Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Final Headgasket Post...

Well, it was a long and sometime difficult journey. In the end it has been worth it. I learned a lot about the car and I think about myself. I learned patience and to pay attention to detail.

I got home from work this morning about 8:30 after having been up a good part of the night. I went out and put the battery charger on the battery so when I got to the point of trying to start it, there would be plenty of juice. After sitting there for a month, it only had a 70% charge. I charged it up to 97% before I tried starting it.

Once I actually started working on the car, I moved the stuff off of the old radiator on to the new one and installed the new stuff I bought for it. It installed in about five minutes. I put on the belts, added oil to the crankcase, installed the fan shroud and fan. I put on the radiator hoses and then hooked up the intake air boot, the breathers that hook up to the boot, the MAF and the Air Filter Box. I connected the last two small coolant hoses that hook up to the thermostat switch on the Air Filter Box. Once that was complete, I filled the cooling system with plain water, just in case I have a problem, I didn't want to have to drain the new coolant back out.

Once I got to this point, I checked the battery and it was still at 90%, so I decided to go take a shower and get cleaned up. When my shower was finished, I checked the charge on the battery and it was at 97%, time to start the car.

My wife and daughter wanted to be out there when I started it, so they came out to the garage. I crossed my fingers and turned it over, it kept turning over and over, but wouldn't start. How depressing. I tried again, nothing. So I told the family that it wasn't going to start, and I started thinking about what could be wrong. I knew I'd done everything in a workman like manner. I went and got my code reader and it came up with one Fault Code "1A" which was the "Control Unit Supply ". I remember from when I worked on the 93 525i, I got the same code, which I found out most times means that the computer isn't sure what's going on since there hasn't been an electrical charge to it for some time. The one on the 93 cleared once I got it running. So, it must be something else.

As it was turning over, there was not even a hint that it wanted to start. When, I put the 93 back together after doing the Ping Sensors and Intake manifold gaskets, I switched the two gas lines going to the intake manifold. No fuel was getting to where it needed to go. Once I figured that out and corrected it, it started immediately. It is about a 15 minute job to move stuff out of the way enough to get to the fuel lines. As soon as I removed them, I knew it was the problem, there was a loud "POP" when I pulled off the back line from air in it. I don't know what happened, I thought that I had been very careful when taking it apart and marking where everything went. I guess I wasn't as careful as I should have been. It took me about another 15 minutes or so to put everything back together.

The second attempt at starting it went way better. It fired up after cranking it for about 5 seconds. It ran at idle a bit rough, but it was running. I gave it a bit of throttle and it smoothed right out. When I let off it ran rough. It was smoking a bit, probably due to the cleaner I used to clean the top of the pistons off and I coated the cylinder walls with a very thin coat of oil prior to re-assembly so it would not start up dry.

It never stalled on me in about 3 minutes of idling. I took it out for a drive to see how it reacted. It ran very smooth and had good power. I didn't push it, nice smooth starts and acceleration. The first mile it smoked a little when I would stop, but it quickly stopped doing that. The temp gauge stayed in the normal range while I drove it around.

I brought it home and parked it while idling. It is leaking a drip of oil every few seconds from the oil pan while it's running. I figure that may be due to the fact that I tried to take off the pan while doing this job. It does not appear to be leaking any oil from the head gasket or other seals I installed during the job. I did not find any water leaks yet.

So, it looks at this point in time that the Head Gasket Replacement was a success.

Here are some pictures of it all put back together. One from the left side and one from the right:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Head Gasket Part 8

I received the tool I needed yesterday and was able to get most everything back together. The only things I need to do tomorrow is install the new radiator, hook up the hoses, put on the belts and hook up the air cleaner, MAF and intake boot. I should be able to try and start it within a couple of hours of getting started.

I worked on it off and on for about five hours yesterday. I got the exhaust headers installed and all torqued down properly and the VANOS taken off so I could properly tension the primary timing chain before noon yesterday. I then waited for the tool to arrive and it showed around 2pm. I worked on it until about 4:30pm and got the VANOS put back on and adjusted correctly. I put all of the new heater hose on and clamped down right and then put the intake manifold back on and got all of it's connections started. I watched the BSU - TCU bowl game and went out and worked on the car at half and after the game.

Like I said everything is back together except for what I listed, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting much bigger and brighter. Once I get it back running, I will take some pictures of the finished product.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Head Gasket Part 7

This whole project is starting to get to me. I want to get it done right, but every time I think it's just about done... Something else pops up. The new Head Bolt set came Monday afternoon about 1:30pm. I went right out and started working on it again. The installation of the Head Bolts went fairly well, I think that I may have been off a few degrees here or there, but for the most part it worked OK.

