Removed a spark plug and shined a flashlight and "uh-oh"

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2016: Removed a spark plug and shined a flashlight and "uh-oh"
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie Dill on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 05:49 pm:

Chasing down starting issues on my T. Basically doing a variety of things alongside the "pulling a T out of mothballs" guideline.

I pulled all 4 plugs. #1 & #4 were grimy, greasy, dirty. #2 & #3 looked clean and dry.

Looking down into the cylinder head on #1, I saw something that I think is a bad sign. Besides the sludgy residue, there was a small pile of green gel. This green gel is too similar in appearance to what I saw inside the radiator which had been sitting for a long time.

Does this mean I'm getting coolant in the combustion chamber? What do I do next? Head gasket? Block?

I also gave the crank a couple turns expecting to see a piston head move up and down (looking through hole where spark plug goes. Definitely nothing moving. My rudimentary understanding of piston engines makes me wonder just how far away the piston is from the spark?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Michael Saggese on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 06:07 pm:

It's really not difficult or expensive to remove the head, you will need a new head gasket, some copper head gasket spray, and a new bolt set isn't a bad idea. I would remove it just to see the condition, give it a good clean, inspect valve condition, etc.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie Dill on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 06:17 pm:

I have a "Z" head. Does it require a special head gasket? There are also choices - steel clad, copper, silicone?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Noonan - Norton, MA. on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 06:43 pm:

Charlie, i would use a copper gasket and a few light coats of some copper spray. I'm pretty sure they recommend against using the silicone gasket with a Z head.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie Dill on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 07:06 pm:

Great advice. I'm trying to be methodical. I discovered the coolant inside the block after taking a spark plug out to see if I had spark. I have a strong suspicion that my non-starting T is due to lack of spark.

Others on the forum have needed to remind me to stay focused on one thing at a time. Therefore, is it safe to work on electrical and get her started before then going back to do the head gasket replacement. Or can I do more damage?

I am probably going to "vinegar" the radiator / cooling before going any further. Oil Change - probable. If not then I'll do the oil change quickly after getting it started.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Donnie Brown North Central Arkansas on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 07:52 pm:

Charlie, I would change directions and get the head gasket leak took care of first. If it is a bad leak, you will have problems getting it started and it will not run well. You also stand a chance of getting water and antifreeze in the oil. I suggest a copper head gasket and copper spray as the others suggested, in my personal opinion I think the silicone gaskets are overpriced, not needed, and usually fail when I have used them. . Right now is a good time to pull the head and the radiator. Then you can do a good cleaning of the block and head as well as flush the radiator out on the bench. To do a good cleaning of the block and the head you can take a piece of speedometer cable about 2 foot long and "fray" out one end to have it look like a little brush. Then stick the other end in a variable speed drill. Then stick the "frayed" end into the block and head water passages and give it a good cleaning by shoving the spinning cable into every corner you can reach while spinning it with the drill. You will be suprised at the amount of trash that comes out. You probably know better, but do not use the drill and cable in the radiator :-) :-). Or you will need a new radiator :-( :-(. While the head is off, chase the head bolt holes with a 7/16 NC bottom tap. and blow all the holes out with compressed air. You sometimes need to use a pick of some kind to make sure the bottom of the holes are clear. If you do not clean the threads and the holes the head bolts can bottom out before tightening. Since you have antifreeze in the cylinder. You should also change the oil before you run it. Antifreeze in the oil is not a good thing. Also inspect the head and block closely for cracks or signs of something that may have caused the old head gasket to fail. Unless you see something really bad when looking at the valves and cylinders, I would just "put her back together" and "get her running". It would be nice to have everything new, but you can have a decent running car with some worn parts. After you "get her going" and have a little fun with her. You can address any worn parts then. have fun and be safe..... Donnie Brown ....


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jack Putnam, Bluffton, Ohio on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 08:19 pm:

In addition to what Donnie says I would check the head to see if it is flat and not warped (as most are). Use any machined straight edge and place it on edge on the underside of the head and look for gaps.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie Dill on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 11:59 pm:

Donnie & Jack - thank you for the thorough and specific recommendations. I'm going that route. Actually looking forward to the project. I've got to do some logistics planning. My car is about a mile away in a friend's garage. Beautiful, big, open garage - with NO WATER / NO DRAIN.

I'll pull the radiator and bring it home. My compressor is portable. Most of the posts related to cleaning out the water passages in the block have involved a hose. If I read your recommendations correctly, it sounds as if I can get away with a "drier" method. I hope so.

If the head is warped? New head?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie Dill on Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 12:01 am:

Forgot to ask. It's been recommended I get new head bolts. The various parts houses have both standard and nickel plated. Nickel is more expensive. Is it better? Also, I've read that I should definitely get washers for the bolts if the head is aluminum which I believe the Z head is.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 09:14 am:

Tell you what I'd do first. I'd get a torque wrench and set those head bolts correctly. You don't know what you have as far as what "the last guy" did because pulling the head willy-nilly seems to be the national pastime in the T world. They could be loose/uneven. Then I'd do a compression test to show the condition of the valves & rings. If that was OK I'd get it running. Just pulling the head proves very little about what's going on inside. In fact unless you find a scraped up cylinder or 2 piece valves or a burned out section of head gasket it shows nothing.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Donnie Brown North Central Arkansas on Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 09:19 am:

Charlie, Nickel plated are correct for 26-27 Improved Models. Plain bolts are for everything else. The nickel plated bolts will work on 25 and earlier, they just have the "wrong appearance". So its a personal choice type of thing. If you have an aluminum head, you should use the washers. I like to us a thin hardened washer so as to keep the amount of thread loss due to the washer thickness to a minimum. The head bolt threads in the block are subject to stripping out even without loss of "thread engagement". If your head is warped, you can have it milled flat. If it is cracked, then a new one will be needed. Original good cast iron "high heads" are common and fairly reasonable. Good low heads and new Z-heads are not so reasonable but are available ....


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Richard A Eddinger Sacrament Ca on Friday, September 30, 2016 - 10:02 am:

Another problem with water in the cylinder is that if you turn the engine over with water you will find out that water does not compress and you will probably bend a rod or break a crank.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By JohnCodman on Friday, September 30, 2016 - 10:32 am:

Charlie, Your first post raised a big red flag with me unless I'm missing something. You said that you "gave the crank a couple of turns expecting to see the piston head move up and down ... definitely nothing moving." If the crank actually engaged the crankshaft and there is nothing moving, you have a busticated crankshaft or at least a broken or disconnected connecting rod. I'd pull all four spark plugs and try cranking it again to see if any of the pistons are moving.


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