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Old 09-08-2009, 02:01 PM
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Aluminum Heads scenario of potential problem of cause of oil consumption (long)

Here is an overview of my problem; sorry for the length...

-Purchased car with new rebuild engine (50 miles on it) which contained a pair of Pro-comp PC3003 castings 210cc assembled heads that were purchased new and installed on the Chevy 383 at time of build. Unfortuneately I learn these heads have a bad reputation (also fact that they are made in China).
-After 800 miles or so oil consumption issue could not be troubleshooted any further (thanks to the help from this forum and the many knowledgeable people who took the time to post). Engine pulled and brought to reputable local builder, after tear down oil consumption diagnosed as incorrect hone. Engine rebuilt and among other things got a fresh hone. Heads were cleaned up, got new valve seals, guides were checked…all in spec except a few exhaust guides were on the loose end of spec.
-New rebuilt engine installed and after 500 miles oil consumption still an issue !! Averaging ~1 qt per 100 miles (same as before the new rebuild). Car dropped off at builder and after a lot of diagnosis it was determined it was something in the block. I performed a 500 mile oil change prior to dropping off and after 100 miles the builder put on the car during diagnosis the oil was filled with carbon and blackish in color. Block torn down and found cylinders distorted, egg shaped and up to 2/1000th out of round in some cylinders (saw for myself with a bore gauge). It was diagnosed as a bad block which was distorting and causing oil to get past the rings. Internals swapped to another known good 350 block fresh bore and hone, new rings, gaskets etc. Heads again were cleaned up, got a new set of valve seals and this time was told that the exhaust guides were out of spec .003 on most of them and (3) of them .007 or so. Got new brass exhaust guides sized to .002. Engine installed, rings seated (builder put 120 miles on engine) and total of ½ qt oil was used. Builder reported that everything tuned (carb, timing) and pulled plugs for final time. 5 cylinders starting to get a good burn pattern (oil from break in starting to ash up and insulator starting to turn brown), but (3) cylinders 1,3 and 5 still oil glazed but starting to get a slight burn pattern. In a last troubleshooting effort he swapped out an old coil and cap and drove a few miles thinking maybe for some reason those 3 cylinders were not getting enough spark. Then swapped back before I picked up the car (after 6 weeks in the shop !). I was told only smoke is if the car was warmed up and than started warm would get a puff of smoke out of the driver side (cyl 1,3 and 5) and that may just be oil burning out of the exhaust or there may still be a potential problem in the heads. However when I picked up the car and let it warm up and revved the engine tons of smoke came out of both pipes !!!! The builder was shocked, told me it was not doing this yesterday. One thought from the builder was that the cylinders got loaded due to the other cap and coil not being a performance one and not being driven when the original cap and module put back…but that was just a thought. Builder finally said that he is 100% sure that the bottom end is fine and rings seated…if there is any problem it is in the heads, something strange going on and that he did not supply them. Said to drive it home and give him a call. I did,seems like smoke is evident under load (shifting from 1st to 2nd etc) and when idling warmed up when you rev up the engine. One thing I noticed in the tailpipes the oil is starting to “ash” up in a powder like form, even though it is still oily.
My questions are:
1. Lets say my heads are trash at only 120 miles could I expect if the guides and seals are good that they would not yet pose a problem due to potential casting problems ?
2. Is it possible that oil is being burned out of the exhaust from the multiple quarts that may be sitting in the exhaust pipes/mufflers that got past the rings? (has anybody experienced this first hand ?)
3. If oil is getting past the guide and casting (not valve stem)…what kind of oil consumption could I expect ? Is this a common problem with these cheap alum heads ?
4. Also if the plugs are dry (except for 3 being slightly oil glazed) can I safely rule out the rings ? And if there is an oil consumption problem that it is most likely the heads related to the exhaust.
5. Bad block and bad heads…what luck I must have !!