I was surprised how well things were going with the rest of the re-assembly. The primary timing chain sprocket went on very easily. I was able to get the cam sprockets installed very easy too. I went to put in the primary timing chain tensioning tool that I had purchased earlier in the year and found I had the wrong one. It's too small. Apparently, I have the updated version of the tensioner instead of the old version. So, I couldn't properly set the timing of the chain and the cams.

Not that I didn't try, but the book I was following said that the tensioner itself wouldn't put enough tension on the chain to time it right and it was correct. I tried it with just the tensioner and after turning the motor over a couple of times by hand the cams were slightly off being timed.

I ordered a new tensioning tool that is supposed to work with the "new" style tensioner, but I have no idea when it might get here with the holidays just around the corner.

Until I get the new tool, not much else I can accomplish.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Head Gasket Part 6

Well, I ran into a bit of a problem. I'll explain shortly.

The head isn't really that heavy, but it is a little awkward to pick up and get in place. I enlisted the help of my 19 year old son and my wife to get the thing in place. After taking great pains to get everything ready and explaining to my helpers exactly what I needed to do, we made our first attempt to place the head on the block.

I had expected my son to lift the back of the head, with me lifting the front and my wife fishing/guiding the timing chain through the opening in the head. Unfortunately it didn't quite work out that way. There really isn't enough room for two people to stand side by side and lift the head into place, let alone a third stand there guiding the timing chain through.
What I did was after we tried it the way I had hoped was to have me lift it onto the block. I placed a piece of wood over the last two cylinders and put the back of the head on top of the wood. As I lowered the head down, I kept the front of the head more elevated and fished the timing chain through and handed the wire securing the chain to my wife who held it and kept it from falling down in the timing case (yes, I installed that prior).

I had my son make sure that the head didn't fall or slip off of the back of the block since the wood was higher than the index dowel on the back of the block. As I was maneuvering the head, the block of wood finally slipped off the block and the head sat on the gasket. Once I got the head clear of the chain guides/tensioner, it sat completely on the head gasket and block. One problem, I couldn't get it to drop over the two index dowels, it just rocked side to side. I tried for several minutes to get it to seat by moving it this way and that but no luck. We took the head back off.

When we got the head off, the rear index pin was stuck in the head, so that one had gone in OK. The front was the problem. I removed the one from the head and put it back on the block. I used the block of wood to tap it back in place. I noticed that the other dowel seemed a bit higher than the back one, so I tapped it into place with the wood to and it appeared to have seated farther into place. It also seemed to be a little out of round, so I tapped it ever so lightly with a hammer being careful not to damage the head gasket. After doing this for a few minutes, I gathered my helpers together again and we placed the head like before and this time it seated immediately in place over the index dowels. It sat flatly on the block without rocking.

I was a bit tired after the second attempt, so I decided to take a break and get some breakfast. After breakfast, I felt better, so I went out and started to get the head bolts put in place. Prior to setting the head, I made sure all of the bolt holes were cleaned and chased. I didn't have a thread chaser, so I took one of the old head bolts, cleaned it real good and then dipped it into some Berryman's Carb Cleaner and threaded it into each hole. I cleaned it after it came out of each hole to see if there was any dirt or other foreign matter on it. There were only two of the holes that it came out dirty. I just kept threading it back in with Cleaner until it came out clean. It tells you in Bentley's to "Lightly" oil the threads of the head bolts as you install them. I took some clean motor oil and dipped the first ten or so threads of each bolt in it. I then wiped off most of the excess and started each bolt by hand. This took me about 20 minutes. Once I finished that up, I went on to torquing the bolts down.

Bentley's describes the process of tightening the bolts down in three stages. First stage you torque each bolt in the
pattern shown at 22 ft/lbs. The second stage you then tighten the bolt 90 degrees more and the third stage 90 degrees more. The first stage was a breeze. The second stage sounded simple enough, you are supposed to use a Torque Angle Meter. I bought one, it's not as simple to use as I thought it would be.

Here is what mine looks like:

The line rotates as you turn the wrench. Once you get to 90, you stop. My problem was setting it up for each bolt. You are supposed to use the attached rod/stop to keep the whole meter from turning, I had a hard time doing that. I thought I'd get it set right to find that it wouldn't hold and I had no idea how many degrees I had turned the bolt. I just kept plugging on without thinking, just guesstimating. Some bolts it worked great, some not so good. I went ahead and finished the three rounds of tightening and had to stop to take care of some other stuff.

As I was away from the job, I thought that it wouldn't be a good idea to use the motor like that. I wasn't sure what I had actually torqued some of those bolts to. If I used it in the condition it was, I felt there was a good chance that the head could crack or warp or whatever.

