Auto/Car Engine Replacement-Short Block or Long Block-Automobile Head Gasket Job or Complete Engine Block-Houston,Tx

Installing Confidence – Engine Installation Issues

By Brian Manley

In doing my research for this article, I began by listing all of the parts and procedures that I could think of that are used when performing an engine replacement. Then, I interviewed some local independent technicians who perform engine swaps occasionally. And lastly I spent time in a local machine shop that performs the entire operation from pulling the engine, through all of the machine work and reassembly, and finally installing and testing. When I finished my research, I was surprised at the importance of a few items that I had left off of my initial list!One way to perform an engine swap, while minimizing comebacks and providing the greatest service to your customer, is to use the following sequence:

  1. Properly evaluate the job.
  2. Using a checklist, record and attempt to verify the condition of all related parts.
  3. Using multiple information systems, locate all pertinent technical service bulletins.
  4. Remove the engine assembly.
  5. Disassemble the engine, while continuing to record necessary “extras.”
  6. Call the customer with the final estimate. Discuss the service bulletin updates and the root causes for the engine failure.
  7. Rebuild or purchase an engine (short or long block).
  8. Install the cylinder heads and “tin” the engine.
  9. Install the engine into the vehicle.
  10. Set-up, test-drive and re-check your job.

Evaluate The Job
While interviewing Don McDonald of Havana Machine in Aurora, CO, I was surprised at the thoroughness of their shop’s vehicle inspection sheet. Many items were no-brainers: tune-up parts, drive belts, clutch components, vacuum hoses and radiator hoses. But, have you ever considered the following during an engine replacement?• Molded hoses – Many of the smaller coolant hoses are overlooked.• Oil coolers – If the engine had metal moving through its oiling system due to bearing failure, consider replacing the oil cooler instead of simply flushing it out.• Belt tensioners and idler pulleys – Are the pulleys grooved or are the bearings worn out?• Fan shroud/Fan clutch – Is the full volume of air being pulled through the radiator?• Fan motor/Fan switch – The switch can be sold as easily as a new thermostat, but how hard do you push for a new cooling fan motor?

• Battery/AC generator/ Starter/Cables – What an opportunity to sell a complete starting and charging system diagnosis!

