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Techspy

Blown head gasket? Video

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Started my S4 today and it seemed a little rougher than usual. Seemed ok as I drove but then after parking for 10 min and getting back in, it was rougher than before. Reminded me of a few years ago when I lost a coil pack. Drove her home, seemed better as it warmed up. I did notice that it hit operating temp sooner than normal but didnt overheat. Picked up a set of replacement coils (MSD), installed and went for a short drive. Same issue, rough, smoothed a bit, stopped for gas, started back up and it was worse. Got to temp quicker than normal. Got home, pulled the plugs (see picts), cyl 1 was wet. Couldn't tell if it was gas but no strong gas smell jumped out at me. Reconnected all plug wires, connected Espritmon and started, still rough and after a few seconds white smoke, see vid. Checked dipstick, oil looks ok. Oh and when I parked it this morning and started removing stuff to replace the coils, I noticed a bit of weeping around the header tank cap. Took it off and cleaned it thinking it was was just a bad seal. I also noted some black grime in the throat of the tank. Kinda like sludge. Coolant didn't seem out of sorts and looked/smelled normal.

So I have seen another thread that thought it was a head gasket but ended up being the fuel pressure reg. Being only one plug was wet, I am guessing not. Thoughts guys? I guess I should do a pressure check on each cylinder?

Oh and I just remembered. About a month ago it was cold as balls, like 20f. Went to cars and coffee and started and let it idle for about 30 min to warm the engine, and myself. I noticed as I started to drive off that the temp gauge was at about 95. But, as soon as I started to move, like 30 seconds after, it dropped to normal. I figured it was due to the cold weather and maybe the stat didn't cycle because of low coolant flow or something. Anyway, seems more significant now. Otherwise, no overheating or any other strange issues. Up until today, been running great.

Think I will go throw up now.

 

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Edited by Techspy

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Upgrade today to remove Google ads and support TLF.

There are many testers you can use to detect if there is exhaust gas present in the coolant which will be the case if the head gasket is leaking, click.

Good luck

PS. She sounded really good :thumbup:

Edited by jonwat

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Personally Id get my colour tune out. Fit the see thru plug in the dodgy plug hole and see if I was getting a spark.

 

buddsy

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Actually Ive just seen the vid does seem a bit too much steam. :-(

 

buddsy

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Well, after more research and a consult with the builder that rebuilt my engine a few years ago, blown gasket, probably from a stuck stat on that cold day that it heated up. Plan is to replace the gasket and stat. So, a few questions.

- Recommended gasket? Lotus OEM or is there a better one?
- I plan on doing it without pulling the engine. I am guessing the exhaust manifold will need to be removed from the head for clearance? Removing the exhaust manifold nuts is the biggest thing I am dreading.
- I have seen the steps Travis outlined here but am confused about the "remove cams" step. Does that mean the cam sprockets? Otherwise, how will the cams interfere with head removal? Wait, so to be able to get the head unbolted I guess :)
- So it did get hot, approx 95, so is there a risk of other issues such as a warped head now?
- I plan on cleaning and a checking for any other issues once I have it pulled apart but is there anything else I should address while I have the head off? Obviously fluids etc will be changed. I have the gates blue belt that is about 5 years old. Should I go ahead and replace that as well? (I know that is a subjective question, just curious on what all you would do).
- Seeing the info about using an angle gauge for the head bolts here, is that the latest accepted procedure? I am guessing all the additional info about the Cylinder Liner Adhesive is irrelevant for just replacing the gasket? And to confirm, it is installed dry, no sealant?
- Other than any unforeseen issues, what is the estimated time on this procedure? I am guessing 4-5 hours to tear down, an hour or 2 for cleanup, gasket install and another 4-5 to put back together?

Anyway, picts and videos will be done to document.

Thanks

Edited by Techspy

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Parts ordered. About to start the teardown. JAE recommended upgrading to studs from the factory headbolts. Looking at the pict of the rebuild, seems it already has studs. Joe wasn't able to confirm these are the upgraded studs and may be factory? Anyone here know from the pict? I have emailed the builder to see if he recalls. I understand the upgraded studs that JAE sells has a different torque number but what about these? Would they use the same torque number as the factory bolts or the upgraded stud number?

