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Dry sump oil change


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The drain plug is above the RH wheel. 

So you have to run the engine until fully hot and switch off then as quickly as possible remove the plug and drain, before the oil runs out of the tank back to the sump (well the bottom of the crankcase since there isnt really a sump)

Then put new oil in, again without hesitating until it is showing on the dipstick at the top mark. 

Then run the engine to circulate. Then check the level which is done just after switching off, again before the oil runs out of the tank into the sump.

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Andy, I recently experienced this with an Essex Turbo and got wildly different readings every time. Did some reading and apparently magazines had issues during road tests back in the day when following Lotus instructions to the dot. Is it just a matter of making sure one knows EXACTLY how much oil is in the system? Because supposedly overfilling can cause damage... 

Vanya Stanisavljevic '91 Esprit SE | '97 XK8

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I remember the readings on mine varying quite a bit but the level is not that critical. Thats one of the advantages of a dry sump system.

The issues they had were probably caused by people taking readings many hours after stopping, as on a normal wet sump system. That would cause massive overfilling.

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23 hours ago, Vanya said:

Because supposedly overfilling can cause damage

Certainly can Vanya.

In a normal set up if you put too much in the crank "sits" in the oil.  As it spins it whips the oil creating bubbles, faster it goes the more it creates.  The oil pump is designed to pump a liquid not a gas (air) so can't pump the oil round to where it is needed, so the engine is damaged due to, of all things, oil starvation!

Which is ironic, given it had too much in , in the first place.


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Thats one of the benefits of a dry sump system. That does not happen because oil is immediately pumped out from under the crank into the oil tank. There is only a very small pool of oil in the bottom whatever the tank level is, with the possible exception of startup after leaving a long time until the drainback oil is pumped out.

But the kind of drastic overfill which would happen if someone filled a cold engine to the dipstick mark might cause the tank to completely fill up during running which could cause all kinds of issues. There is a swirl pot in the tank inlet to separate air and this would no longer work causing the oil in the tank to froth up and then the aforementioned oil pump not pumping.

Its entirely plausible that some owners did this without knowing hence the reports of major problems and one reason they went to wet sump.


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No bit of a pain.  It is currently with Alan Voights.  Other than minor "normal" wear they cant find anything wrong.  Clutch seems fine.  GST have looked at the thrust bearing and is fine.  Engine runs, good oil pressure. When you press the clutch the noise goes instantly.

There is now a suggestion of play in the crank.  I am away at the moment but will check this at the weekend.  Needle bearing in crank is fine as is the Nylatron washer.  Play in the crank shaft is known especially on early engines and there is a small modification that can be made to give a better oil feed. I do not know if my engine has had this.

The gearbox from my other car is currently out so am considering putting it in the Copper car to either prove or disprove the gearbox.  Dont want to be removing the engine if its OK and putting a gearbox in is no big problem. just a bit of time, plus it would hopefully get me up and running again if it proves to be the gearbox all along.  

Real pain at the moment.


If anyone has any other suggestions to check I would be interesting in hearing them.


In addition and why I started this thread was because the Turbo drain pipe was leaking where it attaches to the engine.  I took the pipe off not even considering it was below the oil level and consequently lost most of the oil. Probably isnt on a wet sump but as its dry the oil has drained back to the engine which is probably why the level was so high.   What a dick eh!  Never mind got a new O ring for it anyway :) 

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Sorry to hear of your dramas Phil,  I think swapping out the gearbox is an excellent idea myself, yes a pain in the backside but at least it will rule out plenty of things out, I personally would throw a complete new clutch in at the same time including a new release bearing.   Very hard to tell or comment without actually hearing the noise in person or inspecting the parts.   

Best of luck and hope you sort it soon chap :)


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