I decided to re-do the whole thing, which meant getting a new set of head bolts since they are a one time use only. That's where I am right now, waiting for the new set of bolts to arrive. They are probably going to arrive today.

I originally threw the Torque Angel Meter away, but started thinking about how I could still use it. I removed the rod/stop and tried just holding the meter with my left had while I used my right to turn the bolt. It seemed to work well doing it this way in my tests. I know I can get it closer doing it this way than by using the rod. I think I could just eyeball it and get it closer than my first attempt.

I also ordered a new radiator for the car. I hadn't planned on doing so. As the car has been sitting torn apart for over three weeks now, the radiator is still leaking fluid on the floor. It shouldn't be. I think that it is partially plugged. When I used the "Head Gasket Fix" in a can stuff, I was talking with the Tech Support guy for the last product I used. It didn't appear that it had worked, so he recommended I put a product called "Liquid Aluminum" in the system along with his product. I did so and almost immediately the car started to over heat. I was able to limp the car home without it getting too hot and drained the system and flushed it a bunch of times. It seemed to work OK except for it running just a little bit hotter than normal. With it taking so long to completely drain (still dripping) I don't want to chance it being plugged once I put the car back together from this job, so a new radiator is called for. Just more money into the money pit.

I'll post more once the new bolt set arrives and I put them in.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Head Gasket Part 5

I've been slowly getting things done on the car. After getting the camshafts swapped out, I worked on cleaning up some of the parts that are going back on. Must have had a bad oil leak at one time, lots of gunk all over the timing case and VANOS unit, also under the intake manifold where it connects to the head.

The order of parts I was waiting for arrived around 2pm on 12/8. I put a few of the parts on that didn't take to much time. I spent about an hour threading all of the studs where the exhaust manifold mounts to the head and rubbed a nice blister on my right index finger. That was the last thing I did on Monday. I worked on Tuesday (12/9) so nothing was done.

Yesterday I was able to install the timing cover and get many of the heater hoses replaced that sit under the intake manifold. I continued working on getting things cleaned up too. I replaced the Throttle Body Gasket and the intake manifold gaskets.

I took a bunch of pictures of the old head gasket trying to make it possible to see where I think it failed.

This picture is the best of the 20 or so I took.

You can see where the gasket bubbled up, it's not supposed to look like that. I don't know for sure why it did what it did, I can only speculate. The head gasket was replaced on the car about 20K miles ago. I'm thinking two scenarios are possible. First one is that they re-used the old Gasket, not likely though. Second one is that they didn't clean the mating surface on the block very well. There was a major amount of stuff built up right under where the bubble was on the block (it is possible too that the stuff built up was the sealing stuff I added earlier in the year). I think they didn't clean it at all or didn't do a very good job and it kept the gasket from sealing properly. I looked at the old head and it didn't appear to be cracked or damaged at all.

I'm hoping to get the head back on today. I have to wait for some help. It is pretty awkward getting it in the right spot and fishing the timing chain through the opening in the head by yourself.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Head Gasket Part 4

I received the remanufactured head last Tuesday evening (12/2) from UPS. As always happens, when you are interested in seeing what you've ordered, the delivery never arrives when you expect. Our normal UPS delivery time is between 1 pm and 3 pm. So, when does this show up, after 5 pm. I stayed home all day for nothing.

The package was torn up a bit, but it appeared that the head made it through OK. I was anxious to see what it looked like and was surprised at what I got. I was under the impression that I was getting a totally ready Head, but that's not what I got. The Head had been cleaned and machined, the valves were installed, but there were no Camshafts, Lifters, etc. Very disheartening. Bentley's manual talks about a special tool you need to remove the Camshafts. I don't have one, besides, they are very expensive.

I had purchased another book about working on BMW's called "101 Performance Projects For Your BMW 3 Series 1982 - 2000" by Wayne R. Dempsey. I don't have a 3 Series, but the motor in my 5 Series is the same as in the 3 Series. I bought the book because it had lots of good information about working on the M50 motor. In the book there is a chapter called "Camshaft Replacement". In this chapter he outlines how to removed the Camshafts without using the "Special Tool" you're supposed to use.

