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Thread: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

  1. #1
    LX User AC439's Avatar
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    Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    So I decided to take this chance to redo my head gasket. This is my 2nd time HG job. First time was with a mechanic friend and I didn't resurface the head. This time, I read tons of discussions here and I think I'm better prepared this time.

    So far about 4-5 hours into the job, mostly disassembly things and labelled lines, hoses etc. For most part not too bad. Only I didn't realize the PS pump bracket is bolted onto the head and the block.

    Waiting for my son to help so we can lift the head out (with intake manifold still attached, exhaust manifold out already). Last time we disconnected both the intake and exhaust manifolds and it was a pain in the butt to reinstall intake side under bolts due to literally no room to access.

    I did break one thing though - the little tiny red hose between charcoal canister and the throttle body. I will temporary put a vacuum hose in place and will change to fuel line later.

    Next is when the head is out to check for flatness......
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    LX User AC439's Avatar
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    Few hours later.....

    Pulled the head out. The head gasket basically disintegrated. Part of it attached to the head, part of it attached to the block. I noticed imperfection with the fire rings, they are not totally round.

    After scrapped off as much of the old gasket material, I checked flatness and to my surprise, the head seems straight. I used a 0.002" feeler gauge and checked for a whole 15 mins and it is good. I also checked the block, the block seems flat also. However, there are some rusty spots (see pics). Also when I ran my finger along the circle where the fire rings sit on the block, I can feel bumps.

    When I scrap off the remaining old gasket material, they were very soft (even much softer than aluminum). The material appeared to be silver color. They were like soft aluminum flakes, only is they are much much softer than real aluminum flakes. I wonder how come this material can sustain cylinder pressure.

    I wonder if I can use some fine sandpaper wrap around a block and lightly sand away the imperfection. I learned a lesson that I used cheap gasket (made by Evergreen, see pic of the package). This time, I have a Felpro perma torque blue HG.

    I am also concerning the old gasket material gets into the coolant passage and oil. But I will change oil real quick after installing the new gasket.

    The intake and exhaust gaskets also disintegrated when I disconnected them. Glad I also bought Felpro gaskets for them.
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    Last edited by AC439; 11-22-2018 at 04:39 AM.

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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    Thanks for posting the pictures, we all appreciate seeing this kind of thing. Good quality.

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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    Good luck with your project. Keep us posted on your progress.
    Dr_Snooz

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    LX User AC439's Avatar
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    The next day....

    So today I continue working on the head and the block... I need to go get some Permatex head gasket remover for the head to get rid of the remaining old gasket material. I tried brake cleaner and it would not dissolve the gasket material.

    I then noticed there are some high spots around the perimeter of the cylinder on the block (where the fire rings sit). Now this explains why the fire rings are not round on the old gasket (see pics). The high spots squeezed the rings inwards when torqued and deformed them. That's why the engine runs like misfire.

    I then use 220 grits sand paper to very slowly sand down the high spots for cylinder 2,3,4 (1 is fine). The high spots are mostly towards the front of the car. With the tilt of the engine, I guess it was at one point an internal coolant leak (probably from first time HG blown). Then the coolant flowed towards the front. It then caused some rust on the iron block and formed the high spots. The first time I changed the HG, I didn't notice the high spots (I should have said I did not pay attention enough to tell if high spots were already there). I chose to hand sand because taking the block out of the car is not an option due to no tools and no space....

    The last pic I posted showing the fire ring deformed and split so I believe this is where the major problem coming from.
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    Last edited by AC439; 11-22-2018 at 10:20 AM.

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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    Looks like propre cleaning and preparation is they key to success. There was a bit of crud there and it could have lead the the gasket failure indeed.

  7. #7
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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    Quote Originally Posted by carotman View Post
    Looks like propre cleaning and preparation is they key to success. There was a bit of crud there and it could have lead the the gasket failure indeed.
    Yup that's what I'm thinking - Prep and cleaning to the best I can. The previous gasket was certainly made from cheap material. It disintegrated and stuck onto head and block, rings were deformed. I hope the Fel-pro is much better (as many said).

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    Couple of hours later....

    I continue with the job. I decided to try 500 grit sandpaper to take off the remaining gasket material on the head by hand (I know but I do it very lightly, slowly and carefully and I think the 500 grit is fine enough). After most of the old gasket is gone, I sprayed it with brake cleaner and decarbonized the head (top combustion chamber where the valves and spark plugs are located).