• Distributor – Are the bushings worn out? Is the AC pickup assembly or Hall effect sensor original?• Carburetor – There are still many of these on the road. Are the shaft bushings worn out, or does the carburetor need to be rebuilt? Does the base plate gasket include an EFE grid that has burned open?• Injectors – Are they original and do they require new seals?• Input sensors to the PCM, such as oxygen and coolant temperature – Do they need to be replaced?• Air conditioning system – Is it full? Does the compressor turn? Is there a major leak that could be repaired while the engine is out?• Air injection components – Are the pump, injection manifold and check valves intact?• CV axles/Drive shaft/U-joints – Visibly torn boots should be an easy sell.• Cruise control system – Did you activate it during the test drive?Don added that every engine job has its radiator sent to the radiator shop for evaluation. Many are found to be plugged or leaking. Also, every fuel-injected engine has the set of injectors flow-tested in-house by their driveability technician, and the customer is urged to replace them as a set if more than one fails the flow test.Technical Service Bulletins – Three Samples
I’m sure that you can think of a half-dozen TSBs that would be visited during an engine swap, but can you remember them all? It’s wise to search in as many databases as possible for any applicable TSBs, especially safety bulletins.
One example comes from the Engine Rebuilder’s Association (AERA) concerning oil coolers that are part of the radiator assembly on 1985-’97 4.3L GM engines. It stresses that whenever an engine has failed and subsequent bearing damage has resulted, it is recommended to replace or rebuild the oil cooler assembly. Small bearing particles and crankshaft material cannot be entirely removed from the cooler by simply flushing fluid through it. In some cases, if an engine cooler was reused after only flushing, multiple engine failures persisted until the cooler was replaced at the time of engine installation.Another bulletin from the AERA technical committee offers the following advice regarding the 1985-’96 Ford 1.9L “J” engines. Repeat piston failures have been reported shortly after a remanufactured engine was installed due to debris left inside the intake or exhaust manifold. Metallic debris was not completely eliminated during intake manifold cleaning.The intake manifold on this engine is a tuned port runner design, with a plenum located below the runners. If a piston shatters, some pieces can end up in the intake plenum or exhaust manifold. This manifold can only be thoroughly cleaned out of the car using a liquid cleaner and by rotating the part. A third AERA bulletin reminds engine builders that when installing the crankshaft damper for 1997-2002 GM 5.7L engines, you must use a new crankshaft damper bolt. This bolt includes a special pre-applied sealer that does not allow reuse. These engines also do not have a mark on either the crankshaft damper or the front cover to indicate the correct position for reassembly. The crankshaft does not have a keyway for the damper. Marking the cover and damper for reassembly may prevent possible vibration complaints after the engine is started up, as the damper may have been balanced at the factory.Remove and Disassemble The Engine
You and I probably have a few issues that Havana Machine doesn’t have to deal with. When they take an engine out of the vehicle, that very engine is machined, rebuilt and reinstalled. They don’t experience rebuilt engines that don’t have bolt holes drilled for the motor mount, or a crankshaft that won’t accept the inner diameter of your flex-plate. When you are buying a crate engine, make certain you compare every detail before dressing the new engine.
Regardless, careful attention must be paid to additional items as the engine is being disassembled. First and foremost is: Why did the engine fail? If the engine failed due to overheating, then a root cause must be found for high-running temperatures. Did the bearings fail due to lack of lubrication or was there lack of proper maintenance? If the crankshaft is broken, did the vibration damper fail or is it coming apart?That last example was a point of discussion at Havana Machine, as a new and old damper were sitting together on a technician’s bench. The tech had not noticed that the balancer had “walked” about a quarter-inch off its hub, making it scrape the timing cover upon reinstallation.An often-overlooked time waster is lurking in each stud or bolt that has either arrived in your stall in a snapped-off state, or twisted in two when you simply wanted to remove a manifold. The process of removing a broken-off bolt is a skill that must be charged for – especially when doing so saves a critical piece of expensive casting. Also, pay attention to sub-standard grades of nuts and bolts that have latched onto the engine over the years, and add these to the parts order. Building The Long Block
OK, up until this point we’ve been rippin’ and tearin’ an engine apart and writin’ stuff down on a check sheet. Now we’ve got to be certain that we’re focused on the job at hand, ‘cause it’s painful when you have to tear an engine due to head gaskets living on the wrong side of the block. Not only do we have to worry about the normal rebuilding of the engine, we have to be certain that there are no service bulletins that pertain to the long block itself.
One example is the lower intake manifolds on Ford engines that do not fit correctly after machining. To reduce the likelihood of coolant contamination of engine oil, a revised, thicker intake gasket is now available for the 3.8L and 4.2L car and truck engines.Once the cylinder heads and manifolds are torqued down, then it’s time to “tin” the engine. When installing the oil pan, timing cover, valve covers and any other component that seals fluids or pressures, you must make the right choice of gasket or sealer right now. Surfaces must be clean, dry and flat. Beware of surface conditioning discs that can grind away metal, leaving a gouge in a casting. When choosing a gasket material, many techs use the gaskets that come in the engine overhaul kit. Others prefer to “upgrade” certain gaskets to other materials, or substitute RTV in place of a solid gasket. Experience usually dictates which material will stand the test of time.All bolts that thread into the block must be capable of applying the correct torque to its mating piece. If a bolt is threading into a blind hole, make certain that the threads are clean, and put a drop of oil on the treads and under the bolt head. If the bolt opens into a coolant passage, as some manifold, cylinder head or water pump bolts do, then you must apply a liquid sealant to the threads before installing. Failure to do this will allow coolant to wick up the threads and leak past.Sean Kuchera, manager at Havana Machine, relayed a great tip for engine oil pumps. After experiencing an oil pump screen that backed out of its pump, they now tack-weld the pump screen to the oil pumps before bolting the pans on, to assure that it will never move.Toss It Back In
Now that the engine is painted, dressed and run on the engine test stand (if you have one), then you’re ready to toss that puppy back in place. Mounts, hoses, bell-housing bolts, brackets and pumps are all reattached. Are you like me and let the air ratchet dead head to properly torque these fasteners? Well, I do still torque critical ones, and I use blue Loctite on pulley bolts or other threads that I want to ensure stay locked.
If the engine cradle was removed to get the engine out, then cradle alignment may be an issue. Many have positive pins that ensure almost exact replacement of the cradle, but some do not. Alignment should be checked after a cradle has been removed. Gentlemen (and Ladies) … Start Your Engines!
Once an engine is installed at Havana Machine, a comprehensive Pre-Delivery Inspection is performed. All fluids are filled and burped, clutch or transmissions kick-down cables are adjusted, and a five-gas exhaust analysis is performed.In our emissions test area, it is critical to be thorough when servicing the engine performance system. When the injectors are tested and cleaned or replaced, and the computer input sensors are checked or replaced, this goes a long way toward ensuring that the vehicle will have a fighting chance of passing our enhanced emissions test. Even if you don’t have mandatory emissions testing in your area, what kind of engine performance improvement will your customer realize when you pay close attention to those critical Powertrain Control Module inputs?Heck, let’s take it a step further and make certain that the mass airflow sensor is cleaned during our engine swap.During the test drive, all gauges are monitored for function and accuracy, the cruise control is tested and all vehicle systems are run through their paces. Back at the bay, the engine is checked for leaks, all clamps are snugged and another LOF is performed to remove break-in debris.The other test that is performed is a computer scan. Each computer-accessible engine is scanned for trouble codes and, if it has data stream, has each parameter scrutinized. Havana has purchased every Simu-Tech cable available (I’m not kidding). These guys take computer access seriously, as they should. Scrutinizing PCM data stream, especially when the cause of the engine’s demise is not apparent, is critical.If poor performance during the test drive is thought to be attributed to a restricted exhaust, the pipe is tapped ahead of the catalytic converter, and an exhaust backpressure test is performed. The tap is methodically moved toward the rear of the car until the restriction is located. All converters are also given the “tap test” to determine if the substrate has broken apart, or if loose chunks could be blocking the muffler.

