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Putting the head back on

Discussion in '"Stock" Alpine' started by Alpine 1789, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    I got my rebuilt head back today and will start reassembling everything tonight. Fortunately, the temperature has dropped almost 20 degrees since I took everything apart, so this part should be much more comfortable. I have multiple things to report to the group and, as always, multiple questions.

    The first bit of new info is a machine shop that Jim Ellis told me about: Mintz Machine in Columbia SC. I had found a place that was only a few miles from home, but was uncomfortable giving it to someone who had probably never seen an Alpine head before. Jim said that Lee (I assume he is "Lee Mintz", but never asked) knew more about Alpine heads than anyone he had ever met and recommended him highly. Sending the head UPS to Columbia only cost me about $12, so that was a no-brainer to me.

    Lee called me right after he got the head and told me that my head gasket failure hadn't caused the head to corrode (http://www.sunbeamalpine.org/forum/showthread.php?t=16559); rather he said the head corrosion caused the head gasket to fail. He said the head damage was from the inside out, something usually caused by running an incorrect water/coolant mixture. I always try to run about a 50/50 mix, but given the problems over the years with coolant leaks, it is certainly possible that I often ran too little or too much. None the less, Lee said he would epoxy some sort of tabs into the head that would prevent this from happening again. I couldn't quite catch what kind of tabs he was talking about, but went along with his plan.

    We discussed the head and my engine and I asked him if he had any recommendations of things to do 'while he was at it'. He then flow tested the head and told me that he could improve the flow and give me about 15% more torque. Jim says that Lee is a wizard at this, so I am really looking forward to driving it. I don't have my notes in front of me, but think the porting work ran another $150 or so. (Note that Jim had already done some porting, so working on a stock head might run more.)

    Lee also replaced the valve guides and stem seals with modern ones that last longer and run better. The total bill to weld up and re-cut the water passages, port the intakes and replace the valve guides was $775 including shipping back to me. ($537 labor, $208 parts, the rest tax and shipping.) How good a price that was won't be known until I drive the car, but since people who know what they are doing are pretty scarce and Jim no longer has time to take in head work, he wanted everyone to know about Lee. It is too soon to call me a satisfied customer, but I am hoping to be able to report back on that by the end of the weekend. In the meantime, if you want to contact Lee, its:

    Mintz Machine
    1044-B Market St.
    Columbia, SC 29201

    More on Lee to follow once I have the car back on the road.
  2. RootesRacer

    RootesRacer Donation Time

    studs go on the outside 2 (front and rear) on the intake/exh side of the head.
  3. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    Thanks Jarrid. For those who don't know what question Jarrid is answering, I had also asked which bolts on the head were actually the studs. I realized the answer before anyone had replied and deleted the question. Jarrid must have been answering at the same time I was deleting. :eek:
  4. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    Here is the before:


    And the after:

  5. jumpinjan

    jumpinjan Donation Time

    ANd when installing those studs, don't screw them in tight. I found one stud was over tighten too much that it cracked the block. I had to get it welded and the deck resurfaced. Pretty expensive mistake that the previous owner did.
    (ARP says to only hand tighten headbolt studs)
  6. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    Thanks Jan. It has been a while since I had studs in the head so I certainly could have made a similar stupid mistake. I will be careful!
  7. RootesRacer

    RootesRacer Donation Time


    Did they use stock guides or something different?
  8. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    Something different, but I don't know what. My bill reads "Custom Ex guides" and "Custom In guides" at $80 each and "P.C. Valve seals" at $40. Hopefully, Jim E will read this and can provide a little more detail on what Lee did and why. I only know that both Jim and Lee recommended it, so I went with it.
  9. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    I stopped by the auto parts store today to pick up some misc hardware I need for the installation, but forgot to get a new thermostat. There is technically no reason I need one, the old one worked perfectly, but it just seemed like a good thing to do while everything was apart. On the other hand, I know that thermostats are sometimes defective out of the box. Should I replace it 'while I'm at it'? The old one is about 7 years/8,000 miles old.
  10. RootesRacer

    RootesRacer Donation Time

    For one offs, thats probably about what you'd pay.
  11. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    No way.
  12. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    Thanks Jarrid. I'll get more details from Lee if Jim doesn't weigh in over the next few days.