    I am happy with the removal of the old gasket material but I also noticed some corrosion on the aluminum head (see pics). They are overall flat (head is flat) but I am not sure if this is good enough to get the Felpro HG on. When I ran my finger over them, I do feel them but with a straight edge and feeler gauge, it is flat. I read somewhere on the internet that a gasket is supposed to deal with some small imperfection (otherwise we don't need a gasket).

    If I need the head resurfacing, I have 2 choices. 1 - Take to a machine shop. 2- DIY on flat glass with 120 grit sandpaper (which I do have both).

    What ya'll think ?
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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    Hard to really be 100% sure with pictures but the corrosion seems to be OK. The head gasket will deal with it.

    FYI, the 2 little "dots" on the exhaust side of the head in each corner and the maximum tolerance allowed when milling the head, if you ever go that route. It's clearly visible on the bottom left corner of picture #2

  10. #10
    LX User AC439's Avatar
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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    Thanks for checking my pics. I am also thinking I would not need head resurfacing. From the internet, people been using JB weld to fill the pits on the head/block. I'm thinking going that route since I would only need a little JB to fill and it is easy to do. I think the block is worse than the head since there are some areas on the block that "pitted" probably due to rust. I got them sand flat but I think if I can fill them with little bit of JB, it will be a better mating surface.

    I sure know the two "dots" are the max tolerance to shave the head.

  11. #11
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    Continuing today detailing work...

    So I got some JB weld and continued the work today. Basically, detailing the contact surfaces.

    As I suspected, the head corrosion is minimal. Putting JB weld on it is really not needed. I put JB weld and spread it with a razor blade on the head and it barely fill any pits (see pics).

    The block is a little more involved. The corrosion around cylinder 4 appears more compare to other cylinders. So I hand sanded it with frequent checks with straight edge/feeler gauge and I stopped when I feel the 0.0016" gauge started to be able to slide under the straight edge. To the left of cylinder 1 (the coolant area near the timing belt tensioner), the pit was most noticeable. So I cleaned it real well and put JB weld on it to fill the pit. I alsp put some JB welds around the front edge of cylinder 1.

    Now the JB fillers are waiting to be cured......

    I went ahead the clean the intake manifold. Engine degreaser didn't do much in getting the deposit off but I did the best I could.... I also prep the mating surfaces of the intake and exhaust on the head...
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    Last edited by AC439; 11-26-2018 at 07:21 AM.

  12. #12
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    JB weld cured ...

    Today's work was sanding flat the JB weld on the block and the head. The head really didn't need much JB. I worked on the block and frequently checked with a flat edge making sure the 0.0016" feeler gauge (the smallest I have) will not pass under the flat edge.

    I also drained and flushed out the coolant from the block. There were old gasket debris fell into the coolant passage so I feel I should open the block drain and flush them out. Did it 2 times with water....

    I also tried to remove the white chalk deposit on the exhaust valves.

    I attempted to remove the cam gear to change out the cam seal but the gear bolt is too tight and I could not get it out. Besides, I only have the cheap Evergreen cam seal so I am not sure if I want to do that. I think I can get the cam seal change later if I needed. The existing seal does have a little leak though.....
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails -p1040744-jpg   -p1040745-jpg   -p1040746-jpg   -p1040747-jpg  

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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    I'd be worried about the JB weld not holding the heat. I'm sure the head gasket could have compensated for the pitting but there was sure one problematic area. The worst thing that could happen is another blown gasket so it's not too much of a big deal. If it does hold up, that would be really nice!

  14. #14
    LX User AC439's Avatar
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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    I did google about this JB weld repair. People also talked about thinking it may not hold up. But then many also said their repair holding up for years. I saw an youtube video someone cut a slit on a lawn mower head and repair it with JB to prove it will work but I think its extreme.

    My estimate pit depth at cylinder 4's exhaust side edge was probably about 0.0016 (the 0.0016 feeler gauge did slide under flat edge). The coolant passage pit between cyl 1 and timing belt tensioner was probably 2 thous so I made a decision call to use JB to fill them in for a flat surface.

    I will put things back together and keeping my fingers crosses....... I haven't done this job solo so I'm taking my time and think twice or even three times on everything.....Wish me luck....

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    Putting things back...

    I took my time yesterday and today cleaning all the head bolts (bolt holes were cleaned prior to that). Brushed the threads with a tooth brush and used a needle to scratch off deep dirt.

