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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been doing some work for a chap last weekend and again this weekend. The headgasket went on his Ruby and he does not live too far away so I've been helping him change it.

The oil was full of water. Was easy to see to what was going on.

We took the head off last week, got it skimmed and refitted it over the last couple of days.

Now we've got the head back on and started the car. The problem is still there. Clean oil has gone milky and we have lots of white smoke from the exhaust. The engine also stopped running after about 5 minutes and we've not been able to get it started.

Things which I thought were strange are as follows:

1. When the head was skimmed the guy left some pitting in the surface of the head. He seemed to think this was ok but I couldn't say either way. I don't think it's causing the problems we have now.

2. One of the head bolts seemed like it was turning too eaisly. I hit the stop on the torque wrench so it was at least as tight as stage-2 torque setting. It was just much looser than all of the others and easy to turn with the breaker bar.

3. Cylinders seem to be dry. The plugs were dry when we took them out and when the engine was cranked without the plugs no water came through the plug-holes.


Does anyone know what all of these things mean? I'm wondering if the block is cracked? The guy at the engineering shop should've checked to see if the head was warped and he should've pressure tested it as well - but I need to check if he did those things.... although getting the truth out of him at this stage might be difficult... he might be unhelpful if we speak to him after experiencing these issues.

Help please..!
 

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If the exhaust system is full of coolant, it can blow white smoke for a long time. If the plugs all look OK, it's unlikely that the gasket is leaking. Did it run on all 4 when it was running? Minor pitting on the head's gasket surface is unimportant.
Could there have been water left in the crankcase causing the milky effect?
A head bolt that feels like it won't tighten is probably damaged. It's usually quite obvious that it's not tightening; replace that bolt.
 

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Are you sure you got all the water out of the crank case? Things like oil coolers and internal passages hold a lot of fluid. I would guess there could be as much as a quart left after the drain plug and filter have been removed. I doubt the block is cracked. The deck of the block may be warped. You did check it, didn't you? The head could well be cracked or warped.

Did you follow the torque to yield procedure on the head bolts? I would not do anything until all the bolts are holding the proper torque. If it does need to come appart again, I would check the head first, I think that is where the problem would be.
 

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Perhaps if your friend has a water/oil cooled turbo, the center bearing housing is cracked and thus "mixing" oil and water? Doubtful but maybe.

pierre
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The turbo seemed pretty solid. No movement in the shaft at all. Very solid!

In reply to Jim's post... I think you ask some good questions and your posts are sensible and helpful...!

Yes it ran on all four cylinders. It seemed to run quite well aside from some tappet noise which you would expect after the head and block were drained. If it was the exhaust system full of coolant I would not have thought the situation would've slowly gotten worse to the point where the car wouldn't start like it did. That seems unusual! Initially it seemed ok but after looking around the back there seemed to be far too much smoke and after 10 minutes of running the engine stopped firing completely and we couldn't get it restarted - despite the application of many tricks - it just would not fire! It seems like it's lost compression from the noise it's making (or not - depending on how you look at it)
 

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Compression test it first and see what you get. It should still run even if the gasket is gone or you only have 3 cyls worth of compression (I drove my 99 atleast 60 miles with a broken valve). Could be unrelated and due to dissasembly or its layup.

Was the headgasket you took off obviously gone somewhere?

Did it run for long with the old dud gasket. It can take a while to get all the nasty milky oil out of the system. When i did the gasket on my 99T the first time I put in crappy £3.95 oil in. Ran it to temp and did a short drive and then dropped the oil again and put in some decent stuff to get rid off all the contaminated stuff which i guess had been hiding in the oil cooler and various other plac.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
we were going to change the oil straight away but the fact that we can't get it started and the very loose head-bolt are really eating-away at me and Paul! Seems very unusual. We've not done a compression test yet. We did try for quite some time to get the thing restarted. Lots of cranking with the fuel-pump and igntition system disabled and plugs removed, ect, ect.... no joy. Once it decided it wouldn't start then that was it... we got nowhere.

When we took the head off number four cylinder was obviously steam-cleaned. Very clean compared to the other 3 pistons. Paul says he only started the car with a borken head-gasket. He knew straight-away that there was a problem.

So does anyone think we have a broken gasket or a warped head... all things considered?
 

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It would still start (or try to start) if you had compression. Do a compression test, get ALL bolts correctly torqued and go from there. No compression? take the head off and the problem should be looking up at you.
 

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good advice above

It does take a long time to get the engine running clean no smoke after water gets into the oil.Even with a filter and oil change. BUT the comments on the head stud are worring. It must be right, or it is WRONG and needs fixing.
 