Right now all I can do is drive it for a few 100 miles or so to see what is going on. Can’t be spending any more $ on this project, it has added up from purchasing the car at a premium with a “rebuilt” engine to the (2) recent rebuilds (labor, parts, time etc). I guess I can throw a set of stock iron heads on but I want to be 100% sure this is needed before I go that route. The fun of hotrodding !! Any comments or suggestions would greatly be appreciated especially on items #1 to #4. Thanks.

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Old 09-08-2009, 02:19 PM
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I would expect smoke until you can get the exhaust system burned out, and would look only to the dipstick for oil consumption at this point, and not the smoke out the tail pipe.

The first engine I ever rebuilt I gapped the oil expander ring. Doh!!, I was 16 and didn't know, book just said make sure all the rings were gapped, so I did!!. Once fixed, it took several weeks of driving to clear the mufflers and pipes of the residual oil. It smoked so bad on the second re-ring I thought I was screwed again, but the dipstick stabilized after a few hundred miles and it was fine.

Seeing how this is showing slight signs of it being on just one side, was the intake itself and the intake face of the head checked for proper angles and straightness, and installed using the correct intake gasket for aluminum combos?? What is the intake??

Was there sealer put on the rocker arm studs where they screw into the top of the intake ports??

Leakage around the press fit guide or through the casting would be less than worn out guides would do.

I feel your pain, everyone runs into a problem engine if you play in this hobby enough, just too bad you got it on the first try.
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Old 09-08-2009, 02:20 PM
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I`m willing to bet the problem lies in the heads. When the guides are bad it`ll smoke in many different situations. When they are leaking lightly you usually don`t see smoke, but you sometimes smell it and it uses oil. When the guides are sure enough wobbly smoke becomes more evident. In order to kill the guides that quickly says something is binding in the valve train or so it would seem. Perhaps weak material the head is made of isn`t supporting the guide?
Or possibly worse the guide boss is not straight in the head, this will cause all kinds of havoc as the binding will cause the valve to shred the soft bronze guide.
Anyways I would use nothing with procomp or any other china made head or part. The quality control is far less than outstanding. As for the first block being "distorted" and wouldn`t seal up I still find that highly doubtful, as we`ve reused blocks with over 150,000 miles on them with a rehone and rering and kept getting up without issue, ridge at the top of the bore and .006 to .007 clearence and no telling how much taper and run out without smoking or oil usage what`s so ever. You`ve been through he** with this whole thing and I sure feel for you. I know you must want to set a match to it by now. I would sell the heads and get some heads from a manufactuer that has a far better reputation that pro comp!
Good luck.
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Old 09-08-2009, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleVision
I`m willing to bet the problem lies in the heads. When the guides are bad it`ll smoke in many different situations. When they are leaking lightly you usually don`t see smoke, but you sometimes smell it and it uses oil. When the guides are sure enough wobbly smoke becomes more evident. In order to kill the guides that quickly says something is binding in the valve train or so it would seem. Perhaps weak material the head is made of isn`t supporting the guide?
Or possibly worse the guide boss is not straight in the head, this will cause all kinds of havoc as the binding will cause the valve to shred the soft bronze guide.
Anyways I would use nothing with procomp or any other china made head or part. The quality control is far less than outstanding. As for the first block being "distorted" and wouldn`t seal up I still find that highly doubtful, as we`ve reused blocks with over 150,000 miles on them with a rehone and rering and kept getting up without issue, ridge at the top of the bore and .006 to .007 clearence and no telling how much taper and run out without smoking or oil usage what`s so ever. You`ve been through he** with this whole thing and I sure feel for you. I know you must want to set a match to it by now. I would sell the heads and get some heads from a manufactuer that has a far better reputation that pro comp!
Good luck.
"As for the first block being "distorted" and wouldn`t seal up I still find that highly doubtful"

That really concerns me...yesterday I specifically asked the builder if by chance that the previous block even if appeared distorted that maybe it possiby could not of been the source of oil consumption...he disagreed and said with that much distortion that it defineately was the problem; however maybe not all of it.

