My idiot HG saga and a question

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Aug 20, 2012
Tri-Cities, WA
So, weeks before my FIRST EVER expedition in the 80 it blows the head gasket. And the radiator tank. (I use "expedition" loosely - It's just 3 days of 4x4 camping less than 200 miles away but it's a big deal to me.)

So, without time to order Doug's DVD, and without time to mail-order parts from Dan I jump into this with the FSM and overpriced parts from the local dealer. And a new radiator I've had waiting in the wings for a few months.

First, my question:
While cleaning up the deck surface of the block a disconcerting amount of gasket and engine block toe-jam probably fell into the water jacket despite my efforts to keep it away. I do not want flakes of gasket scab, coolant crust, and other nasty bodagetey crap clogging up my new radiator. Advice on an effective flush method before I bolt up the radiator?

Here's my HG repair tidbit for other idiots like myself. I had some bolts that wouldn't torque right. They just felt wrong. Resistance would increase then flatten out. But it felt different from when you over-torque a fastener to failure. I had mic-ed them all and they were within tolerance for re-use. Turns out I over-lubed them and they were acting like a piston in a cylinder. I pulled them, blew the excess oil off the threads, and re-torqued. They torqued beautifully the second time. Except for the farthest one back on the passenger side. Even after I had cleaned the oil off after the first go I pulled it the second time and it was covered in oil. Oil had pooled in the hole because oil puddles around that bolt. I feel very lucky I didn't hydrolock and break the block. Well, I assume I didn't break the block because I would expect I would have heard it.

So I made a tool. I stuffed a piece of closed-cell foam against the end of the shop-vac and made a small extended tip with brake-line. Duct-taped it up and vacuumed out the bolt hole. Then I washed it down with brake-clean and vacuumed it out again. When I re-torqued for the 3rd freaking time everything went perfectly with very even torquing of all bolts. Learn from my failings and vacuum out your bolt holes and don't over-lube your bolts.

Good ingenuity!

It's always a good idea to tap out threads on these kinds of things before putting everything back together. If nothing else, it'll tell you if you've got crap down there that needs to get flushed out.
You're not an idiot, most SUV owners wouldn't even think of replacing there HG thereself.
You could always pull the drain plug from the block and stick a small hose in there to flush all the crap out the side.

Did you check the spec of the head bolts? They could have been stretched out and needed replacing. Or the holes were full of crud. I ran a tap through mine and the threads were clogged big time.

And Doug tells you in his DVD to do exactly what you did with that the shop vac :) I used a straw.

Here's what I pulled out of the threads


And some of my bolts were stretched out of spec. You can clearly see this section where the threads were damaged thinner than the rest

Yes, each bolt was measured. I was paranoid about that. They were all within spec. All three times (facepalm).
Got up yesterday and started spinning wrenches at 8am. One donut, 2 gallons of Gatorade (it was 90f today) and 15 hours later its running like new again. No leaks, timing set, several PO gomer-repairs undone... 2 mile test drive was all smiles. Extended test drive later today and then it's time to start loading gear!

Thanks for the advice and encouragement, guys.
Congrats! Sounds like all your paranoia and hard work paid off!

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