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re the stud problem?, normally the bolt will snap before you rip the thread out of the block(previous head change/ owner?? (not known), but if you take the bolt out oand is had it, were they new stretch bolts?, if not that could be some of the problem.
but if the thread has gone you will have to get it helicoiled, as 1 bolt not doing it's job, is just asking for problems.
I have a head change going on with the wife's, and i am going to use some cheap oil for a run through before putting the good stuff in(and changing filter both times)as there is always going to be some oil in the system that does'nt come out in standard oil drain/change, e.g as stated the oil cooler, and when i took the rockker cover off, in the edge of the head where the oil stays, is was just a coffee coloured mess of oil and water, so i dont expect to clean it out in 1 change, but should get rid of most, so the new oil change has hardly any contaminant in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
yes the bolts were new.

However... I agree the fact that one of the bolts does not seem to be tightening as much as the others could be the cause of this problem. The bolt is fairly tight as it reached stage-2 of the tightening sequence without any problem. It just seems loose when putting on the last 90-degree turn with the breaker-bar.

We're going to do a compression test to see if we've got even compression across all cylinders. I'd really like to get the car started again and I'm still a bit confused as to why it stopped running and won't restart.

If none of the easy stuff works then I'm tempted to try a different cylinderhead. I've got a few spares in the garage and we could try one of the other heads just to see if there's any difference.
 

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ejenner said:
It seems like it's lost compression from the noise it's making (or not - depending on how you look at it)
A broken/damaged timing chain will do that...and more.
 

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sorry to put a negative in,emmett, Don't use the old?/new gasket, get another one, i know they cost, but if you are especially are going to use another head, use a new head gasket everytime as it will have compressed in some places where the other head might not so much, and you have an inbuilt problem from the start and have to do it again, and you will not be sure what the actual problem is knackered 1st head gasket or twisted relacement head.:confused: if it arises. got the T shirt etc on a different car, many years ago.
 

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I would suspect the bolt that doesn't seem right. I had a similar bolt on an old Triumph straight 6 engine and I had to change the head gasket way too often for my taste, fortunately it was a realtively simple job on a non injected OHV with few vaccum lines etc. I would not want to do a SAAB head unnecessarily. Anyway if the bolt is not at the right torque - and it doesn't sound like it is - then you have a weak point that will almost inevitably lead to premature/immediate failure of the HG
 

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ron, my 2x change was on a vauxhall vx 490 1600 twin carb, but i also had 5 triumph 2000, as worked there, and it was an easy change, 2 hr max off and back on, smooth straight 6 with overdrive.
 

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My Triumph changes were on the 2000 unit as installed in a GT6. An easy job like you say but I couldn't quite manage 2 hours but cerainly doable in an afternoon.
 

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ejenner said:
3. Cylinders seem to be dry. The plugs were dry when we took them out and when the engine was cranked without the plugs no water came through the plug-holes.
That argues against the bad head bolt theory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Right - Paul has found this article on SaabCentral: http://www.saabcentral.com/techhelp/c900/mike_gasket.php

It mentions that the cylinder-head should cover some of the water channels on the top of the block and that in the example given the guy had to flatten-out some pitting on the cylinder-head. His head was pitted in the areas where it should cover the coolant bores. He filled in the holes with chemical metal and then filed the surface of the head so the surface flattened-out.

Paul and I knoticed the head was returned from the machine-shop with pitting on the gasket surface. This was after it had been skimmed. The old-boy at the machine-shop told Paul it would be ok to use the head with the pitting in the surface. So on his advice relayed through Paul we fitted the cylinder-head despite being a bit concerned about the pitting on the surface.

Does anyone else think the pitting could be causing our problem? If not by itself then maybe as part of a combination of several issues?
 

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When I changed the hg on my car recently, I saw fairly major pitting in just one of the areas that you describe - a cooling port that is blanked off by the gasket. It had me fairly worried, but I had no chemical metal, and already having had the car off the road 2 weeks, decided to chance it. While I'm still a bit dubious about the condition of the head in general, the car is driving fine. I then looked at the pictures I had taken when the engine was partially rebuilt 18 months ago, and the pitting was there, except I wasn't looking for it then :eek: . But the car did 20,000 miles with that pitting, so I really don't think it made any odds.
Heres the picture - look to the left of the leftmost cylinder ( #4 )



I think you should get a compression tester asap - I saw a gunson one in halfords today for 30 euro - about 20 of your pounds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I wonder if the pitting in your head is not as bad as the pitting in Paul's head? Hard to say without having them both side-by-side. The pitting on Paul's head was at oppsite ends of the head. i.e. front and back of the engine, near cylinder 1 and some more near cylinder 4.
 
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