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Anyone care to teach me how to change a headgasket?


dpascual1986

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I am determined to learn how to remove the head. I have bought several books, including the "how to rebuild your datsun engine". However for fear of costing me more than it should, I am interested in a set of knowledgable eyes and hands.

I am in the Carson, CA area. I am willing to pay what it would cost a mobile mechanic to do the job. Please quote me for the headgasket repair. I would like to learn the process at the same time. My garage is semi-equipped. I have a compressor, wrenches, sockets, a radio, TV and beer.

We will be working inside the garage where it is shaded from the sun and the elements. I need a quote for instruction.

Daniel

'73 240z Hack Job

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Your best tool for this job would be to get the following manual. Everything is detailed inside.

It is not difficult but you have to take your time, get the right tools and don't forget anything.

Main issue while changing head is getting the chain loose and release chain tensioner. You then have to manage to put it back on (if you know how to do it) or remove front cover which will add some extra hours of work.

Edited by Lazeum
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Your best tool for this job would be to get the following manual. Everything is detailed inside.

It is not difficult but you have to take your time, get the right tools and don't forget anything.

Main issue while changing head is getting the chain loose and release chain tensioner. You then have to manage to put it back on (if you know how to do it) or remove front cover which will add some extra hours of work.

I have this manual, and I have the chain tool to prevent it from sliding down. You are going to have to forgive me when I say the manual references to things that is jargon to me -what I do know is, I do not know and determined to learn.

ISSUES:

Im at work so I dont have the book on me. Off of the top of my head, these were a few things that needed clarification...

-It references to things such as "you need to set mark to pointer". Not an exact quote but which pointer am I looking at?

-Make sure you are TC at its firing stroke, and not ....How do I know which is the firing stroke? I tried to youtube/google setting TC, nothing. Is this the same at TDC?

- Something about making sure X cynlinder exhaust and intake valves were fully closed. Which one is intake vs exhaust?

I know my questions sound stupid, and I accept that but I will not learn if I don't ask/expose myself. I will be happy to pay it forward 20 years from now, when a noob much like myself asks the same questions.

If youre going to suggest that I take formal instructions, Ive tried. I have a mortgage and 3 jobs. No college within So-Cal have a schedule that will fit mine and I just cant justify trade school at thousands of dollars to do a $500 repair -im not looking to make this a profession

Daniel

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That's what Im talking about :-)

Next concern - 40 year old car = Hard to remove nuts and bolts. What if during my tinkering, I accidentally turn something that I have set to something specific. If someone would point out what I need to prevent, I would give them my first born child.

Example, engine set at TDC then I go to remove the cam sprocket and the chain turns = no longer at TDC.

Edited by dpascual1986
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Don't worry 'bout it!!! :D

After you set engine to tdc, put car in gear (5th) and put parking brake on. You won't be able to turn the crank after that.

If you run into problems. This forum will help you.

Even before you do a step and are not sure just post a new thread here with a clear and concise subject (Help Me !!) and you will get fast advice.

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Here is a video tutorial http://www.google.nl/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=video%20tutorial%20replacing%20head%20gasket%20datsun&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CD4QFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D6WCSh_6GA0k&ei=A0GFUqnhDK-f7gaQs4GgCQ&usg=AFQjCNEe_sJBasV4XG7OKLxgoJ-dItbVbw&bvm=bv.56343320,d.ZGU

I have not watched all 6 parts. He used a static position to video which does'nt give the best view point. He also removed the timing cover and timing chain which is easier but more work.

Take your time reading and asking question and you will manage it yourself. Later when you look back on this it will be much more rewarding then just paying someone else to do it.

