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Discussion Starter #1
So, my engine had sat (rebuilt) for many years.

Once I finally got it started, it had a very slight leak from the drivers side rear area that seemed to come from where the head met the block. This was when it was warmed up.

I went ahead with the cam break in and by the time I was done, (maybe a little after...) the leak pretty much stopped by it self.

I never worried about it 'till recently.

I'm not getting an overheat condition (measured from the stock water pump port), but I do get freeway pinging under acceleration; when warmed up, even from an idle, I can hear some popping deep in the engine that sure sounds like boiling. When I feel the hose that bypasses the heater, I can feel popping that seems to confirm the boiling thought. This continues for a few minutes after shut down and I'll some times get a little dieseling.

Not that this issue just started, mind you but I just started to pay attention to it. I'd hear it before and, for some reason, never paid attention.

So, some things about what I have to work with:

I pulled the thermostat and still get boiling sounds even when the after market mechanical gauge reads cold. I cant seem to pin down exactly where it's boiling, but I can feel it most in the heater bypass hose.

The fan, which is a Mk8 E-fan swap works fine and is set to start low speed at 190, high speed at 209.

I checked the oil and dont seem to have any froth.

When I start the vehicle with the radiator cap open, I can see flow, so the pump should be good. Plus the pump is new. There ARE some bubbles but not right away. Only after a little bit of warm up time.

Radiator is a new unit, stock replacement with probably 1K miles on it.

While removing the thermostat today, I plugged the upper radiator hose and poured two gallons of water into the radiator and it came pouring out of the thermostat hole in the block about as fast as I was pouring it in.

With a new, tested, radiator cap the thing will fill the puke tank and overflow quite a bit of water. Enough that once it cools down and I look into the radiator, I can see the water level is JUST even with the cores in there. It likes to stay there.

I also dont seem to have any white smoke, acrid smell or water coming from the tail pipe.

So, it seems like I'm getting SOME indications of a head gasket (there WAS that leak, you see...) and some indications of a blocked passage.

There is obviously some boiling somewhere in the engine.

Any way to confirm either of these things?

I'd prefer to narrow it down a little before I start pulling heads to look at gaskets.

This is in my 79 with a 400. It has a Stealth manifold and a Edelbrock 1406, if any of that matters.
 

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OMF
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2,957 Posts
Interesting issue!

I had a similar issue with a turbo'd 4 banger I used to have.
The head gasket was the problem.
Basically the on the compression cycle of the piston it would pressurize the cooling system.
This caused it to overflow the reservoir and run quite hot.
Because the coolant was not getting into the oil or the chamber it didn't show typical head gasket symptoms.

That said I would agree that is a head gasket...
 

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96 XL, 351, E4OD w/FL1 & dual coolers. Double cardan shafts, TrueTracs, 4.10s front & rear. 4" lift
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177 Posts
Have you tried pulling the plugs? I know you said it isn't steaming but I think even a smallamount of coolant leaking back into one of the cyls would be enough to clean it upmore than the others.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
RustProof: Good call, I didnt even THINK to pull plugs. I'll do that when it's easier to see outside.

Raleigh: The more I think about it, the more I'm sure it's the head gasket. I hope I know when I pull the plugs....cause I dont enjoy changing stuff just to see if it helps.
 

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I see lots of "boiling" references in your posts, if you start the engine and the coolant is "racing" immediately like boiling water or slightly after start up in the radiator neck, "blown head gasket"....do you have a burnt smell in the radiator neck as well......coolant in the oil..etc. etc. etc. etc.......:doh0715:

Good Luck ~ :thumbup
 

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You stated this is a R/B engine and it sat for a while, did you ever start it after you finished the R/B ? Have you tried retorqueing the heads ? I would pull plugs and look for water fouling as previously stated, I would also pull the valve cover gaskets and check the head torque, it may be to late now as I don't know how much time you have on the engine but its worth a shot
 

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X2 on that AND once that's done then check/torque bolts on the lower intake manifold, upper fuel injection manifold/plenum and valve covers in a cross pattern technique but don't over do it......check the Haynes Manual IIRC 18-22lbs for manifolds, 12-15lbs for valve covers max.

Good Luck ~ :thumbup
 

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Discussion Starter #9
As a follow up to this, it turned out to be that I had, in fact, put a head gasket on incorrectly.

Maybe it'll help someone else later on down the line.
 

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'88 XLT. 2" lift, 3G, Saginaw Pump, Headers, High flow 3" cat, 3" exhaust, 6 litre tune, K&N
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188 Posts
What was incorrect about the installation? A picture or a description of the mistake will help someone in the future that finds this post on a search.
 

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OMF
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It is common on these engines that people install one of them upside down.
One goes with the printed side up, and the other printed side down.
 
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