RAM IO520-NB making nickel in oil

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    Our latest Blackstone oil analysis indicated a relatively high Nickel content in both engines on our 414. I find this to be quite strange considering its in both engines simultaneously. The last oil report we had indicated a higher than normal nickel content as well. These are Ram VI engines with 1150 hours on them. Thoughts?


    What were the levels?

    Here is a post from 2005 (Van’s aircraft forum) from Mahlon Russell, the well respected production manager at the former Teledyne Mattituck engines.

    I use these:

    Item Abnormal Severe

    Iron 130 ppm 240 ppm
    Alum 30 ppm 55 ppm
    Chrome 24 ppm 48 ppm
    Copper 30 ppm 60 ppm
    Silicon 18 ppm 60 ppm
    Tin 36 ppm 72 ppm
    Nickel 18 ppm 36 ppm

    It takes three samples to make a trend in my book. Chrome levels will be allowed higher with chrome cylinders to 48 as abnormal and 96 as severe.
    Good Luck,


    11/21/13 – 56 ppm
    10/15/13 – 57 ppm
    08/23/13 – 43 ppm

    According to Blackstone our average is 45 over the past 200 hours of operation.

    I believe these are steel cylinders, but I am going to have to research that a bit more.


    I think valve guides are a possibility.


    That’s what the guys at Blackstone we’re saying. They also found it strange that both engines were doing it simultaneously. They recommended a compression check and to check back with another sample in 20 or so hours


      How many years since the last overhaul?


      Both engines were overhauled by RAM in 2000


        Is there a chance you have ECI Nickel cylinders?
        That was there popular choice for Ram at that time .
        Thats when mine were done also and they are nickel coated continental cylinders.
        My numbers were 30/34 .
        Mr. Russell suggests a higher number if you have chrome cylinders is ok I assume a higher nickel
        number would be ok if you have nickel cylinders.
        Might be worth checking.


        When the nickel started increasing on my RAM VII engines with chrome cylinders, it was valve guides. Erratic EGT’s and a compression test confirmed the problem. I replaced the cylinders with rebuilt RAM nickel cylinders and I am very happy with them.


        Just got off the phone with one of the guys at RAM. He said they are nickel cylinders, however, he was unsure how much nickel is normal to see in the oil for engine wear.


          If they were not sure did they give anywhere or one to
          check with? ❓ 😯


          Not the individual I spoke with. He said to watch trends, oil consumption and check compressions.

          I just submitted a request to Blackstone to have all of the lab reports from both engines sent over to me. Not sure how far they go back but at least it gives me some info for now.

          My mechanics recommended to run the airplane as is for now and log the amount of oil consumption until our next oil change. They said without an engine analyzer to identify exactly which cylinders it is, things could get unnecessarily expensive quickly.

          I’d really like to have a basic multi prob installed, but I’m just the pilot (not the owner) and I don’t pay the bills so I guess that’s easy for me to say!

          Anybody have further thoughts or suggestions?


            Any update on the trend?


            Engine monitors pay for themselves very quickly, and enhance safety. I would make those points to the owner and see what he says. Even if you don’t believe in LOP operations (which by itself will pay for a basic JPI install in 150 hours or so), it will improve the life of cylinders by allowing you to make sure CHTs/EGTs are in check, alert you to a detonating cylinder, and make it easier to troubleshoot running issues.

            When I’ve flown someone else’s plane, I’ve typically not been able to get them to go for the engine monitor, but I haven’t pushed it that hard because they didn’t mind paying the bills.


            We are dropping the oil tomorrow for a 25 hour interval change. Should see the results back from Blackstone somewhat soon. The airplane seems to run fine.

            I sent the latest oil analysis to Tony and he said it didn’t seem too unusual given that cylinders are Nickel and are pushing 1200 hours SMOH.

            I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on the engine moniters. I’ve been pushing for them with the same beneficial points you listed for quite some time. Hopefully this will give more encouragement

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