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Old 05-24-2019, 12:12 AM   #1
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Default "Rusty Whale" Rebuild Thread (maybe)

It's been nearly ten years and >150K miles since I got my passenger Sprinter. My usual passengers are spreading their wings and flying off, and running with only one row of seats in the back for the past year has not been an issue. The engine is running well, but there is a lot of "deferred maintenance" to deal with. And, I want to turn it into a "rolling tiny house", the interior having either a Hawaiian theme, a "back to nature" theme (wood, branches) or something that looks like The Hab from The Martian. I want to turn the roof into a "top porch" and maybe make a back and/or side porch. And I have a really cool (to me) car to make into a Toad.

This is going to take a while. Probably need to give up on patching the exhaust and get new pipes. Need to drop the transmission pan and get all the gook out which is causing a code to be thrown and getting stuck in one gear from time to time. Definitely want to repaint, and am thinking about Rustoleum White, Gray, Red, or Black for its ubiquity. I have LOTS of rust to deal with, which probably should be at the top of the list.

But I am thinking of starting with the engine. by removing and rebuilding the heads. Although it runs great, and no black death, and pretty much exclusively Shell diesel and Diesel Kleen, I have several dead glow plugs and one that is broken off. I think I have one or more broken exhaust studs. The last time I fixed an exhaust stud, I was laboring over the side of the engine for four hours. Perhaps I should also have my injectors checked, as I have wondered if any have had problems since I got the van. But maybe not, given how well it runs. My mileage is not the greatest but I wonder if that's the way the 2006 is set up compared to the earlier vans, and if all big 2006s never really get the legendary T1N mileage. The van has always blown smoke out the back when I stomp on it, from the first day I got it at around 30K miles.

One reason I want to take care of the glow plugs now is because I would like to get the recall work done, and don't want to be told that I need to pay the dealer a ton to fix that, or give the dealer an excuse to not fix something broken by the recall by blaming the glow plugs.

Any thoughts, recommendations or ideas? What other fragile parts are going to need replacing if I pull the head? Should I go all the way and do a complete engine job? Or perhaps acquire a used engine from a junkyard, rebuild that, and then rebuild my "known good" engine at my leisure?
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Last edited by seans; 05-24-2019 at 12:19 AM.
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Old 05-24-2019, 12:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: "Rusty Whale" Rebuild Thread (maybe)

What's your total mileage? And typical fuel economy? My 2006 at 200K gets 23 mpg. There was a poll on here a while back, I think 23mpg was the most frequent answer given. I would not be pulling the engine unless it needs something more than glow plugs / injectors/ exhaust studs.
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Old 05-24-2019, 05:08 AM   #3
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Default Re: "Rusty Whale" Rebuild Thread (maybe)

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What's your total mileage? And typical fuel economy? My 2006 at 200K gets 23 mpg. There was a poll on here a while back, I think 23mpg was the most frequent answer given. I would not be pulling the engine unless it needs something more than glow plugs / injectors/ exhaust studs.
It's almost 200K miles. It takes a lot of work to get 23 MPG. I once got 25-26 MPG on a 600 mile run between St. Louis and West Virginia on I-70 with a tailwind at 55 MPH. Nowadays I'm lucky if I get 21 on a normal road trip. Usually it's 18 MPG or lower.

The concerns are the smoke on acceleration and the mileage. I don't want to pull the engine either, or even just the head. But I also don't want to be bent over the side of the engine for ten hours grinding out broken off exhaust studs and trying to get the glow plugs out without breaking more off or dropping stuff in the piston while I'm trying to extract the broken off one.

But I am aware of the danger of breaking the "seal" by pulling the head on an engine that otherwise runs well.

Maybe I won't and will suffer bending over the engine.

It just occurred to me that the puff of smoke may be the engine sucking in oil from the intake. I don't know how to keep the PCV system from leaking oil into the intake.

Thank you for spurring new ideas.
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Old 05-24-2019, 05:21 AM   #4
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Default Re: "Rusty Whale" Rebuild Thread (maybe)

I do drive slowly to get that mileage. Light foot around town and 60-65moh highway. Do you have to top off the oil? How much and how often? I probably use 1-2 quarts every 10k miles. Comparing your consumption to what’s average on here might allay your fears on the smoke. It’s blue ?
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Old 05-24-2019, 03:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: "Rusty Whale" Rebuild Thread (maybe)

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..... Usually it's 18 MPG or lower.

The concerns are the smoke on acceleration and the mileage.

Thank you for spurring new ideas.
Barring a completely neglected and clogged air filter or faulty turbo actuator or turbo itself, the mileage issue and black smoke is/are most likely an/the injector/s. I've ran 100% (as in disconnect from the tank) liquimolly diesel purge through the injectors and have seen good results, but I'd just go straight to replacing the injectors. My opinion @ that mileage is to not even waste the money of getting them checked, just replace and get the $75-$100 back on the core replacement for remans.. Williams Diesel in Ocolla FL is probably best and closest for you. If you go elsewhere, just make sure they're coming from a certified Bosch calibration shop...

I bet you'll immediately see an increase from averaging 18mpg to 23mpg..
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Old 05-24-2019, 08:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: "Rusty Whale" Rebuild Thread (maybe)

It's not clear if the smoke is black or blue, but yes, with 200K it's good to replace the injectors. I had all of mine checked about 10K ago by Williams, and one needed re-coding (meaning it flowed differently than when new). I'm still a bit nervous about them, but they're $$ for new ones, and I'm monitoring my mileage/smoke production. In retrospect, I'd probably replace.
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Old 05-24-2019, 10:28 PM   #7
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Default Re: "Rusty Whale" Rebuild Thread (maybe)

Since it was asked...

I'd need a very good reason to start removing major parts from a T1N MB 2.7L diesel engine which is running well and only has 200k miles.

With proper tools and a bit of skill, broken glow plugs can be repaired without removing the head.

I've never achieved the magical consistent mid 20's MPG with my 2004 or 2006 140 2500's. Both are HC aka "low roof" van bodies.

Having injectors tested at 200k miles is not a bad thing. That said, from experience I know that a wonky O2 sensor can cause smoke when accelerating up a freeway on ramp.

Disturbing too many things on a properly running engine may not yield the results you expect.

Good luck with your Hawaiian adventure.

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Old 05-28-2019, 12:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: "Rusty Whale" Rebuild Thread (maybe)

hey guys, I wanted to thank you for the advice. I will probably not pull the head (or engine) and instead attempt the repairs without disassembly.

The smoke on acceleration I think might be oil drawn from the intake tubes, leaked from the crankcase ventilation.

On the decor, Vic, sounds like a vote for Hawaiian?
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