Head gasket change and while your at it??? - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-04-2018, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Head gasket change and while your at it???

My 78 spider with 43k has an oil leak at the head gasket. I have a mechanic that is honest a capable, and want to know that while we have the head off, do I go for a full head and valve job, mill, port and polish or should I just replace the gasket. Cost of the complete job is $1,800. Head gasket only $700. I plan on owning the car forever, so leaning to the full job. Any thoughts????
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-04-2018, 10:40 AM
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id simply replace the head gasket. with 43K miles there is no need in my view to do anything more.

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-04-2018, 10:59 AM
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I'd first say, check your compression, and how is your oil consumption? If both are OK, sure, just do the head gasket. I had this situation on my GTV, O-rings were leaking oil. Got the head off, no other problems. Had my machine shop to a vacuum check on the valves, which takes two minutes. Checks whether they seal, not whether the valve guides leak oil. Put it back together with a new head gasket, all good. Cost whatever a head gasket costs.

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-04-2018, 11:16 AM
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I think that head had valve seals.. no?... I don't know how effective they were from the get go but I thought I would pose the thought. ...why not pop those off and de-carbon the valves while you are at it
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-04-2018, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milford View Post
My 78 spider with 43k has an oil leak at the head gasket.
Is oil getting in the coolant or coolant getting in the oil? If not, have you tried to re-torque the head nuts? Perhaps this could stop the oil leak.

The less milling you do on the head, the more material you'll have if you ever need to machine the head later.

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-04-2018, 03:32 PM
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motor mounts.. at least you can see them now.. and get the aluiumn capped one, last longer
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-04-2018, 05:42 PM
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My two cents everyone is siding with if it only a head gasket leak, then only replace the head gasket. I agree.


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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 05:32 AM
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I would only do the head gasket with such low mileage. I would make sure you check the flatness of the head.

I would also change the motor mounts as mentioned since they will be easily accessible, however, I would not recommend the mounts with the metal caps. Once those mounts sag, and they will, you will be resting on those caps and get a lot of vibration.

Sounds like fun.

Good luck,

Vin
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milford View Post
My 78 spider with 43k ..... Any thoughts????
I'd say to check the odometer. Only 43,000 miles in 40 years?? Hardly seems possible.

As others have written, you don't want to mill the head to gain compression. Better to install HC pistons if that's your goal. At 1,075 miles/yr, this car won't hit 100K miles until 2080 - at that point, the supply of good 2L heads will probably have dried up!

Porting & polishing may help meet your mechanic's boat payment, but probably won't make much difference on a street car.

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Last edited by Alfajay; 12-05-2018 at 08:28 AM.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Alfajay View Post
Porting & polishing may help meet your mechanic's boat payment, but probably won't make much difference on a street car.


Vin
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 09:06 AM
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Hi there, how come we don't want to mill the head to gain compression? In this thread, post 17 and 31 RJ says to do just that.

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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 09:23 AM
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Hi there, how come we don't want to mill the head to gain compression?
Milling a head by a significant amount to raise the compression is a tried and true "hot rod" technique. The problem is that it may render the head unusable if it becomes pitted later and needs to be milled again to clean it up. As spares for our cars become scarce, it makes sense to preserve what we have for as long as possible.

Also, when combining high-lift cams with increased compression, HC pistons with deeper valve pockets may be needed. Just cutting the head and retaining the stock pistons, might lead to valve-piston interference with bigger cams.

Quote:
In this thread, post 17 and 31 RJ says to do just that.
Yes, but posts #10 and 11 in that same thread say NOT to mill the head. Different people have different opinions.

Jay Mackro
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 09:43 AM
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I agree with the advice to try re-torquing the head nuts. It is safe to go to 70 ft-lb. I also agree to only replace the gasket if re-torquing does not work and there are no other issues.
However:
Quote:
Also, when combining high-lift cams with increased compression, HC pistons with deeper valve pockets may be needed. Just cutting the head and retaining the stock pistons, might lead to valve-piston interference with bigger cams.
I have quite a bit of experience with high lift cams. The only problem that I have encountered is a limited range of adjustment. You may never want to go lower than about 101 LC on a big intake cam but that may well be the limit. It should not be an issue, even with 12mm lift cams if you set the LC in the 101 - 104 range.

Ed Prytherch
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 10:09 AM
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While You're at It and Head Milling

I can't imagine pulling a head off of a 40 year old car and not giving it a thorough inspection, replacing valve seals, and potentially lapping valves depending on compression. It is an opportunity to confirm the state of the head and insure ongoing reliability.

I appreciate the preservation sentiment. However, you can mill a head to raise the CR and buy a spare head for less money than a set of of Motronic pistons and liners... and considerably less money than a set of HC forged pistons and a set of liners. Sure, if cost is no object, buy pistons and liners.

Rich Hanning
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 11:01 AM
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Sure, if cost is no object, buy pistons and liners.
Well, yea, Milford's cost is no object to me.

But seriously, when giving advice on the BB, I generally suggest doing things the "right" way. That isn't to say that I never take shortcuts on my own projects.

Jay Mackro
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