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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks.

Blew a head gasket on my 94 3.8- ran hot, white smoke, etc. :( This is after spending my Saturday changing the thermostat and water pump.

So I ordered a new fel-pro head gasket kit, head bolts & shims. I'm going to tackle this one myself with the help of a Chiltons manual and try to save some dough. Hopefully the heads (and the rest of the engine) are ok & the heads just need be resurfaced.

Anyhoo... about these shims I ordered- I guess I'm going to need them due to the resurfacing, huh? Has anyone ever used these shims before? Any tips on these shims (placement, procedure) is appreciated.

Thank you!
 

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You only need the shims if a substainal amout is machined off. If the the head is just resurfaced and does not need reworking the shims are not needed.

But honestly if a large amount is machined it may be cheaper/better to get a set of 96+/Sc heads, or just run with a higher comperssion and see what grade of fuel you can get away with.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
ok - thanks. I was thinking if they take too much off I would need to either use the shims or get new pushrods.
 

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Well they will tell you if they take that much, but if they need to go that far they should suggest a new head.
 

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as long as they take off more than .010 I wouldn't worry about it. I think the smallest shim they make is .030 anyway. But shims would be a helluva lot cheaper than new pushrods would be. Honestly though, you could get ported ehads for $450 from morana or RPM, why not just do that?
-Thomas
 

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Because not all of us can afford to drop 450 on a set of heads, and would rather just finish the job for LESS than that.
 

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okay but what Im saying is, if you're going to drop 80 dollars on shorter pushrods and 100 on milling the heads you're already part way there. I'm not saying OMG you should buy these expensive heads. I'm just giving him something to think about. I always like to look at repairs to my cars as upgrades. I can fix stuff myself for cheaper, or upgrade for the same price as a shop would charge for stock repairs.
-Thomas
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Pushrods

Rock Auto has Sealed Power pushrods for the 3.8L at $1.88 each, and Sealed Power rocker arms for $9.44 each. I'm not too familiar with these things, so I have no idea how good they are, however, I'm sure it's better than what's in my car now (114k on top half) - so I bought them. I also picked up the complete fel-pro head gasket set for $69. The fel-pro shims were $13 each and the head bolts came to $17. My guess is that shorter pushrods are more expensive than stock size? Anyway, I was going to go with a remanuf. pair of heads, but after pricing them I've decided to get mine checked out & milled if possible. I'll find out how much they shaved off of the heads and use the shims if needed. I can always return the shims if not.

So far I've drained the coolant and I pulled the wires & plugs. I do not know what the correct cylinder number is, but the cylinder on the passenger side closest to the firewall was full of coolant - the coolant shot out as soon as I pulled the plug. I think I got most of it out, and then I put a little oil in the cylinder and cranked the engine a few turns to coat the cylinder wall & help prevent the cylinder wall from rusting. The oil dipstick looked good (no mud) and the drained coolant was clean.

I've also removed the power steering/alternator bracket. Tommorrow night I'll drain the oil, tackle the A/C bracket and start labeling whatever needs to be disconnected. I'm going to have to work on this at night, doing as much as I can and still try to get 7 hrs sleep. I hope to have the heads off by Friday night.

Thanks for your help guys. This thread is going to be my logbook for this project- any input, suggestions, or creative criticism welcome!
 

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you dont have to worry about putting in new rocker arms and the pushrods will hardly ever get bent. But if you're getting shorter pushrods you need to buy them aftermarket, which costs about 80-90 dollars.
-Thomas
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ah... ok, thanks!
 

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I still say don't worry and just go with the higher CR.
Thomas my machine shop is only $50 for inspectsion and milling.


How long did you drive with a blown head?

Have a 13,10 and 15mm socket handy.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi Bowez.

I barely drove it at all... I say 2-3 miles before the white smoke started. She was running hot, but not overheating for those couple of miles. Then I had the car idiling for about 5 minutes while I was pulling the wires from the cap one at at time, trying to isolate the troubled cylinder(s), and then the white smoke came. The car idled only a minute or two before I realized the smoke I think.

$50 is pretty cheap. I'm expecting to pay twice that!
 

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Then you shouldn't have much warpage at all then.
$50 buck is just what my machine shop charged for the 300CID head I had done, so what you could expect to pay up there I anit got a clue.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've been reconsidering keeping these heads. They have 116 or so miles on them. I'm still up in the air about it. With only 56 or 57 thousand on the bottom end, I'm thinking it's worth it because I put a lot of work into this car - I installed my system, the shocks & struts too. I did an oil change every 3k, a tune-up once a year, new tires, new brakes, new torque converter... she was painted last spring and looks pretty good. I'm going to sleep on it.

The valve cover on the passenger side is off, the rocker arms & pushrods are labeled & put away. I rounded a rocker arm bolt a little, and the exhaust was big PTA, otherwise it wasn't as bad as I thought - that is until I wound up breaking two sockets trying to get a head bolt off. I gave up for the night after that. The top of the block looked good - no mud - just clean looking oil. My girl simple-greened the outside of the intakes & used intake cleaner on the bottom & the ports for me. ;)
 

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dude to keep from breaking sockets just goto autozone and get a AcDelco 3/8" Drive Of the size you need, i used one of these on rod bolts that broke other sockets even 3/8" and had no problems
 

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Discussion Starter #16
OK, thanks! I was going to get an impact socket, but I'll consider the acdelco. The two 15mm sockets I broke were both Craftsman, so at least I can get them replaced for free!
 

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I've broken a 15mm craftsman too. Maybe their 15mm's suck.
-Thomas
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I was so tired last night I forgot to ask this...

When I removed the rocker arms on the passenger side, four of the six arms had a small washer or spacer between the rocker arm and the head. Does anyone know what these are for? Thanks.
 

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four of the six? That is very strange. Well, those are rocker pedestal shims. Have your heads been milled before perhaps? I find it odd that only 4 of the 6 had shims though.
-Thomas
 
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