Cylinder Head Bolts, RE-use, or RePLACE?

Engine, Transmission & Driveline

  1. Gerald Morris

    Gerald Morris Senior Member

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    Well Moparians, I did all the proper chicken sacrifices, to no avail, leaving the Big One: head gasket replacement. I have the Fel-Pro head set, and have for some time, and will supplement this with a valley pan and intake gaskets, if the head set doesn't supply those. Since this is to be JUST a gasketing job, I expect to carefully number every lifter and pushrod, and replace those in their exact former location. This leaves the head bolts themselves. I've seen two opinions regarding whether its better to replace them with new bolts, or to re-use what was in the engine. I'm inclined to the latter, but IFF its safe to do so. If used head bolts can't be depended on to hold the cylinder head down properly, then their replacement is by far the MOST economical course to take.

    I've never replaced cylinder heads or their gaskets on Mopar V8s before, though I have done so on a Ford 289, and some Buick ~4L V6, so this work isn't COMPLETE Terra Nova for me, BUT, I WANT TO DO IT EXACTLY RIGHT AND TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

    You more experienced and knowledgeable Moparians might well know helpful things. If so, and you've the time, your lore will be gratefully perused and pondered.
     
  2. Big_John

    Big_John Illegitimi non carborundum FCBO Gold Member

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    Re-use them. They'll be fine.

    If they fail, they will fail when you torque them. I've never had one fail.

    Do take some precaution while applying the torque. Use a good torque wrench and take them up to spec in three steps. I snug by hand, torque to half, then torque to full. Work from the inside out (look at your FSM for a pattern).
     
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  3. LocuMob

    LocuMob Fluid Technician with a hat FCBO Gold Member

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    Like John said, the FSM spells it out very clearly, easy to follow.
     
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  4. Toolmanmike

    Toolmanmike Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I run a thread chaser down through the threads being careful towards the bottom so you don't bottom out and break the chaser. Blow the threads and holes out with compressed air to make sure they are clean to the bottom. The head bolts should be lightly lubed (don't install dry) but don't dip them in a can of oil. That oil will puddle in the bottom of the bolt hole and it doesn't compress. It can cause incorrect torque load or even block cracking. Dip your finger in some oil and just lightly swipe the threads once. I have used WD-40 as well just to provide a little lube to the threads. Completely dry can cause galling.
     
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  5. Gerald Morris

    Gerald Morris Senior Member

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    Right on and thanks guys! Yes, I planned to use the stock tightening pattern specified in the FSM. FelPro gaskets are made user-friendly too. That will help.
     
  6. Gerald Morris

    Gerald Morris Senior Member

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    GOOD to know! So, soaking them overnight in motor oil is a NO-NO eh? Your reasoning makes perfect sense too. Yes, the bulk modulus of motor oil shouldn't be taken lightly. Your advice is heedworthy and WILL be heeded!
     
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  7. 413

    413 Senior Member

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    I don’t think head gaskets are going to fix anything on this car.

    Have you changed the radiator or had that one rodded out by a radiator shop? Have you removed the freeze plugs and made sure the block is clean inside? If not you have disregarded very important things and are proceeding in the wrong order.

    Head gaskets rarely go bad in a low compression all iron engine with 17 head bolts, no water in Oil or water loss.

    If you continue with head gaskets:
    Take the threaded block plugs out of each side and drain the block first so you don’t get any water or coolant in the cylinders. This just saves so mush time on cleaning up liquid that should have never got in there. Clean and lube the head bolt threads and holes in the block. With oil, don’t use WD-40 it is not sufficient.

    Don’t remove the lifters.

    Now let’s talk about the head gaskets. Those felpro gaskets are .040, the stock steel are .020 so you will give away compression. Lower compression in a already low compression 2bbl engine is a step in the wrong direction.
     
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  8. 1971 300 Alvah

    1971 300 Alvah Member

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    I would listen to the other opinions already given, these guys know a lot more than me and have a ton of experience, usually I just do what they say and it's worked out well for me!

    My answer, however, would have been different. Quality ARP fasteners are not expensive. I used new when I did my heads.

