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Discussion Starter #1
I decided to go in and do the heads one more time. Seems they last about 2 years before the gasket blows on the drivers side.

Anyway, any suggestions other than the bolt tightening of the heads to ensure this last longer than it has?

I just ordered all FelPro products for gaskets and bolts so I should be good to go.

Thanks all.
 

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Change the heads to either SC or 96+.

Have you checked how true the block is and assume you take the heads to Machine shop too.
 

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ARP head studs with Felpro gaskets, and have the heads checked out by a machine shop to make sure they are not warped. If you have been re-using the stock head bolts, that is likely the cause of your repeated head gasket failures. The bolts are torque to yield, which means they are one-time use, and won't hold properly if used again. New bolts at a minimum are required, and at that point, for the few bucks more, you might as well go to the studs, which if you do ever have to re-do them for some reason, are re-usable.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Excellent. Thanks guys.

The head bolts are always new ones, can't re-use the old ones. Have a box of head bolts... anyone want em'? <yuk, yuk>

I like the idea of the post 96 heads, that sounds like a good idea. Why take these old heads to a machine shop when I could use a better set of heads? I will see what the yard has to offer. Finding a set of SC heads around here is not very feasible, but then again, the yard may have an SC now.

I plan on starting the rebuild this weekend and finishing next weekend. The gaskets and bolts won't be here till next Thursday so I have some time. If I take some heads in to re-plane them, these ones or others, it will be the following weekend.

I need to wash the engine first before I pull the heads, the drivers side is a mess where it has been leaking. Also, the darn rear main seal has been leaking for years. I was looking at replacing the exhaust as well and was wondering if I need to keep the cats or not. Also, do I need the center muffler or will I get a lot of noise in the cabin in that area? I remember reading about all this, but that was a long time ago.

Thanks again - wish me luck. Wife wants to hang onto this car longer till she finds something she likes.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Will the heads from an 88 SC work on my 94?
 

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The first SC was 1989. I'm not sure the details on the SC heads, but the 96+ heads should be a direct swap and presumably easier to locate. Make sure you tell the shop to prep the heads for MLS gaskets so the finish is correct.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
MLS?

Oh.. when I was looking at the list of cars at the yard, I saw 88 Tbird turbo... took it for SC. DOH!
 

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MLS are the updated multi-layered steel gaskets. The earlier ones are graphite and are much more prone to failure.
 

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If just doing head gaskets, I would skip the MLS and go with the regular fel-pros. MLS gaskets are more durable, but in order to seal properly, they need both the head and the block deck surface to be machined to a much smoother surface. Unless you are going to completely rebuild the engine, you aren't going to be able to get the block deck resurfaced, and the MLS gaskets will likely always seep some coolant.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
$18 each to have the heads checked, $195 to have them planed, cleaned, pressure tested and seals replaced...etc.

For that price, I could pick up a pair already rebuilt, probably 96 or newer for about the same price... wonder if they have a set that are 96 or newer they would trade for the same price? Hmmm.....

I got the FEL-PRO HS8857PT6 PermaDry®; HEAD SET and FEL-PRO ES72131 head bolts. What's great is I picked all of this up for less than $50 when I paid almost twice that 2 years ago.

Thanks all for your input.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Can someone suggest a good paint to use on the exhaust manifolds? Last paint I used (high temp engine paint) burned right off and stuck for a while too....
 

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Functionally SC and 96+ are the same (are a few minor differences but nothing to get worked up over).

Personally I'd go MLS if the block is flat it has a good enough finish to use them, MLS are commonly used on the SC now.
 

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^ +1

Engine paint is usually good up to around 500° F; the exhaust stuff is rated for 2000° F. Don't forget, prep is key.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yep, prepped the manifolds, but as I watched after each engine run, the paint was literally burning away, not flaking off or anything like a bad prep... but burning off. I used a high heat engine paint, but I think I need something even better. I will look around and see what I can find.

Thanks.
 

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The exhaust paint will hold up to 2000 degrees if it is baked on there first. That means while they are off, you'll need to basically paint them, then put them in the oven. Rustoleum makes an ultra high heat paint designed for barbeque grilles that does not require this pre-baking and is rated for up to 1200 degrees. In theory, that should work, and it is what I used to paint the long-tube headers for the 427 in my 91 Cougar, but as that car is not yet running, I can't say for sure whether it will hold up or not, but I think it would be worth a try.
 

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Soot in a can is a good way I'd describe Rusto BBQ paint, same look, consistency, feel, and it'll come off on your fingers when you touch it. They may have changed the formula since I used it though(well over 10 years). You really don't need to bake high heat paint in an oven unless you care about how perfect the finish is, installing them on the car, heat cycling them(run for a few minutes, let cool, repeat) will suffice, and is exactly what the cans recommend. This of course is problematic if you're breaking in a fresh engine though
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Found an interesting article on the 3.8l... little facts about its changes over the years since 1982. I did not know they based the design on the Buick 232 V6.

Rebuilding The Ford 3.8L Engine - Engine Builder Magazine

"Head Gaskets
The holes in head gaskets for the FWD and RWD engines are different because the coolant flow in the heads is revised, depending on the application. Don’t mix them up or the engine will overheat.

These engines tend to blow head gaskets because the gasket is very narrow adjacent to the fire ring on the back cylinders. The problem is aggravated by the coolant that slowly wicks into the edge of the gasket and causes it to deteriorate over time. Rebuilders should use only the head gaskets that have been approved by Ford to help avoid warranty problems."
 

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Discussion Starter #19
There are two paints for high heat, one is automotive and the other is general use. I had both in the garage but did not want manifolds to be black and wanted them grey. Well, the grey happened to be the general high heat at 1200 deg where as if I would have used the flat black automotive heat at 2000 deg, it probably would have held up. I suspect using the automotive high heat primer might help the paint to bond better as well.

Got everything off but the heads and exhaust manifolds. Everything looks great... such a shame to have to tear into this again.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Okay guys, here is where I need some HELP!

The book says the following for the head bolts, but I am not sure. IF there is already a document on this proceedure on this board, please direct me to it.

This is what Ford says:
 

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