Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Explorer Engine Swap - Cleaning The Gasket Areas

Up to this point everything has been pretty fun to do.  Now we are at the point where we will need to do some of the tedious work.
It is time to clean the gasket area.  This will probably be the most dreaded things you will have to do.  There is really nothing fun about cleaning the gasket survaces.  It takes a lot of time and patience.

First things you need to do is to protect all of the areas around where you are cleaning so that none of the debres gets in there.

Since we have the intake off, you will want to put some paper or cloth in each of the ports where the intake gasses or coolant flows into the heads.  You will also want to put a cloth in the bottom of the intake area where your lifters go.

Next you will want to get a sharp razor blade.  This can be either the style you use in a box cutter or in the actual razor blade scrapers.  I used both in my process.  On the heads and engine block, we are dealing with cast iron.  This is a very durable material that is difficult to scratch.  You should be able to get these surfaces really clean and not have much concern about damaging them.

The areas you are going to want to make sure are all cleaned at this time.

  • Oil Pan
  • Intake area
  • valve cover area
  • timing cover 

This is not all you need to clean, but it is the majority of the stuff that is on the engine block and all cast iron.

The next thing you need to consider are all the parts that you are going to be installing back on the engine.  This is a good opportunity to get them ready for reinstallation. 

The parts you will want to get ready for reinstallation are:

  • lower intake
  • upper untake
  • timing cover
  • water pump
  • valve covers
  • oil pan
with the exception of the valve covers and oil pan, all of these parts are aluminum.  They need to be handled with extreme care as aluminum is a very soft metal and scratches very easily.  I am assuming that you will be putting a new water pump on the engine, so that will not need to be handled since it is ready to go.  Also, you will need to have your engine out of the car to prepare the oil pan, so that is another area that will have to be dealt with later.

For the valve covers, you will be able to use a razor blade to clean these with no problems.  Get as much of the old gasket off as possible as valve covers are one of the most common areas for leaking.

For the timing cover, you will need to use a lot of care and make sure not just the gasket areas are clean, but also the bolt holes.  Remember in an earlier post I commented about how you don't want to force the bolts out, you will want to clean the holes where the bolts were a problem.  That way you will be able to reinstall them easily. 

Something I did when cleaning the gasket surface on the timing cover was that I used a gasket cleaning material.  I am a very paranoid person and I will take as many precautions as I can to ensure I don't damage the part when cleaning it.  I lightly scraped the gasket area and it removed all of the gasket from about 75 percent of the area that was there.  This left some areas where I was going to have to be a little more liberal in my scaping so that I can get the remainder off.  For this I bought some gasket remover.  This is a foaming type substance that is supposed to help dissolve the gasket to help remove it.  I thought this stuff was a little expensive, but it did help with the removal of the gasket.  Was it worth the price?  I don't think so.  But depending on the brand you use, maybe you will have different results.

Something to note about the gasket remover, this will remove paint as well.  If you get any of this on a painted surface, expect that the paint will be eaten by it and removed down to the metal.  Be careful not to get any on your paint of your car.

The Lower intake has a little more work to go than the rest of the pieces.  This is where you will want to remove the goose neck (thermostat housing) and clean both surfaces to remove the gasket from there. You will also want to remove the fuel rails and injectors at this point as well.  Although they will not be in the way, you will need to remove them anyway to use the rails from your Mustang, it is best to get everything preped for the installation. 

Although it is rare, make sure there is no excess gasket on the upper to lower intake surfaces, flip the intake over and work on the intake to head/block area.  Here again you will want to make sure all intake and coolant ports are covered/plugged to make sure no debres get in them.  This again is where the gasket remover solvant will come in handy, but it is not a must have.  Make sure you don't scratch the aluminum or put large gashes in it.  This is definitely an area you do not want to leak.

The upper intake will involve some other disassembly/cleaning processes that will be covered later.  At this point just make sure the surface that mates to the lower intake is clean.

Once you are done with this step, you will probably be ready to take a break.  Go have your favorite beverage and enjoy.  Keep in mind, you are not in a race.  Take your time and make sure everything is clean.

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