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Old 01-07-2020, 10:58 PM #1
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Q-Tip Dropped into Engine Block... Help

I've been hijacking the "Oil Pump Preference for 3.4" thread with my dilemma due to my newbie status preventing me from starting a new thread. However, I have submitted enough posts that I can now start a dedicated thread to my problem. Here's the summary so far (extracted from the "Oil Pump" thread), can you help?

...

New old user, I haven't been here in a long time because my 4runner just works and I haven't had too many issues to deal with until today.

I was replacing my leaking valve cover gaskets and had a major screw up. I was cleaning the FIPG from the front drivers side half moon and thought it would be a good idea to plug the small hole just behind the half moon with a foam q-tip to keep the old seal from falling down the hole. It did keep the seal out, but the stupid q-tip fell down the hole and is nowhere to be seen.

The Hole of Doom


A similar q-tip, the one lost was round with a round shaft


Not my engine, but the next stop for the qtip. I can see the head surface through the little hole, but the q-tip must be farther down.



I'm an OK mechanic (timing belt, valve covers, etc), but digging deep into a engine is a little beyond my skill set.

My questions:
1) Where would the q-tip end up?
2) What is the best way to retrieve it?

...

I did find this oil-flow diagram, and it looks like its on the uptake side, probably stuck low in the main oil hole. I might be able to get to it if I remove the cylinder head, the diagram shows a bend before flowing into the crankshaft area so it might be sitting there. Those that have done a head gasket replacement - do you recall a bend in the engine block's main oil hole, or would this thing drop straight into the crank shaft area?



Replys seem to indicate this in not a uptake, but a return.

...

Amazon was a day late with my order, but I did get an endoscope; it's amazing what $35 dollars will get you these days.

I took the following pictures with the endoscope:









It looks like the q-tip is precariously perched on the edge of the splash shield; does that look right to you?

This leaves some difficult choices:

1) Do I try to take a vacuum with some semi-rigid tubing and hope that I can make the one-in-a-million blind snatch of the q-tip shaft, risking knocking the q-tip into the pan or onto the splash shield?

2) Do I take the cylinder head off and get it from the top, while praying that I don't bump it off the splash shield into the pan during disassembly (or f-up something else)?

3) Do I use the endoscope and push it off the splash shield into the pan and attempt recovery from the pan drain?

What I don't want to do is remove the oil pan, I watched some youtube videos on the process and it looks like it super-sucks.
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Old 01-07-2020, 11:21 PM #2
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Oh man, I feel ya on this one. Definitely makes you have that awful feeling in your gut that you might have ruined something. If was those all cotton/paper kind, it wouldn't be so bad since I think it would have broken down a bit over time. But that plastic shaft will pose an issue.

Removing the cylinder head in the engine bay is a lot of work, not going to lie. You could try and add oil and see if you can flush it down into the oil pan. From there, drain the oil and see if it settles on top of the drain hole where you can snatch it out with a pair of needle nose pliers. That is probably your best option in my mind. You could also leave it alone and know that it's going to plaster itself to the oil pickup screen. However I'm not sure of how much would be blocked and how that impacts oil pressure, which could have some serious consequences.

Even if you were able to pull the head, it's a fairly "bumpy" job in which your q-tip would almost certainly fall off that little perch it is on currently and be a ton of extra work for nothing.
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Old 01-07-2020, 11:59 PM #3
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I typed a reply on the other thread as well.....

Iíd knock it into the pan, then drain the oil. If it doesnít float over to the sump, then jack up the back of the rig so the engine is sloped to the front and then dump oil down the head drain holes and try to wash the q-tip into the sump.
Then use your camera up the drain hole to drag it to the hole and then pull it out with pliers or a wire hook.

I think itís better itís not paper. Paper q-tips are a rolled paper shaft. If it unrolled it might block the pickup. That plastic one likely wouldnít ever block the pickup screen.
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Last edited by Dieselchessy; 01-08-2020 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:31 AM #4
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Yes, thatís the splash guard.

In the pan there is a cast ladder type bracket that is the main bearing caps, then the steel plate half round splash shield, and then the pickup tube and it has 2 support legs that V and mount on the edges of the splash shield.
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Old 01-08-2020, 01:34 AM #5
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Unwind some duct tape inside out. You want the sticky part out. Snag the qtip.
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Old 01-08-2020, 04:16 AM #6
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If you can get it into the pan, I don't think it will go anywhere and you are safe. Based on your oil flow diagram, if the oil pump does suck it up, it's going to get caught on the strainer. Otherwise it will just slosh around in the pan.

If it does break up into bits and get past the strainer...they should get caught in the filter. The oil pump won't even notice any little plastic/foam bits.
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Old 01-08-2020, 06:05 AM #7
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If you decide you're going to go deep (remove the head, etc.), then right before you do, maybe you could FIRMLY attach a plastic drinking straw to a shop vac nozzle and try to coax it into reach that way? Maybe even a bendy straw if your endoscope shows it as being off to one side? Just a thought.
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Old 01-08-2020, 07:31 AM #8
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Shop vac makes an attachment that attaches to the hose and will give you enough suction to grab it.

In your situation it would probably be the best 20 bucks you ever spent

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Old 01-08-2020, 10:27 AM #9
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I'd second the shop-vac drinking straw idea. Maybe even tape the endoscope to the straw if the hole is thin enough to accommodate both. That way you won't be going in blind.

