Head Gasket Trouble - Pull Engine

stang89bidges

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Mar 14, 2014
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So my head gaskets have blown 3 times now in past 6 months. The first time I didn't know what I was doing. By now I have a lot more wisdom into this procedure. I had the heads magnafluxed and pressure tested. They tested just fine.

I have straight edge and feeler guaged the deck myself and it appears to also be flat with no pitting. I'm worried I should pull the engine and get the block checked.

I'm told usually the heads go before the block does. I'm also told that its possible I may not be getting a good torque reading because I never cleaned out my bolt holes with a tap. I have a hard time with this one but after 4 sets of head gaskets I'm tired of wasting money.

If I pull my engine what is the general cost for me to put it back together? What's the parts list of items I need to put it back together? So getting block checked for cracks is gonna be about $100. What's cost for all the seals I'm gonna need and is there a good guide out there for this procedure?

Should i be pulling my engine? Am I missing something? This car sat most its life in a garage. 73,000 original miles. Not driven hard. This is why I have hard time believing the block has issues.

Thanks in advance,
Tom
 
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A5literMan

At least it is lumpy...
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If you really overheated the engine once it doesn't matter how many miles it has. You could have cracked the block. You could just tap the threads and reinstall the gasket/heads but at this point I would just pull/rebuild. You can get a master overhaul kit with all the gaskets,rings bearings etc. Its possible (if everything measures correctly) to reuse your rotating assembly. If the block is cracked and or you need different parts for the assembly you could go junkyard explorer motor. Or put together a stoker kit with a new block. Rebuild can be done for under a 1000$ if you don't need many new parts.
 
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Boosted92LX

It's only an inch or two. What's the big deal?
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What are the symptoms you are seeing leading you to believe you have blown head gaskets? Water in oil? Water in exhaust? Exhaust in water? Obviously damaged head gasket? Hard to say what's wrong with such little info.
 

Boosted92LX

It's only an inch or two. What's the big deal?
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If you really overheated the engine once it doesn't matter how many miles it has. You could have cracked the block. You could just tap the threads and reinstall the gasket/heads but at this point I would just pull/rebuild. You can get a master overhaul kit with all the gaskets,rings bearings etc. Its possible (if everything measures correctly) to reuse your rotating assembly. If the block is cracked and or you need different parts for the assembly you could go junkyard explorer motor. Or put together a stoker kit with a new block. Rebuild can be done for under a 1000$ if you don't need many new parts.

This is accurate. I've seen a 302 block crack from overheating. The guy chased head gaskets (he thought that was the problem) until eventually replacing the engine. Inspection revealed cracked waterjacket.
 
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stang89bidges

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First time head gaskets went it took me a while to figure out what it was. Never overheated. Head gaskets leaked exhaust into coolant system. Replaced head gaskets. Worked fine for about 3 weeks then did exact same thing again. I was noticing loss of coolant via overflow tank. Replaced head gaskets, water pump, thermostat, hoses, electric fan, went to dual core radiator. Heater core was replaced a year earlier. Lasted 4 weeks ran great. I went out one night and it overheated big on me and I drove it home about 5miles. I was turning engine off every chance I got and would coast most the way. Probably coasted 4 out of the 5 miles.

Then I had heads checked, replaced head gaskets, lasted 2 weeks and blew head gaskets again. This time, head gaskets had a bad spot, burn spot, never had that before, 2 previous head gaskets didn't blow that bad. Even when it overheated the gaskets looked fine.

Sounds like I need to check the block. Anybody know where I can find a parts list and how-to pull engine, tear down, reassemble, reinstall?
 

A5literMan

At least it is lumpy...
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You can find How-to's online,library,etc. Chilton manual is a good place to start. If you don't have the experience,tools,space,and time to DIY I highly recommend having a professional do it. Or get a JY motor and same rules apply. It's a time consuming,tedious,detail orientated process but not overly complicated. But you'll need a sizable investment in tools if you don't already have them.
 

stang89bidges

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If you get a little time, check this out and let me know if you think this pretty much includes everything I will need to know. And if it's close on the tools needed.

I have never rebuilt an engine before but I don't scare easy. Plus I don't have the money to pay anyone a grand. If I can do this procedure for $300-$400 on a jy explorer block I may attempt that.
 

