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Premature Camshaft / Cam Follower failure

Lycoming 360 four cylinder 200HP normally aspirated.
Our engine was zero time rebuilt in 2010 about 640 techo hours ago.
At it’s last 100 hour (N Reg) metal was found in the ‘screen’ and oil filter.
Six of the eight followers and corresponding cam lobes failed.
Pistons, oil pump and various bearing taken subsequent damage.
Our engine man has already had one before, now he’s got ours and another waiting outside.
Cam / Cam Follower failures.
As a mechanical engineer with machine tool and car engine background I find this totally unexceptionable.
Does anybody know what is going on?
Seems something wrong with Lycoming authorized parts ??!!
We are been told ‘in effect’ this is ‘normal’ and there is no guarantee it will not happen again.

Flights since new engine 631
Hours since new engine 640.9
Days since new engine 1287
Average between flights 2.04 days
longest between flights 32 days

HELP

Last Edited by WarleyAir at 15 Sep 12:07
Regret no current medical
Sandtoft EGCF, North England, United Kingdom

Yes, sadly this is normal. Corrosive environment contributes to it and improper lubrication. Some people think Camguard as an additive helps. You can send the engine to Lycoming for installation of a modified cam setup (roller tappet) but then you send it for overhaul/remanufacturing to the place that a lot of people consider the least competent of all overhaul shops.

Lycoming sell you rubbish products and the only alternative you have is Continental which is the same rubbish although other things fails there because the camshaft is always immersed in oil. The only reason they get along with this is because the failures very rarely result in in-flight stoppage so only your wallet suffers serious to fatal injuries. This is because the tolerances are so incredibly large and the technology so simple, that the engine rarely stops even if it’s grinding metal like crazy.

I do not think this is normal.

Regularly used engines reach 2000hrs or more without anything like this.

I would think that one clue is in “longest between flights 32 days” which is too long. You get rust forming well before 30 days is up.

Also, in “Our engine was zero time rebuilt in 2010 about 640 techo hours ago.” – was this rebuilt by Lycoming in the USA or by some UK engine shop?

There is only one UK engine shop which has anything resembling a good reputation and that is Nicholson Maclaren. Any other shop is pure Russian roulette. No matter how much due diligence you do, you find 6 customers who like the shop in question, and half a dozen who have had a crap job done. One now-defunct Lycoming engine distributor (Oxford area) had an outrageously bad reputation and even got busted by the FAA (they were also an FAA 145 Repair Station) for selling propellers assembled from parts with no known history, with forged documents. One offshoot of that company, years later and still trading with both EASA and FAA 145 labels, refused to give me a work pack for an overhauled D3000 magneto, so I had to have it re-overhauled in the USA (800 quid wasted).

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I do not think this is normal. Regularly used engines reach 2000hrs or more without anything like this.

One engine (also an O-360) in the Seminole that I once co-owned suffered from the same disease 500 hours short of TBO. The aircraft was mostly rented out to a flying school which used it regularly. During the years we owned the plane, it was never unflown for more than a week. Of course we do not know what the prevoius owner, a flying club in the UK, had done to the engines and if the flying hours logged were genuine. Following the advice of our repair shop, we had the engine overhauled short of TBO instead of getting the camshaft and followers replaced alone, because similar corrosion damage to other parts had to be suspected. This messed up the financial plan we had worked out … The second engine later made it to TBO.

Last Edited by what_next at 15 Sep 14:33
EDDS - Stuttgart

Of course we do not know what the prevoius owner, a flying club in the UK, had done to the engines and if the flying hours logged were genuine

Indeed… where I am based, a lot of the school planes just sit outdoors through the winter, for weeks or more. At one time there were eight (!) fixed wing flying schools there, so obviously they spent their whole time eating each other’s lunch. Yet it took years for the number to reduce – because you always get some old geezer willing to turn up for “work” in his wooden hut, and pay himself nothing, even if the wx is OVC002 all day long, just in case somebody phones up to book a pleasure flight for their mate’s birthday.

I have also noticed many situations where a school colluded with a “maintenance” company, to turn a blind eye to various things. One of these was a jammed door lock on a PA28 I used to rent… They do this to save costs, for their typical usage which is circuit banging and short local flights, which hardly need more than the wings not actually falling off. What this comes down to is that some school owners are very adept in knowing how to play the maintenance game. The maintenance company usually plays along because they want to keep a nice regular customer whose pilots are never likely to do something which exposes the shortcomings, like my TB20 elevator trim freezing solid at FL140 because they sprayed some motorcycle lube in there (“we have been using this for 20 years and never had a complaint”).

The stats I recall from the school in Arizona where I did my FAA IR, where the planes did about 700hrs/year (I saw the proof), is that the engines made TBO easily and in practically every case. But… no breaks from flying (servicing and refuelling was done during the night, to maintain uptime) and dry air.

Last Edited by Peter at 15 Sep 14:53
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

All interesting stuff and greatly appreciated – please keep it coming ‘on topic’.
What about oil types ?
We used in this failed 640 hour engine Exon Elite because it HAS THE LYCOMING ADDITIVE IN IT.
Semi-synthetic verses traditional mineral – any views on this ?

Regret no current medical
Sandtoft EGCF, North England, United Kingdom

Cirrus Europe (which maintains a big fleet of big bore Continentals) advises to only single weight oil. W80 to be precise (unless operating in very warm climates). They advise against multi-weight, saying it doesn’t stick to surfaces.

Mike Busch’s views are a bit more differentiated. See here

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

was this rebuilt by Lycoming in the USA or by some UK engine shop?

Zero time rebuild by relative small UK shop in North of England – by all accounts builder is very experienced (building engines for 50+ years) and has a good reputation.

Regret no current medical
Sandtoft EGCF, North England, United Kingdom

Zero time rebuild by relative small UK shop in North of England – by all accounts builder is very experienced (building engines for 50+ years) and has a good reputation.

I think cam and follower spalling have not much to do with the engine shop. They all buy a cam and follower set from Lycoming and install it.

We had a similar problem and there seems to be no clear explanation why it happens. Some say lubrication, some say parts quality, some say corrosion. In the end spalling will not bring the plane down but something expensive can basically happen any time.

Last Edited by Sebastian_G at 15 Sep 17:27
www.ing-golze.de
EDAZ

The Lycoming additive is only mandated for very specific engine models with a different camshaft design. Using an oil because it contains this additive is probably not a great move for other engine like yours.

I agree, it’s not the overhauler, it’s not the oil, it’s not your too infrequent use but just crap product quality. You have to bite the bullet and smile.

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