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Thread: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

  1. #1

    Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    So here is the situation:

    TR3, mileage unknown
    When I started to work on it, bad overheating, replaced radiator, much better but still a little overheating
    A few hacks present under the hood when I got it has led me to believe less than skilled hands have been touching it in the past
    But over after carb overhaul, distro work, etc engine has been running good, 115 lbs plus on compression
    Carbs removed again and manifold removed to ease exhaust system work which is now mostly complete

    Today before replacing manifold decided to unstick block drain while still readily accessible (the dreaded "while I'm in there...")
    Result is valve was clear, block is not - fully plugged with hard crud, even after clearing with drift and drill only get coolant seepage
    My instinct is to pull the head and try to ream out the coolant passages in the block

    Questions:
    1. We are far enough down that only a few steps remain to pull the head. Any tips, like what to do if it's stuck? Do the head studs have to be pulled as well? What about the trick of turning over the engine with the plugs in or will that do damage?
    2. With the head off can I get to the passages enough to try to remove the garm?
    3. If I pull the head I suppose I should take it to my machinist. Any things he should do or not do? Should I replace the springs?

    Thanks, Dave
    Dave Stovall

    1957 TR-3 TS214XX
    1940 Buick Super Coupe 56S


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    Yoda Geo Hahn's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    If you have the manifold removed then you are halfway to having the head off. I have never had one get really really stuck and have always left the studs in place (except for 1 or 2 thru the years that came out of their own accord.

    I see no harm from turning the engine over after the head nuts are removed though I am not sure how much it will help. Some use the 'rope trick' for a somewhat stuck head. For this you feed some rope into a cylinder that is coming up on its compression stroke (say 2 or 3) and then bump the engine to cause the head to pop up a bit. I have done this with no problem but seem to recall someone here who broke one of the lands for a piston ring (possibly on a Spitfire) doing this stunt.

    Once the head is off... I have used a ShopVac with a long thin brass tube duck taped to the pickup and with the end of the tube cut an oblique angle. Sort of like liposuction for the block. With that tube I could probe around the cylinders and suck stuff out of the water jacket. The worst area was back around #4 where I think coolant circulation is less effective.

    Can't really say what work your head might need. I eventually got hardened valve seats installed and took that opportunity to replace valves & springs and have the head cleaned out and the surfaced skimmed. I did not remove the tubes for the pushrods.

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    Great Pumpkin TR3driver's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    The risk in turning the crank is that it might move a liner and break the seal at the bottom. I've never seen it happen, but the shopmanual warns about it and I usually follow the order to only turn the crank when the liners are firmly clamped in place.

    Never had a head put up much resistance either. You can pry gently at the front to break the gasket loose.

    Not much room around the liners to dig into the cooling jacket IMO. If you are going that far, you might want to consider pulling the liners too. With them out, there is plenty of room to work.

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    Jedi Warrior
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    Dave,
    My opinion is that you should NOT use the block drain as the total indicator of how plugged the passage ways in the block are. That drain hole sits fairly close to a liner. So there is not a lot of room for opening up a good drain passage. Even taking the head off does not give you much access to the water passages within the block. Only by removing the liners do you get good access. In my opinion that is part of a TOTAL engine rebuild. You need to decide just how far you are willing to proceed at this time.
    Charley

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    Jedi Trainee Merlin63Tr4's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    Dave,
    The block drain hole faces the No.4 liner, any hard immovable thing you encountered about an inch in is probably the liner itself....
    Try using a straightened wire coat hanger and probing around inside the drain hole specially slightly upward and toward the rear of the engine.

    M.
    Merlin the '63 Tr4.... it grows younger !

    "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." -- Douglas Noel Adams (1952-2001)

  6. #6

    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    Thanks to all! I certainly do not want to do a rebuild right now. I think I will go at it slow tomorrow and if I get stopped to just back off. It does run OK right now so will just do what I can. More news tomorrow.

    Cheers, Dave
    Dave Stovall

    1957 TR-3 TS214XX
    1940 Buick Super Coupe 56S


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    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?



    Removing the head still leaves little room to clean out the block. The sleeves really have to come out to do any good.
    Last edited by CJD; 07-27-2017 at 02:20 AM.
    John

    Most of a 1955 TR2

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    Jedi Knight
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    I always look for the easy way. Well not always, but isn't there some substance you can put into the cooling system to flush out the crap? Maybe some kind of strong solvent?

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    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    It sorta welds itself to the block. Even after my shop tanked the block in hot caustic solvent I spent 3 hours with chisels to chip the last of it out. That said, most of the cooling effectiveness is at the head, so unless the block passes no coolant at all you still maintain the majority of your cooling capacity.
    John

    Most of a 1955 TR2

  10. #10

    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    John et al,

    I hear you. But what I really want to see is if the head is clogged as well, like you said, that's where the action is. The plan is to get what I can without disturbing the sleeves, I figure anything will be an improvement.

    Having said that, has anyone tried powerwashing down those passages? I did that successfully with my 1940 straight 8, but no sleeves. But do I take a chance on messing up the figure 8 gaskets? Instinct tells me not to do it, just regular water pressure.

    Cheers, Dave
    Dave Stovall

    1957 TR-3 TS214XX
    1940 Buick Super Coupe 56S


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    Great Pumpkin TR3driver's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    As long as you keep the liners clamped while the head is off, the Fig 8 gaskets should be fine.

    But getting in there with a pressure washer is going to blow dirt and water all over the place. Gonna be tough to keep it out of the pushrod galleries.