If this is the case I went through all this time and money on essentially 2 additional rebuilds that MAY of not been necessary and potentially could of just purchased a decent set of heads to solve the problem and left the bottom end alone. Great, if this is the case there is no way this builder will back down on the fact that there was a problem with the other block. Go figure it is possible all I needed to do was throw a set of decent heads on it and I would been good to go.

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Old 09-08-2009, 03:41 PM
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The first go round you had little to no miles on the engine and the guides on brand new heads already had .007 clearence? jesus that tells you something is bad wrong somewhere. .007 is excessive so that says they kept on wearing, it would have been something to see what the limit had been. I`ve had heads with over 100,000 miles on them and the guides not be no where near that bad, they had a max of maybe .003.
On the block distortion deal, lets see, lets say you have 1 sleeve installed to get the cylinder back into shape, that`s going to distort the other bores and well as the deck, and I`ve seen I don`t know how many engines with sleeves installed and they ran fine, some distortion is always going to be there because if there is not a uniform amount of metal the expansion rate is different, example: Many have the cylinders bored and honed with deck plates, this is to get the cylinder round as possible, the problem is, there isn`t a uniform amount of metal around the cylinder, so it expands differently as it heats and cools, so when the engine is at operating temp the cylinder still won`t be perfectly round, but it`ll be close, alot closer than it would be had it been bored without deck plates. But as said, I`ve seen and did I don`t know how many blocks with thousands of miles on them, taper, run out, you name it, slapped it back together and kept running it without issue so it`s very difficult for me to believe that the block is so badly distorted even after boring it that it won`t seal up. And for the machinist to tell you this makes me believe he`s shooting off excuses, I`m not sure I would keep doing business with him. Your car, your money, your call.
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Old 09-08-2009, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by y2k600f4
Here is an overview of my problem; sorry for the length...

-Purchased car with new rebuild engine (50 miles on it) which contained a pair of Pro-comp PC3003 castings 210cc assembled heads that were purchased new and installed on the Chevy 383 at time of build. Unfortuneately I learn these heads have a bad reputation (also fact that they are made in China).
-After 800 miles or so oil consumption issue could not be troubleshooted any further (thanks to the help from this forum and the many knowledgeable people who took the time to post). Engine pulled and brought to reputable local builder, after tear down oil consumption diagnosed as incorrect hone. Engine rebuilt and among other things got a fresh hone. Heads were cleaned up, got new valve seals, guides were checked?all in spec except a few exhaust guides were on the loose end of spec.
-New rebuilt engine installed and after 500 miles oil consumption still an issue !! Averaging ~1 qt per 100 miles (same as before the new rebuild). Car dropped off at builder and after a lot of diagnosis it was determined it was something in the block. I performed a 500 mile oil change prior to dropping off and after 100 miles the builder put on the car during diagnosis the oil was filled with carbon and blackish in color. Block torn down and found cylinders distorted, egg shaped and up to 2/1000th out of round in some cylinders (saw for myself with a bore gauge). It was diagnosed as a bad block which was distorting and causing oil to get past the rings. Internals swapped to another known good 350 block fresh bore and hone, new rings, gaskets etc. Heads again were cleaned up, got a new set of valve seals and this time was told that the exhaust guides were out of spec .003 on most of them and (3) of them .007 or so. Got new brass exhaust guides sized to .002. Engine installed, rings seated (builder put 120 miles on engine) and total of ? qt oil was used. Builder reported that everything tuned (carb, timing) and pulled plugs for final time. 5 cylinders starting to get a good burn pattern (oil from break in starting to ash up and insulator starting to turn brown), but (3) cylinders 1,3 and 5 still oil glazed but starting to get a slight burn pattern. In a last troubleshooting effort he swapped out an old coil and cap and drove a few miles thinking maybe for some reason those 3 cylinders were not getting enough spark. Then swapped back before I picked up the car (after 6 weeks in the shop !). I was told only smoke is if the car was warmed up and than started warm would get a puff of smoke out of the driver side (cyl 1,3 and 5) and that may just be oil burning out of the exhaust or there may still be a potential problem in the heads. However when I picked up the car and let it warm up and revved the engine tons of smoke came out of both pipes !!!! The builder was shocked, told me it was not doing this yesterday. One thought from the builder was that the cylinders got loaded due to the other cap and coil not being a performance one and not being driven when the original cap and module put back?but that was just a thought. Builder finally said that he is 100% sure that the bottom end is fine and rings seated?if there is any problem it is in the heads, something strange going on and that he did not supply them. Said to drive it home and give him a call. I did,seems like smoke is evident under load (shifting from 1st to 2nd etc) and when idling warmed up when you rev up the engine. One thing I noticed in the tailpipes the oil is starting to ?ash? up in a powder like form, even though it is still oily.
My questions are:
1. Lets say my heads are trash at only 120 miles could I expect if the guides and seals are good that they would not yet pose a problem due to potential casting problems ?
2. Is it possible that oil is being burned out of the exhaust from the multiple quarts that may be sitting in the exhaust pipes/mufflers that got past the rings? (has anybody experienced this first hand ?)
3. If oil is getting past the guide and casting (not valve stem)?what kind of oil consumption could I expect ? Is this a common problem with these cheap alum heads ?
4. Also if the plugs are dry (except for 3 being slightly oil glazed) can I safely rule out the rings ? And if there is an oil consumption problem that it is most likely the heads related to the exhaust.
5. Bad block and bad heads?what luck I must have !!

