where it needs to go. I'll cross my fingers and start it soon. The NGK plugs I ordered came in without the screw-on end caps, and my distributor leads require caps, so another delay...

I did pre-lube and prime as much as possible without making too much of a mess. It is my first VW engine build so I second-guessed every single thing. What should probably have taken two days has taken two months.

So, I'll know the answer to my question 'can the starter build pressure' soon enough.
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Re: New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby RS-60 mark » Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:41 am

Mark -- Congrats on your engine project. Building your own engine is rewarding, I know. Both in the learning experience, and eventually in the final product. When you slam down the throttle pedal and your head snaps back you can grin and say "I did that". And, when the inevitable days come when something needs fixing or maintaining, you know what to do.

I'd agree that if oil is gushing from the pump output line while turning the starter motor that you will be ok with adequate pressure to run the engine for 20 minute initial break-in, after which you'll know if pressure is good-to-go forever after. If for some reason you don't have sustainable pressure immediately after starting the engine, you can live without damage for a short time (very short) on the assembly lube you've smeared over all the moving surfaces during the build.

You'd be surprised how well the engine survives with insufficient oil pressure. On my build I had a horrible time with low and fluctuating oil pressure, and fussed around with it for quite a while and maybe a few hundred miles. The issue (mentioned in the thread above) was that I had neglected to plug the output port on the oil pump. Once corrected I have never had oil pressure problems (23,000 miles). However I was frightened at the time about damage I may have done so I took the engine apart to look. Nothing seemed ruined, I replaced the main bearings "just because", and like I said, 23,000 miles later every thing is still rotating.
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Re: New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby Mark P. » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:57 am

I connected the dash light to the pressure switch, disconnected the Fuel Injection, cranked it for 10 seconds and it didn't go out. Connected the FI. It started right up and the oil pressure light immediately went out. Ran it for 20 minutes at 2000-2500 RPM.

So - to answer my own question, no, the starter didn't build enough pressure to turn the light off.

During the run-in, the pressure light stayed off so I guess I'm good there. The oil temp barely moved, which I'm not too surprised by (unloaded.) However, the new oil thermostat opened up (175F) to the new oil cooler and then the cooler's fan came on (180F switch). The oil must have been hot! The lines were hot. Hot air was coming out of the stock doghouse cooler from the opening in my DTM shroud so the stock cooler was working. May be normal?

Time to tune it up and go seat the rings some night this week.
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Re: New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby RS-60 mark » Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:26 am

Not surprising that you'd get to 180 within 20 minutes. It would be surprising if you didn't. 180 is the target of a warmed-up engine. If your gauge is barely moving, sneak your wife's kitchen meat thermometer into the dipstick hole and check the oil temp that way. Compare the thermometer temp with the dash gauge. Then you'll know how to interpret the gauge.

Sounds like you built an interesting engine. How about sharing the build specs / components?
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Re: New engine build - can the starter build oil pressure?

Postby Mark P. » Thu Sep 29, 2016 3:07 am

I kept my CB Performance heads and the distributor drive gear out of the CB 1915cc engine. The rest is a kit of parts mostly from CarcraftStore (great to work with!) 8.3:1 final compression ratio. Still running Redline Weber Fuel Injection and MSD distributor/6AL.

CB #1398 044 Super Mag CNC Round Port (40 x 35.5) 94mm Bore
Magnesium case machined for 94mm, clearanced, full-flow
8mm studs
82mm New Chromoly Counterweighted Crankshaft
Engle 120 Grind Camshaft – 294 degrees, .397” lift, 108 center
I-Beam Forged Chromoly 5.5” AA Rods (#131 4155VW)
Piston Kit AA VW94 (94mm Stroker)

Lots of other small parts and details, but fairly straightforward 2276 stroker on a budget.
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