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First time Headgasket replacement


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So I replaced a head gasket on my '52 218 a while back with a copper gasket and it never really sealed right. Up until about 2 days ago I had never even heard of using any kind of gasket sealant or thread sealer on my he properly as to mitigate leaks. Never knew that was the proper way of doing things, just figured it was slap a gasket on, torque and go. That being said I'd like to redo the headgasket and bolts While I'm also swapping the water pump. What do you all use as sealant for the gasket and threads? There are a ton of different products out there and I have no idea where to start. Thanks.

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Thanks guys, Retorquing is definitely not something I did so newbie mistake there. In all fairness this is something I did a number of years back before I knew anything at all so I'll excuse myself for that. I did chase the threads with a tap and used new headbolts unfortunately I also broke the tap and it fell into the black cooling system somewhere.....engine still ran after that so I wasn't too concerned at the time..... Thanks for the link I now have to use both hands on counting things I either neglected to do or did incorrectly. Never thought to consider the heat cycle having an effect on the seal, but that makes alot of sense. 

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While not every head bolt goes into the water jacket its good insurance to use some sort of thread sealing, non hardening gasket or thread sealing goo on every bolt thread, also to retorque the head bolts at least a second time if not a third time.....always in the correct sequence........have you a shop manual?............andyd 

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Thanks Andy. I do have a shop manual and  a parts book(this one has saved me on more than one occasion). The manual is the "Dodge Passenger Cars" one. Dave Graham I believe is the publisher listed on Rockauto. Didn't have one originally when I did the gasket, all I had was a picture of the sequence and the ft/lbs. I do have to say though, I'm not a huge fan of this one. Its certainly better than not having one and does point me in the right direction on a lot of things, but I constantly have to supplement it with internet and forum advice. I would like one with a little more detail. The alternative was one from Detroit Iron which I'm assuming is simliar? but who knows.

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The Factory shop manual is the gold standard.  Reprints can be found occasionally.  Ebay is a source.  If not the real thing, I consider the Motors Manuals of the correct year span to be a good alternative.

 

For parts info, a Hollander interchange from around 1960 will cover late 40s to the publication year.  That provides a list of sources for parts that work, and for fun, the list price new of them.  That is a shock!

 

Regarding the gasket that you say never sealed well, if it is sealing around the combustion chambers, (no water in cylinders or combustion leak into the coolant),  just bolt seeps, I'd first remove each bolt one at a time, apply thread sealant and reinstall.  Retorque each one  when reinstalling.  Then Torque it down overall in the correct sequence.  Do the heat cycle, retorque at least twice.

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On 12/16/2020 at 10:26 PM, Mark D said:

Copper spray one side only. Don’t overlook the torquing sequence, and remember to retourque after running the motor to temp.

Is that on the head side or the block side?

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Thread sealant and copper spray ordered.  Ended up going with Permatex 59235 thread sealant and the Permatex copper spray as well. Will be a while before I get to the headgasket redo but I will update this when I do. I appreciate all the feedback and advice!

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  • 2 months later...

Well I'm back and after going through a bit of a winter/life funk, I ended up tearing into this project. Pulled the engine back out because it wasn't turning. Problem was unrelated to the engine but I had pulled the head anyways. Fresh Fel-Pro gasket on with Copper spray on the metal side against the block per Fel-Pro intructions and the link Sniper sent and thread sealant on the bolts. Pulled the water distribution tube while I was doing things and flushed the block as best as I could with a power washer. It was quite gross. WDT was in great shape and brass which is a big bonus and came out with a few easy taps. So once that is back in along with a new water pump and Radiator I am going to bench test it in order to get my heat cycle for retorque.  Also as a kicker it turns out that at some point this engine was bored .030 and at least new pistons were installed. Going to assume it was rebuilt at some point in its career and thats fine with me.

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Grab some of these, they have a thread treatment already applied.  The one on the right is what you will get.  They are for a Chevy 350 but they work fine. They are about a buck each.  Some of your old bolts may have their heads tapped to receive smaller bolts, don't throw out they are getting scarce and there are instances where they are very useful for attaching throttle linkage and other accessories.  You might take one of the old bolts and make a thread chaser out of it. Clean the bolt on the wire wheel.  Then cut three or 4 grooves the are vertical going through the length of the threads with a Dremel or similar tool, hit the threads up with the wire brush again to clean up any stuff from cutting the grooves.  Put some penetrating oil on the threads the run them down into the block by going in three turns then backing two turns out till the bolt is screwed to the depth it would be with the head in place.  Then put is a couple squirts of penetrant and rum

N the bolt out of the hole.  Clean the bolt and repeat.  You can also run a spiral brews brush up and down the bolt holes a couple times. This will assure younnew bolts don't get bunker up with old that before you torque them.  If you can't get the Pioneer bolts from the parts store, try a local auto machine shop, or maybe you can order on line.  My machinist got mine for me.

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Edited by greg g
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I bought a set of those head bolts last fall in prep for my rebuild.  They were getting scarce back then.  Summit racing shows them in stock

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Hey ya'll, I figured if I was flushing the block I may as well do it correctly and do all the expansion/freeze plugs as well. I do not want to replace them with steel but am having a dickens of a time finding the brass ones either Dorman 560-023 or Pioneer brand EP-14-B-10. Does anyone have a good source out there that reliably keeps these stocked? Seeing how much crap came out of just the drain plug I really don't want to subject the interior to any rust

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Wow that was fast. Picture of the flywheel is throwing me off so I will get a hold of them to verify before I buy it. Just FYI I contacted Dorman and 560-023 has been discontinued. :(

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Okay freeze plugs ordered. Shipping is a killer. Autoplicity only had 10 available and the other place I found wanted to charge me 20$ to ship came out to about 4.40 a plug. my wallet says ouch.... In the meantime, I'm going to get the engine up on a bench/stand and running. no sense flushing the block now just to pull the plugs and loosen all the crap back into the block. Sniper I like your idea of a Steampunk build that sounds awesome.

