View Full Version : Rope Trick

09-09-2001, 12:52 AM
Ever wish there was an easier way to get a stuck head loose? Read on....

A couple of months ago, my oldest son was driving the Spitfire when it suddenly quit running. Not sure what the problem was, I resolved to pull the engine and give it a good going over. Besides, I know it needed a new rear seal anyway, so I figured I'd accomplish that too. Anyway, after getting the engine out and mounted on a proper engine stand, I was attempting to get the head off and, of course it was stuck solid. Not wanting to risk damage to the surface by trying to pry it off, I remembered a trick I had heard about once but had never tried. After thinking about it for a while, I decided it was just logical enough to work and, if it didn't, it didn't seem it would hurt anything to try. The trick goes like this: First, with the head ready to remove (all the stud nuts off), remove all of the spark plugs. Next, determine which pistons move in tandem (i.e., go up and down together). In my case (Spitfire 1500), the front and rear pistons and the two center pistons move together. So, I used the front and rear. Crank the engine from the front harmonic balancer/pulley bolt until the front and rear pistons are both as far down in the bore as possible. Next, get a few feet of small diameter rope (small enough to fit in the spark plug hole) and feed it into both of the spark plug holes for the front and rear. Feed as much as you can into each hole (but keep some hanging out of the holes so you can pull it out if need be). Then, turn the crank again. This time, the rope will compress in the cylinders and should break the head loose. I can't guarantee it will work for you, but it worked great when I tried it! Just thought I'd share this in case some others here are faced with a stuck head.


[This message has been edited by Basil (edited 09-08-2001).]

03-16-2007, 03:35 PM
Hi Basil,
Nice reminder of this old tyme mechanic trick.

Here is a link to my article detailing how to use the "rope trick" that I wrote many years ago mainly for Stags.

It is on team.net Triumph page:

Like you indicate, resist all temptation to use prybars, wedges and hammers. /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/hammer.gif


03-17-2007, 08:13 PM
Another neat trick I read is to remove the rocker gear (thus all the valves go up & close), disconnect the plugs/coil, then turn the engine over. The compression in the cylinders bumps the head up.