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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #1
Help this modular guy deal with that weird time between carbs and OBDII.

The gf recently picked up an 89 notch with the 2.3. The thing wouldn't run worth a **** when she got it. You had to give it some gas and keep your foot in it to keep it from dying.

I did a quick tuneup; plugs, wires, cap, fuel filter. Fuel pressure is good. Ignition timing is in the ballpark (pointing at #1 @ TDC). It at least idles now, but still runs damn rough. It can probably use a rotor.

Next two steps are going to be verify cam and ignition timing. Previous owner mention that the previous owner to him had done a head gasket and couldn't get it to run right. PO didn't care as he was going to LS swap it. (Irrelevant, but glad I saved it.)

Couple of other notes; when I pulled the old plugs they looked a little wet. I'm guessing it's running rich, it sure smells it. Cats aren't plugged; they're gutted. It has made a few back/afterfires, especially when cranking, one out the TB, one out the tailpipe.

Anyone care to elaborate where the hold down bolt is for the distributor? I'm going to try and time it to 10 deg BTDC, spout disconnected later this week.

So who's going to help me with this EEC IV voodoo?
 

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The hold down bolt is almost under the distributor body. Look down there, you'll see it.

Don't set the initial to 10 degrees unless you want it to run like crap. The advance curves on FI 2.3 engines are very weak, so set it at 15 degrees min.

You may have some vacuum leaks in the system, so pinch off the sources one by one and note the differences.

Unplug the idle solenoid and set the base idle at 750 RPM. That should stabilize the idle.

If the previous owner had the head off, they might have missed a tooth when aligning the timing belt, it's easy to do. Run it through a couple of times and verify TDC by pulling the # 1 plug and feel for the piston going over center with a screw driver then look at the dot on the cam and make sure it sits close to the center mark on the cam pointer.
 

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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #3
The hold down bolt is almost under the distributor body. Look down there, you'll see it.

Don't set the initial to 10 degrees unless you want it to run like crap. The advance curves on FI 2.3 engines are very weak, so set it at 15 degrees min.

You may have some vacuum leaks in the system, so pinch off the sources one by one and note the differences.

Unplug the idle solenoid and set the base idle at 750 RPM. That should stabilize the idle.

If the previous owner had the head off, they might have missed a tooth when aligning the timing belt, it's easy to do. Run it through a couple of times and verify TDC by pulling the # 1 plug and feel for the piston going over center with a screw driver then look at the dot on the cam and make sure it sits close to the center mark on the cam pointer.
I appreciate the help. I found the hold down bolt; it actually took a bunch of carb cleaner to get it because it was caked so thick with oil in that area you couldn't see it.

I checked cam timing, ignition timing, the works.

Turns out cyl #3 and #4 are not working. They have spark and the firing order is correct, but no combustion. You can pull them and the idle won't change. Plugs were clean and soaked in gas when I removed them. Pull the plugs on 1 or 2 and it dies.

Next up is a compression test and depending on how that goes, a new engine.
 

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Spark+fuel+compression=fire, so i think irs safe to say there's a problem. My guess, based on which cylinders it is, is a blown head gasket right between those two cylinders. I've had this happen once on a race motor.
 

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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #5
Spark+fuel+compression=fire, so i think irs safe to say there's a problem. My guess, based on which cylinders it is, is a blown head gasket right between those two cylinders. I've had this happen once on a race motor.
Yeah I guess we'll see what it is depending on the compression test.

If it's good, then I'll have to see if those injectors are stuck open or something of the sort. Fuel pressure at the rail already tested good.

If it's bad, well, engine comes out, and stuff starts getting taken apart until we figure out why. It was mentioned that 2 owners ago they did the head gasket and could never get it running right after. Previous owner was going to LS swap it so he didn't care, which brings it to me, who is stuck fixing this heap. I suppose I can't bitch too much since it only cost $1000.

If it's just something like the cam, valves, head, etc... I can rebuild that in no time. If it's more, I think I've located one engine up in Indy I could get cheap, and a couple more dual plug motors for only $150 each.

