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1996 OHV 4.0 Explorer Head/Head Gasket Replacement Question(s)

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by Abbondanza, May 25, 2012.

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    1. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      1996 XLT 4.0 OHV 170k
      My head gaskets failed on my 1996 OHV 4.0 (big white smoke cloud from the exhaust 2-3 miles from my driveway, and there was the obvious milkshake on the oil cap). I got her home, shut her down, and ordered a new water pump, t-stat and complete gasket set from Rock Auto.

      I had been losing coolant gradually for months before that, so I suspected the head gasket(s) or intake gasket was failing.

      Of course anyone who has gone through this job knows that the exhaust manifold bolts are the killer, on a 96 truck, they are severely rusted/seized. I got four of them off, but after I rounded of the next two, I decided to attack the manifold to Y-pipe bolts as suggested on other posts. These are also severely rusted, I decided to dremel-cut the passenger side bolts, the driver's side outer bolt snapped in half under extreme torque, but after a long fight, the hardest bolt to reach, the inner drivers side bolt actually came out with a bolt-extractor socket (9/16th) which I used a 1/2" 25 inch extension to reach. I hammered it on to the head and it slowly twisted out.

      So after fighting through that, I have both heads out with exhaust manifolds attached. I see no cracks in my heads (cast-iron) so I was not planning on replacing them...unless someone thinks (based on my description and the linked pictures below) that I definitely should??

      I figured I will get the 3 pieces of bolts left in the manifold to pipe out of there and get replacement bolts to re-attach after I change out the gaskets.

      Is it a bad idea to think I can put these heads back on? ALso, should I clean and/or lubricate the cylinder/piston heads? Any advice based on the pictures would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance for your time!

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      Last edited: December 9, 2015
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    3. travsbengals

      travsbengals New Member

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      I'm doing this exact same job on my 97 atm, your a few steps ahead of me though

      Finally got the exhaust-to-manifold bolts out this morning on the passenger side, still have to do the driver's side, then remove the heads.

      I'll be wondering the exact same thing as you, hopefully tomorrow. lol

      I don't want to replace the heads either, at a cost of about $700 from what I could find for both. I'll be interested to see what some other people think as well, hopefully we can just use the old heads. Mine seem to look about the same as yours on top of the heads, but I haven't seen the bottoms yet
       
    4. joe doe

      joe doe Active Member

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      i see a crack .....between the intake and exhaust ports
       

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    5. travsbengals

      travsbengals New Member

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      good eyes joe
       
    6. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      wow Thanks Joe!..Definitely good eyes! I'll be ordering new heads, although I saw prices in the $225-275 per head range (new/complete w valves) not $700+ that you've seen Bengal...

      I've looked all over these heads, I can't seem to find the 95tm casting code, I've looked by the spark plug holes, I have, however, found the 'U' casting mark that I've read means the 95tm or 97tm (identical) heads. Is it possible the heads don't have the '9Xtm' marking?

      I'll be ordering new heads and exhaust manifolds (manifolds form Rockuto).

      Thanks again!
       
    7. joe doe

      joe doe Active Member

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    8. travsbengals

      travsbengals New Member

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      I just stripped a exhaust-to-manifold bolt, drivers side, closest to the motor. I actually got the other 3 out but it was a pain, stripped the last freakin bolt

      :facepalm:

      I guess I'm going to go try to find a bolt extractor I can use

      any suggestions?
       
    9. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      I read that only they make the 98tm head with the smaller exhaust ports?
       
    10. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      I used a 9/16th extractor socket, pounded it on the bolt with a 25 inch extension, she gave after that, then I used an impact to get it the rest of the way
       
    11. travsbengals

      travsbengals New Member

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      Thanks Abbon, I finally got the thing off there

      I can't get the head off now because the bracket on the oil dipstick tube is too big to fit through the small opening between the manifold and the head.

      Obviously I already took the nut off holding the dipstick on near where the EGR tube was. I pulled and pulled on the dipstick tube and the thing won't come out. Am I missing something? I don't wanna break the tube. Also, should I drain the oil before I get the dipstick tube out?

      Thanks guys
       
    12. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      I went through the same thing...you have to get the head up in the air and the tube will come with it out of the hole it's in, then you can manuever the tube out of the gap between the head and the manifold.

      Yes it is rough to wrestle that weight up and out but it can be done.

      I haven't drained my oil yet.
       
    13. travsbengals

      travsbengals New Member

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      Thanks boss, I'll give it a shot tomorrow when I get home from work
       
    14. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      Just ordered my heads from Clearwater Cylinder Heads, $480 for the pair shipped
       
    15. travsbengals

      travsbengals New Member

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      That's a great price, does it come with valves?

      I got the other head off today, I don't see any cracks or visible warping. I'm gonna take them to a machine shop and see if they are cracked or warped and go from there I guess.

      I'm not sure if it was already there or drained out of the heads when I wrestled them off, but 3/6 of my pistons had a good amount of anti-freeze laying on them. Good amount of carbon buildup as well, can I clean the top of the pistons with Acetone or something? or should I even bother?
       
    16. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      Yes it is complete with valves...yes definitely get them checked.

      I asked the same thing about cleaning the cylinders, I would say obviously soak up coolant thats in the cylinders and try to clean the carbon as much as you can with somethng like brake cleaner spray
       
      Last edited: June 10, 2012
    17. Dono

      Dono V8 Limited turbo and retired SC 4.0 OHV Elite Explorer

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      I see head gasket leaking also. Your going to love your motor when you have it back together. Your restoring a ton of low end power.