Another possible option, but can you use a shop vac attachment pressed firmly against the hole? Obviously you'd need airflow in the engine to get some suction, but maybe those other oil channels would provide it?
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:07 PM #10
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I like the idea of inside out tape, try that on the end of the endoscope. One of these parts grabbers taped to your endoscope might do the trick?
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Old 01-08-2020, 04:06 PM #11
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Quote:
Oh man, I feel ya on this one. Definitely makes you have that awful feeling in your gut that you might have ruined something.
No doubt, I slept like crap after it happened thinking of all the work I might have to do to get the q-tip out; and 'the hole in the gut feeling' ruined my appetite for two days.

Quote:
Unwind some duct tape inside out. You want the sticky part out. Snag the qtip.
A buddy at work also mentioned this idea, but if I'm able to snag it, I don't think I would be able to pull it up through the .300 hole with out it falling off and getting dropped somewhere worse than it is.

Quote:
maybe you could FIRMLY attach a plastic drinking straw to a shop vac nozzle and try to coax it into reach
I might try a bench test to see how much suction I can get through a long straw and see if it can suck up a similar q-tip. I could then move the straw around in the engine block just above the q-tip shaft and see if it can suck it out.

Quote:
Iíd knock it into the pan, then drain the oil. If it doesnít float over to the sump, then jack up the back of the rig so the engine is sloped to the front and then dump oil down the head drain holes and try to wash the q-tip into the sump. Then use your camera up the drain hole to drag it to the hole and then pull it out with pliers or a wire hook.
This is probably how I'll get it out. First jack the back of the 4runner up to help ensure when I knock the q-tip off it will fall forward off the splash shield rather than back onto the splash shield. Then drain the oil and use the endoscope to find it and drag it to the drain hole. If I can't find it, recycle the oil to help wash it to the drain hole.

Please keep the ideas coming, I'm hoping to give it a go tonight.
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Old 01-08-2020, 04:30 PM #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skjos96 View Post

This is probably how I'll get it out. First jack the back of the 4runner up to help ensure when I knock the q-tip off it will fall forward off the splash shield rather than back onto the splash shield. Then drain the oil and use the endoscope to find it and drag it to the drain hole. If I can't find it, recycle the oil to help wash it to the drain hole.

Please keep the ideas coming, I'm hoping to give it a go tonight.
Just another idea--
If you knock it into the pan, you may be able to get a bulb syringe (good sized one) and squirt oil up through the drain plug hole to "rinse" the Qtip to the opening of the drain hole. Grab it with your needle nose pliers from there
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Old 01-08-2020, 11:08 PM #13
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The straw test was successful.

I necked down my shop vac to fit my wife's tumbler straw which just happens to be 10.5" long, but is shortened to 9.5" when attached to the shop vac (the same distance q-tip is down in the engine). It's outer diameter is .30 which exactly fits the hole.



Using a similar q-tip, I lower the straw near the q-tip shaft, the shaft is drawn to the vacuum, and then as you slide the straw up the end of the shaft the q-tip securely sucks into the straw. This means I do not need pin-point accuracy.

Unfortunately, my wife's straw is not flexible enough to make the bends necessary to get to the q-tip down into the engine, but there are similar straws made out of silicone that are the same dimensions and are flexible.
I do have some tubing available, but it is pretty thick walled which really reduces the vacuum strength (small inner diameter).

When I receive the flexible straws I will test cutting small holes in the side to see if that more securely holds the q-tip shaft to the straw while it drawn upwards.

Stay posted.

Edit: I made a discovery this morning that my endoscope will fit inside the straw, so now I have a way to determine the accuracy of the straw's placement. I should be able to use my heat gun to add the appropriate bends to the straw to get me over the q-tip shaft. Getting the bends right will be a struggle of trial-and-error and patience.

Edit2: The heat gun can get the straw to bend, but it also puts small wrinkles/kinks in the straw which do not let the endoscope to pass through the straw. I'm now waiting on the flexible straws to show up from amazon to see how that works.

Last edited by skjos96; 01-09-2020 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 01-08-2020, 11:36 PM #14
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Wonder if a small diameter thin walled clear vinyl hoses will do? It's plyable and conform to the bends and twists.
I don't know the diameter of the hole you are dealing with. Vacuum hoses may be too thick.
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Old 01-12-2020, 09:55 PM #15
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The flexible straws did arrive, but after a few attempts I determined they were to short. So off to the hardware store to find something that would work. I picked up four different types of tubing, but the internal diameters were so small that hardly any vacuum was being pulled through them. I would have to make that one in a million blind shot and get the hose exactly on the shaft of the q-tip to be able to pull it up. F'that, when I gamble I lose, and I was not about to take the chance of knocking the q-tip somewhere un-retrievable while tring to suck it up. So I canned that idea and focused on the one recommended by member Dieselchessy.

First I jacked up the rear of the rig to help keep the q-tip from falling backwards onto the splash shield. Then I pushed the endoscope to the backside of the q-tip and wiggled it around to knock it off the splash shield.

As you can see in this video, I do not have much control of the scope:
http://www.skjos.net/toyota/images/Q...0oil%20pan.mp4

I'm guessing the oil is really close to the level of the splash shield due to the rear end being jacked up, so it didn't really drop, it sort of slid in.

Here is the video of the q-tip floating down as the oil is drained (4x speed):
http://www.skjos.net/toyota/images/Q...ned%20fast.mp4

Once the oil drained to a trickle, I looked up through the drain hole and I could see the shaft of the q-tip. I practically banged my head against the undercarriage I was so f'ing happy. A few pokes with a pair of tweezers to inch-worm the end of the q-tip to the drain hole and then I was able to pull it out.



All is now right with the world again, and I can finally finish my valve cover gasket job.

Last edited by skjos96; 01-12-2020 at 09:58 PM.
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