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LugNut 11-25-2011 08:53 PM

Yet another SPI knocking -- Will Fix It!
[:)][:)][:)][:)][:)][:)] January 15, 2012 edit by LugNut: This thread has become popular, thanks! It was not intended as a how-to, but I bet you'll find it helpful if you are thinking of rebuilding your SPI. Much later in the thread, with the rebuild now done, I've added parts and tools lists as well as lots of pictures. But _do_ read through the entire thread from the start because you'll learn from my challenges, other member's helpful hints, and pick up many details that are not in the later lists or pictures. Enjoy the biting humor too, and be safe! [:)][:)][:)][:)][:)][:)]


Newbie to the FF, but an old hand at repairing cars. Just acquired a 2001 P-code SE sedan from some nice folk. The engine suddenly developed a knock in their driveway at a startup, and the nonmechanical sellers said they hadn't driven it since. I've started the engine briefly twice now, and yes it knocks!

This forum was very useful in identifying the likely cause -- a dropped valve seat. Starting tomorrow or the day after, I will pull the head and see what's up. I'm prepared to pull the whole engine and go through it, if necessary. I see the rebuilt heads with new and improved seats on eBay.

Degreased the engine bay and underhood, as well as the outside of the body and wheels, this afternoon to get things rolling. Will be searching the site for y'alls wisdom, but please feel free to list applicable links here! [headbang]

TeamZetec 11-26-2011 12:27 AM

I'll tell you now, the engine is toast. When you hear rod knock, its from the valve seat dropping out of the head and destroying the piston and bending the connecting rod. 100 bucks says the cylinder walls are scarred to hell. My 02 Focus SPI didnt knock but the dropped valve seat destroyed the top of the piston. Check out the vid of my shit SPI that I used to have on my youtube channel.

LugNut 11-26-2011 06:27 AM

Could be!
"I'll tell you now, the engine is toast."

Yep -- Both the buyer and seller knew that, so the one-owner car changed hands at an appropriate price. And I had it flat-bedded here to eliminate more damage.

Otherwise, this 5-speed car seems in very good shape for its 11 years. So far I just found little things that are quite fixable (trunk lid lifts, gas filler latch, hood release handle hanging down, window tint that needs removing, spare tire at 2 psi, etc.), and the car needs further detailing inside and out and inside de-smoke-odoring.

I'll take and post pics. Wouldn't be surprised if the piston and maybe rod are whacked, but with any luck the cylinder and crank aren't bad; not gonna take you up on the bet because it's very possible. I'm sure my machine shop guys would be happy to see the block walk in! If the block comes out, I'll likely put a new clutch set in while I'm there.

This car is hopefully going to the in-laws, so an engine swap, for more power, isn't appropriate nor hopefully the cheapest route given my free labor. We'll find out -- that's what makes it fun!

Have a link to the factory service manual? [???:)]

TeamZetec 11-26-2011 10:05 AM

As about 95% of us on here have said and will say again, do a Zetec swap, do NOT put in another SPI. Really...why would you put in another crappy SPI when you could do a Zetec swap for the same amount of money or less as it would to get another running SPI?

I dont know of a link to factory service manual but someone else on here might.

jmcrides03 11-26-2011 10:44 AM

^^ not trying to start an arguement here. but to the op. if you do repair the current spi motor if it is fixable or replace it with another spi motor while the head is off from it you can take it to a machine shop and have the valve seats changed over to the revised ones that are supposed to not drop. those seats are available from ford and a engine shop will do the valve seats pretty cheap. i plan to do this if i get my contour on the road while my focus is still hanging in there, ill be up to 100k this week and am starting to fear the valve seat dropping

LugNut 11-26-2011 10:54 AM

This one went at just over 132K miles. From on-line pics, most seem to have severe damage to the head but maybe those are just the worst ones I'm seeing.

Starting a hunt now for detailed threads on pulling the head (know any?) because I don't have a workshop manual yet ...

LugNut 11-26-2011 06:27 PM

Can't upload the pics!
Well ... I have a few pics to post, but the site says they are "too small!"

But I read elsewhere that maybe new users must have 25 posts before they can upload to the gallery?

Anyway, after working on a few other things this morning on the SE, and adding to the nonengine parts-needed list, I've now started the surgery on the SPI. Battery was first to come out -- it needed some water and is getting a slow recharge (car had sat for the last month). Then the battery will get a desulferizing while the engine is rebuilt.

Still don't have a service manual, even after stopping at two bookstores this afternoon for a Haynes, etc. version. But I'm making progress on getting the stuff off of the top, sides, and back of the engine. Those little release levers for the wiring harness, onto the fuel injector rail, were interesting. Have the exhaust heat shield and EGR bolts soaking with Liquid Wrench overnight because they are rusty.

That oil filter placement is sure user-hostile!

Radiator drain was convenient. I've yet to remove the lower radiator hose, but is there also a separate drain plug/petcock somewhere on the block?

Now off to search the site for info on getting into and removing the timing set. And for links to discount mailorder OEM parts vendors.

LugNut 11-27-2011 11:04 AM

Sleepy Sunday
Starting work on it this Sunday morning, and have the timing belt exposed.

That belts-side engine mount and top timing belt cover, both of cast pot metal or heavy aluminum alloy, were easy to remove but sure look like there's a lot of leverage going through them. Any problems with those cracking? Mine are fine.

Just pulled all four spark plugs, and except for needing replacing, all look fine including #4 and #2.

LugNut 11-27-2011 12:17 PM

The plot thickens ...
Gotta get to those 25 posts for the pics!

In now for lunch, but got the crank pulley/damper off, and the valve cover. I've done everything so far with the car down on the concrete, but did have to turn the front wheels far to the right to get my impact wrench on the crank bolt. Trusty HD floor jack with wood blocks is holding up the engine.

Timing belt looks old but in good shape. Timing marks line up, so no belt jump. Rockers look and feel good, and rotating the engine by hand didn't yield any unusual resistance (plugs out). Inside of engine looks and smells very clean for 132K+ miles.

So ... likely either it's a rod, or my hope, a valve seat dropped but hasn't broken yet so it is slapping between the valve and the head. Time will tell ... or other ideas/experiences?

Using an inspection mirror, read the head's casting number from its back side (just under the cover's rail). Very tempted to order a rebuilt head right now, even before getting the old one off.

Compared to the RAV4.1 with the 3SFE (last valve job I did), this SPI's timing belt is very easy to get to! Nice.

The oil pan is nicely exposed from below. I haven't search the site yet, but is it possible to service (replace) the crank, rods, and bearings, and to hone the cylinders, with the block still in the car? That would save a lot of work!

jmcrides03 11-27-2011 02:03 PM

for the service manual go to autozone thats where i got mine they had 1 in stock. im pretty sure you can get to the crank rods and bearings with the motor still in the car but not sure how honing it would work out. i know everyone here will tell you "its toast scrap it and get a zetec" but there has been some spis that after dropping the valve seat were still reuseable it just depends on what the cylinders look like and if thres any damamage to the head. if the head is ok except for the valve seat you may be able to get away with just replacing the valve seats with the revised ones instead of purchasing a whole new head the ones on ebay are just a used oem head with the new seats put in it

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