  12. #12

    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    I see what you mean.

    OK, head is off. It came off kicking and screaming, but it's out now. Pics coming tomorrow.

    To keep the liners clamped, I was thinking using the block studs with pipe as a spacer and then large washers covering the ends of the sleeves?

    Cheers, Dave
    Dave Stovall

    1957 TR-3 TS214XX
    1940 Buick Super Coupe 56S


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    Great Pumpkin TR3driver's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    Should work fine. I normally drop a couple of big sockets over the stud.

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    Yoda Geo Hahn's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    Typical set-up using sockets:

    head1.JPG

    I put a couple of pieces of cereal box cardboard over the wells for the pushrods/cam. I am just the sort to drop something in there.

  15. #15

    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    Thanks all. I hadn't thought of my long sockets - just the thing! I'll put them on after the big rainstorm blows thru tomorrow - the vehicle is quite immobilized so I don't have to worry about the engine being touched in any way. Plus the old head gasket is still on, I will pry it off then. Looks like a copper one.

    So speaking of chemical warfare on the block, on our old American iron we generally go for a protocol, in extreme cases, of letting a solution of half CLR and half water stand in the block for a day or so, followed by a long rinse and then 2 or 3 days with straight EvapoRust. This loosens stuff up pretty good, then followed by the requisite scraping, chipping, power rinsing, etc. And even then you have to be careful with garbage getting into the radiator. But we also have removeable freeze plugs and that helps a lot. So any recommendations here besides the scraping/chipping? Will CLR or EvapoRust hurt the figure 8's?

    Cheers, Dave
    Dave Stovall

    1957 TR-3 TS214XX
    1940 Buick Super Coupe 56S


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    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    I'm cringing thinking about 2000psi water all over your engine internals. This is the sort of job I save for a rebuild. Trust me...you can get it sparkly clean and she'll still overheat during summer stop lights. Airflow to the radiator is always the better place to start on these cars.
    John

    Most of a 1955 TR2

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    Obi Wan
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    Dave you are probably going to do it anyway, but I thought I would mention to have your rocker shaft redone. That makes a big difference with noise on these engines. Plus having the head redone will give the motor new life, and see if you have 5/16 or 3/8 push rods. I second what John’s thoughts are about the pressure and would add the stock fan on these motors does not do a very good job of cooling. I would leave the sleeves in unless you are going to do a mayor rebuild and then just get new stuff. I guess if you took the water pump off, you would be able to get in there a little better to clean and drain, but again the apron is kinda in the way. Anyways at some point, it is put it back together and enjoy it, or pull it all apart.
    steve

  18. #18

    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    So here are the pics. It can be seen that the solidified crud in the head behind #4 comes up to about 3/4" below the block surface. Lots of work ahead. The head doesn't look too bad, but my thought is new springs, maybe new valves? Should I have my machinist harden the seats, if not done already? Also, something about not hot tanking the head due to aluminum pushrod guides? I will check tomorrow on pushrod diam and valve stem diam, hopefully get parts ordered tmw.
    20170731_174320.jpg20170731_174325.jpg20170731_174332.jpg20170731_174338.jpg20170727_191528.jpg20170727_191533.jpg20170731_165024.jpg
    Dave Stovall

    1957 TR-3 TS214XX
    1940 Buick Super Coupe 56S


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    Great Pumpkin TR3driver's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    I'd take at least a few valves out, at least one intake and one exhaust (probably #4 since it tends to run hottest) and have a look at the faces. It's hard to tell anything just looking at the top of the head (unless it's really badly burned, which yours don't seem to be). Also hold the valve with the head just 1/4" or so off the seat and try to move the head sideways. Any significant movement indicates the guide and/or stem is worn.

    If all seems fine, put it back together. Your valve springs have been working, so I'd leave them alone rather than risk getting new ones that aren't as good.

    But more likely, you'll find the exhaust seats at least somewhat burned, in which case I'd replace them. Valves can be refaced several times, but eventually need replacement. And if you're going to change them anyway, I suggest considering the later valves with 5/16 stems (plus the conversion guides of course). In my limited experience, they last longer and flow better.
    Randall
    56 TR3 TS13571L daily driver
    71 Stag LE1473L waiting engine rebuild
    71 Stag LE2013LBW waiting gearbox rebuild

  20. #20
    Senior Member jfarris's Avatar
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    Re: Block coolant passages plugged - pull the head?

    Dave,
    Looks like you have most of your job figured out. I undertook a similar journey earlier this year for a different reason - leakdown from the rings in #2 and bad valves across the head. I knew up front I would remove the pistons and might be removing the liners. If you have to remove the #4 liner get ready for about a half cup of small rock and sand-like material to drop on the #4 rod journal of the crankshaft. Don't pull those liners unless you have to. I would try to find a flexible, stiff, round metal brush that would fit down by the liners and rig a tube to you shop vac that can get into small places to clean out the debris.
    I knew my head was a problem up front. The valves were so worn that the edge around the face was like a knife blade versus the 1/8" slanted edge that is usually there. With that knowledge, I opted for seats, valves, springs, and retainers. I sent the rocker shaft to Rocker Arms Unlimited in Redding CA. Plan on them taking a couple of months as they won't have a TR3 shaft in stock and will rechrome yours.
    I ended up with new 87mm liners, pistons, and rings and a rebuilt head. The rods and bearings were well within spec.
    My car runs better than it ever has - good luck with your clean out!
    Jim Farris
    56 TR3 - Winchester Blue
    13 Mini Cooper S Bayswater Edition - Blue

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