5-1 - Copy.jpg

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If you dismount the engine on the left, you can lift it enough to pull head and manifold together.

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My understanding is that the dimples on the end of the studs indicate the later "upgraded" OEM Lotus studs (not bolts). But many recommend the ARP studs as an upgrade. Given the open deck design, anything you can do to improve the head joint is a bonus.  I've used gaskets from JAE and Kemp and overheat has killed both.

I'm curious as to the current "best" gasket option.....

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What I don't understand... is that if the engine temperature on that cold day maxed at 95C., why did you think it overheated? That's NOT an overheat. Should not have caused your issue! :(

 

I know you said the wet #1 plug didn't smell like gas, but maybe swapping injectors around to see if the wetness follows them is a wise move at this point. ISTR that Travis and other have had sudden injector failures, as well as duff ECUs that cause a sudden 'barf'.

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I am not sure about the overheat issue either. My thought was because it was so cold and just idling that the stat didn't get the full temp and possibly the temp sensor? It may be that it is not related. Now that I think about it, I have had an odd smell for a little while but attributed it to the new brake pads I have just put on. Most likely it was the coolant burning smell. I would think an injector would be possible except that the amount of steam (no gas smell) and the fact that the coolant system is getting over pressured indicates a head gasket. I have experienced a bad injector before and this does not seem the same. Anyway, I am starting the pull a part and will check for any other obvious signs. I may try to look through the spark plug hole on #1 or see if I can detect any coolant in it.

Oh, those are upgraded stock studs. Ordering a new set of ARP. Ouch, that one stung. Parts cost so far $550 (including a new belt)

Edited by Techspy

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Just checked plug #1 again. Definitely not gas. No smell and will not light with a flame.

BTW, what is the best way to drain the coolant? Just from the lower radiator hose? I saw that Travis mentioned he uses a vacuum system. Curious on how that works.

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Travis told me his method mainly served to replace the thermostat.  If you want to remove the cylinder head you will need to 1. loosen the drain bolt on the lower RH side of the radiator (which is not possible on my car), or 2. take the lower hose off the radiator.

 

The second way, wear a raincoat! :cry:

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When you had the rebuild done, was the head skimmed?

When I first got my car the head gasket blew not long after, so I got an engineering company to rebuild it as I didn’t know enough about the Esprit engine to tackle it myself. This was 19 years ago so there weren’t really the online resources there are now and I just didn’t feel confident doing it myself like I would now.

Anyway, the head was slightly warped so it was skimmed.. quite normal apparently.

However, within about 2,000 miles the head gasket blew again. It was diagnosed as the increase in compression caused by the head being skimmed had probably caused it.. it’s possible it had already been skimmed before I had the car.

So, I had to get a new head (a later Zeus one which softened the blow!) and my engineer pal helped me fit it. Touch wood, it’s been fine ever since.

I believe you can get thicker head gaskets if you have skimmed the head flat, so it may well be worth getting an accurate measurement done of your head thickness, and/or finding out if it was skimmed during the rebuild, and if so, was a thicker head gasket put on.

I could be confusing the thing about thicker head gaskets though with other cars I worked on myself years ago, so anyone else feel free to jump in here and correct me.

I’d just hate you to fit a new head gasket, only to blow it again in another short space of time because you’ve assumed the stat not opening has caused it. May just be a coincidence.

Edited by Glyn Harper

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I would advise not to get the head skimmed even if it appears to be warped unless a major ding is on the mating face.The head is made of ally and will straighten when clamped down to the block. If a head is skimmed to make if flat the cam carrier faces will become out of true as these were originally machine at the same time parallel to the face of the head.

People often come in to my work and ask me to skim a head and when I ask why they usually don't even know why!!???

 

buddsy

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Coolant drained (oily) turbo and cam towers off. Probably get the head off tomorrow. First time pulling cams and didn't realize the shims would go everywhere. FFS I wish I would have read this tip before I started "if you have to pull a cam tower to change shims, put magnets on each of the cam followers, so they do not fall out when pulling the cam tower off. " So I guess I will learn how to check the lash and will be ordering some shims. I see mention of different make shims working fine. I would love to be able to source them at the local auto store to cut down on ordering/shipping time. Anyone have a specific make/model shims to ask for? I see several threads on how to do this. I will probably have more questions later but any suggestions on the best way is welcome.

