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Discussion Starter #1
This should provoke a bit of discussion....

As some of you may remember, I replaced my head gasket and the other odds & ends associated with that sort of job. The head was resurfaced by a local race shop, new valve guides, springs, seals, etc. I was quite proud of myself once the car actually started and was running afterwards. It wasn't running perfectly but it was running. I had it running for about 20 minutes or so and then I parked in the driveway to wash the 2 months of garage dust and grime off. Then it wouldn't start.

This led to a few posts about fuel pumps, rechecking timing, checking the EFI system out the best I could, etc. Still no luck. So I finally caved and decided to allow some professional intervention and I had it towed to my Alfa mechanic.

After checking it out he showed me that I wasn't getting any compression (relatively..some cylinders were marginal, others were very poor). I was baffled why/how it ran in the first place. We were both thinking maybe the machinist didn't grind the valve seats properly, or I screwed up adjusting the valves and bent a couple...something bad in any case.

Well he was able to get the car started by pushing it. Keep in mind the car had a new battery and the starter turned nice and fast...this isn't an electrical problem. Anyway he'd get it started and it would run poorly at idle..but run nonetheless.

I'll cut to the chase. Basically he kept doing that over a period of time and the engine would run a little better each time and eventually it would start on its own and idle nicely and the compression would improve as well. The only thing he did with the engine was check my valve adjustment and that was it. His diagnosis is that he thinks since the head was off the car for a while (took a month to get the head back...don't ask) and the cylinders were exposed to the open air, they got dry and perhaps the rings seized or needed to re-seat themselves. I tried to keep the cylinder walls clean during the process but I'm sure bits of dust/carbon/solvents/etc. got in there too. He told me next time I have the engine apart to spray CRC/WD40 in the cylinder before I put it back together and start it.

When he called me the other day to pick up the car and gave me this explanation and advised me just to drive it, I thought he was full of it. But I can't argue with the results...the car is running great, plenty of power, idles nice and quiet...no issues. Go figure.

Well at least I learned how to do a head gasket and valve job!
 

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Trained (ex)Professional, , 1953-2018 RIP,
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Sounds like the classic frozen ring syndrome. Were the tops of the pistons cleaned when the head was off?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Most definitely. They were originally encrusted in carbonite like Han Solo but I they cleaned up really well with a wire brush/cordless drill. Here's a picture with the new head gasket. The scan of the picture isn't as sharp as I'd like....need a digital camera...but you get the drift.

So you've heard of this happening before?
 

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Here's the head back on....I don't have any pictures of the completed project (only video) but I'll have to take some while the engine compartment is still clean!
 

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Trained (ex)Professional, , 1953-2018 RIP,
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rbitzer said:

So you've heard of this happening before?
Most definitely! What happened was when the carbonite was removed from the piston tops, the dark side conspired against you and put some of it on the rings. When the engine started, the bits of carbon then went on the ring lands and froze the rings to the pistons. You're actually quite lucky that the rings freed up. The first time I did a valve job, I cleaned the pistons too. A week later, I had to re-ring the engine; couldn't see for miles thru the smoke.
Even though cleaning the pistons may seem like the right thing to do, I would recommend using the force to resist the temptation.

Nice lookin engine!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No smoke here...fortunately. The explanation makes perfect sense now...sounds like I got off easy. With any luck the head will be resting soundly on the block as is for another 12 years! :D
 

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Trained (ex)Professional, , 1953-2018 RIP,
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Also unknown to me at the time, I compounded the problem when I used compressed air to blow off the carbon bits and blew some of the little buggers right down to the oil rings. That's why it smoked; the oil rings were locked to the pistons. Had to break em to get em out. Expensive lesson. I was on piece work at the time so it was a freebee.:( But lesson learned. :p
 

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Is there any other way:)
 
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