Right now all I can do is drive it for a few 100 miles or so to see what is going on. Can?t be spending any more $ on this project, it has added up from purchasing the car at a premium with a ?rebuilt? engine to the (2) recent rebuilds (labor, parts, time etc). I guess I can throw a set of stock iron heads on but I want to be 100% sure this is needed before I go that route. The fun of hotrodding !! Any comments or suggestions would greatly be appreciated especially on items #1 to #4. Thanks.
Put a set fresh plugs in it and keep driving it a while. Often once plugs are "glazed" they're gone with no recovery. Step their heat range up, aluminum heads suck heat out of the plug pretty fast and it isn't uncommon to need a hotter plug to keep them clean.

Run it awhile with the fresh plugs and check the oil consumption.

The valve clearance at .007 is excessive, .003 on the exhaust is acceptable. The intakes are usually the ones that cause oil consumption problem because the stem and guide are exposed to intake vacuum. These should be tighter at .0015 to .002. It's possible to get oil around the outside of the guide but that would be loose in the head or there is a crack. A place to look for cracks or casting porosity is around the rocker stud area, and again in general around intake ports where exposed to oil, that includes crack/porosity inspection under the valve spring perch. But one would expect that with that much oil consumption, the intake valves would be oily or carboned on their back sides.

While I'm not excited about finding cylinders out of round or tapered by .002 inch, I wouldn't expect that to lead to such a high oil consumption. Sounds more like somebody took a used, but not exhausted block, and re-honed it. That kind of oil consumption seems like what one would expect not only an from an improper hone, but broken or upside down installation of the rings.

Another source of oil pull over is worn cam lobes and lifters to where the valve is hardly, or not at all, getting off its seat.

Yet another is the head and intake not making an air tight seal to the valley. This is not uncommon with aftermarket heads from anybody especially when combined with block decking, or thin head gaskets, and aftermarket intakes. Often getting a tight closure on the valley side is a problem, this can also show problems with height and width sealing where the head's ports and the manifolds ports are of sufficient dimensional or orientable difference that gaps exist allowing oil to be pulled into the intakes.

