Tips & Info 4.6L head gasket-timing set-intake job | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

Tips & Info 4.6L head gasket-timing set-intake job


August 9, 2016
Reaction score
Year, Model & Trim Level
2005 Ford Explorer
This post is really an update on this thread: , but that thread contains of lot of extra questions and extraneous information unrelated now. This post is really about tips and info for doing a head gasket/timing set/intake manifold job on a 2005 4.6L Explorer.
Sorry it has taken me so long to update/respond to that old thread. I have physical limitations and can only work on it so much. But, I found some things out that might help somebody. Mostly how to save money by doing things without buying special tools. The only special tools I had to get were a harmonic balancer puller and a harmonic balancer installer, free from Autozone.
One of the most helpful posts I found on here was from 2002GreyHD150 in this thread: I followed most of his advice, and probably should have followed it all. I love his comment/idea about reversing the radiator bolts "like a normal human would."
I must say I would not recommend this cheap tool: "3/4 Ton Capacity Heavy Duty Load Leveler-- Item #67441"* (I'm gonna underline all the stuff I think might help people in this post*). I tried to shift the weight of the motor by cranking the load leveler back and forth, hoping to break the motor off the dowels because I was positive that must be the only thing preventing it from separating from the transmission (I had forgotten to take out one of the top two engine/transmission bolts---Note to everyone: my 17 year old says you can't call it a tranny anymore because that is now the slang term for a person whose actual gender might not be what it appears to be.) The load leveler would jump threads on the main screw before reaching full travel each way.
A lot of the stuff I learned to do on this motor has been learned because I was trying to save money. Hopefully it makes sense to you and maybe helps someone out. Look for the underlined stuff*.
1) HOME MADE CRANK PULLEY BOLT TOOL*: I was ready to remove the crankshaft pulley bolt and found that the chain on the vise grip chain clamp I already had was too short to go around the pulley. On this one I just went with one the first videos I found on how to go about this with no special tools. I can't seem to find it again now, though, to post a link, and the one I made is under the vehicle helping hold up my transmission. Instead here's what it looks like:
All I did was take a 4 x 6 board and drill four holes in it. Once you know how far apart two of the three outer holes are you're home free. Only takes a few minutes to make. The center hole is big enough for the socket to go through, and the other three are for thru bolts you screw into the crankshaft pulley. I just left the board four feet long so I had plenty of leverage to hold it or rest it on something while I took the bolt off. There are probably better ways, but this was easy and quick and worked well for me. (I did this at before I discovered coolant in the oil and decided to pull the engine, else I think I could've used the clamps described in #4 below)
2) ALTERNATIVE TO SPECIAL CRANKSHAFT SOCKET*: After taking the timing cover off, I found that my timing marks were actually one link away from the marked links on the chain when the engine last turned.
Having read a zillion warnings about following the proper procedures and having the engine in just the right position at 10 degrees before TDC, I was not comfortable following the advice of some videos I found saying that it was OK to just make note of the position of everything, then put it all back together the same way, like one link off. So now it looked like I needed a special tool, a crankshaft socket. I am cheap because I am poor, and so discovered through research (it may have been fordtechmakuloco, from youtube*, that said it. That guy knows A LOT, check him out) that a 32mm six-point socket works very well as a crankshaft socket on these motors.* A 32 mm socket fits axle nuts on many vehicles, so I bought one of them instead of the crank socket.
3) HOME MADE CAM HOLDING TOOL*: Like I said, I wanted to be overly cautious about leaving the cams and the crank in the proper position throughout this deal, but again could not afford the special cam holding tools available out there. So, back to youtube. Found this video:
You really should check it out, even if you own the special tool set available. The guy in the video has the big set for various motors, and he proceeds to tell you why even he had to make his own tools for the crank and cams. I did basically what he did, but took his idea to use two nuts on the bolt in the end of the cam instead of welding it in (especially since I don't have a welder!). Here are the ones I made: View media item 675View media item 685 Pretty simple really. I just used a piece of steel plate I had left over from an old swingset. Its .104" thick and probably stronger than it needs to be. It also has two mounting points on the head, which I thought was a better idea. All you do is take a 1/2" bolt and grind it down to match the keyway in the end of the cam. My keyway was different from the one in his motor, so my tool was a little more tricky to make, I think. Here is the keyway I have:
I first measured the inner diameter of the rounded parts with dial calipers and carefully ground down the threads evenly around the 1/2" bolt to just under that size. Then I ground the two flats a little at a time on each side, being as careful as I could to keep them parallel and even. The rounded parts don't really do anything if you've got the flats ground well. You just have to get the extra material off the O.D. of the bolt when grinding the round sides, but taking as little off as possible means your flats will be wider and hold better. You could even use a piece of square stock. My bolt ended up being .385" wide between the flats, so I think a piece of 3/8" square stock might work, though it might be a little sloppy in there, which would allow the cams to wiggle a little more (and you would also need to weld it to the plate vs just holding it with two nuts). My cams moved a tiny bit with the home made setup installed, but it really held them well. I was able to remove and reinstall the cam gears without incident. The way I shaped the plates allowed me to handle the heads and move them around the workbench for cleaning, etc. without worrying about disturbing the plate or bolt/key, as they did not stick out beyond the head casting no matter what side the head was laying on. I really think it worked better than the special tools available. I had one for each head, they were out of the way even while installed, were very strong, and were free.