    But, if I had to chose between listening to me or the old guys on this site, I would not pick me!
     
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  9. detmatt

    detmatt Old Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    I would agree with 413, this could be considered throwing parts at the problem. I would do a leak down test first before pulling the heads even if you were certain that the cooling system was working at full capacity.
     
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  10. CBODY67

    CBODY67 Old Man with a Hat

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    On the issue of "bolts", it used to be that ALL existing bolts (head, rod cap, main cap, etc.) were re-used as a matter of course. NO failures, typically, for a looong time. The newer "torque-to-yield" bolts have a different ring when you drop them, so that is obvious. THOSE bolts are single-use-recommended/mandated. But those bolts usually didn't come into OEM until the 1990s and later.

    Many people use the ARP bolts on higher-horsepower engines. Kind of over-kill on a 2bbl motor, it misht seem? But no harm in using them, either.

    Clean the threads of the bolts and the cyl block, then lightly oil as mentioned. Ensure, too, that the part of the head casting that the bolt heads contact is smooth, too.

    I believe you can still get .020" steel shim head gaskets from Mopar Performance? On a normal drive-around car, the loss of compression might be very slightly noticeable, which might also allow the use of about 2.5 degrees TDC of base timing to compensate for it. Seems like there might be varying orientations on what to coat the steel shim gaskets with prior to installation?

    Not sure what "demons" you might be chasing with the head change, but at least you'll know what's there when you're done.

    Just some thougnts,
    CBODY67
     
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  11. volksworld

    volksworld Member

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    ok i'm late to the party here and havent read any other threads you may have posted about this car...but if you're doing this for an overheating problem get ahold of a head gasket checking kit...the one i use has a squeeze bulb on top and you fill it with a special fluid...with the engine running you put it on the radiator cap hole ...squeezing the bulb pulls in air from the radiator and bubbles it through the fluid ...if combustion gases are present in the cooling system the color of the fluid will change, and you know you have a problem (gasket or something cracked)
     
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  12. 68PK21 440.6bbl

    68PK21 440.6bbl Old Man with a Hat

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    Screw all this! My thought of all this work is why doesn't he just swap out the motor from the crashed car? Still have to keep it intact for the insurance purposes?
    If the crashed car engine was running fine, it's the same right? (BB) Easy peasy to swap it out, probably in less time than swapping heads. Just my thoughts.
     
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  13. Gerald Morris

    Gerald Morris Senior Member

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    I actually ordered ARP 145-3606 bolts yesterday. I'm not wasting time waiting on steel shim gaskets right now either. The FelPro head set is HERE, PAID FOR and WILL be used. My rationale for going ahead with the ARP bolts comes from a worst case scenario. I'm fairly sure the gasket leak is by the #6 cylinder, having seen that 1.) the ONLY spark plug showing any bad combustion when changing them several weeks ago was #6, and 2.) while idling, and looking for hot spots, the region just under #6 was about 230F, while the rest of the iron was between 190-201F. Not TOO hard to guess where the Problem lies.

    Note, that coolant heater/pump hooked into the port normally plugged w the 3/8" NPT plug. I saved that adapter, as oddities like those sometimes can be useful. While I dug around a bit with a flat screwdriver then, I certainly can run a nice strong fish wire into the water jacket there while working on the head gaskets. Between that, and having the head coolant ports from the block open for the first time in possibly 5 decades, I should be able to knock any obstruction down, then out. I HATE mucking with expansion plugs while the engine is still in the compartment, but I've done plenty of it, and the "freeze plug" ports under #4 and #6 are the easiest to access of any on the engine. I can pop one out, use the shop vac and air compressor, remove the crap, replace the plug with a nice brass one, and rest easy knowing that I've cleared that side of the block of cooling jacket debris. Those Rigid shop vacs can be HANDY!

    Yes, I heed the Wise Elder Moparians on this Forum almost always, and am honored with their confidence.
     
