What you don't want to see in the bottom of your oil drain pan

It’s a black plastic drain pan so anything that isn’t black shouldn’t be there. t

We went for a drive after changing to Redline MT-90 gear oil. Transmission shifts much nicer, thank you.

I noted the oil pressure started dropping to near zero a couple of blocks from the house. I figured either crud in the bypass valve or a pump problem. No unusual noises. The first thing I did was drain the oil. The metal in the bottom of the drain pan is from the filter can.

I guess it’s time for an engine rebuild.

Sorry John,
I can’t think of anything uplifting to say, sure looks like copper to me. Guess you could pull the pan and check to see what’s happened, shouldn’t be subtle.
Good luck,

Thanks LLynn. I thought about going ahead and pulling the pan and then decided why bother. Nothing I could possibly find in there will put that metal back on the bearings. I’m taking the engine to a shop I trust so I’ll let them sort it all out.

I don’t have the expertise or tools to rebuild an engine myself. I’d be hard pressed to find a machine shop anywhere near here to do the necessary machine work on the thing.

Plan is to pull the engine and transmission, build a cradle for the bed of the pickup, haul the thing to Coventry West and ask Dick to call me when it’s ready.


Sorry to hear of your woes. [quote=“John_Walker1, post:3, topic:354141”]
Plan is to pull the engine and transmission, build a cradle for the bed of the pickup, haul the thing to Coventry West and ask Dick to call me when it’s ready.

This sounds like the best plan. In similar circumstances, I’d be doing something similar.


Sorry to say that is surely not good news.
One of the ways to transport engines and gearboxes is to find a suitable size old tire, put it on top of a pallet or your truck bed, mentioned big lump of metal on top of the tire and strap down.

Could shop drop sump and renew big end bearings ? And new oil pump too.

'66 FHC

Hi John,

Sorry to hear of your troubles. I was wondering if this just came up suddenly? Were there any signs of pending failure? Do you have a lot of miles on your engine or might something have failed to take out the bearings? Or is this how bearings go out?

Sorry for the questions, just trying to learn.

A possible avenue, one I might be inclined to investigate first, but It could be one of the mains too.

The question is what was the failure mode? Oil starvation generating general bearing failures or a single spun bearing? In the latter case potentially a fairly cheap fix, so long as the crank journal’s not scored. Big end and main bearings are not all that expensive for XKs.

Depends how many miles on the engine. If lots, maybe a good time to go the whole nine yards, including (and maybe especially) desludging the crank.


  1. That is really discouraging. Not that it would change things, but possibly allay some curiosity. Respond to a magnet? Hope not, that means big time issue, steel!!!

Or tin/lead? How do you determine that? A magnifying glass for color. The beating surface.

Or, copper? Color again. The substrate. many an engine is running around that way. but, not good, the days are numbered, small ones.

2 The tire idea is slick. My LT! was delivered to my drive aboard a small Asian truck with a stake bed. An entrepreneur
that made his living delivering parts fro “junk yards” to shops.

My LT! was atop an old tire and secured laterly by straps to the stakes. Slick, I wanted the tire to rest it in my drive. No sir, I need it!!!


And worse yet, alloy, the shell. Goners…

To piggyback on this… do you know what your compression is? If it will run long enough to take a proper reading, it may save you a few thousand bucks… if the compression is good and only lower bearings are worn out. It then can become a do-it-yerself job.

Been years since I read of an Etype owner who dropped sump and drifted out each one at a time old main bearings too.


I’ve never seen it done, Patrick, but I am told it is possible.

Very possible but it is just a patch. Most likely the crank should be polished so it does not eat up the new bearings. Then you have rod bolts and nuts to replace as most likely it has the original cotter pin style nuts. On and on. Best to do it right.

I’ll try to answer everyone’s questions comments.

Craig, there was no evidence of anything amiss prior to yesterday. Coventry West rebuilt the head earlier this year and I installed it in late March and probably have about 500 miles on it since then. Oil pressure was always 40+ at startup and 20+ at idle hot, always 40 at 3,000 RPMK regardless of temp. No hint of a problem until yesterday. My only notice of a problem was dropping oil pressure going to zero within a few blocks of home. No noise, no clacking or other expensive noises.

Miles on the engine? Who knows it’s a 48 year old car with a 5 digit odometer and who knows how many previous owners. 55,540? 155,540? Service prior to my ownership? Again, who knows.

Patrick, I considered and rejected going in and replacing some bearings and the oil pump. Too many unknowns would be left unaddressed. As Nick alludes to who knows what, for example, lurks in that crankshaft.

Carl, the residue is copper with probably some babbitt material thrown in for good measure.

Lloyd. Compression used to be fine, I can’t recall what the readings were though.

Our intent has always been to actually use this car. Take trips, pretend leaded premium fuel still exists and is 35 cents a gallon. :smile: That’s all a lot more fun if we don’t have to worry about “what’s going to break next”. Peace of mind on the road is worth a great deal.

Instead of a problem I see this as an opportunity to walk away with what is essentially a new engine, properly done. I’ll leave the transmission attached and have it checked and at the least have new front and rear seals installed. If the experts think it needs a rebuild I’ll have that done as well. The Boss fully sanctions this approach so that’s pretty much settled. I should strike while the iron is hot.

I’ve got a pallet in the green house and I was having two new tires put on the truck so I’ll keep one of the takeoffs for the engine cushion. That sounds like the best way to transport thing to the shop. Thanks for that tip, Ole.

I’ve never done it on an XK, but I have done it on quite a few other UK made engines. Last year on a Ford Zephyr I6 was the last time. The car had had a HG leak, and sat with coolant in the sump for at least 5 years, so we figure that is what lead to a spun bearing on #3. Runs fine so far, and it’s been pushed pretty hard on a couple of rallys in the meantime.

I’m curious if the hydraulic timing chain tensioner was replaced at some time in the recent past.

Not since I’ve owned it, Eric. Before that, who knows.

Thinking out aloud here as I am not familiar with the 6 cylinder engines - but what in the engine has brass, copper or bronze bearing materials. I know that some older bearing shells are brass/bronze coated in the white metal bearing friction material and when it wears it then wears into the base material - so does the engine have these older style bearingf shells - I have just rebuilt a Rover V8 and it does not. Could it be coming from other bearings - eg cam shafts?

Where else could this material come from?? I would be thinking this aspect through before doing anything. If it is big end/crank bearings then there would be an associated knock/noise.

On think is for sure a loss of oil pressure will be from a failed oil fed bearing in the engine somewhere - where it is not providing back pressure to keep oil pressure up.

Sorry to here your issues.


Which is exactly what it is. And then you can just drive it knowing it is fine.
Get the gearbox rebuilt at the same time. About $1k cost and excellent for peace of mind.

watt?? I’ve done it multiple times over the past fifty or so years… The trick is to catch it before the crank is damaged, then replace with about .001 under bearings. Loosten all mains to let the crank drop down a couple thousandths. /rod bearings are easier.