Couple of additional items: My thermostat housing is a bit pitted, was going to ask if I needed to replace this but they are expensive and I think I am just going to clean this one up, throw some sealing grease on it and send her. Turns out I also had a bad thermostat. pot tested it and saw it wasn't opening so I found a ruddy looking one from a 46 lying around and it miraculously still worked so I will swap those out until I feel like putting a new one in.  and finally I opened the drain plug (had to uncrew it from the block becuase the petcock was broken) and I could hear the sediment moving as it opened. yikes. I got about 1/2 cup worth of rust and gunk just from a quick pour will simple green down the thermostat housing and out the drain plug. If that's what comes out with a non agressive treatment then ai better clean out the rest of it properly.

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I would suggest pulling the water pump also. Behind it is the water distribution tube.

 

Mine had been sitting for many years, first start I saw cooling system was not working at all. from cold start it would get warm and just keep climbing.

Pretty sure this is why it was parked in the first place. I went to remove T-stat and someone had already busted a bolt and just gave up on it.

 

I found the tube was clogged with scale and instead of replacing just reamed it out for now. Pulled all the soft plugs, With good water pressure and a spray nozzle on a hose into the wdt, will flush all the crap out of the engine. I also used mechanics wire to reach in the block and loosen drag what could reach.

That cured my over heating issue.

I would try to start the engine first though, as you said ... just to see what you are working with.

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Tube was pulled and cleaned in the second picture there. I am putting a new water pump on as well. So fingers crossed I will get no issues. I am also thinking about putting in an inline coolant filter like such so I don't get anything in my nice new radiator.Inline Radiator Hose Coolant Filter | Champion Radiators

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Posted (edited)

Question time:

 Issue: I am trying to circulate water through my engine to clean it out and I'm not getting any suction from the water pump. I do not have a radiator attached because it's new and I dont want to install it til I clean the inside of the block.

 

1.) I have a hose from thermostat housing top to a drain bucket.

2.) I have the water pump hose normally coming from the bottom of the radiator submerged in a bucket.

3.) heater outlet is run directly back to the bypass on the thermostat housing.

4.) I have no thermostat installed currently

 

Is the water pump supposed to be sucking up the water and having it exit the top of the thermostat correct? Is this indicative of a bad water pump (possible becasue its old ) or is this something I need to prime? I did pour water back through the thermostat housing until it came out the water pump hose. Or does the water pump function by other means?

Edited by maddmaxx1949
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Are you still on the engine stand? I installed a flushing T in my heater hose. This works pretty good if you have the major stuff out already.

Also filling the cooling system with straight vinegar and warm up the engine, take it for a drive ... let it sit in the engine for a week run it through several heat cycles. Then flush it out using the T .... if it comes out dirty, you have time ... do it again, leave it for 2 weeks.

The vinegar is mild rust remover, it works but is slow. Non invasive, will loosen the scale and rust while not eating through your radiator or heater core.

 

If you are on a engine stand, almost need to rig up some kind of radiator & cooling system to accomplish what you want .... at this stage would be easier to pull the plugs, clean out the sand. replace and install the engine and finish it up in the car.

I dunno what your plans are though. Good luck and have fun with it whatever you decide.

 

I got to start my truck today and move it from side of garage to its carport. While I would love to work on it, I have to mow the grass  :(

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Okay so I ended up putting a 90 on the water pump and turning it upwards. Put a big funnel on it and and poured a bucket of water+ Macs 1500 through 6 or 7 times while it was running. It came out the thermostat housing into a drain bucket then filter, refill, repeat while running. put a temp gun on it just to make sure I didnt get too high though I didnt want to push it too hard. Not the cleanest operation ever but it worked. followed that up with dinner then a round of water and Simple green again whilst running and all in all it came out surprisingly clean. Flushed with water through the housing and the block drain plug until all clear and again no more signs of grit and rust so I'm going to call her good there and move on to the rest of the car. 

 

Head Gasket veridict: Am going to retorque after cooling overnight and then again after tomorrow night. But, so far so good. Hard to gauge how much I'm putting it through honestly since I can't drive it and I dont have a temp gauge.....

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On 12/16/2020 at 7:17 PM, maddmaxx1949 said:

So I replaced a head gasket on my '52 218 a while back with a copper gasket and it never really sealed right. Up until about 2 days ago I had never even heard of using any kind of gasket sealant or thread sealer on my he properly as to mitigate leaks. Never knew that was the proper way of doing things, just figured it was slap a gasket on, torque and go. That being said I'd like to redo the headgasket and bolts While I'm also swapping the water pump. What do you all use as sealant for the gasket and threads? There are a ton of different products out there and I have no idea where to start. Thanks.

I had issue with the brass plugs. Mine were failing on a new rebuild. I ran the issue down and the brass plugs were a couple of thousands smaller than the steel ones. When used in engines that are old and have had the holes "cleaned up" in the rebuilding process the interference fit is not as tight as it should be given the slightly larger ID of the block holes and the slightly smaller OD of the brass plugs. I changed to steel and did not have an issue. There is an old thread someplace here where I gave the measurements. 

 

 

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Water pumps don't pull, they push.  The entire cooling system is filled with water so the pump doesn't have to draw any water.  Next time you are watching an engine dyno session note the cooling setup, the tank has it's water level above the water pump inlet.

 

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