Following Mr. Dempsey's directions, I was able to safely remove both Camshafts from my old Head. I experimented with the Camshaft position until the lifters of cylinder numbers 2 through 6 had no pressure on the valves. One of the things that wasn't mentioned in Mr. Dempsey's book was that you have to remove the bearing cap on the front side (cars front) of the #1 cylinder also, or you could be in danger of breaking the camshaft. It has to come off along with the numbers 2 - 6 caps. The caps are labeled A1 - A7 on the exhaust side and E1 - E7 on the intake side. I removed A3 - A7 then removed A1. Once that was done, you remove A2. This probably doesn't make much sense, so if you are thinking about doing this, I would buy Mr. Dempsey's book, you can get it at, I think I paid about $20 for it (well worth it I might add). This job like he says in the book is a two person job. You have to make sure that the Camshaft does not move while you are slowly loosening the two nuts on the #1 cylinder bearing cap. If you aren't careful, the valve springs WILL snap the camshaft around. I had my wife helping me and it was a good thing she had a firm grip on the wrench, because the Cam slipped and would have gone all the way around if she hadn't been holding on. Don't know if it would have caused the Cam to break, but I'm glad I didn't find out.

Once I removed the Camshaft, I needed to remove the "bearing ledge". It is the housing that the lifters sit in and the Camshaft mounts to. The exhaust side came off pretty easy, but the intake side took a little persuading but came off without a hitch. Make sure the indexing dowels are in the proper place. One of the dowels on the exhaust side stayed with the bearing ledge when I removed it. I just pulled it out with some needle nose pliers and put is where it was supposed to be.

Putting the Camshafts back on was a little more dicey than removing them, at least for me. One thing that I would recommend is once you get the bearing ledge back in to place, put the bearing caps on the bearings with indexing dowels and tighten them down to seat them before you start trying to put the Cams back in (just make sure you take those caps back off before you try and put the Cam on). I found that trying to get the bearing cap for the #1 cylinder (A2 for exhaust and E2 for intake) back on was tougher than taking them off. What I did was move the cam lobes away from center until I could get the nuts started on the bearing cap. I made sure the nuts wouldn't come off and then slowly and with great care turned the camshaft to where the lobe was almost centered on the lifter. Once it was more centered and with my wife holding the Cam steady, I slowly tightened down the nuts (1/4 of a turn at a time, alternating between the two nuts) on the #1 cylinder bearing cap until it was snug. My wife then held the camshaft from turning/slipping and I put the remainder of the caps and nuts on and snugged them down. Once I had all the cap nuts snugged down, I torqued them to specs and was done.

Now, I'm just waiting for an order of parts to arrive so I can continue to work on putting it back together.

Here is a picture I took when putting the bearing ledger back on the head:

One trick I figured out when trying to put the bearing ledgers back on was to lay them upside down on your bench and then turn the head upside down and guide the studs into the ledger. If you try to drop the ledger on to the head when it is oriented like it sits on the car, the lifters want to fall out. As it is, they fall out when you remove the ledger from the head very easily.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Head Gasket Part Three

On Monday, December 1st, I started working on getting the timing cover off so I could get the broken chain guide out. It was actually pretty easy. I followed the Bentley manual pretty much, except for one part. It said that you had to drop the oil pan to be able to get the timing cover off. I removed the four bolts that go from the oil pan into the bottom of the timing cover and it came off without the oil pan dropping.

I thought that while I was down there that I would just drop the oil pan and replace the gasket since there is possibly a small leak coming from the pan gasket. After reading through the Bentley manual, it didn't seem to be a major job, WRONG! After about an hour, I only had about two thirds of the bolts removed. The other ones were nearly impossible to get to, at least with my limited tool cache. Looking at the pan, there was no way that it would come out like explained in the Bentley. I got on the internet and found that it isn't quite as simple as Bentley made it sound. It looks like you either have to lift the entire motor, or remove much of the front suspension and tie rods, etc to get the pan out. I decided to put that job on hold and put all of the bolts back in except for the ones that came out of the timing cover.

In removing the timing cover, you also have to remove the crankshaft bolt which holds on the vibration damper and the main belt pulley. That thing is torqued to 300 ft. lbs. Bentley says you need a special tool for holding the pulley still while you remove the bolt. I didn't have that tool, so I thought that the TDC pin that is locked into the flywheel I installed would probably keep the motor from turning and it worked great. I was even able to get the pin out and it didn't look any worse for the wear.

Once the timing cover was off, I removed the broken chain guide, along with the timing chain tensioning guide and the timing chain itself. In the picture below, you can see the broken guide and the larger tensioning guide.

I ordered both new guides along with a bunch of other stuff I've noticed that was pretty worn out as I tore everything apart.

The picture below is the timing chain area where it attaches to the crank shaft with everything removed.

Once I had figured the oil pan gasket was a no go, at least for now, I decided to clean up the head mating surface on the block and clean up the tops of the pistons. I used a small wire brush on my dremel tool and a bit of fine sandpaper to remove a bunch of build up on the block (don't worry, I made sure none of the debris fell into the cylinders). I used some Berryman's Carburetor cleaner to clean the carbon deposits on the tops of the pistons. It worked very well with just a rag and the cleaner, see for yourself...(compare it to the pictures from part two of this series)