I hate to say it, but your machinist seems more of a parts changer than a mechanical sleuth. This is going to take somebody who understands the in's and out's of an engine and how to do root cause analysis. Basically this problems means understanding why an engine can be pulling oil into the chambers and doing a lot of up close inspection of those potentials.

Bogie
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Old 09-08-2009, 06:28 PM
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Doublevision and Oldbogie thanks for the detailed posts and insights what may be going on.

Honestly I am confused, I only going by what is told to me and I have seen some of it first hand. I need to clarify a few items. At the first rebuild basically the block was punched 040 over (what was needed to clean up bore); talked to first engine builder. When it was torn down after 800 miles due to oil consumption I was told the rings were put in the proper orientation but the hone was less than 20 degrees cross hatch and the cylinders were out of round....supposedly problem found. I then got a new hone to clean up the bores etc etc also a new cam and lifters to better target low end performance. Now fast foward to this new build that was done by this guy with 30 yrs experience etc; after 500 miles I used like 6 qts of oil, same as before. Builder says he stands by his work, I drop off car for 6 weeks and did troubleshooting seems more brute force vs root cause analysis. I end up getting bills for gas, taylor fit wires (apparently my accel spiral core 8.8MM are giving low or intermitent spark), valve seals (changed again to rule out), also ruled out the intake sealing, compression tests etc etc, removes PCV due to possibly sucking oil and adds another breather, another bill...finally pulls to engine since nothing else to troubleshoot and tears down and finds the distorted cylinders. I buy new performance gaskets, rings etc (he provides all labor) and after long block is finished (his own personal block) with fresh bore and hone he goes through heads and finds the exhaust guide issue (apprarantly was not evident after 1000 miles but now after additional 500 miles it is now an issue...confused), intakes are tight . Basically said he did not provide the block the first time and technically there was nothing wrong with the build but since I came to him due to the issue he would make good (basically provided block and labor). Now I still got smoke and not a diagnosed problem...

Going to take your guys suggestions and first run this thing, if it still used oil I guess I will just put a set of smogger heads on myself and go from there.

Thanks.
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:04 PM
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Tenacity