Chas

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If your like me and new to these engines, except for driving them, you'll worry your self to death for fear of messing up- which is good to a point then you have to say screw it and just do it. I know these guys talk like it's as easy as changing your shoes, because when you've done them it is. But you still want it done right and on the first go round. My 2 recommendations would be to buy a quart of Acetone and a quart of Automatic Transmission fluid, mix equal parts together in a spray bottle and soak all the nuts and bolts you can find, right off the bat, they need to soak for awhile. It'll penetrate through the rust and grunge and make breaking them loose a lot easier. And don't let the timing chain drop! I used my longest screwdriver but would buy that tool Blue keeps in his Barbie doll suitcase for the next time, MSA sells them.

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If your like me and new to these engines, except for driving them, you'll worry your self to death for fear of messing up- which is good to a point then you have to say screw it and just do it. I know these guys talk like it's as easy as changing your shoes, because when you've done them it is. But you still want it done right and on the first go round. My 2 recommendations would be to buy a quart of Acetone and a quart of Automatic Transmission fluid, mix equal parts together in a spray bottle and soak all the nuts and bolts you can find, right off the bat, they need to soak for awhile. It'll penetrate through the rust and grunge and make breaking them loose a lot easier. And don't let the timing chain drop! I used my longest screwdriver but would buy that tool Blue keeps in his Barbie doll suitcase for the next time, MSA sells them.

im actually a step below your level, Im new to the engines and my only experience driving them is about 2 minutes total. I only move it in and out of my garage, it has a significant leak on the right side of the timing cover (milky fluid) and has jizz all over the cam.

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One more hard learned lesson. I worked on mine for about a week and then my back was killing me so I go raid Pop's medicine cabinet and his eloquent self say's " hell, raise that front end up with jack stands and get it closer to 'ya, quit bending over so much and stay out of my medicine cabinet".

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One more hard learned lesson. I worked on mine for about a week and then my back was killing me so I go raid Pop's medicine cabinet and his eloquent self say's " hell, raise that front end up with jack stands and get it closer to 'ya, quit bending over so much and stay out of my medicine cabinet".

im asian dude, I dont need jackstands to get that engine closer to me. its up to my chest as it is.

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Milky fluid on the dipstick and in oil pan,too? Please provide a little helpful history, i.e. How did you arrive at the point where a car seems only driven briefly or slightly has this problem? Was it being driven and something happened? How long has the problem existed? What condition is the car in general? Pretty much dead? A beater? A project? Usable for daily driving? Taxi? Won it at cards? Just kidding. Update though, if you will. Seems like you may have to do a little more than just change a gasket. Say you didn't take your uncle's spotless toy out and slam it around while he's out of town. Still DIY, what with a garage, beer, tools, and oh yeah, desperation? You're ready. Psst. Fly me (and my wife, of course) first class from Indiana and put us up comfortably for as long as it takes (read the fine print) to put this vehicle to rights, all meals and clothing allowances and customary day trip stipends included, of course...Sorry, not presently in the market for offspring, however, as your earlier post suggests. I hope I'm safe presuming you still have a sense of humor, a great ally at times like this. :)

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Milky fluid on the dipstick and in oil pan,too? Please provide a little helpful history, i.e. How did you arrive at the point where a car seems only driven briefly or slightly has this problem? Was it being driven and something happened? How long has the problem existed? What condition is the car in general? Pretty much dead? A beater? A project? Usable for daily driving? Taxi? Won it at cards? Just kidding. Update though, if you will. Seems like you may have to do a little more than just change a gasket. Say you didn't take your uncle's spotless toy out and slam it around while he's out of town. Still DIY, what with a garage, beer, tools, and oh yeah, desperation? You're ready. Psst. Fly me (and my wife, of course) first class from Indiana and put us up comfortably for as long as it takes (read the fine print) to put this vehicle to rights, all meals and clothing allowances and customary day trip stipends included, of course...Sorry, not presently in the market for offspring, however, as your earlier post suggests. I hope I'm safe presuming you still have a sense of humor, a great ally at times like this. :)

I bought this from a guy who claims he frequents this forum. He said all it needed was a new battery. Lo and behold, nothing worked. I mean nothing worked, no lights, doors, brakes, no exhaust, wiring was all hacked up, ignition switch....You name it, it didn't work. If I ever find that asshold, imma buy him a beer and expose his a$$ so he won't dupe another noob again.

