Head gaskets...

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jefe
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Head gaskets...

Post by jefe » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:57 am

Replacing a bunch of gaskets on my 2.9L engine and just finished up taking the lower intake manifold off and having it cleaned up. I've been told that since I've gone this far, I might as well replace the head gaskets now....but have to admit I'm a little nervous about it. I've never done it before and am wondering how difficult it is.

The lower intake manifold is off so now I'm wondering what the next step is. My manual says to remove the push rods, which I'm not familiar with.....and then it says to remove the exhaust manifolds, which I've heard is a pain because the bolts usually snap off from rust.

So I was hoping to get some advice on the process, difficulty level, and maybe if anyone has a link to good writeup out there of the process for changing head gaskets on the 2.9L.

Anything would help and be much appreciated.

Thanks.

DBrown
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by DBrown » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:12 pm

my personal opinion is that if they are good leave them alone. They are not that bad to do but time consuming and like you said old bolts break...
71 Bronco - twin sticked, full width, 2" lift, wristed arm, lots of rust...

http://www.catalystcycles.com

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tekatlarge
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by tekatlarge » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:49 pm

If it wasn't for the damn exhaust bolts pulling the heads would be a no brainer..

However a recommendation is to spray all of the exhaust bolts with PB Blaster or equivalent and let them soak least 24 hours before you plan to try and remove them.

Now if you try to remove the bolts and one breaks don't sweat it. Worse case is have a machine shop drill out the bolt and re tap the head. Not a lot of money just time. and after all the head will be off and easy to get to.

One last item. If you replace the head gaskets don't forget to replace the head bolts also as they are one use torque to yield bolts.

Have Fun...
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drofman
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by drofman » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:26 am

I'm with DB. if it ain't broke, don't fix it

jefe
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by jefe » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:30 am

I guess my problem is that I'm not sure if the head gaskets are good or not. The BII was leaking a lot of oil...biggest offenders most likely the valve covers. The exhaust manifolds are covered in caked on oil/grease that will probably never come off....and it makes it kind of hard to see what's going on down there.

How can I be 100% on the head gaskets being good?

Right now I lean towards going ahead and replacing the head gaskets along with anything else I might find along the way. It's not a daily driver and I'm in no rush and I'd rather not have to tear the engine apart again for a long time. I've only had the BII since last July, and even though for the most part, it's in really good shape, I kind of doubt a lot of this maintenance has ever been done before....and 24 years old, it's probably about time.

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tekatlarge
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by tekatlarge » Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:51 pm

Have you pulled your plugs yet and looked them over real good? If all the plugs look normal then you should be pretty confident the gaskets are OK.

I can't remember if you said if the engine was running good before you started the work or not. I am the type of person that believes if something is working correctly "Don't screw with it".

Now having said that, if there is any doubt to the soundness of the gaskets or heads, you are at a good spot for a decision. You can either ignore the heads and continue or for just a little bit more labor and a small cost increase, you can realize piece of mind of knowing all bases have been addressed.

If you are concerned about OIL leaks only then I would NOT recommend to pull the heads unless you want to. The places where oil leaks out around the heads is where the intake meets the heads and the valve covers. Valve covers are by far the worst offenders.

Either way you go Have fun..
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jefe
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by jefe » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:45 pm

I haven't pulled the plugs yet, but it was on my list soon. I'll pull them out this weekend and take a look at them....and if I have any doubt, I'll post up a photo or two.

Thanks for the sound advice...good stuff.

The BII was running pretty solid before all this. Just bought it last year and knew I'd have to go in and try to fix the oil leaks at some point. It will die out at least once after initial start up which was a worse problem before I swapped the IAC valve....now it's not so bad.

I was leaning towards going ahead and doing it but now I think I'll make the decision after I see the plugs.

Thanks tek!

jefe
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by jefe » Sun Mar 27, 2011 4:47 pm

Ok....pulled the plugs. Wanted to post up a photo just for a 2nd opinion.

Image

Also wanted to share a photo of the caked oil mess sitting on the outside of the heads and the exhaust manifolds. It bothers me it's such a mess down there.

Image

Let me know what you guys would do if you were me. Thanks.

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Ranger Dave
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by Ranger Dave » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:56 pm

the VC gaskets are leaking, they all leak

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tekatlarge
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by tekatlarge » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:02 pm

The inside looks clean.The buildup on the outside is normal. The gasket surface looks as if it has been leaking for a significant time.
Your plugs look like typical normal hi mileage plugs. I did notice in one photo one plug looks white. I hope that is possibly due to lighting in the picture, if not it shows a significant lean burn. Lean burn or white could indicate water in the cylinder of maybe a lean injector or possibly a burnt valve...

However the picture with all of them together shows more uniform tanish brown. If the plug is more or less like the rest it is OK not great but OK. If not you have an issue in that cylinder. The overall picture tells me there are no significant oiling issues in any of the cylinders. It also doesn't appear to be having any coolant leak. If it had a gasket gone you could identify the cylinder by the difference in the plugs. It looks like with some new plugs wires cap and rotor you will have a solid runner I believe. Some of the plugs look kind of rich but not oily. I don't suspect any significant problems inside. I will also add the inside of that motor is very clean compared to some I have seen. :cool:
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jefe
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by jefe » Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:47 pm

It's not just the lighting in that photo unfortunately. That one plug is different than the rest of them. Not solid white but definitely getting there. To me though, the other ones show hints of heading that direction too.

I know the BII was a one owner but have no idea the maintenance they kept on it....but you are definitely right about it having been leaking for some time....ever since I got it and by the look of some of the gunk I have cleaned off the intake mani's and the valve covers, I'm guessing a very long time. The oil build up on the exhaust mani would probably hold up to a chisel and hammer.

The biggest offenders probably the valve covers....but the oil pan is showing some leakage too so I plan on changing that gasket too.

I appreciate all the advice tek! I know it's hard to judge based on a couple of photos, but if you were me, would you change out the head gaskets at this point?

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tekatlarge
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by tekatlarge » Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:34 pm

Jefe,

At this particular point I think I would stop the gasket process and at least pull both heads. It looks to me like you have a possible problem brewing in the top end. I really don't like the looks of the plugs. You are at the perfect spot to fix things so I think it is time well spent to pull the heads. At this point I think I would pull the heads take them to the local Automotive Machine Shop and tell them to freshen them up and check for cracks. It is not a huge expense and if you do this now you will have that much more confidence in your engine.
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Ranger Dave
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by Ranger Dave » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:55 am

how long have those plugs been in there?? looks like the gap is way to much

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tekatlarge
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by tekatlarge » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:12 am

I agree Dave, That gap is so big I could hide a v8 in there. hahaha
The Tek @ Large
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jefe
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Re: Head gaskets...

Post by jefe » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:05 pm

Ranger Dave wrote:how long have those plugs been in there?? looks like the gap is way to much
I wish I could tell you. This July I will have had the BII for a year and I haven't pulled them until now. No clue the maintenance before then....which is one reason I am doing all of this....

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