Ah if you haven't done this before, you will almost experience an almost
zen-like state of fustration. It's not a really hard job, it's just tedious
and the work area is very limited (at least I think so, but then again I
learned to turn wrenches on the late 60's land yachts). Ah the knuckles you
will skin, the works you will utter, and the memories you will have.
When mine went the first time at 92k miles, I didn't recognize the symptoms
ans ended up with an etched block. Trash one engine. It was replaced with a
crate engine and two years and 55k miles later, I started having coolant
spew out of the overflow tank. This time I recognized the problem and
promptly replaced the gaskets (don't forget to use new head bolts because
they are torque-to-yeild). About 50k miles later they blew again. This time
I did some research and discovered that (at that time) Felpro had just come
out with a thicker, multi-layered gasket set specifically designed to cure
the problem of the cast iron block and aluminum heads. It's been about 130k
miles since I've replaced the head gaskets and I haven't had any problems
since. Long story, but make sure you get the proper head gaskets and don't
forget to install them with the correct side up!
If you have done this before, plan on about 4 to 6 hours, not counting the
machine shop time. If this your first time I would tear it down one evening
so you can drop the heads off at a machine shop the next day ( it will
probably take them a day to do them). That way when you pick the heads up
you in the morning after they are done, you will have the whole day to
reassemble the engine.
On the heads, it's VITAL that the sealing surfaces are perfectly straight
and true. Do not except the standard tolerances! If you have more than
0.004" variance (+/- 0.002") at any point, make them redo it or you WILL
have problems. Also let them know when you drop them off of the tolerances
that you must have. It will cost a little more because of the time
involved, but it's better than having to redo the gaskets. BTDT
IIRC, the only specilized tool you will need is a torque wrench that has a
degree wheel on it.