    Thanks Bill. Happy to save a trip to the auto parts store and spend more time putting everything back together.

    New question: does anyone have any recommendations on a good gasket sealant to use on the thermostat housings? I have paper gaskets but don't want to trust them, at least not alone. I have honed the housings flat, but there is still a bit of corrosion on a few places and I want to be sure to get a good seal.
  13. RootesRacer

    RootesRacer Donation Time

    My vote is for blue or red permatex RTV.
    You should still use paper gaskets since the paper allows the cast parts to be separated without much grief (paper tears with far less shear).

    If you use silicone on both halves and no gasket, the surface tension bond is very strong and the parts may have to be pried apart which can bend/damage them.

    I made a plate to adapt a different rad filler cap to my rad expansion tank. I used permatex RTV with no gasket. Turned out the welded part had a small leak so it had to come off. Bottom line is the plate had to be pried off which bent the hell out of it and I ended having to make another one.
    The second one got a hand made fiber paper gasket.
  14. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    Thanks Jarrid. That is exactly the information I was looking for. Same thing (paper + RTV) for the oil filter block to engine?

    This does bring up something I have been meaning to ask for a long time: Do the different types/colors of RTV really make a difference for our applications? I read the labels and I really can't see the difference for our engines. Put differently, if you were putting the thermostat housing on and were out of the blue and red RTV but had the black, would you drive to the auto parts store or just go with what you had in stock?
  15. RootesRacer

    RootesRacer Donation Time

    I think in some cases the color is just color. In others, the color has to due with application. RTFM.

    Like the red I think is higher temp.

    None are particularly good against gasoline, but seem to seal well with water or oil.

    I would have used grey or red for the cooling system, I am not sure of the blacks properties. The type I use is the one that DOESNT smell like vinegar (acetic acid curing).

    For the filter base gaskets I clean them with brake cleaner then (using nitrile gloves), rub a light coat of the RTV all over both sides of the gasket.
    I dont leave enough that will squeeze out, just enough to waterproof the paper and leave a slight tack to stick to the metal.

    Now for the water application I would do similar but leave just a bit more on so a tiny bit does squeeze off the gasket. I do this to increase the sealed surface area since the cooling system is under a fair amount of pressure and only two bolts provide the sealing load.

    The key is to have impeccably clean surfaces and use very little RTV (less is more).

    Ive had very good luck with RTV using this procedure on these very applications.
  16. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    I am sorry to say that I had the "opportunity" to use a lot of the black RTV this summer and it has different properties than the other colors. Very good stuff, I would not hesitate to use it in any application calling for RTV. I am in agreement with Jarrid on the other colors, really can't see much difference among them.

  17. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    Thanks guys. I will be heading out to the garage shortly to start the reassembly process. I have one last (for now) question to leave out it cyberspace while I get started: can someone tell me the stock SV water hose routing? I have a sneaking suspicion I may have done it wrong when I put the engine in and, if so, a fear that this may have contributed to or even caused the head failure.
  18. Tom H

    Tom H Platinum Level Sponsor

  19. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    I have just hit my first challenge. The had is back on and torqued down to 45lbs. I was just getting ready to put the push rods back in and I noticed that the tabs on the head extend just a hair - maybe 1/16" past the comparable tabs on the head and the block. This will certainly present problems when I put the rocker cover back on. I really don't want to pull the head again, but of course will if necessary. It is certainly easier right now than a couple of hours from now. Any recommendations?

  20. jumpinjan

    jumpinjan Donation Time

    Yes that's one mandatory thing to check. Leave it be and put some extra sealer on the side cover gasket, is about all you can do.

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