      Interested in your progress Are you going to pull those lifters apart and soak them in acitone for a few days? A good clean, fill with oil, and reassemble will help make sure they dont start sticking. . Make sure they stay as mated pairs when they come apart. Not a requirement, but if you have the time.

      You will need to make sure the gasket surfaces are clean, and make sure you vacuum all loose carbon out of the bores before rotating the main assembly. if you can loosen and remove any carbon without scratching anything, do so.

      Just before reassembly, oil the bores with a clean rag, and use something like brake cleaner on a rag on both sealing surfaces on the head and block.

      Oh, and for manifold studs, I just went to a bolt supply house and picked up bolts. I used antisieze on them (and most other bolts) before reassembly.

      You have it apart, so now its clean, prep, and reassemble. cleaning and prep takes the longest. If you can get it apart, thr rest is easy.
       
    18. Dono

      Dono V8 Limited turbo and retired SC 4.0 OHV Elite Explorer

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      Is your front main showing oil seepage? while the rads out, nows the time. Mine was starting seep oil pretty bad. Thing is, its tough getting that bolt out, and you are best to purchase a new one as its torque to yield, like head bolts.
       
    19. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      Thanks much for the advice, This is my first ever venture this deep into an engine, I've only replaced fuel pumps, IAC valves, Steering Rack, Ball Joints, tie rods, sway bar bushings and shocks before this...

      So basically, I will love it if it just starts up and runs smooth again for me!
       
    20. Dono

      Dono V8 Limited turbo and retired SC 4.0 OHV Elite Explorer

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      You will be fine. like I said, you were already able to get it apart.
      Make sure your gasket surfaces are really clean. you can get surface prep attachments that fit a dremmel tool. Scotch brite works, but is slow going.
       
    21. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      I have a ryobi finishing sander with the triangle head, was thinking of using that on the block surface and the water pump mating surface to clean them up.

      How coarse can the grains be? Would 60 grit be too abrasive? Don't want to ruin the mating surface(s).
       
    22. Dono

      Dono V8 Limited turbo and retired SC 4.0 OHV Elite Explorer

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      60 grit is all bad. I've never actually used sand paper before. I don't think you will have great luck getting the old gasket off with sand paper.

      If your going to try, use something in the 220 range. If anyone can correct me, or has first hand experience, please chime in. You don't want to take any material off the mating surface while your getting the gasket off.

      You can be careful, and use an exacto blade, or the back side of it. Just be careful to use it with an extreme angle so that you don't score the mating surface. I use a blade to get most of the gasket off.

      There's not a lot of room in front of the motor to get that water-pump surface cleaned up. I hope the gasket comes off easily for you.

      While your cleaning up the blocks head mounting surface, fill the piston holes with rags of some kind to help stop more crud from falling in to the bores. Any of the fine grit that falls in between the piston and cylinder wall that you cant get out will scratch the cylinder bore. that's not good.
       
    23. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      Maybe some permatex and a putty knife? I have a Dremel, what attachment do you think would work? A polishing wheel?
       
    24. Dono

      Dono V8 Limited turbo and retired SC 4.0 OHV Elite Explorer

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      a putty knife would help. If you go to a hardware store that handles polishing tools/gremmel type stuff you should be able to purchase surface prep pads.
       
    25. travsbengals

      travsbengals New Member

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      Thanks Abbon, taking the heads to the shop tomorrow to see what the dealio is

      Do the mating surfaces need to be completely clean, to metal? I was cleaning my lower intake and fuel rail earlier while replacing the fuel injector O-rings and there were some spots of carbon on the mating surfaces here and there that never seemed to wanna come off. Even with acetone and elbow grease. When I run my finger across the surfaces, they feel smooth. Not sure if its just stained, or if I should try harder or what. I bought a gasket scraper, been using that and a rag soaked with acetone



      I'm a little worried about all the trash that was sitting on my pistons in anti-freeze. I vacuumed them out real well, but I can't imagine nothing made its way in-between the pistons and the cylinder walls. Guess I can't do much about that now though.

      Dono mentioned "rotating the main assembly" does that mean I'm supposed to put it at TDC?

      How do I take the lifters out? I guess I can manage to soak them in acetone for a couple days while I wait to see what the dealio is with my heads.

      Should I have the machine shop replace the valve stem seals for an extra $100? or just get the heads checked and cleaned?

      I got lots of carbon buildup in the air ports(or whatever) in the upper/lower intake, other then blowing out what I loosened while cleaning the mating surfaces, I can leave that carbon buildup in the ports?
       
    26. Abbondanza

      Abbondanza Active Member

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      I would think if you clean the surfaces thoroughly, and they feel smooth, that is an adequate surface for the gasket to mate the two surfaces.

      I am going to clean the tops of the pistons and cylinder walls the best I can (after covering them while cleaning the block surface).

      Not sure what the rotating the main assembly was, I was under the impression that the position of the pistons was not significant when replacing the heads, as nothing regarding timing was changing?

      Can't give you any concrete advice on the seals, they are old heads, so it couldn't hurt...after it was pointed out that at least one of my heads had a crack, I am replacing both to be safe in an effort not to have to repeat the job.

      Good luck man!

      My heads arrive Friday, so I'll be putting it all together this weekend. My two main points of concern are:

      1. Finding replacement bolts for the exhaust manifolds (plan to take the removed short and long ones around locally to see if they are readily available)

      2. A couple of the plastic vacuum lines around the intake were brittle and snapped when I was disassembling, how should I go about patching or replacing them?
       

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