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Old 09-07-2016, 05:23 PM   #1
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SPI Full Rebuild, now have coolant in the cylinder

EDIT: same old thread, just deleted the "bad head from Headsonly.com" from the title and it doesn't apply - the head was fine.

I'm back with another dropped valve seat rebuild. A couple of months ago I bought an SPI that had previously dropped a valve but had a shady repair. Ended up replacing that cylinder head with one from headsonly.com and it was great - no real issues. Had about $1000 into, sold it for $1800. Easy money.

After seeing how easy that one was, I picked up another SPI that had dropped a seat for $500. The car is in excellent shape (minus the motor) so I didn't have a problem going into it knowing the possibility of having to rebuild the motor.

As expected, I pulled the head and the #3 piston had shattered and bent the rod:


Because the previous owner drove the car home after the valve seat had dropped, the cylinder wall was gouged up pretty good (didn't take a picture of it). I didn't feel comfortable putting it back together like that, so I pulled the block and sent it to the machine shop. $260 later I got the block back, resleeved, boiled out, magnifluxed and ready to go.

Got it all rebuilt, new pistons, rings and bearings for another ~$300 or so (did the rebuild myself), fired it up and it purred like a kitten.....for about 4-5 minutes. Once the thermostat opened up and coolant started circulating it started sputtering and water started spitting out the exhaust. Not wanting to risk any damage I shut it off and could hear water/coolant dripping and sizzling inside the exhaust up by the exhaust manifold.

Removed the exhaust manifold to confirm my suspicions and see this:


Coolant is getting into the exhaust through the #3 exhaust port. Unfortunately, I didn't pull the plug at this point to see if it was wet. Instead, I pulled the head assuming the EngineTech head gasket was junk (had to replace the last enginetech hg that I used so I assumed they were junk) and replaced it with a Felpro, along with new Felpro head bolts.

Got it all buttoned up, fired it up and.....same exact problem. I examined the head pretty closely and couldn't see any obvious cracks or other problems. Both new head gaskets looked fine, no issues.

Spoke with a guy at headsonly and he was little help other than to say "ship it to us and we'll check it out."

This is the first issue I'm aware of with Headsonly.com heads. Probably a dozen or so off this site, one previous I bought and another a buddy of mine bought.

BOTH TIMES this happened, there was no smoke at all, which I thought was a little strange. I believe that means the coolant isn't actually getting into the combustion chamber, rather getting into the exhaust port through a small crack or something...I don't know, maybe that's b.s.

That's where I am at this point. Debating on whether I should send the head back to headsonly or take it to my local shop. I know they're under warranty with headsonly but I don't really have 3-4 weeks to wait around for it.


To clarify - I do NOT mean this as a complaint thread against headsonly. They have a great reputation and I understand that sh!t happens and sometimes parts are bad. I just wanted to post this in case someone else has the same issue for some help.



Last edited by tlrtucker; 10-26-2016 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 09-13-2016, 03:46 PM   #2
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Got the head back from the machine shop and they said everything was fine. So I'm stumped.

Any thoughts?
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Old 09-13-2016, 04:38 PM   #3
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Have you checked the hose connections to the intake manifold????

The SPI intake includes a water jacket, so there are coolant hoses as well as vacuum hoses that attach to it.

Get a pair wrong, and you put coolant right into the engine. How well filled the cooling system was after reassembly could delay the introduction of coolant. Some see it filling a cylinder right away, others get the worse issue of just a little in - enough to bend a rod if it fires before that fluid stops cranking by the starter. Those are the extremes, yours may have fallen between them.
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Old 09-14-2016, 02:07 PM   #4
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If they are not pressure checking the water passages in 100% of the heads they can easily miss a crack in them and impacts like those pistons do when they start crunching all those valve seat pieces against the head often make plenty of cracks. Some hide so well to the eye you can't believe it.

If what we see is right then your sleeved cylinder was NOT #3, so not likely that. Assuming they did deck the block after the liner install.

The wrong hose install like said can put it to you as well.

Enough water and there is no steam, the entire combustion is wetted out to not happen.
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Old 09-19-2016, 05:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor View Post
Have you checked the hose connections to the intake manifold????
I triple checked, scoured the internet for pictures and diagrams, and even checked 4 different Focus' at the junkyard to verify (I know I shouldn't rely on junkyards for things like this, but if all 4 verified what I was seeing online, that works for me). I had everything connected properly. Thanks for the input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amc49 View Post
If they are not pressure checking the water passages in 100% of the heads they can easily miss a crack in them and impacts like those pistons do when they start crunching all those valve seat pieces against the head often make plenty of cracks. Some hide so well to the eye you can't believe it.

If what we see is right then your sleeved cylinder was NOT #3, so not likely that. Assuming they did deck the block after the liner install.
That's a great point - I ASSUME the shop I took the head to pressure checked the water passages as well (I obviously don't know the exact procedure), but I didn't specifically ask that. I get that headsonly could have missed something like this, but wouldn't the machine shop still find the crack?

Also - it might have been the #2 cylinder - I don't remember the firing order, it was the third from the left that they sleeved.
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Old 09-19-2016, 05:34 PM   #6
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UPDATE:

Last week I called Headsonly again and this time I was transferred to a manager (last time I spoke with a guy from the machine shop) and half way through my explanation he politely cut me off and said they'd get another head in the mail that morning. I wish they would've said that last week, but good news either way.

Hopefully it will be at the door when I get home today and I'll be able to try running it again this evening.

Here's to hoping!!
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Old 09-20-2016, 02:45 AM   #7
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Nice! That's impressive CS!
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Old 09-20-2016, 12:34 PM   #8
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Got the head installed late last night, but ran out of time. I'll get it completed and fired up after work today.
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Old 09-21-2016, 02:19 PM   #9
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Got everything back together, fired it up and...same damn problem. My last ditch effort is to try replacing the intake - maybe there's a crack in there somewhere. Nothing else makes sense. I'll post up more this weekend...
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Old 09-21-2016, 03:04 PM   #10
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Well dang!
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