4) HOME MADE CRANK HOLDING TOOL*: I also used the same thing he did in the video to keep the crank from turning. Just clamp something onto your engine stand near the flexplate that fits between two teeth on the gear. I used pieces of the plate I had left from making the cam holding tool, one each on the bottom two arms of my engine stand. Here's what mine looked like:
View media item 681 I left this setup on the flexplate until I had the new timing chains on. I also put the clamps back on to tighten the crank pulley bolt, and the motor did not budge.
5) LIFTER HOLDER-INNERS: Hold your lifters in with pieces of pool noodle.*
These stayed in and held the lifters (lash adjusters, whatever) even as I turned the heads upside down to clean them.
6) CLEAN YOUR HEAD BOLT HOLES WITH A HOME MADE THREAD CHASER*: Although I could reach the bottom of the head bolt holes with the extension on my air nozzle, as well as a wire brush on a drill, I really am OCD on cleaning things, and thought about running a tap through them. But, I didn't have the tap, or the extensions or whatever, and I know that bad things can happen when doing something that deep. A thread chaser is really just a bolt with relief grooves in it, so I made one out of one of the old head bolts*. Just grind the end of the bolt flat so it can reach bottom, and grind two or three grooves along the sides about 3/4" to 1" long so any crud will have some place to go when you screw it in.
7) THIS NEXT ONE MAY NOT BE WELL ADVISED! CLEAN UP/CHECK THE DECK SURFACES OF YOUR BLOCK AND HEADS YOURSELF*: After I cleaned the deck surfaces of all gasket material and everything else, they really looked good, but (being OCD), I really wanted to check them somehow for flatness without paying for it (being poor). I figured it was stupid to change the head gaskets, with all the crap I had to do, without all the evidence I could get, on my own, that the heads and block weren't warped. I have a precision straight edge, but its only about 8" long. I checked the heads and block with it anyway, and really had trouble getting even a .001" feeler gauge under it anywhere. If I had found any gaps with the gauge stock even approaching .002", I would have had to make the decision whether to take the block and/or heads to a shop to be checked and repaired properly. But I had already researched what options I might have in this area, and I had found this video showing a guy resurfacing his heads himself (I don't think there's anything but bible after the 12 min. mark:
Now, I'm like the guy in the video, I know haters can pick it apart forever, including myself. I don't think his straightedge is good enough, the laminate countertop may or may not be flat enough, etc., but I like the guy's attitude. Sometimes you just gotta do stuff, especially if you are low on funds. Just take the video for what it's worth. For me, an old machinist, I don't know if I'd be comfortable resurfacing the heads or block that way if they needed it. What I did get out of the video, however, was my own idea about how I might check and perhaps help clean up the surfaces.
Like I said, I wouldn't trust a piece of laminate countertop to be flat enough, but I do have at home a small steel surface plate, about 10" x 12" x 1.5".
And I wouldn't think his choice of 120 grit sandpaper would be fine enough, but I did have some 320 grit. So, I taped the sandpaper to the surface plate sideways, covered it in WD-40, and made a few passes across the head gasket surfaces as carefully as I could. The sandpaper was wider than the surfaces, so they were all hit evenly, and I had the weight of the surface plate to apply even pressure. It is so heavy that I tried not to let the full weight of the plate press down too hard as I made the sanding passes. I think I ended up only making about four to eight passes in each direction on any one surface. Once I saw that a surface looked good, I stopped immediately. What I ended up finding was that both the block and heads looked really good to me. The process had really not taken any material off, and I could see that there were no high spots. If you look carefully at the pictures here, you can even still see the factory machining marks in the head. They were nearly even everywhere. To me, this looks like a very flat surface. I was finally satisfied that I could put it back together without having it checked somewhere.
I know I got very lucky. If everything hadn't looked so good, I would have had to decide how far I was willing to go with sanding my own heads, or figure out some way to pay for some shop work. I think I heard that you can't take more than .002" worth of material off the surfaces in these motors. But I gotta tell you, if I had an engine where you had some extra to work with, the situation might end with me trying to do it myself with the surface plate and some sandpaper. Not many people have a surface plate lying around, and if I was one of them, I might even be tempted to do it like the guy in the video, who knows.