Hey Man, I've been following your thread(s), and have responded in a couple. You are way too far in to throw in the towel. I agree with every post made in an attempt to help you, but the evidence is too hard on the heads to ignore it because it cost so much to replace them. The info on these heads online is; 1) They are a hit/miss casting with lots of machining errors. 2) they require a intake manifold with a raised runner and a gasket that allows for alot of mismatch on the intake ports.3) They are such a chicken**** casting that they have a stiffening rib(steel)set into the casting under the valve spring seats because they are so thin. The bolt bosses have helicoils cause the aluminum is not strong enough to just drill and tap, this includes the rocker stud bosses.4) The intake manifold bolt bosses have only three or four threads. 5) The head actually looks porous in some places on visual inspection. 6) They require longer pushrods(+.100) this maybe part of the valve guide issue. 7) The majority of the positive feedback on them comes from folks who sell them, and maybe a few folks that caught a set that wasn't cast and built on a Chinese holiday. I think this issue can dupe the best professional mechanic out there as well as the backyard hotrodders. I know how you feel, but, put a good set of heads and a good intake on it to eliminate the existing heads as the problem. If your funds are exhausted, put the cheapest stock heads on it you can afford and a U.S. built intake on it. I'll bet the guy that's been helping you with it might even loan you a set of heads because this problem has got his goat too. Tenacity Brother! olnolan
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:22 PM
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Hey Man, I've been following your thread(s), and have responded in a couple. You are way too far in to throw in the towel. I agree with every post made in an attempt to help you, but the evidence is too hard on the heads to ignore it because it cost so much to replace them. The info on these heads online is; 1) They are a hit/miss casting with lots of machining errors. 2) they require a intake manifold with a raised runner and a gasket that allows for alot of mismatch on the intake ports.3) They are such a chicken**** casting that they have a stiffening rib(steel)set into the casting under the valve spring seats because they are so thin. The bolt bosses have helicoils cause the aluminum is not strong enough to just drill and tap, this includes the rocker stud bosses.4) The intake manifold bolt bosses have only three or four threads. 5) The head actually looks porous in some places on visual inspection. 6) They require longer pushrods(+.100) this maybe part of the valve guide
issue. 7) The majority of the positive feedback on them comes from folks who sell them, and maybe a few folks that caught a set that wasn't cast and built on a Chinese holiday. I think this issue can dupe the best professional mechanic out there as well as the backyard hotrodders. I know how you feel, but, put a good set of heads and a good intake on it to eliminate the existing heads as the problem. If your funds are exhausted, put the cheapest stock heads on it you can afford and a U.S. built intake on it. I'll bet the guy that's been helping you with it might even loan you a set of heads because this problem has got his goat too. Tenacity Brother! olnolan
Olnolan...thanks for the post and the encouragement. I just finished posting up the car on craigslist before I received your post. From day 1 after I got the car and was researching the parts I had a bad feeling about those heads. My fear is 2 fold that the (2) rebuilds and all the $ I threw out on them was a waste and all of this could of been solved by throwing on a decent set of heads and 2 that I put the heads on and still have a problem. The builder did offer to build up a set of stock heads and do some port work etc but at this point after the fact of waiting 6 weeks and getting a car back that smokes still wants me to just do it myslelf or not do it at all and call it a bust. I just want to cruise the car that DONT smoke !!!
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:53 PM
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If ya sell it smoking, it's gonna cost you more than a set of fa real heads. Scratch your nuts and fix it. Tenacity Brother
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:23 AM
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Don't quit, throw a stock set of heads and intake on it to rule them in or out.
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Old 09-09-2009, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by barnym17
Don't quit, throw a stock set of heads and intake on it to rule them in or out.
Thanks..probably what I "need" to do. Just about fed up...just took it for a ride, runs awesome despite the smoke out the tailpipes. Now I notice smoke coming out the breathers (builder removed PCV) and a drop of oil near the pan...it would be my luck it is the rear main or oil pan...go figure.
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:07 AM
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Don`t take it real bad. Let me tell you what happened to me a few years ago. I decided to build a Vortec 350 for my cutlass. I had a 350 Vortec block, Vortec heads. I spent around $5000 on this engine. I was trying to accomplish a goal, smooth idle, good mileage, but good performance in one package. So I got a pair of hooker super comp`s coated by Jet Hot, those cost me around $450, A edelbrock performer Vortec intake. I had the block decked .010, but I didn`t have it bored, the standard bore was only .001 for wear so the machinist and I deemed it didn`t need it. I got a 204 duration, .500 lift comp roller cam, crane roller lifters, comp heat treated push rods, springs, locks and retainers to match the cam. I had the PM rod bolts replaced with ARP units, Milodon double roller timing set, Pertronix coil and module, moroso spiral core plug wires, Sean Murphy induction Quadrajet, spec`d to my engine and a price tag close to $400.
I got a complete serpentine system from the junk yard, I had the brackets blasted so they looked new, then I painted and clear coated them, I had to buy a newer alternator to work with the serpentine system alone with a wiring adapter. I bought a aftermarket harmonic balancer that had all the timing specs etched in so I didn`t have to use a cover anymore.
KB D cup 18cc dished pistons. GM .028 head gaskets. Everything came together and I assembled it. Where I screwed up at was, I didn`t check the bore spec. After I had built it and ran it, it had piston knock like crazy, and it wouldn`t seal up, I checked the bore upon tear down, it was 4.009, how in he** he honed it that much is a amazement to me. It smoked like no tomorrow and along with the knocking, I was embarrassed to drive it. So there I was, had all this cash invested to get the best parts I could, only to get blown out of the water because he screwed up the bore, and I stupidly, for the first time since I don`t know when, didn`t check the bore clearence.
So now you see your not the only one who`s gotten bit.
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Old 09-09-2009, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by y2k600f4
Doublevision and Oldbogie thanks for the detailed posts and insights what may be going on.