Doing It Right The First Time
The day of simply replacing an engine and related parts by the seat-of-our-pants is gone. We all need to follow a comprehensive routine while estimating the job, and while performing the Pre-Delivery Inspection.

An engine replacement is full of surprises, and we need to minimize becoming blind-sided by unforeseen issues. If we develop and implement a process similar to the one used by Havana Machine, we can only increase parts sales and reduce comebacks.

10 Steps to a Quality Engine Installation
1. Intake Manifold: The intake manifold should be thoroughly cleaned. Remove baffle (where applicable) so that all collected contaminants can be eliminated. Check for cracks under the carburetor. All EGR passages must be cleaned and free of obstruction.2. Radiator: Replace core or rod and boil to remove corrosion and obstructions that will inhibit proper coolant flow. Always replace cap and thermostat. Oil coolers inside the radiator must be replaced while oil coolers external to the radiator must be thoroughly flushed to remove potential contaminants.3. Harmonic Balancer: Replace balancers set in rubber. The interior rubber deteriorates with age, allowing the balancer to slip, possibly causing timing problems and detonation, overheating, vibration and unexplained noises. Check key slot for excessive wear.4. Exhaust System: Check catalytic converters and exhaust systems for restrictions and leaks in front of O2 sensor. Inspect exhaust manifold control valve (butterfly) and heat riser.5. Ignition System: Replace distributor, wiring, coil and spark plugs to avoid poor performance. Check all integrated circuitry for function (MAP, EGR, O2 sensors, etc.) if equipped for electronic ignition. Check distributor advances.6. PCV Valve: Replace PCV valve and grommet and clean line. A plugged or faulty valve may cause excessive oil consumption and blowby. Check metal connections at carburetor for cracks. Inspect rocker cover baffle for possible restrictions.7. Fuel System: Carefully service or replace all aspects of the fuel system, i.e., pump, lines and carburetor or fuel injection components. Fuel lines should be checked for breaks or crimps. To avoid vapor lock, do not use copper replacement lines. 8. Accessories: Be sure to service accessories such as the alternator, starter, water pump, air compressor, fuel system, EGR valve and sensors to avoid premature failure.9. Rubber Goods: Replace small parts such as belts, hoses and motor mounts which become weak and worn with age.10. Filters: Replace filters (air, oil, fuel and crankcase) at the time of installation and service intervals. A flywheel bolt that protrudes into the crankcase should be used with a sealer to prevent rear oil leaks. (Do not use silicone unless it’s O2 sensor approved.)Courtesy Jasper Engines and Transmissions

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