Checking with the builder to see if the head was skimmed previously. I don't "think" an increase in compression did this if it was. I have about 10k miles and 5 years on it since the rebuild. But who knows. I guess it is pretty much standard to have the head checked/skimmed during this procedure? Just saw Buddsys response. Hmm, I would be happy not to have to get it skimmed.

Edited by Techspy

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I see several posts from Travis/Vulcan Grey about his task of replacing his head gasket but they seem to be spread around in different threads. If he has a thread that covers his install, I will be happy to go through it to keep him from rehashing it. For example I saw where he had leaking right after changing it and was going to re-do it and add sealant in a few areas. Also, he said the thread pitch on the ARP studs are different than stock so you can't use the angle specs and to use the torque info only that come with the studs. I hate having to ask for into that is already out there. I spending the evening searching!

After reading this thread, I have NO IDEA if I am supposed to use an angle gauge with the APC studs.

Edited by Techspy

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Well, the head is off! And yep, blown on #1 and #3.

Just to confirm, you can easily remove the head without pulling the engine or even the exhaust manifold. Just like Sparky said, just unbolt the left side motor mount and jack the motor up on the side. I have pulled the engine before and this was most definitely easier than that. I will start the cleaning process now and getting it ready for the new gasket. I have decided not to skim it (it wasn't skimmed previously either). Fortunately the builder thinks he can walk me through how to get the shims back in their correct location. If so, this could be the downhill slide.

So, I found something interesting that made me think that the day it heated up wasn't the cause of the issue. It seems the vacuum line going to the fuel pressure regulator got pinched by the chargecooler. So, I am wondering if this was caused by a lean condition. I am running the #3 ECU chip so I can get a bit more boost (bigger injectors, stock fuel pump). Maybe the day it heated up was the first symptom of the blown gasket that happened sometime just prior? I don't recall anything strange happening however.

Anyway, couple of remaining questions.

- The APC studs will come with their torque specs but do I still follow the factory angle gauge procedure and just use the APC torque settings as opposed to stock?

- Cleaning the head/valves. Seems I have heard something about causing damage if you scrub the heads/cylinder tops to get the carbon off. Would using a scotchbright pad be ok to do that?

- Consensus of adding a bit of sealant in certain spots on the gasket? (roll pin areas?)

If anyone is interested, I am documenting this on my youtube channel. Maybe it will help someone else. Yesterdays is up here;

 

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I can’t remember whether you tighten the head bolts/nuts by turning so many 1/4 turns after a certain torque (like you do with stretch bolts) or whether it’s just a certain torque in a few stages.

I remember when I did mine though, I broke that stage down into even more gradual steps, so I went around tightening the head gradually about 10 times until the desired value was achieved. I figured this couldn’t harm anything by being more gradual and progressive.. and it’s been good for about 16 or so years. Worth considering. Just be methodical and don’t lose track of where you were!

Those pistons and valves are quite carboned up. I’d certainly clean the valves up, and it can’t do any harm to re lap them while you have the head off.

As for the pistons, I think you’ll be ok cleaning the tops gently, but if they’re the chrome topped ones I’d be careful not to damage the coating. Also, you really don’t want any dirt or carbon going down the side of the pistons. That could really scratch the bores when you start running again. Maybe seal the gap around the pistons with some grease or something that you then clean out as the last step before fitting the head.

When you run an engine in, part of the result is building up a ring of carbon at the top of the liner where the piston reaches TDC. This build up of carbon helps seal the cylinder even further than the rings alone, so leave the carbon ring on the liner.

Anyone feel free to correct me here, it’s been 16 years since I last did this job. I did take the engine out though, so it’s good to now know you can get away without doing so. Did you release the gearbox mounts as well, or just the engine mount? It’s that one surrounded by a load of heat shields isn’t it. Fun putting it back together!

