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VX: Oil in the water...


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Long story cut short.....


My VX engine has been rebuild over winter time, some minor modifications, mainly a different dry sump set up and a different cam cover, but no internal modifications to the head. I also fitted a new (clean) water header tank.


Engine fired up, running sweet and clean as ever, driven it for 15 miles. Inside the header tank there´s now a thin film of that white slimy cocktail which might indicate some oil in the water. Is it possible that rests of oil from the rebuild have run into some water rails and do now produce this slime ? I can´t imagine a head failure as the engine was in a perfect state before the block build and has been now slowly warmed up and driven calmy for some miles.


What do you lot think ? Clean the header tank a third time (did already once) and watch out for more slime ? Any other possible sources for the slime ? How can I check if there´s water in the oil ? Or "just" a head gasket job ?


Oh, forgot to mention that I´m going on Le Sept on Monday and need a QUICK solution....




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You need quite a lot of oil in the coolant to produce the emulsion...I know I had the dreaded porous XE head *eek*. If you have got a significant oil leak (Ican't see it being a porous head if it was OK before), then eventually you will produce a mayonnaise-like emulsion in the coolant which will blow the coolant hoses.


I wouldn't worry too much if you're not using a lot of oil, but you need to check if you really have a leak or not...the best way to do this is to do an in-situ clean of the cooling system to remove all traces of oil, and then to refill with fresh coolant and see if the problem recurrs. Your problem is what to use to properly achieve this clean *eek*. I was fortunate as I used to work for a speciality chemical company which had a special product used to decontaminate crude oil tanks...a 1% solution recirculated at normal coolant operating temp. removed every trace of oil. Unfortunately this stuff is not available off the shelf.If I were you I would see if I could get some water soluble/dispersible degreaser from a garage. Also a low foam automatic washing powder solution would also do the job, but might produce an embarrassing amount of bubbles. If you don't want to risk these then just flush the system with water several times.


Hope this helps,



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Has the block been stripped etc?

If so i have seen the oil gallery bung which is just behind the oil pump leak slightly after they have been apart.


It may be worth checking this or maybe re-sealing it just in case.


Good luck




Su77on Se7ens


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Thanks James, thanks Paul.


Quick update: engine has been flushed already two times now with new fluid, header tank cleaned each time. It´s less Mayonaise now being flushed into the header tank so the hope is still there that it´s just been oil rests in the water gallery which have been thrown out now. I simply can´t imagine a porous head as it has been working fine before the rebuild.


James, I´ll check that oil-pump thingy but didn´t realise that there´s a connection between the oil/water gallerys at this place.


Engine is already out anyway - guess what - a leaking clutch cylinder. Brandnew item from Caterham, carefully fitted.... *mad* *mad* *mad* *mad*


If it´s **** for me, it´s usually BIG ****


Barbara (..or shall I say Babs.. 😬): will I get access to the circuits with an aluminium go-ped ? *smile*

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You could really do without this couldn't you Marius ?


You must be very annoyed with your clutch slave cylinder problem. I hope the replacement is good !

(If not it will give us something to do in the evenings in France !)


Stick at it !



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Your engine is rubbish and you should have bought a K Series. You don't get these problems then, you just blow the head gasket instead...... 😬


If there is anything wrong (other than residual degreaser in the cooling system - you don't need much IMO) I would tend to agree with James's diagnosis.


Ex Fat Arnie

Hauling Less Lard....


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Another update:


engine is back in with a new non-leaking-cylinder, car bolted together again. Will pick it up from MOG tomorrow afternoon and trailer it to my engine builder and I´ll take personaly care that he won´t touch anything else on friday than MY engine ! *mad*


So head off and front pump cover off.


God, life would be so boring without my caterham.... *confused*

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  • 4 weeks later...

Quick update:


James, Arnie - you were right.... *thumbup*


After having "repaired" the head I took the car to Le Sept and it made about two laps at Le Mans before I had even more water in the oil / oil in the water. Engine has been completely dismantled last week and checked, it was the plug behind the water-pump. ☹️


So engine completely cleaned, new bearings everywhere, engine back together in about two days ready to pick up.


Warranty case luckily.


Thanks again for the advise. *thumbup*




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