I'm starting this thread as both an update to my $4K oil leak and to provide a 'Heads Up' to other owners of pre 1999 cummins 5.9L diesel engines. A forum search turned up that it has been discussed before, but nothing hits home harder then having it happen to you. So here goes.
This little sucker is a dowel pin that aligns the front timing gear case to the block on 5.9L cummins diesel engines. It has a nasty habit of working it's self loose from it's home in the gear case and has the potential of wreaking all kinds of havoc.
Engines manufactured from 1999 on [should] have the updated gear case with a built-in stop to prevent it from working it's way loose.
In my case, when the 'Killer' dowel worked it's self loose it hit the cam gear which propelled the dowel, at high speed, against the gear case knocking out a 2" piece of the case.... before falling into the oil pan.
The Gear Case:
From everything I've read I was lucky that it didn't do any more damage.
If you want to call this lucky:
Some of the reports I've read talk about gear damage, cam shaft damage and resulting repairs ranging from engine rebuilds to engine replacement.
There are a couple of repair options available to prevent this from happening to your pre 1999 5.9L equipped pickup or RV. The repair isn't cheap but the alternative of not having it done could be catastrophic.
If your interested in learning more you can google 'Killer Dowel Pin', search this forum or ask your mechanic.
Just a friendly heads up from someone whose been there.
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'96 Holiday Rambler Endeavor DP/'03 4wd tracker
Datastorm F1/D2/7000/on SatMx5 See where I am today
How many miles on her when she let go? I've been putting off (and praying) tabbing mine and cringe every time I think about it, because I haven't done it yet. I have 162,000 on my '97.
Bunches of info on the KDP on Dodge Truck World and Turbo Diesel Register.
It's not expensive when you compare it to a new engine. My local Cummins repair shop charged me $110 to fix my '96 in 2000 . If the dowel pin comes out and gets between the timing gears it can ruin the entire engine, yes including the block. They had one sitting in the shop with the cam bearing webs broken. If luck is on your side the pin will just drop down into the crankcase, doing no harm. dodgeram.org details a fix for do-it-yourselfers.
That really is a 94-98 year problem. I"ve had some that has not moved at all. Others maybe a 16th. I have had um where when the cover plate came off, I could pull the pin out with my fingers. It's not a hard fix, just some things have to be removed for it to happen.
What happens, is the alignment pin falls out and "bounces" around on top of the cam gear. Then it spins in between the cam gear and the timing cover. The gear is not hurt but the aluminum cover is split open. Then comes the oil. I don't understand the $4000. Even after it burst, the entire fix is around $2400. Somebody paid too much to a crook. I have not seen one that had the cam or engine hurt at all. I really don't see how. I do this everyday.
Not only can the kdp cause grief, but there are several small bolts behind the timing cover that can come loose and do the same damage. Anytime I have a timing cover off I always peen the kdp, remove and locktite all accessable bolts, and replace the crank seal. Out the 6 or so I've done, one had bolts so loose, I could turn them with my fingers. Another was almost as loose.
It's also a great time to bump the timing up a couple of degrees. Usually good for 1.5 or 2mpg.
Supposedly, some of the early 24 valve engines stills used the older style dowel pin/timing cover and can have the pin fall out.
I have a '99 24v and had the timing cover tapped so a screw goes past the end of the dowel pin and keeps it from working loose. There are several jigs around the country for the TDR members to borrow and use for this method.
Buddy had his pin come out and it locked up the motor on the interstate, broke the cam in two. This is more a an exception then the rule. Usually the cover gets split. Heard a FEW 2000's had the kdp, but haven't seen it with my own eyes.