Honestly I am confused, I only going by what is told to me and I have seen some of it first hand. I need to clarify a few items. At the first rebuild basically the block was punched 040 over (what was needed to clean up bore); talked to first engine builder. When it was torn down after 800 miles due to oil consumption I was told the rings were put in the proper orientation but the hone was less than 20 degrees cross hatch and the cylinders were out of round....supposedly problem found. I then got a new hone to clean up the bores etc etc also a new cam and lifters to better target low end performance. Now fast foward to this new build that was done by this guy with 30 yrs experience etc; after 500 miles I used like 6 qts of oil, same as before. Builder says he stands by his work, I drop off car for 6 weeks and did troubleshooting seems more brute force vs root cause analysis. I end up getting bills for gas, taylor fit wires (apparently my accel spiral core 8.8MM are giving low or intermitent spark), valve seals (changed again to rule out), also ruled out the intake sealing, compression tests etc etc, removes PCV due to possibly sucking oil and adds another breather, another bill...finally pulls to engine since nothing else to troubleshoot and tears down and finds the distorted cylinders. I buy new performance gaskets, rings etc (he provides all labor) and after long block is finished (his own personal block) with fresh bore and hone he goes through heads and finds the exhaust guide issue (apprarantly was not evident after 1000 miles but now after additional 500 miles it is now an issue...confused), intakes are tight . Basically said he did not provide the block the first time and technically there was nothing wrong with the build but since I came to him due to the issue he would make good (basically provided block and labor). Now I still got smoke and not a diagnosed problem...

Going to take your guys suggestions and first run this thing, if it still used oil I guess I will just put a set of smogger heads on myself and go from there.

Thanks.
I avoided disparaging the heads you have, but their quality is in fact all over the place. Casting a quality aluminum part is quite difficult and much of the cost with American made or other quality sources of heads and blocks is the cost of scrappage because of casting porosity. An important note when shopping for aluminum heads is "Made from Virgin Aluminum". That means that rejected castings aren't dumped back in the pot to be remelted. Recycling of heads and blocks that fail inspection puts casting sand and machining coolants and oils back into the pot as well. This becomes a cleaning problem when time to pour as the sand, carbonized oils and other skim crud has to be removed and often this effort is inadequate, if performed at all. Porosity is such a problem that many quality heads are sealed, there are entire companies that specialize in doing or suppling the materials. processes, and tools for doing this; again, this adds cost to the product. Heads are probably one of the worlds most difficult castings with many complex shapes and multiple enclosed but connected chambers of varying size and shape. It's nothing short of amazing these things can be made at all, let alone we do this on a massive high rate production scale all over the world. So when you look at a head, reserve some awe for what you're looking at. Blocks are only somewhat less complex. The complexity of these parts is largely why when made from cast iron welded repairs are usually unsuccessful. It's not that welding cast iron is that difficult, but rather the complexity of the shapes within a cylinder head or block causes all sorts of incalculable distortions which result in further failures due to material stresses around the weld when the part is subjected to extremes of temperature.

