Help! Broken plug boot!!

mike d

 
Joined
May 28, 2005
Messages
56
Location
Philadelphia, PA
The PO installed cheap Belden plug wires. I'm at 116k and decided to do the plugs, wires, cap and rotor. The plugs, cap, and rotor appear to be original, but someone threw these on at some point. The long black plastic tubes that stick down into the head were all dried out and crumbling. I was able to get four of them out almost completely intact with the rubber boots, then picked out the crumbled pieces. Number one, unfortunately, lost the rubber tip. It took me a very long time to hook it and peel it free from the plug with a coat hanger.

My major problem is that number six snapped right in the middle along with the wire. There is just enough of it sticking out that I can barely touch the broken end with the tip of my longest finger. I can't find a needle nose long enough to fit down in there, and I can't get a coat hanger to pass the platic tube to hook the rubber boot from underneath. I also tried to drive a lag screw directly into the center to hook and pull it out, but the plastic crumbles and I just can't get a grip.

Any advice on this one I'd really appreciate. I thought this would be quick and painless. I've never had a problem like this, and I've done many plug changes. As luck would have it, my wife is out of town. I'm stranded right now, unless I drive on five cylinders... :confused: Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Please beware of these wires!!
 
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Pearland, TX
Month and Year of the rig would help ..FJ or FZJ 80...3FE or 1FZFe. Big difference in how you may want to approach depending on engine type.
 

IdahoDoug

 
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2003
Messages
8,897
First off, make yourself comfortable by doing two things:

1- Put pads on the fenders and lay a couple pieces of wood across the engine bay to kneel on.
2- if you have a couple hose clamps on hand, remove the U shaped hose that's in your way.

If I were in your shoes, I'd remove the hood and use a long drill bit to drill through what amounts to a rubber collar down there in two spots 180 degrees from each other. Use the plugs you've got out to judge what size will work, and favor dragging it against the sparkplug ceramic on the way down vs letting it chew on the spark plug tube. After this, you should be able to get a hanger wire with a short 90 degree bent tip to pull the pieces loose and with the hood off (4 bolts?) and hose gone you'll be able to see exactly what you're doing.

After you get it out, consider taking a piece of tube and taping it into the crevice tool of a vacuum so you can use it to suck out bits of whatever's left (in all the tubes, actually) to ensure nothing falls into the cylinder when you pull the plug. Alternatively, compressed air would blow the plug tubes clean, I guess.

Good luck - let us know how it turns out.

DougM
 

mike d

 
Joined
May 28, 2005
Messages
56
Location
Philadelphia, PA
Thanks for the tips. It's dark now, so this will have to wait until sunrise. It's a '97 with a 1FZFE. Drilling is going to be very difficult because the hole is so deep. I'll continue with the super long lag screw into the sides of the plastic tube and boot. If my wife ever returns, I'm going to take a ride and see if I can find a nice long hemostat. I already sprayed some PB blaster down there hoping it will free the rubber boot from the plug. Maybe with the hood off I can get enough leverage with a long screwdriver and maybe a hammer and bust the insulator off the plug. I think the tube and boot would then easily lift out. Anyone see any danger in attempting to break the insulator?


Sorry about the double post. I was getting some kind of database error and got the message to try again later. I should have looked at the board before I tried again.
 

IdahoDoug

 
 
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Aug 9, 2003
Messages
8,897
I'd be worried that you'll end up using rotating leverage, which will pry against the sides of the spark plug tube. I've never had mine apart, but would be surprised if they are mounted in such a way they could take that. IMHO, you'll dislodge the sparkplug tube/tube seal long before you fracture the plug and then you'll have to pull the valve cover. One slip and now you're pulling the throttle body, need a gasket for the valve cover, and you still have to replace the plug tube and seal which are likely only available as a full set. $120 and 3 days of waiting.

I'd get a cheap extra long drill bit and remove the hood.

DougM
 

cruiserdan

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prying from the side to snap the plug off would concentrate the force on the lip of the valve cover as opposed to the sparkplug tube. If I were stuck here I would consider trying to snap the plug off by prying up on the plug as high as I could. I would also put something in between the top of the valve cover opening and the screw driver. I would also consider sliding a socket over the top of the plug and maybe popping it that way. The porcelin should snap just above the metal base of the plug. I would then extract all the broken bits and use compressed air, if available to blow the tube out and then I would use a spark plug socket to remove the remainder of the plug.


No telling what else I would run into doing this so I can not recommend it, I'm only suggesting how I would attempt it.

D-
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2005
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Location
Poulsbo, WA
I don't mean to sound like a pyro... but can the rubber be melted with a soldiering iron, or torch or set on fire with some type of fuel. Of course a controlled fire. Or would that damage anything else in there? The metal should be ok, and the porcelain.. wouldn't be either so only the rubber would melt right? I haven't changed or even looked at how the plugs are in there yet, but IF we have a center valve cover gasket (center valley) that would be the only thing I could think of to worry about.
 
Last edited:

e9999

You want to do what...?
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how about combining these 2 identical threads? :confused:
 

mike d

 
Joined
May 28, 2005
Messages
56
Location
Philadelphia, PA
I finally finished fixing this problem today. I tried everything to get down in the hole and grab the pieces of broken plastic, but it just ended up turning into black gritty paste. I tried 12" snap-on stork pliers, but they couldn't open inside the hole. My most successful tool for picking out pieces was a hemostat, but that couldn't even open it's jaws at the very bottom of the hole.

The tool that finally worked was a 7/8" hole saw without the center bit. I attached it to 1/4" socket, 1/4" to 3/8" adapter, u-joint, and a 12" extension. I electrical taped this contraption together and just spun it by hand. Every few minutes the inside of the saw would fill up with debris I could pull out. Finally I was able to get to the rubber boot and shred that up inside the hole saw. I could finally then get a socket on the plug and remove it.

I still unfortunately had some debris drop into the cylinder. I vacuumed out the inside of the hole and wiped it best I could, but I still heard something bouncing around in there when I first fired it up. I was scared to death of this sound, but I finally gave a good stomp on this gas and it must have cleared it.

DO NOT EVER BUY THESE CHEAP BELDEN WIRES!! I think this may have taken 8-10 hours of picking, poking, vacuuming, sawing, etc. I also had to drive my poor '88 M3 all week in this crappy weather. It hasn't been in the rain in years and will take me hours of detailing to clean it up again. I'm ready to do the PHH now, and will probably find it relaxing.
 
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