A5literMan

At least it is lumpy...
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I clicked the link but didn't watch video. I'm just going to give a quick post. If you do not have 1000$(which is the very minimum a rebuild/JY motor will cost) don't start the project! The costs will probably be double that but COULD be done for less. Do you have a engine hoist,stand,torque wrenches,mics,etc? A clean space to disassemble/assemble? A JY motor will run around 500$ just to purchase. You will have to change the valve springs just to run a stock mustang cam not alone a performance upgrade. Not trying to be pessimistic or turn you away just trying to inform you to the costs. If you need machine work(which is likely),gaskets,oil pump,tools,any extra parts,etc just assume it costing 1k minimum if you do all the work yourself. I put new gaskets,rings,bearings,e303 cam,and had the heads redone for just over 1k and did all the work at a buddies shop. This was about 5 years ago and had all the tools needed. I did not have any machine work done to the block. I did have the crank turned for new bearings. You might want to look for a motor already rebuilt. "Learning" how to is not a problem but there is a minimum cost involved. Sorry for the long winded response. Guess it wasn't a quick post after all. Lol
 
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stang89bidges

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That's the kind of information im looking for, blunt, what I'm going to run into, what I need to consider.

I'm probably gonna wait a while before I attempt this. I will be back to ask questions about which jy engine to use or fix the one I got and how to make my internals work with another block etc etc
 

madspeed

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meh, pick up a used Explorer motor. Find one with the lowest miles you can. Swap in a real cam and drop it in. You'll have a bit more power due to the better heads and intake and save some money by not doing a rebuild.
 
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Chuckman

GTFO you fat, heavy bastard
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i went the explorer route when i blew my 306 up, you WILL need valve springs (the tfs kit is about $100-120) if running more than the stock explorer cam, and probably pushrods if not using a factory cam (another $100). swap on all the mustang accessories, oil pan/pickup, headers, dist., etc and youre good to go. i picked mine up from a local yard with right about 100k miles for $600, with the spring kit and a tfs1 cam, and it ran pretty damn good for a budget deal. just the machine work, new pistons, and balancing on the 306 it replaced was closer to $1000-1200, PLUS the top end kit.
 
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stang89bidges

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OK family and you guys have talked me into pulling engine. I'm moving to Texas in April so there is my timeframe.

My plan is to pull the engine and have it checked first. If it is OK I will use it. If it end up being screwed beyond repair them I'm going the explorer route. To me it makes more sense to spend $100 to check it for cracks before spending $600 on JY explorer engine.

So if I end up going explorer engine and have to upgrade the cam, what are a few options that will fit that engine and be a little better for power than stock?

I have a vortec SC with 7psi of boost but that is only mod so far. So I'm shooting for a street rod cam not to aggressive.
 

A5literMan

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Stock heads=stock cam. If you have a head upgrade(either gt40 or alum) a tfs1 is a good street cam.
 

A5literMan

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exporer engine will have gt40 heads, most likely gt40p heads
Im not certain he's using the explorer or his previous motor. It also might explain why he's blowing head gaskets(the blower) which Would have been good to know at the beginning. :(
 
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stang89bidges

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If my original motor tests out OK I will use original cam. If I use a jy explorer block then will my crankshaft and camshaft both fit in explorer block? I think someone said work has to be done for crankshaft and therefore a new cam is needed.

I was just hoping all my internals would fit the explorer block with no work needed. If I'm wrong about explorer motor tell me my options.

Explorer motor with heads and internals and intakes together? Or just the block and all my internals?

Yes, vortech v2 s/c. Do you think the s/c was just causing lift? Think cleaning out my threads and using ARP studs would fix it? Or something else?
 

A5literMan

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If you had water/antifreeze in your oil you will probably need new bearings at the minimum. Having a blower definetly could have caused your issues. Well not itself but the boost could have been lifting your heads. Especially if you kept using the wrong head bolts/improperly installed bolts/gaskets or even the "tune". If it was running lean(detonation) the very first thing that dramatically happens is it will blow the head gasket. If there is a "tune" issue ie improper timing,not enough fuel pump/injectors,malfunctioning fmu,a "chip",etc installing ANY motor is going to have the same results. Was the noticeable gasket failure around the #5 cylinder? What does the piston tops look like? What does the spark plugs look like? You're obviously a young/new car enthusiast and I really don't think you're up for a complete overhaul/rebuild of the current motor. If there is a "tune" issue you're going to be right back with the same issues unfortunately. I'm not trying to be an a hole or trying to dissuade you in learning/fixing your car. It's also really hard to understand exactly what's going on with your setup. There is missing info(like the fact you had a blower). My advise is to try and get somebody who has some experience to help you. Or pay someone to fix it.
 

stang89bidges

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OK here is the skinny. Gonna be long winded.

