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Old 12-12-2006, 09:50 PM
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This can't be good

All,
Here's the problem; when I pulled my '31 5W with a Chevy 350 in the garage this afternoon after driving about 6 miles, there were puffs of smoke coming off the block from somewhere near the rear of the driver's side. It was not continuous and at one point there was even a very brief flame. The smoke was not continuous and seemed to come in puffs from beneath the exhaust manifold.
Other times when I've pushed it, say to over 400 rpm I've noticed smoke as well.
Any ideas?
Thanks

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Old 12-12-2006, 09:54 PM
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oil or trans fluid dripping on exhaust?

check your valve cover gaskets, and if you have any pipes running under the oil or trans pan check those gaskets as well
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Old 12-12-2006, 10:00 PM
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Did the smoke have any particular smell to it that you could tell to possibly isolate what could be burning. Plastic, rubber, oil, etc.
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Old 12-12-2006, 10:07 PM
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2 things on that side... Is it an early block with the left hand dipstick (possible source)...?

The other... A very common area for a blown head gasket is #7 cylinder and they tend to blow out at the back of the block area...

Most go into the water jacket and you get the steam cloud out the exhaust... But once before a long time ago I saw just what you describe and it turned out to be a blown head gasket on #7...?
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Old 12-13-2006, 05:39 PM
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Thanks for the replies and questions.

Some answers: The dipstick is on the driver's side; I couldn't pinpoint the odor because the puffs were intermittant; I checked for leaks from the valve covers but their tight with now leaks.

I'm inclined to go with Bumpstick's take on the problem. I have seen "smoke" on startup from the driver's side of the motor and it seems to have a slight miss, worse on idle. It also does this more when revved to 4000 rpm or so than when loafing along at 1500 rpm. Also, the puffs were coming from the back of the block new the #7 cylinder.

So, what now? I've changed the head gasket on my 37 Packard and a '49 MH tractor but these were both flatheads. Is this a relatively straightforward job?

Also,how do I know for sure? A compression test?

By the way the casting number is 3970010 so I think it is a late sixties or 70's block. I was told it came from a Camaro.
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Old 12-13-2006, 06:25 PM
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That casting number can be verified at

www.mortec.com

I think it should be a 350...

The changing of a head gasket is a straightforward job...get yourself a Chevy shop manual for any year pre 73 and follow it...no major difficulties if you have a normal set of automotive tools plus a torque wrench.

Paul
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Old 12-14-2006, 10:21 AM
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If you can change an in-line flathead four or six (or is the 37 Packard an eight?) you can change one on a V-8. It might be a bit heavier than the tractor four, but not as heavy as the Packard (6 or 8). Some bolts will be harder to get to, mainly the exhaust manifold bolts. You can drop the exhaust on the side and leave it connected to the tailpipe though. There are alignment dowels on the block to keep the head from sliding off when the bolts are out. You don't have to pull the lifters, but if you do they MUST go back in the same holes. It's a good idea to put the pushrods and rocker arms back in the same order, but itsn't absolutely necessary. Theoretically they will interchange on a hydraulic lifter engine, but sometimes they wear differently.

A compression check will determine if the gasket is leaking. Should be no more than 20 psi difference between adjacent cylinders. If it's leaking between cylinders the two with the leak will both read low and the same. With yours leaking in the back the one cylinder should just be low. I'm assuming you know how to do a compression check since you've changed head gaskets on engines before.

The good thing is the V-8 head uses bolts, not studs! I still remember the first flathead six I pulled the head from -- a 61 Rambler w/~190K on it and the head had never been off! I had to use a steel wedge to get the head over the studs, just D#$% lucky I didn't ruin anything! It was the first car I actually bought myself (hey, it didn't burn as much gas as the 73 Catalina wagon my dad gave me to drive, and gas may have been cheap around 78, but a high school kid who lived out in the country with limited funds...). I was doing a tune-up and somehow half a broken lock washer fell down a plug hole. I found out because of the hard hammering when I started it! Don't know where the piece of lock washer came from. With years of trash around those studs it was quite a chore to get off!!
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Old 12-14-2006, 07:03 PM
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Farna,
Thanks for the comeback and encouragement; I'll have at it. You're right about the weight of the Packard head; it is an 8 with a cast iron head that certainly pushed my back to the limit as I reached over the fat fenders to lift it off and put it back on.
First thing I'll check the compression to confirm the leaking head gasket. Once I get into it if I have any questions I'll post them.
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