    I put the intake manifold back to the head using new FelPro intake gasket. After that, I placed the new Fel Pro HG on the block (see pic). Then my son helped me placed the head onto the block. I oiled all the head bolts with 10w-30 oil at the threads, the washer, the head of the bolt and the washer contact area at the head. I then hand threaded all the bolts in and started my torque sequence.

    First at 22 lb-ft. Second pass at 49 lb-ft. I can really feel the second pass compressed the gasket.

    Anyway, I now working slowly putting back all the hoses, lines, plugs etc. Probably another few hours before completion....

    As I'm getting close to finish the job, I'm really scared about how things turn out. But so far, I do it slow and have not noticed anything wrong yet ....
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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    Hows it going?

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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    The MLS head gasket should cover most of that that is what they are designed for.

    Looking at your coolant passages remember dont use Florida tap water in any car the limestone will eat up aluminum headed motor. Distilled water or RO water all the time.
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    Completed !

    So I continued today to finished the job. Basically putting them back together is not too bad.

    Before I put back the valve cover, I apply oil all over the cam and the valve springs to avoid dry start.

    After triple checked everything, I cranked the engine. It took three times as long to start cause the fuel system would have to be pressurized. I then turned off car and then removed the jack stands and ready for a spin. I got CEL ! It was code 6 !

    So I looked at the FSM and it was coolant temp sensor. I checked the sensor and found the 32 years old wire broke at the connector. I yanked the connector out, disassembled it and soldered new jumper wires (see pics). CEL is gone ! (you can see the connector next to it was repaired too, it had the same problem)

    Did another short test drive (wife has been complaining), car feels different but I cannot tell for good or bad. The shake at 2000 rpm is a lot less now but still barely noticeable. I may have to recheck the valve clearance.

    Anyway, while I was under the car I found my power steering leaks at the fittings. So I looked at the FSM again for torque spec. The fitting (item A, page 18-36) was re-torqued. It was so tight that I had to tap the 14mm flare nut wrench to the nut then torque. But I have no leak now. I also backed off the rack guide screw (90 degrees) to lighten up steering effort. I believe it was not set correctly in the re-man shop so I'm backing it a little at a time to find the sweet spot.

    Ignition timing was not set and it is approx. I marked position before I remove distributor so I just put it back the way it was.

    I have to do more driving to see how it goes before posting more comments. Overall the job was straight forward but very involved. Lots of things to remove and lots to put back. I think it may be overwhelming if someone has not owned and play with the car before. But I have the car for 25 years so I sort of remember the location of everything.
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    Last edited by AC439; 12-02-2018 at 11:18 AM.

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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldblueaccord View Post
    The MLS head gasket should cover most of that that is what they are designed for.

    Looking at your coolant passages remember dont use Florida tap water in any car the limestone will eat up aluminum headed motor. Distilled water or RO water all the time.
    I don't think they make a MLS for our car. I thought it was a MLS gasket but it isn't. Yeah and I always use distilled water.

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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    Nice work! I find a locking chain wrench is really helpful for getting the cam nut off, whenever you're ready to revisit that.
    Also, very cool thermo sensor fix!

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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    I put some quick set JB weld to the plug to seal it. I used the quick set because I don't want the epoxy to flow down when it is too liquid. The quick set let me have 5-10 mins to mess around with it before it harden so it works perfectly.

    Drove the car more yesterday and definitely the "old feel" (the fun) is back. Still get some engine shake at around 2000 rpm (the rumbling type shake) but its a lot less. I also smell exhaust when when I have fresh air mode. Except the gasket between the head and the exhaust manifold, I did not change any other exhaust gasket. I should have thought about it since now the EGR is hard to get off. The EGR pipe gasket is discontinued and probably have to custom cut a gasket. The metal gasket ring at the junction of exhaust manifold and first section of the down pipe was not changed either. Not sure what is the best way to troubleshoot exhaust leak - a smoke source around the gasket / junctions / fittings ?

    How do you get the EGR off without taking off fuel rail and those little vacuum junction metal pipes ?
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    Last edited by AC439; 12-10-2018 at 02:13 AM.

  22. #22

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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    You can get the rubber plug that goes there from suppliers on the web.

    https://www.corsa-technic.com/item.p..._id=779&page=5

  23. #23

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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    I would have squirted it full of RTV, but that's hillbilly. LOL
    Dr_Snooz

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  24. #24
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    Re: Thanksgiving head gasket job....

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Snooz View Post
    I would have squirted it full of RTV, but that's hillbilly. LOL
    The other plug I repaired (to the left), I put blue RTV on as you can see. But I ran out this time so I used JB...

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