Friday, April 3, 2009

Engine Teardown Summary

Engine Teardown

I have had a few questions on exactly what I had to do to replace the head gasket and a few other things and also what else I have to do, so I have posted all of the stages of teardown and rebuild to get the car running. Because of the very compact nature of the car it can be very confusing. I use a repair manual that is based of a complete teardown and rebuild, and has a section for about every part of the car. If you can’t figure something out, one of these repair manuals will definitely help you with any automotive project you will have. The Hayne’s company has a manual for mostly all cars and are available at most auto parts stores or online at

The first step we took to getting to the block so we could replace the head gasket was to disconnect the battery, because I would rather die of something more adventurous than electrocution. Second, we drained all of the oil and water (right). When we drained the oil, a very sickening tan, milky color of liquid came out at first, then it turned to a darker brown. This was a result as I have mentioned before, of the water in the place of coolant mixing when the head gasket blew. We were very concerned about this, because rust could develop in the block and cause the engine to deteriorate more rapidly than it should, because the friction of all of the moving parts.
The next step was to remove the coolant reservoir, intake manifold, exhaust manifold, power steering pump, and anything else that would be in the way of getting the camshaft housings, timing chain housings, and the head.

Third, we had to take all of the passenger side engine mount material out because all of this is in the way of getting the timing chain and cover off because it is attached to the camshaft housing that is on top of the head. Confused yet? We had to jack to engine up on the oil and tranny pan (not recommended) so we could get the mount out.

After we got the mount out, I attacked the timing chain cover. After I got the cover off I took all of the timing chain tension guides and out along the chain itself. Then I had to take off the cam sprockets and then the entire inner chain housing.

Then the cam housings were exposed. I unbolted them and then the head was ready to be removed. After the head was removed, I spent 3 straight days cleaning the old head gasket and a very hard carbon material off of the block, using a chemical gasket remover and a razor blade.

Since we couldn’t find an exact spot where the gasket blew out, we thought that the head might have a crack, so we took the head to Advanced Engine and Machine in Salina. They Magnafluxed my (engine) head. It was not cracked, but the gasket surfaces were not in the best condition, so they milled it and cleaned it for $101.

Next I bought a gasket set from O’Reilly with all of the necessary gaskets to rebuild the engine, along with a new timing chain, head bolts, and water pump, costing around $450. We also ended up buying new timing chain guide that we discovered was broken. I got the engine put together in about 2 weeks over Christmas break.

When we started the engine, it ran well (we think) at low rpm, but after about 2500 rpm it had a very bad banging/knocking sound. At first we thought it was the lifters being deprived of oil from teardown, but it never went away, and the oil pressure light came on in the dash, which led us to believe that it was the oil pump. The oil pump in this car has a bypass valve, so if the main part gets clogged, it will still circulate oil as best it can through a minimal part of the engine.

Recently I took the Exhaust manifold off to fix a minor coolant leak at the thermostat housing. I also dropped the oil pan to have a look at the oil pump and get it pulled out.

When I got the pan off, I found some steel metal shavings in the bottom of the pan as well as a lot of sludgy, dirty oil. The oil that was in there was only in the car for a few hours, and it was pitch black. The metal shavings indicate that something was deprived of oil and was rubbing on something else, and it had to be in the block or crank or balance shaft, because the head is aluminum, not iron.

This is where I currently am with the car. Check back for more updates.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I was planning to race at Minneapolis Raceway in the upcoming 2009 season in the IMCA Sport Compact/Mosquito class.

The car is a 1997 Pontiac Grand Am. I bought it from Montee Benien, who also races at Minneapolis Raceway. I bought it with the seat and belts for $600. The reason it was so cheap was the engine had a blown head gasket. Since then, I have rebuild the engine with a few hundred dollars.

About the middle of February, my dad and I got it put all the way back together, and started it, but there was a very loud knocking sound at about 3000 rpm. We think it is a sticking valve.

We are currently in the diagnosis stage, and the suspect right now is the oil pump. When a head gasket blows, the oil and coolant mix. Most racers run straight water in the cars, so I had watery oil setting in my pump for a few months. It probably will just need to be cleaned out, but you never know if that will solve all of the problems.

I am looking for sponsors and am always open to donations.

2009 schedule and other links are at the bottom of the page.
Check back regularly for updates.

Toll Racing

New Site

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