So this makes it two mustangs I've had with motor issues due to POs. At least this one is cheap.
 

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I didn't realize you are an Indiana man, I live up in Lafayette.
 

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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #7
Follow up:

Compression test yielded 120psi on 1+2, 0psi on 3+4. Pulled the head and I can guarantee that no one has done a head gasket on it, at least in the last 15yrs. Everything was absolutely filthy and gaskets were brittle and stuck. Head gasket had about a 1" hole blown in it from 3 to 4. I was concerned it would be a minor leak I couldn't see well, but it was clear as day.

Cam and followers have seen better days but will work. The lifters took a lot of work to remove, and one broke on removal. One cam retainer bolt stripped out.

The head is off to the machine shop today for hot tank/magnaflux/mill. Hopefully it should run well on all 4 after this ordeal.
 

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I figured that was the issue. Glad it was simple. Did you inspect the block for damage? One of the ones I had happen like that actually cut down into the deck (I ran 4 laps on it before shutting it down) so make sure it hasn't hurt the deck before re assembly.
 

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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #9
I figured that was the issue. Glad it was simple. Did you inspect the block for damage? One of the ones I had happen like that actually cut down into the deck (I ran 4 laps on it before shutting it down) so make sure it hasn't hurt the deck before re assembly.
I've only done a visual check so far, but it looks ok. I've seen some pretty nasty damage on blown HGs between cylinders on boosted cars, but I think the low power saved it. I don't think anyone was driving on it prior either; that thing could barely move let alone make it down the road.

I'll check with a straightedge and feelers though.
 

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If you're not already doing this, I would look at having the head properly cleaned (jet wash, hot tank) and magafluxed at a minimum. Usually, where there's smoke...
 

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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #11
The head is off to the machine shop today for hot tank/magnaflux/mill. Hopefully it should run well on all 4 after this ordeal.
If you're not already doing this, I would look at having the head properly cleaned (jet wash, hot tank) and magafluxed at a minimum. Usually, where there's smoke...
One step ahead of you. :thumb:

Already talked to the shop earlier today, head got the all clear. Threw some new bearings in while I was at it. Now I just need to wait for the rest of the parts to show up. Needs new lash adjusters and a cam seal that won't be in until next week.
 

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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #12
Got it back together. It idled high at first, around 1500, but it turned out I had two vacuum lines switched between the intake manifold and EGR valve. Also had a bit of a leak at the header, but I torqued that down.

That's the good news.

The bad news is it seems to be pushing coolant. If you fire it up and let it sit, you can watch the coolant level rise. No bubbles. Is there any chance this could just be due to not properly deaerating it? I find it hard to believe it would be a head gasket since it wasn't pushing coolant before, the head was checked and milled, and the deck was cleaned and checked for flatness.

I suppose all I can do is bust out the exhaust in coolant tester and prepare to cry, because I have a feeling I know the answer.
 

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I think your forum signature might be indicative of your situation in this case. I had the same thing happen recently on one of my own builds and no I didn’t take my own advice, so 2 cylinder heads later I finally have a good one. Is it blowing steam or just pressurizing the cooling system?
 

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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #14
I think your forum signature might be indicative of your situation in this case. I had the same thing happen recently on one of my own builds and no I didn’t take my own advice, so 2 cylinder heads later I finally have a good one. Is it blowing steam or just pressurizing the cooling system?
Yeah I'd hate to go through the same ordeal I did with my 4.6, where after inspecting heads, studs, and new gaskets it was a cracked block.

This one didn't puke coolant before I did the head gasket, so I doubt the block is the issue. The cylinder head was pressure tested, mangnafluxed, and milled so it shouldn't be the issue. The deck was thoroughly cleaned and checked to be flat with a straightedge and feelers. The head gasket was a new Felpro, and was installed in the correct orientation (as you literally can't flip it) The bolts were new and torqued to spec. I crossed my t's and dotted my i's on this one.

