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Thread: Gelatinous Chunks in Antifreeze/Coolant Change

  1. #1
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    Gelatinous Chunks in Antifreeze/Coolant Change

    Took the cap off of my coolant reservoir yesterday and discovered that the green antifreeze was loaded with small clear gelatinous chunks. We purchased the boat last spring and have not added any thing to the cooling system. I have no idea how old the coolant is and plan on draining and flushing the system. Is this something that happens to antifreeze as it ages ?
    Last edited by Christian Williams; 03-29-2017 at 12:54 PM. Reason: update title
    1987 34-2
    Tortuga
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    Did a quick search on this issue

    Quote Originally Posted by JSM View Post
    Took the cap off of my coolant reservoir yesterday and discovered that the green antifreeze was loaded with small clear gelatinous chunks. We purchased the boat last spring and have not added any thing to the cooling system. I have no idea how old the coolant is and plan on draining and flushing the system. Is this something that happens to antifreeze as it ages ?
    It seems that there is a silica fall out from Dex style antifreeze that can cause this.
    It can also happen is two different style of antifreeze are mixed... for example... The Coolant is drained and changed, but a differnt sytle antifreeze is use, and the block was not flushed... the interaction will cause the gelling. Also oil in the coolant will cause this as well.

    Here is a quote from a expert...

    when you switch to dex cool you usually have to flush the system WELL..as in fill with water....run to operating temp....drain and repeat at least once more (this is to flush the heater core also).

    if you just drain and fill there was enough green coolant left to GEL with the dex cool.

    its usually not a good idea to change coolant with a veh that was run with green coolant. the dexcool has some issues also.

    your better off flushing system with the directions above 2x...then refill with green coolant and hope you get everything out. .


    The only solution is to completely flush your system... some recommend using citrus acid for the flush....

    Hope this helps
    rick+
    Pax et Bene
    Rick e29

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    Thanks Rick, doesn't appear to be any oil in the coolant. The coolant is green and the "chunks" are small and clear. Just read that Prestone will gell when it gets old.
    Engine ran fine last fall before we hauled out for the winter. Will flush and refill.
    Anyone have a tips for flushing?
    1987 34-2
    Tortuga
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    Principal Partner footrope's Avatar
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    Remove thermostat, use appropriate sized hoses, 5 gallon bucket

    This is the setup I use to flush my cooling system. The thermostat has to be removed. I don't do it with a super hot engine, but it works cold and after idling long enough to open the thermostat. Most hose "squirters" have a threaded nozzle and the adapters are available at marine and hardware stores. Utility water pressure at the hose can be pretty high, so regulate the flow to get a thorough flush. Oh, put the radiator cap on tight. I learned that the hard way.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Edit: Added the "before" picture of the engine in normal running mode so you can see where the black hose usually connects between the thermostat housing and the cooling jacket/exhaust manifold. Different installation variations and model years of these Universal engines may not be plumbed the same way.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by footrope; 03-27-2017 at 11:39 PM. Reason: clarify hose connections
    Craig Davis & Ellen Le Vita

    1980 E38 "Pilot Project"
    Hull #20, Universal Diesel 5432
    Gig Harbor, WA


    In Puget Sound there are only two directions to go - North and South. That applies to the boat and the wind.

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    Thanks Footrope ! Your post about your head dilemma was the first to come up when I did a search for "cooling system flush".
    1987 34-2
    Tortuga
    Universal M25XP

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    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Question Coolant Notes

    FWIW, our mechanic has a coolant replacement kit he put together. 12 volt pump with clip leads, a five gallons bucket, some hoses...
    Last time he replaced all of our coolant mixture with new, this setup did it without leaving any air pockets in the engine like there would be if we did it by draining thru taps and plugs. Pretty nifty, actually, and time (and $) were minimal.

    Also, last time we changed it out, we abandoned the pricy Sierra brand antifreeze with its promise of non-toxicity.
    After consultation, we went back to conventional coolant and just figured that if the loop in the hot water tank every gets a pinhole leak, we would notice the awful taste and desist from drinking it.

    YMMV.

    Loren
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    Curator of Broken Parts toddster's Avatar
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    Actually the taste is quite sweet. Which is why we have the notorious problem of pet poisoning from antifreeze.

    If you look carefully around the antifreeze shelves at the parts store, there are probably a few products to use when flushing the cooling system. Somewhere on the Moyer site, there are detailed instructions for using swimming pool muriatic acid (HCl) to flush the Atomic Four, but the same sequence could probably be used for any engine.

    And if you find that you really, really enjoy spending days purging and burping cooling systems, go right to Craigslist and buy yourself an old BMW!
    s/v arcturus E29 #134

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    Found this at http://downeasteryachts.com/info-ind...al-engine-info.

    SUBJECT: Diesel Marine Engine Antifreeze “Gel” Formation
    Many automotive antifreeze products contain high amounts of silicate
    designed to protect aluminum engine parts and aluminum radiators from
    corrosion. When antifreeze is not mixed with fresh water in the correct
    mixture (1:1), or changed regularly(usually about every 3 years) it can
    cause the silicates to drop out rapidly and create a gel condition which can
    block the water jackets and heat exchanger… causing severe overheating. The prevention of antifreeze gel formation is to use the correct,
    brand-name, regular life (green) antifreeze in the correct mixture with
    clean, fresh water, and change it regularly according to the engine
    maintenance manual specifications.
    Removing the gel formation from engine water jackets is difficult. Heat
    exchangers and engine water jackets must be flushed with a caustic solution,
    not water.
    1987 34-2
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    Curator of Broken Parts toddster's Avatar
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    Well, that's true that silicates are soluble in basic solution and insoluble in acid. Just the opposite of the case for metals. Maybe a good idea to read the labels of several of those radiator flush products to try to figure out the differences. (BTW: This is the same reason that one uses acidic cleaners like "Barkeepers Friend" on glass cooktops, and not ordinary soaps, which are basic, and could etch hot glass.)

