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> Piston Pits And Gouges, cylinder head gasket job
seabaldy
post Oct 20 2006, 04:37 AM
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Drives: 1988 245 DL



Hi there,

I recently bought a 240 wagon at a reduced price because the head gasket and water pump were leaking coolant down the passenger side of the engine block.

I replaced the water pump and now I've taken the head off my 240 wagon's B230 engine to replace that head gasket. I have some questions.

Piston #1 has all sorts of pits and gouges on its surface. They are concentrated on both the left and right side of the piston's top. The three other piston tops look great. The cylinder head was leaking on the passenger side of the engine by Cylinder #1.

I took the cylinder head to a reputable machine shop to have it cleaned/tested/valve jobbed. The valve seating area for Cylinder #1 looked just fine on the cylinder head. It actually looks great. The whole cylinder head looks so good that it makes the rest of the engine bay look really, really dirty.

My questions are these: Can I get away with just smoothing out the pits/gouges with a brass wire brush, install the new gasket and be on my way..or.. is it very important to replace the piston? Do I need to pull out the engine to get at that piston? If I end up pulling the whole engine out wouldn't it be best to just rebuild the whole bottom end (I'd rather not get into a rebuilding project)?

Was the piston pitting/overheating the cause of the leaky head gasket or was the leaky head gasket the cause of the pitting?

I really wanted to make a quick job of replacing the head gasket so that I could get my volvo back on the road.

Has anybody seen this type of thing before? Any advice?

Thanks so much for your time,
Jason
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Haywired
post Oct 21 2006, 08:52 AM
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Location: Canada
Drives: Volvo L70 AWD



Hi Jason,

It would appear as though coolant was getting into # 1 cylinder and causing the pitting in the piston. I don't know where gouging would come from unless someone dropped a nut or something into the intake and it got chewed up by the engine. I've seen it happen and the engine survived without a tear down. Minor pitting and a few scars are not so bad, but the effects of coolant on an engine are. Antifreeze has a high sodium content which acts like sandpaper in an engine. Antifreeze wears metal friction components fast, and if it was old antifreeze, it will corrode aluminum parts and degrade seals and hoses. I am less worried about the pitting on the piston than I am about the wear on the pistons, rings, cylinders, crank journals, bearings, etc.. Was the engine oil staying clean, or was it contaminated with antifreeze? Do you have much of a lip at the top of the cylinder bores where the rings stop, especially # 1? This situation really requires visual inspection by someone who knows how to assess engine wear.

Your piston/s can be remove without pulling the engine. You can remove the oil pan by blocking up under the engine mounts and unbolting the oil pump which will free up the pan to slide out under the bell housing. It is a rather tedious job to get back together.
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seabaldy
post Oct 22 2006, 01:49 AM
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Location: USA seattle
Drives: 1988 245 DL



thanks for the response.

The oil looked fine. There might have been a hint of coolant in the oil, but it was minimal. I couldn't find any 'mayonaise-like' substance anywhere. The guy I bought the car from was the single owner. He always took the car in to be serviced. I was fairly surprised to find the engine as good as it was. He said he'd been driving it with a leaky head gasket for the last 7 years. I don't think that could be true, but if it is, the engine really held up. I never saw any white exhaust either.

From the area where the head gasket was broken down (near cyl#1) I could see where coolant was weeping to the outside and down the block.

I need the car back on the road so I've decided to go ahead and bolt the head back on.

It really is a pleasure to put things back together after they're cleaned up.



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