As for what it's doing, I can fire it up and watch the coolant level in the radiator rise significantly, until I eventually hear it dribbling out the overflow hose. I don't see any bubbles in it, but it's definitely rising. I also don't see the coolant temp skyrocketing quickly, which it definitely did when I had a leak on the 4.6.

Aside from a head gasket issue, any chance this could just be a deaeration issue? I noticed the thermostat didn't have a jiggle pin, and I did a pretty half assed job of deaerating the car the first time around.
 

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You probably did this the first time, but did you torque the head bolts in the proper sequence, start from middle & work your way out? If not it wont seal properly. I still have to get out the Chilton manual just to make sure Im getting the sequence right...
 

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^ you don't have to follow the sequence to a tee, I just go center out, trying to do an x pattern. I've never had a head gasket leak or fail due to improper tightening that I know of. I've had a few fail from high compression, and a few fail due to overheating. Thaise are both common in dirt racing using the stock style gasket.
 

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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
You probably did this the first time, but did you torque the head bolts in the proper sequence, start from middle & work your way out? If not it wont seal properly. I still have to get out the Chilton manual just to make sure Im getting the sequence right...
I did it exactly per the instructions in the Federal Mogul/Felpro bolt box. Same pattern, torque to 51 ft-lb +90-100 deg. I even went above and beyond; cleaned/oiled bolt threads, torqued first step to 25 ft-lb, then to 51 ft-lb, let it sit for a few hours, re-checked, and took another 90 deg.

Deck was checked with a straightedge and a 0.005 feeler. No issues. Deck was cleaned with a scraper, super fine scotch cleaning pad, and lots of cleaner.

I also jacked the drivers front side in the air and backfilled the heater core line in hopes of getting it to burp better. No such luck. Fluid level still rose while I was running it.

I went to go test it with my fluid tester, but it looks like my fluid has expired; it's already yellow. Got a new bottle and I'll give it a shot tomorrow. If it tests positive I'm not sure what to do. At that point it's almost "**** it, new engine" time.

EDIT:

Welp, engine is ****ed. Fluid turned bright yellow within 30sec.

I'm wondering if there might be a crack or issue on 3+4 since those cylinders were effectively dead due to the head gasket.

Off to look for a new engine likely...
 

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Most likely, you have a crack in the cylinder head, probably in or near the exhaust seats in one of the middle cylinders. I deal with these fairly often, sometimes they just don't show when you do conventional inspections, you really have to get out the magnifying lenses and look closely.

I did one recently for a customer which would only open up when the engine was warm. Go grab another head from the JY. Look for one that is black and oily on the plugs, there's a good chance that'll be a good one.
 

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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #19
Most likely, you have a crack in the cylinder head, probably in or near the exhaust seats in one of the middle cylinders. I deal with these fairly often, sometimes they just don't show when you do conventional inspections, you really have to get out the magnifying lenses and look closely.

I did one recently for a customer which would only open up when the engine was warm. Go grab another head from the JY. Look for one that is black and oily on the plugs, there's a good chance that'll be a good one.
That I'd be surprised at. The cylinder head was magnafluxed, pressure tested, and leak checked.

I'm still wondering if the issue doesn't lie in cylinders 3+4 since those weren't running before.

Either way, it's probably going to be cheaper to throw in a used engine than spend more time and money on this one.
 

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King Trashmouth
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Discussion Starter #20
Well I'm hoping OHC is right.

I pulled the cylinder head last night. Gasket still looked new, no carbon or coolant tracking on the deck, no blown out areas, looks like a good solid seal of the fire ring on every cylinder. I checked a few suspect spots for imperfections on the deck and they're still true.

All that leaves is the exhaust ports and valve seats to check. I found out my valve compressor wouldn't do the trick so I'll have to get a bigger, beefier one and check them. Fingers crossed it's just a valve seat I can have machined and replaced, otherwise I'll probably end up with a new engine since the cost of a new head and gaskets will exceed that of a replacement engine.
 
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