30 Day Oil Change!

I was going to attack the RV to-do list last month so I started with an oil change for the generator. Little did I realize the “easiest” item on the list would take so long.

We have an 8000 watt generator on the RV. It will allow us to stay at places without utility hookups. Toward the end of our last trip the service reminder started flashing. When I got home (where the generator maintenance book was) I looked up what needed  to be done. 50 hours: change oil and filter. Piece of cake!

I grabbed the tools and supplies I needed and headed to the RV. Once there I got set up, oil catch pan, check!  Wrench, check! Tarp, check! Radio blasting tunes out of the jeep, Check! I rolled under the RV and started to remove the drain plug.  No, wait, I TRIED to remove the plug. It was on pretty tight! I have always wondered if the people at the factories actually know how to adjust their tools as to not assemble nuts and bolts too tight.

oil drain
What could be so hard?

After several attempts I started thinking “am I turning it the right way?”  Lefty loosey, righty tighty. Nope, I’m doing it the correct way. I need a bigger wrench for more leverage. So I pack up and go back home, where the rest of the tools are D’oh!

Thankfully the RV is stored about 8 miles from home, not too bad but just a pain to run back and forth. Get the small tool box, throw in an assortment of things and a HAMMER, just in case.

Round two! Back under with the bigger wrench. Nope, still not moving. I’m now thinking that the plug is just rusted in place. Time for the PB Blaster. If you don’t know PB Blaster is a “powerful penetrating catalyst”, “Frees everything faster”, “stuck, rusted, corroded pipe threads”. I give it a good spray and let it soak in. Still not turning. I give it another spray to soak overnight and pack up and go home.

Round three! After giving it an overnight soak I dove back under to give a try. Still nothing! Where’s that hammer? I put the wrench on and give it a few good hits. Nope. At this point I go all in a smack it with the hammer really, really hard. Hey it’s moving! hit it again and again. That should do it.  I turn the wrench by hand a couple times but it doesn’t feel right. I removed the wrench. Oh no, I rounded the corners of the plug and cracked the 10mm socket to boot! Time to rethink this.

Back home I spent the following week researching options for changing the oil by pumping it out the fill tube. Lots on different products ranging from $70 to $200 and varying reviews. I really didn’t like any of them.  How can I fix the rounded corners on the plug and still find a way to remove it? I went with using a Dremel tool with a grinding stone. There was just enough room between the housing and the plug . I ground a little off each side and went from a 10mm plug with rounded corners to a 9mm plug with well defined corners!

dremmel tool and oil drain
Grind away and it’s “just like new”.

Round four! Time for the big guns! This time I went back and bought the impact gun. Nothing like a hammer and wrench combined and powered by air. One of the projects on our last trip was the installation of a small air pump and tank. I had one from the trailer and used it for filling the tires. I was now using it to power the impact gun and remove the drain plug. After 10-15 minutes of trying I packed up and went home. No oil drained today.

Over the next several weeks I would research on the internet for a couple of days, form a plan, go to the RV and get rejected, and go back home to research.

I found an amazing amount of options to try. I didn’t try each mostly because they involved buying a tool of some sort (I’m retired and on a budget!) or heating to insane temps in the hope of expanding the pan around the plug thus, breaking it free and probably burning the RV down. I did come across an interesting idea using cold to shrink the plug.

This one guy used liquid nitrogen to freeze a bolt, shrinking it to break it free. I like it! I did have two problems. How to get some liquid nitrogen and how to pour up. The drain plug is on the bottom and you can’t pour up! I did find a product I could try, not as cool as nitrogen (I knew I could get a pun in somewhere) but comes in a spray can.

Arctic Blast by Chemtronics. It’s used to diagnose electronic circuit boards that are failing due to heat. By spraying and cooling each component, one by one, you can identify the one thats overheating. Chemtronic has several products and I could only source the one called Freeze Spray. It cools down to -60F/-50C. That should cause some shrinkage.

can of freeze spray
chill to -50c and my new best friend

Once it arrive via UPS ground I was off to the RV again. I sprayed the plug and tried. NOPE nothing. I thought, since I got a whole 10 oz can, how cold can I get it? I sprayed for a good 45-60 seconds and then another 20 seconds, maybe half the can. The plug was frosty white! Wrench on and turn. Wooo Whooo it worked!

drain plug
drain plug… my nemesis now defeated!

Now the plug was out and the oil drained. Only took 4 weeks but almost done. Just need to change the filter and add new oil. Little did I know the generator was not done tormenting me yet!

More about that, next time!


2 Comments on “30 Day Oil Change!

  1. Wow!! You are pretty handy to have around the house. I would have never thought about using something cold to shrink metal. I seem to correlate cold expanding not shrinking. Hmmmm.


  2. Great idea. Will have to remember that trick. Hope you purchased a new plug and used a little anti-seize on the plug threads. All the best.

    Steve Colgate


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