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Qslim's not-so-excellent adventure
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is a Toyota technician. Among his various daily duties, he has had the pleasure of rescuing engines that have been neglected by their owners. Through his generosity comes the following interesting sequence of photos bearing pithy comments from Qslim himself.

Sludge does terrible stuff to an engine. Among other things, it:
Basically, so long as the sludge is not so bad that oil delivery has been impeded, the camshafts, bearings, piston rings and cylinder walls are likely OK and the engine can be nursed back to health. The engine below was one of those.

Some particulars:
Car: 2001 Camry
Engine: Toyota's famous and versatile 1MZ-FE 3.0L V6
Mileage: 8,700 (You read that right. Eight thousand, seven hundred miles)
Oil changes: Well, the factory oil filter was still attached, so it's safe to say NONE
Covered under the oil-gelling warranty?: Yes
Owner: No information or comments available. Too bad.

OK, here we go!

Timing belt cover is off...
Timing belt exposed, valve covers still on

When techs check for sludge, the surest way to tell is to pull a valve cover. On a V6, they'll pull the front-most one...
This is grim, people! Put the kiddies to bed and draw the blinds!
Valve cover removed

Just like seeing a car crash. I can't help rubbernecking;
gotta take a closer look...
Cover off, closeup

We reach in and scoop some up. Yuck. Feels like warm butter (
Do Not Eat).
The picture's blurry on purpose, like when they pixelate bare bums on TV (mindful of your delicate sensibilities, you know)...
Goopy ex-oil

Qslim gets to work, busy as a bee.
Faster than you can say "5W-20", the heads are off and on the bench...
Off engine, on the bench

Qslim has taken the cams and valve buckets off, exposing the valve springs. Toyota does not use the sort of adjustable lifter linkages that Honda does. Valve adjustments are done by shims, and the adjustment lasts for ages.
See how fouled everything is? Lots of goo around the valve springs, under the buckets.
Cams off

Another view.
I just don't get it. People spend $20,000 on a car, then they begrudge having to spend $20 on an oil change.
Cams off, second view

The block, bearings, pistons, and piston rings turned out to be fine. Guess the oil pickup screen must have still been unclogged...

..and so it appears to be. We do not know why the car was brought in for service in the first place. It may have been for oil smoke.
If the owner had left it long enough, the pickup would eventually have choked on the sludge, causing oil starvation and engine seizure.
Oil pickup screen

Well, the whole object of this exercise is to rescue this engine from certain death. To accomplish this, Dr. Qslim will require certain medicines...
Like Buckley's Mixture, they taste terrible, but they work! (Hey, call the lawyers off; I was joking. Do Not Eat, remember?)
What, you've never heard of Buckley's Mixture? You're not Canadian then. It's a famous cough medicine. Tastes bad.
The pharmacopeia

Looking better already...
Time will loosen all sludge.

Can you tell Qslim is a Toyota tech?
Shameless plug for Toyota Racing

12 hours of soaking seems to have done wonders. They look like new! Almost...
Cleaned head

Since sludge is so gooey and accumlates so slowly, it settles into every tiny nook and cranny, which is why it's so hard to get rid of completely. This motor will always have some sludge, somewhere, for the rest of its life. But all we really want is to make sure that oil flow is not impeded, since that's the number-one most important factor here...
Missed one!

All these needed cleaning as well...
Valve components

Time to sew the patient back up. Don't leave a scalpel inside!
Looks good now, huh?
Heads back on

We're done. Qslim thoughtfully puts some coolant in the engine.

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