Bought car 3 years ago. Pretty close to stock with vortech s/c already installed. It only had 27,000 original miles on it. I bought it for a DD, wanted something fun to drive. At the time I was driving 275 miles every weekend and this made it fun. But I never red lined the car or drove it like a young punk. I'm 35, grew up with a mechanic step father, learned a lot of things restoring my 78 jeep. Stepfather has since passed away and now I look to this forum for help.

So I put a lot of highway miles on car for two years then I moved and no more long distance driving. The car now has 70,000 miles on it. All highway almost.

Car specs when I bought it:
1. Vortech v2 supercharger with fmu
2. Single core aluminum radiator
3. Mac shorty headers
4. Flowmaster american thunder exhaust with h-pipe
5. Subframe connectors
6. Stage 3 clutch with firewall adjustment

I replaced the heater core right after I bought it. I also had it dyno'd about a year after owning it. Guy told me it was a good running car for the setup. 285hp. He said he would like to upgrade injectors, throttle body, do some bypass and get rid of fmu. Then chip it. I didn't have the money for that. He said care was fine.

I had a fluxuating idle issue at the time too. Replace IAC, cleaned maf, but in the end it was the tps so that's new too thanks to the dyno guy.

The car had a single core aluminum radiator. Undersized for a blown fox I think but nonetheless it was a great car for long time. Especially for being very close to stock. About 6 months ago I noticed I was losing a little coolant via the overflow tank. Ended up renting a block tester and the fluid turned green. Replaced head gaskets for first time. What a task back then. :poo: now I can do it with fn eyes closed...

Anyway gaskets were fine, no burn outs in gasket. I had exhaust leaking into coolant. No coolant in oil. Still had original head gaskets, I got pics, they said ford on them. I installed felpro 9333. I did a crap load of research to make sure I did it right. One thing I never knew however was to clean bolt holes with tap.

Got it going again and 1 month later it was doing it again. Same issue as before. Exhaust in coolant but i had a little bit in oil this time. I was convinced it was a cooling problem for some reason so I replaced water pump and hoses and thermostat. Installed a 2300cfm electric fan. Replaced head gaskets with felpro 9333. Didn't clean bolt holes.

Happened again about 3-4 weeks later. This time I was showin off to a buddy, car was running good so I thought after cooling system is now OK. I did a couple burn outs and all of sudden I could tell something seemed weird I could tell. Looked down and the temp shot up like a rocket. I parked the car immediately at buddy's house and had a couple beers.

2 hours later I drive it home, seemed fine first mile but then it started overheating so I shut it off and coasted down every road on way home with engine off. I would only start it to get momentum then shut her off again.

This time I had water in oil. Bought a new new dual core radiator and replaced gaskets with felpro 9333.

Now the whole coolant system has been replaced. I put her back together after third time. I drove it for 2 weeks thinking finally have it(yeah I know, idiot). I drove car like a grandma these two weeks. Started losing fluid again, very little but I could tell. I drove it another week and finally parked it. I bought a truck and payed off car. I tore it apart for 4th time and this the only time I had a burn mark in gasket. Right above #7 cylinder next to the water jacket.

By the way, I had heads resurfaced after the second and third time. Second time the passenger side was a little warped. Third time the driver side was a little warped. This last time I has them pressure test and magna flux and they came no issues and still flat.

So here I am, talking to you guys for advice. I prepped engine and tranny to come out with cherry picker tomorrow afternoon. Will have it tested and go from there. The deck is flat on block I used straight edge and .015 feeler guage cross pattern and it was good.

Question about timing. I never set timing first 2 times, I just dropped the dizzy back in same place. 3rd time I turned engine so I had to time it. I timed it to idle 10 degree tdc. Didn't do total timing. I that plug I removed to time engine I was told controls the idle if its off a little. So I figured after find 10 degree and it running good, I plugged it back in and didn't think anymore about it. Am I correct with this?
 

stang89bidges

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Well I got her out this afternoon. Came out super easy with cherry picker.

20150125_161701.jpg


Bought a universal engine puller plate for $10 at advanced auto but it doesn't fit our skinny lower intake. I already had engine stripped to block anyways so I just used chains.

So how far do I need to tear down the engine for the machine shop so they can magnaflux for cracks and pressure test it?