Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: SouthEastern PA
What does the oil in the pan look like? I ask because the sludge in the lifter valley may only be from taking the heads off with a cylinder full of water. If, however, all the oil looks like that, you may have serious bearing problems. Was it knocking when you tore it open? If the rest of the oil is ok and it doesn't knock, I would try replacing the headgaskets only (with an oil change) and see how it runs. That's just what I would do ... but if the engine had high miles, I might try to get a junkyard engine and swap it. My engine blew a HG at 96K ... and the first cylinder was full of coolant, just like yours. My oil still looked good, though. I replaced the HGs and it still ticks nicely along at 142K miles.
Oh ... I noticed that the first cylinder is rusty with no carbon build-up, and the other 2 have lots of carbon. I can't really tell where the gasket leaked, but the carbon suggests to me that the last 2 didn't really see coolant until the head came off. Or, if the gasket leaked there too, it was much later than the leak in the first cylinder.
Owner, 1990 Thunderbird SC, white w/ gray cloth