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post #1 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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Head gasket (another victim)- shim question

Hi folks.

Blew a head gasket on my 94 3.8- ran hot, white smoke, etc. This is after spending my Saturday changing the thermostat and water pump.

So I ordered a new fel-pro head gasket kit, head bolts & shims. I'm going to tackle this one myself with the help of a Chiltons manual and try to save some dough. Hopefully the heads (and the rest of the engine) are ok & the heads just need be resurfaced.

Anyhoo... about these shims I ordered- I guess I'm going to need them due to the resurfacing, huh? Has anyone ever used these shims before? Any tips on these shims (placement, procedure) is appreciated.

Thank you!

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post #2 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 02:30 PM
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You only need the shims if a substainal amout is machined off. If the the head is just resurfaced and does not need reworking the shims are not needed.

But honestly if a large amount is machined it may be cheaper/better to get a set of 96+/Sc heads, or just run with a higher comperssion and see what grade of fuel you can get away with.

If all else fails get a bigger hammer!

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post #3 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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ok - thanks. I was thinking if they take too much off I would need to either use the shims or get new pushrods.

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post #4 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 04:33 PM
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Well they will tell you if they take that much, but if they need to go that far they should suggest a new head.

If all else fails get a bigger hammer!

93 SC Tbird
MPII w/ Plenum,90mm MAF, 85mm TB, 40# Injectors, 255 lph FP, Double IC w/fan, SCT Chip (Tuned by Jerry),3/4" Raised Top, F52-TT TC, SilverFox AOD 550, SPT-R VB
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post #5 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 11:11 PM
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as long as they take off more than .010 I wouldn't worry about it. I think the smallest shim they make is .030 anyway. But shims would be a helluva lot cheaper than new pushrods would be. Honestly though, you could get ported ehads for $450 from morana or RPM, why not just do that?
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post #6 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 11:38 PM
 
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Because not all of us can afford to drop 450 on a set of heads, and would rather just finish the job for LESS than that.
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post #7 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-15-2005, 01:21 AM
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okay but what Im saying is, if you're going to drop 80 dollars on shorter pushrods and 100 on milling the heads you're already part way there. I'm not saying OMG you should buy these expensive heads. I'm just giving him something to think about. I always like to look at repairs to my cars as upgrades. I can fix stuff myself for cheaper, or upgrade for the same price as a shop would charge for stock repairs.
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post #8 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-15-2005, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Smile Pushrods

Rock Auto has Sealed Power pushrods for the 3.8L at $1.88 each, and Sealed Power rocker arms for $9.44 each. I'm not too familiar with these things, so I have no idea how good they are, however, I'm sure it's better than what's in my car now (114k on top half) - so I bought them. I also picked up the complete fel-pro head gasket set for $69. The fel-pro shims were $13 each and the head bolts came to $17. My guess is that shorter pushrods are more expensive than stock size? Anyway, I was going to go with a remanuf. pair of heads, but after pricing them I've decided to get mine checked out & milled if possible. I'll find out how much they shaved off of the heads and use the shims if needed. I can always return the shims if not.

So far I've drained the coolant and I pulled the wires & plugs. I do not know what the correct cylinder number is, but the cylinder on the passenger side closest to the firewall was full of coolant - the coolant shot out as soon as I pulled the plug. I think I got most of it out, and then I put a little oil in the cylinder and cranked the engine a few turns to coat the cylinder wall & help prevent the cylinder wall from rusting. The oil dipstick looked good (no mud) and the drained coolant was clean.

I've also removed the power steering/alternator bracket. Tommorrow night I'll drain the oil, tackle the A/C bracket and start labeling whatever needs to be disconnected. I'm going to have to work on this at night, doing as much as I can and still try to get 7 hrs sleep. I hope to have the heads off by Friday night.

Thanks for your help guys. This thread is going to be my logbook for this project- any input, suggestions, or creative criticism welcome!

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Last edited by debtman3535; 03-22-2005 at 11:22 PM.
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post #9 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-15-2005, 12:25 PM
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you dont have to worry about putting in new rocker arms and the pushrods will hardly ever get bent. But if you're getting shorter pushrods you need to buy them aftermarket, which costs about 80-90 dollars.
-Thomas

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post #10 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-15-2005, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Ah... ok, thanks!

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post #11 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-15-2005, 04:17 PM
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I still say don't worry and just go with the higher CR.
Thomas my machine shop is only $50 for inspectsion and milling.


How long did you drive with a blown head?

Have a 13,10 and 15mm socket handy.

If all else fails get a bigger hammer!

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post #12 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-16-2005, 08:48 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Bowez.

I barely drove it at all... I say 2-3 miles before the white smoke started. She was running hot, but not overheating for those couple of miles. Then I had the car idiling for about 5 minutes while I was pulling the wires from the cap one at at time, trying to isolate the troubled cylinder(s), and then the white smoke came. The car idled only a minute or two before I realized the smoke I think.

$50 is pretty cheap. I'm expecting to pay twice that!

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post #13 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-16-2005, 05:01 PM
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Then you shouldn't have much warpage at all then.
$50 buck is just what my machine shop charged for the 300CID head I had done, so what you could expect to pay up there I anit got a clue.

If all else fails get a bigger hammer!

93 SC Tbird
MPII w/ Plenum,90mm MAF, 85mm TB, 40# Injectors, 255 lph FP, Double IC w/fan, SCT Chip (Tuned by Jerry),3/4" Raised Top, F52-TT TC, SilverFox AOD 550, SPT-R VB
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post #14 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-16-2005, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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I've been reconsidering keeping these heads. They have 116 or so miles on them. I'm still up in the air about it. With only 56 or 57 thousand on the bottom end, I'm thinking it's worth it because I put a lot of work into this car - I installed my system, the shocks & struts too. I did an oil change every 3k, a tune-up once a year, new tires, new brakes, new torque converter... she was painted last spring and looks pretty good. I'm going to sleep on it.