Everyday I find something new to fix on my hack job of a car. All the lights work now, ignition switch, doors, etc. I'm now venturing onto unfamiliar territory - the engine. What's done is done, so now my task is to fix.

Milky in dip stick, I assume pan as well. Not just headgasket and timing chain? Feel free to chime in and let me know what else I need.

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Interesting - Man asks if there is an experienced Z mechanic {no need to be professional - but experienced } - - that is willing to come to his home - and show him how to change the head gasket. Offers to pay what a Mobile Mechanic would charge - but wants to do the work himself - hands on. Needs "a quote for instruction".

Later offers $500.00 {I don't think you would get a Mobile Mechanic to change a head gasket for that amount - but oh well..

8 well intentioned replies with "Do It Yourself"… but that isn't what was ask. Is there no one in the L.A. area willing to make $500.00 for a couple of days of expert, or even experienced instruction? No one even knows of such a person in that huge area? No mechanics willing to stop by after work and pick up a few bucks?

This kind of reminds me of the old Signs I used to see at some Mechanic's Shops

LABOR: $65.00 per hour

LABOR IF YOU WATCH: $95.00 per hour

LABOR IF YOU HELP: $145.00 per hour

LABOR IF YOU BRING YOUR OWN PARTS AND HELP: $250.00 per hour

FWIW,

Carl B.

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If coolant has contaminated the oil, as it seems to have done, either as the engine was running or just sitting for a while, that answer has many parts. Have you been driving the car prior to discovering the problem? Don't try it, but do you think it would start and run now otherwise? You need to know if your engine is damaged in order to know what you need. Otherwise, you assume the worst and study up on rebuilding your engine. A first hands on step would be to drain the oil pan to see how much coolant has gotten into the oil, and drain some coolant to see how much oil is in the coolant. You will eventually be draining both entirely, no doubt. Once you get some specific task to do, there are excellent threads on this site to help you. You will also get good advice. Several threads are documenting engine rebuilds right now. I've not actually worked on an L24 for a really long time, so I'm just trying to help you with a a little general diagnosis. Sounds like you are willing to conquer this, but you need many parts like gaskets, thermostat, hoses, etc. You do need to determine the extent of problems and the extent to which you reasonably will have to go to repair. A professional estimate by a local shop is recommended. The more you can tell them will help them figure it out. Good luck!

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If coolant has contaminated the oil, as it seems to have done, either as the engine was running or just sitting for a while, that answer has many parts. Have you been driving the car prior to discovering the problem? Don't try it, but do you think it would start and run now otherwise? You need to know if your engine is damaged in order to know what you need. Otherwise, you assume the worst and study up on rebuilding your engine. A first hands on step would be to drain the oil pan to see how much coolant has gotten into the oil, and drain some coolant to see how much oil is in the coolant. You will eventually be draining both entirely, no doubt. Once you get some specific task to do, there are excellent threads on this site to help you. You will also get good advice. Several threads are documenting engine rebuilds right now. I've not actually worked on an L24 for a really long time, so I'm just trying to help you with a a little general diagnosis. Sounds like you are willing to conquer this, but you need many parts like gaskets, thermostat, hoses, etc. You do need to determine the extent of problems and the extent to which you reasonably will have to go to repair. A professional estimate by a local shop is recommended. The more you can tell them will help them figure it out. Good luck!

It runs and is drivable, forward and back but that's pretty much it for fear of overheating/ more coolant/oil mixing. There is a leak on the right side of the timing cover, between the block, not by the head. Is the timing chain submerged into oil or what would cause a significant amount of oil to leak from this spot?

Daniel

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I am determined to learn how to remove the head. ...

Please quote me for the headgasket repair.