  14. Gerald Morris

    Gerald Morris Senior Member

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    THAT is Plan B. Mathilda's engine has serious need of a valve job, which is precisely WHY I have the head set and sundry other accoutrements already lined up. The TRANSMISSION is Mathilda's best part right now. Even with rusted, crumbling head gaskets, Gertrude's motor runs markedly better than Mathilda's, or did until the one gasket blew out the quantum chunk. Still, Plan B remains a valid possibility. I wouldn't trifle with head gaskets without a good backup. Still, wife and I both agreed that Gertrude's heads are in considerably better shape than Mathilda's. Tilly had a weak lifter when we bought her, but by careful selection of motor oil, we've been able to coax it to working, mostly....
     
  15. Gerald Morris

    Gerald Morris Senior Member

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    If all looks well enough, perhaps I can save the ARP bolts I ordered for the 400 project. If things look bad though, I'll HAVE nice, new, reputable bolts on hand. A "win-win" in a nasty situation. I don't like disturbing cylinder heads if it CAN be avoided. but the "Magic Sealant Gunk" failed me yesterday.

    I HAVE TO get this engine to thermodynamic stability! I don't like having to remove the heads either, but what seemed a small matter when I bought the car now has become a big one. The engine heats up VERY RAPIDLY, now, and the radiator has overpressurized about 3 times. NOT GOOD! I DARE NOT drive this engine more than 2 miles any longer, and really, not at all until I see what lies under the heads. I suspect there will be badly rusted remnants of 50 yr old steel gaskets there, and that one just crumbled away around cylinders #4 or 6. BUT, since I'm removing the even numbered head for sure, I might as well do the odd one also, to assure that both heads have new gaskets, even if they are the sucky FelPros I already bought. I hope to commence this job tomorrow at the latest, and, with God's help, the new bolts may arrive by the time I'll want them. I checked my stocks, and I think the only thing lacking are the 2 water pump housing to block gaskets, if FelPro didn't include those in the set. I've yet to open the box. That damned 3 yr old is a MENACE.....

    The Torture Never Stops.....
     
  16. Gerald Morris

    Gerald Morris Senior Member

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    I thank you for this thought, but by process of elimination am pretty sure it IS the head gasket on the even numbered side. I suspect the odd numbered head also has a very rusted, crumbling remnant of a steel gasket. We WILL SEE soon enough....
     
  17. Gerald Morris

    Gerald Morris Senior Member

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    It HAS BEEN throwing parts at the problem, for sure. Up until this point, the extenuating rationale has been that I've done nothing, added nothing, that I had not planned on already. I've got a compression gauge, but not the accoutrements for a leakdown test.

    I'm certainly glad I installed my gauges! Had I relied only on the "idiot light" to detect overheating, then I likely would have slagged this engine by now. I had hoped that better cooling for the motor would have sufficed, but it didn't make the SLIGHTEST difference. Does this suggest an internal issue? I think so. I don't see bubbles in the coolant at first, but once the damned thing gets to 210 F, THEN THEY COME SUDDENLY! of course, that's boiling point, but normally, these motors shouldn't even get there with a good cooling system.

    Its the head gasket Matt. I expect I'll see a break around cylinder's #4 & 6. It was #4 I think that showed some discoloration when I changed the plugs. Now I know why, well enough.

    If it all goes too bad, then we still have Plan B, though I pray we don't have to use that engine! IT needed the valve job, which is why I had the head set to start with.
     
  18. 413

    413 Senior Member

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    This

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    CAE8A6DF-79F1-4CAA-9EC5-D18B7821C4D8.jpeg
     
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  19. Toolmanmike

    Toolmanmike Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It's boiling at 210° with the cap off and 255° with the cap on. (if it's a 15# cap and no leaks)
     
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  20. Gerald Morris

    Gerald Morris Senior Member

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    Right. 255F IS where it boils when hot. Between there and 260 is where the ridiculous, but aptly dubbed IDIOT LIGHT comes on. WTF were they thinking with such? I like to KNOW any time my coolant gets over 210. Thanks to the Lord, I seldom have seen this motor get up to 255, but I prefer NEVER by a long mile! Damn thing actually runs NICE, when running cool, but this shit has ruined the honeymoon. God-willing, I can save it and make the thing serve.