The valve cover on the passenger side is off, the rocker arms & pushrods are labeled & put away. I rounded a rocker arm bolt a little, and the exhaust was big PTA, otherwise it wasn't as bad as I thought - that is until I wound up breaking two sockets trying to get a head bolt off. I gave up for the night after that. The top of the block looked good - no mud - just clean looking oil. My girl simple-greened the outside of the intakes & used intake cleaner on the bottom & the ports for me.

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post #15 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 12:38 AM
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dude to keep from breaking sockets just goto autozone and get a AcDelco 3/8" Drive Of the size you need, i used one of these on rod bolts that broke other sockets even 3/8" and had no problems
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post #16 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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OK, thanks! I was going to get an impact socket, but I'll consider the acdelco. The two 15mm sockets I broke were both Craftsman, so at least I can get them replaced for free!

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post #17 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 09:15 AM
 
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debtman... if you need any pictures let me know...
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post #18 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 01:01 PM
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I've broken a 15mm craftsman too. Maybe their 15mm's suck.
-Thomas

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post #19 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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I was so tired last night I forgot to ask this...

When I removed the rocker arms on the passenger side, four of the six arms had a small washer or spacer between the rocker arm and the head. Does anyone know what these are for? Thanks.

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post #20 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 03:54 PM
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four of the six? That is very strange. Well, those are rocker pedestal shims. Have your heads been milled before perhaps? I find it odd that only 4 of the 6 had shims though.
-Thomas

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post #21 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
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rolledthatho- thanks for the offer. I really appreciate it. I do remember seeing a thread with a bunch of pictures and location questions, but I can’t seem to find it.

So both heads are off and everything lower looked ok, but the carbon should be real fun to remove. It's not terrible, but I'm never buying cheap gas again, that's for sure. I have a feeling my injectors are pretty dirty too, so I'm going to try to clean them by injecting some cleaner spray after she's running again. What I found pretty strange was that the top of piston that succumbed to the gasket failure was nice and shiny- almost new looking. All of the others had a spotty coating of carbon. Could the antifreeze have done this? The cylinder walls looked good - nice and smooth. Again, there was no mud, so I believe little, if any damage was done to the lower half.

Thomas - yes, four of the six had the shims. And the driver side had the pedestal shims on all but the front rocker arm. And yes, they were milled before, thanks to a flood in my parking lot a few years ago. I had to get my car outta that water. When I got into the car, the water level was about an inch passed the door seam. Just after I backed up, the water rose up to the bottom of the windshield. I got her out of the deep part of the flood just in time, and then she died on me. The engine sucked in a crap load of water. I got her to the shop 3 days later, and the engine was rusted up. My insurance paid for a new bottom half, and they reused the upper. This is another reason why I'm replacing the heads.

I'm going to call around tomorrow and see who has what locally. Maybe I'll get lucky and find someone who has ported heads for $400. And I'd like to have the heads back on by Saturday night.

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post #22 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 01:16 AM
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yeah the antifreeze will wash those pistons to a new looking shine hehe. Thats always how you can tell what cylinder was blown right when you remove the head.

The carbon/gummy buildup isnt from bad gas for the most part, it's from the EGR and PCV.

-Thomas

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post #23 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 02:01 AM
 
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I have a feeling my injectors are pretty dirty too, so I'm going to try to clean them by injecting some cleaner spray after she's running again

just pop them off their rail and sit them in a bucket of......help me out here guys...

i think alcohol or something that will clean the well, just let them soak...
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post #24 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 02:01 AM
 
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also, i have more pictures than youd think, ill keep a check up on the thread, let me know!
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post #25 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 07:23 AM Thread Starter
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hmmm... alcohol? really? I thought of that but I was afraid I'd ruin them! And thanks again for offering to serve up the pics... I may need them.

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post #26 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 10:21 AM
 
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oh yeah no problem, dont soak them in alcohol until someone "confirms" it but i know there is something household you can use to let them soak...

i mean all it gas to do is clear the grime out and alcohol will do that AND evaporate so, but it may have been kerosine or something

im sure someone will shoot a conformation pretty soon... or i will look it up

and no problem about the pics just let me know..
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post #27 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 10:58 AM
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Alcohol should be just fine considering its the number one ingredient in electronics cleaners (that is 90%IP).

If all else fails get a bigger hammer!

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post #28 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 11:23 AM
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Or soak them in seafoam. That works too. Seafoam rocks.
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post #29 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys- I'll give it a shot!

I have a question. I just picked up some nice, shiny heads from a local machine shop. ($300 bucks- not bad). The guy who sold them to me, a real nice guy, suggested that prior to installing the heads I should use a c-clamp to "push down the lifters to prevent a stuck valve".

Is anyone familiar with this procedure?

Also, when they remanufacture heads, I assume they are milled. Should I be concerned about how much was taken off, or do they rebuild them close to spec?

Thanks!

I take full responsibility for this post. Anything I've written here is an opinion.

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Last edited by debtman3535; 03-18-2005 at 07:26 PM.
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post #30 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 10:47 PM
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Anit heard the C-clamp thing but there shouldn't be a problem if the valve stems are clean. I had a valve get stuck open on the I-6 I worked on just happened to have been some dirt that blew up into the stem.

If all else fails get a bigger hammer!

93 SC Tbird
MPII w/ Plenum,90mm MAF, 85mm TB, 40# Injectors, 255 lph FP, Double IC w/fan, SCT Chip (Tuned by Jerry),3/4" Raised Top, F52-TT TC, SilverFox AOD 550, SPT-R VB
96 1/2 XR7 Sold and Salvaged
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