This was supposed to take three weeks, maybe four. Doesn't look like we're gonna make it. Might help if we put in more than an hour a day, but hey, I've got a life too, you know. Okay, I'm lying, I don't have a life, but my helper has a life, and this car repair project is not high on his list.
Pulled off the cylinder heads the other day. If the head gaskets were blown, it isn't obvious where they failed. There was one head bolt that was not as tight as all the others, but that was the only evidence we had that anything was wrong. Today I pulled the water pump because of the bad bearing. Oh, looky here, the impeller has disintegrated. So even if the head gaskets were not bad, this project has not been a total waste. Pulling the engine certainly made the water pump easier to replace.
I replaced the water pump on our Windstar van several years ago, and it was no picnic. It was same kind of setup: transverse mounted V-6, front wheel drive. The front of the engine is right up against the right front fender, so you are working in a very restricted space, and that water pump was on the outside of the engine.
The water pump on this engine is inside, behind the timing chains. You build something like this you better be very confident that the water pump is going to last for the life of the engine, or at least as long as the timing chains. I am wondering about those chains and the associated guides now. Should I replace them as well? This is supposed to be an economy repair, my free labor being the biggest part of it.
Today I went to Lucille's to buy some scrub brushes to clean the mating surfaces of the heads and the block. Used to be, when engines were made of cast iron (as god intended), you could clean up these surfaces with a sharp scraper and a rag. Not anymore. With aluminum, you can't use anything harder than your fingernail to clean off the old crud for fear of putting a scratch in the surface that the new gasket won't seal. You can use a wood or plastic scraper, but no steel implements. These work, but they are slow and tedious, and you need a good supply because they wear down and lose their edge. The tool of choice these days is a funny little plastic brush made by 3M. They come in different colors: green, white and yellow at least. The yellow ones are for cast iron and the white ones are for aluminum. Eric says you can use the green ones on aluminum. But you can't just buy the brush, you need a die grinder to spin it. Thanks to the inscrutable Orientals, air tools can be had for a pittance these days, matter of fact, the two little 3M plastic brushes cost more than the 25,000 RPM die grinder.
Cleaning the surfaces still took a fair amount of time. Some places the black residue from the old gaskets flaked right off, other places it was like it had become one with the metal.