Edited by Glyn Harper

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Don't forget to check the liner nip is within tolerance, if it's not that will cause the gasket to fail. :thumbup:

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Hi John, Scotchbrite ok for inside combustion chambers but best avoid using it on the head face as it’s very easy to damage its flatness if you get carried away. What I do is make up some aluminium scrapers to use with paraffin/ WD40 for old gasket removal. You just have to be careful and work round slowly. Any suspicious areas can be checked with a steel rule and feeler gauge.

Like Glyn says when cleaning the piston crowns you can grease the edges but bits of carbon invariably end up down the sides. If you paint oil around the bores and rock the pistons either side of tdc you can eventually wipe it away. Get liner clamps on first though. When all finished good idea to turn the crank back from No1 tdc to leave the pistons mid stroke - makes sure the valves are nice and safe when you eventually refit the cam carriers.

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Thanks guys. I am done for the day. Other than cleaning the old sealant/gasket and carbon, I just need to get the crank pulley off for the timing belt change then wait for the parts (Oh and hopefully getting the correct shims in the correct location). I will need to pick up a pulley strap wrench and will make some liner clamps tomorrow. I bumped the crank pulley mucking about today and hope I didn't pop any liners loose. They look fine anyway. It just blows my mind how difficult the small things are. The AC belt was a PITA even with the tensioner completely removed. Still had to pry it off. The water/PS belt wouldn't come off without removing the water pump pulley. Glyn, I just removed the 3 mount to block bolts for the left side engine mount.

So looking closely at where the gasket gave way, it appears to be a bulge where the breech is. Maybe that is to be expected but was wondering of that gave any insight as to the cause?

Couple new questions arose today. I am guessing it is ok to use brake cleaner or similar to clean the cam tower internals and head as long as I give it a good re-oiling before refitting? Or just stick with wd40? Since the cooling system has been contaminated with oil, whats the best way to get it cleaned? Just drain and refill after running it for a little while with the correct antifreeze mixture? I will drain and refill engine oil and then change the filter after I run it checking for leaks etc. Current head studs; removal by using 2 nuts and a wrench? I guess the same for install? Are they torqued when the studs are installed or just when the nuts are installed? Best sealant for the cam towers/covers?

Anyway, hopefully I will button everything up tomorrow and then just wait for the parts in Wed. It will give me  some time to recoup. Man I am sure in places I fogot about. The Lotus Position has taken a toll on me the past few days.

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Careful with Scotchbrite pads, they shed raw abrasive powder that can be very hard to contain or clean out of areas you really don't want it in. I would avoid it on anything that's not going to get tanked or otherwise thoroughly cleaned, away from the open motor parts.

I'm soon to follow in your footsteps, as my #4 is leaking into the coolant jackets.....

As to valve shims, they're not too expensive and are in stock at JAE/the usual Lotus specialists.  I think they're used in  tr-7, imp, saab 99, Lotus, cosworth, Jaguar xk-6, climax, hesketh etc. , so you're only going to find them in stock at a specialist or an obscure Euro auto shop.   I've built a shim box from random Ebay sales, but they don't show up often in quantity. There's a few now

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=shims+(twin+cam%2Ctr7%2Cimp%2Csaab+99%2Clotus%2Ccosworth%2Cxk-6%2Ccilmax%2Chesketh)+-(gearbox%2Cpad)

  Tim Engel's spreadsheet is very helpful for setting up the valve lash, and might help sort your assorted shims, although you will want a micrometer to measure shims and some patience. 

Valve Shim Worksheet - Format, Metric & Sealant E97-W98.xls

Edited by snowrx

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Thanks for the info. Sorry you will have to go through the same thing soon. I will probably just use a toothbrush and some plastic scrapers for cleaning. Thanks for the links too. I have seen those and was going to use that info if I have to start from scratch but hopefully I can get the correct ones back in the correct spot. I am thinking the builder may still have notes on what goes where as he had to order shims during the build. Hopefully it will just be a matter of measuring the shims. Having to order shims will add more time to the build so I was hoping I could get some locally. I really drive my Esprit a lot and miss it when it is down. Especially now that the weather is improving.

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