I had sworn the car off for that Saturday. When Sunday came I had second thoughts. Maybe I’ll just go take a look and see what happened. I’ll just clean the garage a bit and putter. Next thing I knew I had the whole top end of the engine off.
It was immediately apparent what had happened. I had lifted the left head multiple times, letting the combustion get out past the fire ring of the Fel-Pro standard head gasket. It had finally burned away enough of the gasket to begin a steady drip even when not running. Here are the lessons learned:
- Buy an MLS gasket you cheap tightwad. If a thousand GM engineers recommend this gasket for their supercharged LSA engines, then it’s a sure bet it’s good enough for my application. Yes, a single head gasket cost more than the pair of conventional head gaskets I put on the engine, but if it prevents me from having to tear the engine apart again let’s pony up.
- If you are going to use Chinese head studs, don’t be a pussy. I was torn on the Chinese head studs. The last thing I wanted was to break one off flush with the block and trash the whole thing. The manufacturer recommended 60ftlb of torque, and that’s what I did. I had read mixed reviews on the ol’ interwebs where some people had them snap at 50ftlb and others cranked them to 100ftlb with no apparent issues. Not wanting any trouble, I took them to 60ftlb as the manufacturer recommended. Of course the manufacturer isn’t using them on a turbo’d turd, are they? Nope. I should have sucked it up and cranked them to at least 80lbft. It was too late now. I bought ARP studs as a replacement (at three times the cost), cranked them to 90lbft and have been beating on the engine ever since with no apparent harm.
For those who think this is the only time I’ve thrown good money after bad, think again. Worse yet, for those who think I’ve learned my lesson I say to you “Pshaw, the next cheapo parts I get are going to be great.”
There is a closeup of the shaft rockers in the pictures and you can see the dreaded “chocolate milkshake” of coolant mixed with oil had started to form already. I drained the oil right away. After I reassembled I put in cheap mineral oil from Walmart and ran the motor for 30 minutes or so, then dumped in some kind of oil cleaner treatment I picked up and ran for another five minutes. Then I drained the oil, replaced the filter, and put in my usual fill, Mobil1.