Your cylinders being out of round is not uncommon, I should have added to my previous blog that this is also the result of an engine that was bored with a torque plate. The torque plate simulates the cylinder distortion caused by the head bolts on the bores. When used on the boring sequence, the machine makes a round bore out of the torque distorted cylinders, when the torque plate, or later the cylinder heads, are removed the block casting relaxes and the bores will be distorted. The only way to get accurate bore measurements is to bolt the torque plate on before taking the measures. If the bores are distorted with the plate on then you know you've got problems and how big they are. When an engine is bored without a torque plate, when the block is sitting there unassembled the bores will be spot on, but when the heads are torqued, then the bores are pulled out of round by the forces on the bolts being transferred into the cylinder bores. Like everything there's a history behind why this is going on. Back in the late 1940's early 50s blocks were designed with more material and webbing. These blocks had the head bolts entering bosses as part of the water jackets. Due the added stiffness these blocks were capable of holding the head gasket against operating pressures. When the second generation of V8 came alone such as the Small block Chevy, the reduced amount of material and the removal of stiffening elements from the valley area of the casting reduced its overall stiffness and the design of head bolts was moved from the water jackets to the cylinder bore to keep the head gaskets from blowing out. This resulted in today's problem of having the bores distort when the heads are installed. The use of a torque plate when boring is therefore the solution by forcing the distortion before the bore is cut.

I must have worn your eyes out by now so let me escape this by saying that you need to try another set of heads. One would think that with the number of Chevrolet heads laying around the planet, a set could be found for test purposes. Your adventure is totally nuts, with some common threads between the engines a major one being the heads.

Bogie
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Old 09-09-2009, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by DoubleVision
Don`t take it real bad. Let me tell you what happened to me a few years ago. I decided to build a Vortec 350 for my cutlass. I had a 350 Vortec block, Vortec heads. I spent around $5000 on this engine. I was trying to accomplish a goal, smooth idle, good mileage, but good performance in one package. So I got a pair of hooker super comp`s coated by Jet Hot, those cost me around $450, A edelbrock performer Vortec intake. I had the block decked .010, but I didn`t have it bored, the standard bore was only .001 for wear so the machinist and I deemed it didn`t need it. I got a 204 duration, .500 lift comp roller cam, crane roller lifters, comp heat treated push rods, springs, locks and retainers to match the cam. I had the PM rod bolts replaced with ARP units, Milodon double roller timing set, Pertronix coil and module, moroso spiral core plug wires, Sean Murphy induction Quadrajet, spec`d to my engine and a price tag close to $400.
I got a complete serpentine system from the junk yard, I had the brackets blasted so they looked new, then I painted and clear coated them, I had to buy a newer alternator to work with the serpentine system alone with a wiring adapter. I bought a aftermarket harmonic balancer that had all the timing specs etched in so I didn`t have to use a cover anymore.
KB D cup 18cc dished pistons. GM .028 head gaskets. Everything came together and I assembled it. Where I screwed up at was, I didn`t check the bore spec. After I had built it and ran it, it had piston knock like crazy, and it wouldn`t seal up, I checked the bore upon tear down, it was 4.009, how in he** he honed it that much is a amazement to me. It smoked like no tomorrow and along with the knocking, I was embarrassed to drive it. So there I was, had all this cash invested to get the best parts I could, only to get blown out of the water because he screwed up the bore, and I stupidly, for the first time since I don`t know when, didn`t check the bore clearence.
So now you see your not the only one who`s gotten bit.
Ouch ! Thanks for sharing, I guess it always can be worse.

Latest update talked to the builder (feels bad) and he honestly says the smoking was not evident prior to me picking up. Taking his word on it and giving him the benefit of the doubt regarding the previous block (can't change anything now) I am going to let him build up a set up stock 70s SBC heads...nothing fancy, new valves, pushrods etc Something we can bolt on and rule out the issue at hand. What I am thinking is something is going on with these heads on both the intake and exhaust, probably angle of the valve guides or something like that (numerous possibilities), which is not cost effective or easy to diagnos. If this fixed the problem then when I have the $ I can always get a pair of either iron or alum american made castings either 180/195 cc 64 cc and swap over the valves, rockers, pushrods etc (new lighter springs) from my current set up and go from there.

Bogie...just read your post. Many thanks and you beat me too it about the heads. Also from your post I think IF in the future I do swap out for a set of 64cc heads they will NOT be Alum...many thanks for your info and knowledge.
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