8) All you need to remove and reinstall your rocker arms is a screwdriver and a brass punch*. Yes, youtube to the rescue again. And again to avoid buying special tools. Here is the link to the video showing how to remove and reinstall them with just a screwdriver:
There was absolutely no problem taking the rockers off, but I had trouble getting them back on as easily. I did get one or two back on with just a screwdriver, but it made me uncomfortable leaning the screwdriver on the cam lobes (even with tape around it), and it just wasn't happening for the next couple. In fact, I examined one of the lifters after I couldn't get the rocker on easily enough, and I could tell that the rocker had scratched it a little. Close examination of the rockers revealed that some of them had a little bit of stamping "flash", if you will, where the press had left a bit of a sharp edge on the rocker right at the tip where it has to slide over the lifter. I took a Dremel tool and just barely touched up this spot on any that needed it, only enough to knock off the sharp edge. I still didn't like how the screwdriver had to sort of push this edge somewhat downward onto the lifter while reinstalling, so after positioning one, I took a soft piece of 1/2" brass bar I use as a punch and just tapped them back over the lifters with one deliberate whack from the other end. No problems at all doing it that way if you have the cam lobe on its base circle.
9) You may need to modify your intake manifold bolts when replacing the factory intake*, like with the ATP (Automatic Transmission Parts, Inc.) 106007 intake I am using. Disclaimer here: I haven't actually installed this yet, just checked the bolt lengths-so you know stuff can happen yet with this aftermarket unit, we'll see. Here is a diagram showing the bolt tightening sequence:
What I found was that I needed to shorten the bolts designated "B", "6", and "7". I had to cut off about 5/16" from each one to make sure they were not bottoming out, because the new intake is not as thick with its integrated gasket, and these are all blind holes (location "8" is also a blind hole, but the intake is a little thicker there in the aluminum part, so the longer bolt works).
One other thing about reinstalling the intake: I didn't even KNOW about the little anti-corrosion sleeve in the head until it fell out as I was cleaning them. I set it aside without noting which friggin' head it came from, then could find almost no information on it anywhere when I tried to figure out what it was or which head it went back in (it fits the same in both heads). I finally found this website:
So, the anti-corrosion sleeve goes in the left head under the thermostat*. I thought this was the case, but I wasn't comfortable with guessing. My new intake does not appear to have the new "restricted port" gasket, but I am just going to put a little RTV around the anti-corrosion sleeve before I drop it in and go with that.
10) I made a diagram of the locations of the three types of valve cover bolts* I had on this engine. I'm SURE, however, that NOBODY has ever failed to do this themselves, so this will never help anyone, lol.
WHERE: A = 8mm (wrench size) integrated washer bolts with stud above the hex nut
B = "normal" 8mm (wrench size) integrated washer hex head bolts (no stud)
C = regular 13mm (wrench size) hex head bolt (and I don't know why this one bolt is different from the rest) Disclaimer: I did see one exploded diagram where this C bolt was in the second outside position from the front of the car, rather than the third, as I found mine, and there was a B bolt where I show the C bolt. This was on Google images, however, and I could not verify that it was from a 2005 Explorer. I really don't think it matters, but if I find after everything is back together that I need to swap these two, I will update. I could have made a mistake I guess, like anyone.
11) My exhaust manifold studs and nuts were absolutely rusty trashed crap. I loved the idea of using stainless steel replacement exhaust manifold bolts*, and found a very reasonably priced, American made replacement set on ebay, from Metric Screw and Tool Co. These guys were great, and they sell a stud set or a regular bolt set, both of which come with stainless washers and locknuts. Run a tap through all the mounting holes in the block and use these and you should be good forever. Here's the link to ebay:
12) YOUR EXHAUST FLANGE BOLT IS DORMAN PART NO. 03117, NOT, I REPEAT NOT, PART NO. 03129*. Dorman, the manufacturer/supplier for most everyone out there who sells them, has an error in their system and will sell you the wrong part if you order exhaust flange bolts. These connect the exhaust manifold to the exhaust system. Believe me, I have done the research, and they sell a fully threaded 12mm bolt as a match for the Ford part. The Ford part is 10mm, and is not fully threaded. Since Dorman has the info wrong in their system, every other seller who sources this part from Dorman (which appears to be everyone) will also sell you the wrong part, as they did me. I did send Dorman an email about the issue, but they didn't respond. People are gonna try to tell you that you need Dorman part 03129, but it will not fit, GET PART NO. 03117.
13) This one is stupid, but I never discovered it before, and it helps a lot. Use a green 3M scratch pad along with Gojo on your hands*. This will get this crap out from between the grooves in your skin so much better than scratching with your fingernails, and is much faster☺.
Oh yea, if anyone is still reading, the motor is ready to go back in, but I have one other question. I have not been able to determine for sure if my cheap approach to car repair is going to hurt me when I go to install the flex plate adapter to the new torque converter without the special tool. I have not been able to beg, borrow, or steal the tool from anywhere. Do you guys think the special tool is really necessary to align the plate to the converter? Some say absolutely, others online say they've done it for years without one.
Well, I am very sorry about the length of this update, but I really want to try and give something back to the site, and thought this stuff could help people. I apologize to the mods if they really detest these giant posts, and to those who just wish people would make it short and sweet because they don't have all day. I will try to be good about responding to anyone's questions or comments, and I'd appreciate and advice on the torque converter/adapter plate question. Thanks a lot.

I think the alignment tool is an "over time" issue. That is, the damage may not present itself for some time. I'd thought about taking the converter and plate to a Transmission shop, seeing if I could use (yeah right) or pay them to do it.