It looks like you've decided that you have a blown head-gasket, or someone told you that you had one, due to the oil/water emulsion, and you're assuming that replacing the head-gasket will fix your problem. But there are several possible causes for coolant leaking in to the lubrication system. You could also (some would say probably) find that your head is warped. I took a head off of a good running engine, no HG problems, and it's warped .007".

It might be cheaper just to replace the engine or the head if you're looking just to get the car running. If it's a hobby and you want to dig in to engine work, then that's a different scene.

Just adding something to think about. You'll probably spend a lot more money and time than you plan to, even if the head-gasket is the cause of coolant in your lubrication system.

Forgot to say that nobody has even mentioned the manifolds and problems associated with just removing and replacing those. Removing and replacing a head is a pretty big job and can nickel and dime you pretty hard.

Edited by Zed Head
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It looks like you've decided that you have a blown head-gasket, or someone told you that you had one, due to the oil/water emulsion, and you're assuming that replacing the head-gasket will fix your problem. But there are several possible causes for coolant leaking in to the lubrication system. You could also (some would say probably) find that your head is warped. I took a head off of a good running engine, no HG problems, and it's warped .007".

It might be cheaper just to replace the engine or the head if you're looking just to get the car running. If it's a hobby and you want to dig in to engine work, then that's a different scene.

Just adding something to think about. You'll probably spend a lot more money and time than you plan to, even if the head-gasket is the cause of coolant in your lubrication system.

Forgot to say that nobody has even mentioned the manifolds and problems associated with just removing and replacing those. Removing and replacing a head is a pretty big job and can nickel and dime you pretty hard.

yep, im looking into learning how to do it. like I said, it runs but doesn't drive well -I have an alternate, reliably running car, the 240z on the other hand is chilling in the garage, half in boxes. If im going to replace the engine anyway, like you suggested, I might as well try my luck and attempt to do it. Ill replace if I irreparably break things :-)

Edited by dpascual1986
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Well then, I would open up the Engine Mechanical chapter of the Factory Service Manual and start there. The Nissan FSM's are very well written and will get you far. The first part of the chapter is about disassembly. The first thing you need to do is remove the manifolds, or at least disconnect them if you plan to pull everything out at one time. You'll probably break a few studs and bolts but once you get those off the head will be exposed. Then remove the valve cover gasket and start popping head bolts loose. Take the two short bolts holding the timing cover out. Insert the cam tensioner retainer. See if the head will come loose. It will probably be stuck. Worst case, you get halfway and need help. You might be surprised though and it comes right off.

Removing stuff is relatively easy. Getting it re-installed right is more work.

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Well then, I would open up the Engine Mechanical chapter of the Factory Service Manual and start there. The Nissan FSM's are very well written and will get you far. The first part of the chapter is about disassembly. The first thing you need to do is remove the manifolds, or at least disconnect them if you plan to pull everything out at one time. You'll probably break a few studs and bolts but once you get those off the head will be exposed. Then remove the valve cover gasket and start popping head bolts loose. Take the two short bolts holding the timing cover out. Insert the cam tensioner retainer. See if the head will come loose. It will probably be stuck. Worst case, you get halfway and need help. You might be surprised though and it comes right off.

Removing stuff is relatively easy. Getting it re-installed right is more work.

I have removed the radiator, intake manifold, water pump, alternator... no bolts broken yet.

I also did more research and here are more clues to the puzzle...

1. I have no evidence of oil in the radiator

2. I have coolant or water in my dip stick, cam shaft, and the right side of my timing cover where it meets the block (leaking)

3. I have no white smoke.

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Sounding more like something other than the headgasket. If it wasn't run enough to open the thermostat that might keep the oil/water gunk out of the radiator. No white smoke could mean you have a good headgasket that's keeping a corroded or cracked water or oil passage in the block or head from leaking into the cylinders. Maybe it's a good thing you're doing it yourself because if you need a new block for example a shop would charge a bunch to find that out and you'd still need a new motor.

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