    So with an excess of silica, an acid flush might just speed up formation of clay coatings inside the system. Or given the amount of rust and scale that might be lurking in some of these old engines, some really interesting mineralogy might be going on... Perhaps Ericsonite is just waiting to be discovered?
    s/v arcturus E29 #134

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSM View Post
    [snip] The prevention of antifreeze gel formation is to use the correct,
    brand-name, regular life (green) antifreeze in the correct mixture with
    clean, fresh water, [snip]
    I would just add to use distilled water to avoid minerals etc. that may be in your local water supply.
    -David
    Independence 31
    Emerald

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    Thanks All, really appreciate all the helpful responses . We purchased this boat last spring. The coolant was probably the only fluid on the boat that I did not change. It was nice and green and at the right levels. Our previous boat of thirty years had a raw water cooled Atomic 4. Dealing with a freshwater cooled diesel is a whole new ball game.
    The previous owners were getting up in years and as we get to know the boat I'm beginning to see a lot of "delayed maintenance". Wouldn't surprise me if this is the original coolant.
    1987 34-2
    Tortuga
    Universal M25XP

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    Principal Partner footrope's Avatar
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    I edited my post #4 to show the normal running mode of my 5432 engine and to help clarify the hose connections. Your engine could be plumbed differently due to installation differences, whether a water heater is present, or due to newer or older versions of an engine. Or you may have a different model of the Universal diesel. Consult your mechanic if you have doubts about your particular engine.

    I don't recommend doing this on a hot engine because the flush is rapid (30 seconds or less) even at relatively low flow rates. You don't want to "shock" cool the engine. So, do this on a cold engine or after a short run if you're using a flushing solution, and there shouldn't be any problem.
    Craig Davis & Ellen Le Vita

    1980 E38 "Pilot Project"
    Hull #20, Universal Diesel 5432
    Gig Harbor, WA


    In Puget Sound there are only two directions to go - North and South. That applies to the boat and the wind.

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    Thanks Craig, the pics help. My set up is a bit different, Its an M25xp with a water heater. When flushing a cold engine is it necessary to remove the thermostat ? Also how important is it (if at all) to flush in the normal direction of coolant flow.
    As of now my boat is on the hard, the fuel tank is out and the yard has yet to turn on power and water.
    My plan for this weekend is to suck all the coolant out of the reservoir and expansion tank with a vacuum pump, remove and replace all of the old/original hoses as well as removing the heat exchanger to get a look at the inside of it.
    On these heat exchangers, does the coolant run thru the interior tubes or is it the water?
    Thanks
    1987 34-2
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  14. #14
    Principal Partner footrope's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSM View Post
    Thanks Craig, the pics help. My set up is a bit different, Its an M25xp with a water heater. When flushing a cold engine is it necessary to remove the thermostat ? Also how important is it (if at all) to flush in the normal direction of coolant flow.
    As of now my boat is on the hard, the fuel tank is out and the yard has yet to turn on power and water.
    My plan for this weekend is to suck all the coolant out of the reservoir and expansion tank with a vacuum pump, remove and replace all of the old/original hoses as well as removing the heat exchanger to get a look at the inside of it.
    On these heat exchangers, does the coolant run thru the interior tubes or is it the water?
    Thanks
    That sounds like a good plan. It is absolutely necessary to remove the thermostat. Plan on getting a new paper gasket for re-assembly. When the engine is cold the thermostat is closed and therefore there would be no flow in some sections of the cooling system. Even with a warm engine the thermostat will close when cool water flows past. If I don't remove the thermostat I get no flow at all because the flush connection is going right to the top of the thermostat.

    I have flushed in both directions and I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference. The pictures I included show flushing in the opposite direction of normal coolant flow. The picture shows the easiest way to connect the hoses on my engine.

    I don't know the exact plumbing of the internal passages of the heat exchanger (HX). The chunks could cause some blockage if they're numerous or large, so it is a good idea to remove it and open up the end caps. Replace the pencil zinc, too, before putting it back on the engine. You can probably connect the coolant loop hoses with a hose union for flushing the rest of the system.

    The coolant loop of the heat exchanger on my setup is a pair of right angle ports that are recessed from the end caps. At one end are the sea water inlet and outlet ports and those connections come straight out of the exchanger at an angle to each other. The four hoses are easy to trace if you can get a look at the connections and follow your raw water and coolant hoses. Inside the HX here are usually a few tubes that are blocked permanently on one end, so be gentle if you probe the tubes. A radiator shop can boil out the heat exchanger.

    Craig
    Craig Davis & Ellen Le Vita

    1980 E38 "Pilot Project"
    Hull #20, Universal Diesel 5432
    Gig Harbor, WA


    In Puget Sound there are only two directions to go - North and South. That applies to the boat and the wind.

  15. #15
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Craig,

    Uh, after flushing with water, how do you get the water out so as to add the new coolant?

    Never did this, and it's time.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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